Camping in south Texas is an experience not to be missed. It's sort of like the opposite of climbing Mount Everest.
Snow? Nope. Elevation? Nope. Yetis? Nope.
On the other hand climbing Mount Everest lacks a certain je ne sais qois.
Mosquitoes? Nope. Mosquitoes? Nope. Mosquitoes? Nope.
There you have it in a nutshell. So, imagine our delight this weekend camping in south Texas and having no bugs. Yep, bug free.
Oh, yeah, there was the occasional spider and beetle but they don't fly at you with long pointed noses intent on sucking you dry of blood! The spiders, beetles and other multi-legged critters are quite happy to scuttle around on the forest floor, and they are very grateful if you don't step on them.
We had a great day of hiking in the woods, a tremendous water balloon fight and I cooked what had to be the Second Greatest Texas chili, second only to the Best Texas chili I ever cooked.
By some wicked twist of fate the weather cooperated and it was more like Mount Everest than south Texas with the temperature in the 60's. Perfect sleeping weather. No bugs. Too chilly for bugs. Like other cold-blooded creatures they kept warm as best they could.
I retired to my tent, shucked my camping gear and snuggled down to a long, peaceful slumber.
Or so I thought.
Around 4am I awoke to the sensation of something crawling around my ankles. Now I'm pretty cool with spiders, crickets, beetles, ants and stuff like that and if they want to crawl around, that's fine, so long as they don't bite.
No Biting Zone on Bill's Ankles. That's the rule.
I wiggled my feet a little and felt a tightening around my ankles.
Although my heart saw the Start Flag to the Indy 500, the rest of me screamed "Don't move! It's a snake!"
Now, this is the dilemma to having a snake in your tent at 4am in the morning. First, you don't know what kind of snake it is. It could be a rattlesnake, which if polite would at least give out a few rattles.
Or it could be a copperhead, another poisionous snake common to south Texas, which would just as soon bite you as look at you.
Or it could be a water moccasin which is just plain mean and will bite you because the copperhead didn't bite you.
Or it could be one of the harmless snakes like the rat snake, bull snake, king snake, garter snake or just some kind of snake that you don't know anything about but is a snake nevertheless.
I didn't move.
I didn't move for a couple of hours.
Finally, I heard some people stirring and I knew that people were waking up.
"Yeah, Bill, morning, dude, what's up."
"Hey, Louis, I've got a snake in my tent and it's around my feet. Can you carefully, very carefully unzip the outer door and tell me what kind of snake it is?"
"Oh, geeze, man, snakes freak me out! What if it jumps at me?"
"It's not going to jump at you, it's going to bite me! So, look at the freaking snake and tell me what kind it is!"
I heard my tent zipper open and Louis was breathing hard.
"I brought a stick, man" he said, and he lifted part of my sleeping bag.
"Oh, man, I see it!" Louis was really agitated. "It's green!"
I thought, green, green, uh, a black mamba, a green mamba, a green bongo, geeze louise a GREEN SNAKE!
Then Louis, emboldened by not being attacked by the snake, prodded a little more and said...
"Hey, this ain't no snake! It's your belt, man! You got your belt wrapped around your feet!"
"OK." I said, "yeah, belt, yeah that's OK, uh huh, right, belt, yeah I knew that."
I got my boots on and emerged from the tent a few minutes later.
"Good job, Louis," I said confidently, "You passed the Snake Test with flying colors. But, wait until we do the Scorpion Drill. It's a lot tougher!"