i A Time and a Place...: The Trip...

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Trip...

My first wife and I lived in Pueblo, Colorado for three years, give or take a few months. I had gone to work for JH Marks Trucking Company in Odessa, Texas, and transfered to Pueblo to haul pipe from the steel mill there to various places around the southwest where oilfield pipe was needed.

I made 6 cents a mile plus a dollar seventy five a day for a hotel room.

The per diem was actually just money to make the 6 cents seem like more when payday came around. Neither I nor any of the other drivers stayed in a hotel at night, with a few exceptions, of course.

Once I was up all night and loaded the next day to go south and by the time I got to Raton, New Mexico that evening, I was too sleepy to go on so I spent the night at the Raton Hotel.

Mostly, though, each driver just filled out a receipt from a receipt book each of us carried and turned it in with our paperwork at the end of each trip. I'm sure the boss knew what we were doing but he never said anything about it. He was a good guy. His name was Paul Sizemore. (Funny I remember that name after 49 years)

Anyhow, back to the story.

In 1959 Maggie and I decided to go to California. I had my 1939 Chrysler Royal four door and a four wheel ex-coal trailer to pull. The trailer was one especially built years ago to haul coal from the mine to the storage warehouse and it wasn't very steady. When I pulled it with my car, it weaved back and forth constantly. It wasn't bad enough to be dangerous, just annoying, because I couldn't drive more than about forty five miles an hour pulling it.

Before we left, I went out and shot 16 jack rabbits and Maggie fried up the ones that didn't have sores on them and Maggie, Rebecca (our only child at that time) and I ate fried jack rabbit all the way to Modesto, California!

The trip was long and mainly uneventful. The Chrysler Royal had old style headlamps that had a single bulb that screwed into a socket in each headlamp and the light it gave off was extremely weak. I could barely see the road at night.

We left very early and drove quite a ways before stopping for the night. I have always been a very nervous rider so I drove all the way.

At the end of the first day, we had come quite a ways and I was ready to stop and get some sleep. We found a place to pull over at the edge of a small town. We built a fire on the ground and heated up some rabbit and ate rabbit and bread and some raw vegetables and washed it down with milk. It went down very well and we made pallets on the ground and slept through most of the night.We enjoyed the adventure.

I woke us up right at dawn and, after having some boiled coffee and rabbit and eggs, and bread toasted over the fire, we started the second day.

The day was very long and, at 45 miles an hour, the trip was getting more tiring. But, being a driver by profession, I hung in there and we made a pretty good dent in the trip that day.

I drove quite a while that night and when I decided to stop, I was more than ready to get some rest.

At around 10 or 11 o'clock that night I began to watch for a place to pull over. We were going through some hills and I would welcome any wide spot in the road in which to stop.

As I rounded a left hand curve, I saw a wide place on the right side of the road and pulled to where I was well off the road, facing away from the highway.

Maggie and Beca were asleep and neither awoke when I stopped. I needed to answer the call of nature so I got out of the car and walked to the front and stopped there. It was pitch black and I couldn't see more than a foot ahead of me.

When I reached the front of the car, I stopped right by the front fender and took care of business than got back into the car and went to sleep.

I slept deeply through the night and awoke before the others just at the crack of dawn. I thought to myself, I'll go to the bathroom now before anyone else is awake. I got out quietly and walked to the front of the car where I had been the night before; and almost fainted!

Three feet ahead of where I had stopped last night was a sheer cliff that went straight down for at least five hundred feet!

I felt a little queasy and backed up to the door of the car and stopped.

I quickly finished what I needed to do and walked around the back to the other side of the car. I remember thinking, "I'd better make sure Maggie or Beca doesn't get out and head for the other side of the car, around the front. Maggie had a good laugh about it a few minutes later when I told her what almost happened, but I didn't laugh at all.

Well, that's the story. It doesn't seem like much now, reading about it like this. I guess you had to be there.

I know one thing, though; my Angel was watching over me the night before. I hope she wasn't too embarrassed by what transpired. I still get chills when I think of what would have happened if I'd walked another three feet that night.



Blogger MonicaR said...

That's one heck of an adventure. Thank goodness your angel was watching over you.

10:01 PM  
Blogger bigwhitehat said...

Wow! Jim I am amazed. That was spectacular.

6:56 PM  

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