2 week road trip - part 3
For those of you who have just tuned in. This is part 3 of my trip to Califronia (and back)
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Parts 1 and 2
- 2 week road trip - part 2
For those of you who are just starting this story, in order to understand you might want to start at the beginning. The bad part about going up a mountain is having to come down again. The roads snow...
- 2 week road trip - part 1 (Heading to California)
This summer was to be my summer, I was going to start riding with my husband in his truck. Ive spent my entire adult life raising children and the last one was graduating in June. He has about 10 more...
In the morning we decided to get the truck washed, there was a place right next to the Pilot that offered hand washing for $40, that’s not a bad deal when washing a dirty truck! The ’movie man’ was making his rounds in the truck stop as well, so we bought a few movies from him. Normally they are $5 a piece but when I bought 4 he threw in the 5th for free.
We made our appointment at the designated time to Albertson‘s, but they weren’t ready for us. So we sat for the next 5 hours, waiting. Lucky for me I had a movie to watch while my husband polished his wheels. He had plenty of offers to polish other trucks, as drivers passed by appreciating his work. When he has ‘down time’ he likes to keep his truck looking nice, cleaning it inside and out.
This is the hard part about being a Truck Driver, the hurry up and wait. With the ‘hours of service’ the way they are, once you begin your day, it goes 14 hours from that time. Of those 14 hours you are only allowed to drive 11, so if you have to sit for 4 - 6 hours, you aren’t making any money. The shippers and receivers get paid an hourly wage, they don’t care if you’re not earning. You can’t get dispatched to your next run until you’re unloaded, my husband’s company closes their office at 6 pm EST, so we were nearing the cut off time. If we didn’t get unloaded soon we’d have to sit the weekend in Phoenix. Not that Phoenix is a bad place or anything, but truly, who wants to sit in a truck the entire weekend when you could be seeing the sights? We finally got the call to pick up our next load in Gilbert, AZ for Wichita, KS. This was Friday, the load delivered on Wednesday, that was so entirely dumb, it was only 1082 miles.
Lucky for me our pick up was at a Walmart, so I could do a bit of shopping! I picked up a pair of shoes and a few necessities. I had to get a cactus for my friend, she was waiting impatiently for me to tell her (via the phone) that I had a cactus for her, so I picked one up at Walmart! By the time we could actually leave the furthest we could get was to Flagstaff, AZ. So we had spent a whole day for 169 miles. We found a Pilot and got some sleep.
The next day we were up bright and early on our way. Of course when we seen the signs we had to stop in Winslow, AZ! The song made it famous I guess. Take it Easy - The Eagles, now that song was on my mind! We stopped at a Denny’s and had breakfast. Of course I got some red dirt/sand for my friend there. On the outskirts of the Petrified National Forest, we were able to stop. Finally someone offered Truck parking! It was a little out of the way place with tons of cool stuff, they even had an Ostrich Farm. So of course I had to go in to look around. There were fossilized Crocodile skulls and all sorts of neat things, they had very large Desert Roses. I ended up buying a very pretty purple quartz rock, cut in half to see the inner workings.
Nearing New Mexico
As we neared New Mexico I noticed some new cactus's, these were different and they sure looked soft. I just had to touch one! Longingly I looked out the windows waiting for a spot to pull over so I could just ‘see’ one up close. We entered New Mexico and had some new things to look at. I passed thru the Continental Divide, again, the first time being in Wyoming. We passed through a Volcano Forest, I’m not exactly sure where we were, since there weren’t a whole lot of signs. We passed a hotel/casino where Bret Michaels was supposed to be, come to find out he ended up in the hospital that weekend. We were finally able to stop so I could see one of these ‘fluffy’ cactus's. Nope not fluffy, but I did get a piece of one to bring home. And of course it stuck to my hubby’s finger when he picked it for me. After that he told me if I wanted anymore I’d have to get them myself, after all it was only fair he had dozens of pickers in his fingers.
We made a ‘right turn’ at Albuquerque, and headed toward Texas (Ok, so I’m a Bugs Bunny fan). To me it seemed as though New Mexico was a very poor State, I seen some things that I have never seen before. Tires on top of roofs, now that one I couldn’t figure out. I did see live stock in peoples yards, handy. The trains were miles and miles long, if you thought waiting 10 minutes for a train was bad, you should come out west!
There were some beautiful mountains, I can’t remember the name of this one, it was like windows were cut out of the sides. Amazing to see! This trip was just getting better and better all the time!
YAY, no phone service!
