Saturday, August 23, 2014

Seen From The Driver’s Seat

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


M. Silvius said...

Sounds to me the new job is doing a world of good for your soul. T'is a good thing.

Gorges Smythe said...

Im don't know about my soul, Michael, but it's helping my attitude more than a little!

Sunnybrook Farm said...

Sounds interesting, I meet dump, logging, and milk trucks mostly. There are some old 18 wheel rigs that have had the box converted to haul wood chips all the way to covington. It doesn't seem like it would be worth hauling wood chips across 4 counties to a paper mill but they do it and run like they were hauling some critical load.
For some reason some of the poultry trucks coming up from NC will wreck, not sure if they fall asleep or the smell gets to the driver but they are out on 220.

HermitJim said...

At least you're getting some fresh air and a change of scenery. Hope everything continues to work out well!

Gorges Smythe said...

SF, I think selling wood chips is more about getting rid of a waste problem than making money. That's strange about the hen haulers.

Thanks, Jim.

Mamahen said...

Love hearing about your adventures on the road! It does sound as if the new job has saved your sanity and that is a very good thing :))

Chickenmom said...

Driving high up in a truck sure does give you a different prospective of what you can see! Really enjoy your "road" stories, Gorges!