Escape from Tucson: Day 5 – Sunday (morning)
Oh wow! What a night is about all I can say. Life is so weird and crazy, it’s as if I have fallen into the middle of an old Twilight Zone episode. But, it was a really good night, better than I had hoped for. But, I also have to change a few things in the future, I have to stick to the tracks.
Just before dark I headed out, just slung my pack on and started walking. I didn’t walk on the tracks themselves, I stayed just to the side of the track embankment on the north side of the tracks. I just kept my head down, hunched my shoulders, and tried to look invisible. And it almost worked.
I had been walking less than an hour, trying to walk all casual like it was just another night and I was just strolling along through a park. And it worked! There were people out, a lot of people. I know a bunch had to have seen me, but no one said a word or tried to stop me…nothing! Well almost, then my luck ran out.
I could smell something wonderful cooking in the distance, I mean W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L! It was like a giant Fourth of July city cookout. I am telling you, it smelled so good I was actually drooling. So I slowed down and really kept my eyes open. Not that it was going to make too much difference or anything, it was almost ink-black dark. A few minutes later I heard them.
I came to the end of a line of trees on the north side of the track, there was a gap that was maybe hundred or so feet wide. And to make it worse, there was this little access road from the main highway to the tracks. It must be a way for maintenance vehicles to access the railroad tracks or something. Anyways, on my immediate left was a big warehouse…a Wonder Bread warehouse. But, I only got excited for a minute, maybe less. There were all kinds of people there in a line, a bread line. Cops were passing out different bread products to people.
They had a couple of fifty-five gallon barrels with fire going shedding plenty of light to see what was going on. There were cops guarding the warehouse, and some other cops handing out bread. I thought that was a pretty decent thing to do. Well, maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t…it just was.
I held up for a few minutes to make sure no one was at the back of the lot that would see me when I crossed the open gap in the tree line. I got out my monocular and was surveying the scene and then I realized that people were “paying” for the bread. I can’t be one hundred percent sure but I would bet you people were paying with ammunition. A person would come up and they would exchange words, then hand the cops what appeared to be bullets. Then a cop would holler over to another cop who would disappear into the building. That cop would reappear with some kinds of baked goods, sometimes bread, most of the time I couldn’t tell.
There was one person, a woman of about fifty maybe, I couldn’t tell for sure. They handed her a single loaf of bread, and she was complaining, gesturing pretty animatedly. The big cop that was the order taker shoved her away and she threw the loaf of bread at him. He peppered sprayed her. She immediately went to the ground covering her eyes and I could hear her screaming, even from where I was. While she is rubbing her eyes (wrong move) some little kid runs up, takes the loaf of bread and runs off. About 10 minutes later the woman walks off, no bread. I am not liking Benson much.
I got across the gap and then I found the source of the BBQ. There was this place called Eighty-Six Café. There was a ton of people all standing around having a pretty decent little party. Again, more barrels for light so it was pretty easy to see. And that was nice for me, their eyes were used to the light not the dark, I was in the shadows, they wouldn’t see me very easily, if at all.
They had this big grill going. It was a three-sided fire pit made from concrete blocks and a roaring fire going. They had some kind of homemade grill sitting on top of it holding the meat. And I am telling you it was loaded with meat. I was drooling again. And they were drinking…and drinking heavily. I was thinking that would work in my favor. Well, as long as they didn’t see me and catch me.
I was less than two hundred feet from the festivities and I was mesmerized by it. Here it was, TEOTWAWKI, and they are partying like crazy with a serious load of meat that they were chowing down on. I really tried to think through a dozen scenarios how I could get in, grab some food, and leave. OK, and throw in there the whole idea of…not get caught. I couldn’t figure it out, I decided to walk on. As I was getting ready to leave I heard some moaning, like someone suffering from a fever, a bad fever. I got the mono back out and was looking around trying to find whatever was making the sound. There wasn’t anyone with a “sick” fever. It was a true drunken BBQ, complete with members of the opposite gender taking advantage of the alcohol and each other. I walked on.
