Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Journey Continues

Currently. As I write this entry, I am in the Schneider OC in Gary, Indiana, just outside Chicago. We delivered a load to Romeoville, Illinois, this morning, and our next load just a few miles from here will not be ready until 5:00 pm. The good news is that we are heading to Laredo, Texas! That's always welcome news.

The past couple of months. The main thing to say about the last couple of months is that they have been better than December and January were. December and January were the two hardest months for either of us since we've been driving a truck. February was much better, much more normal.

Our truck has been running okay, we haven't been shut down due to winter weather, and our miles have been decent in spite of the fact that the economy has noticeably affected trucking, including Schneider, in a major way.

Other things to note in passing:

  • We officially passed the 400,000 mile mark in our truck since we began teaming in March, 2007; can you imagine going 400,000 miles in two years?

  • As of last month, I've been driving a truck now for four years – and I still love it.

New Year's Projects. Shortly after the new year began, I decided to begin a couple of projects to give me something to focus on for the next year that will contribute to my personal growth. I decided to apply myself to learning about classical music, and become more familiar with it than I have been before (which is almost not at all); I also decided to begin studying Spanish again. When I lived in Dallas, and worked with Hispanic families, I began to learn Spanish so I could communicate more clearly with people I worked with. I never learned a lot, but I knew enough to be able to hold basic conversations and be understood.

I'm making slow progress with both of them, but I'm learning, and enjoying it.

Reading. I recently finished Confederacy of Dunces and enjoyed it a great deal. Then I read the first John LeCarre book I've read since the 1980's, The Secret Pilgrim . It was excellent, and has whetted my appetite to read more of his work that I haven't read. I'm currently reading a book in the same vein by Len Deighton, XPD.

Roads I Love. This topic will be sort of an ongoing series because I anticipate writing more than you could comfortably read in one sitting (but that's never stopped me before, has it?).

Introduction. When I was first considering driving a truck some six years ago, I came across a great web site that was designed for people like me interested in possibly driving. One of the things on that web site was a video called A Mistress Called the Road . I ordered the DVD and watched it, and it helped me decide driving was for me as much as anything else.

You can view clips from the video here if you are interested: A Mistress Called the Road.

The idea of the road being a kind of mistress is intriguing to me, and that's how I think of my relationship to it at times.

There have been scores of books written about being on the road, about love of the road, but the one I've read and enjoyed most recently is simply called Roads by Larry McMurtry. I commend it to you.

Most of the roads I love are out west. And, of course, the roads I love most are in The Great State of Texas. That's where I will start.

First, though, I must say that I am a Georgia-bred boy, my roots are there, my family is there, and those roads, and that place, especially the mountains of northwest Georgia, will have firm hold of a special place in my heart. Though I left as a young man, and have been gone most of the time since, Georgia has never left me.

Now, to the roads I love most in my adopted home of Texas, where I lived for the better part of ten years, and where many of my fondest memories are rooted, where I love to take the Lonesome Dove Xpress more than anywhere else.

Texas. I lived in Dallas in the 1980's and early 1990's. And, like a moth to a flame, I am drawn there even now. There is nowhere I'd rather go in Texas than that beautiful city, though it has changed so much since I lived there, I scarcely know parts of her. But her voice in my ear hasn't changed.

Laredo to Van Horn. But, for pure driving pleasure, moving that big truck down the pavement, communing with my mistress the road, I have to go south and west, down to Laredo. From Laredo, if you take US 83 north up to Eagle Pass, then get on US 277 up to Del Rio, you get on US 90 west and follow it all the way to Van Horn, where US 90 meets I-10, 100 miles east of El Paso.

Hugging the Mexican border a good part of the way, you pass through some of the most desolate but beautiful parts of this wonderful country we live in. Huge, isolated ranches have been carved out of this wilderness, and the people have to be some of the most enduring ever to visit this planet.

This is the area that is the setting for the novel and mini-series Lonesome Dove and it is where infamous Judge Roy Bean ruled his territory “west of the Pecos”.

No drive is more intoxicating or relaxing or mesmerizing to me than this one.

Laredo to Pharr. If I take US 83 the opposite direction out of Laredo, again following the Mexican border through badlands and small towns that resemble their Mexican cousins as much as anything north of them, you come eventually down to Pharr, McAllen, Harlingen, and Brownsville, Texas.

If I had to settle down anywhere in the world at this moment, I would choose this southland of Texas to make my home. And, one day, I might just do that, if I can stand to let the road go her way – if she lets me.

Brownsville to Houston. From Brownsville, taking US 77 and then US 59, the road takes you north, close to the coast, and, finally, to my least favorite part of Texas, the city of Houston. But the road there is one of my favorites.

I will never tire of Texas or these roads in Texas.

So ends the first of several musings on my favorite drives. I hope you will join me next time.

Until next time . . . keep the wheels rollin' . . . making choices and taking responsibility . . .


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