Saturday, September 20, 2014

SIMPLIFY!

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Thoreau gave that advice in Walden in the year 1854. Every generation since has had a few folks that strove to do just that, at least in some parts of their life, and a few in every part. With a worthless currency, higher taxes, and ever more intrusiveness by the government, more folks are starting to take that advice to heart.

Just today, I bumped into a former co-worker who is near retirement age, working full time, and thinking about taking on a second job to make it easier to meet her expenses. She’s not an extravagant person and has a little home, yet she’s having a rough time. She’s beginning to consider selling her home and the few acres that it sits on, to buy a camper and put it on a few acres across the road. Listing the address of a friend or relative as her own, she could “camp” there year around with no utilities and no house tax. I believe she said that she knew of others doing it. Who could blame her?

A fellow blogger already spends half the year living on a 19 foot sailboat with his wife. He’s currently building a 12 footer with which to do the same thing. He mentions living on the boat year around as an option, if things keep getting worse. Some folks are already doing it.

On a Smaller scale, a friend recently got rid of his cell phone. He felt no need to always be accessible to everyone at every moment and now uses only his land-line, which he already had anyway. He’s money ahead and has a quieter life. Good call, I’d say.


Why be a slave to Wall Street and all your “stuff?” What can you do without to simplify your life and save money? Maybe it’s time to look at the matter again. © 2014
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A Waste Of Good Dirt

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The very first week that I was driving dump truck, I spent a couple days hauling dirt from a church parking lot and dumping it along what I’ve called (in some of my posts) the “Little Cannonball” River. My employers own a campground along said river and were filling in some rough areas to make them higher and more useable for building at some later time. Farm boy that I am, I knew it was good soil the moment that I got close enough to smell it. There’s something heart-warming in laying open that first furrow in the spring and to smell the source of all physical life on earth. That’s what the smell of that soil reminded me of—spring plowing.

That section of town was once the plantation of an old judge from way back. The old plantation house is still standing, and still lived in by descendants of that judge. My wife once helped her aunt clean the old house and says there’s a 360 degree mural of the plantation in the front hallway that shows, among other things, the slaves out working in the fields. Despite being a slave-holder, the old man stayed with the Union during the Uncivil War. It probably wasn’t long after freeing his slaves that the old man started parting with some of the property around the edges of the plantation.

My folks could remember when it was still a farm of sorts. Circuses and county fairs were held in one of the large fields. I have a couple old photos of a fair that I suspect were taken there, though I have no way to know for sure. The rich ground there was a sandy loam, deposited centuries ago by flooding of the Ohio River. Little by little, the rich soil was covered up by houses and streets and businesses. Eventually, most of the auto dealers in town were located in the area and some folks referred to that section of town as “Auto City.”

 Among the buildings there was the church which was making a slight addition to their building, and a change to their parking lot. Over the years, just enough slag, gravel, pipes and concrete had been strewn on the surface and under, that it couldn’t be used as top soil without some effort to separate it, and that wasn’t financially feasible. And so, I hauled the dirt to another place where buildings and parking lots may someday cover it again. At least for a while, there will be some deer and geese using the soil as it was intended. Some of both were in the area as I dumped the dirt there.

And so it is again where I’ve been working this week. I’m taking red clay soil from a hill and covering a large, rich field of sandy loam, complete with a healthy crop of soybeans growing on it. All this is for more warehouses to make a rich man even richer. Once that soil is covered with six to eight feet of rocky clay, it’s unlikely the rich soil will ever again see the light of day.


There’s something inherently insane about using the very best farmland for building cities and factories. In hilly country, the homes often end up being built on the hillsides, with the factories and businesses on the flat land. Since no place is left to grow food, it then has to be brought in from out-of-area, at a much higher cost. Insane isn’t strong enough, I think. Maybe “immoral” is more like it. © 2014
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09-20-14 – Riding Shotgun – Playin’ In The Dirt

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Good weather kept me at the dirt job all week. For some reason, I kept remembering the toy army green dump truck that I had as a child. I spent a lot of time hauling dirt from the pile in the back yard where Dad was digging a basement under the house. In real life, it the dirt job I’m on gets to be a bit of a grind, since the haul is less than two miles. We’re still at the same dig, and will remain so, but the dump site has moved about 400 yards closer. The shortest route is now on a back road, rather than the four-lane we were using.

Unfortunately, it takes us past a company that appears to handle materials for the nearby metals plant. I say unfortunately, because they get in black dust, white dust and red dust and then transfer it to their warehouse, perhaps alter it slightly, and then haul it to the metals plants. I don’t know if the black dust is coal or coke, or something else, but it gets on everything in the area. A street sweeper runs constantly on the road there trying to keep down the mess, but it seems a losing battle. Most of the trucks that haul it were given up on long ago as far as cleanliness, and are a dull black from one end to the other. The area buildings, grounds and equipment are likewise. My wife sees ugliness nearly everywhere she looks these days, but if all that ugliness were put into some form of creature, that area would be its dingle-berried rear orifice. I guess it provides work for some folks though, and the truck traffic for such a small place is phenomenal.

I suspected the red dust might be literally rust (iron ore) for the ferromanganese that the metals plant produces, the black dust might be coal and the white dust lime, used in smelting. Yet, when I search “MAR dust” (what one of the truckers called the red dust) it was mentioned as part of a polymer process. Plus, when I search the name of the company, it comes up as a plastics plant in a nearby town (an office only, I suspect). Still, the stuff gets hauled to the metals plant, black stuff gets hauled back and gets dumped on barges, and life stays busy there in “Ugly Town.” I ended up going back to the longer route, partly to avoid the rough road through Ugly Town, and partly to avoid the blackness of the place.

I AM impressed by a couple young fellows that are working the job. The kid that runs the track hoe (that’s “steam shovel” to old-timers like me) doesn’t look a day over 18, though I’m sure he is. He knows his job and loads the trucks well, plus he runs the dozer when needed. It wouldn’t surprise me if he had his CDL, too. The other young man (who seems to ramrod the dig and the first fill) has probably never seen 30, but he has his CDL Class A, and his heavy equipment operator’s certificate, and does fine at both. He also raises 400 acres of soybeans on nearby property (leased, I assume). Not many young folks today seem to have the drive these two young fellows do.

