Thursday, July 20, 2006

Road Food

Food on the road is always an adventure. At most chain-run truck stops the fare is the same no matter where you are in the country. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll get seafood gumbo at a Flying J in Louisiana or Yankee pot roast in a Maine Truck Stops of America.

Wherever possible, I tried to stop at small, locally owned truck stops. The service was better and the menus were more varied than at the national chains. Sometimes the food was good.

On a trip to Fargo, North Dakota I parked at a little stop with a dirt parking lot and a diner next door. This was in Rothsay, Minnesota, the Prairie Chicken Capitol of the World.

I’d never seen a prairie chicken before. In fact, I thought they were the figment of someone’s fertile imagination –like Sasquatch. On the giant mural located in the Rothsay Diner, they looked like a cross between a chicken and a rabbit – no shit! They have two tufts of feathers or fur on their heads that look like rabbit ears. From what I saw on the painting, their heads and faces are shaped like a rabbit’s. I looked long and hard, but I never did see any sort of beak.

I ordered beef stew for dinner and got another surprise. It came on top of mashed potatoes – not with mashed potatoes and was the most tasteless meal I had ever eaten outside of a hospital. The meat, the potatoes, and the vegetables all tasted the same – like cardboard. I could taste the salt and pepper that I added, so I knew it wasn’t that my taste buds had suddenly stopped working.

On the other end of the taste bud scale was a small truck stop in Greeley, Colorado. I was waiting for a load of meat from a packing plant, and like every meat load I ever had, it was not ready at the scheduled time.

I found a small truck stop about a mile away and had dinner. I’m a sucker for pot roast, but a good one is hard to find on the road.

When my order came, I stared in disbelief. Mashed potatoes were surrounded by large chunks of meat and vegetables. Good looks do not always mean good taste, but these did.

The potatoes were home made, not that instant shit restaurants normally serve. The meat was tender enough to cut with a fork. The vegetables were done to perfection and the gravy was delicious. I almost asked for another serving, but the portion was huge.

So, to any of you future kings of the road out there, eat at chain stops if that’s all there are, but stay on the lookout for the small, independent joints. You won’t regret it.



Tuesday, July 11, 2006

You Got One Too?

My ex-boss James (James and the Sky Bars – Dec. 31, 2005) spoke on the phone last night. Most of our communications are by email, but it was time for a voice-to-voice conversation. After the normal catching up bullshit, the conversation turned, as it always seems to, to my book – MOTHER*UCKER.

I told him that my agent has it, but the process is stalled at that point. I contacted Lance (the agent) a month or so ago and he told me that he would check on it’s progress. Of course, I never heard back from him. I guess it’s time to contact him again – squeaky wheel and all that bullshit.

But I digress. James suggested another avenue for my creative talents.

As loyal readers of my posts know, I had a “freak” accident in November, 2003 that ended my driving career and, along with other ailments, put me on disability. For any of you not familiar with this occurrence, I wrote about it in depth in my post of October 5, 2005, “Freaky.”

James suggested that I ask any of you readers if you’ve had a similar accident. Something out of left field. Something freaky that’s happened. Maybe even something that’s changed your life.

If so, I’d like to hear about it. Email your story and contact information to me at:
Please put MOTHERTRUCKER in your subject line, because I ain’t stupid. I won’t open shit that doesn’t have a familiar email address.

Maybe I can work a series of short stories or essays out of these, and we’ll all be famous. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you.



Monday, July 10, 2006


I drove a tractor-trailer for two years. In that time I covered over 215,000 miles, visited 47 of the lower 48 states (plus Canada) and I saw some seriously weird shit.

In Longmont, Colorado, I saw people living in half of a mobile home. I guess they couldn’t afford the entire double-wide all at one time. The roof just went up to the peak and the rear wall came straight down. It looked like a lean-to. I can see it now, “Yeah, I’ll take the living room, kitchen, one bedroom and a bath for now, and could you put the rest on layaway?”

