Looking at Life From 18 Wheels: Where the Deer and the Antelope Play

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from my friend who looks at life from the cab of a long-haul truck….

36524_10200242706613215_2031204608_nBy Bob Botsios

Hello friends. It has been a while. Life on the open road has been pretty busy. Since I get paid by the mile, loaded or empty, and since federal transportation regulations limit working hours to 70 hours within eight consecutive days, I try to drive as much as my hours permit each day until I use up my 70 hours. Doing this maximizes my miles per week plus gets me one or two days off each week as well. It also limits my creative energy for writing. [My wife] Colleen believes that I got bashful about writing since I have a couple trucker buddies as FB friends, but I have special trucker lingo for them if they give me a hard time.

I have posted a few interesting things on Facebook as they occurred, such as the South Dakota spring blizzard, the poisonous snake sign, and the recent unfortunate shooting at the Walmart in Grand Forks, ND. I realized that as the weather warms I need to be especially careful at night taking an emergency roadside break. I would hate to disturb a rattler in the dark.

Two weeks ago I had a trip to stores in Bismarck and Minot, ND. It’s about two hours from Bismarck to Minot through some flat, treeless terrain with quite a bit of marshland in between. The highway also has a bridge about two miles long that goes over the huge reservoir, Lake Sakakawea. The lake stretches about 50 miles to the west of the bridge. Quite impressive. I was about five miles south of the bridge driving towards it. It was about 9:30 pm, had just turned dark but with enough light to create silhouettes of everything. Along the right side of the highway approaching the road’s shoulder appeared the shape of a huge, but unusually shaped horse. It looked like our destinies were about to collide as I slowed down a bit, flashed my bright lights, and honked the horn which caused the animal to go turn back into the marsh as I kept praying, “Get back, get back!” I got within about 100 feet before it turned at which time I realized the horse was not a horse but a huge female moose. A moose! That would have made a mess of things. I am always on the alert at dusk for deer, occasional loose cattle, but a moose….especially in that area. It was totally unexpected. When I arrived at the Minot store I told them about it, and they confirmed that every couple of years a moose is sighted in the area. I guess I was lucky two ways.

Just a couple of days ago I was driving south from Dickinson, ND, into South Dakota. This is wide open range country. It was late afternoon, still daylight and I had two races with two separate pairs of antelope along side the road. They were between the road and the roadside barbed wire fence. They were grazing as I approached at 60 mph and startled them. They took off in the same direction as I was traveling. They accelerated from a dead stop to about 50 mph in about two steps. As I got even with them they did a 50 mph u-turn on a dime. Very cool.

It’s been about two-and-a-half years since I started this new career driving a truck. I still having a blast doing it. Getting better and learning a little more every day. So far I have driven about 260,000 miles, and I am still amazed at the number of drivers that don’t turn on their headlights in the rain or at dusk. It’s even worse in Iowa. But, I am glad to know that none of my friends and family are in that group….Right? Also, I’m glad everyone did as I suggested last fall and changed your wiper blades. But guess what? It’s time to do it again to do a good job wiping in spring/summer rain storms. As the Godfather says, “Do it!”

Be safe.

2 thoughts on “Looking at Life From 18 Wheels: Where the Deer and the Antelope Play

  1. Questions for Bob. If you work that many hours in 8 consecutive days, how many days do you take off before you get on the road again? Where is your truck parked on your days off? I enjoy your stories of being on the road!

    • Hi Jennie, I hope you enjoy my stories as much as I do experiencing them. To answer your questions, federal regulations mandate that drivers take off at least 34 consecutive hours to reset your “70 hour clock”. This means I take off 1.5 to 2 days. However, lots of Over The Road drivers (not in our WalMart Dedicated fleet) don’t reach the 70 hr/8 day limit and drive weeks at at time before taking time off. When they do take time off, they take a week or two at a time. It’s whatever you prefer. I park my truck at a local company facility when I am at home. Thanks, be safe, and use those turn signals.

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