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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I mentioned previously that I have, in my dotage, taken up the hobby of hopping freight trains. It is normally a young man’s game, not for portly out of shape 60 year olds. As long as I get on and off stationary trains, I do o.k., and man, the scenery is indescribable. I did three hops last year, my first year, but none this year thus far.

I just got a text from a young friend of mine, he’s in his thirties, works seasonally in the forestry service, rides all over the country in his down time. He helped me get started, and I really want to go for a ride with him. This year, everything is messed up, as a consequence, he‘s not working in the forest, He’s coming down in a week or so, about a month earlier than I was planning on. Now I have to convince my wife to cut me loose for 2-3 weeks to ride, and we‘re not quite wrapped up with our remodel. She will have to tie up all the loose ends. That is, if she lets me go.

Our plan is to ride the Overland route out of Oakland as far as Cheyenne Wy.. head up to Laurel, Montana, then further north and west onto the Hi-Line towards Seattle (but maybe cut down to Portland), then back down the I-5 corridor to Roseville, near Sacramento. You can catch a high priority tain in Oakland Ca. and be in Chicago in as little as 72 hours, but neither of those cities is high on my list of priorities for spending time in. Montana is another story.

My wife will provide transport to and from departure points, as I am far fom rail yards. We’ll be mostly stealth camping along the way, but seeing as how I am a bougie retiree, I do like to hit a cheap motel every third day to get rid of the road-funk, and get a nice meal.

If I can swing it, and it is allowable, I would love to do a ride report, maybe include some video as I am traveling, even though it is not scooter related. So far, I have not been arrested, but I would accept a 300.00 tresspass charge once a year or so, as the cost of seeing so much beauty. Some may look down on me as a wuss, but I have never been arrested in my life, sad to say. I guess I’m no Marine.

Wish me luck convincing my wife
 

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Cool Bub,

I look forward to the travel log .... just watch out for Ernest Borgnine ...

 

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Sounds really exciting ibuzzard. I would love to follow your exploits if you check it here, good luck.

I've been a train fanatic for a long time, even DVR the train shows on the RFD channel, mostly steam btw. Also DVR the train journeys on the NHK network, Japan has wrote the book on building/operating a modern profitable commuter train network. Even hoped a few myself back in the day.

Be well.
 

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Sounds fun. Only did that a couple times as a kid, & never rode 'em too far.
Of course getting thrashed by a bull or arrested would be no fun, so I'm guessing you have to be careful where you get on.
 

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In real life Ernest Borgnine was the polar oppisite of that role he played.

Steve, if SWMBO allows, go for it.
 
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Discussion Starter #8
I am going, already started packing my gear. I am not young and strong, try to keep my pack weight down, sometimes you have to walk around yards, which can be quite large, to avoid the bull, or workers. My buddy regularly carries 40 lbs and more, I shoot for under 30 lbs., plus two days light rations, and at least a gallon of water. There may be a few beers in the pack also.Honestly, my wife is probably happy to have me gone awhile, we’re spending too much time together during this thing.
 

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Don’t forget bandanas, a flask of scotch would equal a 12 pack of beers and make water taste better. Best of Luck.
 

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Where do you ride on the train? Do you encounter others doing the same? Of course I've heard about homeless hobos riding freight trains, but didn't realize it was a thing some people do for fun. Would also like to hear details of your adventure.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
I will do some updates. I too, did not realize hopping freight was still a thing, thinking about it as something from the Depression era, my father’s time .I blame my new hobby all on my grandsons.

Since we’ve mostly had no television for the last 25 years, we do Netlix, AmazonPrime, but mostly Youtube videos. My grandsons love steam trains, and spend lots of time on my lap, in the recliner, watching all kinds of videos of them, especially those gorgeous vintage British machines, tooling along the seashore.

Youtube started making suggestions to me, the first one left me horrified, in fact I turned it off. A couple drunk dirty-kids, jumping train car to car, whiskey bottle in hand, in broad daylight, in some down-town huge city. They’re road meat, I thought, and switched to something else. But by and by, YT’s algorithm kept occaionally spitting these at me, and I finally saw smart, low key stealthy riders traversing some of the most gorgeous scenery imaginable. I began looking at them more and more, with a longing, wishing I’d done it for a couple years , maybe in my early twenties, before marriage and kids.

