The Great Train Robbery of 2012

My husband and I just got back from a road trip to Canada. Three things made this trip memorable.

First, we stayed at a wonderful B&B. It had a claw-foot tub in the bathroom. I LOVE claw-foot tubs. They are so comfortable. Heritage House in Canada was beautifully appointed with lovingly collected antiques and family heirlooms. Gabby, the owner, is Irish, friendly, and helpful. And did I mention the claw-foot tub? Ahhh!  For anyone in the vicinity of Summerland, B.C.,  click here to see more information on Gabby’s Heritage House B&B.

Second, the primary reason we went was for a steam train ride aboard engine 3716, which celebrated 100 years of service this year. My husband’s a bit of a steam-freak. To make it even more fun, we signed up for the Great Train Robbery and BBQ. Summerland is a small community where Gabby says “you can see two 85-year-olds walking down the street hand in hand.” It also has a lot of orchards. Apple, cherry, peach, and grapes. So the vistas we saw as we traveled along the rails were amazing.

Then, at the end, they were set to switch the engine (move it from one end of the train to the other) when robbers came screaming up on horseback, shooting (blanks) and hollerin’ about this bein’ a robbery. I’m telling you, it almost felt real. The outfits were period appropriate, the blanks sounded real to my ear, and the hollerin’ sure sounded authentic. They boarded the train and “robbed” us all. We did know in advance about this and that the monies collected go to several local charities. At the end, they all rode off shootin’ into the sunset as the “sheriff” bemoaned his fate…alas, he couldn’t get his gun out of the holster. lol. It was fun times.

The last piece of this trip turned out to be somewhat worrisome. We’d heard there had been thunder and lightening storms two nights earlier and we saw the evidence as we drove through eastern Washington State. Plumes of smoke rose in several places as fires claimed more of the land. It was a bit nerve-wracking, especially when one of the fires was directly in our path. As we drove down the highway, we started to see more of a haze in the air. And blackened earth around us. Then, we saw firefighters working on a blaze near a home. And more firefighters and fire-spotters along the road. We began to wonder if the road would be open all the way through. Mind you, this is a two-lane state highway, not a little back road.

I didn’t get nervous until we saw what I can only describe as a wall of brown smoke in front of us. We drove into a sepia-colored world, but still had enough visibility to keep our speed fairly close to normal. When we got close to the one tunnel we needed to go through, I almost hit the brakes and turned around. There was fire on the hillside immediately above the tunnel and ash in the air. You can’t see it too well in this picture, but it’s there. If you click on the picture, it’ll bring up a larger copy and you’ll see the fire.

As quick as we entered this surreal world, though, we were out of it. On the other side of the tunnel, the air cleared and there was no fire around us. We continued to watch the smoke trails around us for another fifty or so miles before we left them behind and crossed the pass to the western side of the state.

So, we’ve had adventures aplenty, but are home safe and sound and done with trips for a while. Time to focus on the home front for a while. I hope, as this Summer transitions to Fall, you’ve all had a chance to spend time with friends and family in the sunshine.


14 responses to “The Great Train Robbery of 2012

  1. Wow! Sounds like a real adventure! Glad you guys had a good time and made it home safely. Hopefully no one was hurt or suffered great impact from the fire.

    • It was fun and strange, both. I’m glad they didn’t close the road on us because it would have been about a 25 mile backtrack detour. 🙂 The fire near Wenatchee is still a problem, but hasn’t gotten to town and they’ve kept it away from structures, I think. I didn’t watch the news yesterday.

  2. I’ve been watching the fire around Cashmere. I love that little town and would hate to see it damaged. Love the pics and account, it’s been quite a summer for you two. I like the day or two short trips and we have a beautiful state to do it in.

  3. Yes, we saw the smoke from that fire. The smoke above is from between Chelan and Entiat. By far, the most worrisome is the one near Wenatchee, though. And it looks like we’ve got days and days with still no chance of rain. This is as dry as I’ve ever seen it.

  4. That sounds like my kind of vacation….especially the steam train ride. I grew up in a railroad family and love to ride the train. I’ve never thought I’d like to stay in a B & B. I love the comfort and privacy of our 10 foot camper. But the train ride, robbery, etc sounds like my cup of tea.

    • My husband grew up with steam. Neighbors built a steam lumber mill and Mark worked and played in it for years. So, like you, it’s lots of fond memories. And I get to enjoy the ride (and the claw-foot tubs). 🙂

  5. WOW!! I was reading along and digging all the info on that tub and the train and BAM! Fire, smoke, sepia tone. WOW. That was intense, I bet. Glad you didn’t get stuck in it!

  6. Me, too, Jillian. I’d have heard about it for AGES, since it was my idea to take that route. lol

  7. Yep, I know how that goes, Laurie! LOL!

  8. An adventurous trip, Laurie! And yes, that sepia toned world must have seemed surreal. I can imagine how scary it was approaching that wall of smoke. Glad you’re back home safe and sound.

  9. What an exciting adventure, if scary at times. Glad you made it home safe. The train ride sounded lots of fun. I’ve always fancied riding the Canadian Pacific railroad. Perhaps one day? 🙂

    • Mark and I took VIA Rail from Quebec City to Ottawa last year and highly recommend it. However, that was an 8 hour trip. And I’m going to preface this by saying that we both believe that Canada does transportation right. Here’s my advice: I’ve had friends and family take overnight trips on trains (not Canadian ones) and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, sadly. Lack of sleep, toilet smells, and, if you get a sleeper, a bit of gymnastic ability is needed to transfer between bed and “facilities”.
      Just sayin’.

  10. Valerie J. Patterson

    Loved the story about the train robbery. What a bit of fun you got to have there. I don’t think I would have liked the wall of smoke and fires and seeing all the emergency personnel. I would have been very wary of heading into that tunnel without knowing what I’d meet on the other side. Glad you are home, and hope rain hits your area very soon!

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