Train Journal - 1989


June 9, 1989 - 10:30 pm. Sitting at the loading dock near the SP crossing listening to a Giants game - 12 to 2 over the Padres! Comfortable night - clear, light wind, not too cool. Got here early so I could hang out in the yard longer - it makes a big difference. Not all "pumped up" over a train trip.

Yards are quiet - not much on the radio. Even though it's the first week of June, the breeze off the Bay is cold as usual. It should be a good trip - the weather is nice with 80's in the day and 50's at night.

11:20 pm. I'm at the UP yard - the power just backed down to the train and I'm listening to the scanner and drinking wine. Looks like 3 or 4 SD40's tonight.

This is my favorite spot to wait for a train. It's quite comfortable, easy to catch out and no bulls to worry about - no tramps, either. I caught out just before midnight on a fairly short train. Had a good ride to Stockton. Quite a bit warmer on east side of Altamont. Yard workers "ratted" on me just as we were leaving but as usual I eluded the bull and nailed her again on the way out. Had great sleep and got to Portola at 10 am. Warm and clear - had breakfast, got supplies and hung out near yard waiting for coil steel train to leave. Had perfect ride down the canyon on short steel car - got into Stockton early - hit the market then walked back to the yard and had great sleep on ground in car repair area. Got up at 5:00 am and spent morning waiting for Oakland train. It's now a little after 9 am with the stack train setting out in the yard and the SLOAZ right behind him. Nailed the stack train at 80 mph in the yard and had fast ride to Oakland.

#3805 OANPZ Oakland/11:45 p.m., Stockton/2:15 am - 3:30 am, Portola/10:00 am

#9313 USST Portola/2:00 p.m., Stockton/10:30 p.m.

#9315 APOAD Stockton/9:45 am, Oakland/12:00 p.m. (new record)


Fri. Aug. 4, 1989 - Left Santa Rosa at 3:00 p.m. with Bruce. We drove to Dunsmuir. Got there around 9:30 p.m. but just missed Portland train. Eugene train was adding helpers at the depot so we drove north of town and I caught out on a boxcar only minutes after we arrived in town. Bruce was going to hang out and fish.

I went to sleep right away and had a good ride, getting to Klamath at 3:00 am and leaving almost immediately. Sort of a rocky ride up the east side of the Cascades but smooth going down the west side. Went through Oakridge around 8:00 am without stopping (phew!) and I'm now sitting on a siding probably 25 miles east of Eugene waiting on a meet.

Arrived in Eugene at 11:30 am - saw 4449 near roundhouse. Now ready to scramble to departure yard.

Walked to north end of departure yard (ugh!) and found train for Portland - got in at 9:30 pm. Walked straight to Lake Yard (ugh!) - took almost 2 hours. Caught out on #2 at 1:30 am, got into Pasco at 7:30 am. Picked up some cars (started with only 15 or so) and now ready to leave. Had smooth but hot ride to Spokane (95 degrees). Got in at 12:30 pm. Did the usual walk to store, etc. and now waiting for either #14 or #110 - 3:00 pm.

Caught out on #14 at 3:30 pm. Had the usual mellow double-stack ride - clear, cool night going over Rockies - got into Havre at 7:00 am (MST). Laid over for 1 hour - enough time to hit market for water, Gatorade but no beer until 8:00 am (ugh!). Caught out on same train at 8:00 am. Now 11:30 am and I think I'm in Glasgow for a crew change. Weather was clear and surprisingly cool in am and warm and calm now almost noon. Got out at siding to take a poop and got a years worth of mosquito bites in 60 seconds in tall weeds (never again!). At this rate I should be in Minnie around 3:00 am tomorrow!

Got into Northtown at 6:00 am. As usual the bull saw me but just did the FI scene and let me go. Northtown is a hard yard to get into or out of. Walked over to highway and caught a bus to Minnie, then another to St. Paul, then another to So. St. Paul for only 75¢ total! It would have taken me all day to walk it. Weather was strangely overcast this am. A big red Sun early, but clear and cool now. I've never been here when it wasn't 180 degrees and humid - this is actually very nice. I was almost cold this morning when I got up. I'm hanging out at the river camp next to the CNW yard, waiting for the Mason City man, which should get here between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m. tonight. I'd desperately like to go swimming, but the wind is carrying the smell of the sewage treatment plant across the river as well as the odor of the dead carp on the beach to my nostrils - I think I'll wait. Now getting plastered on ice-cold Fosters and White Port. Nobody knows where I am and I don't care!

