Well, here I am in Lewiston, Idaho the night before day-one of a 23-day training class to earn my Class “A” Commercial Drivers License for employment with Swift Transportation.
The drive from Yakima was casual and beautiful. While passing through the Tri-Cities I get directions from a customer in a FedEx office. He says I just rode that highway on my motorcycle last weekend, you’ll love it, it’s a great ride. He was right.
The landscape changes along the way from the Columbia River through those fruited plains we all remember singing about as school kids. Along a curving and occasionally slightly climbing road I pass a number of historic markers and reminders that the route follows “The Lewis and Clark Trail.”
Along eastbound Washington highways 124 and 12 joining Pasco of the Tri-Cities with my destination there are beautiful farms and cattle grazing along the road and, in some places, scattered high among the rolling green hills in the distance. There are a number of small towns along the way I’d never heard of. This is all new road for me and hopefully just the beginning of many thousands of the same to come. There are towns like “Starbuck,” “Pomeroy” and “Dayton.” Visit Dayton a large sign says. Lewis and Clark did!
Eventually I’m driving along rugged mountainous cliffs beside the Lower Granite Lake. Here the two-lane turns into four and a short distance away is Clarkston. Good bye Washington state because just across the Snake River is Lewiston. My home for the next three-plus weeks.
On arrival this evening at about 7:15 at the motel I’m told that I have a roommate, but he’s not in the room right now. The attendant asks, “Are you from Idaho. ”No,“ I reply ”I’m from Yakima, Washington.“ She hands me an Idaho drivers handbook and say’s, ”You’ll have a test tomorrow. The shuttle to take you to the school will arrive here at 4:45 a.m.“ The room has wireless Internet but the woman says, ”The signals bad because of the winds.“
The motels a little ratty, and not as nice as what I had expected. When climbing the stairs to my room the smell reminds me of those days of the early 70’s when I was a newly graduated-from-Basic Air Force Airman, arriving at my first tech school in Illinois. There are the same old thoughts and apprehension of being away from family and friends in a new town while embarking on a new career that will no doubt change my life in ways that I can only imagine.
A quick check of my room and I leave a few items behind and head out to McDonald’s for a bite to eat. Then a little exploration of the city stopping off at the local Staples for a notebook and pens for tomorrows class. When I get back I meet my roommate. He’s a 44 year old self-proclaimed ”redneck“ from somewhere called ”Montana.“ We stayed up way too late than we should have, visiting and getting to know one another. Lucky for me he’s a good fit for the days ahead.
Eventually we “turn in” as our alarms, and a wake up call, are all set to go off at 4:00 a.m. to meet our shuttle to the training academy at 4:45.
Finally a warm bed to sleep in!