Sunday, June 30, 2013

Pitchin' Melon

I was standing at the kitchen window of the truck, eating sweet watermelon I had just put in a bowl, spearing each chunk with my fork as I watched these guys load the truck that was in line before us.

As I was watching them circle the crane and the truck that was being loaded, occasionally stopping to wipe their brows, it occurred to me how hot, and dusty, and hot it was out there, and how a nice cold piece of watermelon would probably be reeeallly refreshing to them right at that moment.  

So I quickly grabbed the half of the watermelon I had left in the fridge and sliced it into nice thick slices.  I piled them in a bowl and went traipsing out to the workers, leading with my outstretched hand, topped with glistening pink slices of the Fruit of the Gods.

You'd think I was handing out $100 bills.  They were thrilled

I made sure that everyone got a slice and even met the crane operator half-way - me on my tip-toes, him bending forward from the top of the crane - so he could get a slice.

I love doing this sort of thing.  These guys, and almost every guy I've ever encountered who works a manual labor job in extreme weather situations, appreciate anything you offer.  Hot coffee, cold drinks, juicy fruit. 

After I got back in the truck, I took this picture from the window.  The first truck had pulled out and it was our turn. 

And that's Ed in the foreground of the photo, throwing his watermelon rind over the nearby fence.

Time to get to work.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: As If The Heat, The Dust, And The Politics Weren’t Bad Enough
2011: My Office Window
2010: All The Live-long Day
2009: What Every Child Leaves Behind
2008: What Happened To Being Human?
2007: I’ve Been Everywhere, Man
2006: Gulf Shore Toe Magnets
2005: Sorry, no post on this day.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hey Cutie!

This is the closest we'll be all weekend.  We have a team load that left yesterday, that will require one of us to drive and the other sleep, all the way across the country. 

The only good thing about this is that the bed is all warmed up when it's my turn to get in it!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2012: I’ll Have To Pry It From Her Dead, Cold Fingers
2011: Straight Talk
2010: Who Knew There Were Things To Do Other Than Eating Pie?
2009: 157 Years Of Light
2008: Call Me. We Have Telephones In Nebraska Now.
2007: Reach For The Sky
2006: Sorry, no post on this day.
2005: Sorry, no post on this day.

Friday, June 28, 2013

When Summer Comes, The Countdown To Fall Begins

We were on Interstate-80 in Iowa and saw the backup before we crested the hill.  That's when Ed turned the CB on (we never keep it on) to see what was happening.  Something about a truck in the ditch, jokes about which company the driver worked for, which lane was open to get around it, and how long it was going to be before someone got out there to clean it up.
As we got closer, we saw a vehicle on its side.  The truck was in the ditch on the right.
It was a pickup truck pulling an RV.  Looked like a new RV, and that he was with one of those companies that delivered them.  The pickup was upright as you can see, but the area where it hooked together was twisted, and the RV was on the side, with the bottom ripped off.

My first comment was, "No doubt he was speeding."  People with RVs, whether they're driving them or delivering them, typically drive like mad.  You'll sometimes seem them weaving and wiggling as they change lanes, and they also tailgate.  They have no idea that they're not just driving their vehicle, they're pulling something behind it.
As we came around the overturned RV, there were these two smacked up cars.  I'd say they were probably speeding also.  Or weaving through traffic.  Or texting.  Or plain 'ol not paying attention.  Did I mention it was raining torrentially on and off?  We see this all the time, these people who are annoyed by slow-moving trucks, or are just in a big hurry - in the middle of nowhere Iowa?? - to go who knows where.  People who cut in front of you from two lanes over to get off an exit. 
And what gets me, is that the driver of the truck winds up in a ditch.  He's probably there because he did what any good truck driver would do - anything in their power to avoid slamming into three passenger vehicles.  He probably had nowhere to go and had to ditch it. 

What sucks about trucks getting in accidents with passenger vehicles - which contain people who are almost always out for a joy ride, or going to the store, or coming home from work, or taking their kids to the movies - is that when they get in an accident, the driver of the passenger car rarely has to worry about losing their jobs.

No matter what we do, especially now with the CSA in place, even when something isn't our fault, our livelihoods are in jeopardy.  And even when someone does the right thing, like veering to avoid a horrific accident, they often still face repercussions from their employer and others.

