Friday, May 25, 2012

I-75 Landslide

This picture is an aerial view of the landslide on I-75 Southbound. It's posted on the monitor at the KY rest stop Northbound.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Clinch Mountain Lookout Restaurant

Our route on I-75 South fell off the mountain a few weeks ago. One evening I came through and noticed a deep buckle in the pavement that I did not recall ever being there before, and the next time we came through the side of the mountain had caved, taking part of the interstate with it.

The detour on US 25E in Kentucky takes us over Clinch Mountain. Zygote discovered an amazing old-style diner at the top of the mountain that has become my latest obsession. They serve vinegar pie--a mountain traditional substitute for lemon meringue!! Can you say "Oh, yeah!"

This is the kind of place where the vinyl tablecloths don't match, they bring you the salad dressing in the bottle, breakfast is served all day long, and the food is so very homemade and divine. There is even free wi-fi and truck parking. When we stop, I eat lunch there and get something yummy to take with me for dinner too. Last time, I ate soup beans and cornbread with a country ham biscuit to go; this time it's vegetable soup and a salad with homemade chili to go.

Mostly I just love the spirit of this place--a remnant of America before fast food, before chain restaurants. Ya'll come back now, ya hear?



Cherokee Lake-the view from Clinch Mountain

Friday, May 4, 2012

Storm

Traffic was insane today in Indianapolis and Chicago. Usually, because I drive the evening shift, I miss most of the insanity, but somehow I hit both cities at their craziest this time. Indianapolis is the one city where traffic just comes to a halt, for no visible reason. It happens almost every time I come though there and it perplexes me every time. At least most traffic hold ups have visible causes...merge issues, stalled vehicles, policemen, construction, but on the 465 loop around Indy its like everyone is on the same Remote Control or something. For no apparent reason traffic will just come to a halt for about half a mile everyone will creep along at 35mph and then everyone decides that's enough of that and they pick up speed again and go on their way.

In Chicago traffic on the TriState Tollway is always fast and mean on the south side. Walls of trucks side by side come down 4 lanes at once and heaven help you if you're in a car. I'm always glad I'm one of the big rigs in Chicago. For some reason, I actually like the traffic there; it makes me feel like I'm part of something way bigger than myself, a pulse of humanity humming along the arteries of this great city. I like to drive the tollway with the window down, of all things. It's so horribly loud, but it's exciting loud, like Nascar...ok, maybe I am actually a redneck.

As I jostled my way out from in between several trucks I managed to snap a photo of the drama that was unfolding in the sky above the city. As I got further north, the sky turned a lurid green. I had the radio on in case there was a tornado warning issued but there never was. By the time I was 20 miles south of Waukegan, the sky was so green that the very air I was driving through seemed to be green. The storm was massive; I was under it for at least 20 miles and the sky behind me was a deep purple from it as well. The entire system had to be 50 miles across or more. I've never seen anything like it. The rain poured down for a brief 5 miles or so and then I was north of the worst of it and just watching the lightning. Luckily, the shipper location was north of the storm and I did not have to get out in the downpour. I tried to snap some photos of the lightning-as it was so incredibly frequent. I took about 20 shots but only captured some heat lightning, no vivid bolts like what I was seeing. After my drop and hook, the journey south on the same TriState tollway took me right back into the storm. By this time it was off the road and more over the city. I watched THE most spectacular lightning show I have ever witnessed. Being from the southern Appalachians, I'm accustomed to storms coming from the west and moving right on through. I've never experienced a storm that just sits in one place with lightning that just lasts and lasts and lasts. Whenever I would see this in the movies where they used lightning in the background all the time to make something more spooky, I thought it was just a Hollywood effect and that lightning didn't last for hours like that. But, for an hour and a half-bolts of lightning every 3-5 seconds lit the sky above and around Chicago. Incredible towering thunderheads back-illuminated by heat lightning and then spectacular cloud to cloud bolts ripping between them at the same time. Then darkness for a few seconds, then no heat lightning and only a cloud to ground spear that pops. Then darkness. Then heat lightning that lights the upper regions of the sky bringing to light the outline of the grey mass of clouds hovering against a sliver of light on the horizon. Then darkness. Cloud to cloud lightning --simultaneous bolts like a child's scribbling in the sky, that sear a lasting image on your retina still visible seconds afterward. . . .

The storm began to die away and I entered the Twilight Zone. At the next shipper, the guard told me stories about fake coyotes that are supposedly scattered throughout the grounds of the plant to discourage actual coyotes from scavenging there. The next thing I knew, I was in line at the fuel stop in Gary, Indiana behind the slowest SWIFT driver ever, waiting for an indeterminable eon only to see him finally emerge from the cab of his truck to begin punching numbers on the fuel pump, realizing he hadn't even BEGUN to fuel yet.... and waiting. Taco Bell closed while he fiddled around at the pace of a snail and cost me my dinner. The man in front of me in line while I waited to buy mango juice and a cookie discussed the installation of a tv hookup for his truck endlessly with the clerk. The machine wouldn't take my bank card. And the night slowly unravels on the bumpy road out of town on the wake of the storm. C'e la vie.