Their Own Words: Reup – The Great Reefer EscapeI was woke up early on a Saturday morning with a text message saying that we’re going to this reefer spot that we have never been to be before. I’m thinking, cool! I’m definitely with that. l’ve got a couple new outlines, a new 1980’s 35mm film camera, and I’ve been looking to travel to other spots to get digital long exposures since I’ve been playing with those for a while now. So I pack my bag ‘till it’s bursting with paint, cameras, extra film, streaks, and just everything I could ever need for this adventure. Like always I’m ready for work.
My assumption was that we had the ok from the locals, if not we at least had the low down on the spot. Where to park, how to get in, the right times to paint there on a Saturday, etc. Considering the city that this spot is in you can no doubt assume that its been blowin up at least a couple times in the past. The last time I was in this city at another spot we had a stopped line of Tropicana’s on one of the nicest fall days. Only to walk into the middle of a small scale raid on about 4-5 other writers that had seen this line of Tropicana’s and tried to come off with some daytime work but get nabbed by the law. That day a good friend and local got his “get out of jail free card” for sure with only the loss of a full bag of paint. But that’s a whole nother story for another day.
So Skizzy scoops me up at my crib, we jump in the suv and spark one up. Rushing to meet Siek since he’s on a bit of a time crunch.
As we get closer to the city we make a stop to grab a bite to eat. Only to be lurked on by early morning bums looking for cigarettes and who knows whatever else while I’m flicking all the dirty needles scattered in the bushes of the fast food joint. We’re close to our destination that’s for sure.
We roll up on Siek in the parking lot, sitting in his Infinity. Of course he’s got his drawing board, cooking up something special for this occasion.
After a short drive we finally find the road for the cold storage facility and drive past the spot. It’s beautiful. JRSX’s, Simplot’s, old Golden West, and restamped Icicles. This is the moment when your adrenaline kicks is and you can’t get that stupid grin off your face. It’s going to be a good day!
So I get dropped off at the tracks around 2 miles away from the spot while they go park the car nearby. Here’s my chance to start getting my camera’s situated and start documenting this soon to be great day of painting. The leaves are falling off the trees. Orange, reds, browns mixed with a little green. I got endless double rail tracks, with moss growing on the rail ties, orange berries growing on the side of the tracks, just great color all around me. I’m switching between my 35mm and my Canon DSLR shooting everything, just having a good ol’ time by myself waiting for them.
I hear these fools stumbling down the hill to the tracks. We really have a long walk ahead of us.
After a while we come across this crazy train bridge thats about 5 stories above a big creek, the landscape here is amazing if you’re into that. Then down the tracks farther we find 2 dead dogs with collars still on them laying in the middle of the tracks decomposing. What the hell! I’ve always seen and found interesting things along the rails but today, there just something not right about this. At least at the end of this theres gold. So we keep going.
Once we hit that last turn of the tracks we get our first view of the line. It’s gold alright and worth the 2 mile hike down the tracks.
Walking the line we see a old Zephyr piece, a fresh as fuck Eli piece, endless history on the Golden West and just enough open panels for us to come off on cars I’ve never had the chance to paint in my freight train painting career.
After checking out the spot, doing our recon and some streaks we popped open our beers, then picked out our panels. We’re around the curve, we know the workers only have one way in, trains passing on the other side can’t see shit. Everything seems beautiful. We’re set, time to blow a little dro and get to work!
I’m painting fast, and at the same time trying to document everything. Skizzy is going crazy on the Golden West, me and Siek are on a icicle, beer in hand as this whole panel gets smashed. Life is good and only looking to get better.
First one down. On to the next.
The sun is just about set so Siek grabs a icicle car near the lit up area and I move to the outside of the line to hit this freshly painted JRSX.
We’re making good time. We’ll get back to the car to go grab food, more beers and look at flicks before it gets too late.
Skizzy comes around to where I am and starts to knock out a simple on the panel next to me. I go to check on Siek and stash my coat, cameras, glasses, and phone in the tall grass since it’s so nice out in December. Something told me not to stash my shit in the grass and just to continue carrying it all. But did I listen to myself, nope.
