Sunday, May 07, 2006


One thing that seems to happen all the time when I travel is seeing people I’ve meet before in different places. A lot of the different times I've re-ran into people.
1) In New Orleans, I met a dready at Jazz fest. I ran into him again in Tompkins Square park, NYC. 2) I hopped freight trains to Georgia and ended up in Savannah with Len and Trigger, where we split up. I met Len in Tompkins SP a few months later when neither of us had plans on going. 3) I met Melissa in TSP and ran into her on the other side of the country in Berkeley, CA. 4) A boy from Switzerland gave me and my girlfriend at the time a ride from Keremos, BC to Abbitsford, BC. A few weeks later we saw him on the beach on Vancouver Island. 5) When I was in New Orleans and NYC, my Aunt happened to be there on business both times.
It happens all the time, all you have to do is put you're self out there.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Train Hoppin (CSX style)

< >So I figured since Iv again temporarily settled into a life of stagnate monotony I would elaborate on some the highlights of my trip. For me, hopping freight trains for the first time tops the chart. Its kind of a long story, but a good one I hope.
< >I had spent just under 2 weeks in New Orleans and it was now early May. It was just starting to get to hot for comfort and for the first time I was getting a strange feeling of uneasiness that I later characterized as a sign to move along to another place. I was spending a lot of my time hanging out and going on missions with some fellow travelers, whom I became pretty close too. Ruthy, Joshy, Harry, and Wildthing were hitching west to cali within the week and Len & Trigger were hopping east in a few days, destination unknown.
I had always wanted to ride freights but a lack of knowledge, experience, and I admit, fear, and kept me from it in the past. Their desire more then their experience, which was negligible, convinced me to go with them.
< >My companions had previously procured very vague directions on where to start by some hobos, who had written it on a paper bag. In short, take the bus to the Chetmenteur Bridge, then walk to the Gentilly rail yard, sneak over to the north side and watch for a CSX Loco locking cars. The idea was to get to Jacksonville Florida and hope north from there. Everything went pretty smooth until we got near the rail yard where our lack of experience became painfuly evident. We hiked through dense thorny vegetation mixed with polluted wetland and came out on the completely opposite side from where we wanted to be. Thus began one of the longest nights of my life.
< >We started about going to the other side of the tracks, not an easy task. First is about 8 sets of tracks all with coupled cars on them, then a wide, well lit road, then another 6 sets or so. Climbing over the chest high couples with a full pack on your back and a gallon of water in your hand is harder then you would think. And if the train starts at the wrong time it could easily mean limb or life. Going under isn’t much more easy and definitely not more safe. Even worse was the fear of getting caught, because since 9/11 train hopping became a felony.
< >We constantly redirected our route to avoid rail personnel. With one close by, every step on the rail rocks sounds like a rock slide. We must have sat in the shadows eyeing that brightly lit road for at least 5 minutes. White pickups randomly drove by every few minutes or so. When we finally made the impuslive decistion to cross, a white pickup came speeding in our direction. Panic hit and we ran. We took refuge in a rail car with solid sides, and an open top, but the floor was 4 beams in a XX shape. There we hid for a few minutes, balancing our packs a bodies on those beams, only daring to peak over the top. We heard it about a second before it hit; when a locomotive couples cars it simply just rams into them, locking the couples. SLAM, I was violently thrown against the back side wall. We could see straight down to the ground and the rail road ties seemed to be moving at and incredible rate. Len shouted "bail!", and we threw our packs and jugs over the siding, then our bodies.
< >We eventually made our way to the other side of the tracks to discover it was not where we wanted to be. We were exhausted, our nerves shot; it was hot, humid, and mosquito infested; and to top it off we were starting to argue about our next moves. We smoked a few bowls, relaxed, and discussed our actions many times over the next hour or so.
< >We decided to head back to our starting point and hike to the other end of the yard where a train heading our direction would exit, but on our way there we were blocked by a group of rail personnel. We sat there in the shadows, stuck, with workers walking about no more then 20 feet in front of us. Now most rail workers will help you when approached but we were not about to risk it. We walked, as quietly as possible, between two trains, away from the workers. Soon the train they were working on was moving in the direction we wanted to go with only one train and some well lit empty space between us. Even though we were still in sight of the rail workers we made our move, ran along side it, and hopped on. As I was running I started to see little lights trace in front of my eyes. I thought the exhaustion and stress had got the best of me and I was about to faint; it had been a long time since I had seen fire flies. We got on a grainer and it slowly took us to the other end of the rail yard (at least 5 miles) and stopped for about 20 minutes. There we sat, wanting nothing more then for that train to take us absolutely anywhere, when Trigger said "Shhh, someone’s coming". A light flashed on us and a deep southern voice said,
