I realize that lately, I’ve been in one of those “serious” modes. I’m not psychic. I don’t see the future. But, I have these “feelings” sometimes, when “things” are about to change. When I know, you’ll know, but in the meantime… The nostalgic, serious, somber side of my personality continues… This piece I simply entitled “Sunup” comes from a series of photographs I shot one morning following a short nap near Grants Pass, Oregon.
Quite honestly, I was trying to figure out a route around the truck scales near Ashland, Oregon as I was en route to Modesto California with a marginally “heavy” load. I hadn’t had the miles under my belt, to burn off enough fuel to be exactly legal weight-wise, and if I recall, my “funny book” wasn’t quite accurate either. Even though my friends knew that I ran trucks with massive horsepower and some “style” I tried to operate under the premise of “Don’t attract attention”. Especially that of the DOT!
On the round that produced the photos, I’d already run from the rail yard in Chicago to the docks in Portland with what we used to call a “hot load”. The freight HAD to be on the boat… As an independent owner/operator, I often took a lot of those kinds of loads. Freight which the broker, the shipper or receiver were under the gun to have their product delivered as quickly as possible. What was that song? “A long way to go and a short time to get there…”? For several reasons, I accepted more than my share of “hot loads”. First, I invited the challenge! I had one customer in particular… A produce buyer out of Kansas City. I pulled produce out of California nearly every week. A lot of produce. Our arrangement was that I called him mid-day Friday after I’d dropped my trailer at the meat house in Omaha, to be loaded for “The Coast”. Our conversation was almost always the same: “I’ll be empty in Oakland on Monday 8:00 a.m. your time. Whaddya’ have for me?” “Give me a couple of hours and I’ll call you.” He was one of those buyers who did what he promised. His checks cleared. He always had good-paying freight for me. Two important things to an independent trucker. No more than two hours would pass before the phone rang. “I bought a load of berries down in Santa Maria that’ll be ready before you get there… Do you want ’em?” “Put me down. When do you need ’em?” “Sometime Wednesday night’s fine” he’d say. “Rate the same?” I’d ask. “Yep, barring any unforseens” he reply. “See you Wednesday night” I promised.
Occasionally I’d receive a call from him before I was even in California with the outbound meat load. “Those berries you’re picking up?” “Yep?” “Any way you could get ’em here sooner? We have an ad in the Wednesday paper and we’re not going to have enough product.” “So, when do you…” And he’d cut me off… “I’ll make it worthwhile to you Dennis.” How much?” How about another $…” and he’d offer up a figure that I couldn’t refuse! “When?” “I have a number you can call when you get close to KC, and I’ll have someone meet you at the cooler when you get in….”
Anyone who knows anything about the world of trucking will attest… If a guy, on Monday, unloads in Oakland California with a load that originated in Omaha Saturday afternoon, then runs roughly 250 miles down to Santa Maria to load berries Monday morning, and THEN has to run roughly 1700 miles over to Kansas City Missouri to deliver by Tuesday night or the wee hours Wednesday morning…? You’d better know your way around the highways, have a big horse under you, with a lot of fuel capacity, an equally large thermos, a couple of funny-books, and a pretty decent “nap” before the journey begins. I’ll save those stories from the road, for another time.
Meanwhile I guess I can thank the guys at the Scales in Ashland Oregon for inspiring this piece, I simply call “Mountain Sunrise”. I’m showing this work on the largest size possible, on the stretch matte canvas format. However, on the right side of the order page, YOU can select a different size and printing format, to suit your tastes! Don’t want the print? It’s also available on two sizes of greeting cards! As ALWAYS, thank you… Safe travels.