As I go back around to my panel and start doing some final touch ups. I sat my beer on the bar, grabbed my can of black and start touching up. A short time later hell breaks loose. Lights are coming down the tracks. Or so its seemed..
I yell to Skizzy “train!”. So we duck under the car were painting and I work my way to the other side to check on Siek and I see him running towards me. What the fuck!? I see that the lights aren’t actually on the tracks but on the access road instead. Fuck! Someone’s coming and they’re coming fast! I duck back under the boxcar to go back to the other side to tell Skizzy as he runs past me in a blur. I throw my bag on then remember, my coat and camera are on the other side in the grass. I start running down the line to get my gear at all cost. At this point I hear the SUV is on the other side of the line then hear a guy yelling at Siek. As I get to the end of the line which was only about 5 cars away I slow down to look at where everyone was and where Skizm is going. I just see him as he bolts straight into the woods in the right direction. Good. I notice something out the corner of my eye and turn my head right. More lights and vehicles coming down the road fast!!
I dash out from behind the train across the access road to grab my gear right in front of the first pursuer on the scene. The bull/cop or whoever he was saw me as I was grabbing my gear and started to back up his SUV in what seemed to be an attempt to hit me. Instead the asshole just ran over all my shit! Are you fucking kidding me! I stop in amazement. You know that feeling you get right before you punch someone in the grill. Yeah this guy was about to get confronted. But I wasn’t giving up my gear or going to jail, so I grabbed all of it as this asshole is getting out of his SUV telling me to stop and asking me if I want to go to jail. Haha, I laughed out loud and stopped to get a good look at the asshole who just ran over my camera. I could see had its lens crushed and the body of my camera was bent. I told him “Hell no! Fuck you!” as I gave him the finger, smiled and dashed into the woods.
My camera is fucked, DAMN!
I’m putting cameras around my neck, carrying a tripod, shit is falling off my camera. I’m trying to make sure that I have all my belongings as I’m running and trying to see where Skizzy is.
I see him, he’s good and going in the right direction still, but I don’t see or hear Siek and he has a condition where his vision is going bad and he can’t see well in the dark anymore. How the hell is he going to navigate through thick brush in a totally new area. The only thing I see are the flashlights of our pursuers. Fuck this! Time turn on the afterburners and put some distance between us and them.
Me and Skizm are going through swamplands, through creeks, brier patches, hoping over big dead trees and all this in the pitch dark, in a new area – I have no clue where I am, but I know where I don’t want to be and I know that the car is 2 miles away. How the fuck did this happen. No one saw us to my knowledge. And where the fuck is Siek? And how is he going to find his way?
We finally find a spot where we feel safe to stop. Both of us reach for our cell phones, and I get my finger cut because the glass screen on my phone is shattered. That got ran over too, great! So if I was lost like Siek is now, I’d be pretty much fucked. I then go for my glasses so I can see details at a distance better in the dark and so I don’t get a branch in the eye. I discover that my glasses case is flattened and about as thick as a empty wallet, literally. My glasses are smashed too. Agh..
A quick estimate. Camera $750, phone $250, glasses $250, total = $1250 loss and I’m missing my 18-55mm lens. Awesome…
I tell Skizzy to pull up the GPS map on his phone, my phone is fucked. We can’t lose each other. So lets look at the GPS, figure out our surroundings, and get a hold of Siek if he isn’t caught. From the map it looks like we need to keep moving south, parallel to the tracks but we need to stay far enough away from whoever is shining lights into the woods.
Siek finally answers his phone after a bunch of tries and he some how made it through the woods to a highway. He didn’t run in the same direction that we did but instead is on the complete opposite side of the tracks from us. This nigga cant see in the dark but is on some NWA “100 miles and runnin” shit. Haha, good man. I’m glad he’s safe. Definitely a relief.
So to get out of this area and hopefully meet Siek to “try” and get out of this situation, we have to pull some hot boy shit and get close to the road which we see cars and lights going up and down. Then cross an open field going up a hill, towards where we don’t want to be.