Granted, it may have been his fault, but statistics provided by the United States Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration report something all of us truck drivers already know...
When there's a collision between a big truck and a passenger vehicle, it's almost always the fault of the passenger vehicle

So while most people in the country are loving summer and the road trips that come with it, we live in a constant state of heightened awareness - more than usual - because there are so many more non-professional drivers on the road.

I'm counting the days until summer is over, kids are back in school, and the traffic is relegated to the morning and evening rush hours.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: Tough Choice: Scale Mountains Or Flip Channels
2011: Eyes On The Road
2010: When You Own, You Owe
2009: It’s Not The Nina, Pinta And Santa Maria
2008: One Word At A Time
2007: The Only Way It Could Have Been Better Would Be If It Came With A Side Of Fried Rice
2006: Wanna Sip Of My Jagermeister?
2005: Playing Favorites

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"License, Registration and Insurance Card, Please"

No, we're not getting pulled over.

We're merely checking in for a load at a military installation.  Usually the process is pretty quick, but at this place we waited in line for almost forty minutes just to get to the stop sign.

Before getting to the stop sign, at the first checkpoint, they have a mobile x-ray scanning unit drive up and down the line of the trucks while they're waiting in line.  They're nice enough to let you get out so you're not sprouting extra limbs as a result of absorbing too much radiation.

Then you drive to this building.  Once inside, they ask you to open all the doors to the storage boxes, the hood, the driver and passenger door, our bike box.  They do their little check and then give us the okay to proceed.

While they're checking the truck, you have to go in to the office where they take your paperwork (license, registration, insurance), put you in the computer, and print out a pass to be displayed on the dash while you're at the facility.  That took thirty minutes.

Then we drove to another building to get loaded.  We had to wait in line there too, as there were already five or six trucks ahead of us.

Once they know what's going on your vehicle, the process speeds up a bit.  All the vehicles and equipment have some sort of ID number, and are positioned around the storage facility in what seems to be a semi-organized fashion.  So they look at your paperwork, and match it up with the corresponding piece of equipment. 

Then they start loading.

Annnnddd...this is where I go take a nap until it's over.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2012: Welcome To Hell
2011: When She Passes Each One She Passes Goes Ahhhh
2010: The Key To Being Funny
2009: Wishes Really Do Come True
2008: Eddie Plays It Safe Friday
2007: What Road?
2006: I’m STILL Looking To Get Me Some Good BBQ
2005: Say Cheese!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I Think We May Be Following A Derecho. Or Is It An Izquierda?

What's with all the new storm-related terms?

Haboob.  In Arizona, where we have lots of dust and wind mixing, we just call it a "really big-ass dust storm". 

Derecho.  I'm confused.  Is it a storm?  Is it going right?  Straight?  Veering to the right?  Mierda.

TOR:CON.  I hate this one.  All capitalized to show how scary it is.  TOR:CON 8 is essentially DEFCON 1.  Do you know what that means?  Yeah, didn't think so.

Let me fill you in...

In both cases, your shelter is probably going to be obliterated. 

Have a nice day!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: This One Time, At Summer Camp…
2011: Into The Wild
2010: It Was Clear The Moment You Opened Your Mouth
2009: Eddie Captures A Sunset Friday
2008: Pelicans Enjoying Their Rule Of The Lake
2007: Bigfoot
2006: There Is A Reason People Try To Repress Certain Childhood Memories
2005: Painted Ladies

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

This Disturb's Me

So I recently saw this at a truck stop in Iowa, Louisiana.  It's a place we've never been to before, so I went in to check it out, walk around the store a bit, hit the bathroom.  When I saw this, I turned right back around and went out to the truck to get my phone to take a picture.
This kind of stuff does my head in.  I'm actually afraid it might explode when I see something like this.  I often have to look away, collect myself, look back, feel my head get all explode-y like and then look away again so I don't have an aneurism.

It reminded me of a sign I saw on the interstate just a few nights before, advertising some adult toy store that said - Passion's Adult Toys and Books - or something to that effect.  The thing that caught my eye was the Passion's part.  Unless the person/entity that owns the store is named Passion, the billboard is wrong.

I saw this one a few months back in a hotel in Las Vegas.  It has two mistakes.  First, "Sunday's" is wrong.  So so wrong.  Second, the word Black Jack should be Blackjack.  It's one word people, not a pirate.

What I think bothers me the most about these kinds of mistakes, is that no one fixes them. 

