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Portland to Seattle and Back

 

Tonight I'm taking Tri-Met to Mahan and then I'll wait 5 or 6 hours for some units to come out from Banks and pick my car up and then I'll be on my way to Tillamook. If all goes well I'll be there around Friday afternoon. From Tillamook I'll hitchhike up HWY 101, stay the night in Cannon Beach, and then the morning hitchhike towards Portland on Hwy 26.

The units never came to pick my cars up that were sitting on that siding so instead I went downtown in the morning after a long cold night sleeping on the train and I took the Cascades Amtrak to Seattle, WA and of course I didn't pay for it I just made myself a boarding pass at Kinkos.

Once in Seattle Friday morning I had a cold walk around downtown and picked up some food for the long and cold walk to find a freight train home to Portland.

It was around 2:00 pm on Friday when I hopped an empty boxcar on a BNSF train out of Seattle. I knew the single unit train wasn't going far but it did get me to Tacoma where I got off and walked around the yard to try to warm up some.

From Tacoma, WA I found a southbound train that had no good ridings on it at all so I ended up having to ride a piggyback in the freezing rain all the way to Centralia. By the time I got to Centralia, WA I was cold and felt frostbitten and it was getting dark out so I went in search of a book store or something to warm up in but I found nothing but empty streets so I headed back to the train yard to look for my next ride which I hoped would get be back to Portland but the yard was dead quite. After a great deal of looking around I found a train that I hoped would take me further south and it had and boxcar with a half open boxcar door so I shined my flashlight in to find a young tramp maybe 16 years old freezing his ass off, wearing only a t-shirt. So I ask if he knew where the train was heading and he didn't but I also didn't say that I did. I hopped in and asked if I could ride with him in exchange for some of my coffee I was going to boil up since there looked to be no other good rides and he was more then happy to let me.

After I had built a small fire in the boxcar and boiled up coffee the young kid started to talk to me and tell me all about how he was leaving home because his father was a drunk... etc. and he didn't even have time to pack a bed roll or anything warm to wear when leaving, he just wanted out of Centralia.

After the coffee around 9:00 pm we headed into town to try and find him something warm so he wouldn't die and after digging in a few dumpsters I found an old blanket for him but he wasn't very grateful.

Back at the yard in our boxcar I fell asleep as he talked my ear off.

Around 5:00 am Saturday morning I heard some units so I jumped up and looked out to see a southbound train taking off so I ran for it as it was pulling away but I managed to grab the ladder of a gondola and climbed on in. The next two hours were full of freezing rain and wind. As the train rolled though Longview, Vancouver, through the North Portland Jct., over the BNSF bridge and in to the Lake Yard in NW Portland I had a lot of time to reflect on my the past two days. I could not stop thinking about the young kid running away from his problems and how I saw myself in him.