I told Gary I was going to steal his idea for a category on my blog, and he said "feel free". The events of this past week are going to make up what will be the first of my Not Really A Trucker installments. I plan on having many.
Last week we dropped our load in Washington state, near Port Townsend. Our next load was picking up a few days later at NOAA in Newport, Oregon, approximately 325 miles south of us. Because we had the extra time, I wanted to snake our way around the Olympic Peninsula - a temperate rainforest - through Forks (where the story in the Twilight books are set), and then down the Oregon coast. As we made our plans and I shared them with Marlaina, I discovered we were going to be on the same exact run. The excitement cranked up a notch learning that information. We'd all be running across the country together!
After riding through beautiful lush forests and along the banks of Lake Crescent, we met up with them just south of Aberdeen, Washington where we had dinner at Slater's Diner. It was a surprisingly good meal for a diner in a tiny coastal town that didn't seem to have much else going on other than a whole lot of logging.
After dinner we walked back to our trucks and while Marlaina and I chatted in the sleeper, the boys raced Formula 1 on the computer in the trailer. This photo was taken by MacGyver of Life With No Fixed Address. He took a break from racing to snap this classic Not Really A Trucker moment - Marlaina and I are looking on from inside the sleeper.
A few times while the boys were enjoying the games in the trailer and us girls were talking in the sleeper, we saw a local police cruiser stopped on the opposite side of the street, sitting in a position that looked as if he were intently watching the happenings of our two trucks parked side-by-side. It was late, the town was quiet, and we seemed to be having a bit too much fun - I even served the boys hot coffee across the catwalk - I'm sure he was perplexed. Or trying to figure out what kind of ticket he could write. Is it against FMCSA regulations to have fun while trucking?
The next morning we left and moseyed down the gorgeous Oregon coast. Through Willapa Bay famous for its oysters, through Tillamook where we took a tour of the cheese factory, and down to Depoe Bay where we planned to spend the night at the Boiler Bay Scenic Viewpoint - if there was room.
Ed and I assured our traveling friends that we'd find a spot no matter where we landed, easing the mind of Marlaina, whose biggest concern while trucking seems to be parking and peeing. We were confident we could handle both of those concerns. Everything worked in our favor since we got there to find plenty of available parking and the Roasted Pork Loin was ready to come out of the oven. I paired it with mashed potatoes and sautéed green beans as I watched the fog rolling in from my kitchen window.
The next day we drove leisurely through the morning fog to pick up our load. We arrived as the morning sun lit the sky, exiting U.S. 101 and winding around under the Yaquina Bay Bridge, heading down Marine Drive into the NOAA Marine Operations Center, Pacific.
Our freight for this trip would be equipment from the Ronald H.Brown, a state-of-the-art oceanographic and atmospheric research platform, the largest vessel in the NOAA fleet. The ship was docked at the far end of this marina - it's the largest ship you can see, on the left side of the photo.
The equipment belonged to Jason, an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle), and we were taking it back to WHOI, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. There were a few other trucks in addition to us, and we all lined up to get ready for loading. Ed and MacGyver hung out with the other truckers, chatting and swapping information and stories, and Marlaina hung out in the truck with me while I made breakfast. We were having Kodiak Cakes, eggs, bacon and country-style skillet potatoes.
They loaded each of us on the dock next to the NOAA vessel.
Using a crane, they moved the containers and equipment from the ship onto the trucks. The riggers and crew loved our Conestoga trailers, stating that although the freight didn't necessarily need to be covered, they liked that it was. No road schmutz, etc. The actual term they used to describe our curtainside trailers? "The shit".
Here you'll see one of the riggers climbing up to release the straps from the corners of the first container.
The loading took most of the day and as lunch approached I was busy in the truck getting pork loin leftovers together when Ed called and told me we were all invited to have lunch on the ship. At first I didn't think I wanted to go but was quickly persuaded. When else would I have a chance to be on a vessel like this?
The crew was casual and welcoming. There weren't a lot of rules, we didn't have to don special equipment, and we were allowed to take as many photos as we wanted which is unusual at government facilities. Here's another shot by MacGyver of Marlaina and I peppering the cooks with a million questions about their experience on the ship.
The guy we're talking to was former Navy - retired after a twenty-one year career - who's been on this vessel for the last seven. He seemed surprised we were truck drivers. He was asking us almost as many questions as we asked him.
There was a sign in the dining area warning of limited seating, urging diners to eat quickly and leave, so we did. But not before grabbing a Fudgesicle on the way out. What a fun experience!
After lunch, the boys finished loading while Marlaina and I stood on the dock watching catamarans go by as the sea lions barked in the background.
Next we'd be off to Woods Hole, where we were invited to go sailing on the WHOI Expedition Leader's 37-foot Hunter schooner if we arrived before they headed out to the waters of Cape Cod.
Why did I have a feeling we'd be traveling a wee bit above our normal fifty-eight mile per hour speed limit?
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2013: Paddling The Hudson
2012: Cue The Flying Monkeys
2011: Project Island Life
2010: Be Italian
2009: I’m Not Just In The Granny Lane Anymore
2008: Where Pretty Resides
2007: The Sweet Sight Of Summer
2006: You Oughta Be In Pictures
2005: Oh, Brother!