"Woah, are you guys ok?"
"Umm, yeah." We respond.
"Where you tryin to go?"
"Well this train aint going anywhere for a few days. You want the train two tracks down from the road. Its leaving in 15 minutes so you better hurry"
< >His name was Curtis, a brakeman, and my personal savoir that night. We ran to said train and we were moving east bound within minutes. Our spot was a 6' x 10' platform that you see on either end of grainer cars. In this spot you are in plain view and exposed to the elements. My hair danced franticly in the wind. After a victory joint and some hollering, i promptly fell asleep. I woke up the next morning in broad daylight with a freeway on one side and a service road on the other. From the license plates we were somewhere in Alabama, and there was another train stopped ahead of ours. We hopped off and tried to hitch at the onramp for a wile before checking out the other train. Under the onramp was an obvious place were hobos camped out and waited to hop. There was also a large collection of good graffiti were we learned we were in Mobil. We found an open box car where we smoked a bowl, ate some food and waited for the train to start.
< >An hour of fanning ourselves in the extreme heat went by before the train started. The box car was definitely a step up from the grainer. The open door framed the beautiful countryside that you don’t get to see from a car. I spent many hours just sitting on the side of the car with my legs dangling over the fast moving tracks below. I reed, wrote (a lot), stretched, exercised, did cart wheels; tried to descern our direction by looking for signs, license plates, checkeing the compass and lookeing to the sun; and spent many hours sleeping. Different areas of the car would rock more others. In the front it was so intense that your body would be violently rolling back and forth when the train was at top speed. I rather liked only having a vague idea of where we were going. After 8 or 10 hours we were stopped in Montgomery at about midnight. We all had a big argument over whether we should get of there or not but before it was resolved the train decided for us and started again.
< >The next afternoon we were in Birmingham with very little water so it was decided to hop off there and restock. We passed by the security entrance as we left and got a stern look from the security guard. We headed straight to the truck stop which was not far away. The girl working at the subway gave all three of us meals after we told her our little story. We spent a few hours asking truckers for a ride, food, or money and more then one of thoes sick bastards asked us how much for some time with Trigger. After an hour we made about $60 and were stocked on food.
< >A CSX man getting off work told us that the yard we just left was the North / South line and the West / East was about 8 miles away. We got a ride from some painters to the area and hung out around the east bound exit until a white truck pulled up a ways way. I decided to talk with him without my pack in hopes of figuring out who he was. He turned out to be a train enthusiast who watches the trains go by. He had a scanner so he could hear when trains were leaving, where they were going, and what kind of cars it had. He also knew where they performed the crew changes (where trains stop to quickly switch the crews). He drove us to the spot, told us when the train would be there and left. All he had wanted from us was to hear some of our train stories. Soon a train stopped right there, we snuck onto a box car and it took off some minutes later.
< >This part of the trip was by far the most scenic because it followed a river instead of a road. It must have been a low priority freight because we always stopped for other trains and watched as they passed by. My favorite part was when an Amtrak went by. Everyone with a window, car by car, stared wide eyed and the dirty children waving to them from a box car. Other times when the train would stop we would cool off in the stream and run back to the box car before the train took off again.
< >The next morning we were in Columbus Georgia, in a thunder storm. We stayed there until mid-day when the rain had died down. The train had been stopped for at least 8 hours, we tried yelling to the conductors in the locomotive to get some info but no luck. Here we hopped off the train and continued to Savannah hitchhiking. But that is another story. This was one of my favorite adventures of my life, and to this day the sound of a locomotive whistle speeds my heart.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Grind

