Tag Archives: Florida Camping

The Engine Overhaul Part 1

30 Jun

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

In a recent post about camping, I mentioned our first small tent camper and the following story takes place around 1972, not long after we bought that camper.  It all started with what was supposed to be a family camping trip, with friends, for a fun weekend in the Everglades National Park, located at the southern tip of Florida.  On the first day, as we were heading south on I-95 from Titusville, FL we were all excited about the little four-day ‘mini-vacation’ we had planned.  We had both cars packed full of all the food and camping equipment we thought we would need, to ‘rough-it’ for the trip, along with our canoes and our tent camper.  

Photo by Bill Lites

As we approached the exit for Melbourne, FL (only 35 miles from home) our 1960 Chevrolet Biscayne sedan suddenly made a loud rattling sound from the engine, and the car began to slow down.  I immediately put the car in neutral, and coasted onto the emergency lane, where the car came to  a stop.  There was no indication on the dashboard instruments that there was anything wrong, but the car would not run.  My friend Dwayne pulled in behind me, and we tried to assess the situation.  The starter would turn the engine over, but it would not run.  We finally decided it was probably something to do with the timing and we needed to get my car off I-95.  

Luckily, I had an emergency tow-strap and Dwayne was able to tow my car and camper off I-95.  There just happened to be a campground next to I-95, where we could hold up long enough to make some new plans.  We decided to transfer the camper to Dwayne’s car, but he didn’t have a trailer hitch on his car.  It was a holiday weekend, and we had no idea where to go for a trailer hitch.  We borrowed a phone book (no cellphones) from the campground owner and finally found an auto parts store that was not too far from us.  By the time we found the store, bought a trailer hitch, and got it installed on Dwayne’s car, we were all tired, and realized it was too late to make it all the way to the Everglades Park (200 miles)  before they closed for the night.  So, we paid for and spent the night there at the friendly campground and were glad to be able to take a shower after all the day’s hectic activities.

After the campground owner heard our story, he was kind enough to let me leave our car parked there until we got back from our trip.  We packed everything up and headed out early the next morning with four adults and five children in Dwayne’s car (no air conditioning), and with him pulling my camper and both canoes on top of his car.  We finally made it to the park and had a great, if short, ‘Everglades Adventure.’  You can read all about the camping trip in the three-part referenced blogs on this same website (Ref. Bill Lites blog titles “An Everglades Adventure Part 1, 2, & 3 dated 09/24/2014-10/08/2014”) if you care to.  Now, as Paul Harvey would say; for the rest of the story.  After we got home and got everything unloaded, Dwayne drove me back to the campground, in Melbourne, to get my car.  He towed me home and helped me get the car into my garage where I could work on it.

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

An Everglades Adventure~Part 1

24 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites



After moving to Florida and becoming an avid Florida Natural Springs campers, we began to encourage our close friends to go camping with us. We told them how much fun it was and how great it was to get out and be one with Nature.   Florida has some of the most beautiful tropical State and National parks a person could ask for, and we had become determined to visit as many of them as we could.



One day our friends, Dwayne and Jenny, expressed an interest in going camping with us. Well, that’s all we had to hear and we began planning our next trip. DiVoran had always wanted to visit the Florida Everglades, and since we had no other suggestions, that’s where we finally decided to go. In the early 70’s, the Everglades National Park was advertised as Nature at its best, with camping, hiking, canoeing, animal and bird watching and more. Well, we thought it would be a great adventure to camp at the southern tip of Florida and enjoy all those wonderful features. The part they left out of their colorful brochure was how primitive the area was.   


As I remember, at the time, Dwayne and Jenny’s three children were about 12 months, 3 and 6 years old, and our two children were about 8 and 10 years old. We planned to use our small pop-up camper as a base camp while their family slept in a large tent that would hold all of them. We each borrowed a canoe for the trip, and we packed all our food and equipment in our camper. We had a 1960 Chevy Biscayne that I drove back and forth to work and used to pull the camper.


Dwayne and Jenny had their tent, and all of their family provisions loaded in their car, with their canoe strapped on the top.   We had everything loaded, packed and ready for an early morning start. The best I remember it, Dwayne and I had taken Friday off, and since we were both off work the following Monday for (I think it was) Columbus Day, we were looking forward to a nice long four-day weekend to enjoy our Everglades Adventure. So, off we went the next morning as early as we could to get everyone moving.



We headed south on I-95 looking forward to a wonderful relaxing trip.   We were breezing along at 70 mph, with great anticipation about our upcoming adventure, when just as we were approaching SR-192 in Melbourne (only about 40 miles from our starting point), the engine in our car suddenly made a loud clattering noise, and the engine quit. I had no idea what could have happened, but all I could do now was to safely get off the highway and coast to a stop to check it out.


                                                            —–To Be Continued—–

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