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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
in the day, Bruce's father Ed arrived on his buggy and joined us for the rest of the weekend.
was the beginning of our Big Cypress Trips, that eventually lead to Camp
Six Pack, but that's another story.
page modified September 27, 2000 Modified Aug 8, 2001 S.DeLine