# 1. The Snow
I believe this took place in early January 1962, but I'm not really sure. I feel like it was sometime after the Christmas Holidays. It was unusually warm and someone came up with the idea of going camping.
At this time we had no "assigned" location in the woods we had to use. So a group of about four or five of us went to the other side of the "New" lake. This is the second lake you come to as you cross the dam. We were on the west side near the shallow south end of the lake away from the dam. We were within sight of the pasture fence. We set up two tents and had a good campfire going. After dinner it started getting cold, so we decided to take two-hour shifts keeping the fire going. We gathered up a lot of firewood to make sure we could keep the fire going all night. I don't remember what shift I took, but I do remember it started to snow during my watch. You can guess that by daylight we were all cold, tried, and hungry. There was about an inch or two of snow on the ground by then. We gave up the idea of spending another night in the woods and packed up our gear and headed for the main campus.
Not much of story there, but it taught me that I needed some long underwear even in South Alabama or LA (Lower Alabama) as everyone says now. I made good and sure I had some by the next school year.
(See the story about The Big Chill of 1963.)
# 2. The Rain
This camping trip was in the early spring of 1962. We chose a site between the lakes near the south end again.
One of the boys in our group had a two-man pup tent for this trip. The tent was light green and had no floor to it. But I had a wonderfully large blanket that belonged to my mother. It was thin and as wide as the tent, but when it was unfolded lengthwise it was twice as long as a bed. When I used it on my bunk I always had it folded lengthwise. So this brown and tan striped blanket became the floor of the tent. The tent was waterproofed in such a way that if it was raining and you touched the inside of the tent it would leak after that where it had been touched. When it started raining we all crawled in to the tent and lay down on our backs to go to sleep. The two main problems were there were four of us in this two-man tent, and we had set it up on the side of a small hill without digging a drainage trench around it. This meant that almost everyone was touching the tent somewhere and the rainwater was flowing through the bottom of the tent and down the hill.
How I went to sleep I'll never know, but when I woke up both of my ears were underwater! That was an interesting feeling, different for sure! So we got up on Saturday morning, broke camp and I had to drag that giant soaking wet blanket all the way back to Russell Hall. I have no memory of how I hid that blanket during Saturday Morning Inspection, but I bet that would be a good ending to this camping story.
# 3. The Orange Juice Can
Now we move forward in time to the 1963-64 school year. I believe this was the first year the school set up a tent for us to use. It was a round olive drab tent that would hold about six people. It was located in the grove of pine trees between the two forks in road that goes past the football stadium and into the woods. This was now the one and only campsite authorized for our use.
The story of the can and how I was knocked out by it will have to remain unwritten until I can get permission from the former cadet who hit me with it. He told me in his autograph in my 1964 Ranger that I would remember the many camping trips every time I looked the mirror. He was and still is a good friend of mine, but he thinks I'll never let him live what happened down. I really don't want him to feel badly about it because it was an accident and I forgave him when it happened.
# 4. The WHAT?
The subject of this chapter will have to remain unknown until the end... You will see why in a minute.
I think this was my last camping trip at LWMA. It was warm weather some time in late April or May of 1964. I know there were at least three of us camping that time.
I can't explain why I wanted to sleep with my head outside the tent that night, but I did. I laid down in the doorway of the tent with the top half of my body outside and went to sleep. I guess I liked sleeping under the stars or something? I don't know...
Anyway, I was sleeping like a rock when I became aware of what sounded like someone very heavy walking around the campsite. I really wasn't completely awake and my eyes were still closed, when I heard loud, heavy breathing in my face. I awoke with my eyes popping open to see the flaring nostrils of a cow about two inches from my face! It was also bright daylight. That was a start! I went from being afraid to open my eyes to being mad as hell in less than two seconds. I jumped up yelling at the cows and throwing food and juice cans at them. I was mad at myself for being afraid of some loose cows and I was taking it out on them.
During this time the school still operated a dairy farm to the west of the school, thus "the pasture" was still there and the cows would get out of the pasture from time to time. I knew this because I had run into them before in the woods. I guess that is why I was so mad with myself for being a little afraid of them before I opened my eyes that morning.
Now you know "The WHAT?" was really "The COW".
More Camping Fun How to Start a Fire and What Trail?
When we camped at the lake, we always crossed the fence and collected dried ( key word DRIED! ) cow paddies and burned them. That was easier than cutting wood. We did supplement with downed limbs.
My favorite place to camp was beyond the lakes on "Little Sandy" That was the rear limit that you could go camping.
The only thing about that was in the night you could not find your way back to campus as there was no trail from the lakes to "Little Sandy". I tried once and walked for hours and finely stumbled out of the woods onto the railroad tracks, then walked to town and then to the campus.
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