Vintage Abandoned Summer Camp Life #3
Growing up in the middle of nowhere in an abandoned summer camp is charming in the summer. Our large valley was surrounded by evergreen filled mountains. My family would spend hours out hiking around those hills in the summer, because they were so cool and shaded. We also used that time to gather firewood and kindling for the upcoming winter. When summer cooled to fall, we had all the wood accumulated necessary to warm our home. Our summer garden was washed and preserved. Berries from hot August days were saved. It was comforting to know we were provided for, especially since my father’s job required him to be gone days at a time. My father was an engineer with Southern Pacific Railroad. 65 miles up Interstate 5 from our home was the little town of Dunsmuir. The train station was located there, along with a small hotel, a park and a market. While tiny, compared to my little town it was a treat to visit. My Dad would let me climb up on the engines, freeing me to explore. Each engine loomed up over me, making me feel the size of a bug. Dad drove the route from Dunsmuir to Santa Rosa. He frequently spoke of the sights and experiences he encountered on his trips. People thought it was fun to race the train in cars, or see if they could make it across crossings before the train hit them. Kids would sit along the tracks throwing things at the train. Women would flirt from the side of the road with engineers. The most common thing Dad experienced were the lone cardboard boxes. Left in the middle of the tracks, these boxes looked tiny to the engineers. More often than not, the boxes were left on the flat sections leading up to a grade, which meant the trains were going slower. My Dad would quickly climb down the side of the engine, jog alongside the train, and then race to get in front. He’d grab the box, run back and clamber back up to his seat. Inside was always a sweet litter of kittens or puppies. People assumed the train would take care of their unwanted pet problem. Instead, the engineers were known for rescuing the animals. More than once adorable kittens came home with my Dad. It was by far my most favorite part of his job. Now looking back, I realize what a unique experience I had growing up. A remote home, my Dad’s exciting career, and all the adventures we had!