A Look at Life from 18 Wheels: Turtle Crossing

36524_10200242706613215_2031204608_nBy Bob B.

The past few weeks since my last entry have had me driving a little bit of everywhere we go, from North Dakota to Kansas and southwest Minnesota to northeast Colorado. Although there have been some tremendous storms with tornados, including the virtual wipeout of Pilger, NE, I have continued to be extremely fortunate in being able to avoid the real bad stuff. I keep telling those that have been praying for my safety to keep it up. The prayers are working, thank God.

I have been along the edges of several storm fronts which have produced some spectacular views. Tremendous lightning displays off in the distance across the open prairie, and up close…real close, provide magnificent entertainment. Rains falling in the distance can look like isolated pillars of gray stretching down to the ground from a single dark cloud. Catching up to a storm front on the back side of it looks like an approach to a wall of water, and then smashing into it. And of course, there is your basic, all-encompassing down pour complete with lightning bolts and sheet lightning. All of them are cool in their own way, as long as you maintain safe driving habits. I cannot believe the number of people that enter a storm situation and refuse to turn on their headlights so others can see them.

Turtles of all kinds are wrapping up their migrations. Box turtles, painted turtles, tortoises, and snapping turtles by the gazillions have been trying to cross highways and interstates throughout the Midwest. Seems like most make it, but lots don’t. Then there are the kind-hearted souls that pull off the road and park to get out and carry the turtlereptile to safety. One such elderly man (older than me) made me wonder. I was passing him just as he was getting out of his car to provide assistance to a snapping turtle. This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill snapper. This one was about the diameter of a garbage can lid. It must have weighed 40-50 pounds. It had a head about the size of a fist and a neck about as long as your forearm. In my side view mirror I saw the man bending over, arms outstretched as if to grab either side of the snapper’s shell to pick it up. As I drove over the crest of a hill and the sight disappeared from my view, I wondered how many fingers did that man lose.

Another big snapping turtle was in the road as I approached and was right in the middle of my lane. He wasn’t moving, just sitting there within his shell, either dead or sleeping. I could not move to the left or right to avoid the critter so I centered it between my wheels as I blew over the top of him at 62 mph. It must have woke him because when I looked back in my side mirror, he was already off the road shoulder entering the weeds. That turtle must have broken into a full speed sprint!

Last week I was driving I-90 going east out of Rapid City, SD. It was a warm, sunny afternoon – a beautiful day in ranch country. Along side the road to my right down a hill was a farm pond about the size of a football field. Anchored in the middle of the pond was a red and white (Husker fan?), about 20 foot, inboard engine Four Winns type speedboat, complete with bikini babe catching rays on the aft deck. It was a surrealistic sight. I almost stopped to see if I could apply more suntan lotion. Almost.

Things have been good on the road. I am home almost 2 full days most weeks, although the days are usually not the same each week. Home long enough to get the lawn mowed, stretch out, and not get into too much trouble.

That’s about it for now. Be safe, maintain a safe distance between you and the next guy, and by all means use those turn signals. Till next time….

2 thoughts on “A Look at Life from 18 Wheels: Turtle Crossing

  1. …..and if you decide to move a large snapping turtle off of a busy interstate, move quickly and wear work gloves! Yikes,

  2. I just drove from Phoenix to Denver. Most of the drive is on Interstate highways, and so there were lots and lots of big trucks. I had a different attitude about them since reading Bob’s posts. I wondered how many of those drivers have the same perceptive view of the world that they observe from their seats. I also noticed how many of them showed such courtesy in moving over to let cars pass before they inched their way around even slower moving vehicles going up long inclines. And, unfortunately, that a few of them didn’t, blocking traffic for miles!

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