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Archive for January, 2011

 

Tents, check.

Fishing gear, check.

Sleeping gear, check.

Cooking gear, check.

Food, check.

Clothes, check.

Bug spray, nope. Didn’t need any, everyone knows that there are no mosquitoes on the beach with that warm breeze blowing all the time. As Randy and I went through our list, we were getting excited to say the least. We had 4 days leave from the Army at Fort Hood, and the kids were back home in Florida visiting. We were on the way to Padre Island, Texas, to camp right on the beach with our wives B.J. and Karen.

FIRST DAY:

With my vintage Willis Jeep hooked behind B.J.’s Chevy, off we went.  What more could we want than 4 days with our best friends, with more in common than most families do. My mama always said that, “Family is everything,” and she is right, but real friends are forever, too. Randy and I were in the same aviation unit on base, and were friends long before we met for supper one night with our wives. I guess our faith was a drawing card for all of us, that and mine and Randy’s love for practical jokes. I was good, but Randy was a master. He holds the Moses Award for Practical Joking. There are many stories that need telling about our jokes, and I may do so now that they have been declassified.  

But, first there’s the camping trip. We arrived and started making camp about 100 feet from the Gulf of Mexico. We had large two man tents that we set up and moved in. Now, I may not have this in the right chronological order, seeing how it was nearly 40 years ago, but it’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Anyway, Randy and I, after fishing awhile, took the jeep on a ride down the beach which had little sand mounds created by the waves. You could drive on it back then as long as you didn’t drive in the dunes. The waves had also washed up a lot of jelly fish where they died and swelled up with air. Well, if you ran over one it would pop, so there was nothing for us to do but to run over as many as we could. Down the beach we went at a fairly good clip, running over dead jelly fish and bouncing over the mounds. After traveling a couple of miles Randy noticed that people were pointing at our jeep, but we could not hear what they were saying. Then we noticed that the tow bar was gone. It was mounted to the fender and normally was in the upright position, but not now.

I looked behind us to see if I had dropped it back there, but only saw our two tire tracks and about a 12 inch deep trench following along behind. That trench went back as far as we could see. After stopping we found that the pin that held the tow bar upright had come loose and on one of the bumps when we were airborne, and the bar had folded back under the jeep. That created a plow of sorts. No wonder people were pointing at us. It had to been a sight. Here comes a jeep with two red necks in it plowing a ditch down the beach as if they were going to plant corn or something. It wasn’t something we wanted to tell back at the base.

We some how got the bar out from under the jeep, but it would not go back in the up right position. In fact, it was stuck in the tow position and was only about 3 inches off the ground. We had to somehow get it at least further off the ground so it would hook back to the car. On our way back as we neared our camp, we came upon some piling where I got the idea of how to straighten out the tow bar. We took the wench cable and attached it to the piling and back to the tow bar and I would back the jeep up, jerking it straight. It was working pretty good, until the park rangers came up and wanted to know why I was pulling up his pilings.

All the while our wives, worrying about our long absence, came looking for us and had walked down near to where we were. They witnessed from a distance what we were doing and the arrival of the rangers. They turned and went back to camp, sure that they were going to have to pack up and follow us to jail and make our bail. However, they hadn’t needed to worry, because I told the rangers the truth. I’m sure they figured there was no way I could have made that up. We were warned and turned loose. From there things kind of went down hill.

THAT EVENING:

The ladies fixed a good supper and after eating we were setting around the fire watching the kangaroo rats running around every where and wondering what the small black clouds were all about. Suddenly, one of the clouds came and hovered over us. Then it attacked us. Hundreds of mosquitoes decided to have supper on us all at once. After the first blood was drawn the other clouds came in swarms. No bug spray. We didn’t need any, because there were no mosquitoes on the beach. I have never seen such a waving of arms and slapping. You all but knocked yourself out when you slapped the ones on your head. We retreated to our tents, but it was too late, they had filled them. We then ran to the Chevy, and they followed us there, too. We managed to kill most of them as we headed to the store where we bought every type of repellent they had. Later, with mosquito coils burning everywhere and our bodies smelling of citronellal we were able to get some relief. I don’t know how many cans of spray we emptied in our tents. I have to say that it was excitingly horrifying to say the least.

SECOND DAY:

Day light brought new hope that things would get better. I guess we should have prayed harder, even though it started out ok. Randy and I went surf fishing, while B.J. and Karen did what women do when on a wilderness camp out, with a lot of sun bathing thrown in. The fishing was not bad if you like catching saw water cat fish and baby hammer head sharks. We threw the sharks back and cooked the cat fish.

Later in the evening Randy takes Karen on a ride in the jeep. B.J. and I spent some time together walking the beach and such. Times like that I would love to have remembered, but the other events seem to stick in my memory and cloud out the normal happenings. Several hours later we both began to worry and were looking down the beach for them. Just before dark, we headed that way, sure that they had broken down or drove into the ocean or something. They would not be gone that long without a reason. However, I remember a time when they borrowed my motorcycle, but that is another story. After walking for awhile we saw Karen walking toward us. As she got closer I could hear her. With big tears in her eyes she was saying in a very high pitched squeal, “I told him not to go out there, I told him not to go out there. He would not listen to me and now he is stuck out there in the dunes.” I calmly asked her where was he, which she replied while pointing, “Way down there, I told him that we were not allowed to drive in the dunes, with signs every where, but he would not listen, I told him not to.” “Ok, you two go on back to the camp and I will go get Randy.”