Well, I'm finally here in Britt after one of the worst hitchhikes ever. I caught the Mason City train about 10:30 p.m. and had a nice ride down to Iowa - got in at 5:30 am. Then I had to hitch to Clear Lake (15 min.), then Garner (45 min.) and then Britt (45 min.). What a relief to take the pack off. More later.

I hung around the jungle and "rapped" with the hobos, then hit the Laundromat, stocked up on wine and hitched back to Mason City. The hitch back, compared to the hitch out, was not as bad, but a lesser soul would have slit his wrists, just the same. Anyway, I had a great sleep in the yard and now (6:30 am Thurs.) I'm leaving on a train down to Boone, where I hope to catch west on the CNW main to Fremont, North Platte, Cheyenne and home. Had a slow but pleasant ride down to Boone - lots of 10 mph territory. Got some grub, was told by the bull to "hit the Interstate", and, after a Rambo-type march back to the yard, I'm waiting for a westbound.

After sweating in the yard for several hours, I finally got the PRNPA at about 8:30 or 9:00 pm. Had a good sleep across Iowa and Nebraska and got into North Platte at 9:00 am. Got "escorted" out of the yard almost immediately by the bull and spent the next hour walking back to the departure yard. Now sitting in shade trees with 6-pack of Bud. After playing "Johnny Commando" through a quarter-mile of nettle-infested woods, I caught a Cheyenne train at noon and I'm now enjoying yet another Bud on my way west. What a relief to get out of North Platte! I must have sweated off 5 lbs. hiding in the hole of this hopper leaving the yard. I can't wait to get away from this humidity - I'm even sweating through my pants! I've also got to carry some anti-itch creme or something. My legs look like raspberries after walking through the nettles with short pants on. Got into Cheyenne around 5:00 p.m. after going through a humongous thunderstorm. Got supplies and called the lineup - there's an Oakland double-stack due in about an hour. The weather is almost cold with overcast skies and wind. I forgot that Cheyenne is about 6,000' high - it must be lousy in the winter. The double-stack came in early and just as I reached a good ride it took off - love those quick crew changes! Left Cheyenne at about 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. and had a reasonably good ride to Salt Lake, getting there around 8:00 am. Most of the way was thunderstorms and the sleeping bag cover wasn't operating quite up to expectations. Fortunately it was a warm rain, but I have to design a good sleeping bag cover for train trips. It ended up that the stack train I was on was the APDLA instead of the APDOA, but fortunately the SLOAZ was on the track next to me so I caught out on that at 9:30 am and had a great ride across Nevada - saw a herd of pronghorn antelope outside of Salt Lake! Got into Stockton at 8:00 am the next day after detouring on the SP from Marysville to Lathrop. We dropped off some cars at Reno Jct. so now we're about 25 cars long. A crew change on the fly at Lathrop and it's almost 8:30 am on Sunday morning and we're headed up Altamont. Should be in Oakland at 11:00 am. Got in at 10:53!! - GREAT TRIP!


Sept. 9, 1989 - Left Oakland at 11:30 p.m. on a short piggyback train. Had a smooth but dusty ride to Stockton. For a change I fell asleep and woke up already in the yard, but no bull. Switched to a better car (one with sides) and had great sleep on the way to Portola. Got in at 10:30 am, had a great breakfast, hit the Sally, scored some overalls, checked out the museum, got ice and beer, hung out at the bridge over the river and caught out on the NPMIZ at 4:30 pm. Had mellow ride down the canyon on the "observation deck", but had shitty ride from Oroville to Sacto on account of severe rocking, to put it mildly. Got into Stockton at 11:00 p.m. after sleeping through it again, and slept for part of the night on ground between tracks in SP yard. Woke up at 4:00 am, wandered "aimlessly" for awhile and now waiting for the SLOAZ (7:15 am). Rousted in yard by mellow bull but caught out just the same (natch!) at 9:15 am. Nice ride to Oakland - took usual amount of time.

