Saturday, March 28, 2015

03-28-2015 – Riding Shotgun – Recent Road Trip

A week ago yesterday, seven of us hauled loads of oil-contaminated soil from a compressor station below Beverly, West Virginia, just below Elkins, to Amanda, Ohio, a few miles west of Lancaster. Going down, I started in fifth place. However, since I had to make a “pit-stop” along the way, I ended up in last place. When I got to the station at 8:30, the first two trucks were loaded and gone. Between a tiny little bucket on the track-hoe, and poor organization, it was 10:15 before I pulled out of their yard. Only the last few miles of the trip there were two-lane, so I was soon on four-lane again, with the cruise set at the speed limit, just as on the trip down.

The road between Elkins and Route 79 is a four-lane, with a speed limit of 65MPH. It’s good road, and the speed limit is okay, in and of itself. However, the road is somewhat mountainous by eastern standards, and it’s not a true interstate. While it’s basically a limited-access highway, many of the remaining intersections have stop lights, and are located at the bottom of long slopes. That makes it difficult to stop a loaded truck if the light changes when you’re at the wrong spot on the hill. When you then approach all intersections at a reduced rate of speed, for safety’s sake, it sort of does away with any gain from being able to drive faster. Incidentally, I tried to call my wife on the way back and learned that, with phones from the Chinese Emporium, and there is no usable signal between Elkins and somewhere near Route 79.

The speed on 79 is 70MPH, so I had to re-adjust the cruise. I did have to slow down for a couple of bends, so my truck wouldn’t be in danger of doing a roll-over. When I got to Route 50, I had to lower the cruise to 65. The road was designed when the legal national max was 55, so I had to slow it down for several bends along the way. When I crossed into Ohio, I had to lower it further, to 60MPH. Reaching Route 33 at Coolville, I had to lower it to 55, then raise it tom 60 later, if my memory serves me correctly. At Athens, I turned onto Route 33 and had to drop the cruise to 55. Nearing Nelsonville after a few miles, the road became like an interstate, with access ramps rather than regular intersections, so the speed went up to 70. I once again adjusted the cruise. Later, several miles before reaching my turn-off at Route 22, the highway reverted to regular-style intersections and the speed went down to 60MPH. I re-adjusted the cruise, even though the road there had a few stop lights, like the road between Elkins and Route 79 in West Virginia. At least there were no “mountains” to deal with in Ohio. When I reached 22, I turned west onto the two-lane and set the cruise on 55. It seemed like I’d spent the day playing with the cruise, but it allowed me to move my legs around some and not get so stiff. For those wondering, yes, my dump truck has an automatic transmission.

I like seeing the farms around Amanda, Ohio. It reminds me of when most of America, including West Virginia, was covered with farms. It was a different era that I find myself missing more all the time. One thing that I noticed there was that 150-year-old farm houses, many of them brick, are still being cared for and lived in, and are the center of active farms. Few things are more beautiful in my eyes than a nice farm, unless it might be a forested stretch of rolling or hilly land.

I got to the landfill at what would be three minutes too late, had I been making the run the following week, when the owners shorten the hours. Three o’clock seems rather early to close a landfill. The trip back to “the barn” was made in the same manner as the one up there—cruise set at the speed limit, brake when necessary. By the time I fueled up, put the truck to bed and did my paperwork, my day had stretched to 12 hours. While it’s interesting to make an occasional road trip, I’m glad it’s not a daily thing. It’s too hard on an old geezer like me, but it IS good on the paycheck!

Incidentally, I recently learned why the speed limit for trucks in Ohio was so low for many years. A long time back, the daughter of an Ohio governor was killed after being struck by a semi doing about 70MPH. The governor blamed his daughter's death on the trucker, rather than the fact that his daughter was drunk and was driving where and how she wasn't supposed to be. SO, he had the speed for trucks dropped as a sort of revenge on all truckers. That stupidity is finally being done away with, though I think raising the limit to 75 might be going a tad too far. © 2015


Chickenmom said...

Thankfully you didn't have to keep shifting. 75 is way too fast!

Gorges Smythe said...

Yes, Cm; that automatic really has me spoiled.