I graduated from college with a degree in veterinary medicine and became a professional athlete and author. My first hobo rides were on the racquetball circuit to and from tournaments and clinics on the west coast, and then during summers as a boxcar tourist, and now as a tour guide for executive hobos in boxcars. The set of reasons for hoboing now is the same as when I caught my first of 400 rattlers from Salt Lake to the Ogden, Utah Golden Spike in 1980.
Rumbling boxcars are faster than Greyhound, with a wide open view of America, safer than Amtrak, and more scenic than driving an auto. The rights of way are the original iron swaths built in the 19th century passing through forested mountains, untouched deserts, great plains, farmlands, the corn belt, and the urban industrial areas and underbelly skid rows of America.
In the freight cars, I like the hard-eyed men with gentle streaks, and telling tales with twinkling eyes around a jungle fire. There’s the wine bottle. The railroad yards are a chessboard of cat-and-mouse with the bulls. On catching a ladder there is no better sport that combines mental and physical exercise where the next move may be paradise sliding along the rails, or doomsday slipping beneath the wheels.
l used to wish i could be dropped off anywhere in the USA without a dime in my pocket, and survive; and here i am standing in the boxcar door in baggy overalls waving and yelling, ‘
I can make good!’ I get on and off where I want, and no one owns a piece of my mind.