Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mercury and Cougar crack on to Macon.

____Prologue: The same load to same place as the last trip; so to make it different, I have a passenger. She will be known as the Cougar and has kindly agreed to write down her thoughts. The Cougar will also be responsible for the photography, window cleaning and dusting. I will be known as Mercury.
____Day 1: The Company has two conditions when carrying passengers: one is that they sign an insurance waiver, relieving the company of the responsibility of any mishap. The second is that they are named on the customs declaration when entering the US in the truck. I have two conditions: one is that the passenger's presence does not hinder the progress of the trip and the other is that they allow their body to be ravished, as and when required. At the end of the first day, we are at Albert Lea, Mn.
____Hi, I get to hijack this blog for a paragraph or two, you can call me "Cougar" and I’m amazed that I’ve lived in North America all my life and it takes an Englishman who has seen more of it than me to let me experience it. Life on the road for this newbie, there was a vehicle that looked like a San Francisco trolley and the US Forces finest from the ND air show. I missed taking those pictures (got to be fast) especially the three air force jets flying over the truck stops. Tally for the day, SF trolley car, Minnesota afternoon delight, US air force jets and two US states.

Nashville, Tennessee, Music City, USA.
 ____Day 2: Having done the trip before and having plenty of time to get to Morrow in Georgia is a big advantage. I can relax, appear competent and keep the Turrettes under control. Fuel from Wayland, showers at East St.Louis and onto Mount Vernon, Illinois.
____Onward through Iowa where I see some eerie looking windmills against the grey drizzly sky backdrop of skyline which prompted a discussion about them with Mercury and a note to self to do a little web searching on windmill power as there were lots of these in Iowa. One thing I did learn is that some rest areas have free Wi-Fi.  One of my favourite quotes is by Mark Twain and it was Hannibal Missouri boyhood town that I got to see. At the end of it a fire truck was a putting out the last of the fire on his trucks trailer. A few miles down the road the cops were in hot race to the scene leaving their donuts behind or so Mercury stated. Tally for the day, Windmills, Hannibal, Mississippi River, Missouri afternoon delight, St Louis arch and three more states where I’ve never been before.
____“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbour, Catch the trade winds in your sails, Explore. Dream, Discover" – Mark Twain.

Choo Choo Truck Wash : that'll be Chattanooga then?
 ____Day 3: Just 33,000 lbs of payload makes for an easy finale to the outward run; with three stops splitting up the day. Diesel and showers from the Petro Stopping Centre on the western bypass of Atlanta; before joining Lee Atkinson and Flying Eagle #25 on the bay at Morrow ready for unloading in the morning.
____Out of Illinois and into Kentucky, where I look around and wonder: where are all the horses? Unfortunately for the horse sight-seeing it's a short drive through Kentucky with no Tornado in sight either. Tennessee is a beautiful place with lots of rolling hills and the only place where a truck has to stop and check their brakes for a steep downhill grade. Everywhere I see signs for Ruby Falls or Rock city, but soon learn that it is one place I can mark to come back to, a city in the sky and a water fall in a cave. Out of Tennessee into Georgia and then back into Tennessee; I feel like I’m on a merry-go-round, but it’s short lived and we are finally in Georgia. Tally for the day, Ohio River, Tennessee River, Nashville, Chattanooga Choo Choo, no afternoon delight; giving him a break and three more states.

Gateway Arch : that'll be St Louis then?
 ____Day 4: Unloaded and instructions to run to Macon for the reload of paper going to Winnipeg. Macon, Georgia undoubtedly named after the Macon in the centre of France. A place well known to all truckers as the half-way point on the  run from Calais to Milan in northern Italy. My lasting memory of Macon: the over-powering stench of urine in the truck-park of the Autoroute Services. A multitude of British trucks waiting for the end of the weekend driving curfew; before driving over the Blanc, to be in Milan on Monday morning. Hot summer Sundays spent drinking beer and then pissing it over the trailer wheels. Loaded and north to the city-centre TA Truckstop in Nashville, Tn.
____Up at the crack of dawn as they unload the truck, we are heading a little further south in Georgia where the highways reminds me of Mars Sands a golf course out in Libau, Manitoba with its tree lined fairway. I keep looking for the fox that steals the balls but all I see is the endless beauty of boulevard of dreams I like to call it, marred here and there by a path taken by one of nature’s wild storms, remnants of past tornados that have ripped down the majestic trees that line Interstate 75.

Reloaded and out of Georgia, I am so special to have Mercury who is so considerate that he planned and made good time to let me spend the night in Nashville. As we leave the truck I notice birds flying over head, thousands of them reminding me of the movie The Birds. Mercury  figures Monday night in downtown Nashville would be quiet, boy, was he wrong? All along Broadway there were establishments open trying to lure unsuspecting tourists in. We had a light dinner at one rib place on the second floor that was open to the air reminding me of one of the many places in the tropics. It was right across from Bridgestone Arena where we could watch all the antics of people walking by and two motorcycle cops. On the way back from the truck, I stop to pat a horse and Mercury is slipped a sex card, can’t leave him alone a minute.

Just a 2 km walk from the truckstop to the heart of Music City and Rippy's Fine Restaurant.
 ____Day 5: This load is heavy: the truck scaling 80,280 lbs gross. Two hundred and eighty pounds over-weight; just about the same weight as the Cougar and her baggage. I did consider unloading her onto some other poor truck-driver and let her make her own way back to Manitoba; but decide on running with half tanks of diesel and staying legal that way. A long day behind the wheel gets us back to Nashua in Iowa, just within range of one-day-away.
____It’s an early start to the day to make up for the gift Mercury gave me yesterday of Nashville, and uneventful as we retrace our way back home. One side detour, another gift from my generous driver is going straight through St Louis so I can get a better look and picture of the famous St Louis Gateway Arch. It amazes me also the twists, turns and tiers of the concrete bridges on I64. Through Tennessee I get to see my first actually live wildlife, two deer grazing by the side of the highway. A long day finally stopping where there is internet connection.

I've always wondered who bought all that souvenir stuff they have at truckstops.
 ____Day 6: Nothing delays a roadtrip more than the dreaded phrase: "I need to pee." But the Cougar, point blank, refuses to slip into the driving seat and do a spot of steering whilst I nip into the sleeper and piddle in a bottle. This negates the big advantage of having two in the cab; so I have to pull over, as usual. Meanwhile the Cougar seems to have superb bladder control. A thousand kilometres, back to the yard with the paper, getting home  at dusk.
____Pushing back on early, through the last of the states, listening to music, it’s the first time during the trip I head into the back for a snooze. Waking up just in time for lunch in Fargo, then Mercury allows me one quick stop before the border for some nice Orange Patron; so I have something to fill all 9 shot glasses I picked up along the way, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia. I actually got three in Nashville, which included a Jack Daniels Jigger along with another shot glass with Nashville and some instruments on it. Last of all; I thank my guide, advisor, confident and bunk mate for taking me to places I’ve never been before, a very pleasurable trip indeed.

Georgia: Destination State: Again.


  1. Bunk mate eh?
    A nice commentary from a different point of view as well mate.

  2. Thank you Mick I do bring a bit of fresh air to his blog and bunk lmao