A Long Bunch of Babble

Jun 21, 2008

We went camping last night at a campground we really liked. We were right by a river and it wasn't too crowded. It was also right by some train tracks, however, and some people may consider this a serious drawback. There was one point, sometime after midnight, that 2 trains went by at the same time, crossing paths right next to our campsites. They had to blow their whistles, of course, and it was crazy loud, so I just laid there hoping and praying that they wouldn't wake Harrison. Miraculously he didn't wake up, so I didn't have to chase the trains down and give them what-for. Anyway, this rather meaningless little train experience made me think of other train experiences in my life, and so I decided to share one with you. You're Welcome.

In the town where I grew up was a place called Red Bridge. It was a place where two sets of train tracks crossed each other, one above the other, forming a bridge. It never seemed all that red to me, but hey, I didn't name it. We used to hang out there a lot. Yeah. It's a little town. Sometimes we just went to talk, sometimes we would bring gear and repel off the bridge, sometimes we would bring ice cream and eat it in the dark. If our timing was good and we were very lucky, a train would come by on the lower tracks. This is what made the spot so fun. We liked to climb down into the beams of the bridge to watch the train speed past us.

One time in particular sticks out. We heard a train coming in the distance. Me and Ryan VanAusdal climbed down into the beams. We hurried to get to the beam right at the edge of the track so we would be as close to the train as possible. The train was coming fast so we had to hurry. And we got there just in time. Me, clinging to one beam, and Ryan clinging to a beam some 5 feet behind me. And then the train arrived and blew its whistle. The blast of wind that hit from the speed of that train, combined with the force of air I am sure was produced solely by the sound of the whistle was almost enough to send me flying. It was all I could do to hold tight to that beam while the train sped past.

And in that instant I was sure that Ryan was gone. I knew that if I turned around I would see him flying through the air, or in a heap on the ground some 30 feet away. Of course I couldn't turn - the wind was still too strong and I was clinging to that beam for dear life. Not to mention the adrenaline and excitement of that much noise, power and speed. If I had wanted to I could have reach out my hand and touched it (the train, I mean. Not the power and speed. Well, maybe I would have been touching the power and speed as well, but there is no point in waxing poetic because whatever it was I was touching, it would have taken my hand off). The moments passed with me being torn between exhilaration, and grief for my poor, fallen friend.

When the train was finally gone and I was able to climb off my beam, I saw that Ryan was still there. Of course he was still there. What is funny to me now is that I thought that a guy 3 years my senior with a man-sized upper body strength would be blown away when I was able to hang on, but that is what I thought. I'm kind of dumb like that. It makes me smile every time I think about it.