Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Here, Let Me Get You A Tissue For That Eyeball

Apparently my effort to get blog post material didn't produce as many questions as I thought it might. I was planning to wait until they started pouring in so I would be able to put together a nice, fat, juicy post but noooooooooo, I only got a few so I'll just start with those. Which actually, turned out to be some pretty good ones:

Evil Pixie: "What are your favorite areas to travel to and why are they your favorite?"

This is probably the most asked question and the hardest one to answer. I'm a big fan of four seasons (REAL seasons, not the kind the people in the Southwest think they have), so I love to be places where I can experience each of those seasons fully; I'm a purist when it comes to the true seasons and think they should be as follows...

Spring should include melting snow, patches of grass, light sweather weather and trees beginning to bud. Summer should be full-on green and lush, with lots of sunshine, flowers in full bloom and ideally, water nearby. As you know, I'm not a fan of hot, but I'll let it slide for the summer months because before you know it, my favorite season arrives. Fall. When Fall begins (the first day is usually the day before or the day of my birthday) the weather should be crisp. Definite sweather weather, getting cold but not yet frigid. I should be able to smell the air. The leaves (oh, the leaves) are changing and ideally, there is a cornucopia of color. For Fall, the best place to be, hands down, is the Northeast. And that's where I try to be if I can. Once Fall is over, I look forward to Winter bearing down with clear, crisp, COLD days. And snow. Lots of snow.

So in respect to my favorite places to travel, I'd say it would have to be states that have those four distinct seasons. BUT....I'm going to narrow those favorites down to the Northeast, since other states do experience similar seasonal changes. I grew up in New Yorka nd that area is still my favorite part of the country.

I like other northern states (which I guess are technically in the Midwest, or upper Midwest) like Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana and after that (and the only reason it's not higher on my list is because it gets hotter the further South we go...Duh.) would be Virginia, West Virginia, the Carolinas, Kentucky (love it!), Tennessee (love it!) and quite a bit of Georgia. I'm not really a big fan of Florida....overall, I think it's flat and ugly with the only pretty places being coastal. And even then, it's too hot for me to enjoy, so I'd rather not even go.

So I guess the answer after all that babbling, if I really had to narrow it down, is the Northeast. Oh wait....and Canada! I LOVE
Canada! And now that we can't go there anymore with the big truck, it makes me too sad to even talk about it....boo hoo hoo.

Viva La Fashion: "Don't you and your boyfriend get tired of each other spending so much time together?" and "Where was your best memory from the road?"

Do we get tired of spending so much time together? Hmmm....well, since you said "we" I guess I have to ask him for his half of the answer..."Baby, do you get tired of spending so much time in the truck together?"

Bless his heart. He said, "No. I don't get tired of you, but I do get tired sometimes of being in the truck itself." Wow. He's a keeper, huh? Surprisingly, I guess I don't get tired enough of him that I don't want to do it anymore. But does he get on my nerves? Hellllll, yeah. Keep in mind though, that you're talking to a person who has a VERY LOW tolerance level. For everything.

Ed is WAY nicer than I am. I complain about
everything, he doesn't. And he does almost everything I want to do, whereas I do almost nothing he wants to do. So I guess you'd have to say that it works primarily because of him. He's very easygoing, with a kind spirit and a gentle nature. Frankly, I don't know how he puts up with me, but he says I'm really not that bad. I'm probably not as bad as I'm making myself sound, but I absolutely have to say he has waaaay more tolerance than I do.

We actually talk about this subject often, the "being in each other's company all the time" thing. It's a very unique situation and we think it would be hard for most couples to do. It's literally twenty-four hours a day. In the old truck I used to tell people, "Imagine sitting in a room the size of your bathroom with your husband for twenty-four hours a day. You eat together, sleep together, work together, read together, talk on the phone together. Everything you do, he or she is less than six feet away." Most people run screaming at the thought.

