Saturday, September 5, 2009

Eastbound And Down, Loaded Up And Trucking...All Roads Lead Right Back To NoMi...(Part Two Of Four)

All Photos In This Post By John Hoff

I thought it would be a good time to talk more about my trip out of town and how--while it's fun to travel--the real adventure is home ownership and turning my neighborhood around. I'm constantly telling friends in their 20s that home ownership doesn't TIE YOU DOWN. Rather, it frees you because you have a base of stability to strike out from, seeking various economic and travel opportunities made possible by--oh gee--having equity instead of being a RENT SLAVE.

I'm just saying.

The picture at the top of the post is... state, once again, that I only take "micro vacations" when I have a moment of my own time in the course of paid work for my employer, driving a truck. The vast majority of my day looks like this: trying to keep it between the lines, hour upon hour, but no more than the number of hours allowed.

But when you travel--even in the course of hard work--you see things you've never seen before like a magnolia tree, or retired racehorses living large on Kentucky bluegrass behind 3-rail, creosote dipped fence posts. When you eat somewhere, you can pull in someplace local and order something unique, almost like a tourist.

So here's something I saw in a small town in Illinois (I think) while I was waiting at a railway crossing. It's an old caboose and it's BLUE. When I was a kid in rural Minnesota, trains still had cabooses--it's complicated why they usually DON'T have them anymore, check out this informative article from Wikipedia, click here--and I'd heard the legend of cabooses that were BLUE. I don't think I'd ever seen one before, ever. A few that weren't RED, but BLUE? No, never. Maybe in the dark we once THOUGHT we saw one, but who can tell in the dark?

Anyway, I had my camera handy in the cab, so I snapped this photo:

Later I was driving along and I saw a prison. I think I saw a total of three prisons on my trip, maybe four. When I drive by I wonder if there are prisoners inside who spend long periods of time looking out the window, watching the vehicles go past, envying my that song Folsom Prison Blues, when Johnny Cash sings about the train going by and how "They're probably drinking coffee and smoking big cigars."  

Here's a picture of something that always bothers me when I'm driving: a motorcycle, right in front of me. I am a fanatic about maintaining a safe following distance. I'm always thinking about some scenario where a tire blows or something malfunctions on the vehicle ahead, and it slows down rapidly. What's a fender bender in a car or truck is DEATH OR PERMANENT INJURY on a motorcycle. I swear, I don't even know why people drive them. Seriously. They were fine for soldiers to carry messages in World War One and risk their life in the endeavor, but after that...just a bad idea.

There, I said it.

I have a little verbal talisman I say whenever a motorcycle is in front of me: GET OFF MY FRONT BUMPER YOU BUZZING INSECT!!! 

When I say these words, I never have an accident with the motorcycle.

Try it. It works.

This last photo shows signs that are placed at some rest stops reminding commercial drivers about the limits on the number of hourssss allowwwwwed on.........


Geez, nodded off for a second, there. Good thing the truck knows the way.

No, seriously, I always stay within my allotted hours of driving and get enough sleep.

Oh, one more thing about the photo at the very top of the post: Illinois has the WORST ROADS and the MOST TOLLS. You can literally see the state line because there's a row of potholes right there, just before you get to the Welcome To Illinois sign to let you know you've OFFICIALLY arrived.

And, for the record, Abraham Lincoln was born in KENTUCKY. True fact. So when the signs in Illinois say "Land of Lincoln," well, that's not entirely true, either, but I'm sure they're finding a way to charge you a toll for the billboard.


Anonymous said...

That's a Conrail caboose in Conrail's colors- they painted almost everything that light blue. The red cabooses you saw in your youth were probably Soo/Canadian Pacific- their color is candy apple red. Burlington Northern used green and Union Pacific has always used yellow.

Tommy said...

Thanks for the great post. I found it interesting and funny at the same time. The part that prompted my reply was your comment about the roads in Illinois. I have to admit; I haven’t been to the “land of Lincoln” in well over 10 years now. But I wonder how they compare to the rough roads in Michigan? Being a local driver in Ohio, the Michigan roads are by far the worst I travel. Thanks again for sharing with us.