Jesus told his disciples to go into the world and to take nothing with them : no food, water, clothes, nor even a bedroll. We didnít quite meet that ideal as we did take clothes, a bedroll, a box of cheerios and .60 cents with which we bought a pack of Bugler cigarette tobacco. Although it was a spur of the moment decision we had talked of a train ride on several occasions while walking through the train yard.
The Redding train yard is a small one with only three tracks. A recent derailment had messed up a track and left the yard with only two; one for trains going through and the other for storing cars.
We had watched several times while trains had hooked up to few cars on the side track and taken off with them. So we thought that all we had to do was to sit in a car and we would eventually be taken away. Things didnít quite work out that way and we sat for a day. The mission was little more than a block away so we didnít go hungry.
After a day and night we realized that we were going to have to jump on a train that had stopped. And that is what we did. Late in the evening and a bit after dark a train pulled in. We ran to climb into an open boxcar we had seen pass us. A tramp who had seen us climbed in behind us, after requesting permission of course. He had been on the car in front of the one we climbed on.
He first pulled out a gallon of vodka and offered us a drink . We declined as we do not drink alcohol. He then explained that trains going south rarely stop in Redding . We had to take this one north to Dunsmuir (about50 miles) where every train stops. There we could catch a train south.
By the time we arrived in Dunsmuir he had convinced us that we should go on to Seattle and catch a train there which would take us directly to Tucson. This didnít sound right to us but we knew nothing of riding trains. Since then we have obtained a copy of the railroad map and see now that he was completely off the wall. There is no telling what he had planned for us if we had ended up in Seattle with him.
At Dunsmuir he talked us into getting on the rear unit (engine). Many trains, you may have noticed, have two or more units. On the units are cold water, a restroom, a heater, sometimes an air conditioner, comfortable seats and you can monitor the radio.
On our way from the boxcar to the unit we passed the engineer who was walking back to check out the train. Arriving in Klamath Falls, Oregon we decided to return, to our boxcar . On the way we again passed the engineer. He looked at us then at the unit and back at us. He then said, "Donít be riding my unit". We assured him that we would not be.
The tramp returned to the unit and we went to sleep in the boxcar. Early in the morning tramp woke us up saying that the train crew was at a store across the street and that we should take advantage of the opportunity to do the same . So Eye went with tramp while Butterfly remained with our stuff.
It soon became apparent that we were in the middle of nowhere, someplace in the mountains between Klamath Falls and Eugene. There was no town visible; only a road, a store and a creek. Eye walked into the store with the idea of buying some pastries and coffee. We obviously had some money though neither of us remembers where it had come from since, as you will recall, we had left with only .60 cents which we spent on tobacco.
Eye started for the pastry aisle but saw that tramp was in the process of shoplifting. Not wanting anything to do with that Eye proceeded to the coffee.
As Eye was standing at the counter waiting to pay, the clerk turned to me said ďCoffee is free to anyone on the train. Youíre on the train, arenít you?Ē I nodded yes, thanked her, and returned to the train. And the train continued on itís way to Eugene.
When it looked as if the train wasnít going to stop before going into the yard, tramp quickly explained the proper way of getting off a moving train. You must hold on to the train until you are running at the same speed as it is.
Butterfly, who was carrying trampís glass gallon of Vodka in her book bag backpack, apparently hadnít listened closely enough. She jumped from the train without holding on and rolled as people in their cars watched.
Tramp was concerned only about his vodka bottle which had broken and not at all for whether or not she may have been cut. Being perturbed by this I wrung out a pair of socks while asking if he would like a drink. The train, by the way, stopped almost immediately after we got off.
Tramp suggested that we go to the mission for dinner, which sounded like a good idea to us. We arrived a little prior to dinnertime so Butterfly went off to the womenís side to take a shower. As she was smelling strongly of vodka she was put to the front of the line and had difficulty convincing people that she didnít drink. She then returned to where we were awaiting dinner call.
