Southbound from New Jersey

The last few days have been busy, busy, busy. But that’s life as a truck driver. It’s been productive, though, in more ways than one.

I delivered my load in New Jersey, then picked up another bound for Indiana. The new load was supposed to have been collected on the 27th and delivered on the 29th, but hadn’t been assigned to me until the 28th. I informed my dispatcher that I wouldn’t be able to meet the deadline due to the distance and time constraints, so they gave me an extra day for delivery.

The drive South has been long and, at times, difficult. Last night my truck wasn’t loaded until 8pm, an hour after most of the truck stops began to fill up. I went to one location after another, seeking to find a place to park for the night, watching with anxious and rapt attention as my available drive time dwindled. In the last hour, I discovered an out-of-the-way truck stop about 40 minutes down the road, and set of in that direction, hoping it wouldn’t be full by the time I arrived. However, my GPS wound up routing me down an impossible path.

I exited the highway, turned down a road, and was greeted with a “no trucks” sign after I had already begun heading down the curved, narrow street. Seeing no easy way to turn around, I forged on, hoping perhaps I could find somewhere further down the way to get back on track. As I followed a sharp curve in the road, I came upon a bridge that was 13 feet 4 inches high. My trailer is 13 feet 6 inches high. There was no way I could pass this obstacle, no way to turn around, so I had to back my truck around a sharp curve – uphill, at night, and with cars continuously driving around me. Some would pull up right behind me then sit there, as if waiting for me to move out of their way, completely ignorant of the flashing hazard lights and the fact that I’d been driving in reverse. It was a nightmare.

As with all nightmares, however, it eventually was over. With a good deal of effort, getting out and looking behind me, careful maneuvering, and inch-by-inch progress, I eventually extricated myself from my predicament. But it had cost me precious time. I had only twenty minutes left, and the GPS informed me (after rerouting) that I was still ten minutes from the truck stop. And I still had no idea if there were any parking spots available.

I arrived with five minutes to spare (after some slowdowns had cost me even more time), and was relieved to find that there were still three or four spots left in which to park. The lot was pay-to-park, but I had no other options, so I forked over $10 and got some much-needed rest.

Today’s drive was pleasant and beautiful, through rolling mountains and tree-lined highways. A reminder of why I love this career: despite the stress and occasional headaches, the sense of freedom and the beauty of the world outside my window can’t be beat.

I finished Sweet Tooth, which was exquisite (a definite must-read), and began listening to Kurt Anderson’s True Believers, a novel about love and rebellion, a coming-of-age story set in the late 60s and written in the form of a historical memoir.

While reading, I’ve also been spending a lot of time considering my own fiction, and have been working on some new and promising ideas. It feels good to brainstorm new projects; I just need to have the patience and perseverance to turn them into tangible work.

I’m stopped for the night at a road-side rest stop, and plan to head out early tomorrow morning. If I can make my delivery in time, I might get assigned a new load heading for Texas by Monday, and if I’m lucky, I can make it there early and eke out an extra day of leave.

I hope to have some good news tomorrow after delivery, and look forward to being home again for July 4th. It’s been quite a while since I last went home, so I’m eager to see everyone, and ever so excited about bringing my wife on the road with me finally. I can’t wait to explore the USA with her!

That’s all I have for now. So, until next time, sleep tight, be good to yourselves, and don’t forget to turn off the lights when you leave a room.

2 thoughts on “Southbound from New Jersey

  1. Running out of drive time, ultra narrow streets and a low overpass all while navigating by (a map). Yes when I drove the trip planning was done by maps so I read your ‘no trucks’ experience while flashing back own harrowing experiences. I love the attitude you write about but know from being there the frustration that you felt at that moment. I do hope you get home for the 4th and have the time to share the fireworks with your wife and know I’ll be a little North of Dallas doing the same.

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