In the morning we left the key at the desk and went for breakfast
at a Greasy Spoon.
There, we scanned
our map for the trek to Sacramento.
The word "Sacramento" had a nice ring to it and maybe our Journey had been
sort of Sacramental at least that's how I thought of it.
We made our way to the freeway but had
to wait a while before we were able to snag a ride and hours later we found ourselves in the Middle of Nowhere.....
no sign of Civilization in sight.
Hitchhiking was getting to be a drag and inbetween rides we began discussing the possibility
of Jumping a Freight Train.........
We always held it as an option, but before this, circumstances didn't warrant it.
Now, the thought of jumping a train seemed appealing and was reinforced by seeing sections of Railroad
Track as we made our way along the Highway.
Hell, we could climb on a Boxcar and be sleeping on a "bed of
straw" while the train streaked toward New Jersey...... Be home in two days. Maybe even meet some Hobos, who knows?
We decided that if the opportunity arose, we'd be ready.
The fact that there was No Way of Knowing where the train would be going was just a
our Great Wisdom we would try our luck.
In the meantime, we had to get to Sacramento.
It was already late in the day so it was a welcome sight when I stuck out
my thumb and a car pulled over.
wasn't going into the City but he got us as far as the outskirts.
When we were let off we walked down
an Exit Ramp as darkness was descending and the air becoming saturated with an unpleasant chill.
At the end of the ramp was a Hamburger
Joint seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
We went inside, parked our belongings at a table and made our way to the counter.
The place was filled with Locals, placing orders amid conversation and laughter.
When it was our turn we ordered two hamburgers and two cups of water and while Alf waited, I busied myself at
the condiment counter, loading up on extra ketchup, mayo, relish and saltines.........
With fatigue settling over us, we sat down to eat.....conversation was subdued.
Just beyond the parking lot was a Railroad Crossing, an extension of the tracks we'd seen along the highway.
Twenty foot tall Warning Lights stood in the shadows.
point we had little enthusiasm for Jumping a Train but felt there was no alternative.
We were desperate and out of desperation we were willing to take the chance.
"Alf, we're gonna have to jump that train. I don't know what else we can do. "
the hamburgers but remained in our seats trying to bolster each others confidence and waiting for our energy to rebound.........
Then it was time.....
"Ya ready Davey?"
"All right, let's go."
In the parking lot we were greeted by the damp nighttime chill.
Once we got a taste of that, it reminded us how "iffy"
the situation was.
We absolutely had
to make something work.
We headed for the crossing, each step bringing us further from the parking lot and deeper into
along the tracks which sat upon a rise about two feet high, hoping to find a place where the tracks were lower, giving us
a better chance at jumping a train.
We saw there wasn't going to be any improvement
though, and realized we'd have to scale the embankment as the train approached, if it approached at all.
We assessed the situation, going over how to throw a bag on a Moving Train while barely
able to see in front of us .
"Ya get as close as ya can Alf, toss the bag and guitar up onto a car, then
grab on and pull yourself up."
"All right, I got it," he said, not sounding
As we're formulating the strategy, there's a Rumbling in the Distance.
I lean my ear to listen and sure enough my perception is confirmed.
train's coming! We'll have to jump it right here!"
We positioned ourselves as close to the track as possible..............
There wasn't time for second thoughts, our Meal Ticket had arrived and we
would have to catapult onto the back of that Monster on the first try.......
We tensed or bodies and readied
ourselves for the Leap.....!!!!!!!
.......Which Was Complete Fantasy...........
because when that Juggernaut came roaring around the bend, all we saw was a blur........
The noise was Overwhelming, drowning out our voices, Paralyzing us as it tore
through the night........
Car after car Slammed Past, churning up a soot filled wind that threw debris into
We pulled back, giving it plenty of room as it passed......leaving us stunned........
Any attempt at getting on that Train would have been disastrous, with or without
Once it had gotten down the track the night again grew quiet....................
and recovering from the Shock, we broke out into a Spontaneous,
Giddy, then Uncontrollable Laughter.
It was several minutes before we were even able to talk.........
"Man!!! We were gonna jump on that thing???"
that thing would've hung our asses out to dry!"
"Did you see that???
"The two happy
hobos, huh? We would've ended up hobo stew!!!"
We were doubled over and laughing so hard that we forgot
all about our situation.
It was a while before we were able to get hold of ourselves but when we did we realized
there was nothing else to do but start walking.
Not wanting to backtrack, we just followed the path that ran along the tracks.
