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Just checking in.  Looks like this thread is pretty dead--not much traffic.   I am thinking about heading to Salt Lake City.  Anybody live out there?

Some crazy rando on the side of the tracks playing with his nipple piercings in 35 degree weather. 

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Yup. Retirement is coming up in exactly 30 days. I've still got a bunch of stuff to take care of after I am blessedly no longer required to go to WORK every day. I've got a ton of possessions of which I have to dispose, and I have to sell the house, two motorcycles (not running) a Jeep Cherokee and a Toyota. After I get all that shit done, then I can go travel. I think I'm going to rubber tramp for a while. I've got a paid-off Ford E250 van I'm building out with a bed, etc. in it. Once I find a good, safe place to park it with some friends up in Minneapolis, then I'll probably go ride some trains. I haven't been up on the High Line in a long time. I'd like to go see it again.

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@KaBar I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous but you've earned it so I can equally say I genuinely happy for you. I don't see anything wrong with rubber tramping, I'd love to do it again. 24 years until I can retire if I don't just drop out again.

 

Take a camera and do your best to keep this thread and a bit of hope for us home bums alive. I love this thread and can't wait to hear some road stories. You gonna run for Hobo King?

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Agreed. Definitely looking forward to more stories from you, Kabar.

 

Do you have a decent digital camera or would you be interested in one? I feel like there are some pretty affordable compact and rugged (water/dust/shock/cold proof) ones available now, I'd bet we could crowdfund one pretty easily here. Enough of us came together to help Keep It Rail's adventures when he needed it.

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oh ya. a decent camera is cheap these days. I haven't hopped since 13 but even then the camera on my phone was pretty good. I'd be more than willing to kick on a camera fund. Especially if it means keeping this thread alive.

 

If you're headed to Minneapolis (i assume the high line?) from TX. Plot a route through STL and i'll buy you a beer or 12. I owe you.

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Xen and Fist666-- Twenty-three days to go! From the looks of things I'm going to be tied up here in Houston for a while getting rid of shit. No idea how long it will take me to dispose of all the crap I've accumulated. It's the usual thing: when you're trying to buy something, the seller acts like it's made out of gold, but when you're trying to sell, all your stuff is dog shit. I think Sally Ann is going to get a big bump in donations.

 

I've got an iPhone 6 with a pretty good camera (it takes videos too) but I don't really know how to use it. I need to find out for sure. Once I finally sell the house here I'm pulling the pin and headed north. I love Texas culture and Texas law, but it is too damned hot down here in the summer. My plan is to live in my van and just go from event to event for a while. In the spring and summer there is a sort of circuit of tramp gatherings and hobo gatherings. I'd like to go to the West Coast Hobo Gathering if it's still being held up in Black Butte. I'd like to go back to Amory, MS and see Miss Charlotte. There are several hobo gatherings I wouldn't mind seeing. My original plan was to just catch out and ride trains, but health problems and so on might make that difficult. I'll just have to see how things go. If I have a good, safe place to park the van, then I can go 40-mile it and use the van as a base of operations.

 

Tuck and Jewell have encouraged me to come visit them up in Minnie and I might do that, too. I have a cousin in Wisconsin, and good friends in Washington State, Oregon, and Montana. It's going to take a while just to get used to not having to work. Anyway, I'm definitely looking forward to retirement.

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Well if your travels bring you near Denver, you've got a place to sleep and shower if you need it. This thread is probably the single greatest thread on the whole of the internet, anything I can do to repay the wisdom and entertainment found here.

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Well if your travels bring you near Denver, you've got a place to sleep and shower if you need it. This thread is probably the single greatest thread on the whole of the internet, anything I can do to repay the wisdom and entertainment found here.

Thank you for your kind words, but I hardly think this is the best thread on the internet. It's really odd, because as a kid I was hard-headed as shit, and I did not like to take advice or any kind of direction from anybody, although my parents sure tried. Some of my uncles that I thought were fascist reactionaries back in the day sure seem like they were a lot smarter than I thought, now. But I think it was Old Rufe who influenced me the most. He used to tell me, frequently, "You ain't no tourist. This is serious business. Act like a professional." I thought he was a little crazy back then, but it all makes so much more sense now. Another thing he used to say is, "All we got is honor, and if we ain't got honor, we got nothin'." It didn't mean all that much to me then, but it means more now.

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@KaBar I live out in the sticks but only a few miles outside of STL near the CSX line that runs from Rose Lake to Vincennes. Trains stop irreguraly right where I work. I always say I am one bad day from my ride waiting.

