Wednesday, April 14, 2010


 I've been trying to convince my brother to come on a freight hopping trip with me for years. He's always been hesitant to agree to anything, but around labor day of last year I convinced him to come with me on a short trip.  My brother Andrew is probably the smartest person I know.  He reads about 3 books a week and could probably set a speed reading record if he put his mind to it.  I was really excited that I was going to get to ride trains with my brother!

Duane is a working man.  He has a real job, with real benefits, and real responsibilities.  Duane is from a small town just north of Birmingham.  He is one of the most gentle giants I've ever met.  He loves his dogs and his friends more than anything in the world.  I keep trying to convince him to try and work on an oil rig with me, but he loves sweet tea and rope swings just a tad too much.  Duane and I have been talking about riding trains together for about a year now, and this time he finally got some time off to work to go on a quick trip.

The trip consisted of myself, Andrew, Duane, and Shane.  Shane and Duane are long time friends of mine from the world of skateboarding.  Shane and I have ridden trains all over the Southeast, but this was the first ever train hopping experience for Duane and Andrew.  They both had somewhat of an idea of what to expect, but you never really know whats going to happen.

We were dropped off in the yard to catch out to our planned destination of NOLA, but things didn't end up quite the way we planned.  We were spotted by a rail worker and immediately herd him radio to the tower that there were trespassers in the yard.  We tried to find the train to NOLA and settle in so we wouldn't be spotted.
  We found two hoppers that had a nice porch on it and we split up.  Andrew and I were on one and Duane and Shane were on another.  Once we got a little settled in we heard foot steps and saw the linemen approaching.  Andrew and I huddled together on the floor of the porch and tried to keep quiet.  He heard the linemen check the break.  He was just feet from us.  Eventually he moved down the line and we were in the clear.  At this point it was probably 2AM and we were getting anxious to start rolling.  Shane and I have this bad habit of just packing up some gear and jumping on anything.  We have ended up in some pretty cool places but we've also ended up in some pretty terrible ones.  We decided to chance it this time and found an open boxcar to ride.  We started rolling out around 6AM.  We were all tired and ready to start moving.
When we woke it had started raining, and we were thankful that we were in a covered boxcar rather than an open ended hopper.  We were on our way to Selma, Alabama according to the map.  It wasn't our first choice, but at least we were rolling.