Search This Blog

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sleepless in the Valley…

contented bovinesIt’s difficult to get a good night’s sleep around here anymore. Every year there seems to be more traffic going by the place—and at all hours of the night, too. Where a few years back a single car or two might whisper by after midnight or the occasional big rig rumble through on its nocturnal route (Jim Cabe and his milk truck, for example), now the vehicles roll by frequently at all hours of the night. This time of year it’s open window time during the sleeping hours, but the morning commute begins at 4:30 a.m. and you wake temporarily to slam the window shut against the noise. Dry highways bring out the motorcycles, too, and the bikers wind ‘em up on the straightaway out front. And these days it’s the rare bike indeed that has a muffler.

The highway noise increased further a half dozen years ago when the DOT ground a rumble strip down the center of 203. Thereafter, whenever a distracted driver wandered over the centerline, it sounded like a burst of automatic weapons fire outside. And that straightaway again, a passing opportunity waiting to happen. You heard an engine wind up, a burst of weapon’s fire as the vehicle crossed into the oncoming lane, and you held your breath waiting for the answering fire as the passing car reentered the right lane. I’m sure I’ve mentioned also in an earlier post the country bumpkin hay truck driver who for reasons that remain a mystery to me, compression brakes through all eighteen gears starting at Duvall and grinds to halt to negotiate the left turn on Tualco heading for the dairy farms.

Five a.m. this morning and I’m awakened by a helicopter hovering nearby. And hovering, and hovering…. It’s not one of those little dragonfly ‘copters that fly over with a tolerable insect-like hum either. This chopper is most likely a news aircraft like Chopper 7. I know it’s not a Medi-Vac craft because they’re fast flying, urgently roaring in and out of the Valley. Hardly a chance I could return to sleep with that thing droning away overhead. Besides, a news helicopter…must be something going on: a river accident, a traffic issue on Highways 2 or 522, police activity in Monroe, a fire…. I crawl out of bed, pull on some shorts, and head for the backyard to investigate.

The sky was filled with helicopters…well, three anyway, all circling the prison area. An escapee, perhaps? Another tragedy involving a corrections officer? A riot? (I recalled a riot at the facility in the ‘70’s. I heard the news as I was on my way home from Snohomish on Highway 2. As I approached town, an eerie feeling came over me when I saw a plume of dark smoke drifting above the prison complex. Who knew what destruction was taking place there! The drive took much longer than usual because I had to slow and move to the shoulder several times to allow State Patrol and Sheriff’s cars rushing to the fray speed by. If memory serves, the riot continued for several hours before it was quelled.)

As the ‘copters continued their clattering overhead, I went into the house and switched on the morning news to discover just what it was that brought helicopters from all three local t.v. stations choppering their way to Monroe. What disaster, catastrophe or tragedy had struck our peaceful town? “Breaking News” flashed across the screen and an aerial view of the prison flickered into view. What was it? Oh, no! Something was happening at the prison! The grounds seemed calm and orderly, though. No swat teams, no phalanx of police in riot gear, no emergency vehicles, flames, smoke…. No, none of that routine stuff. “Breaking News” was REAL, riveting news this time. A solitary bobcat (a cougar, perhaps? Even greater REAL news…) had somehow strayed onto the complex, (was Copper River salmon on the prison’s luncheon menu?), was startled into the razor wire and in freeing itself, received a cut on its leg. Groundskeepers called a vet who tranquilized Kitty Bobcat and transported the injured feline to the his office to stitch up its wound.

The big kitty will be fine, I’m sure. As for me, the adrenalin’s worn off, my breath has returned, heart rate back to normal. Suddenly I realize I’m tired, once again sleep-deprived here in the Valley. I’m sorely in the need of a nap before lunchtime. But not to worry: Cadman’s boom at high noon will keep me from oversleeping.

Print this post

No comments:

Post a Comment