Friday, a scale man (state trooper equivalent) was hanging around the area, so four of the six drivers headed for the hills. Only I and one fellow who’d just arrived kept hauling. I spoke to the hoe operator and told him to be sure and keep us legal weight and I’d keep hauling. However, when it became apparent that the other guys weren’t coming back, they closed the job for the day. As the hoe operator and I talked, he mentioned that the other trucks were rather junky and probably wouldn’t pass inspection if stopped. Plus, he said that a lot of guys don’t like dirt jobs, and look for any excuse to get out of them. I told him that it wasn’t something that I enjoy that much, but SOMEBODY has to do it. He grinned and told me that’s what his dad says.


I got three stone deliveries from the dispatcher that afternoon, and it seemed like a vacation. Each round-trip from the mine to the delivery point at the county seat, one county “inland” from the river, took about an-hour-and-a-half. Compared to the rush of dirt-hauling, it was both literally and figuratively a drive in the country. It was a good ending to a spine pounding week. © 2014
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Guess I Didn’t Need To Worry

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The photo above is of some notes I made when I was working at the first telemarketing place. I started working there in January of 2009 and started blogging that November. I was afraid that I’d run out of things to write about. Over a few weeks, I made notes as things occurred to me between calls. The notes make a stack about a half-inch thick when pressed tightly together. Most sheets are used front and back. I would have had more, but the company quit allowing us to have such things at our desk. I soon learned that I’m enough of a blabber-mouth, and we live in such a crazy world, that I’ll never run short of opinions. I’ve also got my family history and life experiences to write about.


After toting the notes around in my computer case for about three years, I decided I’d never need them, so here they are in a pile. Many subjects have been dealt with already by chance, but I may look through them anyway, just in case I come cross some brilliant idea I’d forgotten about. © 2014
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Say "Cheese!"

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Several times lately, I've gotten terribly drousy while driving at work, even on two-lane roads, which is unusual for me. It was so bad that I was afraid I'd fall asleep and kill myself or someone else. I've decided that the pastrie or two that I've been buying from the snack box there some mornings is the culprit. I didn't notice it, as long as I ate an occassional cookie through the day. However, I decided to cut out the cookies and found myself crashing about 11am. When I didn't have a pastry, there was no problem. Now I snack on chunk cheese and crackers if I feel the need to nibble between the four half-sandwiches that I take for my ten hour day. I also take an extra banana most days. Strange how public safety can depend on avoiding sweets!
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It’s Almost Here!

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Autumn has been my favorite time of year ever since I can remember. It may be spring for some folks, but I’ll take fall. I suppose, besides the relief it offers from the summer heat, it’s partly the harvest and time of plenty thing experienced by those of us who grew up on the farm. Add the scents, sights and sounds of the season, a slice of pumpkin pie and a day in the squirrel woods, and what’s not for a country boy to love? Just another week and it will be official!

I turned my bedroom fan off in the night for the first time in months. The night was cool, and when I took the pooch out to pee at 3am, there was a spike buck lying in the front yard, within fifty feet of the house. The preseason scouters must already be making their presence known in the woods for him to change his pattern already. My guess is that he was one of the fawns raised in our yard last year and figured he was safe here. I’ve never seen a big buck do that; I guess they learn not to trust ANYONE. I had the dog drain her tank between the porch and the truck, so she wouldn’t see the little buck and raise the alarm at the “trespasser.”

I took her out again at 7, still careful to hold her back, so I could check for snakes on the porch before letting her proceed. We have both stepped over one hugging the house as we made the step down to the porch, and not seen it until I turned to close the door. So far, they’ve only been garter snakes and blacksnakes, but I look first these days, in case the next one is a copperhead. (My wife thought she’d found a baby copperhead on the porch the other day when we came back from the store, but it was a little milk snake, instead.)

As the pooch and I looked around us, there was a heavy fog, so the light was provided by a glowing wall of mist to the east, not directly by the sun. Across the lawn were scattered thousands of little sheets of white, showing where the “tube spiders” had made their funnels, now full of dew. As we passed the porch post, she insisted on stopping to sniff, so I knew a dog or a fox (Yes, I’ve seen them on our porch.) had hiked his leg on the post, even before I saw the small spot of remaining dampness at the post’s base.

After relieving herself, she didn’t want to head back to the house, as she did when the heat was oppressive. She locked her legs to resist my pull on the leash and stood braced toward the east, nose twitching and nostrils flaring, as she mined the air for scent. Even when she finally gave in to the pressure of the leash, she pulled back in order to check scents on the ground. It must have been a busy night around the house last night.

I sat in the porch swing for a few minutes before taking her inside. Normally, she wants to go inside to rejoin my wife but, this morning, she was happy to stay outside to listen and sniff. A few crows to the west were creating more noise than seemed necessary with their morning chat. Otherwise, it seemed quiet, with the barking dogs of the night now silent, and the chattering of spring’s nesting birds long gone. My wife always says that the quietness of autumn tells her that the earth is getting ready for its long nap. Besides the crows, the only other sound coming through the fog was the dripping of dew from the trees. With my eyes closed, I would have thought it was raining.


While the coolness had kept the mosquitoes at bay, it also finally started to make its effect known to my shirtless torso. As I arose from the swing, the Mighty Dachshund headed for the door, now ready to once again lie by the bed of her mistress. © 2014
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Saturday, September 13, 2014

09-13-14 – Riding Shotgun – Sometimes I’m Stuck-Up

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The way that I use the term “stuck-up” today is totally different than you might expect. You see, Thursday I had my work truck stuck in the mud while it was pointed uphill at a fairly steep angle. I had a delivery two counties “inland” from the river, but they didn’t say which of two locations it was to be delivered to. So, I stopped at the closest one, climbed the short but steep drive to the site, saw that no-one was there, and started backing down the slope to turn around at the bottom and proceed to the other site.

Unfortunately, while trying to get near the off side (To you non-horsemen, that means the passenger side.) of the driveway, I took my eyes off the mirror for a moment. STUPID MOVE! When I looked back, the back duals were hanging over the edge, and only the inside dual of the front duals were still on the stone drive. When I tried to move forward, (uphill) the tire spun slightly and down I went. I put the axle in the lock position (think positive traction), and put the rear axle in gear also. (If I’m saying this wrong, you truckers correct me!) There was still no forward movement, but the truck sank a little deeper into the mud.

