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MarshBunny Notes
The St. Johns River The Intracoastal and Beyond
Mosquito Island

Mosquito Island (also known as Christmas Tree) is not really much of an island. It's really just a mound of dirt left over from the old Union Cypress Railway that once cut across the river here. It has gone under water at times, too, but most of the time you have some room to get out and walk around and pitch camp. A small camp. There are so few areas of dry ground to camp on out here - even fewer that you can reach by kicker-boat, that we are glad to have it at all.

You can walk quite a ways east on this track...if you don't mind pushing your way through a lot of bushes and spider webs and watching out for snakes in every direction.

Years ago there was a tall stand of Australian pines on the end of Mosquito Island that made it an easily recognized landmark for great distances across the marsh.

Mosquito Island in the Distance
From the North side of big Lake Sawgrass you could see the dark trees of Mosquito Island in the distance. (The dark shape in the water in the middle distance is a 'gator.)

Mosquito Island and the weather station
Looking East across Little Sawgrass you see that Mosquito Island and the weather station are both standing on the old Union Cypress railway.

Mosquito IslandJudy and I almost burnt the island down once. Not intentionally, of course, but we were just lucky we didn't do any damage.

We often stop at Mosquito Island to have lunch or just stretch our legs. Sometimes we take meat and potatoes and have a cookout. Once we camped out there overnight.

We now know how the island got it's name.

On Mosquito Island
Looking from Mosquito Island towards the river.
It was getting late and rain was coming so Trader Ron helped us carry out our camping gear - with the tent and all the gear we had it would have taken two trips in my boat - and he headed back to town. Judy and I got the area cleared, the tent set up, a fire started with dinner put on to cook, and a tarp put up over the "dining area" - and finished everything just as it started to rain.

We were rather smug about our timing. Camp was set, dinner was cooked and we were dry! Life was good! We enjoyed a great meal, conversation, and a few drinks.

It kept raining and it got dark. We couldn't do anything but huddle under the tarp - the tent was hot and muggy and the rain kept us from walking around. We had a few more drinks.

A fifth...er, I mean, a few hours later we crawled into the tent and avoided drips and cuddled tree roots all the rest of the night.

Finally it was morning again, and the sound of a boat putt-putting slowly into our area woke us. We stepped outside the tent and were immediately black with mosquitos! They were in our face, up our noses, fllying in our mouths, and sucking vigorously at every bit of our flesh - even through our clothes!!

A good way to chase away mosquitos is by building a big, smokey fire. So that's what we immediately set to do.

This is where things started to go bad.

The railroad trestles are at the base of the island
The water is very low here - I have seen it ankle-deep over the top of the island.

We had been so proud of the way we had got camp set up before the rain hit, but we had neglected to cover up any firewood and it had rained all night. The wood was soaked and all our efforts to start a fire with bits of paper and twigs were unsuccessfull. And we were losing pints and pints of blood.

Driven insane by clouds of buzzing, sucking mosquitos, we were desperate to get a fire going.We decided we could get a fire started with some gasoline from the boat. (I'm sticking with the insanity plea.)

At least we were clever enough to only take an old beer can down to the boat for a little gas rather than bringing the whole big can up to the camp. I got the gas and handed the can to Judy who immediately started pouring it on the firewood. There must have been one single spark still going from our earlier efforts. The whole pile kind of went "KerWhoomppp!" and flared up in one huge burst of flame. Judy jumped back and flung the beer can away from herself. I had been stepping from the boat to land and had to dodge the flying Molotov beer can while trying not to fall in the water.

After we regathered our wits and took a bathroom break we were daunted, but not quite ready to quit. The mosquitos had barely noticed the explosion and had sent word to all their cousins to come to breakfast. Judy said it was my turn to pour the gas on the firewood.

I patted all over the embers with my bare hands to make sure there were no live sparks. I poured the gas over the wood, catlike reflexes at the ready to leap into the river if necessary. I got down close out of the wind and struck a match and held it to the gas-soaked wood. The match went out. I struck another match - fizzeled out again. Crouching ever closer to block the wind I struck a third match and put it to the fuel..."KerWhoomppp!"

My eyebrows and eyelashes grew back eventually, and we did finally get the fire started, but Judy and I never camped out on Mosquito Island since.

The trestles leave the island and head off across the marsh.
A shady spot under the Australian Pines at the tip of the island.

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