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Train Journal - 1990


Sun. Feb. 25, 1990 - Took usual bus to Oakland and decided to hang out in SP yard, since my regular UP train wasn't called until 4:00 am. Had dinner at Mama's (now it's Indian people working there, what next?) and went to west end of Desert yard to wait for the OACHF. Caught out around 11:15 p.m. with no bulls at depot and had smooth, fast, cold ride to Sacto, where I hopped off and crashed near the shops. Trip took 2 hours. Walked to UP So. Sac. yard next morning (1 hr.) and immediately caught an eastbound grain train. Coming into Oroville now, 11:00 am (1½ hrs.). Got into Portola at 3:00 p.m. (pretty good time). Fueled up and the instant I started back towards the yard the NPMIZ pulled in. Out of town at 4:45 pm. Would have made it to Stockton in 6 hours but a dynamiter and a wait on the SP at Hammer Lane moved that up to 11:30 pm. My quest for the most miles covered in 24 hours continues. I caught a northbound SP train at 12:15 am - headed to Roseville. Got into Antelope in early am and slept until sunup. Walked into town (ugh!) and now I'm on a northbound local to Marysville, where I'll meet Bruce. I've ridden 564 miles already and when I get to Marysville it'll be almost 600! I can see why they call these trains "locals" - I've been sitting at this siding watching them switch so long I feel like a "local" at whatever town we're near. Anyway, I don't have to meet Bruce until tomorrow morning so I should be OK. Fortunately it's a beautiful day and a couple of trains have gone by on the mainline, so I'm not totally bored, but it would be nice to get moving again. We finally took off and the crew let me ride in the engine up to Marysville - they even stopped the train to let me off! How's that for "soivice". I crashed near the river, had a nice bath and now I'm waiting in a city park for Bruce. We finally hooked up and drove around the Sierra foothills for a few days then went home.


Tue. March 27, 1990 - Took morning bus to City and BART to Oakland. Planned on taking a day train to Roseville but nothing moving until 8 p.m. so I hopped Amtrak to Roseville. No problems encountered. Fueled up and waited at "rainbow bridge" for an hour or so and caught LABRF with no sweat. No bulls - no nuthin! The train had 6 hoppers in front, then a bunch of stacks and pigs. Unusual for such a hot train. Anyhoo, had mellow ride to Marysville or so when I switched to a stack car and had a great sleep to Dunsmuir. Got in at 1:00 am - good time. Crashed inside a big (4' dia.) culvert pipe in yard and got up early the next morning after good sleep. Found out that Medford train would be leaving in about 45 minutes so waited in yard and had a great ride up the canyon to Black Butte, where after a little work we headed out to Medford. Had great ride on open flatcar right by the "homesite" and got off when they slowed down in Grenada. Hitched "unsuccessfully" for an hour so called Alice and she "rescued" me. Dealt with real estate business the next day and Alice gave me a ride to Dunsmuir. Fueled up and I'm waiting in the yard for the MERVY to leave. It's 3:00 p.m. on Thursday. Short train and "back-of-lumber-flat" to ride on. Should get into Roseville before midnight. It's now 3:15 p.m. and the PTLAF just pulled in. At 3:30 p.m. the MERVY left town and I decided to stay and ride the pigs - we'll see if it paid off! Looks like we're leaving town at 5:00 pm. Took West Valley Line and got into Davis at a little after midnight. Crashed near depot and took Amtrak to Oakland. Paid this time - $16.


May 3, 1990 - Left Santa Rosa on bus to City at noon. Very hot today - in the 90's. Plan to hang out in Oakland and catch the first thing out. I love these "Oakland - ?" train trips - I never know where I'm going to end up. Right now it's 3:30 p.m. and I'm in the Desert yard, waiting for the OACIM to leave. My immediate plan is to go to Colton or Berdoo, then catch UP to Salt Lake. Stay tuned for updates!

There is a very interesting period between the time the power backs down to the train and the time it pulls out that is like "no other" time during train riding. While you're waiting for a train you can hang out, eat, drink, shit, piss, buy groceries or whatever, but when the power is actually on the train, waiting for the air, is a time when you, whether you like it or not, get a little "antsy", and I think it's very beneficial for "today's hobo". All non-essential thoughts are "cleared out", and you really begin a mental countdown. Anyhoo, I caught a gondola and we're stopped near Amtrak now. Finally out of town at 4:20 pm. Even though this is a CI train, for reasons known only to SP it went to Sacto first, then down the Valley. I got off in Stockton where I was going to catch a Portola train but I had hay fever real bad so I crashed in the yard instead. It's now Friday morning and I'm waiting for the SLOAZ. I just missed the stack train 'cause I had to ditch an SP bull. Sitting under the bridge, drinking and reading. Awakened from a wine-induced slumber by the sound of U-boats, I nailed the SLOAZ at 11:45 am.


