Exterior. Day. A solitary tramp sits against his pack in a jungle, pencil in hand, staring at a notebook, desperately trying to come up with a word that rhymes with Uncompahgre...
This scenario more or less defined my morning so far. Beginning with that special buzz that only drinking White Port on an empty stomach can produce, I was in no hurry to catch a train. My only thoughts were directed toward coaxing a poem into life, but after 15 minutes or so I began to develop blindness from staring at the nearly blank sheet of white paper in the bright sunlight.
The last day and a half was spent going east across Nevada in a wobbly gondola. The debris covering the bottom of the car defied description, but most of it stayed put in the swirling wind and I was left alone to my thoughts huddled in the front of the car. Today began in Salt Lake, and I was headed for the interior of Utah and maybe Colorado. These remained as final destinations, as my immediate destination was reached, and I was comfortable just where I was.
As if to complement my dormancy the freightyard was about as quiet as a freightyard could get. The only sounds that I could identify were the nearby freeway and the distant hum of a yard engine. The temperature was perfect, there was no wind, and I had enough food, water, and wine to eliminate the need to walk around looking for a market. Imbued with the soothing effects of the White Port, I gave up on my futile attempt at poetry and dozed off, trying to win back some of the hours of sleep that I lost in the rocking gondola last night.
Waking up some time later with the beginning of a sunburn, I sat up and pondered where I could move to that would be in the shade, when suddenly the string of cars next to me shuddered to life and with a deafening squeal rolled back just enough to replace the adjacent flat car with a boxcar, which was tall enough to shield me from the sun. Basking in my good fortune, I returned to sleep.
The next interruption was the sound of a scooter approaching in a series of starts and stops. This was almost always a good sign, so I jumped up and climbed over the string to see if I could get some info on the next train east. The driver smiled as he came to a stop in front of me and just inquired "East or West?" I quickly replied "East" and he pointed to the string I had just climbed over. Looking at his watch he followed with "About an hour". I thanked him and stepped aside as he continued with his brake inspection.
Realizing that I should probably get my gear together and walk the train, I reluctantly packed away my notebook with its unfinished poem, along with the wine, the water, and my jacket, then began the walk looking for a ride. Shortly I came upon a flatcar loaded with some brand new piece of farm machinery. I climbed up and from a sticker on the side learned that it was going to some dealer in Grand Junction. This was good news, because it meant that when my train got to Grand Junction it would probably be yarded long enough to switch out this flatcar, giving me time to hit a liquor store a short distance from the departure yard.