I woke up after my dark and stormy night in West Memphis and drove under clear, brisk skies 50 miles to the east of Memphis to deliver my Eggos to Kellogg in Rossville, Tennessee. The last few miles were through an absolutely delightful part of the country that was largely wooded but also interspersed with open pastures and picturesque homesteads and churchyards. I could live here, I thought.
Just a couple of blocks off the state highway, stood the large Kellogg complex. The people were nice enough although it was still a three-plus hour experience. On one of my visits to the shipping & receiving office, I mentioned to the clerk at the window how nice it must be to be able to have this decent place to work so close to where I imagined she lived, that is, nearby.
“Oh, I drive an hour to get here,” she replied. Go figure.
After unloading, I was quickly assigned a load down in Mississippi. It was a two hour drive and I got there at dusk. I tried to find a truck wash along the way and even took a nice tour of Corinth, Mississippi, courtesy of a man at a truck stop directing me to the east side of that town where he thought the truck was stood. I drove to the edge of town, past the place he described, and found no wash.
Curiously, this was the first time I used my CB to ask the rolling big rig community about this truck wash. At first, no reply whatsoever. A minute or so later I got a clearly stated pitch that cited street names and landmarks that meant nothing to me. When I asked for a repeat, I got nothing. Then another reply came that sounded like American Southern, but I couldn’t understand a word of it. So I found a street that looked like it would lead me to a place where I could turn around. As luck would have it, there was indeed a Lowe’s a block down that had a nice big parking lot I could turn around in. I made my way back to US 45 and drove the rest of the way to Booneville.
I got there at about dusk. The nice large man in polar gear gave me a door number almost instantly. I joked that I didn’t know Wisconsin allowed cheese to be manufactured anywhere else. He said the facility was owned by a Wisconsin company (Marathon Cheese / there is a Wisconsin town named Marathon). I told him I would be at the door in a few minutes and quickly swept out my trailer hoping it would be clean enough for a load of cheese. Must have been because they got me loaded in just under two hours and I was on my way back north. I was headed to a Kraft facility in Aurora, Illinois.
NavChick had me routed on two lane roads through Eastern Tennessee and finally getting to a freeway near Paducah, Kentucky. I love two lane roads, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t like driving on strange two lane roads at night. I was going to get as far as I could before my driving hours counted down to zero and I will plan much more carefully the next time I try that. Headed north out of Jackson, Tennessee, I was certain I would see a truck stop or a Walmart every 45 minutes or so. Not on the route I was on. I was ticking down to less than 30 minutes and checked the DAT Truckers Services app on my droid and when I had signal, It showed me a couple of Walmarts and no truck stops. I figured the Walmarts would be along my path. They were not. I was starting to panic (I don’t know why. It’s not like I would turn into a pumpkin.) and called Stevens Driver Services were of no help (again) whatsoever. With six minutes left on my clock I took an exit off the divided highway I was on and took a right. The first street to the right of that road looked like it led to a commercial area. Remember, it was DARK and after midnight. There was one business and then a residential area. So I crept into the residential area and came to a 90-degree turn to the left and down a hill. I couldn’t see the bottom of the hill and thought, “What if it’s a cul de sac?”
It was not. But after making another hard left I was on my way back to the “main” road. After scraping by some low-hanging branches I found myself back at the main road. I thought I made a wide enough left but saw that I picked up some mud on my trailer tandems. But at that point, I DID NOT care.
I pulled into an abandoned (at least vacant) gas station right by the on ramp and shut it down for the night. I had four minutes left on my clock. I slept with my clothes on because I was absolutely certain that I would be awakened by a cop pounding on my door and telling me I had to MOVE IT.
Alas, no disturbances. I rested my 10 hours and continued my journey.
I do NOT want anything like that to happen again. I don’t mind cutting it close when I know where I am, where I’m going and what is at the end of the trip, but when I don’t know any of those three things, it’s just too stressful.
The rest of the trip was not without its excitement. I made the drop and hook in Aurora pretty expeditiously, but as Nav Chick was guiding me to a truck stop, she thought it would be cool to take me through a very residential-looking townhouse subdivision. I declined. As I continued down the main road I went under an unmarked underpass that looked pretty tight and came to an industrial looking area that was on the border of a “No Trucks” area. That meant I had to find a place to turn around. I pulled onto the street between two big warehouses and found a place to U-turn about a block in.
On the way back the Nav Chick rerouted me and at about the eighth stop light down a very commercial corridor, I got a call from dispatch that I had left my $90 meat lock on the trailer I dropped. Not wanting to have to buy another one, I headed back to pick it up. For what it’s worth, the security guard at this Kraft facility was a humorless dick. And he had not changed since I left 30 minutes earlier. Even though I had an empty trailer and had just been there I had to jump through all the hoops. So I did.
As I was leaving the facility for the second time, I decided to head to a different truck stop a little farther away. I got to the Petro near Rochelle at about 10:30 and found their repair shop still open. Because I was pretty certain that the trailer I had just picked up had a defective air bag activation lever (this was the THIRD trailer I had picked up with this problem) I decided to see if they could fix it for me. They could, they said.
That little exercise chewed up another hour and a half what with all the calls to Stevens with diagnoses and cost estimates. The shop ended up doing it for nothing because the repair didn’t require any parts and was a 10-minute fix. But I had to walk about two miles in 25 degree, 30 mile an hour wind so by the time I was ready to settle into my bunk, I was very cold and very tired.
GOOD NIGHT! I never want to go through another 24 hours like that. Famous last words.