Posted 6/30/10 (Wed)
I’m sending this from Lamar, Colo. If I can figure out how to run a computer in the hotel lobby. If you don’t get this, don’t worry, it’s not your fault.
I’m on a hotshot run that began two days ago. First, I was to take some equipment over to Grand Junction, Colo. Then finish unloading at Grand Prairie, Texas. I think I screwed up. Sometimes when I shake like a horse, the dumb dust just flies off me! The heavy part of the load was to go to Texas. So, any normal man would have gone to Texas first, unloaded the heavy stuff, and then tackled the Rocky mountains. No, not me, I just jumped in the pickup, shook the dumb dust off me, and headed catty- cornered across Wyoming.
And it was beautiful! I’ve never seen so many miles of green. Thundershowers racing across the mountains and plains. Flowers in bloom everywhere. Lightning on the horizon. Grass waving in the breeze.
I kept thinking, here I am, getting paid to do this. And most people would pay to take a vacation across here and through the mountains.
The next day, I unloaded in Grand Junction and looked at my GPS (that thing that replaces Shirley when I need directions).
It said to head east on I-70 to Wichita and then head south. Now why would I do that?
Looking at the map I could see a nice road that angled off towards Texas. I climbed through a bunch of hills and followed a beautiful river canyon for miles. As the valley widened out, and I could see a little, I let out a sigh of relief. I was through the Rockies! Wrong! I wasn’t there yet!
An hour later, I was climbing a mountain pass and meeting cars with snow skis on the top!
SEVEN MILES TO SUMMIT the sign read. Seven miles in low gear burning a gallon of diesel a mile. The temperature was dropping into the forties.
The only truck I passed at 20 mph was sitting with his hood up and his head in his hands. I started to silently weep.
With a mile to go, the low fuel signal beeped and the light came on. I darn near had a heart attack. Then I reached the summit. Damn.
Now I had to go down. The sign said TRUCKS USE LOW GEAR. Like I had that much time. I started down in second. The sign said STEEP GRADE NEXT 10 MILES.
At one mile down, smoke was billowing from my brakes. The smoke was hiding the line of cars behind me. At two miles, the weeping was no longer silent and the grip on the steering wheel was numbing my arms. At three miles, the trailer brakes were shot and the pickup was the only thing holding me back.
The sign said RUNAWAY TRUCK RAMP TWO MILES. Well, if this baby got to running away in two miles, I would be breaking the sound barrier.
And there were 35 mph curves coming up. It was hard to tell the brakes screaming from my screaming. At 15,000 feet sounds blend together.
The heat from the brakes was starting to migrate all the way to the steering wheel. My hands were sweating and burning.
I was losing control. I must have been up to 40 mph by now. The low fuel light was blinking. I wasn’t. The tears had dried and I could no longer blink. By now, smoke was billowing out and I was sure everything was on fire.
Finally, I reached the bottom. I got out and got down on my knees. No, I wasn’t praying. I was puking.
Then I got alongside the Arkansas River. Now, this is not a truck route. The people white water rafting were passing me. Bicycles were flying by me.
The rains came, and I couldn’t see a hundred yards. And it was the middle of the afternoon.
By nightfall, I reached Lamar. And all I have to look forward to is the traffic in Dallas sometime in the future.
Hope to be home in a couple days!