Monday, July 30, 2012

New Beginnings, Now with Old Stuff!

Hey guess what??

Remember a while back I wrote a post about how, when I was 20, I had more attitude than brains and I tried to be a firefighter? Then I grew up and got "smart" and figured out stuff and junk and decided I would try to stick with what I'm good at and do things for the right reasons? Unless I got side-tracked by astronaut school?

Well, I signed up for astronaut school. Only it's not exactly for astronauts. And it's not even school. We bought a junk store.

I am not even kidding.

A for real honest to goodness junk store. The kind of place that has everything from vinyl records and cookie jars to books and coffee makers. There's so much stuff in there I keep expecting to hear the theme song to Sanford & Son every time I walk in the door.



I am excited and slightly nauseous about being the owner of so much stuff. But mostly excited.

You know the term fixer-upper right? It's like that to the power of infinity times three.

But there are so many possibilities and it's a real part of the community. *And* all my dishes and glasses came from there and if it closed where would I buy my next mini-bundt pan that I could ruin?





So it looks like you won't have to hear (very often) about Safeway being out of chicken.

Although, today they were out of cucumbers.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cabbage, Criminals, and Cracker Jacks

As you know, the Tumbleweeds are off the road and home in their cozy (read:blazing hot) little Wyoming town and while I figure out the future of my life and this blog and also write really long run-on sentences, I thought I would share with you the latest Safeway outage:

Shredded cabbage.

Yes, this week they had all the chicken I would never need, but exotic shredded cabbage was nowhere to be seen.

Whole cabbage is cheaper, but I hate shredding it myself and it never comes out as thin and ribbony as the pre-shredded kind and my award winning fantastic vinegar-y cole slaw suffered as a result.

***

In other news, Himself and I are criminals. We didn't mean to be and it was a long time ago; I'm hoping the statute of limitations will keep us out of jail.


Kinder Egg contraband


On a trip to Germany several years ago, we smuggled brought back some Kinder Eggs to share with the neighbor kids, because we are the cool childless adults in the 'hood. Well, apparently it is illegal to bring these toy filled chocolate eggs onto American soil and we didn't just bring them in we distributed them. To minors. I feel so dirty.

I'm sorry America. I didn't mean to break your laws. I'm a rule following, tax paying patriot who believes in the American way--Mom and apple pie, (but not baseball because that is the most boring game in the world).

And Cracker Jacks. Where the cheap toys are mixed among sticky popcorn goodness, not tucked away in a plastic shell surrounded by fascist chocolate just waiting to choke some poor American child.


This is my
 George Washington-crossing-the Delaware-face
not a duckface.
Because patriots don't do duckface.








Friday, July 20, 2012

You Can Do Anything! And Other Lies...

Guess what happens when you take a 20 year old girl-woman with feminist ideals, self-loathing, and a whole lot of I-can-do-anything-attitude?

Find out at Studio 30 Plus today, where I am the featured writer. Featured writer! Doesn't that sound all fancy and important??

Go here. Do it.

A social media site for writers over thirty, Studio 30 Plus is where all the cool geezers kids hang out. Except they let me in, so maybe they aren't that cool anymore. Don't mention it to them though, maybe they won't notice.

Read it (please?) and tell me what you think. It's personal and kind of exposing (but not in a trench-coat-flasher kind of way), but since the Tumbleweed times are a changin' and the future is all bright and scary, it seemed appropriate.






Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Home is where the Heart is....for Good.

Well, it's official, we're no longer vagabonds. We are home and in the truck no more.

Jas doing an upside down
Snagglepuss of happiness.


The truck is a small space right? An upper and lower bunk, about 4 square feet of floor space, and the driver and passenger seats. So how in the Heckle and Jeckle is there so much stuff to take out?


No more peeing over kitty litter!


Jas was a big help during the
mass exodus of stuff.
Not.



Mr. Big emptied of stuff.

It took over three hours to get it all out, and that's not counting the tools. After five years of living in the truck, every nook and cranny had something in it and I swear the stuff was multiplying as I removed it.