We follow the tree line towards the main road. Once close we get low and start looking for the headlights of oncoming cars but don’t see any so we bolt up this long hill towards the entrance to the access road. Only to get to the biggest patch of sticker bushes I’ve ever seen and right next to the access road. Why not. If anyone were to shine a light right there at that moment or even drove by, we would have been stuck. Oh and did I mention the drop off at the end of the sticker bushes. Yeah…
Once on the other side of the tracks we were a bit farther from the law. But again we were in a open field with no clue how to find Siek. From talking to him on the phone all he can see are the cars and lights around where we were painting and had to run from. We weren’t close to there anymore. Don’t tell me we have to backtrack…
A train is coming, we can get set up and make some distance and not have to worry about making noise as we get closer to where Siek is. I end up finding a little cutty spot to chill with the bags as Skizzy talks to Siek on the phone and try’s to make his way to find him.
But just as the train passes. A SUV starts speeding down the access road on the other side of the tracks which I can see from where I am. I glad we made it to where we are before that guy came. They blast down the access road shining a spotlight into the woods right about where Skizm and Siek should be. What the fuck is going on! And I don’t have a phone if something happens to them. Nor do I have the car keys. Shit is getting really real.
As the SUV slows down I can hear a dog in the distance.
I light a cigarette. And prepare for a even longer night.
As I’m waiting and scoping the area I see someone walking to my left, I make a bird call (Yeah, we on some military backwoods shit at this point). It’s Skizzy. He couldn’t keep going because of the spotlights. But soon enough we hear and see someone else enter the field where we are. It’s Siek, no hat, no jacket, no bag, sweating and sliced up all over his face from the sticker bushes. We got you bro.. Now lets get the fuck out of here before they let the dog loose..
Our mission now is to dodge 3-4 cars with spot lights, a dog soon to be running loose, cross 3 roads along the tracks to get back to the car 2+ miles away without being spotted?
We have to get close to the road again, and right next to a house of rednecks with guns and four wheelers. Oh joy, and one more steep hill of sticker bushes and a small stagnant creek.
It took about 30 minutes if not longer of going back and forth along deer trails, helping Siek from not falling, dodging spot lights and passing trains just to get down to the tracks. But once there we knocked that first 3/4 of a mile out in no time flat to get our distance and away from any road, pursuer or dog. We just kept moving and looking military style. Hoping no cop was waiting on the side of the tracks in the dark with his lights off waiting for someone to come walking down the tracks. But again, they weren’t smart enough to set a perimeter. But yet they called all them cars and a dog. Whatever, our adventure seems to be just about over now.
We stop under a bridge before the last exposed leg of the trek to the car, sat and smoked a bowl. Finally the chance to recap what happen and what’s next.
The last leg Skizzy cleaned up as best he could to walk alone to the car in hopes of not being spotted or stopped on the way, and we were to wait under this bridge with the bags.
Man, when Siek got the call that Skizzy was on this road coming up to the bridge and this 4 hour adventure thru the woods was almost over – the pain of the cold, soaked feet, pants, socks and broken gear was almost gone.
But no matter how many times I’ve been chased, or how bad it was, I always have a smile on my face afterwards and I love the thrill. I really don’t ever see myself not living this lifestyle. No matter the pain or the loses. For me it’s worth it.
Back in 1992-93 I began to realize what good graffiti looked like and it inspired me to get a camera to document what I was seeing and the places I was going. Little did I know that 15 years later graffiti and photography would become a major part of my life. Since getting my first DSLR in 2010 I’ve tried to document our subculture a little differently. I try to include both the graffiti and the world around it, in an effort to paint the bigger picture. Not only do I want to share work that being put up but also the beauty of the environment in which it exists..
The only reason that this story is being made public is to help raise funds for a new camera through the sale of my photography. Otherwise it would be just another chase story to tell over a few beers with friends.
Blahzae.com is featuring my photography work on their website. A limited run of signed and numbered prints will be offered and will be on sale there.
Please direct any questions and or requests for custom prints of other photos on my instagram Gimmie3Steps138 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A big thanks to all that support photographers and this subculture. Also Skizzy, Siek, and Irene for all their help.
Bench Shots of Reup, Siek, and Skizzy Pieces: 50Footer and HeavySleeper