My sons snookered me!
“Come camp with us on my father-in-law’s 800 acre island on the Gulf Coast bay, Dad”, my oldest son, Blake, told me.
“The island’s great! He runs cows on it and it has several fresh water ponds, and salt water canals surround the island. I’m taking my boat and there are ducks, dove, quail, wild hogs, gators and coons galore. We’ll catch flounder, reds, trout, drum, maybe even a shark or two. Come on! It’ll be fun!”
They drove down together that morning, and like a moth to the flame, I made the two-hour drive right after work.
I should’ve thought. I should’ve asked. I should’ve brought my own gear regardless of what they told me.
The guys didn’t take a tent. They wanted to do it Survivor Man style. No supplies to speak of. One gallon of fresh water. Only accessible by boat. Well, vomit!
They used a huge brown polyurethane tarp and faced it toward the north wind to block off some of the bitter cold rain and wind expected to come that night. They tied the ends to scraggly trees and put logs on the bottom side of the tarp to hold it down.
Todd cheated and brought a pup tent and put a piece of plastic over the top of that. I found out when I got there that they didn’t bring the extra sleeping bag like I asked, which didn’t half surprise me.
I brought a small rolled up throw blanket for a pillow, one blanket and an extra 8′ x 10′ tarp. I decided to use the tarp to wrap around me to at least stay dry, if not warm too. They had blankets and sleeping bags….the dogs.
Before the rain, a cold front hit about 10:00 PM to make it even colder. We decided to hit the hay. That’s when the misery started:
10:09 PM Put ski pants on over camo pants. Wore coat over long sleeve t-shirt and insulated, waterproof boots to bed.
10:12 PM Lay blue plastic tarp on my spot on the ground.
10:14 PM Laid down under lean-to on tarp. Blake’s lengthwise on one side; Clark’s lengthwise on the other. Todd’s in a pup tent. Jared had to work and wasn’t able to be there at all — lucky rascal! Not enough room for me, so I lay vertical … thank you very much.
10:15 PM Can’t find rolled up throw blanket I brought to use as a pillow.
10:16 PM Get my one blanket over me, then cover up with my blue tarp over that.
10:19 PM Listen to Blake laugh at me and Todd brag how warm his tent is.
10:20 PM Tell Blake and Todd to shut up.
10:21 PM Tell Clark to shut up too, just in case he wants to say something later.
10:25 PM Pull hoodie out of my bag to roll up as pillow.
10:26 PM Adjust blanket and tarp to keep cold wind off.
10:27 PM Listen to Blake snicker more as light rain drops start to hit the lean-to.
11:31 PM Wake up thinking its morning. Crick in neck. Check time. Turn over other way.
11:32 PM Adjust blanket and tarp to cover me.
12:44 AM Crick in other side of neck. Pull my duffel bag over and use it as pillow.
12:46 AM Adjust blanket and tarp again. Pull tarp over my head and face.
12:50 AM Open up breathing space so I don’t suffocate from vinyl tarp.
12:55 AM Remember toboggan in bag. Get it and put it on.
12:56 AM Adjust blanket and tarp.
2:14 Wake up thinking its morning. Very cold. Put on hoodie that I was using for pillow. Put coat back on over that.
2:15 Shivering. Adjust blanket and tarp. Pull tarp around back of head and tuck under bag to keep cold out.
2:20 Hear one of the wild hogs on the island really close. Strain to listen. Put pistol in my right coat pocket.
2:22 Realize it’s just Todd snoring in pup tent.
2:40 Another hog is snoring beside me.
2:45 Fall into deep, deep sleep.
2:48 Wake up cold after wind blew corner of tarp off head.
2:49 Go back to sleep.
2:51 Wake back up.
3:10 Decide to eat to see if that helps me sleep. Steal granola bar out of Clark’s bag.
3:15 Steal another honey and oats granola bar.
3:17 And another.
3:19 Look for more. Granola’s all gone.
3:29 Thinking about granola. Feels like Donner’s Pass.
3:37 Almost asleep laying on right side, but wake with pain in right hip. Figure it out. Take pistol back out of coat pocket and roll to other side.
3:47 Feet are cold. Nose is cold. Get up and move tarp a little so it folds in half again to cover ground and then fold over me.
3:48 Forgot blanket. Put it on. Readjust tarp.
3:56 Wind is blowing like crazy. Distant thunder.
4:05 Neck hurts on both sides. Lay on stomach.
4:12 Swallow several times wondering if I have a sore throat. I don’t.
4:15 Wonder what other food Clark is hiding.
4:32 My feet are cold, even in insulated boots. Curl my toes over and over thinking exercising them will get my feet warm.
4:40 Toe exercises don’t work. Curl up in a little ball so blanket covers feet and head.
5:05 Wake up and start to turn over. Can’t feel right hand. It’s dead. Literally can’t move right hand. Uncurl so blood and nerves start to flow again.
5:10 Hand still tingling. Wonder if this is what a stroke is like.
5:23 Wind blowing really hard. Wind gushes causing lean-to to “pop” in and out. It’s loud.
5:35 My hair hurts.
5:37 So stinkin’ tired! Wondering. Is it possible for your teeth to itch?
5:38 Realize hair is caught in the zipper of my bag.
5:57 Glad to have dozed off. Need to go to restroom, but it’s raining and windy. Decide against it.
6:14 Bladder says get up. Everything else says it’s cold. Don’t get up.
6:18 Bladder says get up.
6:19 Brain tells bladder it is in control. Brain tells body to ignore bladder and go back to sleep.
6:33 Bladder wins.
6:36 Shaking from cold wind and a light drizzle of rain. Lay back down. Adjust blanket and tarp.
7:02 AM Blake wakes up to check on his boat. Find my rolled up blanket Blake stole to use as his pillow.
7:03 AM Move Blake’s loaded SKS semi-automatic rifle laying by his sleeping bag to point down AWAY from my back.
7:20 AM Breathing smoke from trash Blake’s burning by lean-to.
7:22 AM Get up to rain and wind with gusts up to 40 mph. Why sleep now?
7:23 AM Note To Self — bring your own tent and sleeping bag next time!