You all knew that I grew up on military bases. Imagine the most safe and secure small town where everyone looked out for you and knew who your dad was and would totally rat you out if you did things like vandalism. So you just didn't do it. The trade off was that you could be out at 3 A.M. in the summer and no one freaked out over it. The high school kids were in the bush having their parties so the 14 year olds with our ten speed bikes ruled the night streets.
You could ride your bike all night in the summer and have the military police pretend to chase you around. We had a game we would play with them were we would go get a Quench lemonade at the vending machine outside of the mini mall. The rule was that if you had your can open and the cops came on you, you HAD to drink the whole thing before taking off on your bike. Even if you just opened it. Anything else was just wasteful.
I swear to god they waited for us to just open the cans before flashing their lights and driving up to us. It was harmless fun that kept them sharp and us entertained. It was like they babysat us.
So one night we had ridden our bikes all night and we were planning on going to the fire watch tower in the morning. Shilo Manitoba borders on this magnificent spruce tree forest, called Sprucewoods of course. Often you could talk the fire watch tower guys into letting you climb up to the cabin where you could see everything for miles. It was pretty cool. We had all been there in school. But to get there you had to cross the 'tracks'.
Now the tracks were a really neat far away pack a lunch kind of day trip you made with you buddies when you were in elementary. You hiked about half a mile and collected rocks. The rocks that were used to fill in the track came from the B.C. Rockies and were really interesting to look at. Basically layered sedimentary rocks were none should be.
Everyday the CPR train came by and you knew if you were driving you could wait up to twenty minutes for these long trains to pass.
Well this particular day when I was fourteen, four of us reached the tracks and the train was stopped. It was weird because no cars were trapped waiting. Just us. I don't remember who moved first or who said what first but three cars from the road was an open boxcar. Like a hobo's dream open on both sides clean boxcar.
Immediately we had ditched our bikes in the tall grass and we ran for it, boosted ourselves into it and we cuddled in one corner hoping no one saw us. The way we worked that precision manoeuvre was like well trained military SEALS - or bumblebees. Two minutes later the train started up again. I swear it was like the gods were waiting for us to jump on.
Now we figured out pretty quickly that we had a choice to make. Jump or stay. My grandfather was an train engineer for most of his adult life. My uncle lost his leg when he was 11 because he and my dad were playing around a moving train and my uncle fell beneath the tracks - SLICE - just that quick. It was a miracle he lived. So I had been raised on train accident stories. I wasn't jumping nowhere. As far as I was concerned I was on this train for the LONG ride.
The train was going to Winnipeg which was about 200 or so miles away. All the lines passed through Winnipeg. I knew that city well. I have already told the story of how I ran away and navigated my way through the city to see 'Star Wars' when I was twelve. And every summer I got dumped at my aunt's place for a week of 'vacation'. My aunt barely fed us cousins so we would eat at the A&W and go to the movies and museum all by ourselves. So I figured that once we reached the city, the train would stop, we would get out, find the buses and get to the base in Winnipeg and take the base bus home to Shilo. That bus ran every night at eight.
How great were my parents when I could be on such an adventure and not be expected home anytime soon. Like I said. No one thought anything bad could hurt us. We lived on a fricken military establishment with tanks and artillery and stuff. That was just the mindset.
So we rode the rails. It was the coolest thing ever. Nothing but country and small towns where people waiting for the train to pass saw us wave at them but did nothing about it. I think about that years later and wonder if they didn't care or didn't want to go through the trouble of having to find a phone to call it in. These were the pre-cell phone golden years kids. You could be OFF GRID and not be tracked.
When we reached the city we were pretty pumped because I had told stories of guys with bowler hats and billy clubs that would beat the hobos when they were caught on the trains. Of course no one even noticed when we slipped off the train as it stopped. Again, another time and place.
We took the bus to my aunt's work. She worked at this fancy steak house and when we got there we regaled her and the few regulars at the bar the story of our adventure and they bought us fries and burgers and we phoned our folks to tell them where we were.
My Dad to his dying day swore he didn't say - "Yeh Yeh sure you rode the train to Winnipeg. Be home to have a shower and change your cloths sometime." Even when my aunt told him I was sitting right in front of her he seemed totally unfazed. But my Dad was the kind of guy who just rolled with things as long as you weren't making trouble or hurting yourself. We laughed about that for years. "Great parent skills Dad."
We spent the afternoon at the movies and saw the James Bond movie 'Moonraker'. That was the best part I think because in those days you had to wait months to see a first run movie if you didn't live in a big city. And the theatre had a balcony with those huge opera seats. Magic.
After the movie we took the bus to the base, hoped the base bus and were picking up our bikes from the tall grass by midnight. To this day it's the best day I ever had.
Holy Crap - that post was epic. But you gotta use alot of words to tell the story right. I was thinking today how much of a priviledge it is to record all this stuff for myself. If anyone else reads it and appreciates it, it is really a gift. Blogging is cool that way.
Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness
I forever stand vigilant to protect this planet from the myriad of forces that are always against us. Be it the octopus, zombies, aliens or the robots my team of human agents, and our feline allies, circle the globe in a never ending struggle for human freedom.
I learn all I can on every subject that interests me. I especially enjoy ancient history because in the past there are valuable lessons to be found. Also, if I ever get my time machine to work properly, it would be good to know a bit about possible destinations and what to expect when I get there.
I greatly appreciate beautiful design. Be it manufactured or found naturally I am fascinated by the process of invention. I am attracted to the unique, the strange, the haunted. I like to share what I find on this blog.
And not let us forget the 'Cephalopod Menace' who, if allowed to, would wrap their tentacles around all that is good and pure in this life and crush it until it remained no more. They are creatures of pure spite. Hate is all they know. Death is all they do. They are our most ruthless and determined enemy.
So we fight. Selena has the celebrity contacts, the cat is ruthless and without pity, Roosevelt's ghost has the experience and I do the wetwork.
Fighting for the future of the planet doesn't have to be a chore, however. We can take the time to appreciate all that is cool in this world even as we cut the octopus into bite sized chunks.
This is the reason there has always been and must forever be, a Cave of Cool. Be sure to wipe your feet before you enter.