A Fishing Trip that Ended Before it Started
My father-in-law and I have been fishing a lot together, and over the years we have had some great times and landed some pretty nice ones. There was this one time, though, that we both not only thought it would be our last fishing trip, but our last time to do anything.
The fishing hole down on the river was a little bit hard to get to, but we were determined to wet a hook there, so we parked on the side of the road about a mile north of the river. We began hiking along through a pasture by the side of a railroad track. As we were walking, we came upon an old wooden railroad trestle that was a couple of hundred yards long and twenty feet or so high off the ground. We had a choice to make. We could go around the bridge, which would have added considerably to our walk, or we could cross it.
We were in a hurry to get to the fishing hole, so there was only one possible decision. It was unanimous, we would cross the trestle. We paused for several seconds to listen very carefully; we could hear no sound of an approaching train. We were about half way across, and feeling pretty good about ourselves for our courage and cleverness when it happened. The wood of the old bridge began to vibrate, and the rumble and whistle of an approaching train filled our ears.
We were excited and apprehensive at the same time as we didn’t have an idea where to turn to or what lay ahead because the way forward was dark and we had nothing to use for self defense in case of any trouble except for a few crappie poles.
Before long, we knew there was no way we were going to make it across. We were too high off the ground to jump, so there was only one thing to do, dive for a crossbeam and wait it out. Dad, being older and more experienced than I, piled onto the beam first, and shouted, “Come on out here.” I jumped down beside him, and sat no more than a couple of feet from the nearest rail.
Thinking about it now, a line from the old Bluegrass song, “In The Pines,” by Bill Monroe, goes through my head. “The longest train I ever saw went down that Georgia line.” The longest one I ever saw went across that Texas railroad trestle. I was shaking both from fear and from the swaying of that old bridge that was surely going to collapse with the train coming down right on the top of us.
Finally, the caboose sped by, and we thought we would be on our way down to the river, until I turned my fishing rod up in to the air; the final six inches were broken off and dangling back toward my reel. For the first time, it hit the both of us just how close we had come to either being run over by a train, dying of heart attacks, or both. We decided to just go home.
Even though he was as scared as I was, Dad has laughed and retold this story a million times, always emphasizing the part about my broken fishing rod, and that I told him I never got into such scrapes until I started running around with him. He laughs, as he retells his reply: “Well son,” he said, “I guess you are just hanging around a better class of people now.”
As we were driving home, to deal with his own unsettled emotions I guess, he told me another story. He said, “It reminds me of the time my great uncle fell off a bluff in the middle of the night. Fortunately, he was able to grab the limb of a tree on the way down and hang there until first light. When the sun came up, he looked down and saw that he was only about a foot off the ground. It made him so mad he just hung there the rest of the day!”
For the time being, his funny story kind of settled our nerves, but to this day I cannot hear a train whistle without noticing a spike in my pulse rate, feeling again the swaying of that old bridge, and seeing the broken rod tip again. Now, as then, I realize few things feel as good as having both feet on solid ground.
Jesse Waters is head content writer and article at God Men. He found out about his love for writing when he was struggling with cancer. His works are very sensitive and he writes with his heart.