About an hour later I came up to a trestle that crossed the San Pedro River. More like a creek, but here in the desert anything more than a puddle is a lake, and anything more than a trickle is a river. I took my boots and socks off and walked across with the water barely above my ankles. The water stunk. When I got to the other side I realized I didn’t have anything to dry my feet off with. So I dug my spare pair of socks out and dried my feet with them. Hung them on my pack to dry as I walked. They were dry by this morning.
I kind of wished I had used the trestle but I didn’t want to get caught on the trestle with no place to go but over the side and into the virtually dry riverbed. Everything is a trade-off it seems. There is easy and fast but dangerous vs. harder, slower and safer. Life sure has changed. But, I’ve also made it harder on myself. I took my Get Home Bag (GHB) with me for the trip but I put it together based on getting home from work. That would take me about two days doing so…max. But the GHB is completely unsuitable for what I am doing. I need my GOOD BOB (Get out Of Dodge – Bug out Bag)! I put it together based on the articles on ahtrimble.com Now that GOOD BOB would have made this trip far easier! But, I won’t complain, I am better off than most. And a gun…a gun would have been invaluable for protection. Man have I screwed up. But, you cope with the hand you’ve been dealt…adapt and overcome.
After walking for a while I got to the point where I planned to cut across country. I was going to save almost a mile of walking by walking across the mouth of a “horseshoe bend” in the train tracks. It was a good idea at the time…in retrospect the idea sucked!
I got maybe 200 – 300 yards into my “shortcut” and there was this seriously deep arroyo with a really steep cut-bank on the other side from me. I must have walked an hour trying to find a place to make it back up the other side. My shortcut took me more time…but that wasn’t the worst of it.
Maybe another quarter of mile, maybe half a mile, I see this freaking ranch complex out in the middle of nowhere. That wasn’t on the map and it was a royal pain. So I decided to swing wide to the south and bypass it by a healthy distance in case they had dogs. Well, I ran smack into another ranch complex.
I stumbled onto a fairly deep arroyo that headed to the east so I dumped down into it and kept walking as quietly as I could. The thing was laid out like a giant snake! It wandered all over the place. I bet I walked two to three times the overall distance with all the curves and switchbacks. I got lucky, it dumped out at a small trestle with the tracks crossing over it. I jumped back up on the track’s right-of-way and really started hoofing it. I wanted to make some serious time last night and get a bunch of miles under my belt. I would like to start doing maybe fifteen to twenty miles a night.
I had walked couple more hours, maybe more, and I could see the faintest of the morning daylight starting to peak up in the east. It was really pretty to watch the light start pushing the inky blackness away. I wanted to keep going, I was out in the middle of nowhere and making good time. I figured I could easily walk for two to three hours after sunrise.
A while later, maybe an hour or so, I saw a spur line split off from the main set of tracks. I thought I better start looking for a place to hold up for the day, something with some shade. There is no shortage of trestles so that should never be a problem. Ten minutes later I forgot looking for any kind of shade, the last thing on my mind was stopping for the day. I spotted one of those work trains. The ones that have the weird looking engine and cars with cranes, flat cars with railroad ties, stuff like that. There was one on the spur line all pretty yellow just sitting there. Bingo!
I found a good hiding spot and watched it for about an hour I think, I’m not really sure. There was no movement of any kind, not a soul in sight. It didn’t take me long to strike it rich! Wherever there are working men doing hard work there is going to be food…and I was right. Several of the cars had little stashes of snack type foods, some canned goods, and a couple of chocolate bars. The Baby Ruth’s disappeared so fast I got a real sugar rush from them. I filled my pack to the brim and was about to walk away when I remembered my “shopping list” that I had put together.
Make the story short…no guns but there were two OSHA compliant first aid kits. They were well stocked. I stuffed a bunch of that in my exterior pockets of the pack, even the top flap pouch. Then more went into my cargo pockets. I walked about what I figured to be another two miles and found a trestle to hang out for the day…and here I am.
I’ve made the decision that each day as soon as I stop I am going to write as soon as I have conducted a good recon of the immediate area. After I have written whatever I feel I need to, then I will sleep and rest. Then up for water, eat a little, then rest some more till dusk. If I have extra time in there I might write some more on any given day. But today I have to sort out my prizes from the work train score, but some sleep first.
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