Also, there were 4 weeks of dirty laundry, plus the bedding. I may have blown up our washing machine.

***

No more truck stop food.
No more walking across pee soaked parking lots.
No more trying to add and subtract numbers while bouncy up and down in the passenger seat.
No more heart-attack inducing traffic.
No more yelling over loud truck noise.
No more sleeping in separate beds like Lucy and Ricky.
No more breathing air in a small space with a farty dog.
No more weirdos hiding in the bushes with red-nosed pigs.
No more New Jersey.

***

I just noticed that today is Confessions of a Tumbleweed's second anniversary. My first post was July 18, 2010. Wow, it's like I have ESPN or something, to have accidentally picked such an auspicious day to share this post.

Know what else I just realized? The abbreviation for Confessions of a Tumbleweed is COAT. This blog could be like a covert ops for the CIA or FBI or at least the Men in Black.

***

I hope you'll stay tuned, because there's more to come. I still have stories to tell. And that's a good thing, because Safeway had chicken *and* ice cream this week.



Saturday, July 14, 2012

Westbound and Down

Hey! Guess what??

The Tumbleweeds are going home!

Finally.

For good. The trucking life is coming to an end.

What will happen?
What will we do?
Will Safeway have chicken*?

I don't know. But I am super excited to find out. And also to have my own bathroom again. Whoopee!


Jas hiding under a bush during a rainstorm
in Georgia. At least *one* of us
was dry.




* It's a recurring threat theme here, that once we get home I won't have anything to blog about besides the fact that the local Safeway is out of chicken. It happens a lot. But on the bright side, they are also out of milk quite frequently so at least there will be some diversity.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Taking a Road Trip? Try Mars!

Ever wonder what it's like to be a trucker during the summer, when the entire planet is on vacation?

No?

Oh. Well then don't go here to the Douglas Budget and read my column this week. 

Why don't you just kick sand in my face while you're at it??

If you do go there to read my column (do it) do not be alarmed at the title; I am not a child molester. 

They don't use the titles I give them, in this case Holiday Road--the song from National Lampoon's Vacation. Did you know it was written and sung by Lindsey Buckingham, from Fleetwood Mac?

Anyway, you can go see for yourself what they called it, I just can't bring myself to type it.

Here is a gratuitous moose for your viewing pleasure:


Black River Falls, WI




Tuesday, July 10, 2012

More Hooker Stories!

In my last post I talked about lot lizards (trucker lingo for hookers), which got me thinking of the times we have been approached by them. But first let me tell that I much prefer the term hooker because:

A: Lot Lizard sounds more derogatory to me. The women who offer themselves for money aren't bored housewives doing it for fun or have Pretty Woman happy endings where Richard Gere climbs up the fire escape after George Costanza weirdly rubs their arm. Their lives are hard enough.

and

B: I like to say hooker in a Scottish accent, heavy emphasis on the O's. Hoooooker. (think, Whooo-ker) Try it, it's fun.





For us Tumbleweeds, the hooker experience can put put into 4 categories:

The Midnight Knocker:
The most common type are the ones who knock on every door until they get a customer. These gals work late at night and they don't waste time with more than a few quick knocks. The curtains are closed, we are asleep, the knocks come once. We wake up, ignore it, they move on, we go back to sleep. This has happened to us maybe 5 times.

The Cryer:
By far, the worst kind. This one will break your heart and make you feel like a heartless Grinch times infinity if you don't give her every dollar you have and then sign over a blank check and offer to baby-sit her children who she says are waiting for her in the car at that very moment. This only happened once and we gave her all our money. Ten minutes later we got the next type:



The Negotiator:
She is quick thinking and able to go from coquettish to all business as the situation demands. Also, she is very specific.

Hooker: "Hey Baby! Why you look so sad? You wanna date?"

(She said this to Himself as he was sitting in the driver's seat. She couldn't see me because and I was in the back making sandwiches. I hate making sandwiches.)

Me: (from the back) "No thanks, we already gave!"

Hooker: "Oh. You got $1.73?"

