i A Time and a Place...: All in the Name of Adventure...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

All in the Name of Adventure...

When I lived in Pueblo, Colorado, in 1957 to 1959, I hauled pipe to different places in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wyoming and a couple of times to the four corners area, where the corners of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet.

The main route I took was south out of Pueblo, through Raton, New Mexico and on through either Clayton, N. M. or through Boise City, Oklahoma.

The Boise City route was the most interesting. There was a road for trucks (truck route) that went around the town on the west side that we had to take so we didn't drive our loaded trucks through the busy part of town.

Just at the south end of the truck route, there was a small street that led away from the main highway. Someone told us that it was a shortcut so we took it. The first time we took the 'shortcut' there were three of us with loads of pipe. The loads weighed about 38,000 pounds each, the load limit for our particular combination of truck/trailer/axles/loads.

We turned west on the road and drove for about four or five miles until we came to a creek. The creek had some water in it and had a bridge crossing it. The bridge was about a hundred yards long and was 15 or 20 feet above the creek bed. It was made out of 4X4s and 10X12s and other sizes of timbers. They were latticed together down to the creek bed and I'm here to tell you, folks, that bridge didn't look like anything I would use at the age I am now! Not even with my pickup, empty!

But there we were, at the 'shortcut' bridge with three loaded trucks, quickly possibly becoming late instead of early.

We were young in those days and, according to each of us if we had been asked, we were fearless! I was lucky enough to be the middle truck. I considered it lucky because, if the first truck made it across all right, there was a good chance that I, too, could make it safely.
On the other hand, if the first truck wound up in a puddle in the creek bed with bridge descending down upon him, I could easily beg off because of the lack of a
bridge on which to attempt a crossing, and besides, I would be too busy rescuing the first driver to worry about how I'd get across the creek.

In those days crying 'uncle' wasn't an option so the only conversation we had was deciding how fast to proceed across the bridge. It was long enough so that the entire truck would be on the span for what would undoubtedly seem like an eternity. Or the driver could get a run at it, hit it at high speed and pray the bridge would hold up for the short time it took to get to the other side. That logic was that if the bridge started to fall, the momentum built up by the high speed would carry the truck on across before the falling bridge could hit the creek bed below.

After carefully considering each option for about a minute, the driver decided on the slow approach. I volunteered to go below and watch the bridge from that vantage point and signal if it looked like it would collapse. Maybe the driver would have time to get out of the truck and run back to safety. The other driver stayed upstairs and was ready for any eventuality.

The truck pulled out onto the bridge and slowly crept across without incident except for a whole bunch of creaking and groaning and popping from the bridge struts and timbers. I thought the bridge also swayed a bit and I'm sure I dwelt on that particular aspect as I crossed with my truck.

I say I'm sure of that because I can't seem to remember exactly how much later I actually crossed. In fact, I don't remember crossing at all, although I'm sure I did because I distinctly remember driving along awhile later, feeling like I could now live forever.

Well, we all made it all right and it was, in fact, a shortcut. We came back that way, too. And, the weird thing is, we took that same shortcut again the next time we went through Boise City, headed south.

Now the really weird thing is, the next time after that next time, we decided we hadn't actually saved any time after all by taking the 'shortcut' and we never went that way again, purely because it hadn't really saved us any time (we were absolutely sure of that) even though we got to wherever we were going quicker by taking the 'shortcut.' We had probably just driven faster. 'whew'

I know, the logic seems a little weak but that's how I remember it. Anyhow, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Later...

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