Saturday, July 21, 2007
I'm a Company Driver. I drive a truck owned by the company. An Owner/Operator is a driver who owns his rig and leases his services to a company. My truck (actually, the truck of my trainer) is therefore set up with the company in mind. The engine has a governor. I can only go about 68 mph. Of course, I've hit 75 mph down a mountain. :o)
It actually works out OK. Most states are 65 mph states, I can ride the governor and not speed enough to get noticed. In the 70 mph states, I'm pretty darn close. The 55 mph states are just a drag. So I spend a lot of time with either the Cruise maxed out or with the pedal jambed to the floor.
Not only are there cultural differences between Company Drivers and Owner/Operators, but not all companies govern at the same speed. There are some Co. Drivers I know I can pass; others I can only catch downhill. :o) Still others that are so close it takes miles to pass them. You little four wheelers have no idea some of the strategy that goes into just picking a lane to get through a big city.
Seeing the world at 68 mph creates its own issues. I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to stop and back up to take a picture. And the Arizona desert around US93 at dusk makes me want to paint. I might yet bring some colored pencils along.
Like when I came down out of Chattanooga around a curve and across a lake, the road was cut into the side of a mountain loaded with pine. Or the snowy egret standing on one leg in a river in Texas over a perfect reflection of itself. Or the sunset behind the mountains in the High Desert of New Mexico.
Was it really such a beautiful sunset? Can I really tell at 68 mph. It is the same with women in cars; the wind whipped hair, the delicate wrist and hand on the wheel, the hem of a skirt, even those cute painted toes up on the dash on the passenger side. Was she really that pretty? I like to think so.
I'm living without a governor. Literally without the weight. I am on plan; working toward doing exactly what I've always wanted to do. I think the sunsets and the beauty are out here, but most of us are so wrapped up in a life that we don't notice. Your assignment for today is to catch the sunrise or wait for the sunset or find that perfect photo; even if you're traveling too fast to get out the camera. Notice. Acknowledge. Absorb. Enjoy.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
By the time I crossed the next valley the light is gone. There is nothing but flatness in North Texas. I can see towns in the dark from miles away. Streetlights twinkle across the valley; like spilled marbles.
Driving along, I gripped the wheel like a skeleton in some cave, clutching an obelisk. The dry sinew creaks and cracks as Indiana Jones, or some other intrepid explorer, pries it from my boney fingers. In the dark, I see a doe on the shoulder of the highway. My senses crackle to life. Where I come from, deer travel in pairs. Miles later a coyote skitters across right in front of me. I remember my dogs running around the kitchen. I imagine, if I could have heard him, his coyote toes would sound like that on the tarmac.
So many bugs out there on the plains, plastering the windshield, the road becomes something I sensed more than saw. I had stopped to wash the windows at a little truck stop. The handles were so short on the squeegee that I opened the hood and climbed up on a tire to reach. Hanging on a frame member and stretching over the churning diesel, I just spread bug guts around. Not much better than I had been getting from the windshield wipers.
I slept through Memphis as my trainer was driving. Probably not much to see from the highway. Tomorrow we cross New Mexico. Tucumcari is one of the first towns. Tuc is in a cool song called "Willing." It's a Little Feat song, but I think I've heard a Steve Earle version. Everyone should listen to more Steve Earle.
It is a different life out here. Another version of vagabond, so I'm comfortable, but it's tough to do normal life from the road. Trucks can't go on just any road. Shopping becomes difficult. Ralph calls grocery shopping "marketing." I love that. Marketing is tough from the road.
The night is surreal, but its also just a job.