Sunday, July 24, 2011

Benign Neglect


When we arrived at the house, I headed for the back deck immediately to see my garden.  What greeted me from the french doors was an insanely wild landscape of fertile abandon.  Sunflowers towered over everything.  Queen Anne's lace stood 6 feet tall.  Lettuce plants stood tall and stately like sentinels beside the Queen, gone to seed and proud to have left the realm of the lowly leafy vegetable.  Red juicy tomatoes dotted the tableau.  The opposite edge of the garden was lined with bright orange crocosmia in full bloom.  The deep green of immature pumpkins peaked from the depths of the undergrowth.  In the far back, the jungle of bean vines laced themselves over and under and across the strings tied for them, their weight bearing the strings at half height and the wooden poles peeking through the foliage only at the very top.  My garden was a veritable wilderness of lush and fruitful insanity, as much like it's owner as it could possibly be!!!  A painting of my soul, of sorts.

The day I cooked the spaghetti sauce, the aroma wafted out into the front yard.  The jars are sealed with the sweet goodness of paste tomatoes, walla walla onions, garlic, basil, rosemary, oregano, fresh ground pepper and pink himalayan salt.  

Nestled in amongst the wildness of our garden was a rabbits nest with two babies.  The had fur, tiny tails and ears about an inch long.  The mother did not return to the nest at some point after the first day we came home.  I found the babies on the third day we were home but was not sure if she was still tending them or not.  It turned out that she did not come back, and the babies perished.  Had I known she was not returning, there would have been time to save them.  It was a very sad life drama unfolding in the midst of such a wild and beautiful place.  Now every time I go out into the yard I grieve those sweet baby rabbits curled in their nest in the middle of my garden.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

DonQuixote


I love the wind turbines. 

I find their grace fascinating to watch and their sound captivating. But then, I am a naive and idealistic hippie.  Along the Columbia River that 84 parallels there are many 'wind farms' as they are called.  I was enthralled as I drove, snapping photos and marvelling at the spectacle of the huge turbines.  

I was equally curious, however, about a billboard that I passed.  It read:  "sWINDle:  not clean, not green and not cheap".  What does one do when faced with a question in 2011?  you google it.  and there I educated myself on the phenomenon of Wind Turbine Syndrome.


Despite my new appreciation of the issues surrounding the wind turbines, I still find them to be of the utmost beauty and grace.  Perhaps my original concept of their seemingly salubrious nature was misguided; however, the verdict is not entirely in on the side of the windmill slayers, so I am content to wait and watch the drama.  There is always drama.


Gusty Winds


Heading to Los Angeles, one of our first nights back on the road after being at the terminal in Irving, I found myself alone, driving west into the setting sun in New Mexico and finally hitting my groove.  It was the first time really that I had heard the proverbial "click" and all was right with the world.  I pulled over on the side of the interstate onto a dirt area designed for roadside stopping.  It boasted one mesquite tree for shade and a dumpster; otherwise, it was just wide dirt shoulder.  As quietly as I could, I popped an Amy's organic frozen meal into the microwave, so as not to wake the sleeping Zygote; I put the solar shade across the front window to block the heat of the late evening sun.  I sat eating my meal, listening to the Dead and gazing out across the desert.  I carried my trash to the dumpster, "visited a tumbleweed", and then set out again into the setting sun.  As I drove, the sun sank; the lower in the sky it retreated, the more deeply orange it burned.  A layer of distant clouds colored a rich dark blue-gray hung just above the horizon.  The burning orb slipped into clouds as if it were slipping into an evening robe, eventually folding them completely around itself and fading off to bed behind the arc of the earth.

It was on this same stint in New Mexico that I began to be indoctrinated in the Gusty Winds signage phenomenon.  I was heading into Albuquerque, I think it was, and there were signs on the road that read "Gusty Winds May Exist".  This choice of wording sent me into existential whorls of thought that lasted for 50 miles or more.  Why does New Mexico not fully believe in the existence of the gusty winds?  obviously they believe in them enough to spend tax payer dollars on warning unsuspecting travelers against their perils.  And yet, there must be some mystical quality about the gusty winds ... do they only appear to certain individuals and it is this uncertainty that the signs are denoting?  was their philosophical debate about whether to warn travelers in the first place and that skepticism is what is heralded in the verbiage?  or perhaps only some people believe the winds are gusty and others find them to be merely soft breezes.  



It was not until we had gone much much further in our travels that I realized that each state actually feels very differently about the gusty winds.  While New Mexico is caught in existential denial of certainty, California is quite much more certain of the existence of the gusty winds.  Their signs say:  "Gusty Winds Likely".  This, I found to be an incredibly intriguing cultural marker; perhaps California's gusty winds are somehow more self-realized and therefore more sure of themselves.  Or  perhaps there is less funny stuff going on near the fault lines of California than there is out there in the mystical deserts of New Mexico where one could possibly be influenced by mirages or bands of roving shamans.  Whatever it is, California obviously believes in the gusty winds and the state's powers of positive thinking are willing them into being.

