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=== Wide Load Detour ===
Posted By: Racer X 69, 04-05-2014, 07:20 PM

Wednesday I got a load assignment, pick up 12 reusable shipping fixtures, 8 jet engine inlet cowling shipping tools (14 feet wide) and 4 jet engine thrust reverser shipping tools (12 feet wide), at the Boeing assembly plant in Everett, Washington, and deliver them to Spirit Aerosystems in Wichita, Kansas, where the parts are manufactured. Wide loads are good because they pay extra, and at 14 feet the load is usually a cinch to move, being just under the maximum width allowed on the interstate with minimal limitations. Pretty much load and go.

Except when there is construction or other issues that require leaving the interstate to keep rolling.

Like this trip.

A landslide on Lookout Pass in Montana, at milepost 7 on I-90, closed one direction of the interstate. Traffic was routed to one lane each direction on the opposite side, with a 10 foot width restriction.

My load was 14 feet wide.

So I had escorts take me North up US-95 from Coeur d'Alene to SR-200, then East around Pend Oreille Lake into Montana, then South on SR-135 to St. Regis, Montana at milepost 33 on I-90. I said goodbye to the escorts and continued East on I-90. (no escorts required on the interstate under 15 feet in width)

About milepost 72 just before Alberton, Montana, I see an orange sign that says, "ALL LOADS EXCEEDING 12 FEET IN WIDTH MUST TAKE NEXT EXIT".

What?

The sign is directing trucks with loads over 10 feet wide to pull off at a roadside picnic area to stage and wait. The plan is that every day at 8 AM Monday through Thursday all loads exceeding 10 feet wide will be escorted around the construction area.

There is one small problem.

It is Thursday afternoon, about 1 PM.

There is no way I am sitting at a picnic area without a place to eat, a proper bathroom or a shower until Monday morning at 8 AM.

Besides, I am supposed to be in Wichita Monday.

The permit guy had told me about the restriction on Lookout, so I expected that since he made no mention of any others I was good to go.

Guess he missed the one at Alberton.

Seems the Montana highway department is replacing a bridge deck, and traffic is reduced to one lane each way, and nothing over 10 feet wide will fit through. The width restriction is from milepost 77 to 85.

Nice.

So I call another escort service (from Missoula) and ask them to meet me at St. Regis. You know, mile post 33, about 40 miles West of where I had to exit.

I get back to St. Regis, well ahead of the pilot car, so I get some lunch. I'm just finishing lunch when the escort shows up. Good timing.

Off we go, North on SR-135 to SR-200, then East on SR-200 to US-93 which we follow South to Missoula and I-90 at milepost 96, well past the 10 foot width restriction for construction.

The following pictures are from the day's ups and downs. The first is when the escorts met up with me at Post Falls.


The first 50 miles or so were fairly routine, US-95 is mostly 2 lanes each direction all the way to Sandpoint, and when it is only 1 lane the shoulder is plenty wide.

At Sandpoint we turned East on SR-200. Again, most of that part of the route is wide and easy to run.

Then we passed through Clark Fork, Idaho, the last part of the detour with room to spare.


Things got real tight for a bit. You can see the front escort standing beside his pickup with a stop sign. After I popped into view he jumped back into his pickup and went to the next bit of narrow twisty road to block traffic.


Some places I had to straddle the centerline.


Then we arrived in Paradise, Montana. I really didn't want to go any further, but I have a job to do and a load to deliver in Kansas on Monday.




There is some every beautiful scenery in the Rocky Mountains.






We arrived in St. Regis, and I continued on what I thought would be an uneventful rest of the day.


So after an 80 mile Yo-Yo it was back to SR-135, and then SR-200, a stretch of road I have never driven. At least I am getting paid by the mile.


See the car? My front escort had a stop sign and ran ahead of me, blocking traffic in the stretches where traffic would not be able to safely pass. This idiot went around the escort and the stop sign. He had to turn around and go back. There is no way I'm backing up 78 feet of truck and trailer, with a 14 foot wide load on it, around twisty roads with no shoulders and rock walls on the side.


Finally the shoulder gets a bit wider.


