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View Poll Results: Have You Ever Done Any Of These?
Hitchhiked 48 76.19%
Hopped a Freight Train 7 11.11%
Runaway from Home 15 23.81%
Been Homeless by Choice 5 7.94%
None Of The Above, but Thought About It. 13 20.63%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 63. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 10-13-2014, 01:25 AM
 
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota
642 posts, read 490,811 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foadi View Post
What was a runaway doing driving through death valley? It's not on the way to anywhere.
When we were teens, one of the big past-times was Cruising Main Street. If you've ever seen the movie American Graffiti, then you know what I mean. My buddy was on his way to California to cruise the three "Biggies" where "Recreational Driving" supposed started: Hollywood Blvd, Van Nays Blvd, and The Sunset Strip.
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Old 10-13-2014, 01:32 AM
 
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota
642 posts, read 490,811 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ss20ts View Post
What about option #6? Some of us have never thought of doing any of those things! A good way to get yourself killed. No thanks.
I've never hitchhiked, hopped a train, or run away; but I sure have done a ton of things that could have gotten me killed!

I've also, on rare occasions, picked up young girls who were hitching. I've also had girls jump out in front of my car and ask for a ride, and I once had a guy jump into the back of my pick-up truck while I was sitting at a stop light. He politely asked me to let him ride a couple of miles down the road. He sat back there quietly and just as quickly jumped back out at another stop light about three miles down the road.
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Old 10-13-2014, 03:14 AM
 
6,353 posts, read 5,154,974 times
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Hitchhiking was very common 50 years ago - nothing special about it. I saw the whole country (actually about 39 states) by the time I was 22, mostly by thumb.

Now that nobody hitchhikes, only people looking for a victim pick up hitchhikers, but when I was doing it, it was just another form of transportation.
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Old 10-13-2014, 08:29 AM
 
Location: Anchored in Phoenix
1,942 posts, read 3,917,716 times
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I'm 55 and even when I was a teen, hitchhiking was dangerous. Never did the others. You cannot hop a train anymore. It's not like the 1920s.

My dad grew up during the Great Depression and he hopped a train from the midwest to the west coast as a teenager. He was big and strong enough to defend himself in case it was needed but back in those days people were far more kind to each other.
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Old 10-13-2014, 10:56 AM
 
Location: NE Mississippi
13,636 posts, read 8,559,902 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor Z View Post
There used to be a web site dedicated to the topics in the poll, (Digihitch.com) where people posted advice, told stories, and offered support. It was one of the most interesting web sites I've ever been a part of. By creating this poll, I am hoping to maybe spark some stimulating conversation on the topics here.

I personally have never done any of the choices in the poll, but I've read about others experiences and also personally helped many runways in my younger days.
I was a runaway.
Back in '61, before I turned 16 I stole a car in Alabama and ran away. I learned to drive as I went along. Finally got arrested in Eads, Colorado, by the Colorado Highway Patrol who showed me the error of my ways.

It turned out alright. I never had any family support, so I muddled through as best I could, went through a period of being alone in the world, and eventually got a little "traction" in life and became successful.
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Old 10-13-2014, 11:35 AM
 
Location: Bel Air, California
21,318 posts, read 21,872,221 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Siegel View Post
Hitchhiking was very common 50 years ago - nothing special about it. I saw the whole country (actually about 39 states) by the time I was 22, mostly by thumb.

Now that nobody hitchhikes, only people looking for a victim pick up hitchhikers, but when I was doing it, it was just another form of transportation.
^this...some entrance ramps I used would have a wait line queued up to process the hitch-hikers in a quasi first-come-first-serve self managed and mellow hierarchy.

The longest trips I took starting as a teenager was two Mpls-San Diego treks. One was a solo trip via I-90 to I-15 and the other was with a buddy via Seattle. Did one solo from FLA to Mpls via Scranton, PA and a more direct return again to Florida. Countless other shorter trips over the years.

Only issue I ever had was the misfortune of getting picked up near Barstow, CA on a trip from San Diego to Vegas by a couple of "Sandy" parolees that ended with a flat tire, a contribution of $20, a CHP stop and investigation, a dispute over the disposition of said $20, a fistfight in the middle lane of NB I-15, a drawdown by said CHP officer, a ride to the local CHP HQ, a ride back to the nearest I-15 NB entrance ramp and a resumption of my trip to Vegas.

All things considered, I wouldn't change any of my HH experiences for the world.
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Old 10-13-2014, 12:20 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, QC, Canada
3,402 posts, read 4,443,775 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor Z View Post
There is a technique involved with hopping trains. It can be very dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. Another thing that killed train-hopping was the development of a Hobo Gang that went around killing the independent riders. I think the gang is gone now, but you heard a lot about them throughout the 1990's.
Yikes. Must you literally hop? Is it impossible to just get in an open car in a train yard and wait?

John Waters, a film director (Hairspray, Pink Flamingos) very recently hitchhiked the USA East to West (or the other way around). It's still possible to travel large distances hitchhiking even though it sounds like its hayday is over.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/22/tr...rica.html?_r=0

I myself have done it here around Eastern Canada (Sudbury, ON - Ottawa, Montreal, Manitoulin Island) and North to South theough the Czech Republic, a few hundred km in Germany, and maybe 5 km in the Netherlands. All of that was within the last two years.
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Old 10-13-2014, 10:03 PM
 
6,353 posts, read 5,154,974 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse44 View Post
Yikes. Must you literally hop? Is it impossible to just get in an open car in a train yard and wait?
Generally, the train has to be moving at least a little. A stationary train with open cars will be inspected before it starts moving and you'll be thrown off.
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Old 10-13-2014, 10:41 PM
 
48,516 posts, read 83,890,268 times
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Yes; when young in the mid 50's use to hitchhike to nearby small town to swimming hole during summer days. Never a problem then. lots of things where different then as far as safety. Never had a bike stolen and never had a lock. Also remember picking up hitchhiking soldiers when traveling with parents. Few passed them up I those days.
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Old 10-13-2014, 11:08 PM
 
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota
642 posts, read 490,811 times
Reputation: 546
Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Roark View Post
I'm 55 and even when I was a teen, hitchhiking was dangerous. Never did the others. You cannot hop a train anymore. It's not like the 1920s.