It had to lead somewhere.............. Maybe there was a road ahead....................
The Shock of My Life
Eyes like saucers, we edged down the trail barely able to see.
What appeared to be Farm Machinery littered the landscape.
We kept blundering into undergrowth and grabbing each other by the arms, continued moving
I remembered from reading Carlos Castaneda that the proper way to walk in the dark
was to take high steps to keep from stumbling.
I passed it on to Alf and it proved effective.
Lifting our feet high and coming straight down, we avoided tripping over clumps of weeds and other obstructions.
In a few minutes we'd gotten used to the process and were proceeding along when we came upon a large Silhouette
in the middle of the path........
Was it another piece of Machinery?
Whatever it was, it was bigger than the both of us put together.....
In the pitch darkness
we began negotiating around it, trying to make out what it might be..........
"What is it Alf?..... Huh? .....W-W-What
Suddenly, IT MOVES........!!!
We freeze.............and before we can react a PIERCING SHRIEK erupts.........
The Shriek was repeated and cut right through us as we held onto each other for dear
wierded out, but knowing not to run we inched away fixated on the image.........
an effing Mule !!! Ohhh...scared the shit out of me..!!!"
"Man, let's get the hell
The Mule stood his ground and now we had to walk past the son of a bitch.
With utmost care we maneuvered around him, putting as much distance between us and him
all the while hoping
he wouldn't charge........
"Easy now.............easy boy....."
He eyed us
as we angled past, careful not to turn our backs.
When we got far enough away we picked up the pace and he disappeared behind us..........
"Man, scared the shit outta me! Son of a bitch!!!"
Our legs shook with nervous energy. It
would take another 15 minutes to calm down.
"Did you see that thing man?" Did that really just happen?"
We had No
Earthly Idea where we were or where we were going.
In the distance were the lights of a Farm House and we stood pondering the situation.
The best strategy
we could come up with was to approach in the direction of the house while still keeping a good distance away and search for
a road out.
way Alf.....follow me," I said, as I approached a Wire Fence.
Fortunately, it wasn't Barbed Wire and would be easy to squeeze through by Separating
down my duffel bag, reached out and groped for the Wire.............
.....ZZZZZZZ............POW !!!.......... ZZZZZZZZZZ Bang !!!
I'm jolted by a Surge of Electricity passing through my body,
lighting up the night with an intense flash of Cobalt Blue....
I leap backwards dazed and stunned, seeing a wreath of stars all around my head..........
"Aaaahhhhh !!!" A guttural cry escapes from my throat while I'm still in Midair.
Standing next to me, Alf saw everything.
"You okay man?!!??" he
cried out, "You okay???"
"Wow....... yeah..... I'm okay......shit, what was that an Electric
"Yeah, an Electric Fence, you okay??"
Hearts pounding, we were Traumatized anew.
An Electric Fence to keep cattle from running amok,
for them, an unpleasant sensation...... for me, a Jolt to the Core........
Man, what next???
That was the end of that short cut.....!!!
We turned and stumbled down a hillside and collapsed to the ground.
We propped our duffel bags behind us, leaned back, shut our eyes and immediately nodded off to sleep.
I don't know how much time elapsed but I was awakened by the cold and reached
"Alf, wake up man. We can't stay here! We gotta find a better place!"
down the slope, across a narrow road and into a grove of trees where the ground was flat and okay for sleeping.........and
began looking for twigs and branches to start a fire.
We donned extra shirts, pants and socks, anything left over was used as a pillow.
Alf wrapped himself in the Afghan and I thrust my feet into my Duffel Bag and we
settled in for a very uncomfortable night.......
Just before sunrise I heard voices and moments later, the sound of engines
erupted as farm workers began kicking over machinery to start their day.
This got me to my feet in a hurry.
We were on private property and it wouldn't be wise to linger.
Alf hadn't budged.
He lay face
down, wrapped in the Yellow and Orange Afghan.
"Yo, buddy! We can't stay here! We gotta get up right
As Alf stirs and rises off the ground, I happen to look up and make eye contact with a group of
Mexican laborers about 30 yards away.
They were curious and maybe sympathetic, knowing how
cold it had been the night before.
We hoisted our bags and stumbled onto the road looking more like characters from The Grapes of Wrath than suburban
boys from New Jersey.
We were no longer entertaining Romantic Illusions.
The road had turned cruel and was threatening to take us out.
We just wanted to get back home but we didn't dare ponder the effort........
It was so very, very