Our first destination in the states was to go back to Issiquah and relax in the comfort of a friends house. We got a ride from these girls from Colorado springs, Erica used to live with the drivers current boyfriend. A cool coincidence. Then we took the public bus to Issiquah and my friends abode. There we did a lot of sleeping and drinking, a nice little decompression back into the American life style. Time is reviled for the illusion that it is when im traveling. I couldn't rightly conceive of the last time I was there, even tho it wasn't much more then a month. On our way out of the pugit sound area we visit Ericas step dad for a night, he was a bit judgmental but that seems to come with older age, hopefuly I can avoid that in my life. But we got fed and a roof so what the hell.
In the morning, a quick hitch to Olympia. We hitched out of there from the same spot I hitched to mutant fest with haily and roxi. After a long wait we got a ride about 2 exits down and got dropped off at a truck stop. There an older man hitching on the off ramp gave us his spot "you got your whole life ahead of you" he said. Soon after a trucker offered us a ride. Interesting man. That evening he gave us a ride to Portland where he stopped at a truck stop. We watched a movie in the little trucker theater (the antics of the drunk truckers behind us was more entertaining then the movie). After the movie lo and behold, the same old man that had given us his spot on the ramp was sitting in the lobby. He had a wealth of knoledge and stories true or not. And I have a strong feeling I will see him again some day. We spent the night in the truckers cab and folded some moving blankets in the morning for $10. He gave us a ride all the way down to southern Oregon where he dropped us off.
At some point that day he picked up another hitcher about our age by the name of Roach. We all spent the night together in Grants Pass and got drunk. In the morning it took a lot of time but we got a ride to Cave junction and from there a ride straight to Arcada. Now the man that gave us that ride was from Colorado too, and he just happened to be at the same art festival in paoina before the west coast part of my trip. He also informed us that one of our favorite bands from Colorado would be playing in arcada the next night. We met up with the band (Kan'nal) before the show and helped them set up in exchange for free entry (good thing because it was 21 up).
Now, in order to under stand the next leg of out trip you have to have a general idea how humbolt and mendocino county's are during harvest season. We didn't have any marathon rides this time which was fine, because each and every ride from Arcada to San Fran came with gifts of freshly cured bounty. We slept on the beach in Mendo city where everyone in town told me to stay for a wile, and a part of me wanted to, but we made it into san fran that day and berkeley that evening where we stayed with friends of erica's. In berkeley I got to see an ex lover and close friend. Erica and I had lunch with her (D) and her boyfriend (Roger), which was nice but I got the feeling Erica and Roger were uncomfortable, being strangers.
By this time I had decided to go home from there and we bought amtrack tickets to take us to Denver. There is no smoking on the train so we made a grip of brownies for the trip. And it was a nice ride. In Denver we walked around for a few hours trying to find our friends warehouse. We hung out there for a long wile and got to see a lot of old friends, until ericas friends picked us up.
From here on is the gradual decline back to my old ways, interrupted by moments of seeing old friends again. And now, im back in Telluride just waiting for the snow and the season. Now, telluride is one of my favorite places and it is so much fun living here but its not really the kind of fun that I cant write that much about. You know, just epic powerdays, great parties, sweet people, gorgeous mountains, that kind of thing. But I will write here and there when I feel like it. But this coming summer im going to be traveling again and this time im leaving the country for awhile. This year was just pratice for the adventures to come.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Return to the empire of america

