Let’s talk about derailments for a moment, shall we? I have a story to tell. There may be profanity. So be warned.
Achray Campground in Algonquin Park. Photo courtesy of Turnipseed Travel
One fall in the early nineties, Hubby and I were camped in our tent at Achray Campground on the shores of Grand Lake in Algonquin Park. Following the shoreline all along the curve of the lake was a railway line, for freight trains. It’s abandoned now, but was still in use at the time. Achray is a beautiful campground, and the campsites are located on a small peninsula that juts out into the lake, between the lake and the rail line. The rail line which was, I might add, unbeknownst to me.
Now picture this. It’s midnight. And very dark. We’re tucked into our sleeping bags, on our air mattress, on the ground, in our tent. Our campsite is back from the lake, making it about a hundred metres from the invisible, to me anyway, rail line. It’s a warm night so the tent door is zipped open. And lying there we can see out the screened inverted-V-shape of the tent doorway to the dark trees overhead, the night sky, the stars. Well, we could see that if we were awake, but we aren’t.
The ground begins to shake. We are awakened by a dreadful rumbling, like thunder. We feel it as much as hear it, up through the ground, through our thin air mattress. Then dead centre in the middle of our tent doorway we see a large, bright, round light. The thundering, and now a rushing sound, gets louder and louder, and the light grows, and seems to be bearing down upon us. It fills the doorway. I am paralysed with fear. I can’t even call out to Hubby. I remember thinking, “It’s a UFO. It can’t be a UFO. It’s a freaking UFO.” I also remember thinking that we were going to die.
The noise gets louder and louder, and after a few breathless moments the light moves off to our right, the thundering and rushing now are clearly off to the right, and the noise begins to diminish, and finally dies down. I remember yelling, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.What the hell was that?” Hubby is spluttering, “I thought it had left the track. I thought the train had left the track.” And then we can’t talk at all for a while because we’re in hysterics, laughing with released tension. It came out later that, as I was lying there staring into the maw of an apparent UFO, Hubby, who knew about the rail line, thought the train had derailed as it came around the curve of the lake, thought it had left the tracks and was heading straight for our tent. Seriously folks, until you experience it, you can’t imagine the deafening, thundering, bone-shaking noise of a thousand ton freight train as it passes close to you. Especially when you’re lying on the ground looking up at it. Ha.
We still laugh about this story.
We laughed about it the other day, in fact, when out of the blue I came down with shingles and said that I guessed my plans for the week would be derailed.
Plans to meet a friend and former student to see her new house in the country and then decamp to the local pub for lunch. Plans for a long bike ride and a picnic with Hubby. Plans that have been rescheduled twice already for various reasons to meet a friend for dinner. All cancelled. My newly revised fitness regimen, derailed. Plans for outfit shoots one day. Cancelled. No outfit shoots this week. In fact, no outfits period. As I said to a friend, I fear my clothes at the moment. Can’t stand anything moving across my skin.
So all my plans for the week, derailed. Replaced by slouching around the house in soft pyjama bottoms and a super soft loose tee, holding my side, wincing, and whining.
When I said to Hubby the other day about my plans being derailed, we laughed about our derailment adventure back in the day. But not for long. It hurts too much to laugh. In truth, I feel as if I’ve been hit by that long ago train. So…shingles. Not fun and not funny.
But enough of that. I just deleted a whole paragraph of whining as too boring for anyone to read. It even bored me.
I will say that sitting at my desk at the computer feels okay. So that’s good. And Hubby has been casting about for ideas for a meal to cheer me up. Despite all the culinary skill he’s acquired over the past few years, all the wonderful meals he’s learned to cook, he’s hit on a supper of barbequed hotdogs with toasted buns and steamed onions. My absolute favourite childhood meal. Isn’t that sweet?
You might think it odd to have trains run through a wilderness park like Algonquin. But trains and Algonquin Park go way back. Logging has a long history in this part of Ontario. Freight trains serviced the mills and the small logging communities in and around the park area for eighty years. And passenger trains ran to the park from Toronto back in the early parts of the twentieth century. The well-heeled citizens of the south could board a train in the big city and be in pristine wilderness by evening. Some of the gracious lodges they visited still exist, although now you have to drive your car to get there.
Hubby remembers going fishing with friends in the seventies, loading their gear and their canoes onto the train that passed through the park. The engineer dropped them off and then picked them up a few days later on his way back to Ottawa. Hubby still laughs about one trip where a group of hapless canoeists, including him, huddled in the tiny station house while a couple of black bears pawed their way into the packs on the platform, looking for food and fresh fish. In fact, when he grew up Hubby’s younger brother was the engineer who drove the train through the park. That’s a pretty cool connection, I thought.
But enough about trains, I must go. There’s a cold compress somewhere in the house with my name on it, and I’m way behind with my whining. It’s raining and raining today. A good day to pop some pain meds and settle down with my book. I’m getting pretty good at reading lying on my stomach.
P.S. Thanks so much to the folks at Turnipseed Travel for letting me use their photo. Here’s the link to their travel website.