Saturday, March 29, 2008

Big Fat Caboose

The chirping birds and conspiring sun wooed Mike and I out into nature today. We drove up to a quiet spot on the Air Force grounds, crossed over the railroad tracks, and began what was supposed to be a nice little walk.

"The trains that roll through the area have been known to hold hikers hostage in the parking area for up to an hour," the guidebook said. "That's funny," I giggled naively in the car.

The walk was lovely. We discussed life and jobs and aspirations. We looped back and found a charming lake, just before our car and stopped for some grapes. We cuddled on the shore, ate grapes, gazed at the water, and got ready to go.

About four trains had passed us on our nice little walk, and we heard the horn of another about to pass us. It chugged by. And by. And by. And got slower. And slower. And slower.

Finally it stopped. Right in front of our parking lot. So we cuddled more waiting for it to move on, theorizing about why it had stopped. Eventually, we got up and walked back to our car, our bodies suddenly feeling the water we'd drank on the walk.

We heard another train coming and said, "Oh, it was just stopping to let this train go by!" The train passed. But our train didn't move its big caboose. (See picture of the offending train above.)

We started walking in the other direction, into the Air Force grounds, the pressure on our bladders now intense. We walked and walked and walked. And the train didn't budge. I pictured us having to live on the stream's edge, squatting Gollum-like next to the water and grabbing fish with our teeth.
The stream water called to my tea-cup bladder, but there were too many runners here to risk it.

Another horn.
I was saved.

Surely our train was just waiting for this train to pass, and then it would be on its merry way. A curmodgeon of an old train rolled on up and went by. And by. And by. And started going slower. And slower. And slower.

It stopped. Right next to our train. Now we were held hostage by not one but two trains. I started to get unreasonable. Maslow's hierarchy of needs doesn't mention a toilet. But it should be Need Number 1. All else becomes insignifant to this all-encompassing need.

We kept walking and walking. Suddenly, a groan. The curmodgeon train was creaking into motion. It nosed a few feet. False start. It gave up. I wanted to cry. I wanted to kick and scream, "Will you stupid thing move your big fat caboose?!" I didn't. We kept walking and walking. I pictured us backpacking our way back to civilization, arriving dirty, crazed, and hungry at the Walmart up the road, pushing women and children out of our way and knocking carts over to get to the restroom. We kept walking, toilet oases glittering in my mind, just sure there must be one just around the bend.

Then the curmodgeon budged again. And again. And again. He had something left in him after all. Mike and I stopped and watched intently, looking like very odd train spectators to the joggers who passed, clueless to our desparate plight. Then our train decided to get off its big old arse as well and started creaking forward. Finally!
Joy rushed into my heart and spluttered through the cavities. I was happy as a jackrabbit. The two trains cleared out.

Then we realized it. We'd walked miles in the other direction, madly hoping to find a magic toilet in the field. Miles now stood between us and our car and our Walmart toilet.

So we started walking and running and walking and running. Running like whipped dogs out of desparation. Walking like bedraggled cats, suddenly feeling the 5 miles we'd already come that day. Perky blonde joggers in short-shorts hopped past us. I wanted to trip them. I didn't.

The story ends well. We made it. After an hour's delay, a 6-mile trek, and a serious sunburn on Mike's delicate Dutch skin, the train moved and we made it to the car and to the Walmart.

And I only knocked over one old lady in Walmart on the way to the toilet.


Anonymous said...

I think the problem may have been the kind of train you met . . . the mean kind with a horn . . . thick like a rhino . . . I like the whistle kind better.


Anonymous said...

Yep, I've was stuck there once also... after a 25 mile run. Not fun! I wish that I'd checked a guidebook, .....(hehe, and heeded it's words).