I told Mrs. Racer we should sell our place by the river in Washington and move here.


Well I made it to Wyoming Friday morning, and today (Saturday) I am in Colby, Kansas, putting this post together. I hope you have enjoyed the pictures and reading the story of my adventures and detours.

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04-06-2014, 03:17 PM   #16
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Way cool!

04-06-2014, 03:25 PM - 1 Like   #17
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Hey Racer, if you're between Billings and Livingston and this flies by, it's probably me. There aren't many of these left around here.
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04-06-2014, 04:31 PM   #18
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This is - without doubt - the most unusual and fascinating thread I've come across in some time. An interesting story (about big trucks and about the twists and turns of life) that is well told, including the outstanding photographic illustrations. Although I hope you don't encounter anymore arduous deliveries for a while, but when you do . . . . . . please tell us about it .

Great job of shooting on the fly and . . . . thinking on your feet.

Jer
04-06-2014, 06:49 PM   #19
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Now that Alex "Heie" Jansen is back in Germany, this kind of travelogue is needed around here!

BTW, Racer, if your rig was built after 2006, you can blame me for some of the interior. I freelanced as a designer for Renault V.I. & Volvo Trucks while in Europe, and the seats and dash for N & T-series are carried over to US models (once we make them wider... ahem!).

QuoteOriginally posted by wtlwdwgn Quote
Hey Racer, if you're between Billings and Livingston and this flies by, it's probably me. There aren't many of these left around here.
You got the angle right! Looks like a SAABuru from here...

04-06-2014, 06:59 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by panoguy Quote
You got the angle right! Looks like a SAABuru from here...
Thanks!
04-06-2014, 08:49 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bob Harris Quote
What a great thread and your narrative is very educational to me and the photos made me see what your "view" is from the cab. On our travels in our 42' motorhome and towing a Jeep we have come upon many wide load trucks. I've learned to get out of the way, I've seen how you have to fight to maneuver around the many idiots out there on the road. We get all our diesel fuel in truck stops and I feel I have a certain kinship with the drivers as they have always been very polite and helpful. I'll add this photo, I'm sure you have been through this location or been in a predicament like this
Actually I know a few drivers who haul the blades, towers, hubs and houses (the part with the gearbox and generator). I have hauled the rings that are used to fabricate the towers.

QuoteOriginally posted by OrchidJulie Quote
What on earth is that? A propeller for a wind turbine?

I've seen some strange loads**, but that one nearly takes the cake!
Blades.

QuoteOriginally posted by OrchidJulie Quote
**a year or two ago, on my commute home from work (a two-lane highway on the western edge of the metro area, Florida SR997) I saw a convoy of several flatbeds hauling very large olive drab rectangular boxes -- think about The Monoliths in the movie 2001 -- escorted fore, aft and in between by FHP troopers with lights blazing.
Olive drab? Some kind of military load.

The state troopers tell me the loads were large enough to be classified as "super loads". Usually loads that exceed 16 feet in width and/or are over a certain length will require police escorts. I think it is to add a degree of safety, as the oblivious and impatient motorists are less likely to drive carelessly around them.

I know that there are DOD loads that run between the Bangor nuclear submarine base near Poulsbo, Washington and some place in Texas. They move the nuclear warheads of the ballistic missiles back and forth to "rebuild" them. The trucks have US government plates, no DOT numbers or other markings, and are escorted by black, unmarked Chevy Tahoes with blacked out windows and also have US government plates. They run team drivers, do not stop for anyone (not even the police) and carry enough fuel to make the trip without stopping. They can make it in about 26 hours of driving straight through.

QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
Yes. I make a trip to Vermont each summer and I've seen those blades often. The actual installation process is impressive KCW Wind Turbine Blade Installation - A State of Green Short - YouTube
Interesting that they assemble the blades to the hub in the air. Must be bacause there is not much open land to do it laying down. In areas where there is enough room they assemble the blades to the hub laying flat, put the cone on, and then "fly the hub" to the house. The more work they can do on the ground the safer it is.

One guy I know has shown me photos of them flying the hub. A very interesting sight, to be sure.