Since we took route 54 in Tucumcari, NM we were on some serious back roads. We did stop at the Texas border and took our picture next to the Texas shaped rock there. The phone service was next to none in this area, which was just fine with me since the kids kept calling and asking when we would be home. I’d already had to send them money via money gram at Walmart in Phoenix. My youngest daughter was still in school so yes, I was responsible for her food intake. My oldest daughter had come to stay at the house and help out, but from what I was hearing it wasn’t quite working as I had planned. 3 girls all 20 and under… not good.
The cactus’s had gone, there were no more to look at, now there was Yucca. Since I didn’t have a shovel I knew there was no way I was getting one of those! I would just have to let my eyes take in the wonder of it all.
Don't roll your window down!
We came upon the biggest cattle farm I had ever seen in my life! Cows as far as the eyes could see, on both sides of the road. I needed a good picture of these, so without thinking I rolled down the window. In the process I had given my husband the biggest ‘Dutch oven’ he had ever gotten! He tried rolling up the window immediately but he wasn’t quick enough, the smell permeated the entire truck. Oops. Just shortly after this cattle farm we hit a bug wall, I thought it was beginning to rain though there were no clouds. I had to actually look, it was amazing! I didn’t know bugs congregated like this!
It wasn’t very long before we were out of Texas and in Oklahoma. We did get caught by one of those 5 mile trains along the way. It happens when you’re off the ‘beaten path’. Before long we were in Kansas, heading toward Wichita.
Life of a Trucker - Hurry up and wait
We came upon the town of Greensburg, KS. There is a couple of interesting little tidbits of information I gleaned from the signs. It has the largest hand dug well in the World, and in 2007 it was hit by a F5 tornado. Most of the town (95%) was destroyed in this, the new buildings are beautiful and they are ‘going green’. With the comments on the signs that I viewed these people seem to be very resilient and ‘hardy’ folks who won’t let a tornado stop them!
We arrived on the outskirts of Wichita and stopped at an old truck stop (Phillips 66) that had definitely seen better days. Our appointment wasn’t until Wednesday and this was Monday. We could not see waiting 2 days here, so we drove to the Walmart distribution center with the hopes that they would off load us. The guard turned us away, as we knew he would, that is standard practice with them. My husband decided to call his work to have them help him get off loaded. We only had to wait a short time before the call came, yes, they would take us.
Once we were off loaded we went back to sit at the truck stop to wait for another call to tell us where we were going. This took a few hours, finally the call came that we were to pick up in Topeka, Kansas for Kankakee, Illinois. We had just enough time to drive to Emporia, Kansas before his drive time was up for the day.
Emporia - Truck Stop
Since this wasn’t a Pilot Truck stop we didn’t have any shower ‘ticket’s available. When a truck driver fuels he is issued a free shower, which comes in handy since they run between 7 and 10 dollars depending on the Truck Stop. I needed to wash some clothes and the facilities were there so I utilized them. While I was doing my laundry a lady, her daughter and kitten came in with what looked like all of her belongings. In my world of strange thoughts, I figured her husband must have kicked her out of his truck to find her own way home. In actuality she had hit a turkey and wrecked her car.
A nice gentleman who was also spending his time off there gave us one of his showers. He couldn’t wait for the day his wife would travel with him! We decided to eat at this restaurant, now this was some GOOD food! Both of us decided to have chicken fried steak, I only had half an order and it was more than I could eat.
When sitting at a Truck stop you can see some of the strangest behaviors. An older man decided to have some ‘naked’ time and thought he would share! He was standing up in full view of his window stark naked showin’ his stuff. My husband tells me this is quite common in the trucking industry.
Sad - Going home...
Since we were headed in the direction of home I knew my time of freedom was almost up and begun to feel a bit sad. I was enjoying myself immensely and didn’t want to go home. We made a few more stops along our way, yet my joy seemed to dissipated the closer I got to home. It wasn’t until we hit the Michigan border that I actually felt joy again. My beautiful State! I had seen so many different things on my trip, many different plants, not many animals (as I had hoped) but coming home! Oh the trees! Even the smell was different, it smelled fresh, smelled like…. Home.
What I learned
I learned a few things on my trip:
1. Each new place has something wonderful to offer.
2. There are nice people wherever you go, provided you are nice they will be too.
3. It’s hard to find a parking spot if you’re in a Big Truck.
4. People like to talk on the phone while driving, sometimes being dangerous when doing so.
5. There are over 300 ‘death markers’ on the road between Phoenix and my home (On my side of the road) One dating back to 1967.
6. People in small towns are resilient.
7. I should keep my eyes open when going down hill, I’ll never know what I miss.
8. Some people just shouldn’t cook.
9. Just because a cactus ‘looks’ fluffy doesn’t mean it is.
10. Pilot makes the BEST coffee on the road.
Take the time to visit your state look around and see what new stuff you can discover!!