Kamloops, British Columbia. Ranchland Inn (free continental breakfast!). Ambient exterior temperature: 31 degrees C. Interior ambient temp.: (with air conditioner full blast): 30.5 degrees C. Air quality index: 40 percent air, 60 percent forest fire smoke. Time: 3:45 a.m.
It had been a long trip. Eight hours wrangling a wonky rental van through treacherous mountain passes featuring zig-zaggy roads, cliffs with bottomless pits on the both sides, and extremely loud and mysterious banging and buzzing noises emanating from the dumb van.
The Rotten Kid (the son one) and I were on an epic road trip with all the worldly possession of the other Rotten Kid (the daughter one), helping her move waaay out to the coast (again!). The plan was to hit Kamloops on the first day, crash, then drive another few hours the next day to meet R.K. who would be waiting there in an empty apartment. (And by “crash” I mean “crash” in the 60s slang as in “grab some sleep” not “crash” involving vans and zig-zaggy roads).
So there we were, end of day one, sound asleep in this odd motel with the so-called “air conditioner” roaring away in vain. At least I think the Rotten Kid was asleep, it was hard to tell with the level of forest fire haze in the room. Also, I’m pretty sure I myself was asleep at the time, so it was even harder to tell.
Thing is, something dragged me out of my dead delirious REM sleep where I was happily dreaming about driving a Honda 305 Superhawk motorcycle through the hallways of my old high school (LTCHS) during Math class, and rising slowly out of a swamp like the Creature of the Black Lagoon, a muddled form of wakefulness slowly cleared through my fog.
It was pouring rain! Inside the room?? What??
Seriously confused, I’m quite a bit more than half asleep but I’m certain I can hear rain in our motel room! It sounds sort of gentle but it’s pouring, that’s for sure. Trying fairly unsuccessfully to fight off my brain smog, my first thought is: “It’s the shower! Someone must have left the shower on, and it’s leaking all over the room.” And then I decide: “Oh no! It’s the toilet! The toilet is overflowing and it’s leaking all over the room!” Which is way worse, generally.
So that kind of wakes me up a bit. And I sit up in the darkness, afraid to put my feet on the floor which is probably a pool of rancid water. And then I listen a little harder. And then I squint and see a little glowing red light over on the Rotten Kid’s side of the room.
With my eyes starting to adjust in the dark rainy room I finally see it. It’s a small white machine on the nightstand. It’s a “Sound Generator”, the one the RK gave to the other RK for Christmas on account of she has trouble sleeping sometimes. The son one RK borrowed it for our trip because apparently one of us in the room is known to snore. Like, really loud. So, back from his summer in Borneo, he had the machine set on “Rainforest Rain” so he could block out my snorts and feel like he was happily back in the jungle again and attempt to get some sleep.
Ironically, it was Yours Truly who didn’t get much more sleep. You know what the sound of trickling water does to a person of a certain age whilst trying to sleep? Let’s just say I put on a few hundred more kilometers of my own between the bed and the bathroom that night.
Harley Hay is a writer and filmmaker in Red Deer.