But then, the question was solved once and for all.  Traveling through Washington state, I found the home of the gusty winds is The Dalles, WA.  Here the signs read simply: WIND GUSTS.  Here there is solid integrity without doubt and with no need for likelihood. Here one can be certain beyond certainty that there are going to be Gusty Winds.     


Portland

We spent our 34 hour reset in Portland, OR.  A driver at the terminal in Colton told us about the Jubitz truck stop in Portland so we came here.  It's a huge truck stop with an XL lot, a post office, a movie theatre, several restaurants, a shuttle and access to public transit.  We took the shuttle to the train yesterday and went into downtown Portland for the day to explore.  We hit up the REI first thing so that I could replace a wayward buckle on my backpack.  Zygote got a fleece jacket that was on sale for cheap, which I ended up wearing the rest of the day, as it was cool and drizzly. 

Mostly we rode around town all day on various means of public transit.  Our day pass was only $4.75.  We rode the train and then the electric trolley.  There is also a sky tram that goes up a hill to the hospital and buses.  We took a cruise down the Willamet River on a small yacht.  The captain narrated the trip and told us about the history of the various bridges that we passed under, some so high they did  not need to open for us to pass, and others opening as we approached.  We saw a barge being loaded with grain and an oil tanker being ferried into it's port by a tugboat.  All glass luxury condos lined the waterfront on the south side of the city and a riverside greenway ran along the edge of the water.  After the cruise, Zygote flew his new kite that he had bought at REI.  We had dinner at an Asian restaurant (mediocre food-we were disappointed) and then came back to our hotel room at the truck stop. 

Today we have been dispatched back across the country to Virginia.  Headed home for our home time for next Monday.  Yay!!!  Will post some pictures of Portland later as we can.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Volcanoes

This time when we passed Mount Shasta, the sun was shining!!  Finally, after passing this monstrous volcano 3 times before and only seeing clouds, I got to see the whole mountain!  There is a second volcano just to the northwest of Shasta also.  There just are no words...here are the pics.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Running with Scissors

In Colorado, interstate 70 winds through Glenwood Canyon.  The walls of the canyon climb vertically on both sides of the road as it winds it way beside the Colorado River.  We had called our friends, Linc and Jeannie to see if they were up for meeting us somewhere in the area, as they live nearby.  Still, to get to the interstate was over an hour drive for them; on their way, the road they needed was blocked by a freak mudslide, but they managed to find a suitable detour.  

Driving the canyon on the interstate was one thing, but deciding to navigate the roads off the interstate inside the canyon was one of those momentous actions that blessed us with one of our most memorable times on our journeys.  It could have easily been not such a good time.  The maps and the GPS said there were several rest areas along this section of interstate.  One was listed as No Name exit and showed as having 5 truck parking spaces.  When I got to this alleged exit, the steepness of the canyon walls in relationship to the river left very little room for roads.  I took the exit and prayed.  The exit ramp crossed back over the interstate and deadended at the entrance to a camping resort.   The blue rest area sign pointed to turn left--left curved away downhill out of sight.  Of course, it's too late by then.  You certainly can't turn around.  

I crept forward and maneuvered the 70 foot truck across the small intersection, took the slight left and curved down the hill on a winding two lane road several hundred yards.  All I can think about is "oh no, how will I EVER get this truck OUT of here!!"

But around a curve, suddenly the road opened up and there were 3 truck parking spaces lined out on the right side.  The road then curved on ahead to go to the parking lot for cars.  I pulled in and breathed a huge sigh of great relief.  The rest area was absolutely gorgeous.  The restrooms were down the hill, a trail center near the river, trails branching off in every direction, and a picnic table  was hidden in the scrub brush to the side of the truck parking spots.  This was sooo nice compared to the rest areas on the side of the freeways with other semis and cars rushing by, and was light years from the noisy truck stops. The walls of the canyon surrounded us. 



A few pictures and some wanderings later, our friends pulled up, having successfully navigated the mud slide detour.  Moments after they boarded the truck to see our rolling home, the skies opened and the rain poured down.  We set about making our dinner.  Linc and Jeannie had brought home-baked beans, homemade sourdough bread, homegrown salad with amazing homemade dressing and goats milk.  We cooked a pot of rice and heated butternut squash soup.  It was a wonderful feast in the cab of the truck with good friends and the rain coming down outside.  

Later that evening, we pulled away from our brief canyon paradise.  By that time, Swift and Prime Inc had joined us in the truck parking.  Getting back on the freeway was a breeze now that I knew what to expect.   Taking chances sometimes gets you in trouble, but this one paid off.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Toads

soo...I've been encountering toads for some strange reason.  seriously?  toads? 

