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Noted in Passing: It’s summertime, summertime, summ, summ, summertime. . .

Gearhead Utah family on vacation in Florida. “What shall we do, dad?” “Let’s find some dysfunctional internal combustion engine. Fix it. And go for a ride in a swamp, okay?” “AWESOME!”

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  • ghostsniper August 5, 2022, 1:52 PM

    It was a Wed afternoon in the summer of 1994 and drove out to a 120 acre property on Bayshore road to meet with a baseball player for the BOSOX. He wanted me to design for his fambly an approx 12,000 square foot custom log home and in our meeting today he was going to give me the grocery list of basic ideas for the new home.

    This was undeveloped land and it stretched from the road seven thousand feet south to the north bank of the Caloosahatchee river and nothing but dense foliage in between. My truck was parked off the road and I was on the cell with Mike the baseball player and he said he’d be there in a minute. I heard a low roar in the distance and it got louder. Then the trees parted and what at first seemed like a building on wheels came slowly toward me. It was a giant Swamp Buggy, custom made of course.

    This thing was huge. The tires were as tall as me and about 4 feet wide and I had to climb a set of stairs to get to the large platform on top. The floor was about 12 feet off the ground, about 10 feet wide and 20 feet long. Right in the middle toward the front was a bench seat from a pickup truck with a dashboard and there were several more bench seats scattered about. There were also several 100 gallon+ coolers bolted down. Mike shook hands with me and introduced me to a bunch of his baseball player friends and everybody had a brew in their hands and a brew was handed to me.

    Mike hit a couple buttons on the dash and pulled a lever or 2 and that gaint machine started turning on it’s own axis until is was facing back into the woods and the river in the distance. Then it started moving forward very slowly, maybe 5 mph. The floor sorta swayed like a big boat on the ocean. Everybody was talking at the same time and laughing and grab assing. And here I was in the middle of a MLB party, 12 feet up in the air out in the middle of nowhere.

    Soon we got to a place and Mike stopped the buggy and was pointing out where he wanted the primary house to be located, and several large ponds he intended to have dug. Then we moved south again. Over on the left was where he wanted to build a guest house. Then, a stable for at least 12 horses complete with tack rooms, etc. Next up was his racing car workshop that he said has to be at least 10,000 square feet and it will have a gas and a diesel pump. When we got in sight of the river he showed me where he wanted his boat house and 300′ foot T-dock out into the river.

    From Bayshore road all the way back to the river there would be a meandering paved road 16 feet wide and every 100′ would be a stone column with a large lamp on top that would come on with proximity sensors when vehicles got close at night. The entire property would be enclosed with a stone and rail fence and a security guard house at the road.

    Up on the platform of the swamp buggy were 4 or five large dogs milling about and a plethora of guns, short and long all over the place. Along the way a player or two would shoot guns into the woods and then laugh and slap each other on the backs. The cold brews were flying. The day was very hot and since it was a work day for me I only had 2 brews. But everybody else was gulping them like they were in a contest. And draping the hoses over the side and letting it loose right there. Brazen animals!

    At the boat house, when the buggy was stopped, one of the big coolers was opened and there was sub sando’s for everyone. Somebody threw a sub straight up into the air and somebody else shot it with a 12 ga and it rained sub gutz all over the place. And everybody laffed and laffed and laffed. After the chow-down the brew chugging continued apace and Mike turned the buggy and started back toward the road about 20 minutes away. This buggy crawled, very slow. It had a blown cadillac engine and 2 4 speed transmissions in tandem, gearing it way down. Top speed in 4th 4th was maybe 10 mph. Buggies ain’t made for speed, they is made for power. This thing would walk right over downed trees and knock down trees that were standing. Nothing stood in it’s way. It could cross water several feet deep at least and never even slowing. The grab assing continued and one dood made a joke about another doods old lady. The nother dood grabbed his crotch and said, “SUCK MY DIK MOTHERFUCKER!”. It was kinda funny hearing famous wealthy people talk like common skreet dawgz.

    On the hour long drive back to my office I talked into my portable cassette recorder about everything that happened during the meeting while it was fresh on my mind. The heat in that summer sun pretty much wiped me out and when I got back in my office I shut the door, cut the lights and just kicked back in my chair.

    Over the next several months I completed the design and construction drawings on Mike Greenwells estate, and then the next year and a half visiting the site to do periodic inspections and in the first phase I rode on that buggy and another smaller one several more times. It was a good project. The following year I designed a 14k sq ft home for Deion Sanders and it too was a good project but he didn’t have a swamp buggy.

    • jiminalaska August 6, 2022, 11:54 AM

      I miss Florida a wee bit, playin’ in the swamps, the glades and the piny woods, but not much.

      Most of what i liked about there is long gone but sill right outside my door up here on top of the world.

    • Snakepit Kansas August 6, 2022, 6:38 PM

      I have some good stories, but Ghost takes the blue ribbon.

  • Dirk August 5, 2022, 5:28 PM

    Like to hear success stories. Well done Ghost. Never been in a buggy, lots of time on the gator boats.