View Full Version : Birthday Partying with the Hard Core Tramps
11-27-2001, 12:22 AM
I was out this weekend traveling and wound up just outside my favorite rail yard shortly before daybreak. I had just detrained and hit the brush and trees on the west side of the main when I heard a train horn and saw another train coming the other direction about 250 yards up the track. It pulled right up next to where I was at, stopped dead still and blew the air off the brakes. My usual jungle was on the other side of the wye from where I sat in the ditch with my ruck and bindle. Train crewmen got out and a switchman began coming down the ladder and walking all around on the other side of the engine. "Patience, " I thought, "is the number one quality that every tramp must have." I withdrew back into the trees and brush and decided to wait it out. I had my scanner turned down low, and I walked back into the brush, heading for a large tree that I knew was back there somewhere. The lot that these trees and brush were on was littered with construction junk, old tires, broken bottles and those blue plastic water bottles the train crewmen throw away. I found a bent-up steel paint bucket, dropped my ruck and sat down with my back against the tree.
At zero eight hundred (eight o'clock a.m.) they were still sitting there idling and wasting time. I felt like I was wasting time, and then it occurred to me--I ought to just go ahead and build a jungle on this side of the wye. So that's what I did. Keeping the trees and brush between me and the train, I scrounged up chunks of concrete for a fire ring, cut the brush back away from the tree with my gardening snippers, sawed off a couple of branches that were screwing up my use of two trees for hammock trees, built a fire and made breakfast. I sited the fire ring on the opposite side of the tree from the wye, where there was plenty of brush between me and the tracks, to cut down on the light signature of the fire. After I finished off my oatmeal and coffee, I sneaked down and had another good look at the train with binoculars about 0900. It was a UP engine and a CSX engine running in tandem with a long string of open hoppers of caliche or some kind of gravel from south Texas, headed north. Or rather, PARKED IN THE MIDDLE OF MY WAY, burning up diesel fuel. Finally, around ten, I heard them get clearance to proceed, and they pulled it around the wye, headed towards Dallas. I went across the tracks and picked up a gunboat, a 5-gallon plastic bucket and a gallon of water in a wine jug and hauled them back over to my "new jungle." As I came out of the trees at the "old jungle", I ran smack into a white Union Pacific pick-up with two MoW (maintenance of way) guys running on the rails with steel gauge adapter wheels. I just looked at them. What else could I do but wave? They waved back and motored south. Seems like every UP employee on earth was at my favorite rail yard. I went back to the "new jungle" and rigged my hammock and took a nap.
In the afternoon, I started hiking south and walked several miles south to another junction, and ran into some acquaintances of mine, who invited me to stay for dinner. They were cooking barbequed chicken and had Ranch Style beans on the fire--it was Linder's birthday, and she and D.R. and their crew had been drinking beer all day. Everybody looked pretty much wasted. The local convenience store had cut them off, accusing one of the guys of shoplifting, which, of course, he denied. They asked me if I'd go buy a couple of six packs of cheap beer for them, and I agreed. The store guy didn't know me, so he sold me the Busch without any hassle, but he did not like my bringing my ruck and bindle into his store and he was rude.
Linder and D.R. were already irritated with another, younger couple, for keeping the camp awake the previous night with noisy lovemaking (the girl was in her teens, I guessed, the guy in his late twenties--apparently the girl was a "shrieker" and it annoyed Linder and D.R.) and it made for a tense party. With everybody there except me about three sheets to the wind, and all armed with various kinds of knives, I felt that it was just a matter of time until either the two lovebirds got into an argument or the teenaged girl and Linder got into it. I wished Linder a happy birthday (she insisted on a drunken hug) shook hands with J.R. and his highly inebriated crew, and headed on south, hoping for a catch. Unfortunately, I had to hoof it the entire way, about half in the dark. My camp down on U.S. 90A was just as I had left it. I was tired, so I sprayed down with Deep Woods Off, rigged my hammock, broke out my bindle and went to sleep. A train woke me up rounding the wye during the night. It was a good weekend.
11-27-2001, 12:34 AM
ummm your weekend was by far cooler than mine...(no offense guys)
11-27-2001, 12:50 AM
damn what a cool story, could you tell us more train hopping stories poppa kabar?
