Yard Limits - part 2

look before you leap

The closer we got to Klamath, the less I felt compelled to get off. The empty car rode as nice as if it were fully loaded, and there wasn't anything in Klamath Falls that couldn't wait until the next time I came through, so the decision was made to continue on up to Eugene in my palatial surroundings.

Coming into the Klamath yard for a crew change, I dragged my "furniture" out of the doorway and into the head end of the car, mainly so I wouldn't be seen by the Bull and also because it had clouded up and was getting colder.

After a brief stop to change crews we sped off, and I was able to shift my cardboard "throne" around to give me the best angle to absorb the scenery, while staying out of the wind, which was getting colder by the minute. After passing Chemult we turned westward and slowed a bit as the moderate climb up the east side of the Cascades began. The "scenery" turned into a stream of pines going by on the left and a stream of pines going by on the right. I hoped that we'd crest the summit soon while there was still a good amount of sunlight left, as the ride down the west side had much better views. This was not to be, as we went in the hole at the top for two trains, both of which crawled by at a walking pace. We now descended into the perennial gloom that is Oregon, it seems. A low cloud cover that obscured the mountain tops, coupled with a persistent drizzle, and I moved my stuff further into the head end of the boxcar, but continued to enjoy the warmth that only corrugated cardboard (and White Port) could provide.

Another feature of the thick cardboard was that I was able to make a flashlight holder by jamming the back of my flashlight into the cardboard to create a miniature version of my wine bottle holder. This was something I've always wanted to do, after a disastrous session trying to find a black flashlight in the dark a few years back. I had dropped my Mini Maglite and the bulb broke, plunging me into darkness in the middle of the night in a rocking boxcar. I had a spare bulb, but I had no way of finding the flashlight except by the sound of it rolling around on the floor as we rocked back and forth. I got on my hands and knees and moved my hands around in circles on the floor every time I would hear the rolling sound. Since the front end of the flashlight was a larger diameter than the body, it only rolled around in half circles, but by the sound of things these arcs were getting closer and closer to the open door. At last I was able to reach the flashlight, and only by using up most of my supply of matches was I able to see well enough to replace the tiny bulb. My reward was a bright light, but my hands were black from rubbing circles on the boxcar floor. This didn't bode well as the reason that I had gotten the flashlight out in the first place was to slice some cheddar cheese for a midnight snack. Needless to say that by handling the greasy cheese with my coal-miners hands didn't exactly make a picture perfect meal, but good enough, considering.

Settling back in my sleeping bag, I enjoyed a nice, warm, smooth ride down to Eugene, where I hopped off, fittingly enough, right behind an iHop restaurant. Walking a few blocks until I got to the first overpass, I rolled out and slept for the rest of the night away from the damned drizzle, but with visions of Blueberry pancakes topped with whipped cream dancing in my head. By morning I was up before the sun (easy to do around here) and headed toward a breakfast fit for a King!