 

If you need a place to stash the van and a ride to or from Rose Lake or any STL yard, your stuff is safe and shotgun protected. As good as you being with it. I've walked the wrong side of the law but I do have a sense of right and wrong that is on par with yours.

A couch to crash, shower and a hot meal on the pass through is also a standing offer. Hell, I'd take the couch.

 

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This thread allowed this to happen and I'd be honored to meet the man.

There's and handful of Markals in it for you if you are bribable :)

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I've still got quite a few things to do before I'm truly free of the Shackles. I have a houseful of shit to dispose of. I have to sell the house and a couple of cars. I gave my ratty-ass Harley to my nephew. He's all happy, and says he's going to re-build it. I used to take him for Harley rides when he was about eleven or so, back in 1989. He's like 38. The perfect age to want to re-build a rat Harley into a thing of beauty.

 

I'd love to meet you guys. It's weird--it's like I've had a fifteen-year relationship with people I've never even met.

 

Once I get done with the "chores," maybe I can come kick it for a while. We can sit down by the mainline and hoist a few beers. "Retirement" is a funny way to put it. I feel like I'm getting out of jail after a long stretch. Back to Real Life. Fifteen days to go. Tomorrow I give notice I'm quitting, officially. It's kind of like, once you do that, you're committed to a course of action. No backing out. No fishtailing. I'm pullin' the pin. Last day: November the 6th.

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Hoisting a few on the main would be cool as hell. I've never kicked it with someone that actually knew what was going on. Me and my boy ytry (RIP) took this thread and ran with it. We'd have never known about the Rail Atlas, about scanners, how to read a train, had the balls to talk the workers, known what the bulls drove, any of that. I studied this shit for a couple of years.

 

Even reading this, we made every rookie mistake possible. You'd have beat our ass and said fuck off rookies. I mean we were pacing a stinker t 20 mph our 1st hop.

 

Not far from one of the worst missions I've been to was in Nashville we found a switchbox (metal box tnear the switch?) where a tramp painted Birmingham to the right, Chatanooga to the left, a coal train stopped about 1/4 mile up the tracks toward Chatanooga. We ran up as fast as we could, not knowing it was going to sit there for another hour and climbed in 3 cars from the back.

 

We sat there studying the Rail Atlas, convinced at any moment we were going to get chased off, plotting escape routes and wondering if we just fucked up. By all rights, we did. we had 2 meals worth of food, no water, a half gallon of whiskey, and no clue.

 

The train airs up and we take off just as it starts snowing. Fortunately I 'borrowed a blanket but turns out that though dirty, a coal car is a comfortable ride. Better than the back of a pickup. We could have a conversation at normal volume, roll a smoke etc.

 

The train pulls into the TVA and we know we don't want to be there so we bail in the middle of mowhere, 35 miles out of Chatanooga and we start walking. it's warmer down there and the no water thing is coming into play. we make about 11 miles up the tracks to a small town and crash under the bridge. we wake up sometime in the middle of the night and see a Burger King still open, go to get water, and get hassled by the local gentry. They ask if we were on the train and as I said no, my guy says yes. we get told to get back under the bridge and if they see us in their town again, we are going to jail. Much whiskey and a nap later we start down the tracks again.

 

A train passes us and slows way the hell down and the dude driving the train throws us each 2 bottles of water. Best, coldest water I ever drank and maybe a half mile later, a train going our way stops for no apparent reason. we climb on and immediately headed back out. rode that bad boy all the way through ATL to JAX FL. 19 hours across GA.

 

No reason we should have survived but that started the next 3 years of getting better at what we did

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http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/living-on-the-streets-of-oakland/Content?oid=4037320

 

My road dog ytry. I gave him that name and he ran with it. Somewhere in an Atmosphere lyric is "You can't do what I do so why try?" And it's a fact.

I came off the road and home bumming wasn't his style. Last time I saw him was giving him a ride to the Amtrack station so he could get to Chicago. 4 days later I get a call that he was in LA and loving life. He found his people.

 

Didn't hear from him again for 5 years. Nobody did. Not his mom, not me, not his brother, anyone. He liked his booze and loved his heroin so we figured he was a john doe in LA and nobody gave a fuck.

