Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Interstate Musings

When I travel the Interstate, thank you, Dwight Eisenhower, I have to admit that I'm fascinated by many things, but today, for some reason, it was these two:

1. the remnants of tires scattered on the peripheral

2. tractor trailers

As I buzzed up Interstate 75 North today to meet Edie in Cartersville to visit the world famous Booth Western Art Museum, an earlier accident during rush hour slowed me down for about six miles. In that time, putz-ing along at under twenty miles an hour, I casually perused the Interstate, its scenes, and denizens.

1. Have you ever noticed how many pieces of tires there are in the grass, against the guard rails, hanging from trees, along the medians, and in the road itself? Pieces of black rubber, some the size of small snakes, others as large as a 2x4, slung all kinds of places ... are there that many blow-outs and flat-tires? Are people littering rubber?

Harvey: Look, Mabel, I got this piece of tire that I need to get rid of.
Mabel: Just toss it, Harvey.

Harvey buzzes down the window of his Mercury Marquis and lets it fly.


I wonder if its because it's been so hot?

Next time, you are on the road, blog readers, would you check out the number of pieces of rubber and tire litter there is on the road and get back to me?

I'd appreciate it. I just want to make sure that it wasn't just a theory I have about this particular stretch of I-75.

2. Tractor trailers always remind me of dinosaurs, most notably the apatosaurus.

BTW: Just so you know, I had to look that up -- apatosaurus -- as a child, I referred to that extinct animal as the Sinclair dinosaur -- thanks to their gas sign logo, or as "Dino" [pronounced "Deeno" by Fred], because of the Flintstones -- I'm pretty sure I have never known the scientific name.

As I recall, Dino of the Flintstones' fame was never more than the size of a Great Dane. I always thought it was harsh of Fred to flip dino burgers on the grill. Seems kind of insensitive to me...


Any who.....

When I see an overturned tractor trailer, the sight reminds me of a huge animal, lying dead on its side -- its wheels still and stuck up in the air, stiff like rigor-mortis has settled, sometimes its contents strewn along the highway like an overturned laundry basket or spilled groceries.

It's a sobering sight, always.. as something that large, once mechanical, but now, inert, perhaps at one point out-of-control and now fallen ... its damage done. Over.

Another tractor trailer sight that I always avoid examining too closely are those that transport chickens or cows. Somehow these are loathsome. Sad.

These chicken trailers usually pack the chickens in small crates that are stacked fifteen or twenty high and as many across. Crammed tight, their stark white, feathers fly out the back as the truck pushes against the wind down the road .... their red beaks at all kinds of awkward angles, and their plump selves indistinguishable one from another. I don't know why it gets me -- but it does.. I can't think too much about it -- I can't think about chicken. Period.

The cow trailers are even more difficult to view. Those animals seem packed too close to each other, their moony, sad eyes peering out, kind of frightened,[ but with cows it is kind of hard to know -- since they can do some staring no matter where they are], from the confines of the trailer. Their large bodies bounce and sway to the terrain of the highway --- on their way somewhere ...

I feel that wherever it is, it's not a bovine vacation ... with verdant, green pastures and good-looking stud bulls serving alfalfa-brome, timothy grass drinks complete with little umbrellas.



Clears head of images.

The size of the tractor trailer fascinates me the most, enormous and hulking, and full of mystery and intrigue as I never know what they are hauling. Pickles? Mattresses? Illegal immigrants? Big screen televisions? I know sometimes they are labeled -- but many times the cabs are just white and secretive.

One time at a restaurant, I overheard one guy telling another about a tractor trailer accident. The truck slammed into a abutment of a highway overpass at sixty miles per hour. The trailer hauled grain, and even though the driver lived, thousands of pieces of grain had to be tweezered from his body as the impact turned them into projectiles.

That story stuck with me. [no pun intended]. I remember listening unashamedly to it and wishing to ask questions.

To be behind the wheel of something that large that has a gas pedal must be, I dunno, scary? powerful? a huge responsibility?

The view alone from a truck driver's perspective, high above everyone else, allows the driver to see all kinds of things -- some perhaps not so pleasant, but also a perspective that brings him into the world of all people, both good and bad, ugly and beautiful.

When I traveled Interstate 80 through southern Wyoming, the wide open spaces, which allowed a vista of miles, amazed me. I could see the tractor trailers far away in the distance on the interstate, perhaps two or three miles, and they appeared like Matchbox toys on a child's toy track. Their huge cabs, painted bright reds and blues, lined up like a convoy or the cars of a train. Somehow, it seemed surreal.