Just behind the rear axle was a ditch, and beyond that, asphalt pavement. In a moment of brilliance, I decide to put it in reverse and see if I could get enough speed up in the three feet or so between the tires and the asphalt to get to the pavement and “hop” the truck up on solid footing. Of course, all you experienced truckers are already laughing, but hey, it’s not like I had much to lose. The truck shot back alright, for about 18 inches. By then, I was only another 18 inches from the asphalt, but it was level with the center of the rear dual. I knew better than to spin the tires anymore. I guess loaded buckets don’t hop any better than concrete trucks.

Knowing that the company had another truck or two in the area, I got on the company radio and asked about a pull. One veteran drive responded that he was on his way. I then called the office on my phone and told them I was hung, but that the other driver was coming to see if he could help. In five minutes, he was there. With a smile, he congratulated me on the fine job I’d done of getting hung. He said that he wouldn’t bother hooking to me because he knew the outcome. He suggested that we get the customer to send a guy over to fire up the track-hoe that was on-site and see if it could pull me out. He, too, was there in about five minutes.

Even then, it took about a half-hour’s work to pull, push and pull again to get me on the pavement. The customer ended up with a much-needed wider driveway entrance, with the addition of about 15 tons of my 22 ton load. I had to dump that much to lighten the truck to where the hoe could move it. The remaining seven tons went to the top of the driveway, where they’d originally wanted the whole batch. The veteran driver laughed as we left and said, “You have days like this!”


I was thankful that at least the boss didn’t have to shell out $900 for a tow truck! © 2014
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The Satisfaction of Righteousness (a link)

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Perpetual Proverbs: The Satisfaction of Righteousness
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Friday, September 12, 2014

09-12-14 - Riding Shotgun - Hauling Dirt

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They’ve been working on my regular truck at work, the last couple days, but I’ve been driving another just like it. One of the bosses asked if I preferred one over the other. Since both are eight years old and have about 300,000 miles on them, I commented “No, only the rattles and squeaks are different.” He was amused (I hope).

Dispatch went really quick today, and I was on site for the hauling job, just across the river, in about 15 minutes. I, and five other trucks from various companies, were hauling red clay from a hillside, to a slightly boggy field about two miles up the road. There, a couple bulldozers and a piece of knobby, steel-tired compacting equipment spread the dirt in thin layers and packed it like concrete. When they’re done filling the area, they’re going to build three big warehouses to join the seven that are already on the site. It sounds like I’ll be working there for up to three months on dry days. (You DO NOT mess with red clay in the rain!)

There are no little plastic privies on either site and no place, like a gas station, along the short route to use the restroom, so the area bushes are getting a lot of business. That wouldn’t be so bad, but there were six office-types walking around the dig for a while today, talking and pointing, so privacy was at a premium. Considering that we’re there from 7am to 4pm, and may be there for a quite a spell, it doesn’t seem too much to expect. When I asked one of the bosses if he could put a bug in their ear, he promised to do so, saying that it wasn’t even legal under those circumstances to operate without one.

We haul from 25 to 27 loads per man each every day we work that job, so that figures about 20 minutes a round. That keeps you hopping, I tell you! The first day we did it, the veteran driver that was working with me threw a fit about having to do it so, since then, he’s been hauling “hot rocks” (asphalt), which I’ve never done and really don’t want to. He seems happier, though, so it must agree with him. The fast pace DOES sort of grind on you, so rainy days, when I’ll be hauling regular deliveries, will seem like a vacation by comparison. An independent trucker has stepped into the veterans place. The guy bought his truck last week and already has an agreement with my employer, for as long as this job lasts. He seems like a nice guy.

It seems no matter where I go, there’s always a couple guys ratchet-jawing on the CB. One of them is always whining or griping about his job and the other is always sympathetic. I guess that would make him an “enabler!” Today’s pair happened to be especially foul-mouthed, dropping f-bombs and taking the Lord’s name in vain with nearly every sentence. Only when I heard them mention counting loads did I realize that they were the two oldest guys working the same job that I was! That was after turning my CB off for most off the day, so I wouldn’t have to listen to the filth.


I was told that I get my regular truck back Monday, and just when the rattles and squeaks of this one were starting to sound familiar! © 2014
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A Pennsylvania Train Museum (a link)

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http://coopfeathers.blogspot.com/2014/09/friday-night-steam_12.html
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Preparing to Be the "Gray Woman" (a link)

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"Rational Preparedness" : The Blog: Notes on Preparing to Be the "Gray Woman"
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American-MadeWashboards (alink)

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The Deliberate Agrarian: American-MadeWashboards
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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Trimming The Bucket List

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My wife and I have been trying to get rid of “stuff” for several years now. Things we once thought that we needed to do things that we once planned to do don’t appear to be so necessary anymore. We probably won’t have the health or live long enough to do many of the things we wanted. We won’t have the money to do others, plus, between Obamacare and Obama’s speeding up of an already crashing economy, I may have to work until my dying day just to survive. I’d originally planned to retire at 62, but that looks impossible now.

Some of my things I’ve sold, some I’ve given away to folks who could actually use them, or were at least interested in them, while some things that had only sentimental value could only be thrown away. For instance, I’d once planned to record all my old 78 records onto flash drives or CD’s, but I don’t know when I’ll ever have the time. As a result, I promised my old Brunswick hand-crank phonograph to my daughter-in-law months ago. I just got the first box of records to her last weekend. I need to take anther box to her before I can actually get in to the phonograph to move it. That will be a little more available floor space for me and a little less for her. I jokingly told her that I’d decided that the way to get rid of my junk was to give it to her.

I wonder, though, will I ever really get a forge set up and use my grandfather’s old anvil and the hammers and tongs that I’ve collected over the years? At age 59, it seems unlikely, but I still can’t make myself trash the idea just yet. Will the old-time woodworking tools that I got mostly from family ever be put to serious use if I can’t retire at 62 and start my little hobby wood-working business? If I have to work until age 80 to pay for Obama’s “hope and change,” it seems nigh impossible. I’d like to see these things go to someone who’d actually use them, but that means that I have to part with them while I’m still mentally with it. It’s the same way with my guns. I’d rather give them to someone who needs them than sell them, but will I ever need them again? I haven’t hunted for five years, but it’s like I’d be giving away a part of myself. Besides, what if they’re needed to kill A-rabs someday? (That’s a distinct possibility with everything that’s going on in the world.)

I bumped into a former coworker in a fast-food joint the other day, as she got food for the two granddaughters with her. She, too, is cutting back on the length of her bucket list (and her current activities), not just due to age, but also due to worsening rheumatoid arthritis. I guess if it ain’t one thing it’s another.


