Option #3 at the Happiness Hotel.

If I wanted to grit my teeth, turn up the music, and slap myself awake once or twice, I could have made it to Vancouver without any problems. But it was getting to dark to take notes, so a few exits after the town of Hope, I decided to pull into the nex stop that advertised an open campground.

The campground in question was the "Whistlestop RV park". Like I said, it was already pretty late, so they just hung a sign in the office inviting latecomers to register their site the next morning.

It was indeed an RV park - I was the only person in the tenting area. I found a nice spot to pitch a tent, but it was dark, and it was in the mountains, which meant that the only light I had was any bio-luminesence the moss was kind enough to provide. So, I improvised.

I strung the tarp between the trunk of my Accent and the picnic table, where it was held down by... actually it was held down by my tent. I rolled out the mattress and the sleeping bag underneath, and it was Good Enough. I crawled under and went to sleep.

Now, since this was the first campground I found off of the Trans-Canada Highway, it's reasonable to assume that the #1 was close nearby. Indeed, the constant rumbling of trucks would be my lullabye. I could live with that. But then, after about twenty minutes, an ear-splitting roar of engine and axles and horns sounded out, so loud that I thought some trucker was warning people that he'd veered right into the campsite. And it kept on roaring, like it was always approaching but never getting closer.

After a momentary stupor, I realised... this campsite was called the "Whistlestop" RV Park. Yes, as close as it was to the Trans-Canada, the CPR was even closer. And so, for the rest of the evening, another locomotive would blast by. Every hour, on the hour-thirty-four. I got some sleep in between, but I counted every single one of them.

Finally, at six thirty-four, I figured that the road was calling. I took a shower, then rolled the tarp and mattress back into the trunk, and I was ready to go. You might be wondering if I was going to complain about the train at the office. I was not, seeing as how a) they probably knew already, and b) the shower was probably worth just as much to me as the sleep was. However, it was a moot point, as the office hadn't yet opened for the day. Shrugging, I drove away. I've never dined and dashed before... but now I can say I've slept and dashed. That counts, right?

Of course, I had only heard the engine - and sometimes, due to either some lucky echo or different weights of cars, it had seemed like I could hear several of them at once - but I hadn't seen it. So, when the forest around the highway cleared a few kilometers later, I looked to my side and saw... nothing but lake and mist.

Ghost train.

1 comment:

Alan said...

that reminds me of a time we were camping in those same mountains... I think it was somewhere in Yoho... It was a campground, off the highway, but it was similar conditions... There was a train track, and the highway... but what I remember most was the cement plant that ran all night, and the fact that the "campsite" was entirely gravel.

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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.