Wyoming boxcar ride with the delirium tremens.

It was the summer of 1998, and  I was at my peak of alcohol consumption. 
I had ridden into the town of Keokuk, Iowa from Chicago on an empty boxcar.  Right away, I found a day labor job tearing shingles from the roof of an elderly couples home.  I worked hard for four days, and very glad I had done so, since I desperatally needed new travel gear!

I was happy and surprised to find a terrific army surplus store on my fifth day where I bought a nice bed roll, backpack, camo britches and another canteen; all for $95.00.  I had made up my mind to catch out later on that day, since I was restless as could be!
I caught a BNSF freight train from Keokuk’s small switching yard up to Ottumwa, Iowa, then took the BNSF from Ottumwa to “Stinkin” Lincoln, Nebraska. 

Once I rolled into Lincoln, I had to hop a different freight north to Fremont, Nebraska in order to switch over to the Union Pacific Railroad. Once in Fremont, I hopped west and made my way to Cheyenne, Wyoming, while drinking one and a half liters of liquor per day, the entire trip.

Once in Cheyenne, I had to walk from the UP yards, to the BNSF overpass west of town. It sure was a tough walk, since my shaking was so bad from being dried out alcohol-wise.  Four blocks from the BNSF switching yard, I entered a frequently shopped liquor store and bough another half gallon of vodka for the trip that lie ahead.

At the north end of the BNSF yard, under catch out bridge, I sat and took myself a strong drink right from the bottle!  I felt terrible.  Before this swallow had started its journey through the lining of my small intestine, and into my bloodstream, I had not had a drink for the entire day!  I was surprised I was able to purchase this bottle without dropping it on the floor because of my severe shakiness, being I had gone almost 24 hours without a single drink.

Thirty minutes had passed when a north bound train rolled into the yard.  The train crew had their crew change, then started rolling again.  As it rolled passed me, I was hid behind the bridge pillar next to the Airforse base entrace.  I waited until the locomotives made their way past me, then I jumped into an empty boxcar.  Once I had boarded the train, I sat my backpack down in the corner of the boxcar and went for another drink of vodka.  Oh, no!  My vodka had not made the train as I had!  Where was it?!  Oh, no!  Oh God!  It had fallen from my backpack while I had jumped into the boxcar!  At this point, I had now only had two ounces of alcohol in 24 hours!  I was in big trouble!

I had heard of the DT’s before, but had never experienced them.  Two hours hadn’t passed when the unthinkable started to happen!  I thought two guys were trying to steal my gear while inside the boxcar, and were plotting to kill me!  I managed to make it through Wendover and Casper by huddling in the corner of the boxcar on top of my backpack crying the entire trip before realizing what was possibly going on with me medically!  By the time I rolled into Greybull, Wyoming township for our crew change, I was in terrible shape!

Once in Greybull, I ran to a little store on the main drag, called the police and told them about the two men plotting to kill me and take my gear!  Two officers came to the store and asked me all kinds of questions like, “Who were these guys?  Am I taking or not taking any medications?”  After a search of the area brought up nothing, the one cop asked me, “When was the last time that I had consumed any alcohol?”  I told him when I last had a drink, and how much.  That’s when he confirmed my own suspicion about what was going on!

The cops took me to the local hospital 25 miles away in the town of Worland.
The emergency room doctor hooked an IV line to my arm and pumped in vitamins and fluids.  To stop the DT’s, I was given an injection of Valium, but not before giving me a shot of Haldol in the left ass-cheek to dull the delirious state I was in!

It took nearly five days to get me on my feet and back out on a freight train again!
The DT’s have happened to me only two other times after that, but not as bad.  So, I guess liquor was the real culprit, because never have I had this problem from drinking plain beer. 

Every time I pass through Greybull, Casper, Cheyenne, and Laurel, I get this funky reminder that moves me emotionally because of what happened that time!
God I am so glad that I stopped drinking December 2nd, 2006.


About hoboshoestring

I'm a professional hobo of nearly 25 years. This blog is a collection of my most memorable freight train trips; most with photos. First things first, a hobo is someone who rides freight trains and is not a homeless bum on the city streets. I've been hopping freight trains for transportation since 1989. I've ridden over 340,000 miles of steel rails in 49 US states, eight provinces in Canada and 14 states in Mexico. I ride all rail lines in North America. I have hundreds of hobo trip photos that can be viewed by clicking my "Photostream" at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30715417@N04/
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