I started things out from Kuttawa and things went swimmingly until we got to about 20 miles from St. Louis. Then the trailer started bouncing around like a SuperBall (anybody remember those?) which of course caused the tractor to start bucking like a bronco in a hail storm. Dudley knew instantly that the airbags had failed and the trailer was following on with only its springs for suspension. It started out bad and got worse. Every little joint in the freeway became painful. And when we got to the old concrete interstates in St. Louis, forget it.
As bad as we were bouncing around, Dudley was concerned that we were holding traffic up. Let it be said that I was all about safety and, honestly, 45 miles an hour seemed like the upper limit we should be driving. I mean, that’s the minimum speed on a freeway, right? Dudley said, speed up! Keep it moving!
I was scared.
Turns out that since I spent a week in St. Louis on a career detour in June, I was familiar with the roads and that helped us limp into the trailer dealership in St. Charles. We pulled in just as the techs were heading out to lunch. They didn’t get to our trailer for better than an hour and it took a couple of hours to fix. But my mid afternoon we were pulling out of the dealership. Almost.
I was still driving and heard a sickening metallic screech as we were making the left turn out of the driveway. I had done a fine job of coupling up with the trailer and attaching the glad hands, but had overlooked the rather important step of cranking up the landing gear. That wasn’t embarrassing or anything. Dudley quickly handled that chore and off we went.
I drove until the eastern suburbs of Kansas City and Dudley took over. It was at this Petro truck stop that I discovered the trucker equivalent of the Happy Meal. I went to the Country Pride restaurant and assembled a nice meal from the evening buffet. Only five bucks a pound and all the soup you could carry for no extra cost. Fried chicken, green beans, turnip greens, roast beef, and even fried frog legs. It was wonderful. All this for $5.25. I ate until I was full and still had another meal left over. Then it was nap time.
I woke up as we were crossing the Missouri / Nebraska border. It was dark. We stopped at a Sapp Brothers travel center for a pit stop. Dudley took us through Lincoln and we stopped late at another Petro in York, Nebraska, where we spent the night. Of course, there was another Country Pride buffet that I would be checking out for breakfast.