Looking back, I know that I’d have been a lot further down my list if I’d been the hermit that I’d once considered becoming. Too soon old and too late smart, as the Pennsylvania Dutch say! LOL I hope you get all the items checked off your bucket list except one. We all still need something to shoot for. © 2014
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Jogger Rage

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One particularly lovely old street in my town was first built up between 1900 and 1910. Many of the old houses still remain, as due quite a few of the old oak trees that were planted then. It’s a nice neighborhood with a wide street and wide sidewalks on both sides, set behind the oaks. Many people from the neighborhood, and some from elsewhere, walk there of an evening to enjoy the quiet dignity of the area.

Unfortunately, the joggers have discovered the area, too. They aren’t content to jog on the sidewalks like ladies and gentlemen, though. They consider themselves “athletes,” though many really aren’t, and have decided that designation grants them the privilege of running in the street itself. So, if you choose to drive down that street, you now have to watch out for people running willy-nilly both with and against the traffic, some at the edge of the lane, some in the middle of it, and some right down the center of the street. They don’t want to budge, either; they want the CARS to move over for THEM. Unfortunately, our state and city laws, meant to protect pedestrians by giving them right-of-way, are being perverted to allow them to get by with such rude and dangerous behavior.

One of my wife’s uncles used to live on the street, so we sometimes drive through, just to remind her of the good old days. When she was a kid, they had family get-togethers there. Her and her brothers and sisters played there with their cousins. She learned to ride a bike there. Times have changed the neighborhood some, though, and it has certainly changed the class of people who use the area.
Yesterday evening, we were driving the street in the opposite direction from normal, just for a change of perspective, and I saw a jogger in the distance. He had just started around a parked car and was coming towards me in my lane. Between us, there were no more parked cars at all. I was driving slowly already, so there was no need to slow down, but I did move toward center slightly, to allow plenty of room to clear the parked car when I got there. I noticed, though, that the jogger made no effort to move into the 8-10 foot wide parking lane that sat empty. He jogged straight ahead. At that rate, I’d clear him by about 18 inches, but why he didn’t have sense enough to move over a little, I didn’t know.

THEN, he started waving me toward the center of the street, obviously demanding that I get out of his way. Being a bit on the stubborn side, I figured that I’d already moved over once, I wasn’t going to hit him unless someone changed course, and there was no reason that he couldn’t move into the unused parking lane a bit. Though no-one was coming, the driver’s side of my vehicle was already at the exact center of the street, and moving over would have put me into the oncoming lane, so I held straight. When he figured out that I wasn’t going to obey him, he appeared to start screaming obscenities and giving me the one-finger wave. He stopped and continued to do so after I passed. Then, perhaps because I was going so slowly to begin with, he turned and started jogging my way as I drove on. I figured that maybe he was trying to get my license number, which didn’t matter to me, so I didn’t bother speeding up any, though he would never have gained on us anyway.

My wife was concerned that he was hoping that I’d jump out and confront him so he could give a thumping. He was over six feet tall and thin, but very muscular, and in his 20’s or 30’s, so he probably could have done a number on me. I’m 59, grossly overweight, terribly out of condition, plus, though I’ve had to defend myself a few times in my youth, I was never known for my fighting ability. That’s one reason that I got a concealed carry permit—I’m getting older and people are getting crazier. To placate my wife, I sped up a little and was soon off the street. He’d stopped following after about a block anyway. Now she no longer wants to go down that street.


I actually thought about reporting the incident to the cops, but the way things are today, they might have tried blaming me for his insane behavior. He may pull that stunt on the wrong guy sometime and end up with skid marks on his six-pack. Of course, the law will probably blame only the driver if he does. © 2014
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09-05-14 – Riding Shotgun - Visiting "The Pit"

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The scent from “America’s Leading Spray Deodorant” is slightly noticeable in my closed up cab as I drive to the mine. It reminds me of the story my wife tells from her childhood. Her mother bore the children but she then, basically, handed them over to my wife to raise, since she was the oldest daughter in a family of seven kids. Even in a horrible childhood, there are usually a few times of joy, and one of those was the two weeks every year that her father took the whole family on vacation. Her father told them all to use deodorant because he “didn’t want no stinkin’ bodies holed up in the car with the rest of the family.” So, after they all got their morning baths, my wife lined up all her brothers and sisters, arms in the air, and gave them all a good shot of deodorant in each armpit. Since it felt cold, there was usually a little shrieking and giggling going on. That memory is why she bought the can of deodorant for me (that she uses occasionally herself). Back then, she said they made a “family size” that looked as big as a small fire extinguisher. No more, though.

It’s a hot day as I drop into what I call “the pit.” As I bounce down the access road, I notice that I’m the only truck in the pit—a real rarity at this normally busy place. About halfway down, a box turtle starts boldly across the hot, dusty road, coming from the lower side. That means that he’s already crossed the tall earthen “limestone” berm put there to keep trucks from going over the hill. He has to make it across the road without meeting the same fate as the infamous chicken, then cross a smaller berm and the road ditch, before he can continue uphill. I stop fifty feet away, so as not to disturb him, and let him make his way to the upper berm before continuing downward. I back into the pile of the size of limestone the order calls for, put the truck in neutral and pull the button for the spring brakes.

Though hot in the pit, there’s a good breeze, so I put my window down, so I can hear the loader when it arrives, and close my eyes to give them a rest. After a few seconds, I seem to hear gently falling water; it lends an unexpected peaceful sound to the industrial/otherworldly appearing place. When I reopen my eyes a minute later, I notice that the source of that peaceful sound isn’t water at all, but the main elevated conveyer, the only one currently running. It’s spewing limestone straight from the mine into a huge pile, perhaps 5-6 stories tall. From my location about 150 yards away, the sound of stone hitting stone sounds like a tiny waterfall, or a babbling brook, despite the fact that the noise comes from stones big enough to crack a man’s skull from the 20 foot height from which they fall to the top of the pile.


Before closing my eyes again to imagine a tiny waterfall, I notice a crow walking around the baking floor of the pit. Tiny puffs of dust arise with each awkward step (crows are better hoppers than walkers). His beak is held wide open, meaning that he’s miserably hot. Why would he choose to stroll here in this miniature Death Valley on such a day? When I open my eyes a couple minutes later, he’s gone. The loader comes and I flash two fingers twice, meaning that I want 22 tons. He nods and proceeds to load my truck. After only three scoops of the big loader, he beeps his horn, meaning that I’m loaded. I tell him thanks over the CB, careful to use his name, and head to the access road to begin my climb out of the pit and to the scale house at the top of the hill, where I get weighed and start my delivery. © 2014
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I Always HEARD There Was A Fourth One!

