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Spring Break '98 - part 3
Livin' In Our Own Private Idaho

view from grainer GRINCH: After grabbing that train out of Pocatello - a rather difficult feat under the then-present circumstances - we rolled westward out of the yard toward Nampa. As we trolled along on the main I kept peeking out of my vantage point, expecting to see the yard tracks narrowing down to the main. Instead, the yard just kept going, and going, and going westward for at least a couple of miles, before the yard tracks finally met with the three mains on the west end. Thinking that UP's Hinkle classification yard was one of the larger yards I've ever been in, I was surprised to note that Pocatello was far longer. But it wasn't as long as the seven-mile-long Roseville complex.

As we cleared the yard I pulled out my fresh bottle of Fairbanks White Port, unscrewed the cap. I took a long pull, the first of many from that bottle. Capping it again, I threw another "wedge" of Copenhagen into my lip and sat up to enjoy the south-central Idaho countryside passing us by. Lots of rolling hills and farmland, punctuated by the occasional high-point and mountains in the distance.

Looking over at Papadalek, I noted he was fast asleep in his cubby, a half-full bottle of spirits by his side. Partially laying up against the gray-painted side of the cubby, he had a contented look on his face.

PAPADALEK: I don't know what The Grinch did that day, because I was asleep. I hadn't gotten any the night before, so I had a big swig of cream sherry as soon as we were out of Pokey and I snoozed. All I know was that it was a nice warm day, and we covered a lot of ground. It was still daylight when we stopped in Nampa (near Boise, ID). The train sat there for a while, and when we started moving again I slept some more. We didn't seem to make good time at all that night, though. I don't think I was awake for the crew change in La Grande, OR, but I remember Hinkle because the train got yarded there the next evening (Saturday), so we bailed out.

This was Grinch's home territory, being only one c-c east of Portland, so I let him lead. It was a warm, wet day with low-lying clouds. Hinkle is a big, isolated yard, so there were no stores or anything around. We found some crew water bottles, and walked over to the mainline.

There was a train there, all but one Canadian-style grainers, and I though I maybe could make out CN Red & Black on two of the four units. We found facing porches near the rear end and got on to wait. No bull presence at all, so we just hung out and talked. The Grinch told me all his stories about Hinkle.

Since there's supposedly only one or less trains a day north from Hinkle to Spokane, I really didn't think I'd be able to find one if I looked. But it was already Saturday night, and if I wanted to be home by Monday morning, I had to start heading that way real soon. I really wanted to complete the trip, and get to Portland with The Grinch, but in the back of my mind, I kinda hoped this train would turn right and get me to Spokane (one c-c from Missoula!). Well, it did.

As soon as our train started to pull around the curve at the end of the yard, The Grinch bailed out. I yelled for him I'd stay on, and to take it easy. I was kinda glad, but sad too. I settled down with cheese and bread and cream sherry for what I expected to be a beautiful ride up the Columbia River Gorge. I hoped The Grinch caught a good stack train soon, and that he had a successful trip home.