I understand people make mistakes (um, other people that is).  I understand a typo in a text or an email or even, the horror, a blog post.  But I don't understand a spelling error on a sign in a business, a poster in a major hotel, a permanent sign with molded letters that had to be screwed into a wall, or a billboard.

It screams of incompetence and apathy.

If you think about it, it's got to be passed along through several people before it gets to the point where it's displayed in public, right?

The person who wrote it.  Didn't notice.

That person's boss.  Didn't notice.

The person who created the poster.  Didn't notice.

The person who printed the poster.  Didn't notice.

The person who made the sign.  Didn't notice.

The person who erected the sign.  Didn't notice.

The person who took the order for the poster/sign/billboard.  Didn't notice.

The person who painted the billboard.  Didn't notice.

The person who put up the billboard.  Didn't notice.

The crew that helped the person who put up the billboard.  Didn't notice.

The person who approved the project once it was completed.  Didn't notice.

I don't understand how someone can step back, look at their work, and say "Looks good."

These photos just show two examples I caught on film.  But it's everywhere.  And I don't know how people work in these places, and how managers manage these places, and they just don't do anything about it.

It's seriously why we're 75 millionth in education in the world.  There are a LOT of stupid people in this country.

And I hate when people give ME shit for pointing it out.  Really?? 

To those people, I say this:

Courtesy of
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: Not Sure The Money Will Follow
2011: Trucking Al Fresco
2010: 3000 Miles To Squidland
2009: It Could Be Africa If It Weren’t For The Schlitterhahn
2008: How To Ace A Job Interview
2007: Diver Down
2006: Day Tripping
2005: Nipple Rock

Monday, June 24, 2013

Get Your Travel On

It's summer - officially, as of the 21st - and tons of people are gearing up to take vacations, get in their quota of swimming and barbeques, and generally get as much done  as they can before the weather takes that nasty turn into the neighborhood I like to call "Perfect Estates". 

If you're one of those scrambling before winter hits, here are a few websites you can check out to plan your adventures: 

FlipKey: Vacation rentals on multiple continents.  Hey, I want to go to a different continent.

Cool Travel Guide: Insights and reflections on the things that are cool about travel. Their words, not mine.

Local Harvest: Spend some of your leisure time shopping at farmers’ markets and other places that bring the local deliciousness to you. Grass-fed beef, anyone?

OAG: A global network of flight info at your fingertips.

The Roaming Boomers: For all you rich, old fucks.  I mean, folks.  Rich. Old.  Folks

Swimmers Guide: Find a place to take a dip anywhere in the world. This site courtesy of our friend, Gary. Thanks, Gar!

TrailLink: Bike trails, walking trails, hiking trails. This site can lead you to great places.  Ba-dum-bum.

Travel + Leisure: Travel and Leisure? Now that’s my kind of getaway.

VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner): The very website where we found our sweet rental apartment in Montreal. Where are we going next? is my only question.

duoLingo: Language learning for FREE. Marlaina turned me on to this one. She’s already knee deep in Espanol. Pretty soon she’s going to be ordering tapas for two in Tarragona.

Happy Trails, people!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: An Art Deco Tower In The Panhandle
2011: Traffic Might Just Have Saved My Life
2010: Joining The Ranks
2009: The Daily Rant Goes Farther East Than Ever Before
2008: What He Does When I’m Sleeping
2007: Now You Don’t Have To Go To The Ghetto To Get Crack
2006: Satchel Pitches A Great Question
2005: A Night In Yakima

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I Wrote This After A Day Of Doing Nothing, Sitting On My Ass, While I Watched TV

I can't remember if I've ranted about this before or not, but the exercise/asthma/diabetes monster is rearing its ugly head again.
Here's my beef:

People who think that because you're fat, or don't exercise, or don't spend hours on a treadmill, or don't "juice", or like sugar in their tea, or prefer to sit on their ass watching TV instead of walking around the neighborhood in bazillion degree weather, you're unhealthy.

Let me tell you something, and this is just my personal experience here:  I am fat and I have...wait for it...NOTHING wrong with me.

Well, I do have asthma, but that was diagnosed after a bronchial infection when I was sixteen years old.  So I use an inhaler for that.  But other than that, which was brought on by nothing I did to myself, I don't take any medications.