My dad grew up during the Great Depression and he hopped a train from the midwest to the west coast as a teenager. He was big and strong enough to defend himself in case it was needed but back in those days people were far more kind to each other.
There are still people who hop trains. I found this blog posting by Matthew Karsten:


Day 5 of my cross-country hitchhiking journey across America begins with me tracking down hobos in Portland to learn how to hop freight trains. There’s just something magical about the thought of riding a train through the countryside.
Traveling the rails like many did during the Great Depression. Escaping 20th century traffic congestion and advertising on the highways to watch the scenery roll past on a set of train tracks. Smelling wildflowers in the fresh mountain air.
Yet a small community of modern rail riders still exists even today.
So I read books, asked questions in obscure online forums, and spoke to a few freight riders in person. Attempting to prepare myself as best I could to prevent getting injured or arrested. Because riding freight trains is pretty dangerous and definitely illegal.
The Refrigerated Boxcar I Jumped Into

Riding Trains Isn’t Easy

The first obstacle is locating where you can even catch a train. They slow down or stop at specific places: inside rail-yards for loading & unloading, at “sidings” (where one train will stop to let another pass), and crew-change points.
Then you have to determine what direction the train is even going. It could look like it’s pointed East, when in reality it may turn South a few miles later.
Next you need to search for a rideable car. There are a few different types, but some can be downright deadly to ride in if you don’t know what you’re doing. In fact just maneuvering around a stopped or slow-moving freight train can be extremely dangerous.
Of course avoiding getting caught is also a priority. The rail police (aka “Bulls”) are constantly on the hunt for illegal train riders. This will result in a ticket or even a few nights in jail depending on the location.
Other rail-riders can be a threat too. Drug addicts or criminals may be riding the same trains as you. There is a lot to think about!
Ride #6: BNSF Railroad! (they just don’t know it)

Ride #6: BNSF Railroad

My initial goal was to hop a freight heading East out of Portland. But it took me 3 nights and over 18 hours of waiting on the side of the tracks to catch one — and when I did, it was headed in the wrong direction!
On the 3rd night of attempting to “catch out”, I found some thick bushes and made myself comfortable as the sun began to set. Stuffing my face full of tasty ripe blackberries that grow wild along the tracks. A few trains came by, but they were moving too fast.
It was around midnight (4 hours later) when an opportunity presented itself. A “junk” train began pulling out of the rail yard next-door and onto the mainline where I was waiting.
Junk Trains pull cars with less valuable cargo. Grain. Oil. Coal. Lumber. Steel. Fruit. Etc. They cruise the tracks at 40 mph or slower.
Hot Shots are loaded with shipping containers full of valuable merchandise. Cars. Electronics. Designer clothing. Each container can easily be packed with over $500,000 of stuff. These fly by at 70 mph.
As my junk train rounded a corner onto the main track, it was only traveling at about 5 mph. Perfect.
I spotted a few rideable cars too. So after rushing up the embankment I began running alongside a refrigerated boxcar (aka “reefer”) covered in graffiti. It was closed, but there’s a small cubby-hole area in the back that houses the refrigeration unit. I grabbed the ladder, jumped up, and squeezed inside with my pack. Success!
Officially a Train Riding Hobo

Whoops! I’m Going North…

After a few miles the train picked up speed and I made myself as comfortable as possible. The landscape passed by under the glow of a full moon. But my car was very loud. Not only from the grinding steel sound on the tracks, but the refrigeration unit kicked on and off every 30 minutes — so it wasn’t very peaceful until I threw in some headphones and turned on Bob Dylan.
When I eventually checked the GPS location on my phone, I discovered we were headed North instead of East. Whoops! No big deal. I knew there was a chance of that happening.
Because we were headed North, I assumed the train was traveling to Seattle. But after a 3 hour ride, we pulled into a brightly-lit rail yard and stopped.
I was forced to throw a brown tarp over myself & my pack to hide from the yard-workers walking by. After an hour of no movement, I realized that we were not just waiting for a faster train to pass, but this was the last stop.
My fear was confirmed when I peaked out to discover the two engines up front were no longer attached…
Running From The Bull

Packing my gear I soon left the safety of the boxcar to search for another train in the yard that would be heading North as the sun began to rise. But after looking for a while, I made the mistake of climbing out into the open in front of a rail cop’s white pickup-truck about 100 yards away. ****!
He hit the accelerator and drove right at me. To avoid getting caught, I scrambled back over the train and ran towards him with a mile-long string of cars between us. Unless he left his truck and chased on foot, there’s no way he’d find me in this maze of trains.
With my adrenalin pumping despite a lack of sleep the night before, I escaped from the yard as quickly as possible and made my way to the roadside. Now covered in train grease and looking like a proper bum, no one would pick me up. So I was forced to walk 4 miles into the town of Kelso, WA.

Hitchhiking America: Hopping A Freight Train (Part 2)
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