Green Bay

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Pilot Truck Stop (laundromat), Interstate 57 exit 54, Marion, Illinois May 22, 2017

    This trip is from Green Bay, Wisconsin to Memphis, Tennessee.  Not that it is so important, but because I had forgotten, myself.  I would describe my state of mind as “road weary” and I hope to be home soon.  Back in the “old days” I frequently worked in the field for six weeks or more.  I was younger then and better paid.

  There was an earlier attempt at laundry, but it did not pan out.  That term has nothing to do with moving camera shots or panoramic photographs.  It comes from gold prospecting.  

 The laundry is done and I have a comfortable table and chair here but,  I am packing out of the laundromat now.  The background music is terrible.  The stuff they call music these days – isn’t. 

It was in Oakdale, Wisconsin.  The truck was parked at a Loves, where laundromats are unknown.  Only shower credits had drawn me to this particular spot.  If the Loyalty Card is presented with a purchase, the status of shower credits and coffee discounts is printed on the receipt.  The current status listed two, along with a “refill” that is good for a whole GST* full of coffee.

*Green Stanley Thermos

Showers are much in demand during the afternoon, so a nap was in order.  At about 0100, there was no wait.  The receipt listed zero shower credits now.  Shower credits don’t last forever – they expire in ten days.  The eleventh day had just arrived as the Captain had napped.  I hate when that happens.

This was a 34 hour break and there was a Pilot just across the highway.  At dawn’s early light, I packed up the dirty clothes and dug out twenty quarters from the cup holder.  As I passed the fuel islands, there was a truck from the company I have been talking to about more gainful employment.  The white truck with the big orange trailer was pulled up from the pump and another truck (#2) was fueling behind it.  That means the driver will soon finish his business inside and come out to drive away, so I sat on a garden wall and waited to ask about the company.

And waited.  The truck at the pump was fueled and the driver waited patiently.  Another truck (#3) had joined the line and he went inside for refreshments…and came back with same.  Driver after driver came out of the store – and went to other trucks.  The big orange trailer still blocked the exit.  A horn sounded.  Pretty sure that was driver of #2.

Things like this happen to me all the time.  I always manage to choose the slowest line in the grocery checkout and water fountains are dry when I am thirsty – that sort of thing.  I have stopped worrying about these things and so, in this case I hiked off to take care of the laundry.

WIPilotOverThereThere is the Pilot, across the Interstate.

The highway is below grade.  Here is a view of from the middle of the overpass:

WIInterstateMiddleYou seldom see the Interstate from the median.

WILovesSchniederStill

Looking back at Loves, the orange trailer is still there. 

    I felt a fight brewing as I left, but I didn’t hear any gunshots.  There are legends of a trucker who leaves his rig at the fuel island and goes for a shower – this might be him.  But, it could be the poor bloke fell and broke an ankle or something, so let’s not jump to conclusions, eh?  -I think I caught that habit in Ontario.

When I arrived at the Pilot, I saw a Mennonite “buggy” parking at the truck stop.

WIMennonitesTruckStop

Mennonite transport also finds sanctuary in the Pilot truck stop.

I saw that the Amish had “dropped a trailer” here and were taking the “tractor” (a valid description) away.  You have to clear that sort of thing with the management.  I still avoid photographing these folks…well, because it doesn’t feel right to make them some sort of tourist photo opportunity – like Museum Exhibits.  They have lived here in the same peaceful and friendly  manner for well more than a Century and deserve some respect.   But, this was from far away and they did not see me.  It was not until I returned to the Loves that I figured out what was the story behind this stationing of Amish vehicles.

The Pilot turned out to be a Road Ranger truck stop that was bought out by Pilot and so  they had no laundromat.  It was a good walk anyway.

WIRoadRanger  The picture is of a statue of what I assume is “THE Road Ranger”.  Poor fellow looks like he lost his job of holding up a truck stop sign.  I reckon that the chain spent too much money on silly statues and had to sell out to Pilot.  Pilot wisely did not spend the money to take down the “Roadie” and left him to welcome visitors…without his sign.

WISnowmobiling

There were traffic control advisories along my walking route that let me know that “We ain’t in Texas no more, Sam”.

    When I returned to the Loves, the orange trailer was gone and there was yet another “dropped”  Mennonite trailer – probably towed by that same hay-burning tractor – that had a “Bake Sale” sign.  I needed some bread and the Amish loaf was fittingly “rustic” and deliciously fresh.