Himself: "We just gave all our cash to someone else."

Hooker: "Was it a white girl? Good, she's with me."

***






The Finishing School Hooker:
One time, we were visited by the nicest, well-mannered, and chipper of hookers. First there was the friendly knock to the tune of the Shave and a Haircut song; knock-knock-na-knock-knock.

Followed by this conversation:

Hooker: "Good evening. Would you like to have sex?"

Himself: "No, thanks."

Hooker: "Ok, thank you. Have a nice day."

She was very clean looking too. If only the rest of the world were as polite, it would be a better place. Also, if women didn't have to sell their bodies, that would be good too.

***























Saturday, July 7, 2012

Random Things and Stuff: Hooker Edition

You may know by now that I'm a list maker and a writer-downer-of-things, and I always have something to research or look up so that I can share it with you on this blog.

But.

It is so hot (and we're in Wisconsin for Pete's sake!) the lethargy is at an all time high in the Tumbleweed passenger seat I don't feel like doing any of the things on my list.

Combine those two things and you get this:

Random Things and Stuff.

Minus any real facts!

***

The other day we had to pick up a load in Hopewell, Virginia. It was company policy at this shipper that everyone, visitor, salesman, and trucker alike, had to watch a 15 minute safety video. Never mind that nothing in the video pertained to us, beyond basic common sense (follow the speed limit!), we were also issued hard hats which we were required to wear at all times.

Even in the truck.

***

We passed a billboard for the Pork, Peanut, and Pine Festival in Surry, Virginia, but their website is so boring and uninformative I don't recommend it.

***

We passed the Honeyspot Motor Lodge in Stratford, Connecticut off of I-95 too. It's probably more exciting, but only in the way that hourly motels can be.

***

A lot of truckers have this sticker (or some version of it) on their door windows:


It's supposed to represent a lot lizard, not a dress wearing alligator with a nicotine habit. A lot lizard is trucker lingo for hooker.

The stickers seem silly to me; I can't imagine that a hooker would even notice it, much less abide by it. We've been on the road for 5 years and have only had the middle-of-the-night-knock-on-the-door-by-a-hooker, a handful of times. We either ignore it or say no thanks and they move along.

Well, at least one trucker feels so strongly about it that he had the image tattooed on his forearm. I wish I'd have gotten a picture of it, but I couldn't find a way to do it without having to make conversation. He was a large fella and the tattoo was about the size of a dinner plate--I'm not kidding, he had huge Popeye arms. It was very big and very colorful and in a place where only long sleeves would cover it.

Why would anyone do that? Does he just wave his arm out the window when he gets a knock on the door? Does that work better than the sticker? Does he ever get tired of explaining what it is to people outside of the trucking industry? Just, why?


***


Conversation in the Taco Bell Express in a TA truck stop in Burns, Wyoming:

Me: "I saw an ad on tv for a $5 box of tacos, do you have that?"

Taco Bell Dude: "Our $5 box is $6.99."

Me: *facepalm*

***
Conversation with Himself:

Me: "What's the German word for home?"

Himself: "Haus."

Me: "No, the homey word."

Himself: "Heim."

Me: "As in lick maneuver?"

Himself: "What?"

Me: "like in lick maneuver?"

Himself: "No, heim."

Me: "lick maneuver?"

Himself: "What's heim lick maneuv....."

And we laughed and laughed.

***

Would somebody please turn out the sun?


***
That is all.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Virtual Traffic Jam in a New York Minute (which is an hour and a half)

I have written before about driving a big truck through the Big Apple and what fun that can be and last week was no exception.

Traffic was so bad that it took us an hour and a half to get from Queens to Staten Island, about 11 miles.

In between being freaked out because:

A. For some reason every overpass is marked with a height of 12'9" (we are 13'6"). Even though I know those signs are lying bastards, I duck my head in fear of being decapitated every time.

and

B. The traffic in NYC is very aggressive, almost as bad as New Jersey and people dart, weave and cut in front of us trying to give me a heart attack on purpose. (yes the world revolves around me and it is trying kill me)

I had time to take lots of pictures. And now I will take you on a virtual tour of NYC traffic because I am generous like that. You. Are. Welcome.