With the new truck we have a little more space to escape the other person if necessary, but even then, they are still right there. We don't go to seperate jobs and spend the day with other people, coming together at five o'clock for dinner. That said, I suppose we must be more compatible than I let on, because after five plus years we haven't killed each other. Although Ed did say the other day, "Can you believe we've been together for more than half a decade???" As though it was a death sentence! Yeah, I've gotta talk to him about that little comment.....

As for the second part of your question, what my best memory from the road was, I'd have to say I have two. The first being the year we drove to
Alaska. It was a truly amazing trip; traveling through British Columbia and the Yukon, on the Alcan Highway through miles and miles of nothingness, in a place where we were so far north that our satellite radio didn't even work (the satellites are in the southern sky, and we couldn't see the southern skies). It's something I never thought I'd do in my lifetime, yet I did! The second greatest memory from the road was when Ed took me to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina for my 40th birthday. The place is amaaaaazing and I've been dying to go back since I left it. The history of that home is truly amazing. Not just for its time, but even for our time. To think that a single man built that place, hoping one day to have someone to share it with is truly astounding. One hundred and seventy THOUSAND square feet of living space. As the Biltmore website details, "250 rooms, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. The basement alone would house a swimming pool, gymnasium and changing rooms, bowling alley, servants' quarters, kitchens, and more." All perched on 125,000 acres. I don't think anything I've seen so far beats that.

From B. in Dallas: "I like the camaraderie that develops between vehicles on road trips on the freeway. I am familiar with the blinking of headlights to let an 18 wheeler know he has enough room to change lanes in front of you, and I do it. (I drive a tiny Mini Cooper Convertible...best to be courteous...) What other things like that exist? I always respect "truckers" -- generally they are polite and professional drivers unlike oh, say, taxi drivers... so I'd like to know what else makes their lives better on the road with us amateurs."

You know, I've always been pretty courteous to truck drivers too; never thinking I'd be one, of course, but now that I am I see so many things that I could have been doing better to make those truck driver's days a little easier. And as I think about this, I can see this answer getting pretty long...you might be sorry you asked. But since you did, here are a few things that you "four wheelers" could do to make our life on the road easier and safer.

1. You mentioned flashing your headlights to give us the signal that we’re all clear. That's great, but rather than flashing your bright lights as a signal, it’s better to just turn your headlights off and then back on. The reason for this is because when we’re planning to change lanes, we are looking in our mirrors to determine whether we have enough room to move over, and often the very moment we look at YOU, is the very moment you flash your brights at US; blinding us. And then? Well, then, we're just cursing your “help”.

I should clarify right off the bat that by “we” I mean “me". I can't speak for ALL drivers on the road, although I do think many of them would agree with me on several of the points I'm going to make.

2. Construction zones. They're always a hassle. For everyone. If there is construction or a backup, please don’t wait till the last minute to get over. And please don’t creep up next to us not letting us in. We have a small amount of space and it’s difficult when we can’t get into the designated travel lane. For instance, if two lanes are going down to one. The less space you give us to move over, the longer we block the entire line of traffic from getting through that bottleneck.

3. Getting off an exit. If you need to get off the next exit and we happen to be in front of you…please don’t dart out in the left lane, speed around us, and then cut back over just to get off the exit. It’s not just distracting, it’s dangerous. And really….where do you need to be in such a hurry??

While on the subject of darting in front of us…we cannot stop as quickly as you can, often needing four times our truck length to stop if traveling at highway speeds, so when you speed past us only to get in front of us and slam on your brakes? Not just annoying, but again, dangerous. Is it really worth your life or the life of another to get one spot ahead of everyone else?

4. Blind spots. Don’t ride next to or right behind us if you can avoid it. Not only is your visibility compromised, but if there were to be an emergency, you don’t leave us any room to maneuver. And it's not a very safe place for you to be anyway...trucks do sometimes blow tires (I’ve
blown two on my trailer in a span of a few days) and being next to this when it happens can be dangerous for you. In addition, you make it difficult for us to see you if you’re traveling in one of our blind spots. Check out this site to find out where the No-Zone is.