 

Not ytry. he made a life under that bridge. He had electric and TV. His hustle was jacking copper, bit into a live wire and asking god "what the fuck?" before he hit the ground. Left behind a girlfriend and a 6 month old baby boy that no one here knew existed. The theorists say dude that owned the building was tired of the rats and turned the power on, I say he got sloppy and paid for it. Seen him have a few close calls. I know i am right. Just passed 1 year since he fried. His 'buddies' split and left him. waited a half hour to send an anonymous tip with a general idea where he was.

 

I get it. you OD, your ass gets dumped in an alley. Common knowledge and accepted. I'm not mad at them at all. Life on the streets isn't pretty.

 

Anyone in Oakland know where this bridge is? any info would be appreciated. JT is the one on the bike in the article.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I retired November 6. I've been busting ass trying to take care of a million different things ever since--talking to Social Security, trying to sell a car, giving away possessions, furniture, canned food, etc., etc. I'm getting to be on a first name basis with the guys who work the Donations door at Salvation Army. I spent a few nights in Sally Ann missions and I bought a bunch of stuff at their Thrift Stores, so now it's my turn to give. I gave about twenty 5-gallon square bucket containers of wheat, corn, rice and beans to Open Door Mission a couple of weeks ago.

 

The Straight Life kind of creeps up on you, little by little. Twenty-two years ago, I knew that if I didn't get a straight job that paid well and allowed me to build up a retirement fund I was going to be in deep shit at age sixty-six. I chose to go to nursing school. It was a good job that paid well, pretty clean, not too dangerous, indoors in the air-conditioning and offered good retirement benefits. Nursing had it's downsides for sure, but it was good to me and my family. I went from unskilled or semi-skilled industrial labor to a "professional" career. It allowed me to provide a decent living for my family and to send my daughter to college.

 

Nursing was a shit ton better than getting burned every day, breathing that stinking-ass cancer welding smoke, doing welding and heavy equipment repair in the stinky, filthy dirty, hot-and-humid-as-fuck Texas weather. No more coming home dead tired covered in dirt and filth. No more swinging a sledge hammer in the Texas summer heat at 43 years old. I got a two-year degree as an R.N. and I did twenty years as an adolescent psychiatric nurse. It was hard as shit, but at least I wasn't laying in the mud welding on some goddamned bulldozer.

 

I think I helped some kids. At least, I hope I did. I had a fucked up childhood and teenaged years, and I tried to help every kid I came into contact with. I did my twenty, and then I retired. Thank God.

 

As soon as I finish wrapping up all this bullshit with the house, I'm headed back out on the road for a while. I'm sick of the Straight Life, going to work every day, having to kow-tow to people with whom I do not agree just because they are "bosses." No more politically correct BULLSHIT. No more having to play a part with some jackass who is trying to kill himself when he has everything a person could possibly desire.

 

I AM FUCKING DONE WITH THE STRAIGHT-ARROW LIFE. From here on out, I am doing exactly whatever I want to do. Anybody who doesn't like it can go get fucked, because I am absolutely, completely DONE.

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@KaBar2 I can only imagine how liberating throwing those shackles must be.

 

I've had many Sally meals and beds over the course of a lifetime. They are a decent outfit as far as charity goes. Can't knock another man's hustle so i get they have to live too. There's not a whole lot of help for men out there. The Sally in Springfield, IL made us get food stamps and 'donate' them, the prices on the shit they sell is set in stone. I don't see why donated items' prices are non negotiable but whatever.

 

I've said since the second night I stayed there that if I ever got to a point where I could, I'd happily give the Medford Gospel Mission a grip of funds. They did more for me out on the road than the rest combined. I rolled into Medford with 8 cents, 2 packs of cigarettes, a friend and a road pack. They put us up in a clean bed, good shower, food that I would have paid full price for, and didn't judge. When I got a gig cleaning a candy factory, they'd flex the hours so I could come in after hours and let me sleep during the normal "out hours". Since I had a job, the policy of only staying 21 days didn't apply so in 2 moths I had enough saved up to head out again in style.

 

Peoria, IL is a bum's paradise. Not much for work but The Safety Net will let you stay as long as you want, the Gospel mission takes you to the breakfast buffet on Sunday if you don't mind going to a rich church and put on display as proof of their good works, 5 hot meals a day if you plan your route just right and easy grainers leaving all times day and night from ADM.

 

The Galesburg Gospel Mission and Women's Shelter in Galesburg, Iisn't a bad place to rest up for a night but they really don't want you to leave. Decent meal, comfortable beds, clean and a short walk from the BNSF yard. Hang out for a couple days and they will hook you up with close to new clothes. Volunteer to unload donations and make a quick $5. enough for 2 pouches of Tin Star tobacco and a pack of papers.

