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Living just east of Crazy

Camping in a War zone

Written By: Eddie Snipes - Jun• 19•12

It was summer break and for the last month we had been planning a weekend camping trip. It was to be me, Bob, and Ron. The only problem was that Bob worked for a grocery store and he wouldn’t know his schedule until just before our trip. He asked for the weekend off, but was denied. Sure enough, he had to work the Friday of the camping trip and the Saturday after.

camping_youre_doing_it_wrongBeing the mature seventeen year old teenagers we were, fireworks were involved in our camping trip. I don’t recall the original plan, but I’m sure it involved having a war with bottle rockets. But now that Bob had to work, the war had been canceled. Bob promised to drop by after work, but he could only stay for a few hours since he had to go in early the next morning. Our favorite camping spot was about a mile hike up the little river in Canton, GA. There were a series of sandbars that were great for setting up camp – as long as it didn’t rain.

The only downside of camping on this river is that rowdy teens camped in the area sometimes. They drank, fought, and screamed all night on a previous trip. We took great care to avoid the hooting rednecks.

When I camped with Ron, we weren’t the most efficient campers. On the previous camping trip with Ron we swam, fished, and goofed off until it started raining. Then we rushed to set up our shelter. Setting up camp first was an anathema. On our first camping trip his grandmother warned him of the danger of snakes. She knew someone who knew someone who was attacked by snakes while they slept. But she had a solution. Bleach. Snakes hate bleach, so if we would take a jar of liquid snake repellent, we’d be safe.

Ron tried to refuse, but she was adamant. Finally, to make peace, Ron took a jar of bleach she offered him. It was an old instant coffee jar. To keep it from leaking, she created a seal out of several layers of plastic wrap and a lid. With our snake barrier packed away, we set out.

After hastily building our campsite to escape the rain, Ron decided to put on his spare but dry shoes. At least they were supposed to be dry. When he pulled them out, he got a handful of wet shoestrings. Shoestrings, but no shoes. The handful of strings smelled strangely like bleach. Apparently, the seal wasn’t very good at sealing. The jar had come open and all the bleach poured into his bag. The shoes took the brunt of the attack. Pure bleach had decayed the strings to the point where they were a mushy pile. Most of that pile was now in Ron’s hand.

Ron wasn’t happy. I could tell this by the expression on his face, and by the way he ranted around saying unintelligible things. I assured him that his clothes were now spotless. But that didn’t seem to comfort him. Nor was he comforted by the guarantee that no snakes would dare venture through the overpowering odor of bleach to attack us while we slept.

Fortunately, this camping trip was going a little better. He made the decision to leave the snake repellent home this time. Nothing his grandmother said could sway him from his resolve.

Darkness began to fall, so we headed back to the car to get our camping gear, and then began the trek to find a good place to set up. We followed the river about a half mile into the woods and saw a blazing bonfire. Since there was a chance it could be the ruffians, I decided it would be best to stay out of sight. I didn’t want them to know we were back there in case they decided to become adventurous during the night.

We crossed the river by some ruins and plodded along the thick trees on the steep bank on the opposite side. Then we hit a patch of open area. I looked across the river and a man was staring right at me. The large campfire lit up the area like daylight. He gave me a very suspicious look. It might have been because we looked as if we were sneaking. Which we were. But when I saw it was a family, I knew we had no cause for concern.

We plodded along, looking for a place to cross back again. This side of the river was a steep bank and all the good camping spots were on the other side. After another half-mile we came across a train track. It bridged across the river, providing us a way back. What was better is that it also had a perfect sandbar below it. So we decided to set up the tent at the water’s edge below the tracks. Then I began building a campfire.

About the time I started getting the fire going, a firecracker exploded just above my head. I swear the pop sounded like “BOB.” I knew he was above me. No one else would try to drop a lit firecracker on my head. I retrieved my bottle rockets, handed some to Ron, and we prepared to return fire. The war hadn’t been canceled after all.

We fired up, he fired down, and we continued to barrage each other until we ran out of ammunition. Then we declared a cease fire. The whole battle only lasted 15 or 20 minutes. When Bob approached after the truce, I noticed he had a long object hanging from his belt. “What’s that?”

“It’s my sword,” He said. “After all, I’m General Bob Wattez of the USB forces.”

This was a running joke we had for years. He was the general of USofB – which stood for United States of Bob. He always called me the evil Edpire. He lived one county north of me, so he would send me letters declaring war, and on the back of the envelope, he would always draw the earth with a bloody sword through it. It looked demonic so I always asked him to quit doing that. The mail lady was going to think I was some sort of sicko. He said, “The Edpire is an evil, tyrannical dictatorship, trying to oppress the world under his bloody grip, and this is Edpire’s national seal.”

Spit would fly as he waved a finger and launched into his anti-Edpire speech. There was just no reasoning with pure, rabid passion.

Bob didn’t stay long and wanted us to walk him back to his car. He said, “Did you see the campsite on the way down? I thought that was you guys until I got closer.” He then explained that once he saw it wasn’t us, he ran up into the woods and hid his sword. He didn’t want to scare the family. He saw that the man was watching him hide it, so he walked up and sheepishly asked, “Have you seen two guys go by?” The man pointed across the river and watched suspiciously as Bob ran back to retrieve his weapon and then head upstream to find the two guys he was looking for.

As we walked and talked I noticed that the bonfire wasn’t visible. By now we should be seeing it. There’s no way it could already be out. We followed the river until we arrived at the sandbar where I was sure the family had been. I still smelled the faint aroma of smoke, but no fire and no family. It was odd. We made it all the way back to his car and still didn’t see any other sign of people.

The next day we packed up and headed back. On the return trip, we passed the campsite where the family had been. It was clear that they had made a hasty exit. Several pairs of shoes had been left behind. I wondered why, but then thought about the previous night’s events.

Two guys sneaking through the woods.

A few minutes later another guy hides something long in the woods.

He then asks if two guys passed this way.

He retrieves long object and goes after the two guys.

A few minutes later strange sounds echo down the river. Pow, pow. Pow, pow, pow, pow. The hollering, more popping sounds, and return fire. Followed by silence.

Had they just witnessed an assassination? Murder for hire? A drug deal gone bad? I couldn’t blame them. I would have gotten my family out of there, too. Little did they know that it was just two single man armies battling for the sword of the world. Three, if you count Ron, the UN peace keeper, who decided to fight just for the fun of it.

Happy camping!

Eddie Snipes 2012

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