02 November 2010

Elk Mountain, Wyoming

The first flurries of the season were beginning to fall in the higher elevations of Wyoming and Utah. It was the middle of October, my first winter out as an over the road truck driver. This would also be my first expereince driving over a mountain at night. We were just outside Evanston, Wyoming where we had swapped drivers. I was nervous, but I knew I could do it. My co-driver had gone to the bunk for some sleep.

The road was wet and mostly deserted. I had set the volume low on the CB so I wouldn't disturb my partner's sleep. It wasn't long before I heard a voice call out .... 'Hey Covenant, where ya headed?' I keyed up to say we were headed into Oklahoma City. 'Whatcha ya doin' way up here if you're going down to Okycity?' That's how our night long conversation began. Four hours into the run I was starting to get a little sleepy. I said as much to my faceless companion on the CB. I was assured he wouldn't let me fall asleep as we kept on trucking.

I don't remember drifting off to sleep. When the steering wheel whipped out of my hands and I felt the rumble of the wheels...I knew I was headed off the road. I was awake now! I could hear the panicky voice on the CB, too.... 'Wirenut!!!!Wirenut!!!!!' My co-driver was instantly in the passenger seat. He'd heard the tires hit the rumble strips.

In a calm soothing voice he said, 'Careful now, don't jerk it, nice and slow, ease it back onto the road...' I pulled the steering wheel gently to the left and the rig righted ittself returning to the roadway. I glanced in the mirror to see the trailer follow me. 'Good job....the road's getting slick, so don't gun it, okay?' My co-driver said. I sighed a big sigh. This scenario was one of my worst nightmares, falling asleep while driving.

An hour later, my faceless CB companion and our two co-drivers were having breakfast and coffee in the big truckstop in Laramie. My faceless CB companion's handle is 'Jersey'. I wouldn't see him again for a long time after that. We would meet again in the Covenant drop yard in Phoenix, AZ.

Posters note:
The elevations of Elk Mountain in Wyoming is 11,156 feet above sea level. Interstate 80 runs east and west through there. I estimate the roadway is probably somewhere in the vicinity of 8,000-8,500 feet above sea level. Snow comes and goes from those elevations from mid-September to mid-May, sometimes earlier and sometimes later in the year. Elk is also known for high wind and ice advisories throughout the year. The handle 'Wirenut' was and still is my handle when I'm trucking.