I was first introduced to Mike in 1994 when my parents moved up here full time into a small farmhouse right across the street from Mike. Several years prior, Mike had purchased and was living in the 100 plus year old train depot. To say Mike is an interesting guy is a monumental understatement. So much so in fact that I don't really know where to begin to describe him. Not only is he a licensed jeweler, master carpenter, electrician, and plumber, but he and his buddy, apropriately named 'Amazin Walter" also once held the world record for the longest sand castle ever built. He as equal parts comedian, philosopher and craftsman. He once told me a story about taking the entrance exam to MIT back in the 1970s when he was young, and scoring one of the highest scores in the history of the institution, but declining entrance because he wouldn't lie on the application about having smoked recreational marijuana.
Over the years Mike has become a very close friend, and when my family and I moved here in 2012, he then became a neighbor I see on a regular basis. In fact, when we purchased our current residence back in 2020, his train depot is now right across the street from my house. As a favor to Mike for helping me with so many projects over the years, my son and I maintain the landscaping around the train depot, mowing and trimming it twice a month. These landscaping jobs have become a regular reminder of my early days of learning to properly cast a fly rod.
When I picked up fly fishing in 1995, I was still in college and living in an apartment in San Antonio. I spent a fairly significant amount of time on local soccer fields and playgrounds when they weren't occupied and being used for their intended purpose. I quickly figured out however that the 2-acre field that Mike's train depot ioccupies was the absolute PERFECT place to practice fly casting. It was large, flat, well maintained, and not used for any other purpose, READ, NO CROWDS! It also made for a good excuse to come up to Waring and visit my mom regularly, and as a bonus, it was within walking distance of the Guadalupe River.
During the 90s I made many, many trips up here with the sole purpose to practice casting with my old Fenwick 8wt. Shortly after that, I built a custom 5wt. to add to the arsenal, so I could couple practice sessions at the depot yard with an evening walk down to the Guad to catch the hatch right before dark. And without fail, my mom always had something good served up for dinner once the sun went down....not a terrible way to spend an evening.
It's hard to believe that was over 25 years ago now, and a lot has changed for sure. I now live right across the street from my old practice grounds with a family of my own. And, believe me when I say that Jackson and I take full advantage of our close proximity to the Guadalupe. My house also sits on a sizable piece of property that has plenty of room for even the longest of casts. But sometimes in the evenings I just can't help myself...I have to walk across the street to the depot and lay out the line in the exact spot I did half of a lifetime ago. Not only does it bring back great memories of learning to cast in my younger days, but it also gives me the opportunity to make new memories casting and fishing with my son in the same locations that I did so many years ago.
Hope you're all having a great week,