Every summer when school let out I would have everything packed and ready to go for five kids and the two of us. I would ask the kids to pack what they wanted to take and what clothes they wanted. Then I would pack a bag of the clothes that I thought they might need because I knew them, they would not think of how cool it can get after a thunderstorm or how wearing two pairs of jeans for a week can cause a rash, especially for the boys. I would make sure they had whatever I thought they would need because once we set up camp there was no going home to get something. We would take them to one of the islands on the river and camp for a week. Sometimes they would bring friends with them.
My husbands' brother and his sister and her husband would camp with us, sometimes my sister and her husband and two boys would come. One year the island we camped on had a rope swing and the kids were playing on it. It was really just a rope tied to a tree and the kids would swing on it. I am guessing my sisters' son was 7 or 8 years old and when he tried to swing on it he lost his grip while in the air and landed on his arm. This still makes my stomach sick. His arm broke in two places, the bone was sticking up almost through the skin. It was broke in such a way that I was scared to try and move the bones to place in a splint so I got the roasting pan laid his arm in it and covered it with ice. My husband and his brother and sister we gone fishing, this was before cell phones. My sister had a friend come out for the day so we left this poor woman with six kids while we took him to the clinic. The clinic told us the way it was broken we had to take him to the hospital. Thankfully that was the only injury any of them had from all the years we camped.
I loved to grouper fish and every chance I had I would be sitting on the edge of the channel fishing. One time my husband was fishing with me and a sailboat goes by us and a woman waved at us then lifted her bare boobs over the railing. My husband got a good look, they were headed north and he tells me he thinks the grouper would be biting better if we ran to the rock pile that was to the north of us. I did not fall for it and told him he had seen enough.
I was grouper fishing with my husbands' sister when something big hit my bait. It took me to my knees three times, I did not know what I had, I did know I wanted to get it in the boat. Which I did and it was a 32-pound tripletail. I caught it on half of a pogie for bait.
We knew when we camped we were going to have thunderstorms. We were all sitting under a tarp watching the lightening on the east shore when we saw a tornado form. It was going south down A1A and blowing the transformers on the power poles as it went. It started raining harder and we could no longer see where the tornado was going. The wind picked up and we were like where do we go for shelter, all we had were tents and the boats were all open, no cabins. I do not know what happened with the tornado but the storm passed and all was good.
There is nothing worse than waking up in a tent at night and it is pouring rain and you find out your tent leaks. Everything we had got soaked, clothes, sheets, blankets just everything. We were maybe 3 or 4 days into the week. It was a miserable night, in the morning my husband bent a few trees over and tied them where we could spread all our wet linens over the branches, and then he built a fire under them. We spent the day turning them until everything was dry. We had a big tarp and used it to cover our tent.
My youngest daughter was nine years old and she was by herself fishing, she started yelling for help and the youngest brother went to help her, she had a nice fish on and it had run most of her line off of the spool. Between the two of them, they got it to shore and out of the water, it was a 30-inch snook. Snook are one of the best-tasting fish in the river. I bet you could put a piece of snook on a plastic biscuit and make it taste good.
There are three islands on the east side of the river and we liked to camp on the middle one because there was a sandbar between it and the island to the south so the kids could have plenty of room to explore. We had been there for six days and were going home the next day. A Sherriff boat pulled up to us and wanted to know if we were living on the island, I guess someone complained. He told us we could not camp more than three days on the island east of the channel. We told him we have been camping on these islands for several years and no one had ever told us that, his reply was now you can't. that's progress, I told him progress sucks and we were leaving in the morning. From then on all our camping was done on the island west of the channel.
Towards the end of every camping trip, I would cook a roast. I waited until the end because after having a fire every night the ground under it was like an oven. I would prepare the roast with potatoes, onions, carrots, and bell peppers. Then I would take the heavy-duty foil and cover the roasting pan I would put four layers of foil. Put the lid on and put four layers of foil over it. My husband would dig the hole where our fire had been and place the roasting pan in the hole. Next, we would cover the pan with the coals and dirt then make a fire on top of the ground. I would do this in the morning and by five in the evening, we would carefully uncover it. You would not need a knife to cut the meat, it would fall off of the bone.
A few years ago my sister and I took our grandkids camping for a week, and I found out I have gotten too old for all the work that goes into camping. Without any men to help, it was up to me to haul the water and get the ice. We camped on the island closest to the fish house. But my sister did not want to take the boat in there so it was up to me. One of us had to stay with the kids, we had six with us. This caused a rift between us. We were getting ready to go grouper fishing and we needed to take both boats, she wanted to take the bigger boat. I had the anchor tied off to the side and was going to re-tie it and show her how to tie it while they were fishing. I was trying to show it to her when she threw her hands in the air and walked off like she had a stick up her ass. I got pissed and threw the rope down and said she can figure it out. As we were leaving the island I yelled over to her, don't lose my anchor. She never looked at it she went out there, threw the anchor over, and it was not tied to the rope. I should not have gotten mad and tied it on myself. But I did not think she would not even look at it. It was a 150 dollar anchor.