Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Seattle to Portland 

Bicyclists waiting to load their bikes.
Took the Amtrak back to Portland today. The Amtrak car didn't have a dining car, just sort of a bistro. Bar with a few tables. I was glad, actually, because when they have a dining car on Amtrak, they squeeze you in with a bunch of other people. It's very uncomfortable. Pay your money, gobble it up, get out. This car was quite nice, actually. I sat down at the bar and ordered some coffee and coffee cake. As I was sitting there at the bar reading, a young guy covered with tatoos walked in. He had several body piercings also. He walked up to the bar and said, "You guys take food stamps?" Guess it doesn't hurt to ask.

I got into a conversation with him about hopping trains. I lived in America for 40 years, but I have never hopped a train. I am not proud of that fact, merely stating it. I hitch-hiked across the country when I got out of high school, but for some reason, I just never thought of hopping a train until I was older, and then, well, you know how that goes. Maybe when I'm a little more older. Anyway, I had lots of questions for him about hopping trains. I asked him if he mainly hopped on moving trains, or only got on trains that were standing still. He told me that if the train is moving you need to make sure you can count the bolts on the wheel. Otherwise, the train is moving too fast. He said you can reach up and grab ahold, then allow your body to swing with the train, and pull yourself up into the box car. I would think you would need to have exceptional arm muscles for that. I think maybe I would have to go with the ones that were standing in a yard somewhere, or stopped at a station.

I asked him if he ever had trouble with people who were guarding the trains. He said, "On the West Coast they're pretty easy going, but back East, they'll shoot you." I don't know...maybe I should stick to hitch-hiking. I remember when I was working in the prison system in Oregon, and old prostitute from East Burnside told me that she would much rather hop a train, because in a box car "you have more room to fight if you get stuck with the wrong kind of person." She was a big woman, so I sure wouldn't be getting in a fight with her. Nice lady, though. Anyway, train hopping will have to be put on hold for now. Some day, though.

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