As you can tell I haven’t had a lot of time to correspond via the Internet. Save a few minutes at a small Truck Stop with free Wi-Fi in Montana I’ve had no way, nor really the time, to post anything. I’m not sure that this will change very much while on the road with my mentor for the remaining five weeks. But after a five-day, 4400 mile round trip to Chicago and Terre Haute, Indiana I’m back in Lewiston, Idaho having returned at 5:00 this morning. We’ll have a couple of days off until we hit the road again on Saturday morning. Time to get better organized, a haircut, and do my laundry etc.
It’s been a whirlwind experience to say the least, and I’ve learned a lot on this first trip. Except for once again having to learn a new shifting technique, driving this monster truck has been fairly easy-going. To give you an idea just how big these trucks are, I can walk beneath the side view mirror, with the bottom just barely clearing my head, and I’m 6’ 1“ tall!
My mentor tells me I am the best student driver he’s had, due in no small measure to my experience driving transit buses both on the freeways and streets of Seattle. It’s just as I told him, “I’m a driving fool!” He was actually able to go to sleep and leave me on my own while I put in my time behind the wheel our first night out.
So far, in the past five days I’ve logged 45 1/2 hours of driving time covering, behind the wheel, a distance of 2413 miles. Along the way I’ve seen three states I’ve never visited before (North Dakota, Minnesota & Wisconsin). In addition I’ve revisited several I hadn’t seen for more than 20 years, reminding me of my days in the Air Force and later in television. We ventured past places like Missoula and Billings, Montana then on to Bismark and Fargo, North Dakota with St. Cloud and St. Paul, Minnesota not far beyond. We then made our way through La Crosse and Madison, Wisconsin. Eventually we reached Rockford and later Chicago, Illinois arriving there at noon on Monday. After dropping off our load, originating right here in Lewiston, we ventured further south through Kankakee and Danville, Illinois (the boyhood home of comediene Dick Van Dyke), and finally crossing into Indiana bypassing Indianapolis and then on to Greensburg and Terra Haute. While passing through Illinois we saw a sudden but brief change in the weather. There was heavy swirling winds and near zero visibility that made us wonder whether there was a tornado close-by. Then in Indiana we saw the aftermath of an accident involving a semi truck that rear-ended another losing it’s load along the roadside.
I’ve learned I have a lot to learn when it comes to ”real-world“ backing up into docks, especially when you have to back between two other trailers with less than two feet to spare on both sides! Not only that a real trucker, I’ve found out, can back up bending either to his ”sighted“ (or drivers) side or on the opposite ”blind side“ No Way! Not ”yet“ for me anyway.
Now that I’m back in Lewiston I’ll be staying in the truck where I’ll wile away my time and spend my nights sleeping in the upper bunk. My mentor has gone home, some 45 minutes away, and has left the truck here at the Lewiston terminal so I’ll have a place in air conditioned comfort to stay. Better rest and catch up for the week ahead! No idea where we’ll be going but as a dedicated driver it’s likely we’ll be making similar trips to the same areas over the next five more weeks.
Finally, the best sign seen on this trip … ”Rattlesnakes Observed in Area. Please Stay on Sidewalks“ (At a rest area in North Dakota)