Saturday, August 29, 2009

Eastbound And Down, Loaded Up And Trucking...All Roads Lead Right Back To NoMi...(Part One Of Four)

I don't like leaving North Minneapolis for long periods of time. There are committees a-meeting, blog posts to be written, and endless opportunities to socialize in the back yards of friends...which is what the civic-minded neighborhood types do a lot around here, to the point NoMi has the feel of a small town.

But everybody needs a vacation now and then. I think the best vacation is one where you get paid. Besides, I'm such a notorious workaholic that I prefer to take "micro vacations" which last only as long as, say, 45 seconds. A micro vacation is, for example, when you're hauling cargo in Dixieland and you pull over to the side of the road to check something of concern on your vehicle and to orient yourself on a map. And, at that moment, you notice....

A local farmer is growing TOBACCO in a field near your truck, and you've never seen tobacco being raised as a crop you walk over to the racks of leaves drying in sunlight, crumble the edge of a leaf in your hand. Sure enough. Tobacco.

See photo below.

And then it's back to work driving the truck because your time is not really your own--not until you clock out after your legally allotted number of driving hours--but for a few seconds, you saw and experienced rural Kentucky (or Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, plus one little corner of Tennessee) and it was like you were a tourist on vacation, taking in the sights and local culture.

Thus a "micro vacation."

Most of the time, my day looks like the photo at the top of the post. The black spots are "bug mash" on the windshield.

That is the vast majority of the time, hours upon hours of "keeping it between the lines." It is both tedious and exciting because when 26,000 pounds of "straight truck" and cargo hits a bump at 70 miles an hour, you feel that moment of speed and inertia combining in scary and unexpected ways.

And this happens...a lot. You might listen to a song on the radio, your mind may wander into the tapestry of the tune but then...whoah. WHOAH!!!!!!!

Suddenly eighteen wheels are blowing past really really CLOSE while an annoying motorcycle is on your front bumper like a metal INSECT. Gotta pay close attention. All day long, hours upon hours, gotta pay close attention and not make one...little...mistake with all that flying metal and cargo.

So just to make one thing very clear: just because I'm going to write a few posts about some interesting sights and some enjoyable personal moments out on the road...the vast majority of the time I am working my butt off, it's hard work, and I'm not just goofing around while I'm on the clock. But due to my diagnosed-yet-untreated chronic workaholic lifestyle, I am the master of the 45 second vacation.

That's about as long as I care to relax. And then I have to be DOING SOMETHING productive.

Oh, look. Here's a picture of me "on vacation."

That's right. I wear cowboy boots when I drive. I like the way the heels keep my foot a couple extra inches off the floor, closer to the brake. I like the way I fit in at the truck stops when I walk in wearing Dan Post boots (made in El Paso, where I was stationed in the army) and a Dixie Chicks t-shirt.

Second point: all roads lead to and from NoMi. I can go anywhere in the world to be a tourist or obtain momentary economic opportunity. But with an ultra-affordable house in North Minneapolis, I have a base of personal stability from which to operate. Nothing beats home ownership. I try to tell my rent-slave college aged friends that owning a house doesn't tie you down, but frees you.

So here is me, NoMi homeowner, experiencing the enviable freedom of the open road. More later. 

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