Sunday, February 5, 2012

The First Time I Rode a Freight Train & other hitchhiking stories (excerpts)

The First Time I Rode a Freight Train & other hitchhiking stories
By Tim Shey 

Published January 2012

Here are some excerpts from The First Time I Rode a Freight Train & other hitchhiking stories:

Page 8:  "The cop dropped me off in the middle of somewhere. It was ten o'clock at night, it was hot and humid and I forgot to fill up my water bottle back in Central City. I was not a happy camper. I thanked the officer for the ride and he turned around and drove west into the Nebraska night.

"The next town was six miles away. So I walked past the corn fields and the hay fields of eastern Nebraska. I was thirsty. The noise of diesel engines roaring away pumping water into irrigation circles could be heard as I walked back east.

"Eventually, I made it to the small town of Duncan. I found a water hydrant and drank a ton of water. I then found a pickup parked next to the railroad tracks. I climbed into the cab of the pickup and slept there that night.

"The next morning, I walked to the shoulder of U.S. 30 and began thumbing for a ride to Columbus. Within half an hour, some guy walked up to the pickup that I had slept in the night before and drove off in it. Sometimes it is a good idea to get up early in the morning.

"I got a ride to Columbus. This guy took me to the bus station. I met a lady there that helped me pay for a bus ticket to Des Moines. I got on the bus and it went through Omaha. I got off in Adel, Iowa that evening. Adel is just west of Des Moines on U.S. 6.

"I phoned a friend in Ames. He picked me up in Adel and drove me back to Ames. He thought that it was funny that I hitchhiked to Nebraska and hopped a freight train. He thought it was really funny that a cop told me to get off the train. I didn't think it was so funny."


Page 22:  "My backpack has shown a lot of wear and tear over the years. There are rips in it; it is somewhat dirty. There are places where I sewed it up with monofilament fishing line and there is a piece of duct tape on the bottom of the pack. Without duct tape, we would be a people no more.

"I believe the weight of my backpack averages around thirty-five pounds, so I get some good exercise every day when I have to walk several miles on the highway. The guy who gave me the backpack told me that he spent $200.00 for it back in 1979. It is still hanging in there pretty tough. It is an interior frame backpack. I don't know the brand name.

"It has been through rain, snow, dirt, mud, sand (e.g. I slept on the beach at Cambria, California), crude oil (in the back of a pickup in New Mexico), hundred-degree heat, and twenty-below-zero cold. I use it as a pillow when I sleep outside. I use it as body armor when somebody drives by and sprays me with submachine gun bullets (just joking). My body armor is a wall of fire that surrounds me--the Holy Ghost Fire.

"My backpack and I have hitchhiked countless thousands upon thousands of miles throughout the United States. Somebody once offered to buy me a new backpack two or three years ago. I graciously declined their offer. I'm going to keep this backpack as long as I can. You see, it never argues with me, it never disagrees with me, never talks back. It is very low maintenance. When I get tired of carrying it, I stop, take off my backpack and sit on it on the side of the road and rest for a while.

"When I die, it doesn't look like I will be able to take it to heaven with me--I guess this is something that I will just have to accept."


Page 35:  "This past week I was hitchhiking in Montana and I ended up in Ennis. I went to the library and typed up some stuff on my Digihitch blog and then I walked to the Exxon gas station.

"I was inside the convenience store buying something to eat, when this older man walked up to me and asked, 'Are you the traveler? Is that your backpack out front?'

"I said, 'Yeah.'

"His name was Arthur and he said that he had done some hitchhiking in his younger days. He was originally from San Diego and did a lot of surfing at one time. Arthur used to hitchhike with a guitar. He asked me if I needed a place to stay for a while. He told me he needed some work done on his ranch and that he had a bad back; he had been in a real serious car crash years ago.

"So I told him that that would be great and that I would like to work for him. I grabbed my backpack and we drove around six miles to his ranch. He had a housemate named Hal who had lived there for five years; Hal was married and divorced and pretty much retired. Arthur used to be a miner years ago.

"I fed the horses hay and grain while I was there. Arthur and I hauled some garbage to the local dump and we did a lot of cleaning up of some trash in the house and rearranging some boxes for storage.

"I ended up staying two nights and then hit the road. I hitchhiked south and made it to Driggs, Idaho where I met up with a friend. I stayed at he and his wife's place in Drummond last night.

"Yesterday, I checked my email and Arthur sent me a very kind and thoughtful note; here it is below:

"'Hello Saw man we are glad in the lord and holy power for leading you to us. We are very much lovers of good men who follow the path in life that few dare to seek, I find in you the good warm energy that god has bestowed upon you, follow your path no one else can, and remember us in your prayers we shall forever be in your kindness and have no regrets for the time you and we shared with you. Be always welcome in our tee pee. We enjoyed you and the god & man energy to shared with us. Have a safe and full filled life and some day return to us that we may share what god has given us to share with his chosen few. you are special in our hearts and minds so be good to yourself and we will not judge you but find in you faith to carry on and struggle with our human condition and remain thankfull to god first and the life of mammon second.

"'your friends Arthur And Harold.
ps glad you liked my cooking. pax goldbear'" 


The First Time I Rode a Freight Train & other hitchhiking stories
By Tim Shey
Paperback:  178 Pages
ISBN-10: 1462661718
ISBN-13: 978-1462661718
Language: English 


  1. Hi Tim, Glad to see you are getting more of your story in print! May it bless the many who read it!
    A question though- Was that the last time you rode a freight train also?? LOL
    I guess the cops don't take too kindly to it!

    Your sister in Christ, Sarah

  2. I have only ridden two freight trains in my life. The first time was in 1980, the second time was in 1983.

  3. I've never rode a freight train.. Congrats on your book and thank you for the comments and visit to mine.. I'm your new follower..Susie

  4. Thank you, Susie.

    If you want to read some good freight hopping stories, go to There is a writer/hobo named shoestring1989 who has written a number of rail travel stories on Digihitch; they are very funny.

    "Freight Train from Sioux City to Chicago's Proviso Yard" [by shoestring1989]

    I really believe that shoestring1989 (Mark Nichols) should put all of his freight hopping stories together and publish a book. I really enjoyed reading his stories.

  5. HUGE CONGRATS on your book Tim. A thrill and uplifting for the spiritual man to read. Looking forward.
    God bless you brother.

  6. Thanks, Randy. I didn't think I would put a second book together, but the Lord prompted me to do it and now it is published. In the coming months, we will see what the readers think about this book.