Nothing for cholesterol.  Nothing for heart.  Nothing for depression.  Nothing for digestion.  Nothing for anxiety.  Nothing.

And it really pisses me off when someone thinks I wouldn't have asthma if I just lost some weight.  Or they think I'm going to get diabetes just because I'm overweight.
I can give you five names right off the top of my head, of people I personally know, who are of normal weight or less, who have medical issues.  Can't digest milk.  Have diabetes.  Have high cholesterol.  Take meds for their heart.  Have high blood pressure. 

They are thin.  They exercise (some of them like freaks).  They watch what they eat.  They are into juicing the majority of their meals.  They count crunches and sit-ups and laps. 

And I hate hearing, from them or people like them, that I should exercise.  Why? So I can be skinny and sickly like you?

Let's consider the thin, beautiful, accomplished female celebrities who have asthma (Loni Anderson, Diane Keaton, Sharon Stone, Morgan Fairchild) and diabetes (Halle Berry, Mary Tyler Moore, Vanessa Williams).  They have cushy lives, right?  All they have to do is show up and read lines.  Or the famous men who have asthma (like Kenny G, Billy Joel, Robert Joffrey, Martin Scorsese, Bill Clinton) and diabetes (Nick Jonas, Bret Michaels).  They're all in pretty decent shape.   

What's their excuse?  They're not overweight, probably have trainers, can eat anything they want, can afford the best doctors, health clubs, spas and food.  Why do they have diseases?

I'm not saying that everyone who is overweight is healthy.  Just like everyone who is not overweight isn't healthy.  But I really hate when someone assumes because a person is overweight or doesn't exercise, they're unhealthy.  Or their weight has caused their medical condition. 

My favorite way to counter this is to point out the athletes who have asthma and diabetes.  Because who gets more exercise than them?

Let's take a look at the list...


Jackie Joyner-Kersee:  Four-time Olympian, three-time gold medalist, track
Amy VanDyken:  Olympic six-time gold medalist, swimmer
Jerome Bettis:  Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back
Paula Radcliffe:  British long-distance marathon runner, world record holder
Dennis Rodman:  NBA basketball player
Justine Henin:  Four-time French Open champion tennis player
Pete Vaderkaay:  Gold and bronze medal winning Olympic swimmer
David Beckham:  Soccer star
Bruce Davidson:  Olympic equestrian
Tom Dolan:  Olympic medalist, swimming
Kurt Grote:  Olympic medalist, swimming
Nancy Hogshead:  Olympic medalist, swimming
Jim "Catfish" Hunter:  Professional baseball player
Miguel Indurain:  Tour de France winner (5 times) and Olympic champion
Bill Koch:  Olympic medalist, cross-country skiing
Greg Louganis:  Olympic medalist, diving
Tom Malchow:  Olympic medalist, swimming
Debbie Meyer:  Olympic medalist, swimming
Art Monk:  Professional football player
George Murray:  Wheelchair athlete & Boston Marathon winner
Robert Muzzio:  Decathlete
Jim Ryun:  Olympic medalist, track
Alberto Salazar:  Marathon runner
Mark Spitz:  Olympics medalist, swimming
Alison Streeter:  Crossed the English channel a record 43 times
Isaiah Thomas:  Professional basketball player
Jan Ullrich:  Tour de France winner
Dominique Wilkins:  Professional basketball player
Kristi Yamaguchi:  Olympic medalist, figure skating