I found him trying to get the jeep unstuck, and ask him if he had put it in 4 wheel drive, which he said that he could not figure out how to do it. Remember when I said that it was a vintage jeep? Well, to put it in 4 wheel drive you had to turn two screws on each hub to do so. In all fairness Randy didn’t know that, but in a short I did, and we were on our way back to camp. When we arrived, Karen again said, “I told him not to go out there, I told him not to.” That really could not be helped either, because you see, Randy was from Kentucky and, well, you know…

NIGHT TIME:

At the end of the day it became apparent that we were all sun burned, with Karen being the worse off. To get ahead of the mosquito swarms, we knew were coming, we went to bed early.  However, the mosquitoes didn’t come because they knew something that we did not know, and apparently we were the only ones that didn’t know. All the people had left. That’s when that gentle warm gulf breeze turned into a gale. The wind started to blow. Several times B.J. and I had to get our tent pegged tighter to keep from losing it. It was howling and a whipping. We tried to get everything into the tents to keep it from blowing away. The tension was high and not much sleeping going on. We could hear Randy and Karen in their tent and knew it was no better over there. Somewhere around midnight it really started to blow, and that is when their tent came down. Now for the first time I have admitted that B.J. and I saw it, but pretended to be asleep and stayed in our sleeping bags not wanting to get out. I can’t remember what the tent looked like the next morning, but it did not matter, because we were done, toasted and finished.

We came prepared to stay another night, but we packed up and headed to Corpus Christi, Texas, and got a motel room and slept forever. Ah, the memories of days gone by…  

EPILOGUE:

I love camping and I have done quite a lot of it. In my younger days I have taken our church boys and grandsons on many camping trips, and they were great fun. I have written several stories about them, which I enjoy reading to folks and having them read. When B.J. and I got married, our first trip was a camping trip that was truly under the stars with the bears. She will never forget that one, and I’m not sure she has forgiven me for it either. However, they are not all like the one in this story so, when you get the chance take your family on a camping trip and let them enjoy what God has given us in nature. It will make you a better person…David

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The Sand Sled

I realized when my feet were up in the air, and my head was bouncing along the hard ground, that I was no longer on board the sled. The laughter that was coming from the front porch, assured me that my intended stunt was a failure.

It was as a nice of day that you could have in our beautiful state of Florida. A mild summer day with family and friends setting or rocking on the front porch, it doesn’t get any better that that. The grand kids were running around everywhere playing with cousins and with my youngest daughter Candi, who was close to their age. Mick and Donna were up from Ft. Lauderdale for a visit. An old army buddy, Wayne, from Texas was passing through and spending a couple of days with us. We had spent the early morning reminiscing about our time flying around Texas in the old Huey Helicopter. We don’t see many Hueys much any more except in movies. I guess they are getting old like we are. The only thing missing that day was his wife Denise, and our other army buddy Randy and his wife Karen, but Randy was off somewhere making the world safe flying his beloved Chinook helicopter. Today, Wayne is retired after spending 40 years working in Army Aviation. Randy retired a top Army Warrant Officer, but is still making the world safe working for FAA in Louisville Kentucky.

But that is not the story. No, the story is about what you can do with a retired small pancake type chicken brooder. We used to raise poultry commercially, and these chicken brooders were used to keep the chicks warm. However, once retired from service, this wonderful piece of metal can be turned into a lot of fun, when it is tethered to a “Pick up” or a “4 wheeler” as was in our case. All you need is a long rope and a vehicle of some type to which you add a really wild driver, such as my daughter Terri Jo. Then you install a very brave soul on the now “Sand Sled.” The sled is pulled around the field or yard at speeds from fun to terrifying. All the kids loved it and took turns. Candi would ride with one of the younger ones to help hold them on. Even old Wayne took a turn. I acted as chauffer on some of the rounds, but Terri Jo was the one most requested to drive the sled.

At some point I felt that I needed to show all there, how it should be done, being the most experience sled rider that day. I don’t mean to brag, but I was good. So, I made preparations to ride with Terri Jo driving the 4 wheeler. I added another towel to the one on the sled, because the sled will get very hot sliding over the grass. Also, because the sled will scare up all the bugs that are in the grass as we slide over it, I tied a towel on my head. I must admit that I was dashing in my shorts with a turban on my head.

Terri Jo took off and we made several laps around the field at what she though was a terrifying speed to me, but I was loving it. We were making fast turns with the sled sliding way out to one side and over bumps that cause the sled to take a short flight. The onlookers were greatly enjoying it too, however after several of these laps, the sled became very hot. Rather than ask to Terri Jo to stop, I decided to show off my great balancing ability. The fact that I am accident prong is only because I am willing to push the envelope on occasion. So on our next lap through the front yard, I decided to stand up and give those watching something to cheer. Just as we made our turn to head down the straight away, (with the video camera rolling by the way), I stood up and with one hand on the hold rope and the other raised in victory.

I don’t know what happen next, but all of a sudden I was no longer riding the sled. Instead I was bouncing head first along the hard ground for “awhile.” I have since watch that video several times and still don’t know how the great sled rider I am could have fallen. Oh, what memories…

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