While Butterfly had been gone tramp had been walking around talking to people. It was obvious that he was attempting to buy something which we presumed to be pot. Appearing a bit frustrated tramp suggested that we walk down the street where we would get something better than anything the mission had to offer.
We grudgingly agreed and walked down the street where we ran into some other tramps. Our tramp began attempting to make a purchase. We reminded him that we were hungry and that the only reason we had come with him was that he had promised good food. So he asked the tramps if they had any food they could spare. They gave us some things that they had gotten from the mission earlier.
Although we werenít happy with this turn of events we ate what was offered. Being too late to return to the mission for dinner we then returned to the train yard where we caught a train to Portland.
As the train was pulling into Portland Butterfly and I were sitting in the back of the boxcar, tramp was standing in the open doorway. He called to us to come take a look.
We had no sooner reached the doorway when a porcelain toilet came flying though the door on the other side, which was also open. It flew right to where we had been and hit with a loud thud. Had we been there one or both of us would have been badly injured if not killed.
After recovering from shock we looked out the door to see that tramp was looking at large whirlpool in the middle of the river. Undoubtedly a "glory hole".
On a way further there was an unopened bag of Doritos and a can of bean dip setting beside the track. The train was moving slow enough that tramp was able to jump out and retrieve them.
Neither appeared to have been there for very long. They were definitely a Goddess-send.
After arriving in Portland we went first to the mission. There we were given food even though it was not a mealtime. After eating we then went to catch a train to Seattle.
We sat on a hillside and waited till a train pulled up going slow. We ran down the hill and climbed onto the rear unit. The train stopped and began backing up. We jumped off and ran back to the hillside.
After three or four times of this, instead of jumping off when the train began backing up we climbed into the next car, a 48 foot ribside container car. We lay on the floor a few minutes till a flashlight shined in our eyes and a cop told us to climb out. The cop asked the engineer if he wanted us taken to jail. The engineer replied that since we werenít on the unit there was no need for that. So the cop kept us there running our I.D. while the train took off.
Tramp then suggested that we catch a train across the river to Vancouver, WA. Which we did.
There we were in the Burlington Northern yard. The B.N. units seemed to be many times more powerful than the S.P. units which we had been riding. I was very impressed.
When daylight came Butterfly and I decided to walk around outside the yard bit. While we walked and talked we agreed that tramp was continuously misleading us and we decided to hitchhike back to Redding.
We then walked back to Portland and found a place to hitchhike.
Before long a girl picked us up. She gave us a ride to the South side of Portland. The sun was going down so we found a place to sleep.
In the morning we got up and went into Wendyís, which was right next to the ramp. I donít remember if we had breakfast there but I do remember that we had coffee. I remember that because the lady manager told us that it was unlimited refills.
So we drank a few cups, filled a Mountain Dew bottle and walked out to the ramp.
And there we stood all day. Pretty much. We must have taken time off to get meals but I donít remember for sure. And I donít remember getting any money but we must have had some, if only for coffee in the morning. I do know we didnít go hungry.
Towards evening a guy picked us up. He explained that he was only going a few miles to a freeway interchange. When we asked if there was a place to hitchhike there he gave us a funny look and said, "I guess".
He dropped us on the side of the freeway. There was no ramp in sight so we got quickly off the freeway and found a place to sleep.
The next morning we walked back to the ramp we had been on the day before. After breakfast and coffee at Wendys we again went out to stand on the side of the ramp.
The day before people had driven by pointing ahead of them. All we could figure was they were telling us that they were going straight ahead. To which we, of course, kept saying, "yea, us too".
Around noon we saw a guy walking up the freeway. We watched as he got closer and then came up the ramp we were on.
When he got to us he asked, "Do you know youíre in Oregon?Ē
"Yes, of course,Ē we replied.
"Oregon is a right of passage state,Ē he said.
"And that means?"
"That means you can walk on the freeway. If you get out there and start walking someone will pick you up", he explained.
We then understood why so many people had pointed down the road in front of them.
