Today, the next installment of how I came to work with Dan Denning and Bill. (Catch up on the first two here and here.)

I pulled myself over the top of the ladder and tumbled into the wagon. I lay on the floor for about 10 minutes while my body recovered from the massive exertion of catching the moving train.

I was in a gondola. This is a railcar with no roof and low sides. I could peer over the sides if I stood up. It’s for transporting loose bulk materials like rocks or scrap metal.

This one wasn’t being used, although there was a lot of trash on the floor.

Night fell. We climbed into the western Sierras. It got cold, but I was cozy in my sleeping bag, rocking with the rhythm of the train.

By morning, we were passing orchards and cornfields and racing through little villages. A beautiful mist gave the landscape a dreamlike feel.

At one point, village kids jumped into my wagon. They were scavenging. They got a shock when they saw me.

That afternoon, we pulled into a large marshalling yard with dozens of tracks. The engineer burst the air brakes with a loud “pssssst.” I knew then that they’d be breaking up the train. So I bailed. And walked into town.

I was in Mazatlán, a port city on Mexico’s Pacific coast, opposite Cabo San Lucas.

“I wonder if I can catch a ship here?” I thought…

To be continued…

In the meantime, Happy Holidays!

– Tom Dyson