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Ridin’ Free

Guitar Whitey’s Ridin’ Free is a collection of stories about the author’s sixty-some years on the rails. A Seattle native, Whitey started riding during the Great Depression, making him a “cross-over” hobo — one who rode both steam and diesel trains. The book is a wonderful testament to the wandering spirit. Certainly somewhere up there in my top 10. I would recommend it to all.

If it’s true that you only go around once, then ,maybe you’d best get at it and do it — while you still can. You can always go back to school at any age. If you are of the adventurous spirit and feel you should test yourself — then go for it — get out there and adventure on life. Go for broke. Go ahead and do it. I would urge you to hop a freight trains while you still can. Never mind where it’s going or where you’ll end up. Get that first ride under your belt and see how you like it. Get out on the highway, stick your thumb out and see what happens. Forget about a destination, just travel. Hike down some railroad track to the far horizon. Test yourself to see how far you can walk. Try spending a cold night out somewhere without blankets. Peace Pilgrim crisscrossed this country on foot for 23 years, as an older lady, with no sleeping gear. She didn’t even wear a coat. Take a vagabond trip carrying a bedroll, but take no money, and take no credit cards. Not even a quarter for the phone. See how long you can hold out. You may be surprised to find out who your friends are. Try floating down some river on a homemade raft, Huck Finn style. Take a job on a boat, any kind of boat or ship as a workaway, never mind where it’s going. Try some hellishly hard job of work (physically demanding). See how long you can tough it out. Hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Beat your way through Canada on up to Alaska and try for a job — any job, with no concern for the pay. Canada and Alaska come about as close as you’ll ever get to a “lat frontier.” Find your own adventure. Take the risk. Be a dare-devil. Try something new and scary. Try giving your money away. Go for it. Express yourself.

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