#9134 OANPZ Oakland/11:30 p.m., Stockton/2:00 am - 2:45 am, Portola/10:30 am

#9289 NPMIZ Portola/4:30 p.m., Stockton/11:00 p.m.

#---- SLOAZ Stockton/9:15 am, Oakland/11:45 am


Tue. Dec. 19, 1989 - Took early bus to the City and learned one very important rule of train riding - never, EVER eat a 5 lb. Super Burrito just before leaving on a 2 hour bus ride! Whew, it was touch and go all the way. Anyway, hung out in the SP Desert yard for awhile, then hoofed it over to UP. I'm now sitting under the bridge with a couple of hours to go before my train leaves.

It's now 11:15 p.m. and I'm in my usual spot next to the UP yard, again waiting for a train. Another lesson that has been brought to mind in the last hour or so is to err on the side of too many warm clothes, rather than too few.

The power just backed down. It looks like 3 big "boats" tonight. Well, midnight came and went. So did 1:00 am and 2:00 am. Finally at 2:30 am I caught out and had a slow and extremely cold ride to Stockton. Watched Santa Fe detour come through the SP yard. Very long northbound. Hung out in fog and finally caught out around 7:45 am. The train stopped at Charter Way and mercifully gave me time to figure out if I really wanted to go all the way to Salt Lake on a piggyback that was soaking wet already. Hanging around in this 38 degree fog is getting to be a real drag, so I sleazed off the pig train and walked back to the yard, where I'm now waiting in an empty auto rack on an OANP that should be leaving in about a half hour. Leaving town at 9:30 am on Wed. After staying up all night and burning up about a zillion calories trying to keep warm, I had a great sleep and woke up at 3:00 p.m. near Keddie. Should be in Salt lake around 5:00 am. Woke up outside of Salt lake at 7:30 am. Partly cloudy with 28 degrees. Should be a nice day once the Sun comes out. To say that I'm "rested" is an understatement. I got in my bag around 10:00 am in Stockton and except for a couple of hours between Keddie and Portola I've stayed in it until this morning - that's over 19 hours! Anyhoo, as usual, after sitting at a siding 3 miles from town for an hour, as soon as I climbed down to walk into town we started to go. Had breakfast, cleaned up, waited for the liquor store to open and when it did I found out that they didn't carry White Port "in the city limits". That's Mormons for you. I'm now in the yard at 11:30 am waiting on a stack/pig train. Caught out in about an hour and got into LA about the same time the next day. It was 86 degrees at 11:30 am in LA!

After Christmas with the family, I took an RTD bus to Riverside where Bruce met me and we went "railfanning" at Riverside and Colton. Saw a UP train at a siding in Colton, found out it was the LAHK and it would leave in an hour. Drank wine and finally train left at 5:30 p.m. on Tue. Dec. 26th. Got to Barstow at 8:30 p.m. where we are now, doing some work enroute to Yermo. My train broke up in Yermo, so I walked to the far north end of the yard and caught a stack train immediately (1:00 am). Had good, fast ride to Salt Lake, getting in around 4:00 pm. Ate at the yard cafe and got on the coil steel train, which left after a few hours. The temperature was in the mid 20's and foggy, so besides being depressing it was "snowing" on everything. Had very slow ride to Elko - got in at 5:00 am. Got up an hour later and I'm sitting on the main line, waiting for a train. Temperature is 21 degrees and overcast. It's now 8:45 am, temperature 23 degrees and still nothing leaving town! The NPST came in on the main, causing a "flurry" of excitement in your's truly, but it's been sitting here for over an hour. There's a couple of Okie radio stations, and worst of all, my Mom washed my wine jug out at home and it didn't get rinsed out good enough and now my wine tastes like dishwashing soap. Anyhoo, we just got our air and we're leaving at 9:00 am.

Had a great ride across Nevada in hopper with hardly any "humps" in back. Went to sleep near Flannigan. Got to Portola at 8:00 p.m. and had even smoother ride down canyon. Woke up at 5:00 am in 30 degree pea-soup fog in Stockton. Had breakfast, got a bottle and now I'm waiting for the SLOAZ, due at 9:00 am. Left town at noon on a 14 car train after the bull "politely" told me to leave the yard, which, actually I did, only not on foot. Got into Oakland at 2:20 pm.