November is the third best month for NJ teachers, (behind July + August), because it is a short and usually pleasant month. Aside from teachers convention and Veteran's Day there is the Thanksgiving break. Somehow my district figured out how to give us an entire week off this November. C wanted to show off her hometown part of Texas to me and it was also time for me to meet her family. C is from the Lower Rio Grand Valley and that's where her family currently lives. So, we planned a trip to South Padre Island, Texas.
Although the main purpose was for C to make her yearly pilgrimage to see the family, it was also a vacation for the two of us. Work has been exceptionally exhasuting so I eagerly awaited some respite. (Sidenote: the above photo was taken at the United Club in Newark Airport. It was AMAZING! I had two passes left from a previous credit card and we were checked in to our flight plenty early, so we finally took advantage of the luxury lounge.) We rented a studio condo on South Padre Island (SPI) so we would have our own space, separate from the family. We flew into the Harlingen Airport, which is an hour drive out to SPI. We rented a car to travel between C's family member's homes.
On our way to the island we stopped at the HEB grocery store to shop as it is much cheaper and there is more variety than on the island. Our condo was perfect for the two of us, only one block from the beach with a lovely pool. That strong Texas sun warmed our hearts and souls and baked our skin on the first day. There are several decent restaurants on the island and others located in Port Isabel just over the causeway. We dined on the freshest shrimp and fish and the most incredible Mexican food while we were there.
One day we rented a jetski and toured the island. Flying 60 miles an hour over the waves made me feel like a mad person. We cruised through the channels and were very close to Mexico. At one point, we were surrounded by dolphins, and they folowed us for a bit, jumping out of the ocean. Another day I took a kite boarding lesson. This was so much more difficult than surfing. There is a lot to learn before you can even get into the ocean.
One of C's brothers asked me when we were going shooting, jokingly because he knows his sister does not love guns. I don't like guns. They're weird. I've never really been around guns (except when I was drunk in Colorado visiting my folks...and some lunatic put a shotgun into my inebriated hands.) But I responded with a 'whenever'. So, on Wednesday we met C's younger brother at the shooting range. That is a weird place. We wore protective eye gear and earmuff things. Yet, when these two cops came in, with their outrageous rifles, each time one pulled the trigger, the sound reverberated through me. Every time the loud rifle released, I had to keep myself from jumping. It was an experience. I am such a northerner, such a city dweller, and I have always lived in densely populated areas that guns never occured to me as a good idea.
The area has strong community of recovery and there were meetings every day of the week, somewhere in the valley. I made it to a meeting in nearby Port Isabel.
There's also a smattering of other things to do on the island: you can visit a really sweet turtle sanctuary, a birding center, nature trails, ride go-carts and see enormous sand castles.
We spent time with all of C's family members. (I was even obliged to join in family portraits). On our final day, C's mom planned a Thanksgiving dinner get-together, which was super cute. We crashed at C's younger brother's apartment to be closer to the airport for our 530 am retrun flight. After spending the week in 80' plus weather, we returned to New Jersey, for a balmy 30'. I would be remiss if I failed to mentioned how friendly Texans were in general. Never once did I feel uncomfortable about holding hands or PDA with my partner.
Hi, I'm Reverend J, a queer+ sober wanderer, activist, writer and ordained minister.