Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Show Me State fun

I've just spent over an hour hiking around hilly Perryville, MO, to find the public library. My phone gave me the correct address, but the navigation took me to the wrong place. I called the library and was given directions, but took a wrong turn and ended up in the town square. An inquiry into a local business got me going in the right direction, and here I am.

I am on the 16th day of a 19 day tour, which means I'm literally in the home stretch. My company has me doing midwest runs to keep me close to home. I woke up in freezing Green Bay, WI, this morning and am headed to Indianapolis tomorrow. This has been the smoothest tour so far. I haven't gotten lost or had any mishaps of any sort. All my loads have been delivered on time. I feel like I'm getting the hang of this truck driving gig.

But two days ago, at maximum weight with a 22 ton load, I coasted through a light just as it turned red and breezed past an Indiana state trooper. He pulled me over. I explained my heavy load situation, that I was a new driver, but know I was in the wrong. He gave me a stern lecture about safety and preparation, and then let me off with a warning. Whew!

Last Saturday I delivered a load to Northampton, MA, and because I was early on my delivery, my dispatcher didn't have another load lined up for me yet. I parked the rig nearby, in a parking lot of a business closed for the weekend, and went for a walk. It was a beautiful fall day, sunny, mid-afternoon, mild temperatures. The industrial park was in a seedier part of town. I walked past a decrepit, run down millinery, rows of broken windows, exposed beams, a hole in the roof.

And then I found a rail trail. I love to find trails on my daily walks because they are safer and take me away from, or at least diminish, the sounds of traffic. They are also safer. I wear a reflective vest and, at night, my headlamp, and walk towards oncoming traffic, but I prefer sidewalks and, better yet, trails, so I was happy at this discovery. This trail took me behind a bunch of businesses and past an old neighborhood. And then I saw the taller brick structures of the downtown main street.

A stairway took me down to street level. Crowds of people ambled leisurely on the sidewalks, the usual array of galleries, restaurants, boutiques, and book stores, most with colorful display windows. But I enjoyed the people watching. There were college kids, homeless beggars, stylish yuppies, and long-haired hippies. The street vendors and musicians wore permits on lanyards. One man, vying for my dollar, complimented my hat and tried to sell me incense. One cool thing is when the street lights change to allow pedestrian crossing, both sides are open, so people cross diagonally in the middle of the intersection.

I was overcome with a feeling of serendipity and goodwill, and returned to my truck via the rail trail and a short bushwack through some birch barrens. My navigational skills were good enough that I emerged from the forest right at my truck. And to my great joy and surprise, my next load information was waiting for me. It took me to the only state I'd never been to east of the Mississippi River, Rhode Island, and eventually back to the midwest.

This visit to the east was pleasant and brief.

No comments: