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Flying J Truck Stop, Waterloo, Iowa – Highway 20, exit 68
This nomadic lifestyle that has taken over my existence has ramifications that reach every aspect of life.
Socially, I am pretty much a hermit with a cell phone. Part of that is my life-long character, but it has been exaggerated by Over the Road Trucking. Even when I have some time and am feeling lonely, I have a total of about five contacts before I run out of people to call. Three of them are my immediate family.
Physically, I have lost 70 pounds, my blood pressure has plummeted and I feel much more energetic and alert.
Emotionally, I feel great when I drive. Pickups and deliveries are interesting, but frustrating sometimes. The 34 hour breaks are difficult, but writing helps to alleviate the boredom and depression.
I am going now to drop my empty trailer at a meat plant. I will “bobtail” out and find shelter in the other truck stop across the street. After that, I call every hour or two to find out if my loaded trailer is ready, then I activate my clock and go pull the trailer back here to weigh it. Then, we are Off on the Road to Rocky Hill, Connecticut.
Road Ranger/Pilot Truck Stop, Waterloo, Iowa – Highway 20, exit 68
Diet has also changed. I buy deli meat, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes to make sandwiches, mostly. I have not had a “meat and potatoes” meal since I left the house in August. When supplies run down and I can’t manage to arrange a Walmart visit, I have to get creative. I ran out of lunch meat and bread, but I have a secret stash of canned spiced ham*. See photo below of my latest creation.
Above: Haute Cuisine de Camionneur – Jambon épicé avec fromage et concombre sur la laitue
Spam was introduced by Hormel in 1937. Ken Daigneau, brother of a company executive, won a $100 prize that year in a competition to name the new item. Hormel claims that the meaning of the name “is known by only a small circle of former Hormel Foods executives”, but popular beliefs are that the name is an abbreviation of “spiced ham”, “spare meat”, or “shoulders of pork and ham”. Another popular explanation is that Spam is an acronym standing for “Specially Processed American Meat” or “Specially Processed Army Meat”.
The difficulty of delivering fresh meat to the front during World War II saw Spam become a ubiquitous part of the U.S. soldier’s diet. It became variously referred to as “ham that didn’t pass its physical”, “meatloaf without basic training”, and “Special Army Meat”. Over 150 million pounds of Spam were purchased by the military before the war’s end.
During World War II and the occupations which followed, Spam was introduced into Guam, Hawaii, Okinawa, the Philippines, and other islands in the Pacific. Immediately absorbed into native diets, it has become a unique part of the history and effects of U.S. influence in the Pacific.
As a consequence of World War II rationing and the Lend-Lease Act, Spam also gained prominence in the United Kingdom. British prime minister during the 1980s Margaret Thatcher later referred to it as a “wartime delicacy”. In addition to increasing production for the U.K., Hormel expanded Spam output as part of Allied aid to the similarly beleaguered Soviet Union. Nikita Khrushchev declared: “Without Spam we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army”. Throughout the war, countries ravaged by the conflict and faced with strict food rations came to appreciate Spam.
Above: Jambon épicé (Spam – Glorious Spam! – it says so right there on the can)
Interstate 80 Service Area near Bryan, OH
I find myself in another of those giant service areas in Ohio. Rigs were parked out the entrance ramps as usual in the Northeast. I was lucky that I was arriving at 6 AM and the early risers were just leaving. I could snake my way through the late arrivals and find spaces open near the exit. My next leg will end about 2 AM and I will not be so fortunate then. This is a tight schedule and I can’t delay arrival. There are some parking-only areas on this route and those generally are big enough for all. I will defer further updates until I am sitting in the door in Rocky Hill, Connecticut.
Rest Area on Interstate 84 East of Scranton, near Paupack, Pensylvania
My own cargo of bananas was thirty eight thousand pounds, from Central America, by way of La Porte, Texas and I took them to Clarksville, Arkansas. And while I did travel down “The hill that leads to Scranton, Pennsylvania” last night, my own voyage was much less exciting.
Is now 11:00 AM, Eastern Daylight Time and there are snow flurries outside the truck – which is why I am inside the truck. My appointment is at 23:00 (11 PM) in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, which is a bit less than three hours away. I slept from 6 AM when I arrived until nature called and said I had to go out in the flurries to the “facilities”. I’ll will have “clock” for this journey in a few hours, so I will go back to sleep now and pick this up later.
It is early afternoon and I am preparing to make the run into Connecticut now. No snow is falling and the road is clear. I see traffic zooming by from where I sit.
Pilot Truck Stop #255, I95, exit 40 Milford, Connecticut
Another on-time delivery (OTD) accomplished. This one was a live un-load and they didn’’t have all the sissy rules about disconnecting the tractor. So, I get to enjoy the earthquake-like gyrations of the truck while multi-ton forklifts race in and out of the trailer, ultimately a few feet from where I am falling asleep. After I have paperwork in hand, I can leave. Now with no load or destination I can find refuge only 38 miles away in this Pilot where I can have a shower and sleep.
Before I can “get my clock back”, there is a new assignment to take pick up a trailer in New Jersey that is already loaded and waiting patiently for me to take it to Joliet, Illinois. That where Jake Blues was getting out of prison and Elwood showed up to take him back to the sleazy little apartment with the el train running just outside the window. If you have never seen this movie, you owe it to yourself.
Jill tells me, “You have eight hours and zero minutes of remaining drive time.” So, I must go now. I will be driving in daylight for the first time in four days. I hope I can find the sunglasses.