Kenworth Yard, South Bend, Indiana
So, there I was, motoring along on Indiana 20, on my way to a fuel stop at a Loves only 51 miles away. I had a good day and had accumulated almost 500 miles – well on track to make 600 before the day was through. I can call up the fuel mileage at any moment and it showed a worrisome 5.5 mpg. Once stopped for the day, I would call this in to the mechanics at Purgatory.
But, no. An intensely RED light on the dash – one I have never seen before – appeared along with an urgent-sounding alarm. The light said “STOP”. There was an exit ramp just ahead and I pulled off halfway up, about 200 yards past another poor soul in a broke-down pickup truck.
The center of the dashboard lit up with another intensely RED notice that said ”Stop Engine Immediately – Do Not Run Engine or Damage will Occur.” Okay. You had me at “STOP”.
Now I am become a “sitting duck”. First duty is to get out and place the red reflector triangles back up-road.. One at 10 feet then 100 and 200 feet behind the truck. I had managed to stop on an exit ramp where you would hope that the traffic slows and it does – a little.
I notice that the poor bloke back there in the pickup is laid out on the pavement in front of his passenger side front wheel – placing a jack, I think. If some bozo rear-ends him, it’s all over. Brother, I feel your pain, but I have problems of my own.
Then, call Road Rescue at Purgatory and read the red stuff to them. Mind you, these are not little “check engine” lights – these are clear warnings of disaster if I start the engine! Usually, there is a ten or twenty minute wait, but there is a “sitting duck” option (press “4”) and within a minute there is a voice to tell me…Now, get this!…”Start the truck and drive on.”.
I stopped expecting Logic in this Occupation a few months ago. But, this one has me looking into the camera. You know, breaking the “forth wall”. Because I feel like I am in a movie – comedy, of course – and I just have to look out at all those popcorn-eating people with an expression on my face that says, “Can you believe this Idiocy?”.
So, off we go, up the exit ramp and a forced exit onto Indiana 19. We need to get back to 20, so, I turn right looking for a route that will bring me back here, but facing the opposite direction. NOT A U TURN – that would be a mandatory trip to Unemployment City. Immediately I see that this was the wrong place to go, because a narrow “country” road with no shoulders stretches out in front of me. But let us ask Jill, the Navigation Computer for help. Jill says I can go down there, make three right turns and a left and quick as you can say “Bob’s your Uncle” be on my way. We pass the road where I will be soon turning left on the way out and I see a sign…”Load Limit 15 tons – Bridge Ahead.”.
Let me quote an exact figure. I have it right here on the scale ticket. The truck weighs 78,540 pounds. That would be 39.27 tons. I think I will just stop here.
Now. Going over that bridge is OUT. I can back around the corner behind me, and then pull out and leave. I am much better at backing, now. Does that constitute a “U TURN”?
I asked Road Rescue. Hot Potato! They toss me to Safety, where the phone rings and rings and rings, No answer, no voice mail, no helpful recorded message.
Once again it is made clear to me that calling Purgatory for help is not very helpful.
So, now I am here in my tractor, spending the night on the yard at the Kenworth Shop in South Bend. I drove 26 miles at speeds of up to 64 miles per hour (Hell, why not?). The trailer is parked next to me and someone will come in the morning and haul it away. The Kenworth mechanics will “get to” my truck tomorrow…or Friday.
– What happened back at the 15 ton bridge? I left. –
Driver’s Lounge at the Kenworth Shop, South Bend, Indiana, April 6, 2017
. Another truck showed up this morning to take the load away and he left me an empty. It is now 13:00 and nobody has even looked at the truck yet. Another driver in the lounge is here for exactly the same problem and he and his little dachshund have been here for two days.
At the Pilot near Williams, Iowa the windshield shade with the cool beech scene was in place and I looked for it on the way back from the shower. I have never seen another of these, but this time one showed up on a neighboring truck – and a black Kenworth T680 at that:
Don’t worry. I know my license plate number.
South of Chicago there is a great big hole in the ground. I have tried to capture a photo out the window, but the angle from the road just isn’t right for a good image. Best effort so far appears below:
Big Hole to the South of Chicago. I have seen this several times in person and once on a Discovery Channel special.
Quality Inn Motel, South Bend, Indiana, April 7, 2017
This is apparently a de-commissioned gravel quarry and I have not seen any active quarrying there. My iPhone camera says it is near Thornton, so let’s see what Google Earth can show me.
That’s Interstate 80 bisecting the Northern “unit” of this Quarry. The area south of I80 is a match for the eye-level picture from the truck. The section north of I80 is flooded and that is consistent with what I learned from the Discovery Channel – i.e., this has quarry been enlisted in the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan or Deep Tunnel Network whose aim is to drain Chicago (which apparently has big flooding problems) without polluting Lake Michigan. The project was commissioned back in the 1970’s and is scheduled for work through 2029.
While I was researching big holes associated with Chicago, I found yet another. This one was for a foundation of a skyscraper that never happened. Debate continues on what to do with the place.
The “Big Hole” in Chicago “Proper”.
There is a heater in the truck that burns diesel fuel directly so I would not need to run the engine for heat. It burns a gallon every ten hours. This is intended to stop “idling” by truckers who don’t really want to burn a gallon an hour, but don’t really want to freeze to death, either. This is a worthwhile innovation that was invented nearly a century ago. I know because my Uncle Mark used to borrow a car with such a heater from his sister’s boyfriend (Dad). It was a great way to take your date to the drive-in theater in Winter without declaring bankruptcy or spending the evening with a girl bundled up in Arctic Survival Gear.
Ready for the Drive-in
The trouble is that the heater in the truck does not work – after being “repaired” twice. So I can either run the engine with the flashing, ringing doomsday warning all night while burning eight or ten gallons of $2.50/gal fuel, or they can spring for the hotel. Do they really want me to risk the five-figure engine to save $79.09?
It’s very nice here in the hotel room.