Sunday, March 22, 2009


Finally!!!! Decent weather to ride a motorcycle!!! And ride I did, yesterday, almost all day long, making up for weeks of crappy, cold-ass weather and being stuck away from home. I went everywhere -- visited my friends at the Harley shop, rode out into God's Country on the twisty two-lanes that I love on a bike and visited my aunt and uncle for the first time since Christmas. My uncle got some good shots of me and Miss Velvet, but he hasn't send them to me yet, due to an AOL malfunction. I told him that those kinds of malfunctions were why I drop-kicked AOHell last year. He will send them ASAP and then I'll finally have a recent pic of my ugly mug to put on my Facebook profile page, instead of a five year old self-portrait. Laughed myself silly at my aunt, who was all steamed up over their rooster, who has aggressive sexual designs on the chickens out there. That's what roosters DO, I told her, they make baby chickens! It's their nature to be constantly horny.

After leaving there, I rode back into town via a different route and visited my favorite watering hole and "adult daycare center," Coyote Joe's. The usual gang was all there, but Susan, my favorite barmaid, was off for the evening. I missed talking to her, but she'll be back the next time I visit, I suppose. Actually, Coyote Joe's is part of a two-bar operation. The Chrome Pony Lounge is a sister bar and grill, located in a different part of town, and the Coyote and Pony gals rotate back and forth between the two all the time. After having a delicious tenderloin sandwich (one of their specialties), fries, and washing it down with a brew or three, I left before the band started up, not wanting the spend the money for a cover charge.

Fired Velvet up and rode away into the night, blasting the surrounding neighborhood with the rumble of Velvet's Harley pipes. And took my first biker bath of the year. I don't think I had gone a block before a rain shower hit me. Riding a bike in the rain is an experience unlike anything you've ever done before. Especially when some knucklehead like Yours Truly once again neglects to wear his leather chaps. The cars ahead of you kick up rooster tails of spray and the safest place to ride on a bike is right in the middle of the tracks those tires in front of you leave in the road. That minimizes the risk of hydroplaning, because the leading car has plowed 80% of the water out of your path. However, riding in that position also subjects you to the full force of that spray. I was wearing my leather jacket, of course, but nothing but my jeans around my legs. My pant legs were soaking wet within a minute or two. I got shivery quickly, because the wind chill you naturally create when you're moving makes wet denim become very clammy in a heartbeat. And it was windy out anyway. Thought it would blow me into the ditch a couple of times.

There are no windshield wipers on a crash helmet, of course, but when you're moving in the windstream, it tends to blow the water off of your face shield, enabling you to see very well, unless you're caught in a major storm. In that case, it's best to find somewhere dry to pull over and wait until it slacks up. But it's when you're stopped that the water obscures your vision and drips off your chin. And when you start out again, it takes a minute or so for your shield to clear again. I almost rode right over the top of a car in front of me, which was accelerating slower than my Big Truck with a 40,000 pound load in the caboose. Fortunately, disc brakes work far better in the wet than the old drum brakes of yesteryear did and I avoided that nasty situation. I made it home, soaked, fishtailed in my driveway a little, but got it back into my garage unscathed. I wiped Velvet down before I went upstairs, not wanting to ride her, then put her up wet. Got out of my waterlogged jeans and hit the shower. At least that water was warm. But in spite of Nature's Bath, it was still a fun day on my bike.

It wasn't nearly so much fun trucking last week, but it was comical at times. A crazy, insane week in which nearly everything went wrong. I drew a three-stopper early in the week, which ended up in Rockford, Illinois, just south of the Wisconsin line, and about 80 miles west of Chicago. The two intermediate stops were miles apart, both in Indiana, at opposite ends of the state. But I got them off uneventfully. It was when I got to Rockford that my trouble began. It is March -- spring -- and the orange road construction barrels are blooming out like the trees soon will. I-90, which runs through Rockford is, to put it mildly, a Major Mess. It's one of those "Rip Up Pavement -- Rebuild Road" kind of projects, which goes on and on and on and on and on, forever and a day. The first thing I noticed was that they had my exit ramp closed, as in "blocked off." Barricaded. Inaccessible. Etc. Well, now ain't that just fine and dandy?? Boy, howdy!! So now whaddahell do I do?? Keep going, that's what. There's no other choice, actually.

I went five miles further west, to the next exit. I noticed on the way that eastbound traffic was exiting where I needed to go, meaning they only had the ramp closed in one direction. Cool! I'd just get off ahead, make two left turns, and get back on the interstate heading back the way I'd come. Or so I thought, anyway. No such luck. When I got off, I found that they had the eastbound
entrance ramp shut down on that exit!!!! [EXPLETIVES DELETED] This is a family blog, after all, but suffice it to say that I was NOT a happy camper at that moment in time. Twenty minutes to make my delivery on time and I was lost in Rockford. GRRRRRRRR!!!