Wasim Akram:  Pakistani cricket fast bowler
Arthur Ashe:  Tennis, Wimbledon winner
Walter Barnes:  Football player
Sarah Bina:  Championship clogger  (Clogging, really??)
Ayden Byle:  Runner - First insulin-dependent man to run 6521.5 km across North America.
Nick Boynton:  Stanley Cup-winning Hockey Player
Orlando Brown:  NFL player
Doug Burns:  Fitness consultant, Record-holding strength athlete
Sean Busby: Champion Snowboarder
Cory Carpenter:  College Football
Bobby Clarke:  NHL Hockey Player
Ty Cobb:  MLB Baseball Player
Carling Coffing:  LPGA Golfer
Scott Coleman:  Swimmer - first man with diabetes to swim the English Channel, (August 17th 1996)
Jay Cutler:  Football Player
James "Buster" Douglas:  Heavy Weight Boxer
Kenny Duckett:  NFL Football player
Chris Dudley:  NBA Basketball player
Scott Dunton:  World Class Surfer
Mike Echols:  NFL Football player
Pam Fernandes:  Para Olympian
Gary Forbes:  NBA Football player
Missy Foy:  Professional Marathon Runner
Curt Fraser:  NHL Hockey player
Walt Frazier:  NBA Basketball player
"Smokin' Joe" Frazier:  Boxer
Kris Freeman:  Olympic and National Champion Cross-Country Skier
Sam Fuld:  MLB baseball player
Mike Golic: NFL Football player
Jorge "Giant" Gonzalez:  Professional Wrestler and Argentinian Basketball Player
Bill Gullickson:  MLB baseball player
Gary Hall Jr.:  US Olympic Gold Medalist, Swimming
Jonathan Hayes:  NFL football player
Chuck Heidenreich:  Skier, U.S. Ski Team
Jay Hewitt:  Ironman Triathlete
Dave Hollins:  Baseball player
James "Catfish" Hunter:  MLB baseball player
Chuck Heidenrich:  Champion Skier
Chris Jarvis:  World Champion Canadian Rower
Jason Johnson:  MLB baseball player
Kelli Keuhne:  LPGA golfer
Charlie Kimball:  Racecar driver, Indy circuit
Billie Jean King:  Tennis player, World No. 1 ranked
Jay Leeuwenburg:  NFL Offensive Lineman
Kyle Love:  NFL Linemen
Mark Lowe:  MLB baseball player
Gary Mabbutt:  English football player
Robert "Gorilla Monsoon" Marella:  Professional wrestler
Michelle McGann:  LPGA golfer
Billy Mills:  Olympic runner
Adam Morrison:  Basketball Player
Brandon Morrow:  Seattle Mariners Pitcher
David Pember:  MLB baseball player
Toby Petersen:  NHL hockey player
Kevin Powell:  Marathon runner, Triathlete, Ironman Competitor
Sir Steven Redgrave:  Rower - Winner of five consecutive Olympic gold medals
Dan Reichert:  MLB baseball player
Jackie Robinson:  Baseball Player
Sugar Ray Robinson — Boxing
Chris Rosier:  Professional Jockey
Vinnie Santana:  Triathlete
Ron Santo:  MLB baseball player legend
Sebastien Sasseville:  Reached the Peak of Mount Everest, competed in Sahara Race
Mike Sinclair:  NFL football player
Kendall Simmons:  NFL football player
Ron Springs:  NFL football player
Jerry Stackhouse:  NBA basketball player
Hank Stram:  NFL football player
Bradley Suttle:  Baseball player
Bill Talbert:  Hall of Fame tennis player
Jack Tatum:  NFL football player
Sherri Turner:  LPGA golfer
Scott Verplank:  PGA tournament winning golfer
Jo Ann Washam:  LPGA golfer
David "Boomer" Wells:  MLB baseball pitcher
Dominique Wilkins:  NBA basketball player
Wade Wilson:  NFL player and Dallas Cowboys quarterback coach
Dmitri Young:  MLB Outfielder, first baseman

Oh.  My.  GOD.  Is that a long list or what??  My hand is tired just typing that.  That must be because my hands haven't gotten any exercise.  You know, cause they're fat hands and all.

There may come a day when my health will deteriorate with age, as often happens to people.  I see it happening to friends and family my age and younger already.  But maybe I'll get lucky and have the same genes as some of my healthier family members.  Either way, I'm not really worried.

And for now, the bike riding is going to have to suffice as exercise.  Once it stops being fun, and starts being a chore, the bike will promptly be put up for sale on Ebay. 

Until then...I'll take my chances sleeping late and sitting on my ass over the weekend watching my favorite movies on TV.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Beautiful Strangler
2011: Art Enables Us To Find Ourselves And Lose Ourselves At The Same Time
2010: Even God Can’t Help Men
2009: My President’s House
2008: Don’t Give Up Hope If You Just Don’t Know What You Want To Be When You Grow Up, You Have Choices
2007: Alright, Mr. DeMille, I’m Ready For My Close Up
2006: Stone Magnolia
2005: Fitty Nine!!!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ed Breaking Bad In The Lap Pool

If Neo from The Matrix were to go swimming, perhaps he'd be wearing these:
My mother said he looks like the guy from Breaking Bad.  I don't watch that show, so I have no idea if she's right, but it is kinda badass to have mirrored swim goggles.  He's going to be fierce swimming laps in any pool he ventures into.