Along the Interstate in Central Kansas there are small oil wells dotting the landscape. In front of one particular grouping of these structures was a sign that read:
CALL 1-800-555-1212
Why did I not run for a telephone?

There was one entrepreneur in Kansas who had signs for miles advertising his establishment. His claim to fame was ownership of not only “the world’s largest prairie dog,” but also either a five-legged or six-legged cow. The number of legs depended on which of his 50 signs you believe.

To the east of San Antonio, Texas on I-10, you cross Woman Hollering Creek. Where the hell do they get some of these names? I’m sure there’s a great story behind that one.

In Kent, Ohio, there’s a house with a gate but no fence. Just a gate sitting in front of the steps leading to the front yard. If you don’t believe me, it’s on Mantua Street.

I noticed a church even I might not mind attending on a regular basis. It’s in Indiana and named the Bourbon Baptist Church. Gives communion a whole new perspective, doesn’t it?

Just outside Houston on I-10, there’s a river with two names. According to the sign it’s the Old River and the Lost River. It may be old, but it sure ain’t lost. Hell, you can see it from the Interstate.

Near Wilson, Kansas (the Czech capitol of Kansas) there’s something that will arouse the interest of biblical scholars. It seems the Garden of Eden has been found and is living there.

In Mississippi there’s a park named – honest to God – Toad Suck State Park.

Ever been to Buck Snort, Tennessee?

On I-25 north of Denver, Colorado, there’s a stock car track that has some interesting neighbors. There are working oil wells between the track and the highway and next door sits a junk yard. I assume they refine their fuel from the wells, and after the night’s slammin’ and bangin’ it’s a short trip to the junkyard.

There’s a statue of Abraham Lincoln at the summit of Sherman’s Pass on I-80 in Wyoming. Why not a statue of General Sherman in Lincoln, Nebraska?

Believe me, there are more to come.



Friday, July 07, 2006


I always believed that CB radios were just toys for rednecks. While I was in driver training I thought that a CB was the last thing I wanted in my truck. Once on the road, however, I quickly learned that they are a vital piece of equipment for every over-the-road driver.

Another driver using a CB can warn you of an accident or traffic tie-up ahead. In those events you can find out which lanes (if any) are open. CB’s also have weather bands that warn you of impending bad weather that you may be approaching. These come on automatically if there’s an emergency announcement.

A CB is also great if you’re lost. I can’t count the times I got accurate directions from other truckers when I had no idea where the hell I was. It was amazing that I got accurate directions every time. Amazing because there are a high percentage of assholes out there driving trucks.

The most common messages heard on a CB are “Smokey Alerts,” warnings of cops ahead. “There’s a bear at the southbound 110. Looks like he’s checkin’ velocities.” That’s when you kill your cruise control and get it down to the speed limit fast.
Of course, there’s a lot of just plain bullshit that comes over the airwaves too.

There are always the idiots who open their microphones and burp, fart, sing, scream or just hold the open mic next to their blaring radios. The response is usually swift and always to the point – “When the hell are they gonna start making you pass an I.Q. test before you can buy a CB?”

Just for the hell of it, here are a few of the better comments I heard while driving.

Coming through eastern Indiana, I heard the following dialogue:
“Anybody know how far to the Ohio state line?”
“You’re close driver.”
“Yeah, I know I’m close asshole, but you got
anything better than that?”
“Sure, smart ass. You’re real close.”

Coming through West Virginia very early one morning, this one hit me between the eyes and woke me up:
“OK, drivers. Don’t take 64 west. Some poor soul lost the wheels off his trailer, and they say it’s gonna close exit 1 for most of the day.” “Most of the day? It don’t take that long to put a trailer back up on its tandems.”
“Yeah, but you forget - you’re in West-by-God-Virginia. Everything takes longer here.”“WHAT’S WRONG WITH WEST VIRGINIA?”
“Let’s just put it this way driver - the best thing that ever came out of West Virginia was I-77.”