{NOT MY PICTURE}


QuoteOriginally posted by wtlwdwgn Quote
Hey Racer, if you're between Billings and Livingston and this flies by, it's probably me. There aren't many of these left around here.
Subaru? I thought Subaru was the state car in Montana.

QuoteOriginally posted by Sailor Quote
This is - without doubt - the most unusual and fascinating thread I've come across in some time. An interesting story (about big trucks and about the twists and turns of life) that is well told, including the outstanding photographic illustrations. Although I hope you don't encounter anymore arduous deliveries for a while, but when you do . . . . . . please tell us about it .

Great job of shooting on the fly and . . . . thinking on your feet.

Jer
Thanks Jer!

Yes, I have gotten pretty good at snapping away as I roll along. At first I left the camera on full auto, but sometimes the settings just aren't right. So I have learned how to anticipate the lighting (well most of the time, I do toss out a lot of shots), and have the camera on manual most all the time. Sometimes I even have to turn off the autofocus, as the camera will try to focus on the dead bugs, dirt and even reflections on the glass.

QuoteOriginally posted by panoguy Quote
Now that Alex "Heie" Jansen is back in Germany, this kind of travelogue is needed around here!

BTW, Racer, if your rig was built after 2006, you can blame me for some of the interior. I freelanced as a designer for Renault V.I. & Volvo Trucks while in Europe, and the seats and dash for N & T-series are carried over to US models (once we make them wider... ahem!).
Thanks Panoguy!

Yes, you have mentioned before your design work. When I got out of college many years ago I tried to get on with PACCAR at the old Kenworth plant near Boeing Field in Seattle. They sent me a nice letter saying that I lived too far (at the time I lived in Everett, about 30 miles to the North) away. I even indicated in my application and cover letter that I would be willing to relocate.

Oh well.

About the "travelogue" thing, I actually I have a series from a swimming pool bulkhead delivery last fall in New York state (an overlength load), and a debarker at a plywood plant in Georgia last spring (overlength, overwidth, and overweight). I'll have to dig them out and post a few more of these. I also get to do some military loads, but they get real fussy when I pull the camera out. Especially when I delivered a set of tires to Andrews Air Force Base for the president's plane. Bomb sniffing dogs, kids in fatigues with machine guns, a full search of the truck and trailer, and they made me leave my phone in a locker at the guard shack.

Guess they didn't want me calling Mrs. Racer to tell her how cool it was making the delivery.

I've also been to the Savannah River Site. Look it up.

So this has generated some questions, and there have been other comments and questions from some of you after other pictures of my work I have shared here. It reminded me of a "letter" that has been circulating on various driver's message boards.

I'll share it with you:

QuoteQuote:
Dear Motorist:

Iím sorry itís taken me so long to write to you. Itís not that Iím not thinking of you, but Iíve been busy. As we enter a New Year, it seems like a good time to get back in touch.


It may seem that I sit up here in the cab of my truck, looking out over the roof of your car, not paying any attention. The truth is I am always watching out for you. Iíve learned to see a slight movement of your head that tells me you are thinking of making a lane change. If we are approaching a freeway interchange or off ramp, I try to anticipate your next action. I know when you are on the phone, eating, changing the station on your radio, talking to your passengers, or shouting at your children in the back seat. I can usually tell when you are tired or impaired. I know when youíve only got one hand on the steering wheel while the other is holding your cell phone as you tap out a text message (and of all the activities that get your attention, that one frightens me the most).



I am keeping my eyes on you, all of you, all the time. I have no desire to cause injury to another human being and am well trained in doing whatever I can to prevent a collision, but I am only half of the equation.


Now Iíd like to tell you some things about myself, so we can get better acquainted.


When my full sized semi is loaded, it weighs at least 80,000 pounds. If my truck were to land on you, it would be like dropping forty or fifty cars on your head. Since it takes four times the distance to stop my truck than it does your car, you can understand why I donít like it when you cut in front of me. I am much bigger than you. I really need you to remember that when we are on the road together.