Oops. Too much traffic for the
George Washington Bridge.
So we headed south to
the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

How come all those buildings
don't sink Manhattan?

Historic Calvary Cemetery.
Aunt Jemima is buried there.


Ugh. Traffic this way too.



A tree grows in Brooklyn.


Huh. I thought Broadway would
be a lot more glittery.
Or at least Neil Patrick Harris-y. 

She said yes.


Example of a 12'9" lie.
One World Trade Center
under construction.


Approaching the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
Finally.
It was the Verrazano Bridge that played a
prominent role in Saturday Night Fever.
Trivial Pursuit got it wrong.

View from the top of the bridge.

Ft. Wadsworth, one of America's oldest
military forts.
Also homebase to G.I. Joe.


Ahh, the final NYC bridge for us,
the Goethals.
Our trailer is nano inches from the railing.
That sucker is narrow.

Yay! We made it out of New York.
Crap. Now we're in New Jersey.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Got Goat-Heads?

Did you ever have a burning desire to know what the drought tolerance of concrete is or what kinds of crops grow in New Jersey? (Hint: One's a trick question.)

Well, you can find out if you go here and read my award winning in my own mind column in the Douglas Budget, my hometown newspaper.

Please?

In it, I mention goat-heads, but I'm not talking about a chupacabra snack, I'm talking about these:






We have them in Wyoming and I've seen them in the southwest and California.

Do you have them where you live?

You might not see them on the ground at first glance but you'll know it if you ride a bicycle through them because they will poke a hole in your tire. Jas has a sixth sense about them, when she gets near them she just comes to a dead stop and refuses to budge; I don't blame her.

They're very hard, like manly sandspurs, which is kind of appropriate since they are used in herbal supplements as a man-aid, if you know what I mean. *wink, wink*

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Maine Event

We finally* made it to Maine where we delivered beer in Oakland.
Did you know that Oakland, Maine used to be the ax and scythe capital of New England?? Sadly, we were about 150 years too late to witness the great scythe and ax frenzy.

While we were getting unloaded I took Jas for a walk on a misty country road that looked like it was right out of a Stephen King novel, but without any murderous dogs, cars, or prom queens.




This railroad track reminded me of one of my favorite movies ever, Stand By Me (another story based on a Stephen King book) and made me want to have an adventure while looking for a dead body with my weirdo pals in the 1950's.

If you haven't seen Stand By Me, what is wrong with you??, download it or rent it now. The movie is funny, sweet, sad, perfectly cast, and well done. Read this if you're a fan, because Wil Wheaton is awesome and not just for his collating skills. 

Later, we found a real restaurant (not a truck stop or a chain) in Farmington that had a parking lot big enough for our truck and we finally got a taste of Maine's famous lobster roll.


It was very simple and at first I thought; meh, kinda bland. But evey bite got better, more lobstery and buttery and toasty bun-y and I didn't want it to end even though halfway through I was full. But like a champ, I kept going because it was that good.

I could eat about 11 more right now.


Random New England Facts


✔ There are more Dunkin Donuts™ per square mile in New England than anywhere else in the world. (I made that fact up but that doesn't mean it isn't true.)

✔ New England uses a stupid, random numbering system on their highway exits so that it's impossible to determine distances.
For example, let's say you're in a normal state and all of a sudden the urge hits you (to pee, poop, have a cheeseburger, whatever). You look on the side of the road for the mile marker to find your location. You then look in the atlas or truck stop guide for that state and highway and take note of the needed exit number.
 The exit numbers and mile markers correlate and everyone is happy.
✔ In Maine there are signs every few miles alerting you to the fact that moose could be crossing the road at any moment, so be careful. I'm sure Maine has other wildlife besides moose but they don't want you to know about them. It could be because of this:



The baby bears in Maine have freakishly huge heads.



That is all.