Jam On It
11-27-2001, 01:43 AM
If you write it i'll buy it.
yes, way more interesting..the highlight of mine was doing a 45 min piece in 4 hours..thanks to the engine comming down 3 times and a work crain...oh i created a new moniker:)
11-27-2001, 02:34 AM
Thanks a lot Kabar, please tell more.
Oh yeah, i got a new scanner today(actually its real old) its the old one we used to have but my dad got it back from the buy he sold it to. The problem is that its rather hard to use but i know that it will recive cell and portable phone calls. It is a regency model hx2000 scanner.
If this is in the wrong thread deleate it or move it.
11-27-2001, 04:08 AM
got my drunken weekend beat.
11-27-2001, 06:16 AM
One of the few discernable advantages of a misspent youth is thinking you have a lot of interesting stories to tell. The trick is to find the right audience. If you start telling boot camp tales to a bunch of people who don't have any respect for military service, they get bored and contemptuous pretty quickly.
Likewise, tramp stories don't fly too well with people who equate "slacker" and "loser," or who think that success means accumulating a great deal of money.
Most of my interesting stories have to do with doing something most other people wouldn't care to do. Some people can understand that some dirt-poor cowboy living in a line shack heated with a wood stove is living a life worth living and some can't. Some people can understand that riding Over the Pass in freezing weather to attend a biker Spring Opener is worthwhile, and some can't. Some people can understand the beauty of building your own sailboat out of scrap steel, telephone poles shaved down with a draw knife and a surplus 60-man lifeboat is an endeavor that lifts up the hopes of a lifetime, and some can't.
There's nothing wrong with being rich. But getting everything you want without any effort on your part is something I would not wish on my worst enemy. I love the challenge of doing something different and crazy. When all my high-school buddies were off to college to become lawyers and engineers and programmers, I was hitch-hiking to Alaska. While they were trying to get in with a good firm, I enlisted in the Marines. Riding freight trains is part of all that. So is riding a Harley, and going to college when most of my high-school pals were planning their retirements. Sometimes I have cause for a few regrets, but most of the time I wouldn't trade my life for anyone elses' life. When I'm old and laying in some bed in a nursing home, I know damn well that I'm not going to say to myself "Gee, I wish I had spent more time on my career." Fuck that. The best use of money, besides paving the way for the next generation, is financing adventures in the here and now. I've got a buddy that lived on a sailboat in San Francisco Bay. I've got a buddy that went dinosaur hunting in Africa, and caught a blood parasite and almost died. He told me--"I didn't find any dinosaurs. But what if I had?" Exactly. I heartily recommend that you guys do your best to find a book, published by the Sierra Club, written by two brothers called "On the Loose." Terry and Renny Russell were my idols and my heroes when I was a kid. I bought that book in 1967. Terry Russell was killed in a white-water rafting accident in 1965. His brother published their notes and photographs after his death. All I can say is his book inspired a lifetime pursuit of adventure. Play by the rules, but play hard. For tomorrow is Rent Day.
11-27-2001, 07:33 AM
KaBar.....yours sounds like a life worth living...really I wish I had the will to go off and live in such a manner.....but im not even out of high school, so who knows?......I found "Into The Wild" by Jon Krakauer pretty inspiring towards a life outside, have you read it? Its fairly new.....but im definately gonna look into reading On the Loose.....
11-27-2001, 08:36 AM
Xeroshoes--If you aren't out of high school yet, then you're not quite ready to be independent. But there are lots of things you can be doing to prepare for an independent life. Like I said, I never felt "homeless." Wherever I was, that was home. Right now, you are probably living in your parent's home. When you are paying the bills, then you get to make the rules, so for the forseeable future, you gotta play by your parent's rulebook. This is not a bad thing. Remember--you want to live your life in a way that grants respect and dignity to others, and politely demand it for yourself. I'm sure you love your parents, (most people do,) but make a serious effort to appreciate how hard it is to keep a roof over everybody's head and food on the table. Being the leader, protector and provider is not an easy job. Once, when my kid was in the 6th grade (this was quite a few years ago) a bunch of her little buddies at school decided they were going to join a gang. There actually were several real gangs (Bloods, Rollin 60's Crips, lowriders, etc.) in the neighborhood, and having some suburban dumb-ass jump into a gang was not unheard of. My kid got sassy and told me, "I'm gonna join a gang, and there's nothing you can do about it!"
