A Dangerous Challenge
I must have been in college when I added hopping a train to my bucket list. I couldn't have been younger because in 4th grade I was shown a movie in school which was created to freak children out and make them never go near a train.
I couldn't get the pictures of severed limbs and gravestones out of my mind until I was about 18. Then for some reason it became something, I just wanted to try...very carefully...once.
Is there such a thing as a cautious train hopper?
I was a strange combination of gutsy and practical, back when I was young. I badly wanted to pull off this this stunt, but I wasn't sure how... without being killed or arrested. One spring, I asked my brother to join me for a hike down the tracks.
The tracks that ran behind our house in Webster Groves, Missouri were secluded and not very active, so we had lots of time to ponder. The walk took me back in time, reminding me how I viewed train tracks as a kid.
I may have feared trains when I was younger, but train tracks had always been my friend.
As kids we spent many an hour tightrope walking down the tracks, hunting for discarded rail spikes and other treasures. Sometimes we left a penny on the track to be squashed...even an Italian lire once.
My brother and I never had an opportunity that day.
It would have taken a pretty sluggish train with a wide open boxcar and perhaps a handy bar for gripping... But it was a beautiful day for shutting out the world and hiking the tracks, with my brother.
One More Try
It's always hard finding an agreeable friend when I'm looking for a partner to help reach a goal. On a different day I asked Mark, a good college friend who was willing to kill some time.
We had about the same luck as I had with my brother, but this time we were stopped by a man in a leisure suit and shiny shoes, who flashed his Frisco Lines badge. He told us to get off private property.
Revisiting the Bucket List
Nothing like becoming an empty nester to make you rethink your past goals. I've done a lot of that lately. I've looked at this silly Barbie Bucket List and wondered if there are any unreached goals I could still work towards. Peace Corps? It's possible. There are volunteers in their eighties!
But I'm a lot wiser than I was at 18, so hopping a train is not really on the list anymore. However, I'm all about modification!! Hmm? For the last few months I've driven down Highway 90 in Sugar Land, staring at the parked trains and wishing I could just climb inside an empty box car. But rarely do you see an open door.
A Little Cooperation!
With all my goals, I've needed some cooperation... if not just for support.
On Sunday, July 8, we were driving with our friends towards Houston, on a country road. I spotted a number of abandoned cars. No engine, so no danger, right?
All I had to do was to persuade the driver (my hubby of course) to pull over! I spotted a boxcar with an open door! It helped to have Cliff and Rhona as cheerleaders, so Don made a u-turn and pulled up beside the tracks. I ignored his teasing grumbles... "You owe me..."
After wading through the tall grass in flip-flops, the hardest part was hoisting myself into the boxcar. They don't exactly have steps on these things!
6 Year olds don't play in boxcars...
...but I acted like one for a few minutes, while Rhona snapped the camera.
I took a deep breath and grinned before climbing down. I love that giddy feeling that comes with reaching another goal!
A Check on the List!
Most would never allow that silliness to count for a check on the bucket list, but I got a pretty big thrill out of the experience. And that's all that counts.
I have to thank Cliff and Rhona for egging me on, in my fun. Mostly I have to thank Don, who has never really rolled his eyes at my antics, for 32 years!
Learning From My Adventures
Although I had a silly good time in that train car, I have pondered the inside of that boxcar over these last few days. Hearing the echo and smelling the rust, brought so many images to mind.
Amusing thoughts like train cars filled with straw and circus animals, or more sobering thoughts... crowded boxcars in the depression or the holocaust, or even today with immigrants risking their lives to reach the US. I never understood why I had that goal on my list, but maybe I just wanted the tiniest piece of what it would be like to really need a boxcar.
BARBIE BUCKET LIST
I was 8 years old when I got this embarrassing Barbie diary ... about 2 years before my real DIARY YEARS. (12 years of never missing a day) I was more into Trolls than Barbie, so I stashed it in a drawer and forgot about it.
Over the years my family moved numerous times and this super mod diary ended up burried in boxes over and over. For at least 12 years, whenever I ran across it, I would grab a pencil and jot down something ridiculous on the corresponding day. It was like a never ending doodle pad, fillled with more nonsense than reflection. The penmanship and horrendous spelling makes it difficult to read today, but the best discovery is a Bucket List that began on April 27, 1974!
Click on THE BEGINNING to see the LIST and how it evolved.