Fortunately, I have an incredibly good sense of direction. You'd BETTER have that gift, if you want to drive a truck -- if you don't, you'll never survive in my business. I knew that if I could find the right major intersection, and turn left, or south, that the road *might* just bring me back out on the U.S. 20 bypass, which was where I needed to be, but had been denied access to because of the consucksion project (so-called because it
sucks!) I proceeded south. One light, two lights, three lights, and at the fourth one, hit a 'T' intersection. Flip a coin. Turn which way?? Hmmmmmm. Turned right. One light, two, three, four, five -- no bypass signs appeared. Made a left turn at the sixth light, another major-looking intersection. And bingo!!! The bypass was right there, a block and half away. Now, was I already past the exit off the bypass I wanted, or was it still ahead of me?? Again, which direction did I want to go on the bypass? Decision time; traffic is getting restless behind my big 70-foot-long ass. A couple of horns sounded a reminder. "Up yours!!" said your Dawg. "If you think you're BIG enough, why don't you try MOVING me??!!" I went west. Lucked out. My exit appeared about a mile down the road. Found the place with 45 seconds to spare. "Last Minute Larry" has arrived!!! It was a drop and hook place, so I was in and out of there in about a half-hour.

Deadheaded 140 miles southwest to Mossville, IL, to pick up a load of engines bound for South Carolina, the same crossdock where I had started the week. Starting to feel like a yo-yo, but at least I'm making money again. Not many hours left after my pickup, but I made it as far as Le Roy, IL (yes, the town is actually named that) and a little mom 'n pop truckstop, where I had the buffet dinner. Really good Swiss steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, and two biscuits. Yummy! Then I took some medication for the stinking, rotten cold I've had for seemingly three or four years now. I drank part of a soda, while I waited for the Nyquil to hit me. It did, with a vengeance. I got groggy and went to bed. Woke up early, clear-headed and cough-free, for a change and couldn't find my cellphone -- a vital neccessity for text-messaging trucker pals, calling girlfriends, etc. I nearly tore my damned truck apart -- no phone. Where the hell did I put it?? Double-GRRRRRRRRR! Am I losing my ever-loving MIND???!!! Sighhhhhh. Put it down to a "senior moment," aka "premature Alzheimers. " Started up and drove away. Damned thing has GOT to be in THIS TRUCK somewhere, but I had to boogie. Got a long way to go. I motored east to Indy, then south.

I was outside Corbin, Kentucky when I finally found my elusive phone -- in the top tray of my electric cooler, of all places!!!! I pieced together what I remembered of the previous evening. When the Nyquil hit my brain, I got so spaced-out that I had carried my phone back into the sleeper with me and when I put the rest of my soda in the cooler, so it would stay cold, I had taken the phone with me, set it down on the top tray and was so zonked that I forgot about it completely!! I turned it on and the message ringtone sounded for a half-hour, seems like. My trucker pal, Brian, had been busy. Yep, about 20 messages from him and a couple from my favorite gal. Well, no time now -- gotta roll. Can't be late with a load going to our best customer.
Motored on and arrived about a half-hour early and totally out of hours. Load didn't pick up till Friday afternoon, so I had plenty of time to rest, catch up with Brian and talk to my sweetheart. The load brought me home for a long weekend. I don't leave out until Monday, when I'll head for the Detroit area with my load.

So that was my week. How was yours?


M88 said...

Hey I got a stupid question. Whats the best thing a 4 wheeler can do when driving around a truck? When I pass a truck I really try to get past it I don't stay in the blind spots and I don't get in front and slam on the breaks either. However as far as letting trucks over earlier last week I drove down I-75 in Ohio south of Toledo and I was in the left lane and US Food Service was in the right and I was right at his back door but if he needed to get in he could have. Another truck was getting on and US Food Service wanted to move over to the my lane and I saw him put on his left signal and then turn it off because I don't think he thought I was going to let him in so I backed off and flashed my high beams to let him in and he was able to get in and the other truck was able to get on. I mean I guess did I do the right thing? I could understand him thinking I was not going to let him I felt bad for making him think that I was not going to let him in.

Dirk said...

45 seconds to spare???? Someone was practically standing there with a stopwatch! Glad you made it though - some of that traffic routing planning sounds kind of like Georgia DOT planning.


Jimbobd421 said...

You did the right thing.