We found them at the 
Academy Sports + Outdoors store in Houston.  Man, what a great freakin' store! 
We went in for the goggles and a basket for my bike, but didn't find one I liked.  We did come away with a few of these for our bikes, though.  I really wanted them, so I was happy.

Then I hit the Dollar Store and came across the makings for a bike basket.  For two dollars.  I'll try to post a photo when I'm done with my little project.

Remember to keep your eyes peeled for The Swiminator.

Coming this summer, to a pool near you.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2012: View From The Bridge
2011: Small Place, Big Flavor
2010: La Vita è Bella
2009: He Looks Much Better Here Than On The Penny
2008: One Of The Few Places In Iowa NOT Under Water
2007: We Need A Manager On Register Three Please!
2006: Mobile Misses
2005: Idaho?? YOU Da Ho!!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Stop. Look. Read.

Once in a while I read a website that posts a compilation of stuff found on the internet.  I thought I'd try something similar, sharing a few of the things I come across in my many hours of reading and web surfing.

The first thing you have to do y'aaaall (poor Paula Deen), is go check out my latest piece in The Guardian.  And share it with your friends - Tweet it, Facebook it, Email it, Plus-one it.


Make time to listen to
this amazing podcast.

Take a few quick minutes to walk down memory lane by reading the story behind MONOPOLY pieces.  Which one were you?

Keep the people of Calgary, Alberta, Canada in your thoughts as they deal with record flooding - the amount of water in the river doubled in 24 hours! 

Tear a page out of our TV watching book and get sucked into "Treehouse Masters" on Animal Planet like we did.  Where did this treehouse building trend come from anyway?Also, read this article, which I came across today.  I want to stay at the one in France.

And in closing, know that my step-father was right all along.  In some cases, cheaper is better. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: You Won’t Miss Me Coming On This Bike
2011: An Extra Large Bargain
2010: Maybe You Can Learn A Little Something From A Few Truck Drivers
2009: The Fathers In Our Lives, Our Fathers Who Art In Heaven And The Father Of Our Country
2008: Who The Hell Left The Pool Float In The Sea Of Tranquility??
2007: Lure Me In
2006: Sometimes The Reasons NOT To Have Children Are So Very Clear
2005: U-Ta-Dah!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Small Town Bullshit. Big City Nothing.

Last week, Ed read me this story about a trucker who came out to his truck to find a note taped to the windshield of the truck next to him.  Curiosity got the better of the trucker and after he read it, was so pissed he photographed it and published it on Facebook.  It has since gone as viral as it could go in the trucking world.

Our first load after coming back from Montreal went to Beulah, North Dakota.  Located in the western part of the state, equal distance from Dickinson and Bismarck, its community website bills it as a place with "Small Town Appeal.  Big City Looks."

We never go to North Dakota.  Not because we have anything against North Dakota, but because there's never any freight coming out of there.  Oh, you can get all kinds of stuff going there - especially up in the area of Williston and Watford City, where they're fracking the hell out of the earth - but in most situations, a load to North Dakota means being stranded for days while looking for something back to civilization.

We were supposed to deliver on Friday, then pick up a load out of there that same day.  That meant great money (it pays to go to North Dakota), and no waiting around for another load.  Then the agent called and pushed the load to Monday.  OK, we thought, at least we still have something out and won't be completely stranded.  We'd just ride bikes over the weekend.  How bad could it be?

To say there's nothing going on in Beulah, North Dakota would be an understatement.  One main drag, one grocery store, one department store and no national chain restaurants of any kind.  Unless you consider a Subway inside a gas station a restaurant. 

The Dakota Gasification Company is the town's largest employer and is listed under "Tourist Attractions" on the city website.  That should tell you something.

he weather was pleasant - warm but with a nice, constant, cool breeze - and we discovered they had a pool, which was great because Ed wanted to do laps.  And the charge for the lap pool was only $3.00.  Can't beat that, so we put it on our (very short) list of things to do.
That first night we parked in the Shopko parking lot after getting permission from the store manager to do so.  With the exception of some very strong semi-whistling winds, it was extremely quiet and our only neighbors were the cows in the field across the street.
The next morning we woke up, had breakfast, checked emails and got ready to head to the pool.  We swam laps for an hour, headed back to the truck and then drove into town to go bike riding.  The girl at the pool mentioned something about a bike trail.

