Evidently, the 20 hours of sleep Isaac Hayes got since he upchucked did him some good because he drove the rest of the way into California. I do not believe he slept during this six hours but he stopped to pee about every hour or so, whether it was a legitimate rest stop or not. I was just along for the ride. Hey, at least I got to see the scenery along the way. Amazing as it may seem, the scenery did change almost the second we crossed the AZ / CA state line. California is a BEAUTIFUL state.
That’s not to say they haven’t messed it up some. Observe the blight on the landscape they created along the Sonny Bono and Christopher Columbus Freeways between Palm Springs and Beaumont. They took what might have been nice, untouched countryside and touched it.
Windmills as far as the eye can see. Thousands of them. Big. Not- so-big. Three propeller and even two propeller models. Wow!
We rolled on into greater L.A. and Isaac Hayes said his first words of the trip. We were going to stop at a truck stop to get something to eat. He muttered that this place was an exit or two from the TAs we’d be spending time at but the food was better and it was cheaper. Okay, I thought.
We got to the Three Sisters Truck Stop and it was a small one. It could accommodate maybe 40 trucks. Isaac hayes backed us into a space and got out without saying a word. By the time I got my contact lense stuff and got out of the truck he was already out of site. I walked to the only building that could have been a restaurant (it did have “Restaurant” on the front of it) and went to the men’s room to pop my eyes in. When I walked out to the restaurant area I saw Isaac Hayes sitting at one of the end booths with his face buried in his hands again.
I sat down in the booth across from him, it was a tight fit, and he didn’t move. After 60 seconds or so he didn’t move or make a sound. “Alright,” I said softly, “I’ll sit over there.” And I moved to the booth across the aisle. the food was mediocre, at best, and I dropped FIFTEEN STINKIN’ BUCKS! Isaac Hayes just sat over there doing I don’t know what. I got back to the truck 20 minutes before he did and when he finally did come back we drove over to the TA East in Ontario and parked. He went back to his bunk and went to sleep. I wandered around the truck stop, got a shower in, walked to the mall on the other side of the freeway (not good timing right after a shower), and came back to wander around some more.
On my last excursion around the lot I returned to an empty truck. A few minutes later I heard the driver door being unlocked and then opened. Then nothing. After a few moments, Isaac Hayed struggled into his seat and leaned over the steering wheel. “Are you okay,” I asked, knowing i wouldn’t get an answer. “Do I need to call somebody?” Nothing but mumbling.
I walked up to the store and asked if they had any kind of medical staff available for situations like this. I mean, there was a clinic building out in the front parking lot. “No,” was the answer.
So on the way back to the truck, I dialed 9-1-1. No he doesn’t have chest pains. No, he doesn’t have pain shooting down his left arm. I don’t know if this has happened to him before. Just get your ambulance over here. We’re parked just to the right after you come through the truck entrance. I’ll be there to direct you to the right truck. Yes, I’ll put the emergency flashers on. This certainly does seem like an emergency.
Mere minutes later I heard sirens. They, a paramedic vehicle and a fire truck, pulled in a couple minutes after that. They pulled around in front of the truck. The paramedics seemed a bit dim and the head honcho, who got out of the fire truck, seemed a bit bossy.
“Well, why isn’t he down out of the truck?” he demanded.
“He’s in pretty bad shape and, trust me, he won’t hear a word I say,” I replied. “You guys are in charge now. Why don’t you go tell him?”
They spent a few moments checking things out on the driver’s side of the cab and then got him down and onto a gurney. They had more questions for me that I couldn’t answer and then went back to work on him. He was quiet and compliant. The quiet part I could definitely identify with.
While the med guys were doing whatever they were doing I talked to the guy who drove the fire truck. They visit this place a LOT, he said. They call it “The Circus” because of all the weirdness they witness on a regular basis. He never did get specific, but my imagination was working pretty hard.
After another 10 minutes they told me which hospital he would be going to and one of the medics, who couldn’t give me any details (privacy issues), mouthed the word blood sugar, and off they went to the hospital. I would have the truck to myself tonight. I called Safety back in Dallas and they told me that an escort would be sent to me tomorrow to take me to a secure yard.