Was all this musing worthy of a blog? Probably not -- but as I viewed these tractor trailers today, I wondered about the reasons for these added details:

"We only hire safe drivers"

mud flaps

those little diamond shaped plastic things on the side or the back doors

Air-Ride equipped

"Owned and operated by Sylvia and Doug Wyatt, Enterprise, AL"

Studio sleeper

"Fire extinguisher inside"

the double cab ones

"Humpin' to Please"

the necessity of 53' brandished on the side

the loudness of the horn

those huge red and blue coils

all those axles

.. as well as the drivers, only identifiable by their left arm.

How many tractor trailers are on the Interstate? I saw at least a 100 in my 15 mile drive up I-75.

After creeping along, I finally passed the scene of the accident, mostly cleared of the after effects (no emergency vehicles), but just enough left to show its physical impact.

The guard rail next to Lake Allatoona was torn asunder. Long black marks scarred the aluminum, and tire marks twenty or so car lengths long marred the right lane. Ahead about forty feet sat a tractor trailer, pushed to the side, with its cab sheered in half: the front sitting all kattywompus, one wheel missing, its engine nosed to the ground and the back half exposing and spewing its contents, indeterminate, but large.. and looking vulnerable.

Blog readers: Uh, I'm not sure why I just read all that.
Me: I'm not sure why I posted it.

*hums Styx's "Too much time on my hands"*


  1. I love the random postings. Could have done without the part about the chickens and cows though.

  2. Your road debris dilemma can be explained in one word: retreads.

  3. Your posts make my Fridays nights! (Not much goes on at my house on Fridays)

    Love them!!

  4. Jennifer beat me to it by a couple days... all the tires on the side of the road are from tractor trailers. Instead of putting on all new tires, the treads on them are replaced. After a while, the treads wear loose from the rest of the tire and fall off. That's partly why they have multiple wheels... so when they lose a tread (which happens all the time), it's no big deal. They just get it fixed the next time they stop.

  5. Tawn -- I love it when you stop by.

    Chapman and Jennifer: Thanks for the information about retreads -- thanks for educating me on that.... you smert, you know that?

    I happened to believe that there are more "tire remnants" on that part of I-75 than any where else in the continental US. It's one of my theories. Conspiracy and right wing ---- heh.

  6. May I just say...you are my new hero! I was on line looking for tire pictures for my blog and I was brought here! I am a long distance runner and I have a fear that while I am running a car will pass and its tire will blow and kill me...so, I have a problem with noticing tires on the side of the road. last week I flew to Indiana to drive back to Idaho with my roommate and I counted all the tires I saw on the trip...163 tires between IN and ID!!! Thank you for noticing the tires!

  7. Hmmm...certain stretches of the 40 that runs through Raleigh are pretty badly littered with tire remnants. Big pieces off on the side aren't so bad but it's the smaller pieces scattered across the lanes that make me nervous. I worry that I won't see one, drive over it and rip my tires open while careening into other cars and the side rail.

    While driving over to NC last summer, we got caught in some heavy OK traffic due to a semi having caught on fire. The entire front half had burned to the ground and it smelled awful. I figured that was probably because it seemed to be filled with hot dogs and sausages, LOL. You could see the rest of them in neat piles, peeking out of the great big hole in the front.

    My grandmother was deathly afraid of large trucks on the road. She didn't drive so she'd sit in the front passenger seat and any time one would approach, she'd grab on to the overhead handle for dear life and start praying in Greek, LOL. And she'd get angry at my grandfather if he didn't switch lanes to get away from them which would set him off and let me tell ya, that made for lovely car rides with the two of them, LOL

  8. Hi my friend....You have a gift for making very ordinary mundane things come to life on a page! I always try not to catch the eyes of the cows in the trucks on their way to doom. I once read a story about cows going to the slaughterhouse (from the cows perspective) I never forgot it! I really don't know how I eat meat, yes I feel bad for the chickens too!

    The other day at B and N I saw a book by a famous woman writer who wrote a book all about living on her ranch and raising chickens. She names each and every one and they sit on her lap like cats. Amazing, who knew.

    Here in the desert, the heat is very hard on tires. We see the residual rubber all the time. Many of the freeways are actually made of recycled tires which is the smoothest freeway you will ever ride on.

    Once agai, great post my friend! Lori