It was Saturday and the town was deserted.  A few cars on the main drag, but most of the businesses (banks, law offices, etc.) were closed.  We found a spot at the end of town to accommodate the truck, tucked ourselves against the curb (making sure we were between the yellow lines) and proceeded to get the bikes out of the side box.

That's when we had a little run-in with local law enforcement. 

Ed was assembling the bikes when I came out of the sleeper and saw him talking to a police officer holding a ticket book.  Are you kidding me??  I walked up and said, "What's going on?"  That's when officer
Travis Watson said, "I'm going to have to give you a $50 citation." 

I know I didn't hear him correctly, because I'm sure I looked at him like he had three heads and most certainly said, "Are you fucking kidding me??" 

OK, I didn't really say that.  Because for once, I bit the front half of my tongue off, swallowed it, and instead of cursing at him, I took a breath.  I thought it was probably best not to get all bitch-ass crazy on one of the four cops in a town of 3,000 people.  Four cops, but fourteen churches.  Go figure.

What actually came out of my mouth, as calmly as I could muster, and with the sarcasm dialed down a few notches was, "Seriously??"

"Yep." he said.  "You can't park here."

He was serious.  He was honestly going to write us a ticket for being LEGALLY parked.  I was confused.

We had scoured the city for signs and even checked their website.  This wasn't our first rodeo in a small town.  Or in a truck.  Or in a truck in a small town.  We know the drill.  FIFTY dollars??  Can you say crooked revenue collection system?

I told him we didn't see any signs, that in fact, there were no parking signs of any kind let alone ones addressing commercial vehicles, and that there was nothing about parking ordinances on the town website.  That caused a look of confusion on his face, as if he didn't even know they had a town website.  He seemed flustered and again repeated that it was a city ordinance.  Yeah, okay.  I know you keep saying that, but where do I find that information??  Also, as if he was trying to show us he wasn't really the bad guy, he kept saying that it was his boss who told him he had to issue us a ticket.  Oh, reeealllly?

After talking to him for a while and explaining that we absolutely, positively could not get a ticket, that we have special clearances, that the company would frown upon it, he finally acquiesced and said he'd just give us a warning.  A written warning.  Oh no, no, no.  Hell, no.  I don't want anything written.  Not with our names, not with our truck number, not with our license plate or CDL information. 

Between Ed and I, we have 24 years driving experience and have logged over 2,400,000 miles.  That's TWO MILLION FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND miles.  No tickets, no accidents.  Our livelihood is directly tied to our driving record and we do everything in our power to protect it.

"If you want to warn us," I told him, "can't you just say you'll let it go this time?  I mean, we've never been here before.  Now we know we can't park on the street."  He didn't seem to like that idea.  He really wanted to write that ticket. 

"That's just really not cool." I said.  "I can't believe you want to write us a fifty dollar ticket.  We're still with the vehicle.  We could leave right now."

He then looked at Ed and said, "Look, I'm not trying to be a dickhead here..."

He actually said that.  I must say though, he was nice, and polite, and he did utilize his Podunk manners and prefaced the dickhead comment with, "Excuse me for saying this in front of a lady."

If Ed weren't standing right there, I would have said, "But you ARE being a dickhead.  A HUGE one." 

My "lady" would have gone right out the window. 

And because he kept saying we were in violation parking a commercial vehicle on a city street, Ed wanted to leave right away.  'Ol Travis still had an itchy ticket-writing finger and it was only a matter of time before he was going to give in and start filling in the blanks like one of those of those Mad Libs books - "name of man on street", "noun", "criminal offense", "action word", "number", "favorite color", "verb ending with -ing".

At that moment, the cop saw one of his friends across the way, and ran into the middle of the street trying to catch up with him, "Keith!  Wait up.  Hey, Keith!" 

Um, hello??  Am I just supposed to stand here while you socialize with your buddies, or are you done with us?  As he was running, he yelled back to us over his shoulder, "You're free to go!"

Uh, yeah.  We kinda got that.  Ed got in the truck, started it up and left me standing there with the bikes.  I was pissed.