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Babcock State Park ~ Part 2 (a link)

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West Virginia Treasures: Babcock State Park ~ Part 2
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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Holidays

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I remember the holidays when I was a kid. We never did big, extravagant things, since we were poorer than I realized at the time. However, we had a good time, usually after working at least half a day (Though, sometimes, we worked ALL day and just celebrated that evening). You see, on the farm, there’s ALWAYS something that needs done, 365 days a year, especially if you heat with wood or have livestock. Besides, anyone who’s ever been self-employed knows that any day taken off is income lost. If you’re SPENDING money to celebrate, then the loss is double. So—we worked. The only exceptions were Christmas and any holiday that happened to fall on a Sunday.

Things changed some in the 60’s, when my paternal grandparents and one paternal aunt died. They REALLY changed in the 80’s, when my father passed away. He was, apparently, the glue that held my immediate family together. Things gradually went downhill, with my wife, mother and sister caring less and less for one another’s company. Similar things were happening in my wife’s family after her own father died. In the 90’s, my paternal grandparents and my beloved great-aunt passed away. In 2010, my mother-in-law passed away. By now, all my wife’s many aunts and uncles are gone, and only three of my eleven such relatives (plus my mother) remain, two of those out-of state, so things are very different from the old days.

My wife won’t go to my sister’s or mom’s places, but she will invite them here (since they behave better on her turf), and they’ll come, so a couple times a year, I get to experience some semblance to a holiday, especially if “the kids” (my step-son and his wife) come too. Of course, if any of our five grandkids show up, that’s even better. But, such get-togethers only happen a couple times a year, if then. I realize that everyone goes through at least some of this as they get older, but that doesn’t make me long for the old days any less.

We don’t get paid holidays starting out on my new job, and only one is added per year of service until there are 12 of them. I understand their thinking, since the bosses are self-employed. They probably feel that they’re being generous and, since it’s a small company, they basically are. Unfortunately, that makes it pretty unlikely that I’ll ever get all of them. To tell you the truth, with the exception of Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving, I’d rather work the other holidays, rather than lose the pay. Otherwise, it sort of feels like we’re being punished the week after a holiday for not working it, though we have no choice. I really don’t blame my employers, though, because once you’re self-employed, you never look at holidays quite the same way. Besides, it’s not like we have anyone to get together with, or can afford to do anything interesting.


I hope your holidays are paid, and that you enjoy them immensely. There’s no need for ALL of us to be grumpy or melancholy! © 2014
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Keeping Dogs Safe and Calm During Target Practice (a link)

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"Rational Preparedness" : The Blog: Keeping Dogs Safe and Calm During Your Farm's Target Practice
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Cyber Warfare (a link)

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_It Don't Make Sense_: Cyber Warfare
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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Observations

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I’m currently sitting in the parking lot at Wally World, while my wife finds entertainment inside. On the way in, we passed the “disabled veteran” (maybe he is) panhandling at the entrance. He sat under his umbrella, as it was raining pretty heavily at the moment. Even with his hoodie up, you could see the fancy headphones that caused him to swing and sway a bit. I may have mentioned this before, but I saw the young, blond “struggling artist” panhandling there again the other day, and she’d gained some weight. Apparently she’s not struggling as hard as she once did.

My wife and I splurged and had lunch in a nice restaurant today, since it’s a holiday weekend. One guy kept staring at my wife as she ate, until he finally got food of his own. Another fellow kept yelling at anyone he knew who walked through the door. Plus the older couple beside us kept discussing (a little too loudly) things that I wouldn’t have discussed in public. My food was excellent, but my wife’s lasagna was mushy, so I suspect that it was left over from the night before and micro-waved. Overall, I guess you could call it an “interesting” experience.

Being Sunday, and us not in church still, I recalled a church that I saw in Tyler County this past week. There were no words over the door tying it to any location, family or denomination. It had only a large sign on the front lawn saying “Morning Worship – 10:30.” It sort of made me wish that it was in reasonable travelling distance of our home.


I just saw Vladimir Putin walk out of Wally World, get in his car and drive off. I wonder if the CIA knows he’s here? Probably not. © 2014
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Saturday, August 30, 2014

My AMERICAN MADE "Lunch Box"

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My Igloo 12 quart model holds 6 bottles of water laying down, with two freezer gel packs and a hand towel overtop with still plenty of room for my lunch and snacks. And Hey; It's AMERICAN MADE! I got it at Walmart for about $15 and heartily reccommend it.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Igloo-12-Quart-Quantum-Cooler/35175702
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08/30/14 – Riding Shotgun

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I’d mentioned earlier, either here or on Facebook, that my blog might be taking a slightly different direction, since I’m working regularly now. My schedule makes it harder to post, harder to read your posts, harder to comment on your posts and harder to link your posts, all due to time constraints. I hope none of you take it personally if you hear less of me for a while. Some of you may even find it a blessing! Eventually, I hope to save my pennies and get one of those gizmo’s that you speak into and it converts your speech into a word document. I’m thinking that might allow me to post more often and be a little more spontaneous. I can’t do it yet, though, since nearly a year-and-a-half of no work and lousy work has left me with a lot of financial catching up to do.

The passenger seat in the dump truck that I drive at work sits perpetually empty, and we aren’t allowed to have riders, so you might as well come along, even if it is vicariously. I’ll share a few of my observations and thoughts with you from my driving, so feel free to speak your own mind; that’s what the comment box is for.
You’ve probably noticed those old folks who sit on their front porch and wave at the traffic going by. I’m one of those, so I give a little wave of brotherhood at all the other drivers whose vehicle has dual rear wheels, from delivery vans to the largest four axle straight-frame. Some of them wave back, some don’t, and some that I see regularly are BECOMING wavers from my efforts. Most semi drivers think a bit well of themselves, so I don’t usually bother with them, unless they’re hauling lumber, logs or livestock. I guess that’s sort of a nod of the head to my former life and their current one.

