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Tales of a Hay Hauler: Texas adventures

Brad Nelson Published on 30 April 2014
Emergency vehicle
There is nothing in the world to jerk you out of La-La Land like looking out the window of an airplane upon landing and seeing a parade waiting for you. In this example, it was a parade made up of all the fire and crash trucks in the world.

I had an empty spot in my hay-hauling business, and one of the local truck dealers had a truck in Dallas that he needed herded home to Boise, Idaho.

The dealer gave me an airplane ticket, an address and a piece of paper with the make, model and serial number of a used mixer truck. As we approached the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, the trip got interesting.

Instead of just flying in and landing, the plane circled for a long time. No one told the passengers that there was any difficulty. I noted the flight attendants seemed to be on edge.

When I noticed they were moving a young mother and small child from their seats to the rear-facing seat against a bulkhead, I got a little concerned. I don’t think I was the only one on board spending a few moments in silent prayer.

The plane finally flew in to land, and with all the fire and crash vehicles racing to catch us, I hoped for the best. The plane touched down OK and then seemed to roll too long.

Rather abruptly, brakes were applied and the plane made a very sudden stop. After a moment, we heard the pilot’s voice.

He announced that the plane had experienced a complete failure of the hydraulic system and there had been some concern about the landing gear being fully extended and locked. A bus came to where we were and hauled us all to the terminal.

I found my way through the terminal and found a cab. He took me to the address and waited until I found the truck and noted that the keys were inside as well as the paperwork I needed.

By now it was zero-dark-30 and the place was deserted. Since the truck had started and most of the lights worked, I headed home. My flashlight confirmed that the truck was near full of fuel, so I drove until I needed to rest and slept humped over the wheel until morning.

The truck had a fresh transmission, but they had replaced a double-overdrive unit with a direct-drive. Forty-seven miles per hour as a top speed makes Texas an even bigger state to cross. I was concerned that I would reach retirement age before I got the truck to Boise.

I noticed a few things about the Texas attitude. I noted one low-clearance marker at an overpass warning of 47 feet 3 inches of clearance.

At a fuel stop, I dragged my 6-foot, 4-inch carcass out of the truck and stretched and looked around. The fuel jockey asked what I was looking for.

I told him I had never been to Texas before, and I was looking for one of those big Texans I’d heard stories about all my life. To this day, I have no idea why that little fellow got all bent out of shape at me.

I made two more trips to Texas, one driving a blue cab-over Freightliner with a 318 Detroit and a 10-speed. At least it would run the speed limit on flat ground. Each trip, I picked up a new end-dump trailer and brought it back home to Boise.

One trip home I encountered the largest thunderstorm I’ve seen in my life. It started about the time I crossed the Oklahoma panhandle, and it was still raining hard as I approached the western border of Wyoming.

When I got home, I found out that this storm had spawned floods, including the Big Thompson Canyon campsite flood in Colorado.

The citizens band radio traffic was mainly drivers complaining that people had beaten them to all the underpasses so they had no place to hide during the storm.

On the second trip, I left on Wednesday and assured them I could make it to Dallas by Friday afternoon to get the trailer picked up before closing. I did.

The trailer place said there was a message to have me call Boise. They wanted me back in Boise by Sunday so they could deliver the trailer that day. I said, “No.” They countered with, “But we thought if you could drive down in two days, you could drive home in two days.”

I told them I was not a good bull hauler. I had to have more than two or three hours of sleep every other day. They quit arguing.

They parted company with the previous fellow they had shuttling trucks around the country because he spent fuel money on booze and they had to bail him out of jail to get the keys so they could get their truck out of the impound yard. Yes, I reminded them of that.  FG

“There is nothing in the world to jerk you out of La-La Land like looking out the window of an airplane upon landing and seeing a parade waiting for you.” Photo courtesy of Thinkstock.