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.


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 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 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.


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!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Willlie Nelson, Wildfires, and Work at Home

On the road again. ♪♪ Doot doot dood-a-doot ♪♪, on the road again.

We're just like Willie Nelson, minus the marijuana and the tax bill. We pay our taxes, Willie Nelson! Because we are patriots Willie Nelson. And also scared of the IRS.

We had some time off at home (with our own bathroom!!) and to give you an idea of how we spent it, I will give you two lists and you try to guess who did what. Ready?

One of us did these things:

Pressure-washed the roof
Installed a roof vent
Tore off the roof
Replaced the roof
Installed gutters on the roof
Rebuilt the space shuttle
Performed maintenance on everything thing we own that has an engine
Networked every business in town to find employment

One of us did these things:

Exploded several small cakes in the oven
Painted a door
Gave Liberace Rabbit a make-over
Made a space helmet for Chuck Yeager Monkey
Avoided human contact at every possible turn

Yes, Himself is the master of all things.

In my defense, I did look as busy as Himself did. I just didn't accomplish as much.

But surely you will agree that Liberace Rabbit was looking a bit pasty and the dye-job was much needed.

Also, it was just silly not to make a space helmet out of Chuck Yeager Monkey's birth pod.


In other news, the Rocky Mountains have disappeared from view in Ft. Collins, Colorado just north of Denver.

Facing west off of I-25. A wall of smoke
instead of the Rockies.

I didn't fiddle with the colors at all on this picture; the smoke was so thick that it filtered the sun and turned everything a weird, dull yellow and totally obliterated the mountains. It's going to be a brutal summer for firefighters in the west.

So we are escaping and heading east to Maine.

View from our new roof
of our escape transport, Mr.Big.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Home is where the heart is and also lots of work.

The Tumbleweeds are home so this is not a real post.

Also, I thought by now we would be home for good but it ain't happening, so it's back to the road for us again.


Here are some thoughts from home in Douglas, Wyoming:

★ It is extremely dry and windy here and there are fires burning everywhere around us because of it.

★ This is all very dangerous and sad and stuff, but do you have any idea what dry air, 100 mph wind, and extreme heat does to skin?

This is my face before I slather on
half a bottle of lotion.

★ Also? The combination of freshly applied ChapStick and dusty wind gusts make for very gritty lips.

★ My life as a Professional Passenger requires that I sit for very long periods of time. Strangely, this is not a good way to prepare the body for manual labor.

★ Himself and I tore off the roof of our house so we could have a new on installed. The lilacs that run the length of our property are trying to kill me by reproducing at a freakishly alarming rate and the leaves. My God, the leaves.

★ I have enjoyed some kitchen time and been able to make some pretty decent meals. With vegetables, even! But today I failed spectacularly in the dessert I am supposed to be taking to a cook-out and now I have to start completely over.

These are supposed to be
lime-honey mini bundt cakes, not
deflated, sticky disasters that drip
all over the oven so that
the fire alarm gives me an aneurysm.

★ Why is it that, if I make a meal or bake something for just the two of us, it turns out fantastic and pretty. But if I make something that other people will see, the fire department has to get involved and I have to make multiple trips to the grocery store and have a Plan B.

★ It has been nice to have my own bathroom and just be still for while. Even Jasmine got some spa time in the bathtub and she was a clean, dirt-free dog for almost 30 whole minutes.


As you can see, life at home is really exciting and I bet you're really looking forward to the day when I will bore you to death with more tales of gritty lips, failed cakes, and dirty dogs.

Oh and by the way, Safeway had chicken this week. But they were out of ice-cream.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Liberace Rabbit Finds Love

Remember how last week I talked about doing kid fun stuff like racing through an outdoor maze (that I won), and playing Ms. Pac Man etc., at Action City in Eau Claire, Wisconsin?

Well, we did. If you don't remember then maybe you need to lay off the Mountain Dew.

Anyway, I forgot to mention that while there, I found the perfect mate for Liberace Rabbit.

Side Note:
He wanted to marry an astronaut, but as we all know President Obama ruined that by cancelling the space program and now there are no astronauts. Way to go socialism. 

It doesn't matter now though, because there's a new pilot in town and his name is Chuck Yeager Monkey.

That is one manly monkey.

Himself won him in a game of chance skill at Action City while I was in the bathroom. (Surprisingly, my system rejected a gallon of orange soda, a box of Hot Tamales, and 2 slices of cardboard pizza.)

I knew right away that this would be Liberace Rabbit's dream-monkey. Who needs an astronaut when you have a legacy (in monkey form) of the ultimate bad ass test pilot who broke the sound barrier in 1947?

They're like twins, no?

They didn't even know if a human could survive flying faster than sound back then, and Chuck Yeager was not only the first man in the world to do it, he did it just days after cracking his ribs on a horseback riding accident. Bad. Ass.

Liberace Rabbit was thrilled, as you can imagine.

I felt the need to add a couple of things to Chuck Yeager Monkey, to make him more manly. A needle, some thread, and two buttons did the job:

A strong (monkey) man needs strong brows.

Men don't really use nipples
but I think they give him
a certain animal magnetism.

 Liberace Rabbit approves.

Chuck Yeager Monkey originally came squashed in a red plastic ball (he never complained about the cramped quarters. Because he is bad ass) and I am in the process of converting that into a helmet.

Liberace Rabbit has also graciously decided to give up his fire-fighter costume so I can make a flight suit for his new beau.

It's a perfect fit.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Trucking Life; Extreme Weather Edition

Two days ago we were in the middle of Nebraska in a fierce hail storm that was so loud it sounded as if a million angry fairies were throwing rocks at us. The sky was dark and the weather cold and wet.
I have a video of the hailstorm and all its loud fury but blogger is not cooperating.
 Here is a picture of a tumbleweed instead:

And also Jas's behind.