CB radio use is different than it was 30 years ago when I was driving regularly. There’s probably more trucks on the road than then, at least where I’m driving now, but less chatter on the CB. I think the cell phone has caused a lot of that. The folks are less polite, too. No-one asks for a break anymore; they just talk over you. Of course, you still have a few folks who monopolize the airwaves with their ratchet-jawing. Nearly always, it’s some poor sucker with a whiny voice that sounds like he’s had WAY too much coffee (or something else).

I drove through the little community of Mountain, WV a couple times this week. It USED to be called “Mole Hill,” but they changed it to Mountain a few decades ago, just to prove that it could be done. They got their 15 minutes of fame on national TV, but were quickly forgotten. Some years ago, a few of the wiser folks who still lived there tried to get the name changed back, to reclaim their history, but the Post Office (or whoever) wouldn’t let them.

Speaking of names, I like to watch the names of places, roads and businesses. A former business in Erie, WV was named “Secret Furniture Company.” A discount sale was still advertised in the window. Maybe no-one knew! (I believe the name of the owner was Mr. Secret, no joke.) A few blocks away was Dan Street. I didn’t have the time to look for any other names there, like bill or Dave Streets, but I did see a Jane Street somewhere in the last month.

This week, I revisited Indian Creek Road in Tyler County, WV. It was 36 years ago that I delivered products to a little mom and pop store there for Red Rose Feed. The little building is still there by the edge of the road, though in disrepair. But the once well-kept white house next door, where the owners lived, now seems to be occupied by a youngish family of slobs.

Some folks may be unaware that in this neck of the woods, we tend to call the feeder streams of larger creeks by the designation “run.” It would be a fork or branch in other country settings. On my trip from the limestone mine to Indian Creek and other deliveries in that part of the country, I passed Flinderation Road, Gnat Run Road (starts on a hilltop), Alkire Run Road (starts in a valley), Camp Mistake Run Road, Klondike Run Road (must have been named during the Canadian gold rush), Tarkiln Road, Purgatory Run Road and others of lesser interest. It would be interesting to know the stories to some of those names!


Driving Rt. 18, out of West Union, toward Middlebourne, the road was bad. I saw one straight-sided pothole that looked to be a foot deep. Luckily, I didn’t hit it. I knew I was getting close the oil patch, though, when I suddenly hit brand new asphalt. Also, there in the middle of nowhere, I looked across Middle Island Creek to see a new mansion of downright palatial size. SOMEBODY is certainly making some money from the oil and gas business there! © 2014
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How Now, Black Cow? (And Other Beefs)

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I about laughed my socks off when I saw the packaging for the bologna that my wife had gotten. It proudly (and foolishly) proclaimed that it was made from “Angus Beef.” Having been in business myself, I understand marketing is a needed part of the picture. However, since the “beef” in bologna is largely hearts, tongues, lungs, lips, udders, trimmings and pink slime, does the color of the animal’s hide really matter? Let’s get real. Incidentally, the first three ingredients were beef, water and corn sweetener. The beef stock (beef flavored water) listed further down the list is, I suppose, to make it taste more like real meat.

On an only slightly related note, one of the other drivers managed to get his son on the payroll as a shop and grounds helper. He’s a good kid, but a bit clueless, like most of us were at that 16-18 age. Knowing his dad was a former dairy farmer that still had cattle, I asked him what breed of cattle they have currently. He said that he didn’t know, but maybe Angus. I asked him the color, and he told me that they were black, so I agreed that they were probably Angus. It sort of shocked me that a kid could grow up, and still live, on a farm and not know what kind of cattle his father raises. I assume the kid doesn’t plan to be a farmer.

That’s one rather sad thing that I see on my driving through the country on my job—the number of farms growing up into brush and timber. Often, the old homesteads stand unused, their houses and barns empty and deteriorating. Generations of children may have been raised there, but hard times and lack of interest has scattered those grown children to the winds. Many folks still live in the country, but they don’t live “on” or “from” the land. They merely live a city-style life in the country. I fear that this country has largely lost its ability to take care of itself. Few folks remain that know how to do anything, even raise a garden.

I see very few square balers being used these days, having been replaced by the big round balers. I miss having cattle, but I must admit that one thing I DON”T miss is stacking bales against the barn roof, when it’s 120 degrees in the loft and you have to watch out for wasps. The round bales supposedly let you get out of the expenses of needing a barn and the extra help to handle hay. Everyone farms from the tractor seat these days. I lived through that bale change, though, and it wasn’t because of the costs that folks around here made the switch; it was because summer help wasn’t available at ANY price. Most kids these days won’t work that hard, preferring to flip burgers, or simply sponge off their folks until they get shamefully old.


I worked many a day pitching bales for a dollar an hour. A boy down the road parlayed his summer days, and dad’s mostly unused haying equipment, into a well-paying business during his high school years. He’s one of the few folks around here younger than me who still farms on the side. It’s a sad day for agriculture and for American readiness, when guys like him are such a rarity. © 2014
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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Automatic Deposit

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It’s a hot Sunday morning and all the decent people are in church (personal joke). I’m sitting, in my truck, in the outer lane at a bank drive-through to take advantage of the shade. For some reason, they took out the equipment in this lane, so it now serves only as a pass-through when the bank is open. Since the bank isn’t open on Sundays, I figure that I’m not bothering anyone sitting here.

The ATM is mounted in the actual wall of the bank, which probably makes it easier and safer to service. It’s doing a bang-up business today. I suppose the folks driving through probably have automatic deposit and need a little cash. I suppose it might be a good plan for folks with slight self-control problems. There IS no good plan for folks with NO self-control, except to grow up.

My mother worked in bookkeeping for several years at one of the local banks, and told me a lot of horror stories about automatic deposits and withdrawals. She never had it herself, which should tell you something. Of course, many folks have no choice in the matter these days, as their employer makes it the only option available. If that were the case, I’d probably empty the account of the bulk of its contents at the earliest possible second. Automatic withdrawals are, by far, the most troublesome, with even many supposedly legitimate businesses doing things to circumvent a held payment when there’s a dispute.


I realize that such things are a convenience for some folks, especially those who travel a lot. Personally, I believe it’s another sneaky step in edging us toward a cashless society. As for me, call me cranky, but I’ll handle my own money, thank you, if only to aggravate the powers that be. © 2014
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I Should Have Told You Sooner

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It was frustrating being out of work for over a year. It was even more frustrating to have to go back to telemarketing as a last resort. Thankfully, I was only there a couple months, but I never told you the rest of the story.

