August Work Weekend
What is it like to own a camp

So we set out in three buggies, open and close the clubs front gate and then we go a mile and have to stop. The NPS now requires a back county permit to go into the Big Cypress Swamp. So, we stop and fill out three slips and put them in the little box the have for them. We are off again. We have to follow a designated trail. This past year, the NPS has been improving this trail. It has caused great controversy and has resulted in pending law suits, but today we have a great deal to do and are following it through the swamp until it ends about half way to camp. The morning is nice and its not too hot yet, so the trip through the swamp is very enjoyable. Along the hardened trail we see a few deer, that scamper out of the way. We now are down in the swamp, going in and out of water. It is dryer in the swamp then normal for August. It helps our trip, but it will not be good during the coming fire season. (Speaking of Fire season, at Buckskin Prairie, we see the NPS has done a controlled burn on the north side of the prairie.) They did a good job, this time. We go a few miles and my buggy gets stuck. One of the other buggies, puts a strap on mine and pulls me out. We continue, winding in and around the swamp. About 1:30 PM we have gotten close to camp and Bob heads off toward his camp, while we turn toward ours. So we arrive, 7 1/2 hours from when we left my house, a quick trip as they go, actually.

  Entrance to Camp Six Pack

Camp Six Pack Front Gate

Big Cypress Swamp - Cypress Dome

 

The grass on our fire break has grown to about a foot tall, and we need to mow it before we start our other chores. But first we need to open up camp. Shutters to open, our gear to unload and put away, the food to be put in the kitchen. It takes a while just to arrive and get settled. Now its time to cut the fire break. Two of us grab mowers, including the one we just brought. Tony grabs a weed eater and starts taking on the grass near the cabins. It takes us two or so hours to cut about an acre of grass. The cabin is now protected from a wild fire for a few months, at least until the grass grows high again. Now its time to tackle the well. The well had been sunk through cap rock, about 12 feet down. It had been pumped clear, but had plugged up again. We needed to rod it out and pump it clear again. I had made a twenty foot conduit rod for this purpose, so we set to assembling it and getting out the gas power pump and hoses to use. After we assembled it all, we started rodding the well out and pumping it. Water would come up, along with rocks and sand. Every so often we would have to stop and take rocks out of the pump. All this takes time and energy. While waiting as pump runs, Tony and Rich start trenching in the PVC pipe from the well to the cabin. I take a come-a-long and lower the wild game feeder. Its still full of corn, the battery having gone dead since our last trip. I have to empty the feeder, replace the battery and fill it again with deer feed. I get it all going again, test it and put it back in the air. By 6:00 PM we have the pump and well flowing good. Clear water, no rocks and it is pumping great.

 Time to take a break, Yes! Our break is going to be a ride over to Sharbono's camp to see if the NPS had repaired his generator shack. We hop on my buggy and head over, winding our way through the swamp. On the way is Calvin Stones old camp. I had heard the NPS is fixing up his old cabin, (they now own it), so I want to see what they have done. I am shocked when I get there. They have torn down his sleeping cabin and are half way to constructing a new one. I looked, but didn't see a Collier County building permit, I guess that's only for non-government builders. We stop and look it over and I take a few pictures of it. The sun is getting closer to the horizon, so we need to get over to Sharbono's camp and see what the NPS has done over there. Sure enough the NPS had conducted a controlled burn and it seems they burned the roof off the generator shack. A brand new roof  was sitting on top of that generator shack. I took a few pictures and it was time to head back to camp before dark. A mile or so later through the swamp and we were back. Time to start thinking about making dinner, (there has been no lunch.) While dinner is being prepared, we ignite the yard  clipping pile, this is where we burn the flammable yard clippings. As the flames reach to the sky, we all pitch in and about an hour later we are having a hamburger, beans and, potatoes. A quick meal for a long day. Soon we are finished, Rich washes the dishes and we all take a turn getting a shower and ready for bed. The Miami Dolphins are playing football, but we are to tired to stay awake. It's 10:00 PM and we are soon in dream land.

 

Calvin Stone's Calusa Camp
(Can you see the building permit?..............me neither!)

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Story by Steve, August 27th 2002