WIMennoniteBread.jpgMennonite Bake Sale bread.   Like the artistic black background?  The bread is perched on  my laptop computer,  with the blackout curtain of the Captains Quarters behind it.

Among the traditionally black-clad women, it was Grandma who sold me the bread and Mom and young Daughter sat behind her.  Mom nudged the distracted young ‘un, who turned and smiled at me, the customer.  That was apparently her job.  She had piercing blue eyes.

At Home at my Kitchen Table, Houston May 26-27, 2017

 WILakesAndRiversFull.jpg

Lakes and rivers in Wisconsin and everywhere else “up North” are full.  Not overflowing, but definitively full.

    The Fates had brought me to Green Bay Wisconsin where I arrive in a “Logistics” yard, which in my humble opinion is a worthwhile innovation and should be repeated nationwide.  The idea is this:  I show up at the logistics yard and drop my empty trailer.  It joins a few other trailers from The Company among the many others that have accumulated here.  It was a good and faithful trailer was 15560 and I will miss it.

At some point a yard tractor will haul away an empty to a meat plant where it will be filled and returned to the same logistics yard.  At that point, the “Gate” will call me and give me the number of the trailer which I will then connect to and depart.  Meanwhile, I park my tractor at an unspecified location somewhere in the yard.  Having noticed that most spaces in the yard have numbers on them, I chose a spot over in the unnumbered gravel “fringe”.

I was handed this load a day and a half late and so I expected it to show up shortly.  However, the definition of “shortly” is rather vague.

GreenBayYardOnlyBlackTruckAll the other spots have numbers but none were painted on the gravel.

The photo above was taken at the peak of weather conditions.  From then on it got colder and wetter and grayer.

Nobody informed me of any restroom facilities when I arrived and there were no convenient signs to that effect.  There was however a small patch of woods behind the truck.   This was not one of those places where they stand on formality.

Some places frown on such “communing with nature” and I have worked out a response if they complain.

“Sir! All day and night, stray animals and birds urinate on your patch of woods.  Are you daring to imply that my urine is somehow inferior?” 😉

Just behind that trailer to the right was a quadrangle guarded by trailers.  Why would they guard empty space?

 GreenBayQuadrangleSlab.jpg

Because they just poured a new, pristine slab of concrete and they know damned well that the trucks would ruin it if it were not carefully sequestered in this manner.  These are smart folks, I tell you!

    After a few hours of walking around the yard, even my sky-high tolerance for boredom was wearing thin.  Let’s see what is nearby to walk to.  Here I am in Green Bay and what might be near?  Well…Green Bay.   As it happened, the place is about a mile’s walk from the namesake water feature.  Yes, the weather is cold and wet and grizzled – but then so was I.  A very polite young lady who was soon to take the night shift at the guard shack described the route and what might be found.  She did not paint false hopes of entertainment.  But, neither did she know the low level of my expectations.  😉  Please see maps below.

GreenBayMapAnotedLarge.png

Context Map.  That long skinny peninsula separates Green Bay from Lake Michigan.

GreenBayMapAnoted

I could not go to Green Bay and turn down the chance to actually see…Green Bay.

GreenBayLakeDistant.jpgNearing the Bay.  In this case the camera improves the picture.

The actual scene was much more like Ismael’s mood in the opening passage of Moby Dick:  “whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet…”

And yet it was high-dollar entertainment compared to sitting in the truck, watching the rain.

Arriving at Bay Beach Park, I found nary a soul.  This happens a lot – as you know if you are a regular reader.

GreenBayMontage.jpgThe park was deserted, save the lone photographer.  This was not surprising, given the weather.

I remember being a little kid and “flying” those planes with the stubby little wings.   The tiny boats are equipped with enough steering wheels to make every little passenger a Captain.  The park was dedicated to Veterans by the Navy Club in 1956 when your humble narrator was a single year old.

I returned to the yard and slept on into the night.  The call came about midnight that the load was ready.  As it happens, this is a near-optimum time.  When the trailer is connected and the paperwork is done it is nearly 0200 and a good time to get out of a city and on to the road so that when I stop in the early afternoon, there is ample parking and no wait for a shower.

The trailer number is 15560 – the same trailer I had dropped so reluctantly.  This is a favorable omen for a good trip.  All in all, it was a well above average experience and a pleasure to do business with a polite professional at the Gate.

Over The Road,

Steve

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