The job only paid minimum wage the first week or two during training. After that, it went up to $8 an hour. Following that, if I showed up for work as I was supposed to, the pay was actually $9.75 an hour—still not enough for two people to live on. Naturally, I always received the larger amount, though. After a couple months, they figured out that I was never going to be any good at running multiple conversations and multiple computers, so they switched me to validation and dropped my pay back to $8.

They gave me the news 15 minutes before shift end on the last day of the week. I swear, I got more mean people on the phone that last 15 minutes than I’d had all day. No, I really wasn’t just hearing through “jaded ears;” I think the devil was simply trying to kick me while I was down. When I left and got to my truck, I got out my phone to call my wife and let her know that I was on my way, as I always did. There was a number above hers that I didn’t recognize, so out of curiosity, I called it. It was the co-owner of the trucking company where I now work but, of course, no-one answered at 10:30 pm. I thought right then that it might be the workings of the Lord.

I called my wife, but I waited until I got home to tell her about my demotion and the call from the trucking company. She, too, thought it might be the Lord at work. I played telephone tag with the guy for a couple days, but we finally connected and I got my interview. I knew the guy was a Christian, because he’d sung in a couple churches that I used to attend so, after the interview was mostly over, I told him about the situation. I also explained that had he called BEFORE my demotion I would have turned him down, figuring that I’d be laid-off all winter anyway (and wouldn’t be able to draw any unemployment the first year, due to being out of work for over a year). I ended by saying that I didn’t know if the Lord was leading him to offer me the job but, if he did, I firmly believed the Lord wanted me to accept it. His reply was, “That’s exactly what I’m doing, is offering you the job.” Needless to say, I took the job.

The pay is only $12 an hour, but through the summer, the weeks are 50 hours, so that helps. It turns out that they rarely ever lay off in winter because he will take break-even work to keep his guys working, plus he has salt-hauling contracts. Sadly, the pay is still barely enough for two people to live on, the way things keep going up. Plus, the devil is still trying to throw obstructions in my path, but we’ll make it. The folks are good to work for and I like the job. I’m sure that negatives will eventually show up, but that’s life; I’ll whine and gripe and deal with them, like I always do.


The thing that impresses me is that through all the disappointments, through false hopes and over-extended CDL classes this past winter, the Lord was at work. He even made sure that I got that call AFTER I got my demotion, so I wouldn’t turn the job down, assuming winter lay-offs. God is good; I only wish that I could be a little more worthy of such care. Praise the Lord, and praise His holy name! © 2014
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Seen From The Driver’s Seat

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As might be expected, I’m seeing and learning a few things on my new job. For one thing, I notice that most dump truck drivers wave at each other as they meet on the highway, even on the four-lane. I guess they consider themselves sort of a brotherhood. I remember doing such things years ago, when I drove the mail truck, but I waved at most any medium-duty truck. Actually, I still do, and now have some of the oilfield drivers waving at me. What can I say; I’m one of those country bumpkins who sits on the porch and waves at the cars that go by. Of course, there are a few Grumpy Gus’s who just glare at you, but I figure that’s their problem, not mine.

I learned from a lady flagger, regulating traffic on a back-road, that the oilfield slang for a dump truck is a “bucket.” Water trucks and such are “bottles,” and the trucks that haul sand to the drilling site are called “sand cans.” As a result, you may hear one flagger radio to a flagger at the other end of a one-lane road, “I’ve got two buckets, a sand can and a bottle coming your way with the bottle in the rear.” The reply may be, “10-4, I’ve got a lowboy (semi with lowboy equipment trailer) and two four-wheelers (cars or pickups) waiting. I’ll send them out after the bottle goes by.” I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more. My granddad was a rig-builder back when they built them from wood. I’m sure he’d be interested in seeing the changes that the last 50 years have made in the oil business.

A lot of the well sites and compressor stations are located WAY back in the boonies, far from the eyes of anyone but the closest country neighbor. I suspect that’s partly for security reasons. Speaking of security, I suspect the amount of security at such sites is staggering. In these days of terrorism, that’s as it should be. It’s amusing to travel back some miserable little country lane for five miles and then come upon roads that look like gravel four-lanes. The oil companies have much better roads than the state, once you get to them. One cloudy day, I was going to a well-site in one of the back-counties and the road was so narrow and the canopy of trees so overgrew the narrow gravel road that I put my headlights on so oncoming trucks would be able to see me better. You rarely see a house on such roads. One that I DID see was a modern, but traditional style, two-story log house built very fortress-like in a valley in the middle of nowhere. It had few windows, and they were small and high. I suspect a prepper may live there, but who knows.

A couple days ago, I was heading east on the Northwestern Pike at sunrise when the sun looked like a huge orange ball, just barely above the horizon. As I approached the next ridge, the great orb slowly sank back below the horizon, not to be seen again for the rest of the day. I guess even the sun doesn’t want to get out of bed some days. A couple days before that, I was further out the same road when I noticed a strange thin cloud in the distance that stretched from side to side of a big cut in the nearby hill made for the highway. Something didn’t look right, and as I studied the cloud further, I realized that it was actually the top of the next ridge, and the “sky” in which it was floating was really only fog in the next valley. The sun that morning looked like a pale imitation of the moon, until nearly noon.


I enjoy seeing the few remaining farms in the back-country, since we have almost none left in my area now. They remind me of my youth. Most are cow-calf operations, but a few look like they just buy stock in the spring to eat their farms down through the summer. One farm has a small herd of donkeys; I’m sure it’s not a paying proposition, but they’re neat to see. I’ve still never figured out where the white Guinea hen came from that was sitting alongside the four-lane in a desolate section of the next county.  No “evidence” of him remained when I returned an hour later, so he must not have tried to cross the road! © 2014
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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Insanity On The Highway

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Most of us think that drivers are getting crazier by the day. Nothing strengthens that belief like spending all day, five days a week, on the road. Though a few stick out, so many people have cut me off and pulled out in front of me that I actually remember few of them. You would think that putting yourself in the path of a vehicle that (loaded) weighs 15 to 30 times the weight of your own vehicle would cause folks to hesitate. And it sometimes does, just long enough to let you get closer before they pull out in front of you anyway.
Even though their use while driving is now illegal in both states in which I drive, the number of people that I see driving along texting and talking on cell phones is scary. Many talkers seem nearly unaware of what’s going on around them, but the texters literally have to take their eyes off the road to do their “typing,” sometimes for amazingly long periods of times. The one that surprised me most was a brine-truck driver. The guys who haul water and brine to and from the well-sites tend to work long hours and drive fast, so it sort of shocked me the other day to find myself gaining on one. As I passed, I noticed that he was texting away!
Speaking of water truck drivers, they tend to be a dangerous bunch. I’ve seen a few that have gone off the road and got stuck in the mud, probably because they fell asleep at the wheel. They were VERY lucky!