On that same note, DO NOT pass behind a truck that is backing up. This happens so many times it makes me wonder what some people are thinking! If you see us backing up, whether in a parking lot or on a street or into a dock or whatever….DO NOT walk or drive behind us. Yes, we know we’re moving slow and yes, it’s an inconvenience sometimes and yes, I also know you think you can just “zip” past us, but it’s really dangerous and it makes what we’re doing that much more difficult.

5. Trucks move slow. Even on the highway. Almost always on hills. Frequently around turns. On exit and entrance ramps. You kinda just have to get used to it. The reasons vary; it's most often the weight of the freight, but sometimes it's the way the trailer is loaded or the bank of the turn or a curve in the road. We're not doing it to annoy you. Well, unless you're riding our ass....then maayyybe we might take that exit ramp a weee bit slower. I'm just sayin'.

And finally....

6. We can see what you can't. Always. We have a great vantage point from our perch high in the sky, so if you see a slow-down up ahead, or if a truck suddenly moves over into the left lane (since we travel mostly in the right lane) or we start to brake where you don't think we should be breaking; pay attention. Sometimes there is an emergency vehicle on the side of the road, sometimes there is debris in our lane, sometimes there's an accident. It's a good idea to follow our lead. We can see miles ahead of you. We have a CB that transmits information about what may be going on; we know if it's an accident or just construction. And we know you're wondering what the hell is happening. So if you feel like sticking your head out your window to get our attention, you might just get someone like me who'll give you the dirty low-down. Can't hurt to ask!

Your question has really given me an idea for a post dedicated to just these things. Maybe even a series of posts. Thanks, B!! And by the way....did you happen to read about our
Mini Cooper experience??

Dreamybee: "We were driving along and I saw a truck hauling containers-no big thing, I see that all the time, but then I got a closer look at the containers, and I was mystified. What kind of cargo calls for containers like these?

I knew who I could ask, and now that you're asking for questions, I don't feel so weird about asking! So, what do you think might be in these containers, and why can't they use regular flat-bed containers?"

I went to Ed for the answer to this one. He said, "Grain, sawdust, cotton. Small, fine materials." He said these trailers are light-weight and built to hold a certain type of material. They are loaded to maximize the volume within the container. And if I can add my two cents, I'd venture to say regular shipping containers or sea containers are rear-loaded, with back doors, so that's why they aren't used for this application. These trailers pull up right under a grain silo or something similar and are loaded from a chute which pours the materials into it. I'm not very familiar with these and all their uses though, so if anyone reading (my other driver friends, especially) knows more about it, please chime in!

Well, that's it for now. Whew! Here I was bitching (well, what else is new?) that I didn't get a whole bunch of questions, yet I was able to put together a pretty healthy post. I think I like this. I'll have to do it more often!

Thank you all for your questions. And I hope your eyeballs aren't bleeding.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Secret Lies With The Twinkies
Where In The World Are You Carmen Sandiego?
4 YEARS AGO: Love’s Language


Don Olney said...

Very interesting, but you used up all the questions in one day! Now you are back to wondering what to write about ;-)

Anonymous said...

Excellent - thank you! I had indeed read your Mini post -- ! Aren't they a blast to drive? Mine is British Racing Green...

And more than once I've been stuck in traffic with my (convertible) top down, and asked a trucker in the next lane what the heck was going on ahead of us -- they are always happy to share what they know.

Have a great day!

all things bradbury said...

this is an excellent post and should be required reading for anyone holding, or trying to hold, a driver's license!!....you explained the hazards of not paying attention around a truck better than any brochure i've seen on the subject!!

Gil said...

I guessed the container thingy! Pretty good for a retired bean counter, don't you say?

Leigh Hutchens Burch said...

I really loved this post! Sorry I didn't leave a question on your earlier entry... but I am curious to hear more about your travels in Indiana and Kentucky, since I am from the Hoosier state and grew up (and still live) in the Bluegrass state. Have you ever spent any time in either state -- or just passed through?

Dreamybee said...

Sorry for the late posting-I'm a little behind on all my reading. Darn you, Google Reader! Thanks for answering my question!