After a great 10 days at the medicine farm we started to feel the itch to migrate south again. The pain of coming back to the states was made more acute from all the kindness we received on our way out of the country. A friend from the farm dropped us off @ the highway (4) junction.
It wasn't long before we had a ride from a middle aged couple. They were retired high school teachers and have traveled all over the world. They drove us to Port Alberni, most of the way to Nanimo, where we would take to ferry to Van. They decided we were safe enough to stay the night in there home. We had a steak dinner, drank 3 bottles of wine, with great conversation all night, and topped off with a few joints and the Canadian comedy channel. Aparinlty its not suprizing if a BC teacher smokes. They were also some of the most well traveled people iv ever met. Their house was adorned with gorgeous photos from all over the world. They were social studies and history teachers so I also got tons of info on Canadian history and politics. A few hours of talking with them an I was set on immigrating.
The next morning they made us bacon and eggs with coffee for breakfast and had made a huge lunch for us to take with us. As if they hadn't done enough they drove us to the ferry in Nanimo. In Vancouver we did some errands and took the bus to the Canadian border town. I wanted to hit the pub before I went back into the states (I'm 20, and the drinking age in Can is 19). At the bar we met some guys playing pool. They soon offered us a place to crash for the night, but not before drinking more, smoking some pot, going bowling wile drinking more, and a final good night joint. He (dave) drove us right up to customs in the morning.
Now on the US side is the quaint town of Blaine. It was a wile to get a ride (and we got questioned by police and boarder patrol) but the one we got was pretty interesting. After trying our luck at a few spots hitching a car with Colorado plates stops for us. Not only were they from Colorado springs but them and Erica had a few friends in common. They drop us off at the I90 I5 junction in Seattle. Erica had a hankerin for soup so we walk to the first food place we see. They just closed, so the food was on the house. No soup but 5 smokies, a bag a chips and soda. Things were just working out. There was no hitching on that onramp but there was a bus that went where we wanted to go. You pay when you get off of the bus but the driver said it wasn't necessary (I think its the backpacks).
So here I am again, in issiquah, with a roof over my head. And just in time cuz its raining now and will be for a few days I hear. There is also a little work here for the next few days at the school my friend works at so we should be able to put some cash in our pockets. Hopefuly it under the table, Im not sure how well Ill sleep knowing where my taxs are going.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Tough town

We took the BC ferry to Nanimo and we spent our first night just down the road from the dock. It was a perfect spot right next to the water. It took a long day to hitch to tofino where we slept on this beautiful forested island thats only occasionally completely surrounded by water. We slept there for the next couple nights, exploring the beaches and town during the day. We met Doug in town where he told us of his organic farm. That's where we have been staying for the past few days. A little bit of easy, laid back, informative, farm work everyday and we get a trailer to stay in, plenty of good food, ample splifige, and the whole surf package (wetsuit, board, ride to the beach). Im having a great time and im not sure when i should leave. There is a lot of potential on that farm and i am most definitely going back next spring.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


We walk almost down to Main St. with our newly met friend on hastings. This is clearly crack land. The cops dont care aslong as the crackies stay in that area, much like the united states. Two people are cooking crack or herion in a door way. The cops stop infront of them, walk right past them, and knock on the door of a decriped apprtment building.
The door we walkup to is locked up with heavy metal caging, just like the windows. Our friend taps on the glass a few times and out comes a man with a mullet and unlocks the gate. Inside we all intorduce ourselfs and they give us alittle histoy lesson in pot, for we are in the school of pot. After a smoke out and pollitcal conversation we walk down the street to the New Ambsterdam cafe. We order a cup of coffee and smoke a joint with some of the regulars. And they smoke some with us. We stay and socalize tell pretty late. We sleep on the beach.
The next day we go to a rally infront of the US concolit protesting the DEA raid on canadian soil. There is alot of good speekers including the marijuana party president. At 4:20 they handed out an exteram amout of joints and we all lit up. Then the raffle for various things, tshirts, seeds, plants, pot, and 2 grand prizes of one ounce of hash. I won a plant, and some friends of ours won some ganja cookies and the hash. I never know it was like this up here.
I think we are leaveing for the vancouver island today. Im kinda happy (because this city it totaly skechy), but this is one city i could definitly live in.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

there and back again

Late Aug, early Sep.
We got that job pickin. For a few hours doing tomatos, the first day (just for some pocket money), and then gala apples the next. I picked galas for over 2 hours and only got one bin filled up ($20). Granted i did spend alot of time relaxing under a apple tree smokin. On the day of the third, the day we were to depart, we started hitchin for the border. We got a ride rather quickly from a Swedish guy all the way to a border about an hour away from vancouver.
Erica and I decided to stay in the states for the night (Sumas) and cross over again the next day. But with the hospitality of some hicks there, who let us stay in there half built tree house and feed us and were just over all enjoyable, we stayed 3 nights. Crosing over was the pain in the ass i had come to expect. After denying us they called Ericas mom who convinced customes that we were well to do. They gave us 23 days.
We then hitched to Vancouver and have been staying in the park with no hassles. This city is great. Buy ganja in stores, take it down to the cafe and blaze up with a cup of coffee. And really nice people, expecaly for a decient sized city. Nature isnt to far away. And a deep thinking media. It dosent get much better. Hopfuly i can minimize my time in the states between canada and mexico.