Unless you've seen first hand a section of the track removed, don't ever believe that a train track has been abandoned. I'll share my "almost got hit by a train" story to explain why.
I was on the west coast of Washington state to visit my sister. I stopped at a tiny roadside park which consisted of just two picnic tables, to have lunch with my eleven year old son. At the time (well that's ALL I wore in those days) I was wearing a pair of painted on Rocky Mountain jeans. This will be an important tidbit for later in this story.
There was a stranger there that I'll call Brilliant Stan, and his eight year old son. Just as we were about to leave Brilliant Stan asked if we'd like to go on this train bridge, over the river, to see the fish spawning. Said he was taking his son to see them and we could come along. I said NO, a train could show up. He says there hasn't been a train on this track in the eight years he's lived near there. I said but what if a train DOES show up. He asks me to come take a look at something on the tracks. He shows me the overgrown brush on the tracks, including a number of plants that were growing over the tracks themselves. I again say no. My son begs. I finally say ok, thinking he was telling the truth about this being an abandoned train track.
We are in the middle of this train tressel, in the middle of the river (I can't swim) - Stan is talking away about something-or-other and I hear a loud train whistle. Since he seemed completely unconcerned about this train whistle, for a second I thought ok there must be a non-abandoned train track very near by. Then the whistle starts again, this time really load, I began to say "I sure hope that train is not on this track" - I think I only got out the "I sure" before we saw the train coming around the corner and right at us.
All three of them, Brilliant Stan - his son and mine, all started running TOWARDS the train. TOWARDS the train!!! Everything was happening in slow motion. I take a huge step forward to try and grab my son so we could run away from the train not towards it.
At this point my foot falls through one of the holes and I'm laying face down in the middle of the track. I instantly try and jump to try and grab him again, the train's whistle is blaring so loudly at this point it's hurting my ears and disorienting me. For some unknown reason, at this time I can't stand up to grab my son. Try twice both times splat back to the ground.
Now the train is much closer, and my son takes a look at the train that's about to hit him and a look at me. He jumped off the side of the bridge. Within a quarter of a second of him no longer being in danger, my mind instantly went to "This is going to hurt" I was terrified as to how bad it was going to hurt to get hit by a train. I can't even explain how many times, over the next second or two, I thought about how bad it as going to hurt to get hit by a train, more than would seem possible. Suddenly I felt someone grabbing my hand, it was Stan, my mind was so focused on my son running towards that train, that Stan and his son weren't even in my conscious mind. He grabbed my arm and threw me off the bridge, then jumped himself.
I landed below on a rock, on that same knee that had already been broken from a spike in the railroad tracks. I later figured out that's why I couldn't stand up on that track to grab my son, my kneecap was broken. I was to focused on my son about to be hit by a train to even feel the pain..
AS I was lying there in extreme pain, the train conductor had stopped the train at the other end of the bridge and was yelling and screaming at us. When he was done yelling and screaming he left.
Here's the funny thing that happened in all of this. As I was laying there in extreme pain, I kept saying "I thought it was a REAL train" - "I thought it was a REAL train" It was 'only' an engine, 2 cars and another engine in the back. Stan is saying, there really isn't much difference between getting hit by 20 tons and 200 tons. But at the time I was just thinking had I known it wasn't a "real train' - with dozens of cars - I wouldn't have panicked as bad.
So then I tell Stan my knee is broken. He feels my knee and says no. I say yes my knee is broken. Brilliant Stan says I used to be a ??? physical therapist (or something like that) and I can assure you it's not broken. Since I was 400 miles from home and needed to be able to drive, I figured I better 'walk it off' then. So I tried to stand with his aid, the next thing I know I'm 'coming to" He says I fainted. I ask him to help me stand because I had to be able to walk or I'd never make it back home. I try to stand again and again I passed out from the pain. Brilliant Stan is still convinced my knee is not broken and he knew his stuff.
I was not convinced my knee was not broken, but clearly I couldn't walk or drive. So I took him up on his offer to go to his place till it 'got better' I can't even describe the pain I was in as he carried me from that spot to his car. It's a pain so unbearable I was feeling like vomiting and things were spinning around me. That few minutes it took to get from that spot at the river and his car, was the longest few minutes of my life.
Finally we get to this strangers house and he lays me on his bed. He grabs a pair of sizzors and cuts my pant leg up the side to take a look at my 'bruised' knee. Before he even got above my knee with his cutting my knee which had been held in place by my very tight jeans, blew up to over double it's normal size. Brilliant Stan says "oh fuck, I better call an ambulance, I might have been wrong about it not being broken"
While we were waiting for the ambulance to arrive, Brilliant Stan is on the fone with a friend joking about his new strategy of getting hot girls into his bed. (This won't be the last time he jokes about this.) While I was laying there in such unbearable pain that I was wishing the train had hit me, he was laughing and making jokes to his friends.
This incident changed the entire trajectory of my entire future. And Brilliant Stan plays a huge part in costing me what might have been the relationship of a lifetime later due to his lies.
So many things happened in my life as a result of this incident, but this is a WU not a book, so will have to close this story with just one of them. My son, the day after the incident, drew a picture of the entire series of events, in detail even including the fish in the water down below. Since I figured out within a few days that I was going to be getting asked non stop for the next several months "How did you break your leg" - I had an professional artist copy my son's drawing onto my pink and white candy cane striped cast. Made telling the story much more interesting and visual to all those who asked.