Also, the first week that I drove, I was following the boss in my truck when we came to a stop light. He was sitting in the right lane with two cars ahead of him. I was still in the left lane with two cars and an extremely old, rusted-out water truck in front of me. The cars got stopped okay, but the guy driving the water truck and had waited too long to slow down and had to jam on the brakes. He was almost stopped when the surge from the water in his tank threw him forward. He was quick enough to steer around the stopped cars in front of him, but he blew right through the red light. Luckily for the traffic coming across, they’d made a slow start, so he crossed in front of them. Still, water truck drivers are mostly decent sorts at heart. A couple years ago, some idiot woman with a car full of kids pulled out in front of one on the Northwestern Pike. With no time to stop, he steered toward the berm, went through the guardrail and down the long fill of the raised highway and lost his life in saving theirs. As far as I’m concerned, that woman has his blood on her hands.

Some people pay no attention, though. Thursday of this week, I was headed east on the Northwestern Pike in the left lane and had just gained full speed when an old lady pulled from a road on the right and then STOPPED broadside in my lane, while she waited on traffic in the opposite two lanes. There was a very wide median pass-through that she could have pulled into, but she didn’t! Two cars were behind me and a motorcycle and two cars were beside me. I probably had time to stop, but was afraid the cars behind me would rear-end me if I stood on the brakes. So, as I braked gently, I slowly started inching toward the lane of the cars beside me (the motorcycle had already pulled ahead slightly due to my braking), knowing that they had a wide, paved berm on which to escape my crowding. For the first time ever, I laid on the air horn, but the old lady was apparently deaf as well as blind and never even looked my way. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, she eased forward just enough that I could squeeze by her. I wouldn’t have wanted to be standing against her rear bumper, though!


Since I’m speaking of the Northwestern Pike, I’ll state that I believe the western end to be an unnecessarily dangerous highway. It was designed back when 55 mph was the national law. For a four-lane, it was poorly designed even for back then. Many of the curves have no banking or not enough to be worthwhile. Even back then, they posted signs on a few curves that gave “safe speeds” of under the speed limit. This on a brand-new highway, mind you! Since that time, they’ve raised the speed limit on that road to 65. That’s okay on the straight stretches, but those curves are still laying in wait for you. Technically, you can take them at 65 in a truck, even a top-heavy, loaded dump truck. I know this because I’ve done it while following veteran drivers. HOWEVER, all it would take would be an unexpected pot-hole or bump in the road (both common around here) to cause you to lose control and go flying over the high fill upon which the highway is built many places. An idiot driver, animal or pedestrian could also cause a driver to brake or flinch with the wheel, resulting in the same tragic scenario. Anymore, I let the other drivers go their own speed, while I slow down for the curves in many places. I’d rather the ambulance drivers pick those driver’s body parts from the wrecks in the valley below, than theirs and mine, too. © 2014
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The Road More Traveled – A Little Highway History

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Too often, due to corrupt out-of-state corporate owners and sometimes equally corrupt state politicians, to many out-of-staters, West Virginia has simply been a place that has to be traveled through to get somewhere else. Over the years, however, many of us who live here have developed the attitude that such a bad rap may be a blessing in disguise by keeping the northern big-city riffraff from settling here while looking for their little slice if heaven. Whichever perspective a person has, the truth is that moving people through the area began early on.

The first of four major routes of the day was the Midland Trail, formed by the Native Americans themselves, as their moccasins travelled from the eastern side of our mountains to the Ohio Valley and beyond, and back again. Generations of back and forth hunting and warfare made the trail obvious enough that early settlers followed it with no fear of losing their way. It’s now at least in its second reincarnation as U.S. Route 64. I generally prefer to drop off the four-lane and travel the two-lane version that I remember from my childhood.

Of the remaining three, the next one to the north is the old Staunton – Parkersburg Pike, created in the early 1800’s to link Staunton, Virginia with Parkersburg, Virginia on the Ohio River. On the Parkersburg end, it’s always been referred to as “the Staunton Pike.” Considering the grudge most southerners carry about losing the Uncivil War, I seriously doubt if it’s referred to as “the Parkersburg Pike’ in Staunton these days. It was this road that my great-grandfather traveled in some form of covered wagon immediately after said war. He’d fought on the “wrong side” by local standards and was probably seeking friendlier territory. Perhaps because of that war, the Staunton Pike has largely fallen into disuse, except for local traffic, and now consists of three different numbered routes.

Moving northward again, we come to the Northwestern Pike, originating in Washington, D.C., and also terminating in Parkersburg, at the Ohio River. I used to read that it was the brainchild of Thomas Jefferson, who sought to further his belief in manifest destiny by getting people quickly to the Northwest Territory. Wiki now lays the idea on a young George Washington, seeking an easier way to check on his western lands. It is now replaced by U.S. Route 50, which in some places, is in its third incarnation and has become a four-lane highway. In nearby Murphytown, WV, the old, and the old-old versions lay in the shadow of the new, and all still in use by locals. In the mountains, though, you have no choice most places, as the government hasn’t yet chosen to spend the fortune needed to make a four-lane through our state’s more scenic parts.

Furthest north, and barely in West Virginia at all, is the National Road. Like the rest, of these east-west highways, it was designed to get settlers to the western lands. It only passes through a few miles of our northern panhandle here in West Virginia, passing through the former steel town of Wheeling, as it crosses the Ohio River. Due to its steel production in the past, there’s a surprising strong business bond between Wheeling and Pittsburgh, and I don’t just mean the old company by that name. Strangely enough, though I’ve traveled the National Road from D.C. to its junction with I-79 (mostly through Maryland), I’ve never traveled the section from I-79 to Wheeling. The National Road has basically been replaced by U.S. Route 70, though many of its parts are preserved as scenic byways.


The four-lanes are certainly a boon to folks who need to get somewhere in a hurry, and I guess they do keep the “furriners” moving so they don’t have time to settle in and do serious damage. Still, when possible, I like the old roads. © 2014
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