I took her by the arm and told her "You just listen to me, missy. You are in MY GANG. And if I hear about you putting on anybody's colors, this Marine will go to WAR." I think she realized right then and there that I was not kidding. And I wasn't. NOBODY bosses my kid but ME.
I taught her a lot about camping and survival. I taught her to shoot. I did my dead level best to provide her with a role model of what a man should be. Everybody laughs at the Boy Scouts, but if people actually lived their lives by the Boy Scout code, things would be a lot better. My kid knows about building fires, about how to purify water, about how to pack a ruck. She's watched me build many a gunboat, and knows how to rig a dog-chain and tripod. She can change the oil in her car, change a flat, and never lets the gas tank go below 1/2 full. (The average car can go 300 miles or so on a tank of gas. That gives her a 75 mile minimum striking distance in an emergency--75 miles out, 75 miles back, without any gas stations open. With a full tank, of course, that's a 150 mile striking distance.) She has re-loaded ammunition with me, is a first-rate shot with a pistol or shotgun, and a fair shot with an AR15. She can cook, she can ride a horse, and the first time she rode with me on a motorcycle she was five. The girl is a very gifted dancer. But best of all, she is very intelligent--she makes A's and B's in school, and is college-bound. Once she graduates from college, she is free to choose her own path. In reality, of course, she is free to choose her own path right now but fortunately for her mother and me, she chooses to follow the rules.
Life is not a strict choice between one course of action or another, but it is a series of choices. Just because I was not a good student in school does not mean that I just stopped learning once I (barely) graduated. Just because I was a tramp and a hippie at one point does not mean that I forever turned my back on military service. Sit down and make up a plan. What do you want to do? Where do you want to go, first? A good, basic education about the World and history, and mathematics, and being a literate person, and science, is just to get you in the game. What you do after you are finished with school is just the kick-off. One thing for sure, though. Every choice has consequences. Make good choices, get good consequences. Make poor choices, and Life will educate you the hard way.
If you want adventure, PLAN FOR IT. If you want to see the ends of the earth, PLAN FOR IT. Don't assume that tramping will provide you with the result you seek. YOU GOT TO PLAN YOUR LIFE. Just doing "whatever" will not work very well. I chose to be a tramp during part of my life. I chose to be a Marine (and I was a good one--honorable discharge at rank of sergeant. I was the platoon sergeant of my platoon for the last year I was in.) I chose to be a father, and I work at being a good husband and father just like I worked at being a good tramp or a good Marine. It doesn't require expensive equipment to camp, or to hike, or to hone your outdoors skills. There are public parks or vacant lots in every city in America where you can practice tramp drills. Make a list. Start with a good pair of boots, and work your way up to assembling a set of tramp gear. Buy maps, and study them. Set yourself goals, and plan how you will complete them. Just be sure, that in the end you are working on your goals, and not somebody else's agenda. Don't get the idea that you won't need algebra, though. You will. I discovered this the hard way.
11-29-2001, 04:24 AM
i got stuck in a train yard this weekend also but i could have gotten away but they might have seen me and i dont want to heat up spots,it really will get me crushed if i pissed off some of the writers in my town so i sat there with my friend for and hour and a half. it was the best painting memory thus far and i am allready addicted to freights next thing is to work on cleanlyness of my work on trains but if you see one id like to know what you think cuz im really night blind
11-29-2001, 05:43 AM
kabar. email me. we gotta meet up over the holidays.
12-01-2001, 05:58 AM
Kabar, will you be my dad?
Serious man, you just summed up the meaning of life in this thread. And your daughter is very lucky, and looks like she will be very smart.
12-01-2001, 10:16 AM
Suburbian Bum, you are too kind, really. I guess I get a little carried away on some of these posts, but think about it--most of the boys and young men on this site are just a few years away from being somebody's Dad. When you find yourself a father, a bizarre sort of feeling comes over you, standing there looking at this little, bitty tiny person--Omigod---I'm responsible for taking care of this little baby---What the fuck am I going to do? I stood there in the hallway outside the nursery, and I started making plans immediately for better jobs, a bigger income, a decent house in a decent neighborhood. Suddenly, "just kickin' it" looked like utter folly. I had been a fairly responsible person before that, but there was always this attitude of "someday, when I grow up, I'll do such-and-such..." Go to college or buy a house, whatever. My wife told me once that I was the only man over 18 she knew who never balanced his checkbook. Suddenly, I wanted to know where every cent was going. ("I've created a Frankenstein", she says.)