When we lay stretched out on the grass in Grand Prairie, Texas to await the town display of Fourth of July fireworks, Zy was asleep beside me and I had my head on his shoulder.  I felt something on my neck suddenly and thought that he had reached for me in his sleep.  I put my hand to my neck to hold his hand and instead grabbed ahold of a giant toad!!!

I startled when the toad squirmed at my touch.  He hopped away by way of crossing my whole belly and heading off down the hill.  Zygote woke up laughing at me.

Several nights later, at a rest area in Indiana, as I walked to the truck from the building in the orange glow of the street lights, I almost stepped on another giant toad.  He sat on the edge of the sidewalk staring at me and did not move.  His insistant stare made me question whether or not I was supposed to be getting something from these toads appearing in my life.

I looked up the toad animal totem:
"A Toad heralds the need for self-examination.
Ask these questions:
Am I hesitating to act and missing opportunities?
Am I allowing fear to hinder progress?
Have I forgotten my inner strength? "
http://www.linsdomain.com/totems/pages/toad.htm

Indeed, these are questions that I need to visit.  I've been really having a hard time with living in the truck and with accepting my new role as wife.  Zy has been patient and caring but even his tolerance for my antics is wearing thin.  Over the past couple of days, since seeing the toads, we've come to more of an understanding between us and we are both stepping back more from the other, allowing more space for our own decision making.  The person in the driver's seat makes the  decisions, and we've stopped "helping" when the "help" in unsolicited.  We had reached a point where we were helping each other right on off the edge of sanity.  This new "space" was exactly what I needed in order to step more into a role of shared responsibility for the truck instead of a dependent role.  Perhaps all of this seems like trivial feminine emoting...but I'd be willing to bet that it makes sense to all the wives of truck driving teams out there.


"The appearance of a Toad heralds a successful time of drawing upon
and using our inner resources.
Toads are associated with money and luck –
especially changing your luck from bad to good."

Thank goodness for those toads!!!!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Texas

Carving out time for our personal needs has been one of our challenges.  With the help and advice from other teams we've learned this past week since leaving the Irving terminal how to better make that happen.  We've been very careful when calculating our ETAs to the shipper and reciever, building in an automatic hour for each fuel stop and an hour for each person's shift (for bathroom and meal stops).  This new method has given us a much more enjoyable week of travels.  We've had time to stop without the constant feeling of being rushed that had accompanied us on our first 3 weeks of trips.  Having just finished our 4th week, it appears that much of the bumps are being smoothed out.  Not being sick any longer has helped with that. 

In Irving, when we rented a car, we explored Dallas some.  We found a great health food store that specializes in herbs and custom herbal blends.  There we met Katherine Ray of www.reliefmassage.org.  We made an immediate connection, and she did some muscle testing on us to help us determine which herbs and supplements would help us the most.  Her suggestion of mineral deficiency being the foundation of most physical challenges our bodies face has been an interesting direction that I'd like to learn more about.  I purchased pink Himalayan salt and a mineral supplement called Endure, which contains magnesium, chloride, potassium, sulfate and sodium.  It comes from the salt flats of Utah, the very place I was so drawn to just a couple of weeks ago in our travels.  Zygote has noticed an immediate difference in how much better he feels when he takes it.

Katherine's energy radiated from her and it was such a welcome connection for me.  Needless to say, my hippie values are a little out of place in the trucking industry, and I've been starved for integrity and true exchange between people.  Likewise, she said that she could instantly "see" who we were when we walked in the room.  She saw the years of yoga practice and the straight alignment of my spine from years of chiropractics.  In this world of trucking, where I have felt so out of place, her words were a balm of comfort to me-to be recognized for who I am behind the drama of driving a big rig.  We exchanged contact info and Zygote and I left with lots of yummy things.

That afternoon,we visited the JFK museum in Dallas and listened to their audio tour.  There was tons of information writtenon the display boards also that we did not read.  I would have liked more time to spend reading it all, but the audio tour was a comprehensive overview that took less time.  We strolled through a small part of downtown afterwards and ate dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse.  OUr table was inside a restored wooden trolley car inside the restaurant.  As far as restaurant spaghetti goes it was fairly decent and the lemon pie was wonderful.  Zygote bought himself a cream-colored "genuine shantung" cowboy hat.  He claims that he needs it for the Texas sun. I asked him if he thought it might work on sun in any of the other states as well.  He seemed confident that it might; I am not so sure.

Friday, July 8, 2011

some pics

Prairie dogs at rest stop in Utah















Mt Rainier, WA-early morning delivery at FedEx

San Bernadino Mtns in Palm Springs, CA and windmills in town


Mt Shasta, CA
Zygote at the terminal in Laredo

Sunset over the Arkansas River
My amazing backing job up a cliff in Port Townsend, WA!!!



Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Big Picture

Doobie Brothers playing on the radio; the last rays of sunlight fade behind the silver sunshade in the window.  Cool cab interior glows with the dim nightlight.  The sheets are clean and fresh.  The hum of the idling engine is comforting, like a dryer spinning as the background sounds of home.

Ever so slowly a pattern to our new lives is emerging.  Still we are struggling with getting our personal needs met around the 24 hour demands of the job, but we are able to connect with other drivers and are gradually being indoctrinated in the tricks of the trade.  The rewards are subtle and sweet when they come:  glimpses of the wall of stone and snow that is Mount Shasta (CA) through a veil of cloud or the sound of coyotes howling across a meadow in the quiet cool of an Alabama night.

The human connections are simple and yet heartfelt through the shared experience of this weird mobile life of thankless anonymity.  A driver offered what he had in the way of comfort to me upon hearing that I've been sick.  From the television glow of his cab he produced two styrofoam bowls and two cans of campbell's chicken noodle soup.  At times you have so little in the way of creature comforts out here, and other times you are keenly aware that everything you need is right there with you.  Not very different at all from back-packing, I suppose.  I would do good to hold that parallel in my mind more often; it might improve my disposition.

I had never seen the Dallas skyline before.  As I drove us into downtown on I-30 the city emerged before us through a heavy early evening haze.  Then 30 began a series of snaking curves and splits and left exits and  ramps that commanded all my attention and the scene was lost...another fleeting  moment from the high perch of the semi.  Another such moment that I tried to capture with my cell phone camera was a car engulfed in flames on the side of the road in Mississippi.  Several other cars had stopped and the occupants all stood watching in fascinated horror.  My cell phone camera captured a blur of highway and trees instead.  Seeing the camera image brought a song lyric to mind:  "...I wondered if all the things I've seen were ever real, were ever really happening..."  Two miles ahead, the police were ticketing drivers for pre-holiday Friday night speeding:  the big picture from the big truck.

Irving terminal

Our company has a terminal in Irving, TX.  We have come here to have an air pressure leak repaired.  We also wanted them to replace our Driver Tech (on board computer) but they do not have any here.  Being here has given us an opportunity to get our laundry done, and to replenish our food supply in the truck.  We turned in our electric cooler back to Walmart because the plug had fried.  Instead we now have an energy star refrigerator that also has a small freezer section.  This should help us alot with the amount of food that we can keep on the truck which in turn will help us be more efficient on our dispatches.

We have "running water" by keeping a 5 gallon camping water jug in one of the truck cabinets.  There is a spigot on the jug.  When you open the cabinet door, you can roll the water jug forward so the spigot hangs over the edge of the cabinet and turn it on.  You can then wash your hands, fill your drink container, or wash dishes.  We have a plastic bin to place beneath it for a "sink".

We should be back out on the road by tomorrow morning/afternoon.  We are envisioning steak dinner tonight.

Friday, July 1, 2011

More Trailer fun

Well we were on our way to deliver our last load to San Antonio, when we got a call to exchange loads, called a re-power,  with another driver. He had a similar load from the same plant in San Antonio headed to Huntsville AL and back to San Antonio with new parts. Never mind we were in Memphis and nearly as far from Houston, where he was,  to our destination. Never mind our route bypassed Houston and we would have to reroute in Memphis right then in rush hour  traffic.  Never mind this would make both loads late

We tried to get out of it to no avail. In the end while one group told us to stay on  our assigned load the other that wanted us to re-power won out and this made us even later. I ended up driving through Houston morning rush hour traffic to meet the other driver at a truck stop. We took his load, took a break and then headed to Huntsville.  When changing trailers with the other driver, I noticed that the seal between the 2 doors was mostly missing, when I reported it I was told it should not be an issue. Insert ominous music here. In the afternoon Willow took over to drive the rest of the trip.

When we arrived in Huntsville we found out that despite having been told the shipping departments would accept our load at any  time, they were closed down from 2am to 6am. More sleep was fine with us and we could park in the Bone yard ( a gravel lot behind the factory for old trailers). Insert more ominous music here for no reason other than the name. In the morning while checking in the guard noticed the bad door seal and reported it.  The upshot being that we could be unloaded but not loaded until the trailer could be repaired. With no other trailers that were available to take. We had to call in for repair.

Late that night while looking for the shipper we had to turn around in a tight lot. We hit a yellow post in that turn and had popped one tire and bent the tire rim. I did not notice until dawn when checking the trailer  . That had to be called in for repair as well.

Now we are in the back lot for the plant.  Our tire is being fixed and we are waiting on the folks to come fix the door seals. Hopefully we can loaded and on the way to San Antonio before the day is out.