♪ Somewhere on the wrong side of the Rainbow… ♫

Pictures, Trucking

weatherThere’s no place like home [click click]…there’s no place like home [click click]…there’s no place like home [click click]…
Darn. Well, that didn’t work (friggin’ converse shoes…) so here I am in the flattest state of all, and I thought I was off to see the wonderful mechanic of Fontana, in the Emerald truck yard (in my emerald truck!) with my cat To- er, I mean Bowie…but anyways, it looks like I am going to be here for a while; and by here I mean this:

Phone photo0221 

Yeah. I am not moving in this picture. In fact I am still not moving as I write this. I have not moved since last night. I used to say I was a “middle of the road” kinda guy but this is ridiculous. There was a snow rescue crew out here earlier who asked if we wanted to be taken into town, but I and the driver ahead of me declined as it is generally company policy to stay with your load, besides which I have the added problem of a battery that won’t last more than a couple hours with the truck shut off. Now however, it occurs to me that I am low on fuel (I am 4 miles away from my fuel stop) so I won’t be able to idle my truck much longer…I wonder how long it will be before I can move again? To be continued…

Adventure of the Haunted Copper Mine

Pictures, Travel, Trucking

hauntedmine

This is by far the spookiest place I have ever visited in my travels, and definitely the spookiest place I have  ever had to spend the night. At the end of a long winding dirt road that lead me far from the beaten path in the back hills of Montana, I arrived at my assigned destination. To say the place is “remote” would be a drastic understatement. It was the dead of night when I arrived, and only the stars and a waning moon lit the cluster of abandoned and dilapidated buildings that must have been the original copper mine. The buildings look very old. The one pictured above was the largest of the buildings and happened to be the one I parked next to. I managed to get that shot using a 15 second exposure and then lightening it up a bit more in Photoshop. Even as I type this I can hear the wind howl softly and the building next to me creak, whine, and moan as if shifting in its sleep. I hope it doesn’t wake up. Out of sight of any town, with no cell phone or internet reception, with not even the faint glimmer of a city or highway on the horizon, I think it’s safe to say I am thoroughly spooked, and those who know me well know I don’t believe in spooks of any kind. Fortunately there is another Interstate truck here to keep me company and make me feel that I am at least not alone. It should be an interesting night. I can’t wait until morning.

Waffle House, USA

Pictures

Day 5 (side note)
This is the Waffle House I ate at almost 10 years ago while on tour with the band Plankeye. It was the first, and likely the last, time I ever ate at a Waffle house. I remember seeing these places as a kid whenever my dad and step-mom, Patty, took us on summer vaction to see her parents in Ohio. I remember asking my dad if we could stop at one along the way – the big sign with each letter in it’s own big yellow square W-A-F-F-L-E-H-O-U-S-E always looked so apealing to me. Just seeing it made me think, “Man – I bet that place makes some incredible waffles. My dad always assured me that this was not the case, which is why we never stopped there, and probably why I chose to visit the place years later. I don’t remember exactly what the waffles tasted like, or if I even ordered waffles for that matter, but I do remember that my general impression of the place was that it was a few rungs down the later from Denny’s as far as breakfast establishments go…somewhere near Winchel’s…anyhow it was a landmark in my life, and seeing it in person nearly 10 years later when I least expected it (I wouldn’t have been able to find it even if I’d tried) was very nostalgic.

Goodbye Tenesse, Hello Washington

Pictures

Day 5
Today was my last day here in Lebanon, TN and as beautiful as this place is, I am definitely ready to leave. As my trianer, Wilbur, said, “the’s crazy people everywha’, it’s jus’ a diffrent koind a’ crazy.” Though I have grown quite used to the kind of crazy people I meet in Southern California, the kind of crazy that are out here kinda freak me out just a little bit. Luckily, none of the people I have had to deal with directly are crazy. Wilbur, my trainer, was one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever met. Though we came from opposite worlds he treated me with respect, and was always friendly even when correcting me. Alot of the people here were quite hospitable. I should, however, explain to my fellow Californians that Southern Hospitality is very different from our own brand. Allow me to make a comparison:
Southern=”Here! Have some candy!”
Californian=INNER MONOLOGUE:”I might offer you some candy if it looks like you want some otherwise I will leave you alone”
Note the use of the imparative versus the subjunctive. In Southern hospitality, your acceptance of the gift and gratitude is assumed. WARNING: do not refuse the gift. Don’t even hesitate. Smile broadly and say “Thank you!” Anything less could get you into trouble or at least mark you as being very rude. Enough said. Moving on…
My training here in Lebanon was great. One-on-one training with patient, courteous, experienced (10 years minimum, though I think Wilbur had more like 50) instructors who taught us good practical habits and techniques. By all acounts this was the best training I will get. The next phase of my training will be “over-the-road” or actual cross country hauling of real freight with an Over-the-road trainer. By all accounts, over-the-road trainers are a cantankerous, ill-tempered, unaccountable bunch, and from what I have seen with my own eyes, I believe it…and I tremble. Poor Don. My classmate from Colorado met his OTR trainer yesterday. A ornery looking round, white-bearded man sporting a stars-and-stripes bandana on his head (the kind that are tailored specifically to be worn this way), he briefly introduced himself before questioning him about how much luggage he was bringing, and what kind of “sleeping aparatus” he used and then warned him about the nervous chihuahua that he kept in his truck. He then proceded to tell Don what a horrible student his last one was and how he eventually kicked him out of the driver seat and declared his training over. According to others who heard the other side of the story however, it was the student who elected to end his training with this guy because of innapropriate racial comments among other things. Good luck Don! I really hope he makes it through. All he has to do is log 200 hours with this guy and come back to finish his orientation, but it looks like it might be a little rough. Don is also one of the nicest guys I’ve met, and I really hope this guy doesn’t make his life too miseralbe for the next month or so.
As for me, I’m off to Washington. Tomorrow I fly out of Nashville, TN, make a layover stop in Chicago, and then on to Seattle, WA where I will meet a shuttle that will drive me the rest of the way to Tacoma,WA. There I will meet my OTR trainer. I am hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. These trainers are mostly unsupervised and the stories I keep hearing are not encouraging. Either way, 200 hours which will be over in maybe a month, and then I get my own truck!
There is definitely light at the end, so I will press on. Overall, this has been a great adventure so far and I keep forgetting that it’s actually a job. It’s a long and sometimes hard road, but the scenery along the way is well worth it. I am glad I did this. Wish me luck!

The Big Change

Pictures

How many clean slates is this now? It seems like I end up with a clean slate every few years. I dunno. Maybe it’s a syndrome. Either way here I am with my worldly posessions back down to what I can fit in my luggage. Everything else has been either sold, given away, or just left behind. But the future holds some hope. Truck driving. A new life. A new job. A chance to pay off my debt, maybe even save up some money and start over. I am still doing music whenever I can. I still have that dream about buying a house in Fullerton someday. Who knows. Life seldom gives us what we want (or think we want), but it is what it is. Striving is good so long as you recognize the reward once you get it, and let yourself enjoy it even in all it’s inperfections. And then sometimes you don’t get a reward. It it what it is. Try to enjoy it.