Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rain Masks Noise

It was almost eight when I awoke this morning. A steady light rain on the roof provided a melodic beat to mask all other sounds that manage to disturb my sleep every morning.

Searching for quiet is not easy here at the Westminster Elks. On the other side of the fence is Westminster High School. Right next door is the school bus lot. Six o'clock in the morning long before my usual rising, the buses start their engines. Soon the back up warning alarms on the buses are going. Too bad it couldn't be more melodic. Of course then it wouldn't be an alarm. At seven, the buses start to arrive at the high school and occasionally the bus back up alarms are heard again.

The high school has also disturbed an afternoon nap. Starting at 3:30, it was football practice that disturbed a late afternoon nap. The coach's whistle was the disturbance. Again and again. Sure got my attention. So much for the nap.

Not forgetting the trains. They are heard around the clock. There are three railroad grade crossings about a quarter to half mile away. Requiring the train engineers to warn of the train's coming, the engineer does the usual two longs, a short and a long at each intersection. Frequently, I time the long blasts. The longs are typically 3-5 seconds. However, there appears to be one sadistic engineer who is on the night shift run. The first two longs are always five seconds. That last long was nine seconds one night -- usually seven or eight. In fairness, there are also the more polite engineers in the middle of the night who blast for shorter lengths of time.

Most nights I sleep through those train whistle blasts. It is a credit to the marvels of the human brain to hear those train blasts and not stir me to consciousness.

Scheduled time to leave the Westminster Elks is this Sunday. It was a good stay, but I am ready to move on. Even if the next stop is in a noisy neighborhood.

Searching the internet, I learned of other possible train whistle signals. Most of the signals had meaning for the railroad yard and rail station.

Add this to your list of useless factoids... The two longs, one short and one long blast is the letter "Q" in Morse Code. That was the code that the steamships used when the Queen was aboard and other ships would yield the right of way. Yielding to trains was a good idea, so the railroads used the same Morse Code sequence at railroad crossings.


  1. Well, there IS a solution to the problem of noisy campgrounds: get the heck away from cities, highways, and trains!

  2. Boonie, Okay. Thanks for the reminder! :-))


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