* The load that brought us to Maine on Tuesday started in Colorado last Friday. It was 2,143 miles. It's fairly unusual for us to get a load with that many miles. More typical, are loads of 500-700 miles that deliver in a day or two. It was a nice long stretch and change of pace to do 13 states in 5 days and this is the first time on this blog that I posted in (almost) real time. You likee?


Monday, June 25, 2012

A Big Hole, Magic Beans, and Free Showers

As we continue our quest from Colorado to Maine, we knocked out a couple more states yesterday: Illinois, Indiana and almost Ohio.

Three facts for three states:


Illinois


Illinois has one of the largest limestone quarries in the world and we have driven over it eleventy-million times. It's just south of Chicago and you can see right down into its gaping maw from I-80.

1.5 miles long
.5 miles wide
400 feet deep


Capacity for water overflow:
3.1 billion gallons


The ginormous hole is all part of project Deep Tunnel, a Chicago Public Works undertaking that started in 1975 and will be completed in 2029. It's supposed to keep sewage and cooties out of Lake Michigan and local waterways, but it's not going so well. The quarry is designed to become an overflow reservoir during flooding and storm surges.


Indiana

Indiana is owned by Spain and Australia. Ok, not the whole state, just the east-west highway in the northern part.

In 2005, Governor Mitch Daniels decided to grant a 75 year lease of I-80/90 to a private Spanish/Australian consortium for a handful of magic beans known as $3.8 billion.

It costs $36.20 for big trucks like ours to travel the 157 (one way) miles through Indiana, double what it was before privatization. For that kind of money I think Antonio Banderas* and/or Crocodile Dundee should be manning the toll booths.

Ohio

I have two tips for you if you ever find yourself on the Ohio Turnpike.

#1 When ordering fast food from one of the vendors in the Turnpike Travel Plaza, answer "for here" to the question, "for here or to go?" because it is cheaper.
Tax rate for "to go" orders: 7.5%
Tax rate for "for here" orders: 2.5%
#2 You can get a free shower at the Ohio Turnpike Travel Plazas. No other state that we know of has showers on their toll roads free or not. I heart you Ohio! (squinty eye to Indiana)



Also, free state maps from rest areas
make excellent step-out mats
to keep you off of cootie filled public shower floors.

You're welcome.





*Preferably in character as Puss in Boots.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Oversharing in the Midwest

Yesterday we traveled across the fascinating states of Nebraska and Iowa. Oh the corn fields sure are...corny this time of year. That's a lie, really. They just look green, you can't see the corn yet.



As boring as 1,000 miles of cornfields can be, it was a pretty drive because it had my favorite kind of sky all day: stormy-blue and cloudy, a great contrast to all those dark green corn stalks.


Along with the good sky, Nebraska also has a yummy $5 coffee shack that is truck accessible.

It seems that independent $5 coffee shacks are few and far between in the east, but they are everywhere from Nebraska west. In our little town of 5,000 people we have two drive-up places plus one in the hospital, and one in a book store.

Later in the day we had the excitement of getting the steer tires rotated in Walcott, Iowa: The home of the World's Largest Truck Stop. I know, right? The fun never stops.


Yeah, it's as exciting as it looks, which is not at all, but do you know what they do have at the World's Largest Truck Stop? Travel John disposable urinals.


They're marketed to men and women, but let's face it, men can pee anywhere without much hassle and the plastic top is made just for the ladies. These are nice to have as a backup for those #1 emergencies, because sometimes you gotta go when there's nowhere to go.

Since you're probably already cringing at the fact that I have overshared bodily function information, I might as well show you our other emergency set-up:




A fold-up potty chair, tall kitchen garbage bags, and kitty litter. This little set-up is worth its weight in gold and it has saved us more times than I can count. It's a life saver when it comes to big jobs (as my FIL says) and also for #1. I use it every morning; there's no way I would make it across the parking lot otherwise.

Himself uses a bottle, which he discreetly disposes in the truck stop toilet, but that just doesn't work for the female body. And that's all I have to say about that.

It's less complicated for Jas.

Anyway! How about those Mets?! I hear they are gonna win the Superbowl this year for sure!!