The thing that annoys me about this is that we, meaning Ed and I, make a supreme effort to be considerate about where we park.  We don't block driveways, we don't park in front of open businesses, we don't take up spots in the front of a store parking lot.  Our truck is neat and clean at all times and we don't ever leave any debris or garbage behind.  In this particular case, we wanted a paved area to unload the bikes rather than having to take everything out in the dirt lot we saw on the way in, the same one the cop told us about when Ed had to move the truck.

The whole truck parking situation, all over the country, is a real problem.  They're closing rest areas, they're utilizing space in truck stops to install natural gas pumps, and cities and towns all over America are banning trucks from parking on their streets.  Warner Robins, GA was the most recent city to deal with the backlash their ban unleashed, and even truck drivers getting killed don't seem to underscore the importance of safe parking.

Just last night I had to wake a guy in a rest area for him to move his truck because the place was so full, the way he was parked made it impossible for me to get out.  Walmart is notorious for not allowing truckers to park in their lots - even though they have plenty of room and they allow RVs and other large vehicles - and malls are typically a no-go.  For us, ramps and right-of-ways are off limits, a condition upon which our lease can be cancelled.

But when you come across a town like this, really in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but land and sky as far as the eye can see and less people than you'd find in a major city mall, you don't think parking would be such a big deal.  In fact, we get hassled less in crowded cities like Chicago, New Jersey, or Seattle than we do on the vacant city streets of a place like Beulah.

I don't appreciate, when bringing business to a city - in this case, delivering to a plant that employs over 24% of the town - being treated in a second-class manner, or what in the very least seems to be an insidious attempt to generate revenue from people unfamiliar with UNPOSTED laws and ordinances.  If it weren't for drivers like us bringing the materials and equipment needed for these plants and mines to function, there wouldn't be any employment for them.

Take a look at
this pageThe last sentence on the page says, "Be prepared to stay as you will see why our progressive merchants expand on Main Street and new business continues to look at relocating or expanding into the city."

I wonder if they mean businesses like the abandoned car dealership that anchors the east end of the 874 yards that makes up Main Street?

When we have downtime in a place like this, even though our truck is self-contained and we can eat all our meals in it, we like to check out a local eatery or coffee shop.  We also like to take care of whatever chores we can - grocery shopping, laundry, post office.

After our interaction with Officer Watson, we decided to put off doing all of those things.  I even had Ed return the items he purchased at the Shopko.  Besides the $3 they got for our laps at the pool, I wasn't inclined to give this town any more of our hard-earned money.

Ed likes to joke about me being an activist, trying to stick up for all the crap drivers in our industry have to deal with.  I'm not an activist, but I do think it's important to stick up for yourself, especially in a situation like this where every effort to follow the letter of the law had been made.

The right thing for the cop to do would have been to approach us and inform us of the ordinance, asking us to please move.  But instead, he came with ticket book flying, telling us he was dinging us for fifty bucks right off the bat. 

Uh-uh.  That just doesn’t fly with me. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: She’s Political Coming And Going And Doesn’t Even Know It
2011: Old As She Was, She Still Missed Her Daddy Sometimes
2010: Crafty Little Bugger
2009: Beauty For A Buck
2008: What My Thoughts Sound Like When Left Uncensored And Ultimately, Formed Into Words
2007: New York Style
2006: I.H.O.P.G.
2005: Sorry, no post on this day.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I Will Not Be Decaffeinated

We stopped at the Alien Grill in Fargo, ND yesterday to have ribs for dinner.  Afterwards, we walked across the street to Dunn Bros Coffee for a latte. 

We'd never been in this little coffee shop, but it was cool.  It even had its own roasting machine to roast beans right there in the store.  I liked the brick walls and the seating area setup, but what really caught my eye was the unique wall art.

Done by Kristine Wallin, who bills her multi-media collage creations as "Bipolart", the pieces were creative and definitely custom.  Up close, you can really see the different materials used to create each one; canvas, newsprint, paint, glue, string, mirrored glass, stick-on letters.  All the pieces were for sale, if you're so inclined.

Check out her Facebook page to see the signature girl with the sideways flowing hair and huge eyes. 

Kinda cool in that freaky, creative artist way.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: Sweeeeeeet
2011: Summer On The Farm
2010: This Should Be The Next “New Parent” Handbook
2009: Would You Like A Little Screech To Go With Your Whine?
2008: Jane’s Anatomy
2007: Plus People Are Here To Stay
2006: Baiting The Hook
2005: Purgatory