Monday, August 25, 2008

Reunion Tour 1st Stop: California!

Roads west! Well, after almost two weeks from the time we decided to begin teaming again, Terry and I are finally back in our truck together driving across the country. Our first load was one we would have chosen for ourselves: a load to California and the West. We were very happy to get that load. I'm writing from the Schneider facility in Fontana, California, east of Los Angeles.

Getting together is hard to do. When Terry and I decided to start teaming again, we both happened to be in Maryland. This was almost two weeks ago. We told Schneider we wanted to team again, and we figured it would be just a few days to route us both to the Schneider facility in West Memphis, Arkansas, where we were hooking up.

Terry got there late last Tuesday night, and I finally got there on Friday. Friday afternoon, we went over all our paperwork, and the expectations Schneider has of teams. Most of it was familiar to us since we've done this before.

We met our new dispatcher, a guy in West Memphis named Joe. I am not impressed so far. My hope is that we just don't have too many problems, because I don't have any confidence in Joe's ability and/or real desire to help. Perhaps our last experience with Julian (who is no longer with Schneider, unfortunately) spoiled us. Things were great with him.

I hope I am proved wrong in my initial impressions about Joe. My impression comes from the fact that when they were trying to get Terry and I to West Memphis last week, they had scheduled our meeting with someone there to go over paperwork originally for last Tuesday morning, but since we weren't there, it had to be rescheduled.

I called Joe and left him 3 voicemails over 3 days last week because we needed his help to coordinate that. He never returned my phone calls, acknowledged that he got the messages – just nothing. I ended up having to call my solo dispatcher (whom I've only had for a week) in Charlotte, Marcia, who has nothing to do with my teaming, other than saying good-bye, and she helped me.

And my impressions of Joe from that experience were just reinforced when Terry and I actually met him last Friday.

We shouldn't have too many problems – Terry and I are both low-maintenance drivers; we do our jobs, and don't whine about every little thing, so we rarely even have to contact our dispatcher. I hope that remains true.

From total solitude to 24/7 in a small space with my best friend. As you might imagine, even though we did this last year for nine months, it's still an adjustment going from being by yourself all the time in a truck to sharing that space with another person.

The nice thing about this time is that we already know what works for us, and the time to get used to things again should be shorter.

My biggest adjustment (for now) is sleeping in a moving truck again. But I slept well Saturday night, so it was a good start.

For now, Terry's driving nights and I'm driving days (like we did before). We are supposed to have some time off this weekend in Arkansas that Terry had already scheduled, and we may switch around after that.

A beautiful drive through the mountains during sunrise. Yesterday morning, I started driving about 3:30 in the morning local time, east of Flagstaff, Arizona. As I passed through Flagstaff and west, through those beautiful mountains between there and Kingman, Arizona, on I-40, total darkness began to slowly give way to the light of the new day.

The sun was slowly coming up behind me, and as it began to diffuse its light touches in various places over the mountains, it was like a curtain being parted to reveal one of the most beautiful scenes I've ever witnessed.

As I drove, and day transformed the dark shadows of the mountains, the effects of the light produced brilliant colors, beautiful as any rainbow, showcasing the various rock formations and landscape. As I drove for those several hours, and shadows were displaced by sunlight, I was just mesmerized by what I witnessed.

There are places on that stretch of road where there are tremendous pilings of rocks, ranging in size from a small car to a basketball. It is as if some giant were stepping through the mountains with a mammoth bucket of stones, and decided to pour some of them out in this place. The result is hypnotically gorgeous.

Then, passing from the mountains of western Arizona into the Mojave Desert that stretches all the way across southern California, beauty of another kind is apparent. It is a dangerous kind of beauty, and Terry and I have often talked about our wonder that people of generations past came across this arid land with only horses and what they had with them.

I've driven this road many times, but never as the sun came up, watching it transform the land before my eyes. It was alive, majestic, sacred.

Many people went to church yesterday morning (since it was Sunday), but I had as rich a spiritual experience yesterday driving in my orange truck through those mountains as I've ever had in any building. I was reminded of the passage in the Bible in Psalms to “be still and know that I am God.”

And as many people who have spiritual experiences which to them are profound, I realized myself struck dumb in the face of what I saw, what I knew was there, but too often forget in the rush of the everyday world with its demands, its busyness, and the burdens of navigating an increasingly complex and stressful world. But in the quiet simplicity of that preternatural beauty, as I was reminded in another way when I was reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau again a few months ago, I was able to connect with what is truly important and beautiful in the world. So it was for me yesterday.

In that light, I insert some pictures below that I took while I was in Georgia in July, from my favorite “quiet place” for thinking and reflection in the world, a place I most always go when I'm in Rome, out at Berry College, a place simply known as the Old Mill.

I hope you have your quiet place, a retreat from the normal demands of the everyday rhythms of your life, a place to contemplate and affirm what is really important and beautiful in the world.

Until next time . . . keep the wheels rollin' . . . and look for the remarkable . . .


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