Within a few minutes, certainly less than five, a young man, probably early 20ís, pulled over and picked us up. He was turning west at Eugene and going to the coast. We decided that the coast sounded like a good idea. He gave us a ride to Florence, and got us high on the way.
From there we hitched south on the coast highway. Hitching there was very interesting; we would get a ride from the south side of a town to the north side of the next town. From the north side we would walk through the town to the south side, so that we were able to get a close look at several small seaside towns.
Most nights we slept on the beach and watched as a highly visible comet moved overhead.
On one occasion we had been hitchhiking on the south side of a town for quite a while, probably at least a half an hour, maybe as much as an hour. We were beginning to get a little stir crazy when a lady, probably in her late 40ís and driving a camper, pulled into the vacant lot next to the convenience store/gas station across the street. She stepped out and opened the hood of her truck. We walked across the street to see if we could be of assistance to her in any way. She assured us that this was something she had to do on occasion and that it would be ok.
She was eager to talk, though, and as she talked, she began pulling food and other items from her camper and giving it to us. Finally we found it necessary to decline any further gifts as our backpacks were full and heavy. We said our thank yous and good-byes and went back across the street to continue hitchhiking. Almost immediately we had a ride.
From this and some later experiences we came to realize that, at times there are things which we need to accomplish before we can move on. For this experience it seems that we had to be the method by which this lady was able to practice charity.
At another time we got a ride from a guy who was drinking beer. He offered us beers, which we at first declined as we do not drink. But he was insistent, as drinkers frequently are, and we eventually accepted.
Then we got pulled over. As it happened the cop and our driver had been friends in school. But that didnít help our driver any; the cop had sworn to uphold the law. While our driver was doing the touch your nose, etc. thing I gladly poured what remained of my near full beer out the door. Butterfly left hers on the rear floorboard.
When the cop told us to exit the car our driver, who was on his way to jail, insisted that we take his last two beers. We finally agreed then set off to find a bed for the night.
The next day we began walking. Learning that we were just a few miles from California we speculated on whether we would be walking across the border.
After a few miles of walking we ran out of water and didnít see any place to get some. The idea of walking across the California border no longer sounded that appealing. And we began to wonder why we hadnít gotten a ride. So we sat down off the side of the road and drank the two beers.
As soon as we stood back up we got a ride. Apparently we had to drink those beers before we could move on.
I donít know why; there are many things that I do not understand. I do know that if we hadnít drank them before we got a ride, we never would have drank them.
The guy who then gave us a ride was on his way to Ukiah to pick mushrooms. His station wagon was nearly packed down with the crates which he used in his business.
Prior to our drinking driver we had been given a ride by three people in a van who were also mushroom pickers. They were headed to northern California and then to Colorado.
The whole idea of picking mushrooms for a living sounded good to us so we made arrangements to meet with this guy in Ukiah where he would introduce us to the business.
He dropped us just north of Eureka where we turned east across the mountains toward Redding. A young couple gave us a ride to Weaverville, a small, old mountain mining town. Being late in the day they invited us to a dinner of steak and potatoes.
After dinner, as we were preparing to look for a place to sleep, they insisted that rain was on itís way and we should sleep in their small station wagon. As there wasnít a cloud in the sky I attempted to decline but butterfly agreed with them that it was likely to rain. So I capitulated and we slept in the car.
Of course it rained. Hard. The next morning we walked into town.
This is one of those small towns where the highway running through town is the main street. We looked through the shops and attempted hitchhiking when the rain slowed down enough.
Eventually we got a ride in a small tanker. The guy had been going to the mountain towns gathering used oil which he was taking to Redding for recycling. He gave us a ride to very near our apartment.
The next day being Saturday, we had a yard sale. Every thing we hadnít sold or given away by Sunday afternoon went into the dumpster.
We then went to K-mart where we purchased a tent and sleeping bag. Monday morning we walked the two or three blocks from our apartment to where the track crossed the road. A train was stopped with a flatbed right in the middle of the road. We climbed on and waved to the people setting in their cars as the train started moving south.