I haven't talked a lot about being in Fort Bragg this summer, partly because I haven't been there as much as I anticipated. After that three week absence due to General Convention, I've been primarily commuting to Fort Bragg on weekends and working during the week in the Bay Area.
But I made sure I was there for the parish picnic on Saturday.
When I asked where the picnic was, I was told it was at a camp. When I asked how to get there, I found out that we had to travel by train.
For those who don't know, one of Fort Bragg's claims to fame is the Skunk Train, an old steam train that used to transport loggers in and out of the redwood groves. What I didn't know is that they still schedule stops for people who have these very rustic camps, leased from what used to be Georgia Pacific. And that's where we were going.
Here's the train:
One thing this meant, of course, was there was no showing up casually when you feel like it. The train is not going to wait. So I duly showed up at 9:45 for the 10 am train departure. The train whistle blew and we chugged off.
After about 45 minutes of meandering through forests, including one long tunnel with no lights so you couldn't even see your hand in front of you, we were dropped off at the camp. Our hosts met us at the platform, which is what stands in for a station.
One thing I learned on the trip out is that since there are no roads to the camp, if you want to transport things there beyond what you can carry by hand on the train, the railroad will set you up with a handcar! (I learned from other locals later that in fact you can drive there, but you need permission from other landholders. I don't really understand the ins and outs.)
Picnic time was limited because we had to be ready for the train upon its return. We had a little time to gather, a very quick Eucharist (feast of the BVM, don't you know?), which seemed more a sop to the fact that this was a church outing than anything really necessary (certainly I wouldn't have cared if we had a Eucharist or not) and then lunch out on the deck.
I love redwood trees, don't you? So amazing.
Why are there beds, you ask? Well, there's only one bedroom in the cabin so when you have a big family staying for the week (as our hosts did), you simply sleep out on the deck.
Or if you're at a picnic, you do this:
The train was due to arrive back "sometime between 1 and 2." One of the parishioners is Swiss and duly mocked this vague arrival time. It meant, among other things, that we simply didn't have time to really relax as we were always alert to the train's potential imminent arrival.
At about 1:45, we heard the train whistle (which probably was a mile away) and got ourselves over to the platform to load up.
We arrived home around 3:00. Which was a really quick trip, as far as I was concerned, not very leisurely at all. I suppose it was just as well since I had a sermon to finish, but still. I would have liked to slow down for a bit longer. At least I got a taste of what it was like and a smidge of a perspective on the difficulties of getting from here to there in the days before paved roads. As well as a lovely picnic with the people of St. Michael's.