My truck is almost seventy five feet long. I canít make any sharp turns, and I need extra space to go around a corner. Left turns are much easier and I try to plan my city driving with those, but it isnít always possible. I know you get impatient when I sit at a green traffic light, but I may be waiting to have enough room to make my turn without taking out a pole or running over another car. I always try to avoid starting a maneuver that I cannot safely finish, such as getting through an intersection before the light changes to red. I wish it was easier, believe me, but there is nothing I can do to change the way it must be done.


Sometimes my loads are wider, higher, longer and heavier. I also will need to travel on roads where my load will be wider than the lane I mus travel in. I don't wish to make a convertible out of your car, so if you see the flashing lights, orange or red flags and large yellow signs with large black letters spelling out OVERSIZE LOAD, give me room. I will only cause you a slight delay in your (usually) pleasure trip.


I have as many as eighteen gears in my truck, and it takes me awhile to go through them. I do wish my truck accelerated as fast as your car does so I could get on a freeway at 60mph instead of 45mph. I sometimes get very tired of having to go slowly up mountains and around curves. I would love to drive faster and I wish there werenít slower posted limits for trucks in many states. But thatís how it is, and I have good reasons for wanting to obey the rules of gravity and the Law.


Please be patient. Iím peddling as fast as I can!


The entire right side of my truck is a blind spot. A lot of the left side is too. And when you tailgate me, I canít see you. As bad as all that is for me, itís worse for you. Please donít pass me on the right unless you are very sure I know you are there. I usually drive in the far right hand lane and I may move in that direction when you are next to me. It also makes me nervous to have you close behind me because I know you canít see whatís going on in front of me. If something happens that causes me to slow down, you may run into the bumper that hangs off the back. It is called a D.O.T. Bumper, and it is a very solid object. It was designed to prevent cars from sliding under trucks in rear-end collisions, because those drivers were being decapitated. That bumper does NOT give way.


Trust me.


I try to pass you carefully and with plenty of clearance. It is not okay for you to flash your headlights to let me know I have room to move back over, if you can turn them off and then back on that is fine, but blinding me with your high beams is unsafe. My mirrors do not have that nifty little feature that yours have, for reducing the brightness of headlights in the dark.


I may not always acknowledge it but I do appreciate it, especially at night, in bad weather, and in heavy traffic; sometimes that brief off and on is all I can see.


Please only pass me when you know you have plenty of room.


We both have to slow down for road construction zones.


We both have to merge when lanes end.


We both have to give emergency vehicles space.


We both should be cautious of stalled motorists on the roadside.


Because Iím bigger and wider and heavier, I must be more careful than you. Please give me room to make those changes. Donít make me choose between your car and the guard rail or the construction worker or the highway patrol officer or the man changing the tire on his motor home.

I spend much of my work day driving in unknown areas. I may have no idea where my customer is, much less which street I need to turn on to get there. If I make a mistake, I might find myself trapped on a cul-de-sac in a residential area where Iím not supposed to take a truck in the first place. At the least, it will be a difficult situation to resolve; at worst I could cause damage to a building or a person as I try to get out. I prefer to drive slowly and get it right the first time. I know YOU know where I need to be but I canít ask directions, and you honking your horn or gesturing isnít making it any clearer. Iím not trying to be stupid or in your way.



Iím trying to be careful.


I admit Iím not always driving at my best either. I may be tired, hungry, sick, or just wanting to get to my next stop so I can go home to my family. I may be thinking of my kids, worrying about my finances, mourning a loss, regretting the chili I had for lunch, or wondering which off ramp I need to take to get to my destination. I try to pay attention, to not get impatient, to be courteous to others, but sometimes being Human gets in the way. Please try be as aware of me as I am of you.


It will make both our travels easier and safer if you also pay attention to what I am doing. If I slow down, it may be because I can see something up ahead from my higher viewpoint. If our paths are about to cross as you merge onto a freeway, please either decrease or increase your speed so I donít have to do it. You can slow and accelerate your car much faster than I can my truck. That also applies if I pull out to pass a slower vehicle in my lane; it will slow you down a bit if you let me in your lane, but it can grind my progress to a halt if you donít. If I am merging left for what appears to be no reason, I may be trying to avoid a traffic jam or emergency vehicle or road construction. If you follow me it will go much smoother; if you try to out-distance me, we will still meet up farther down the road and you will save nothing. Please pay attention to those signs that are directed at truck drivers. Be aware of a reduced truck speed limits, an approaching weigh station, and travel lane restrictions. I must make those adjustments every day. I donít make the laws, but I am expected to obey them. Iím always trying to be cooperative, and appreciate the same effort from you.