June 1, 1990 - It's 8:15 p.m. on a Friday night and, for a change of pace, I'm at the Richmond Santa Fe yard headed down the Valley. This will be the first time I've caught out of here, so it should be interesting. The cool places to hang out in this area are few and far between, but I walked along the tracks a little ways beyond the end of the yard and found a pretty good place to wait under some trees. Considering the look of the general neighborhood around here, this place is an oasis. Time to drink some wine... I moved a little closer to the yard when it got dark, and caught out at 11:00 p.m. on a long and fast pig train. Had very quick and smooth 2 hour ride to Stockton, where we stayed for a half hour adding more pigs, then on to Calwa and a 3 minute crew change, then down to Bakersfield, where I got off at 6:45 am. After an hour long walk to the SP yard I caught a pig train immediately and after stopping at the east end of the yard long enough for me to grab a six-pack and ice, we're out of town at 9:15 am and adding helpers near Sand Cut. Beautiful day for a ride over Tehachapi! Quite warm on the desert side, but still a nice breeze. Sitting halfway between Monolith and Mojave after a dynamiter. Still don't know whether this is an LA train or a Colton train. Unfortunately it's an LA train! At 2:30 p.m. in Soledad Canyon my thermometer read 95 degrees and at 4:15 p.m. in the sun in LA it read 115! Anyhoo, coming into Los Angeleaze is as disgusting as ever! I'll have to take a bus into "town" and another bus out to the UP yard. Wish me luck! It's now almost 8:00 p.m. and it's still 80 degrees. The bus rides through LA were the worst part of the whole trip, but I'm finally at the UP yard, waiting for a train. There should be an LANPZ in a few hours. Well, there wasn't, and I kept dozing off for several hours but finally at 12:30 am an LANP pulled up, but didn't leave town until 2:00 am or so. I was exhausted when I finally caught it but ecstatic over leaving LA. Had a fast and very smooth ride to Yermo, where I'm now waiting for my train or the one next to it to leave. It's 8:00 am on Sunday - clear and quite warm but a beautiful day in the desert. Coming into Vegas at 2:30 p.m. - it's 105 degrees! After a short stop in LV we left on the beginning of one of the hottest, most uncomfortable trips I've been on in a long time. I forgot to fill up my water jug in Yermo, and by the time I got to Vegas it was only half full - with warm, salty water yet. After Vegas it was like sitting in an oven, with the temp still 105 and the train winding up through the canyons, I was never very long in the shade. I got down to an inch or so of water about an hour out of town, and had a very hot, dry trip to Salt Lake. Got in at 1:30 am and motored to a 7-11 for water, napkins and a soda, the last of which disappeared in 3 swallows! Went back to the yard and left on the NPMIZ at 4:30 am and had a long but smooth ride across Nevada. Got into Stockton at midnight, crashed near the Ice House, and now (6:00 am) I'm sitting on the stack train waiting to leave.


Friday, July 20, 1990 - On bus to City for train trip. I'll start in SP yard and hopefully take CHF to Roseville and points east. At 9:00 p.m. I'm waiting at my "fort" in the Desert yard. First out is the CHF, due anytime, and a PTF/MFF combo at 10:30 pm.

The good news is I caught the CHF with no problem - the bad news is my Hobo Bag blew off the pig at 70 mph near Bahia, completely totaling it, my gloves, my scanner, my radio, my sunglasses and 99% of the other stuff that was in it. Major bummer! When I got to Roseville, I realized that any more traveling without all my gear would be dumb, so I had Shelley meet me in Davis and we drove back to the area where my stuff blew off and along almost a ½ mile of track managed to pick up most of the pieces.


Thur. Aug. 16, 1990 - I'm in the Oakland SP yard on a Thursday night and there's quite a bit of activity. The CHF is called for 7:00 p.m., the PTT for 8:00, the ASM for 9:00 and an RVM for midnight. I'll take the first one that looks good. Headed for Reno and hopefully ride up to the Junction. Caught the CHF again, which left ahead of Amtrak, and had fast ride on 20 car train to Roseville - got in at midnight. Crashed in yard, got up early (6:00 am) and caught RVUPM at 7:30 am. Had extremely slow ride over Donner - got into Reno at 2:30 pm. Walked to town, gambled, ate and now (6:40 p.m.) I'm back in the yard waiting for the UPOAM.

