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Summer '89 Train Trip

 

Left Santa Rosa at 3:00 p.m. with Bruce. We drove to Dunsmuir. Got there around 9:30 p.m. but just missed Portland train. Eugene train was adding helpers at the depot so we drove north of town and I caught out on a boxcar only minutes after we arrived in town. Bruce was going to hang out and fish.

I went to sleep right away and had a good ride, getting to Klamath at 3:00 am and leaving almost immediately. Sort of a rocky ride up the east side of the Cascades but smooth going down the west side. Went through Oakridge around 8:00 am without stopping (phew!) and I'm now sitting on a siding probably 25 miles east of Eugene waiting on a meet.

Arrived in Eugene at 11:30 am - saw 4449 near roundhouse. Now ready to scramble to departure yard.

Walked to north end of departure yard (ugh!) and found train for Portland - got in at 9:30 pm. Walked straight to Lake Yard (ugh!) - took almost 2 hours. Caught out on #2 at 1:30 am, got into Pasco at 7:30 am. Picked up some cars (started with only 15 or so) and now ready to leave. Had smooth but hot ride to Spokane (95 degrees). Got in at 12:30 pm. Did the usual walk to store, etc. and now waiting for either #14 or #110 - 3:00 pm.

Caught out on #14 at 3:30 pm. Had the usual mellow double-stack ride - clear, cool night going over Rockies - got into Havre at 7:00 am (MST). Laid over for 1 hour - enough time to hit market for water, Gatorade but no beer until 8:00 am (ugh!). Caught out on same train at 8:00 am. Now 11:30 am and I think I'm in Glasgow for a crew change. Weather was clear and surprisingly cool in am and warm and calm now almost noon. Got out at siding to take a poop and got a years worth of mosquito bites in 60 seconds in tall weeds (never again!). At this rate I should be in Minnie around 3:00 am tomorrow!

Got into Northtown at 6:00 am. As usual the bull saw me but just did the FI scene and let me go. Northtown is a hard yard to get into or out of. Walked over to highway and caught a bus to Minnie, then another to St. Paul, then another to So. St. Paul for only 75 cents total! It would have taken me all day to walk it. Weather was strangely overcast this am. A big red Sun early, but clear and cool now. I've never been here when it wasn't 180 degrees and humid - this is actually very nice. I was almost cold this morning when I got up. I'm hanging out at the river camp next to the CNW yard, waiting for the Mason City man, which should get here between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m. tonight. I'd desperately like to go swimming, but the wind is carrying the smell of the sewage treatment plant across the river as well as the odor of the dead carp on the beach to my nostrils - I think I'll wait. Now getting plastered on ice-cold Fosters and White Port. Nobody knows where I am and I don't care!

Well, I'm finally here in Britt after one of the worst hitchhikes ever. I caught the Mason City train about 10:30 p.m. and had a nice ride down to Iowa - got in at 5:30 am. Then I had to hitch to Clear Lake (15 min.), then Garner (45 min.) and then Britt (45 min.). What a relief to take the pack off. More later.

I hung around the jungle and "rapped" with the hobos, then hit the Laundromat, stocked up on wine and hitched back to Mason City. The hitch back, compared to the hitch out, was not as bad, but a lesser soul would have slit his wrists, just the same. Anyway, I had a great sleep in the yard and now (6:30 am Thurs.) I'm leaving on a train down to Boone, where I hope to catch west on the CNW main to Fremont, North Platte, Cheyenne and home. Had a slow but pleasant ride down to Boone - lots of 10 mph territory. Got some grub, was told by the bull to "hit the Interstate", and, after a Rambo-type march back to the yard, I'm waiting for a westbound.

After sweating in the yard for several hours, I finally got the PRNPA at about 8:30 or 9:00 pm. Had a good sleep across Iowa and Nebraska and got into North Platte at 9:00 am. Got "escorted" out of the yard almost immediately by the bull and spent the next hour walking back to the departure yard. Now sitting in shade trees with 6-pack of Bud. After playing "Johnny Commando" through a quarter-mile of nettle-infested woods, I caught a Cheyenne train at noon and I'm now enjoying yet another Bud on my way west. What a relief to get out of North Platte! I must have sweated off 5 lbs. hiding in the hole of this hopper leaving the yard. I can't wait to get away from this humidity - I'm even sweating through my pants! I've also got to carry some anti-itch creme or something. My legs look like raspberries after walking through the nettles with short pants on. Got into Cheyenne around 5:00 p.m. after going through a humongous thunderstorm. Got supplies and called the lineup - there's an Oakland double-stack due in about an hour. The weather is almost cold with overcast skies and wind. I forgot that Cheyenne is about 6,000' high - it must be lousy in the winter. The double-stack came in early and just as I reached a good ride it took off - love those quick crew changes! Left Cheyenne at about 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. and had a reasonably good ride to Salt Lake, getting there around 8:00 am. Most of the way was thunderstorms and the sleeping bag cover wasn't operating quite up to expectations. Fortunately it was a warm rain, but I have to design a good sleeping bag cover for train trips. It ended up that the stack train I was on was the APDLA instead of the APDOA, but fortunately the SLOAZ was on the track next to me so I caught out on that at 9:30 am and had a great ride across Nevada - saw a herd of pronghorn antelope outside of Salt Lake! Got into Stockton at 8:00 am the next day after detouring on the SP from Marysville to Lathrop. We dropped off some cars at Reno Jct. so now we're about 25 cars long. A crew change on the fly at Lathrop and it's almost 8:30 am on Sunday morning and we're headed up Altamont. Should be in Oakland at 11:00 am. Got in at 10:53!!