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Steam Train

Life on a different kind of road.

I love this life - it's anything but boring, and we get chances to experience things many have never had the chance to.


I remember thinking this all the time our kids were growing up. We were able to offer them opportunities to really experience life. We homeschooled them for quite a few years which gave us the ability to leave whenever the road called, and take our sweet time going there and coming back. We'd stop in at a historical site and check it out, or take off to Arizona for a month or so. All the while our kids were getting an education on life, and history, and things that really matter.


History comes alive again


We got the call to entertain at the grand opening of the Battle River Railway, one of the private stretches of track operated by folks interested in keeping our heritage alive. I was to sing that night at the banquet, and to entertain on the maiden voyage ride first.


The Friends of Battle River Railway had bought a couple refurbished coach cars, and although they didn't have a steam locomotive to pull them, you didn't notice as you sat back in vintage luxury and let your mind wander back in time. I was pleased to see a good number of younger people aboard as well as those that remembered traveling that way.


We stopped at the end of the line in a small town near Camrose AB, disembarked to overtake the town for lunch. Evidently the brand new platform at that end of the tracks was a tad close to the rails but we got it repositioned without too much trouble.



Each engineer has his own sound, and if you listen you can tell the difference from one engineer to another.


On the way back I was given the opportunity to ride in the diesel engine, learning how that machine works. The engineer taught me the finer points of how to artistically blow the horn. Evidently you don't just yard of the lever - you make it cry. His method was to ease into each note, and at the end of the long blast he'd give it just a little more crank, the end result almost made me cry. Each engineer has his own sound, and if you listen you can tell the difference from one engineer to another.


We had a great meal, as usual, back at the gala, held in the local Masonic Lodge. We felt very well received and the crowd was enthusiastic. Either they really liked us or couldn't wait to get rid of us because we had so much help moving our gear back outside and into the truck.


Sharmon and I were relishing the evening, recounting our highlights, when I realized I had not personally loaded my guitar, which is something I always do. We each have our specific areas we manage during setup and teardown but with all the extra hands we just assumed everything was in its place. Sharm hadn't loaded it either, and it wasn't in its usual spot in the back seat of the truck. We pulled over to look in the topper and it wasn't there either. By this time we're an hour and a half away from the scene of the crime, and the stars are already out. We burned a Uey in the road and fogged on it, back from when we came.


I don't mind saying we were well past frantic by now. We had tried unsuccessfully to contact our hosts by phone, they were in bed by now. We made it back in record time at speeds which we will not record here in case you are employed by the constabulatory. I think God was the only one not pulling His hair out, and out of the kindness of His heart one of the doors was left unlocked. I walked in and there was my guitar case, right where I left it.


By now we were able to rouse our host from deep in his slumber - I guess the phone woke him up - and he returned to lock the doors and all was well again.


That's the kind of history I'd just as soon not repeat.



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