Today I caught air

I’ve been driving a semi since 2006 but today is the first (and hopefully last) time I can honestly say I have caught air in my rig.

After dropping off my loaded trailer at our Kansas City yard I spent over an hour trying to find an empty reefer for my next load. Finally, my dispatcher came through with the location of one at a nearby musical instrument distribution center and I sped off. Then it was off to tiny Atchison, Kansas to get a load heading north.

Now, the most direct route was to take MO-237 north from I-29 and there was a helpful sign just before the turn that said no trucks over 20 tons allowed on that route. No problemo, I’m empty and my rig comes in at about 18 tons so I’m in the clear. Of course, I turn the corner and once I’m committed to the turn I notice another sign placed such that you can’t read it until you are on this route heading north saying No Thru Trucks. Naturally, this is a basic country road with one skinny lane each direction so there will be no turning around.

What is the worst that can happen?

A few miles up the road I start to see signs about there being a detour ahead. Soon enough I am in fact detoured from this windy, skinny country road to an even windier, skinnier country lane, for lack of a better term that bobs and weaves its way across the countryside. The speed limit is 55 though, so how bad could it be?

Now, some of you are aware I’m a pilot but most of you are not aware that I’m not a huge fan of roller coasters or wild rides. The hardest part of my pilot training wasn’t getting my instrument rating (which most pilots find to be the hardest) but stall training. This involves putting the aircraft into various situations that come close to or actually induce a stall, then recovering normal flight. The feeling of dropping, of the seat beneath you suddenly moving away from your buttocks as it falls away isn’t a rush for me as it is to most others.

This windy lane had very steep hills and when I crested one at about 45 mph the other side kept dropping off, and dropping off… and dropping off even more until the far side was, I kid you not, past 45 degrees. If there was the least bit of water on that road it could well be a death trap. I realized I could not hit the brakes as that would work towards breaking traction on the road so I held on glumly as I felt my body rise up against the seatbelt and my seat extend to its fully raise position. I swear, my tractor tires came off of the ground for a brief moment.

A lifetime later I managed to arrive in tiny Atchison only to find the shipper’s dock facing a busy city street and no place to get set up for the back other than that street. Directly across the road was a Sonic and the customers watched as I stopped traffic for a few minutes as I got lined up and backed in.

An hour later some 20 tons of horse feed in 1-ton sacks were loaded in back and I was on my way north to Council Bluffs.