The Beginning

The beginning of Camp Six Pack started at Stuartís Camp. In the mid 1970s a group of fellow workers at the local electric company got to talking about going out into the Big Cypress Swamp. It happened that one of the workers, Bruce, would take us to his fatherís camp in the big cypress. It was to be a weekend adventure for those that were interested. About eight of us decided to go. As it happened, I had a swamp buggy and was invited to go along, and provide transportation for some of the guys. I had been in the big cypress before on day trips. But had no idea what this was going to be like.

Our weekend adventure started on a Friday after work. We all brought with us what we thought was proper swamp provisions and headed to the local barbecue restaurant for supper. This resulted in a few beers being consumed and soon it was dark. We needed to travel west from Miami about an hour to get to where Bruce kept his swamp buggy. Mine was on a trailer, so I followed along behind the group, towing it to a place called The Everglades Conservation and Sportsman Club.

The Everglades Conservation and Sportsman Club is located off the Tamiami Trail (US 41), west of Miami about 60 miles. 59 of those miles back then, were just saw grass and swamps along the road. So we were out in the boonies. As Bruce prepared his swamp buggy for the trip, I unloaded mine from the trailer. His preparation consisted of putting a 2 x 10 board under the broken seat, so they would have something to sit on and bailing wire some incidental parts back onto the buggy. We put our provisions on the buggies and after about an hour of cranking, Bruce's buggy engine finally started. All aboard and off we went.

After the first part of an hour of riding in the swamp, in the dark, slapping mosquitoes, only seeing what was in the head light beams, (i.e.: tree tops and stumps in the ground), I had no idea where we were. At that point I had no choice but to keep Bruce's buggy in sight. I had no idea which way was camp, and no idea which way was back out. In the headlights, everything looked the same. Everything looked like what I had just seen. Every thing outside of the headlights was just black shadows. There was no way, I was going to lose sight of Bruce's buggy or WE (me and the guys with me) would be lost forever. Fortunately, this was not a problem, every slick spot, Bruce's buggy got stuck and his crew jumped off to push it free. His crew was the adventure some guys, fortified with beer, these guys were looking forward to the chance to jump down in the mud and push the buggy free. Four hours later their enthusiasm was completely gone.

About this time in the trip, during a stop, Bruce started saying, "I think we are about there", "It should be that way, no....... maybe that way". "Well, just a little further and I will recognize something". Not very encouraging! His crew now had flat, sore bottoms, all the bumps and holes in the trail had taken that 2 X 10 and given then a bottom beating. They barely had the strength to climb down and walk to the back of the buggy when it got stuck, much less push. So in the interest of progress, the guys with me were taking over and pushing them out of being stuck. Our limited entertainment at this point was watching Bob, who was sitting between the driver and passenger. Bob, at this point had polished off his weekends supply of beer, he was being pushed over from driver to the passenger, passenger to the driver, as they each tried to keep him from drunkenly leaning on them. I was convinced at this point that we had completely driven from one side of the Big Cypress Swamp to the other and were now heading back and would soon arrive where we started. Boy, was I wrong.

One more stop and Bruce said "hey, I recognize that, we just need to turn around and go back about a half mile and turn to the left", "Then we will almost be there". An hour later he was right, out of the swamp appeared a cabin, nothing ever looked so good. I don't know about the others, but at 4 in the morning, I am ready for bed! So we arrived, unloaded our provisions, and started eyeing the bunks, now it's about 5 in the morning. As I selected a bunk, one of the enthusiastic guys says, "It's almost time to go hunting, do you want me to start breakfast?". Talk about disheartening, the bunk just kind of vanished, and breakfast was started. As the day began to break, we all wearily ventured out on a hunt, careful not to go to far, trying to keep the cabin in sight, because we had no idea where we were! Wishing we were sleeping in a bunk, but too macho, to admit we just wanted to sleep.

Later in the day, Bruce's father Ed arrived on his buggy and joined us for the rest of the weekend.

This was the beginning of our Big Cypress Trips, that eventually lead to Camp Six Pack, but that's another story.

Continued:

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Web page modified September 27, 2000 Modified Aug 8, 2001 S.DeLine