Yesterday we crossed the Mojave Desert, again. It was 105 degrees, the sky was white with heat, haze, and the funk of approaching Los Angeles, and the pavement so hot that Jas jumped back in the truck as soon as her feet hit the ground.

Ah, the lovely smog
of southern California.

In between those two days as we headed west and up in altitude into Wyoming, we were treated with a loud POP! as the bag of tortillas exploded.

Ooh, and traffic too!
I want to live here.

Such is the trucking life.

Remember how I said way back a long time ago, that we were soon quitting the trucking life?

We had forcast that we would be home by May but it didn't work out. The sage grouse were having sex, for one thing.

Poor ugly things need all the help
they can get.

Did you know that Wyoming's sage grouse population is in decline but they are still considered a game bird and you can kill one during the right season in Wyoming? To make up for the fact that you can't disturb them when they have sex, presumably.

It's not really their fault we couldn't stay home, but the best laid business plans of mice and sage grouse and men, often go awry when you think you have a job but don't.

I'm only saying this because I'm getting all kinds of new readers and I don't want them to feel ripped off and confused when we do get home and I quit blogging about the exciting road life and start blogging about how our local Safeway is out of chicken, again.

So maybe the uncertainty of our life and future can be looked at as a selfless act to keep you dear people from having to read boring chicken crises.

You're welcome.

Friday, June 8, 2012

2 Ladies, Zero Aliens, and Lots of Vulcan Humps

Mt. Shasta as seen
from Weed, CA
rest area.

Hey guess what?

Because I have such awesome readers (who may or may not be psychic) I now know the mystery to the alien crop circle conspiracy AND have some insight to what it's like to live in India.

Second things first.

Did you know that it is considered rude to say thank you in some parts of India?

I learned this from Lady in Red's interesting blog post about life in India and I am invoking the right to use the phrase which is more acceptable, that made me happy, instead a proper American thank you because I am tetchy about awards.

So, dear Lady in Red, your kind words and award made me happy. Santhosham! Santhosham!

Now, first things second.

Do you remember how, a while back, when I saw some crazy alien crop circles and tried to find some information on them but came up with bupkis because there was a conspiracy on the Google preventing me from uncovering the dark secrets of the Universe?


Well it happened.

So anyway, we got a load up through northern California again, and this time I wasn't going to take Himself's word for the rest area plaques, I would look at them with my own eyeballs.

About an hour before we got to the Weed rest area on I-5 (scene of the mysterious plaques) I get a comment from Ladybug alerting me to this article all about the elusive aliens.

How great is that? It's like she had ESPN or something.

Only it's not about aliens at all. There are a lot of big words in the article, like catastrophic, geologic, and volcaniclastic so I know it's true and I will break it down for you here in case you're feeling lazy:

Ha ha. Just kidding! There are a LOT of words to read there.

Let's go with the rest area plaque, it's much simpler:

It basically says--"hey, we don't really know, man. It could be this or that. Wow man, look at my feet, do they seem weird? *It's me, Dave, open the door. Dave? He's not here."

What do you expect from the town of Weed.

Ok, I went back to the smarty links and here's what I get out of it: The circles of stone surrounding humps of grass were formed by a debris avalanche 300,000 years ago by an ancestor of Mt. Shasta. There was a catastrophic failure, cats were sleeping with dogs**, and eruptions broke through the earth creating piles everywhere, and now you know the rest of the story.


Actually, you may be scratching your head right now, more confused than ever, (or possibly you have lice) because I didn't really explain it right but my internet connection is spotty and frankly I'm done with all this Vulcan hump talk.

*Cheech and Chong reference, because my pop culture knowledge ended in the '80s.

**Ghost Busters; ditto.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Corvette, a Dane, and a Tumbleweed Walk into a Bar....

I just had 16 ounces of the strongest iced coffee known to man so I feel like this post may be the best thing ever or my heart will explode.

It could go either way really.

First let me show you this:

Now, go here to read my column in this week's Douglas Budget and you will have a visual to go along with the red spikey thing of which I speak.

I suppose it is possible that the people who designed the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky were on a caffeine high also. Probably to make up for their lack of eyeballs.

But you will not only read about strange Kentucky buildings, you will also find out that on a Danish smorgasbord even the vegetables will give you a heart-attack and you'll discover how exciting windmills can be. Not really.

And lastly, just in case you are the type of reader who only skims the column instead of poring over every word and committing them to memory, possibly in tattoo form, I want you to know this: I won.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Enter the Dragon: Algebra

My column is up at the Douglas Budget and you should go there now and read it because in it you will find out:

1. just how small my brain is


2. why rules are good *and* bad


9. that math is the key to everything, even cooties.

Mr. Tire (Mr. Peanut's 3rd cousin) really wants you to.

It's kind of embarrassing to admit how much a math class (that I get no credit for whatsoever and doesn't really matter if I pass or not) scared me. I'm no genius for sure but in general I don't go around feeling like a complete and utter moron. Enter Algebra and her evil minions Word Problems and I turn into a dimwitted dingbat.

It scared me but I took the class anyway because if I go back to school I'll probably need to remember how to get x and y on a train going different directions and then figure out how fast they'll get to Uranus (hehehe) and more importantly, math ain't the boss of me.

And you know what? After six weeks of, "oh, this isn't so bad, I get it" to "I am the stupidest person that ever lived and I should jump off the nearest bridge because I will never pass this class and I'll have to be a hobo" and every feeling in between, I passed. 

I passed.

I'm like the Bruce Lee of math now. Until the next class, that is.