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The Rain in Spain...

 

Mon. Jan. 8, 1996
I got to the Dunsmuir yard around 8:30 pm - my usual MofW boxcar was right where I left it last time, waiting to shield me from the dripping fog that permeated my very being... (OK, I'll cut the embellishments). It was foggy, though, and sometime after 10:00 pm a northbound pulled in, jarring me from a wine-induced sleep. Able to see only 2 or 3 cars at a time, I opted for an empty near the head end, not wanting to end up in the middle of a 30-car string of closed boxcars when he started to pull.

A wooden-floored beauty, no less! I wanted to roll out and nod off but, being so close to the head end, I needed to stay awake at least until Black Butte in case I got set out. After switching back and forth for awhile, I walked up and asked the brakeman if they had any work at Black Butte - he said "no", so I walked back to my car and sacked out. We finally left town a little after midnight and had a nice ride up to Klamath, getting in at the cheery hour of 4:00 am.

Knowing there would be trains heading back in the morning, I found a reefer (strangely enough) with one plug door open and 3 or 4 tramps already sleeping in it in the yard right across from the freight office. After asking permission, of course, I was allowed to enter and take up residence in the opposite end, which, through some gross miscalculation by the original denizens, proved to be the dry end, as it was now raining quite steadily.

Other than the sound of a yard engine idling right behind us, I had a deep but all too brief sleep, arising at a little after 7:00 am so as to be able to catch the first southbound that came by. A welcome visit to the restroom at Vallier's Cafe, a large coffee and the morning Oregonian paper got me through the next hour as I waited in the "garage" near the Amtrak depot. Had a nice chat with Roger and just as I finished the last section of the paper a southbound pulled in. The only problem, though, was that it was now raining even harder and the only rides were a couple of grainers near the head end - the same end of the train that had passed me a little too fast to get on and was disappearing into the mist - he was making a crew change in the yard instead of at the depot, so that meant motoring down past the Ice House as soon as possible.

The only grainer with the good end in back (that I could see) was a Canadian kind with a flat back - no "roof". The porch was awash with soggy sprouted grain - glad I brought my cardboard! Pulling on nylon rainpants, Goretex jacket, overmitts and damned near everthing else I brought along, I settled back on my ThermaRest and brought forth yet another bottle of the demon White Port as the Heavens unleashed upon my soggy form.

Mercifully, we left the yard soon, and the amount of rain cascading down upon me diminished ever so slightly when we started moving. By the time we got to Kegg I started to become aware of numerous "leaks" about my person, probably the result of previous "non-professional" laundering of my rain gear, so I poured myself into the hole, puncturing my air mattress in the process. Being a Canadian hopper, it wasn't as cramped as a "normal" one, but in the damp cold my legs soon started to cramp up, so I climbed out just in time to experience the storm's full fury at Grass Lake. The warmth from 10 layers of clothing, as well as the "blush" from a quite recent vintage of an old Gallo standby, kept my spirits about as "up" as they could get under the circumstances. They plummeted, however, upon reaching Azalea...

Going in the hole and taking out my foam earplugs, I became aware of the ever-present rain again. By now I was sitting in a puddle - as soon as I would clear the drain hole on the back of the grainer it would get plugged up again with bloated globs of grain. First a light engine ran around us, then a work train. A half hour later came the first uphill train to go by, followed by another and... another! We ended up sitting there for 3 hours in steady rain... my fingers were starting to get wrinkled! At last we released the brakes and made our way down the hill, getting into Dunsmuir just at 5:00 pm.