Partying and getting high and blowing my money all abruptly became things of the past. I was no longer the self-indulgent, carefree guy I was before fatherhood. Suddenly, eating right and living good seemed very important. I wanted to be the kind of man that my girl could be proud to have as a father. I quit smoking dope right on the spot, and I've never touched it since. The last thing I wanted was to have to come home and tell my wife and daughter that I got busted for smoking pot. In fact, there is nothing like becoming a father to suddenly point up the many benefits of obeying the law. I started asking myself frequently, "Is this something you would be ashamed to have to admit that you did?" If the answer was "yes," then it became a thing of the past.
The one absolutely most important thing I did for my daughter is to love her mother. My own parents divorced when I was a young teenager. I swore to myself that my daughter would never, ever have worry about her Daddy divorcing her mother and leaving.
I hope this doesn't come off as a big pat on the back for what a good Dad I am--that's not what I had in mind. But a lot of you young guys are going to be fathers, and sooner than you think. Once you become a Dad, it's never again a matter of "What do I want?" It becomes a matter of "What is the best decision for the family?"
I still wanted to ramble, I still wanted to ride trains. I still didn't care for long-term jobs, or the hassles of living the square life. But when you become a father, you are no longer the most important person. The baby is the most important person. That feeling lasts a long, long time. At least, it has for me.
Thanks man...for giving me some text that came from the heart..It's always good to hear or read...too bad my weekend has'nt been all that exciting...By far, the one of coolest things I've experienced with the "tramps"(they are just people to me)..was getting the chance to talk to "John Easley"...I posted a thread a long time ago about that on this board..and I still have the drawing and I still look at it once in a while. That guy has so much knowledge about life - it's crazy...as far as he being a serial killer or some shit like that...I don't think so. He makes his money by working at "labor ready" type jobs..when you work and get paid the same day..I don't know, thanks being patient and listening to me jabber about this again...sorry if I wasted anyones' time.later.
.....post some more stories..they are very interesting to read.Thanks.
12-02-2001, 02:17 AM
I think I'm going to print that last post and send it to my ol man.Kabar your a good man and I really mean that.
I'm still shocked at this thread...it's on a graffiti board ,It's not a complete waste of my time,it's almost made me cry,it's summing up what I've been thinking about for the past few months while at school.
hope to run in to you in canada some time
12-04-2001, 09:55 PM
kabar sounds like so many of the other people i`ve met while traveling and exploring,but yet different.maybe because he`s a little farther along the path then most of us..a couple more years of kicking around and observing.its very refreshing to read a mans positive memoirs of a life thats not to far from what me and alot of my freinds live.one of the best things about living and learning is getting to pass the memorys,lessons,storys,and advice down to hungry ears(or eyes on here).reading you`re little anicdotes gives me that little bit more confidence in the choices i`ve made and the ones i`m going to make in the future.thats an important thing especially for those of us that dont have good parents....or any at all.without going into personal detail lets just say some of us know what we grew up with isnt the right way to live....and soemtimes we look around us for people that shine a little brighter...people who are a little warmer.someone thats postive,and giving off that positivity only breeds more of the like.and more storys are traded down....and more memorys rehashed and more lessons learned..and someone new gets that positive feeling.even tho i dont agree with all your post and points of view kabar....thank you very much for talking:)and to everyone else on here...keep the cycle going..be a good painting partner...traveling buddy....freind... or even father someday,somebody could prolly use it.peace
12-07-2001, 03:18 AM
12-07-2001, 04:10 AM
12-11-2001, 08:08 AM
At first I was like what the fawk. Then I was like huh. Then I was like awwww. Then I was like whoa. Finally I was like, I enjoyed it.
12-21-2001, 09:19 AM
I was shopping for Christmas presents when I ran across a Dallas Cowboys gimme cap. It's just your basic blue Cowboys "baseball" cap. I suddenly remembered my acquaintance who lives down under the bridge is a Cowboys fan. So I bought it. It didn't cost much--$7.95. Now I need to go by there and try to find him, and give him his Christmas present. What the hell---he's been living there for three years, I doubt he will be hard to find.
12-27-2001, 09:53 PM
KaBR you are a good man.
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