Drivers' Corner - Knight of the Highway
Chapter XI: A Long Haul
I met Kathy and the kids traveling toward me between Delta and Grand Junction and I waved. She waved back, wondering who I was. She wasn't expecting me for several weeks because I had told her I would be gone that long.
Later, in the evening, I planned to call her and let her know I was getting off the road--that I would be there to make her happy for the rest of her life. That evening I stopped on an off ramp for sleep and never called. My dad told her my plans of working local. Thankfully, he didn't mention the other plans I had decided to do.
I always like going through Nevada. The casinos seem to have tremendous deals on the menus and buffets. It seemed I would always lose the money I saved on the meals playing the slot machines. I never figured out it would be cheaper to eat at a place with higher prices and no gambling. Are there non-gambling eating establishments in Nevada? I stopped and spent the second night just before reaching the California state line. From the money I lost, it made me wish I would have spent the night in California away from the casinos.
I spent the next several days after unloading in Woodland traveling the I-5 corridor. Then I got another load going to upstate New York. The loads I liked were ones where I could stretch my feet and not have to unload for a few days. This trip through Nevada I vowed to make it through the state without stopping at the casinos. The flashing red lights seemed to be as tempting as the casinos, which made for a disciplined trip. It felt like the evil forces were battling me and I could picture the devil on one shoulder, an angel on the other. This time the angel won. I made it to Salt Lake before stopping and was glad to get some sleep.
I drudged along up and down the state of Wyoming the next day making it to Ogallala, Nebraska. This load had seven days to get to upstate New York so I had all the time in the world. I had delivered to the warehouse many times before and they would unload me whenever I got there, even if it was a few days early. I was going by Alice's and knew I had time to stop, but she was history. It would be a waste of time stopping and being a few hours away would make it inconvenient to stop. So I decided I would just ignore the temptation to stop and keep going. The decision was affirmed when I had called Kathy and she seemed happy that I would be working local. "I have her in the palm of my hand," I thought.
I wasted most of the next morning watching movies and listening to the tall tales of the road. I didn't have the motivation to get rolling and felt like sitting in the TV room arguing about which movie to request next. I never argued since it didn't matter which movie I watched. They all seemed to stink in one way or another. Every once in awhile I came upon a gem worth watching that, eventually, after watching a few more times began to stink like the others. At least it was brain candy where I could just sit and vegetate with a screen and noise in front of me.
In the afternoon I dragged myself out to the truck and sat there for a while thinking of staying there for an extra day. While contemplating the idea, I started up my truck and finally pulled out onto the road. I drove an hour and pulled off on a ramp and laid in the sleeper for awhile, then drove another hour and did the same. I usually hated to stop until I drove myself into the dirt, but this time I lacked the motivation to drive longer than an hour at a time. I forced myself to drive.
I came upon the exit to the little truck stop where Alice and I had sat talking, and entrancing thoughts of her ensued me afterward. At first I turned my signal on to get off and just see her for a last time. Just as I was about to jump off I continued on straight, deciding it was best not to see her again. I had found my wife who had kids already who I adored. So I stepped back into the throttle and continued toward the east coast. I remembered the short time I had spent with Alice and wished I would've turned off. She would have been mad at me anyway for the weeks that have passed without a call or anything. Why should have I called? There was nothing there.
I reached the next exit and decided I would stop for another hour of moping in my sleeper watching TV. When I reached the stop sign I sat there for a few moments thinking. Why do I have to drive? What ever made me want to do this? During my inquisition I saw another truck coming off the ramp so I decided to take off. I didn't cross over to park on the on ramp. Instead I turned left and went to the west bound on ramp and headed west back to the next exit. Once there, I sat at that stop sign for what seemed forever. I managed to turn left and go park in the truck parking. I started to turn around several times on my way into the restaurant. I finally saw Alice and she saw me. She smiled excitedly.