As a truck driver, I make deliveries to your grocery store, restaurant, mall, hospital, car dealership, and every other place you visit in the course of your day. Sometimes I am there when you are trying to conduct your business, and I may be in your way. I apologize. I do not set the times for my arrival, my customer does. Just as you expect good service, so do they from me. You cannot walk into any establishment and find an item used for business that did not spend at least part of its journey on a truck. Please let me do my job so you can do yours.


Truck drivers are vital to the economy of this nation, in fact the economy of the world. Without us, all commerce would come to a skidding halt within a week, probably much less than that. We arenít being boastful because we know itís the truth. We are proud of the role we have in making our country strong and giving our fellow citizens a good life. Please help us do our best for you.


And speaking of life, please remember I have one too. I spend a lot of time in truck stops because there is plenty of room for me to park. The truck stop offers showers and food and sometimes a few diversions, but after a while I get tired of the same old, same old. Itís a nice change to go to Walmart. Many Walmarts offer truck parking, but it isnít always easy to thread my way through the lot. Sometimes I want to shop at a mall, or eat at a different restaurant, or go to a movie. I may get in your way, and Iím sorry. I just want a different view, a change of pace. Please take an extra moment of your day to make me feel welcome. I wonít stay too long and I may never be back.


One more thing to keep in mind, when I am in the truck, that is my job. When you are in your car it is almost always for pleasure. Something to think about as you act impatient and drive recklessly around my truck, trailer and load.

We are out here together, you and I. We can make this work.


Thank you,


A. Truck Driver
04-06-2014, 10:34 PM   #22
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Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with us. I agree with Norm I'd rather read something like this than most of what's considered news these days. Looking forward to more like this when you have the chance.

Be safe out there.

Last edited by DWitte; 04-06-2014 at 10:52 PM.
04-07-2014, 06:58 AM   #23
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Subarus may be the state car of MT but mine's a SAABaru!

04-07-2014, 08:08 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by DWitte Quote
Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with us. I agree with Norm I'd rather read something like this than most of what's considered news these days. Looking forward to more like this when you have the chance.

Be safe out there.
Thank you very much DW!

QuoteOriginally posted by wtlwdwgn Quote
Subarus may be the state car of MT but mine's a SAABaru!
So what SAAB model is that?
04-07-2014, 10:15 AM   #25
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The 92X. It's a WRX with some STi parts in mufti.

Back when GM owned 20% of Subaru and all of SAAB somebody decided that SAAB needed an entry level model. So GM sent some SAAB engineers to Japan to root through Subaru's parts bin and came up with the 92X. Unlike the WRX, the 92X had the aluminum suspension parts and quick steering rack from the STi. The 92x's also were available with a leather interior, heated seats, automatic climate control, and a sunroof that were not available on the WRX. Mine's the Aero with the turbo H4. To top it all off, GM started wholesaling all their cars off and the 92X's were cheaper than the WRX's. The real upside to the story is that the 92X's were the most reliable SAABs ever made!
04-07-2014, 10:20 AM   #26
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More power to ya'! I tried OTR driving a couple of years ago as my "Mid-life" crisis. I lasted five months and couldn't wait to drop the truck off one day and go home! It takes a special breed to drive a truck
04-07-2014, 02:55 PM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by Racer X 69 Quote
Blades.

Olive drab? Some kind of military load.

The state troopers tell me the loads were large enough to be classified as "super loads". Usually loads that exceed 16 feet in width and/or are over a certain length will require police escorts. I think it is to add a degree of safety, as the oblivious and impatient motorists are less likely to drive carelessly around them.
Right, blades. Thanks (brain cramp, I couldn't think of the term).