Finally, I saw one where the guy was almost, but not quite my age. He talked about no need to board or de-board any moving train ever. Never be seen, if possible. Never be a problem to either the workers, or the railroads themselves. In a word, be respectful and don’t blow it up for others. Old school.

That’s when I got a burning desire to do this, and began communicating through YT with guys who I thought were doing it how I would do it, and all the while keeping it a secret from my wife. They refused to spoon-feed me, making me work and do my own homework. I asked a few of them, they began talking to me about finding others, websites, train routes, crew-change points, using Google maps to scope out likely catch-out spots. After all, I am at least two hours from any yard where I can catch a train, so reconnoitering in advance is a bit more difficult. I became , thankfully, their sort of charity project: Let‘s help the old gray-hair tick one off his bucket-list . And that’s how I got interested.

It certainly is a young man’s game, though. Strength, stamina, and fitness are your friends here. And they’re not strong suites of mine. But it motivates me to want to get more fit. Most long time riders I admire, usually ride solo, and keep their distance from groups of riders. I do occasionally run into other riders, but usually it’s when waiting on a train, not on one . Lots of them are what we call dirty kids, or crusty kids, traveling around in groups , following Rainbow Gatherings, with no visible means of support. They fly signs, panhandle, busk on the streets, take advantage of free services in cities like SF, Portland, Seattle, etc. A high percentage have drug and alcohol problems. A few , not even most, but some - would roll you for a good piece of gear, a nice pack, or an iphone. An older, lone rider might appear to be easy pickings. That‘s one of the reasons that, as a senior citizen, it‘s probably in my best interest to not travel alone, as last year, I almost had a run-in with a couple punks in Eugene. The guy I’m riding with is a big tall guy who is a seasonal forestry worker that, and as part of his job, rides horses into remote National Forests, rebuilding washed out trails, packhorses carrying in their handsaws (chainsaws not allowed in remote backcountry areas vulnerable to fires), picks, food and supplies. In short, the Marlboro Man. I won’t worry about any group of young, white, 20-something year old, dreadlocked punks, with him having my back.
Sorry for the wordy response - I feel I’m in danger of being another DarisPakar (at least no obligatory video in every reply!). But it is something I really enjoy, though it is sometimes very hard, riding in varying conditions. I will definitely keep youse posted, mates!

Edit: G-Dub, so far, I have rode in open empty gondola’s, they’re like open-topped bins, as it were, that carry stuff like coal, scrap metal, steel beams, rebar, etc. . I have also ridden “grainers“ which carry various granular substances, and have “porches“ on the ends, plus one or more small cubby-holes where you can hide. And finally, on intermodal well cars which carry containers that can go on ships, trains, or trucks. I even rode a double-stack Intermodal through the Flathed Tunnel, west of Whitefish Montana, one of the longest ones in the US .On those IM trains, there‘s a bit of room on the ends to hide. And one time, we rode in a “unit“ ,which is an unmanned helper engine usually placed in the middle of the train to assist really long trains, or when traversing routes with steep grades. More and more, these are being locked, especially on BNSF trains.

I have yet to ride in either a box-car, or a ”pig with wings“. That is an entire truck trailer placed on a sort of flat-car, the wings being the long plastic pieces hanging down on the sides, almost touching the road, for aerodynamics. These make good cover for hiding, are real windy(like me), but in bad weather are not desirable . I am hoping to ride both these this trip.
 

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Great write up iBuzz ....
 

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No need to apologize for the tome...sounds interesting and definitely an adventure! I'm also 60 but my big "adventures" are limited to things like motorcycles, camping, etc. Keep us posted.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
HAS ANYONE SUGGESTED YOU MAY NEED CLINICAL HELP? I MEAN ZERO MALISE. JUST CONCERN OVER YOUR WELL BEING.
Well, I really believe riding freight trains to be far safer than motorcycling. Getting on and off moving trains, now that is dangerous, as is “riding suicide“ i.e. riding cars with open bottoms except for bracing in the corners, which are directly above the wheels. I never would dream of doing either of those things.

And yes, for 38 years now, my wife has known I need clinical help. It didn’t take.

Thanks for your concern, but like dying on a motorcycle, it would be doing something I love.
 

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Ibuzzard could start a thread in the "Rallies and Gathering" sub forum.
 
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