The next day I got a call from my Counselor at about the same time as my escort arrived, a crusty older woman with a young black student with her. Interesting, I thought. The counselor they would be arranging for me to take a bus back to The Yard. “I don’t think so,” I said. “It’s our policy,” she replied.
I was simply not going to spend three days on a bus to get back to Dallas when I felt they could either fly me or find a trainer in the area to take over and finish my three weeks. If they were offering a bus ride, I was going to take the bus and just go home.
I terminated the call abruptly. Minutes later they called back and said they had identified a finishing trainer that was on his way to Ontario. He would pick me up the next day. I should get the truck over to the secure lot pronto..
So, I followed my escort. When I got there I spoke to my counselor again and was told that I should now go back to the hotel right next to the truck stop. How am I supposed to get there and does she realize I have five bags / 150 pounds worth of stuff. She gave me some Nike (Just Do It) answer. There happened to be another Stevens driver at this lot who was about to take a few days off. I asked what he would recommend and he instantly told me about a motel less than a mile away who would put me up for about $50 a night. He even said he would be happy to get me over there and even offered to stop at a truck stop down the street who would give me an advance for a minimal fee. What a nice guy. And it came together just like he said. I just had to figure out how to talk my new trainer into coming over here to get me instead of going right to the TA.
I got my advance, checked into the motel (it was MUCH nicer than America’s Worst where I stayed when I visited The Yard), and settled in for the evening. The motel was right in the middle of a dozen fast food and other restaurants and there was a Wal-Mart nearby. I walked back to the truck, about three quarters of a mile away, and picked up all my dirty clothes. Laundry at the truck stop in the morning. I found a gourmet Chinese food place and got three meals worth of food for about $6.00. I ate half and put the rest into the mini-fridge in the room. I’d nuke up the rest in the morning for a late breakfast. I then took another shower, which felt goooood.
My plan was to have all my stuff at the truck so my new trainer could come and pick me up and not have to make another stop. I had already tried to negotiate a late check out from the motel but the Indian (dot on forehead) owner who was so friendly at check in turned into a ruthless merchant and said, “Fine, but you will pay.” Sigh.
So the next morning, I got the wash started and took a load of my stuff back to the truck. When I got back I put the wet clothes into the dryer and went back to the room to shower and eat my late reheated Chinese food brunch. Then I packed up whatever I had in my room, took it over to the truck stop laundry three doors down, and carried the whole mess back to the truck where I spent four loooong hours waiting for my new trainer, who had graciously consented to come and pick me up.
He was pretty much on time and we got back to the TA by 5:00 p.m. We got to know each other on the ride and after we got parked at the TA West. Unlike Isaac Hayes, Trent, a large (in height and weight) LIKED to talk. In fact, he talked a lot. I pretty much got his life story in the first ninety minutes we were together. But he was a nice guy who also asked questions about me. It appeared that this new partnership would work out. The only negative was the rather strange funky smell in the cab. Oh, well.
The next afternoon (yes, I spent yet another almost day at the TA) I drove less than a mile and dropped our load. The place was literally around the corner from the TA. The backin was a BITCH – shallow and narrow. While there we got a preplan for our next load, produce up north in Santa Maria, California,perhaps a four hour drive. Rather than stay in L.A. for another night, I took us most of the way to our destination. Of course it was dark by the time we left greater L.A. I bet the scenery up 101 through Santa Barbara was spectacular. All I saw was lights. And the traffic was surprisingly (at least to me) heavy. About three hours into the drive it was getting late, we both had to use the restroom, and we stumbled upon the only rest area between L.A. and Santa Maria. I pulled in and tucked right behind the only other semi at the stop. I love it when a plan comes together. It was my first night at a rest area. Not bad. It wasn’t an ideal place to deal with my contacts (no vanity or counter, just disgusting sinks) and there were several people using the rest stop, even at this time of night. The really weird thing was, like most rest stops anymore, there are no paper towels, just air “dryers.” The configuration of this mens room had, from left to right, two sinks next to two urinals. The sink on the right’s dryer was to its right, about a foot from the urinal. Too close for comfort, I didn’t care if it was California. I made sure I got the sink on the left.
The truck was parked perhaps 20 steps from the building but only five steps from the highway. It was a loud night and even the cars put out a little shock wave that you could feel in the cab. But we survived. The mens room was still busy the next morning. I used the sink and dryer on the left.