Wednesday, March 4, 2009

More random thoughts on travelin'

Here is a perfectly good example of why truckers and anyone hauling anything on the highway needs to check their straps, ropes, chains, or bubble gum regularly.  This is one of the four straps holding my Land Rover onto my trailer. There was a metal end on that one strap once - 60 minutes earlier when I last checked it.  

Nothing quite like losing your SUV in the middle of I-10 to ruin your day, I always say.


When I am traveling by RV I stop quite a bit at truck stops.  I used to own a truckin' company and, as a consequence, am painfully aware of the good and the bad of truckstop culture.  One thing that I discovered a long time ago is that the vast majority of truckstop food doesn't agree with me.  I used to know all the truckstops that had decent restaurants nearby.  Last night I walked down the road maybe half a mile to eat at a Chinese place. Hallelujah!  It wasn't great, but it beat the buffet at the Petro by the proverbial mile.


Truck stops vary widely in quality.  Flying J caters to RV folks and regular motorists, and they tend to be my first choice to stop in.  Some small truck stops are ...well ... just nasty.  There is no way around that.  I wouldn't let my cats eat in some of those places.


I spent last night (March 3rd) at the Petro in Hammond, LA.  The place gave me sorta bad vibes after dark but I didn't have any problems.  RV'ers there are in a separate lot next to the main parking area, which is a good thing because the main part of the truck stop was absolutely full last night.

Finding a place to stop and spend the night used to be an issue for years with truckers, and from what I can see it hasn't gotten any better.


You run into some odd people at truck stops.  Normally, I like "different" folks but the odd ones take some understanding.  Like the folks living out of their cars.  Or the guy that I asked to move last night so that I could back into a parking space.  He was probably harmless enough but he was in a pickup truck with all his possessions, and I could see a dog and a cat keeping him company in that cramped little truck.  And he was wayyyyyyyyyyy spaced out, I assume on too much driving and not enough sleep.  Whew.

And over the years I have seen some fights and the cops called out to truck stops in crazy episodes that would shame a biker bar.

With that said, there are some awfully nice folks out there too.  Sort of a brotherhood of the road. A camaraderie of folks that are constantly on the move.  They look out for each other.


The Hammond Petro has a decent movie theatre and I watched the last half of the latest Batman flick (The Dark Knight) last night.  The ending was a bit weak, I thought, but the late Heath Ledger as the Joker was an excellent and inspired performance, and quite different from all of the other Jokers that we have seen on film or TV.  Well worth watching.


You see some interesting sights at truck stops.  A flatbed just pulled in and there is a military Hummer on the trailer that is missing the left rear wheel and has quite a bit of rear body damage.  Bomb explosion, perhaps?  Yikes!


Texas generally has excellent roads.  From Mission to Houston was fine.  But I-10 around Beaumont has been under construction since I owned my truckin' company, and that's been almost 20 years.  That's silly.  

Houston traffic is so aggressive it's unreal.  And Bubba, I'll give you a hint:  When I light up all seven (7) fricken turn signals on the side of the motorhome and trailer that doesn't mean to dive in there and take my spot as I try to change lanes.  It's the law of tonnage - I don't care how cute your Honda is, but if I don't see you and run over you with my 23 ton motorhome that damage won't polish out.  It's nothing personal.  Please use your brain.

And I love Texas' use of flyover ramps.  Some of those things are so tall that you'd swear that the landing pattern at Bush International is below the ramp.


Louisiana has improved their roads dramatically, but they still have some highways that are so rough as to be unreal when you are in a motorhome.  As someone explained it to me the blocks of concrete paving material have settled in the sand and that's why they are so uneven. Consequently, driving a motorhome or truck across these things gives the vehicle a severe back-and-forth pitching motion.  Even the bridges are rough and it's a bit unnerving to be sawing the steering wheel back and forth, struggling to maintain control,  as you cross some huge bridge across a shipping canal and you realize that the ornamental cast iron guard rail wouldn't even slow down something the size of your vehicle if you were to madly take a stab at plunging 500 ft. down to the river below.  Yikes!


This is Drifters, one of my all time favorite bars.  It's on old Rt. 90 along the causeway as you cross old Mobile Bay.  The Interstate I-10 bridge pretty well by passes it these days.  

It's rough, it's getting rickitier every time that I go there (I suggested that they put a bottle of tequila at the bottom of the railing so that they can sell shots to fortify first time visitors), and the locals make a point to hang there and ride out hurricanes every time lousy weather passes nearby.  

The place is one of the few liquor bars open 24/7 so you know that the crowd is entertaining.

The cook lives in a travel trailer just to the right of the place.  It's next to the boat ramp and right on Old Mobile Bay so you would think that the fishin' would be excellent.  I swear, if he ever moves away I think that I'll snag his spot and hang out for a few months myself.


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