Even though this hop is not off to the start I had envisioned, it was pretty enjoyable. As the late Spring sun got higher in the sky it began warming up quite nicely. It took much of my chill away, and I just relaxed and watched the Mississippi go by through the trees.
We rolled past locks and dams, a tow boat pushing barges and a variety of small towns and industrial plants along the right-of-way. The tracks run next to a highway and at times the cars weren’t going that much faster than we were. I was afraid I’d be seen, yet I knew most people never bother looking at the rear porch of grain cars rolling by on a train. From the train it’s like you’re watching people through their picture window at home, If they simply look out, they’ll see you, as far as I know, none did.
It’s best to ghost ride, hiding so nobody knows you’re there. For the most part, people don’t care enough to report you, but still, you’re only a cell phone call away from having your ride ended in abrupt shame. I’m sure I’ve been seen a few times and not reported. I know that good fortune like that won’t last forever. I do my best not to push my luck too far.
The trouble with staying completely hidden is that you miss the scenery, the exact reason I ride in the first place. Well, OK, one of the reasons I ride. So, it’s a little game of cat and mouse, played by the rider and the public and the rail workers. I’ve gotten the feeling that if you aren’t an ass and doing something stupid, even if you are caught by workers, there’s a pretty decent chance you won’t be turned over to the bull. Now, if the bull catches you straight up, well, that’s going to be costly most of the time.
For now, we were rolling along and soon the river scenery gave way to highways and the commerce of the suburbs. We were rolling in to St. Paul and starting to slow down. As I watched the tracks split more and more into additional tracks I knew we were nearing the CP’s Pigs Eye Yard in St. Paul. It’s a big yard, but it belongs to the CP, not the BNSF, so I didn’t figure we’d be stopping here.
Sure enough, we slowed to a crawl right next to the yard, and then stopped. We weren’t in the Pig’s Eye yard, but we were right next to it. We sat there for about a half an hour, another BNSF train or two passed us. About the time I thought we would start moving, we didn’t. We sat there, no hint my train was going anywhere.
I could see the CP workers making up a train a few tracks over from me. The car man was checking brake hoses and walking back and forth along the train. I was concerned that if I sat here much longer somebody might see me, but to get off here, somebody would definitely see me if I wasn’t careful.
It was starting to get hot and there was no telling how long we’d sit. My guess was that the crew was removed from the train and parked it here, so I had to go for it. I packed up my crap and bailed. I scurried as quickly as I could across three or four sets of tracks and a gravel access road between me and some trees between the yard and the highway. I got hidden in the trees and looked around and it appeared that I escaped unseen! Yay!
With some help from Rocky, a friend and former co-worker, a foamer him seIf, I had picked out a potential catch out spot near the Northtown yard. I figured I’d go check it out, relax, replenish and kill time. It was probably 15 miles away. No way was I going to walk that distance with this pack and not feeling 100%. Time to get an Uber!