8/18/2012 – Segovia, TX
We were up and at ‘em early. I put my contacts in, brushed my teeth (both in that disgusting men’s room)and we motored from Segovia to the Love’s Truck stop in Katy where I was able to shower before my wife arrived. A quick word about Dudley and Love’s. Truck stops have frequent flyer-like loyalty programs with cards and websites and everything. If a trucker buys a thousand gallons of fuel over the course of a month, he gets showers and drink refills free for the following month. This benefit extended to the driving team – meaning me. This would largely take the worry out of having to buy my own showers, and the drink refills in my insulated cup kept me in coffee or Coke Zeros on maybe half the days we were out.
I met my wife, all clean and smelling like truck stop liquid soap (me, that is, she smelled okay too), and all was right with the world. She had brought some snacks, TAB, and a couple of other things I would be needing on my travels. The most important delivery was my plastic, official Class A Commercial Drivers License. She got to meet Dudley and see the inside of a real, live OTR truck. It was a worthwhile visit from many different perspectives.
So we bid each other farewell with a squeeze and a kiss and Dudley and I headed east, Dudley at the wheel. I would begin my time behind the wheel in Louisiana. It all started pretty good. Dudley’s truck shifted and steered a lot better than the POSs I had been driving during training.
I kinda floated gears sometimes, probably by accident. I was double clutching on the upshifting with few problems. Downshifting was a bit more challenging. Dudley keeping a stern eye on me complicated things too, I’ll admit. Since these were roads I was very familiar with, I felt comfortable with where we were and where we were going.
It was mostly just “cruising down the highway” time with a little congestion in Lake Charles where we had to cross a high bridge, a little construction activity in Lafayette, and another bigger bridge across the Mississippi in Baton Rouge. In Baton Rouge, by the way, we passed the Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse where Pammie and I celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary. That was a hundred and twenty dollar tab. I won’t be seeing a dinner like that again any time soon.
Navigating my way onto I-12 we made it as far as Hammond where I had worked the BP oil spill claims project for 12 months from mid-2010 to mid-2011. We cruised the big truck stops at U.S. Highway 51 and finding no openings we went to a micro truck stop at the next exit east. I was able to pull forward into an open slot at this Chevron that was less than two and a half miles where I had spent 12 hours a day for the better part of a year. I would have liked to done a quick tour of the city, but in an 18-wheeler carrying 22 tons of meat, that would have not been advisable. So we just battened down for the night. It was barely dark and we would be getting up very early. Again.