 

The Jacksonville Beach mission is awesome. No beds but more food than you can eat, free laundry and hygene supplies. Fuck all the downtown missions. No services, lice and bed bug infested shitholes. The YMCA offers day pass trials almost indefinitely for showers and free coffee. The jungle on the St. John River by CSX HQ is nice. Dude manning the drawbridge is an asshole and will call the cops on you but it's easy enough to avoid him. Lots of bamboo and a few shelters only needing a tarp to throw over the frame and the day labor trucks drive around begging for people to work. $100 a day easy.

 

It's been said "Nashville was the roughest but I know I've said the same about them all". Nashville was the roughest. They've heard every hard luck story since the Depression and they don't care about you at all. Move along.

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That's right. I just went YELP on various homeless shelters.

 

St. Louis missions all suck. cool town and you're better off outdoors. The New Life Evangelic Center should be condemned, over capacity and staff is more likely to rip you off than anyone. Larry Rice is a con artist and there is a special place in hell for him.

 

Harbour Light is OK if you can survive the trip to get there. Sketchy neighborhood even by my standards. Not far from the Rose Lake yard but cameras everywhere.

 

The Sacramento Gospel Mission looks like a max security prison. Fenced and razor wired to hell. Getting to it is a scene from a zombie flick. Didn't even get to the sign in before saying no thanks. Not sure if Loaves and Fishes is still running. They had got sued for feeding too many people. It was an open air homeless yard sale. Anything you needed for the road was for sale. Packs, camp cookware, showers, crack. Anything you want

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm getting closer to being free of this bullshit every day. I signed a contract with a real estate broker the other day, and I have been clearing shit out of the house for a couple of weeks. I'm on my SECOND 30-cubic-yard dumpster, if you can believe that. The guys at the Sally Ann thrift store and Goodwill 's donation site know me on sight, LOL. I won't bore you guys with a recitation of all the shit I've been through, but it has been the biggest hassle of my life, getting rid of twenty-five years' of accumulated crap. NEVER AGAIN, I swear it by all that is holy. I will never again own property and I will never again accumulate a bunch of junk.

 

The way to deal with this is DON'T DO IT IN THE FIRST PLACE. Ten times a day I think, "The fuck was I thinking?"

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Fist666--Sorry, no spray paint. I turned six half-used-up buckets of interior house paint over to the City of Houston hazardous chemicals recycling people though. I don't like to put chemicals in the dump, the less pollution, the better.

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True. My wife and I used to joke that we "took our retirement years when we were young enough to enjoy them" by being adventurous and footloose when we were in our twenties. Life is definitely too short. The problem is that if you don't go to college or trade school or complete some sort of higher education when you are young, it negatively impacts your older adult years economically. I've said on here several times before: "Being poor is a big adventure when you're young, but being poor when you are old sucks bigtime." You only have so many years to earn money. I started working when I was sixteen, as a busboy in a Chinese restaurant, but I didn't get my first "real" job until I graduated from high school and went to work as an orderly in a hospital. (Hospitals don't have "orderlies" anymore. Back then, in the 1960's, nurses didn't do as much heavy lifting, they had young, strong orderlies and nurse's aides to do most of that.)

 

I could have kept working, but I was burned out, kind of at the end of my rope. Sixty-six is too old to be doing the kind of nursing I was doing. Adolescent psych nursing is more of a young person's profession. Psychiatric staff members sort of play roles within the unit. As I got older and older, my role went from being the +"no-nonsense charge nurse" to being a grandfather figure, which was okay with me. Enforcing the unit rules was a pain in the ass and I got real tired of having to be "The Boss."

 

I'm getting close to being free. I got a buyer on our house, the contract is signed, we're just waiting on the title company to finish closing. Once the house is done, I'm out of here. I have no furniture in the house but a card table, a straight-back chair and a bed on the floor. I'm hoboing in my living room, ha ha. It won't be long before I'm able to travel.

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Good on ya brother. As a man of my word, I said what I meant and meant what I said. My spot is a rest area on the road and would be honored to meet you.

 

You got me thinking. I look in my closet and I couldn't fit another t shirt in there when not so long ago I got superstitious about owning 7 changes of clothes. It would be such a pain in the ass to get rid of that nevermind owning property.

 

I was a firm believer in don't own more than you carry on your back for 3 miles because sooner or later you are going to have to. My bug out bag drives my wife crazy.

 

Get at me.

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