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Rails Drifter: Through Fire to Portland with the Bakersfield Zombies

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article describes the author's experience hopping trains from Baltimore to Los Angeles, and then from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon. It details the challenges and sketchy situations they encountered in central California, particularly in Bakersfield and Roseville, before finally making it to Portland.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Hopping Trains from Baltimore to Los Angeles

1. What was the author's initial experience hopping trains from Baltimore to Los Angeles?

  • The author and his friend hopped trains from Baltimore to Los Angeles and made the trip in record-breaking time, with everything going miraculously well.

2. Why did they decide not to hop a train up the coast to Portland from Los Angeles?

  • They were staying with a friend in Koreatown, LA, but the place they would have had to hop out from was in Skid Row, which they didn't want to be stuck in late at night if the train didn't come.

[02] Hopping Trains in Central California

1. Why did the author and his friend decide to take a Greyhound from LA to Bakersfield?

  • They had heard it was easier to hop out of Bakersfield to go north.

2. What issues did they encounter in Bakersfield?

  • The cargo theft problem was so bad that Union Pacific trains would not stop for more than 30 seconds in the city limits. The area around the tracks was filled with homeless people and meth addicts, creating a sketchy and predatory atmosphere.

3. What happened when they tried to hop a train in Bakersfield?

  • They got stuck in an open boxcar that kept getting shunted back and forth, and eventually had to sprint to jump onto a moving train to get out of Bakersfield.

4. What happened when they reached Stockton?

  • They found out there was a serial killer targeting homeless people in the area, and had to wait for the police activity on the tracks to clear before they could continue their journey.

[03] Hopping Trains in Roseville

1. What issue did the author and his friend encounter in Roseville?

  • While sleeping in a field near the tracks, a woman started a fire that quickly spread through the dry field. They had to quickly gather their belongings and get away from the fire.

2. What was their experience trying to catch a train out of Roseville?

  • They ended up getting stuck in Roseville for an additional 24 hours, as the train they were trying to catch didn't even go through the yard. They eventually caught a different train with two other stranded travelers.

[04] Journey Through the Mountains to Portland

1. How did the landscape change as they traveled north?

  • As they went through Mount Shasta, Dunsmuir, and the mountains of southern Oregon, the landscape became much more dramatic, with the author's friend waking him up in the middle of the night to see the red moon from the smoke of a nearby forest fire.

2. How was their arrival in Portland received?

  • When they arrived in Portland riding in an open-top scrap metal car, hipsters on pedestrian bridges were waving at them, and a tattoo shop near where they got off the train was also waving at them, giving them a warm welcome. They then went to their friend's apartment and stayed in a four-star hotel that night, going from being the dirtiest they'd ever been to being clean and comfortable.
Shared by Daniel Chen ยท
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