Places to Get Your Zs 

Nick Wolochatiuk - Dances With Words
Places to Get Your Zs 
AN ADIRONDACK FIRE TOWER – I know of no overnight place with a better view, and it’s affordable, memorable, peaceful - and absolutely safe from polar bears. (Photo : Nick Wolochatiuk)

There’s a traditional children’s bedtime prayer that is credited to George Wheler in 1698. It goes something like this: “Now I lay me down to sleep. To thee, O Lord, I give my soul to keep, Wake I ever, or, wake I never, to thee O Lord, I give my soul to keep forever.”

For a variety of reasons, partly financial, I’ve never longed to sleep in a five-star hotel. I prefer to spend nights in affordable but memorable places. To put it mildly, some of my places have been rather ‘iffy’, so I put myself at rest by uttering, “Wake I ever, or, wake I never, to thee O Lord, I give my soul to keep.”

On one memorable canoe trip, sunset arrived with absolutely no accessible shoreline. Dense underbrush barred the way to any tenting opportunity. I tied my floating canoe to a protruding tree limb and ‘I laid me down to sleep’. God kept my sleep unbroken, and the lapping of the water was as soothing as an angel’s lullaby.

In 1960, my fellow aviation enthusiast Larry Milberry and I had explored (the now defunct) Cartierville Airport. Our youthful financial situation ruled out anything like a Ritz Carlton or Hyatt. Then I noticed something: “Hey! The door of this Sikorsky S-55 helicopter is unlocked. We could spend the night inside. It has room enough for ten passengers – or us!” Fortunately, no one rousted us during that night.

Airline travel can involve delayed departures, ungodly early in the morning departures or long delays between flight legs. Most people shell out bags of money to get put up in an expensive hotel. So far, I’ve spent the night in five airport terminals: Vancouver, Veradero, Edmonton, Regina and Mirabel.

Just as I was making myself comfortable in YVR’s spacious terminal, the security guard got my attention with, “Hey!” I thought I was going to be told to move on. He continued with, “If you go further down that corridor, it’ll be quiet, subdued lighting and more comfortable benches.”

Unlike that one, my overnights in the Adirondack forest ranger towers of Hurricane and Azure offered magnificent panoramas, settings and risings of the Sun and Moon, flashes of shooting stars, Northern Lights and early morning cloud banks far below. During one stormy night, I was given an exciting son et lumière show by a thunderstorm.

What a contrast with the night spent deep underground in a decommissioned Atlas missile silo. Only the whispering of the air-conditioning system reminded me that I had not yet “given my soul to the Lord to forever keep.”

It’s the places where you sleep, or the people you sleep with, that make nights memorable.

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