After waiting for "hours" for the OAM to leave, the OGOAT came in, and left first with me on it. Thinking it was the hotter train, I expected to get to Oakland in no time - not so! When we got to Roseville it tied up on the Bypass, and a half hour later the OAM flew by on the main. I crashed in the yard and took a bus to the Bay Area the next day.


Sept. 24, 1990 - Sitting in the east end of the Desert yard, a little after noon. Hanging out under the old wooden trestle that goes over the yard into the Army Base. There's an RVM on the track next to me that should be leaving as soon as it gets it's power. I plan to go either north or east from Roseville. This is an OK place to hang out, but a major drawback is that it's across the yard and downwind from the sewage treatment plant. Oh well, we don't want these trips to be too easy, do we? Left town at 1:15 p.m. - saw Bruce and Tom at Ozol and had nice ride to Roseville. Now I'm doing the "Antelope walk" at 5:15 pm. Crashed in yard last night and now I'm leaving town on the OAASM, headed east at 8:30 am. Well, 8:30 turned into 10:00, but I'm finally leaving. Had smooth, fast ride over Donner despite quite a few crossovers on account of the Sprint cable work. Even some piles of hail on the ground and rain and hail going over. Got into Sparks at 5:30 pm. Grabbed a bite and began a very long and interesting walk to the UP yard in North Reno. When they say North Reno, they mean North Reno! I walked from Sparks to Reno, then took off on the old WP tracks and followed them through neighborhoods and past the college and through a few industrial zones and then basically wherever they wanted to go, and finally at almost 8:30 p.m. I reached the UP yard.

Crashed on a piggyback and at 4:30 am awoke to the sounds of the power being started up. After some quick switching I left town at 5:30 am on a very nice ride up to the Junction - one of the best rides I've ever had. Got there at 7:30 am, hitched to Portola, caught the Milpitas man to Stockton and the stacks to Oakland.


Tue. Nov. 13, 1990 - This is the first train trip where I won't have to come back to the Bay Area when I'm done. I just moved to Edgewood and now I'll be going "home" to Dunsmuir. It's 5:15 p.m. and I'm waiting for the CHF at 7:45 p.m. to Roseville. Naturally it didn't leave until 9:00 p.m. or so, and I got to Roseville at 1:00 am, waited near "mods" and caught out at 3:00 am on a Portland train. Coming by Sims at 8:30 am. Rained during night but OK now.


Dec. 19, 1990 - Hanging out at the bridge over the river in Dunsmuir - cold and snowy at 3:30 pm. The PTLAF is at Mott on his way down the hill, hopefully to pick me up and "whisk" me to Roseville. I saw Tom Track's and Old Bo's monikers from 4/30/90, the same weekend Shelley and I were up here. Unfortunately the first southbound was the UP detour train with only about a dozen cars, so I waited until 6:30 p.m. (3 more hours in the snow) and got the back end of a snow-filled hopper on the front of a mile long pig train. Had good but chilly ride to Roseville, but the train took the mainline to the west end of the Antelope yard to change crews, so I was again faced with the dreaded "Antelope walk". After coming in under the Rainbow Bridge at 2:30 am, by the time I walked back to the main yard and found an empty to sleep in it was 4:00 am. Weather is clear and cold - it's now 11:00 am and Bruce should be here in an hour or so. I met Bruce about 12:30 or 1:00 p.m., and we left to drive to Reno. We crashed in a boxcar in the yard with about 3 or 4 inches of snow on the ground and had a very cold night as it got down to 7 below! Got up at 4:30 am and went to the Casino to get warm. Drove to Carson City, found that the roads were too icy and drove back over to the Valley. It was 12 degrees in Carson at 1:00 p.m.! Drove as far as Stockton and got a motel cuz we were cold and not sure what to do. Bruce went on down south and I'm waiting for a bus to Sacto and Roseville, where I'll catch back up north and deal with frozen pipes, etc. It was 4 below at my house! I don't even want to talk about the bus ride - but I got into Roseville at 7:30 p.m. and slept in a wooden-floored boxcar. Great sleep and now (9:00 am) I'm waiting for a northbound - it was 13 degrees this morning when I got up. This cold weather is too weird! I caught out at 10:00 am in 21 degree weather on a piggyback and had a fast, cold ride to Dunsmuir.

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