Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Modern Occupation of Freight Hopping

    Let me introduce to you freight hopping, a once common and necessary method of travel used by those who life had left far behind. Now days freight hopping is highly illegal, and possibly more dangerous than ever before. I stumbled across this method of adventurous transportation several months ago. You say, "everybody knows you can hop a train". Yes, this is true, however, what I mean to say is that I recently discovered that freight hopping is alive and well as a method of "hobo" travel. Hobo in the sense I am using refers to people who choose to live a destitute life of travel.
    I discovered Wes Modes' "How to Hop a Frieght Train" and began reading up. It's funny because the more I read about it, the more my mind was itching to go and jump on a train and ride it across America. (Yes, I know most trains don't go all the way across the nation, but I am a hopeless romantic). I will save you some conusion and clarify a couple of frieght hopping terms.
  • Bulls - Railroad Police.
  • Catching Out - The act of getting on the train.
    If you bother to read through Wes's article, you will discover that apparently most railroad employees, with the exception of the Bulls, are willing to help out travelers (hobos). There are stories of many people traveling across the country by freight hopping, and Wes is only one of them. My Wilderness Survival instructor and recent Wild Edibles instructor introduced me to his old friend by the name of Bo Keely. In short this man, Bo, has spent the vast majority of his life traveling the world and creating adventure where there is none. He now guides "executive adventures", offering big shot CEO's (for the right price) the chance to get a real thrill and travel the rails, even chancing illegal border crossings into Mexico. Apparently the border police only shoot at people coming north.
    There is alot more content on the web about frieght hopping, and both Wes and Bo's websites offer alot of good information. Bo has a list of stories of his adventures, so go read up if you'd like. It's always grand to read about adventure on the web, but sometimes it might just be better to go grab that back rail of a frieght car, and hang on for the ride. Learn by the seat of your pants, get your hands dirty kind of thing.

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