There’s a device that some drivers put on their CB’s that makes a “beep” every time they release their microphone button. Drivers call it a “roger beep” and it’s supposed to let people know that you are finished talking. It’s annoying as hell, and I guess I’m not the only person that it bothers. After one particularly long CB conversation filled with “beeps”, another driver asked:

“Hey driver. Where’d you get that roger beep. You a wannabe ‘JB’ driver?”
“No, if I wanted to be a JB driver I’d be in one of them ugly yellow cabovers right now. I got the roger beep just to piss you off.” BEEP...BEEP...BEEP

Two drivers were discussing how many hours they had each been working lately and how little time they had at home when a third driver chimed in:

“Keep working real hard, drivers. There’s a whole lot of people out there on welfare countin’ on you.”

Many drivers sing over their CB’s, mainly at night and primarily to keep themselves awake. Most of them suck. One night coming through Kentucky, a driver started singing the Elvis song, “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” and he really didn’t have a bad voice. When he got to the line “is your heart filled with pain?” another driver cut in with:
“No driver, but my ears are startin’ to bleed.”

Coming through Council Bluffs, Iowa on a Saturday afternoon in June, I started hearing reports of a young lady on a bicycle. Sure enough, about three miles later, there she was, riding on the shoulder of I-80 in what could be called “skimpy” attire. One driver got on his radio:
“Y’know, what she’s doin’ is illegal.”
“What – ridin’ a bike on the interstate?”
“Nope....peddlin’ her ass all over town.”

On a trip from Montezuma, Georgia to Atlanta, there was a traffic backup on I-75. One frustrated driver exclaimed:
“What the fuck is the holdup? It’s only 2:30 in the afternoon.”
Interjection from a second, anonymous driver:
“Too many assholes and not enough asphalt.”

One trucker tooling down the highway at about 70 mph, noticed something hanging from the rear bumper of another truck, and warned the other driver:
“Driver – you got something hanging from your trailer’s bumper. Looks like a tie-down strap or something.”
To which he got the reply:
“Thanks, bud. Just an old dog leash. OH SHIT! Is the dog still there?”

On my way down I-65 through Virginia, I overheard a conversation concerning sports. Three or four drivers were participating, and I just listened:
“Who won the race on Sunday?”
“What – the NASCAR race? Never watch it. All NASCAR is is a bunch of rednecks chasin’ a faggot in circles.” (an obvious reference to one of the younger and better drivers on the circuit.)
“So, you don’t like sports?”
“I love football. Great excuse to crack open a six-pack, park my ass in front of the TV all day Sunday and not have to do anything around the house. Problem is, my wife’s a football nut too, so nothin’ gets done on Sundays.”
“My wife and I are into more physically active Sunday afternoons.”
“Like what? She beats the shit out of you then drinks your beer and takes your paycheck?”
“Every Sunday, driver.”

On I-65, again, this time in Kentucky just south of Louisville, traffic was at a standstill because of the inevitable construction. One driver had this comment:
“Will the person who called in for this cluster-fuck please report to the interstate. Your order is ready.”

On a journey through Alabama, I heard two drivers discussing the difficulties associated with quitting the smoking habit:
“Man, I gotta stop smokin’ cigarettes. I can’t stop coughin’.”
“Try sunflower seeds, driver. They worked for me.”
“OK. But aren’t they awful hard to light?”

Pulling into a truck stop near Gary, Indiana at about midnight, I heard the following lament:
“Damn – they never told me I had to back this bitch up!”

A fight broke out – over the radio, of course –concerning a musical selection. When one driver played “Dixie” over his CB in Indiana, the Civil War was resurrected. It started with geographic slurs – “You fucking hillbilly/you God Damned Yankee” – escalated into a verbal food fight concerning the relative merits of grits VS breakfast potatoes and Polish sausage VS ‘possum. The last line that I heard, apparently from the northern driver was:
“How’s it work when you get a divorce down South. Are you still considered brother and sister?”

Just outside Little Rock, Arkansas on I-40, I heard a driver ask where in the hell he was. He concluded with:
“I think I’m between lost and found right now.”

Enough for now.