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A Night to Remember (or Forget?) April 1, 2006

Posted by Kim in Camping, Fishing, Old Photos.
Anclote Key Camp

Anclote Key Campsite...

It was sometime in the mid 70’s, as I recall, that some friends and I planned a camping trip to Anclote Key located in the Gulf of Mexico near Tarpon Springs, FL. The camping party consisted of five adults, three children, three German Shepherds and enough camping gear and other supplies to provision a small army. It was to be a week of fishing, swimming and relaxation. When we left the dock in our two nineteen foot boats… with only inches of free-board above water, I am certain anyone observing would have had serious doubts about us getting to our destination without sinking. However, as it was one of those beautiful calm summer days we have here in Florida, we had no problem reaching our destination. (This calmness will have a significant impact on the outcome of this story.) While we had spent many day trips to the key to fish and swim, this was our first overnight trip. The north end of the island had a large grove of Australian Pines and we chose this area to set up camp. It was a beautiful camp site with dense shade that would help protect us from the fierce Florida sun. As it was high tide, we were able to navigate the boats into a shallow bay behind the island and beach them within 50 yards or so from where we would set up the tents. Life is good.

Once the camp was in order, Mike, James and I grab our rods and head for the shallow sandbar extending from the north end of the island in hopes of finding supper. The girls and kids decided to stay behind and do the beach thing. It was probably about 3 hours before sundown when we set out. Fishing was good as I recall… each of us catching several large speckled trout; keeping a few for supper. The sun was below the horizon as we made our last casts and headed back to camp. As we approached the camp (it’s almost dark now), we see everyone, dogs included, in the water. We expected to find them in camp preparing supper waiting for the fish. It was not a happy crowd we see as we approach. Before we reached them, they were yelling something about mosquitoes and sand gnats (no-see-ums). They said they couldn’t remain in camp… even for a few minutes. It seems most of the pests were under the trees where we had set up camp. Thinking they were being a little over sensitive, we go into the camp and find they had not been exaggerating. Imagine your body itching and burning (all over), with your brain yelling at you that you MUST scratch every inch of your body RIGHT NOW, and you might get some idea of our situation. Why not try insecticide? We did. We had probably brought a gallon of the stuff with us. We used what we had in short order with little or no effect. It might have helped keep most of the mosquitoes at bay but had no effect on the sand gnats. Someone suggested they had heard that kerosene would work so we even tried smearing some of that on our bodies. Didn’t help… and now we smelled like a petroleum distillery. What to do! We certainly couldn’t stay there under those conditions. We could leave, but checking the boats, we find it is now low tide and they are high and dry as is the bay. Using them is out of the question. It is better on the beach but “they” are there too. The best solution seems to be in the water… neck deep in the water. Did I say it was a completely calm night? Not a breath of breeze and a full moon rising. A breeze would have kept the sand gnats at bay, at least on the beach. Four adults, three kids and three dogs spend the night neck deep in water. James elects to bury himself in his sleeping bag under the sand on the beach.

With the dawn, the bugs are gone and the tide is up. Imagine five adults and three kids , with dogs under foot, going through the camp grabbing “stuff” and marching to the boats throwing it in and returning for another load. (Was that whimpering I heard as I passed others going to-and-fro? I certainly wasn’t doing that was I?) So ended our camping trip to Anclote Key… What a night to remember!



1. Iris Erskine - April 3, 2006

Thought out the years I have heard the stories of that camping trip and always one word comes to mind when anyone recalls it to me… and that is BUZZ!
The moments to remember or like Kim said,” prehaps forget..but fun with friends to look back on nevertheless.”
And for those of us who weren’t there still a good laugh as we all know the sound of mosquitoes!

2. Janet Lingan - April 8, 2006

Anclote Key has always been one of my favorite shelling beaches. I remember your taking us there when we were able to take a florida vacation from New York and especially going there with Jamey when he was about 10 years old but remember also never going into the shade because of the mosquitoes. Has the State of Florida removed those wonderful Australian trees yet? Both of these vignettes are wonderful! You have qbviously missed your calling. Keep it up!

3. Jackie - December 31, 2006

Thanks for your great post i am doing a study on this and you really helped me out here




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