I thought it might be military, based on the color of the things. For the life of me I don't recall a thing about the tractors, but I don't think they were military. These big "slabs" may have been over-height, they were certainly not wide or long relative to the flatbed, but they did look taller than usual. As I recall there were three, I believe, with FHP running in front, between each rig, and bringing up the rear. I say "slab" because each was a large, tall rectangular box, but narrow, much taller than wide or long. If I had to guess I'd say the width was no more than a foot or two at the very most.

Thanks for the letter, too. Very well articulated.
04-14-2014, 12:57 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by Quest4ADV Quote
More power to ya'! I tried OTR driving a couple of years ago as my "Mid-life" crisis. I lasted five months and couldn't wait to drop the truck off one day and go home! It takes a special breed to drive a truck
Thanks for the comment Jeff!

I suppose it is a job that is not for everyone. For me it doesn't really feel like work. If it did I would not be doing it. For sure, it has its good days and bad days, like anything in life.

I worked as a big truck and heavy equipment mechanic for the better part of 30 years, all at the same place. Every day was like going to auto shop in high school. Many of the people who worked at the place came to work every day and groused about, bitching about how much they hated their job and how much they hated the company.

My response was always the same.

"If you are so unhappy, and you truly do not like what you are doing, then why are you here?"

Find a job doing something you do not enjoy and it will simply be work.

Find a job doing something you truly love to do and you will never work a single day in your life.

QuoteOriginally posted by OrchidJulie Quote
Right, blades. Thanks (brain cramp, I couldn't think of the term).
"Brain cramp." That's funny!

QuoteOriginally posted by OrchidJulie Quote
I thought it might be military, based on the color of the things. For the life of me I don't recall a thing about the tractors, but I don't think they were military. These big "slabs" may have been over-height, they were certainly not wide or long relative to the flatbed, but they did look taller than usual. As I recall there were three, I believe, with FHP running in front, between each rig, and bringing up the rear. I say "slab" because each was a large, tall rectangular box, but narrow, much taller than wide or long. If I had to guess I'd say the width was no more than a foot or two at the very most.
Most likely the FHP was along because it was a "superload", and nothing high security. Superloads are just loads that exceed a certain size, and because of their size they require police escorts. It helps to keep the clueless motorists from creating a dangerous situation.

The other day, as I was pulling out of the truckstop at Cheyenne, Wyoming, I noticed a military helicopter flying along. I didn't give it too much thought, as there is one of those intercontinental ballistic missile bases nearby.

But as I was working my way through the interchange from I-25 North to I-80 West I noticed the helicopter had been following I-80 East, and was now circling the interchange. Then I noticed several military pickups with blue flashing lights on them. And then I saw several of those HumVee things, also with the blue lights, and where there is usually a space for a 50 caliber machine gun there was a 50 caliber machine gun, and each one had a soldier holding it, all dressed up with helmet, goggles, and body armor (usually the machine guns are not mounted).

Behind the first few HumVee's was a semi truck and trailer, also with blue lights, followed by several more fully armed HumVee's. There were also several more of the pickups with blue lights, one blocking each of the on and off ramps, a couple had driven off through the median onto the Westbound side of the freeway, some others had gone across the grass onto the South side of the interstate.

I did not notice if they turned North on I-25 towards the missile base, or if then kept heading East towards Nebraska (where there are more missile silo bases), but either way, it was some sort of high security top secret military stuff, and they were working to be sure that no one got in their way.

It all happened so quickly that I didn't have a chance to grab the camera and snap a few pictures.

QuoteOriginally posted by OrchidJulie Quote
Thanks for the letter, too. Very well articulated.
Thanks Julie. Sometimes I wish I had created it, it is really very well written, and does help convey the right message. So many people really do not understand what is involved in operating a heavy truck, and all too often become impatient and irritated when they perceive that trucks are in their way and holding them up.
04-14-2014, 05:39 PM   #29
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Well, definitely a way secret military load in that case (how secret can it be with all that obvious escort?). No choppers or military vehicles with the "slabs" I saw. Might not even have been military, all things considered, but the things were definitely dark olive green. Whatever they were!

Hey, when you get a really wide angle lens, how about showing us a wee bit of the interior of the rig?
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