Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Ghost Of Annie's Car

  Back in 1994, my first season out here, there was quite a lot of work going on. The clearing had been done, and there where two cabins going up as well as the installation of the first small-scale hydro system. For a season or two we were probably the biggest employer out in this country, which is not really saying a whole lot, but still. I had  a couple of the local characters Larry and his brother-in-law Junior working here pulling roots, peeling logs, cleaning up scrap from the log building going on and helping me haul the 2" diameter pipe up the mountainside to what would become the intake-pond. They drove almost an hour each way in a borrowed vehicle from their home up-river at Samaquam to work here at the hot spring, one of the few job possibilities around out here at the time. They had somehow talked their Aunt Annie, whom was one of the grand old gals out here in the valley, into lending them her old white station wagon.
   One morning Larry and Jr. failed to show up for work, and we just figured they probably got more flat tires than they had spares, or ran out of gas, the usual road-calamities out in this neck of the woods. I had hoped they didn't run out of fuel because I had been contributing a 5 gallon jerry-can to their daily travelling expenses, with the understanding they didn't use it to go off deer hunting.
After three days go by the guys hitched a ride over to start work again and brought with them a pretty good story. It seems that a few previous evenings before they had decided to go "do something important" (deer hunting) with the car. Somehow, it has never been determined exactly how, but the car developed what was described by the occupants as, "a mechanical issue", and with it's I assume near empty fuel-tank dove off the road through the brush, down the cut-bank, and into the fast moving Lillooet River. I suspect it was probably the part of the car that is attached to the steering-wheel, the one that sits in the drivers seat that caused the 'issue'. Annie's bobbing station-wagon began to get pulled down-stream by the current, and I can only imagine the scene as those two wild-men scrambled to get out the windows and back to shore. Standing there dripping they had a minute to reflect on what just happened, and watch Annie's quickly sinking vehicle disappear down-river along with their two hunting rifles. I never did find out where they went or what they did for those three days, but I'd suspect they layed low and spent most of it trying to figure out how in the hell they were going to break the news to Aunt Annie.
The boiling water took hold of the small car in its fast, powerful current and pounded it to pieces on the rocks.
   Probably a decade ago, after travelling the 8-10 miles down-river, chunks of car began to get washed from the main river into the overflow channel that runs in front of the Lodge here, getting buried in gravel or slowly working their way downstream during the high water. 
I'd go for a walk on the rocks and come across the odd section of half buried car frame, or a battered-up piece of rusty white body panel. I came across the not so round anymore steering-wheel, brought it back and hung it on a tree outside the shop. Another good score one day I saw a large coil spring sticking out of the gravel, obviously one of the front suspension recoil springs. That of course I had to pack back home and set out front the shop with a rock balanced on top. Probably over 10 years now it has been part of the yard kitsch around here, every piece with its own story. I recently moved the 'spring rock' out to the front deck, I'm not sure why, just a change. 
   Jr. was still running loose around the country, but Larry had moved south not long after his dunking and I hadn't seen him for 20 years. He moved back to the area a year ago with his young family and I bumped into him at one of the road construction closures last Summer.
I told him to pop in sometime and I'd show him how things have changed around here.
He did, a few weeks back and we wandered around a bit, going by the front deck I pointed at the spring-rock and asked, "Does that look familiar?"
He stared at it for the longest time, smiles, then says, "Well I'll be, is that the car Jr. and I put in the river? We sure got in trouble over that with old Annie, rest her soul, and we were some pissed over loosing them guns!" He got the biggest laugh out of it, and related the story to his kids.
Larry Roberts, didn't figure he'd ever see any of that car again.
Unlikely they would get this far, but I told him I'd keep checking the river-bar for them guns.

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