August 28, 2014

On The Road with Albert Rukwaro

Just off I-10 in Texas,  Woman Hollering Creek is a near-dry stream richer in legend than water.
Passing Woman Hollering Creek in the early morning hours hauling a load of paper from South Carolina to San Antonio, the name broke the monontony of a 12-hour run.
Inquiring at a truck stop over ham and eggs that morning, locals told me the name referred to a Southwestern/Mexican legend about an unmarried woman “with child” who drowns her baby after the father runs off and leaves her. Immediately regretting the decision, the woman screams and cries – and haunts the creek until this day.
Woman Hollering Creek empties into Martinez Creek just northeast of St. Hedwig in Texas.
A journalist from Kenya, Albert Rukwaro worked at The Gardner News from 2000-2004 as a reporter before leaving to become an over-the-road truck driver.  He occasionally sends updates of his adventures on the road.

On The Road
Albert Rukwaro

Border Checkpoints

Border checkpoints in Texas often look like toll booths, staffed by border patrol and dogs.  The guards look like soldiers; and there is a real show of force where they are visible to citizens. The checkpoints are usually within 20 or 30 miles of the border, and everyone must stop and show identification papers. But no more than four miles down the road,  Hispanics come running out of the bushes.  In groups of three to five, they’ve clearly dashed around the checkpoints and are continuing their traverse into America.  The border is so long, I wonder if there is really anyway to adequately patrol it.

A journalist from Kenya, Albert Rukwaro worked at The Gardner News from 2000-2004 as a reporter before leaving to become an over the road truck driver.  He occasionally sends updates of his adventures on the road.

On The Road
Albert Rukwaro

Beautiful Country

Hauling a load of vitamin water from the Carolina’s to northern Florida, I’m enthralled by the diverse  beauty of America. Gearing down as I begin  plunging down a steep road grade on a mountain in the Applaichains, I’m immersed in greens, golds and hues of blue and yellow that are unbelievably beautiful. The landscape looks fresh and clean, amazingly unpolluted. The next day I pass thru Alabama. Crossing from Mobile into Florida is a beautiful bridge – an endless vista of blue water with Mobile’s skyline in the background.  The unknown, out-of-the way scenery often outshines the more popular tourist spots I see on the road.

Mobile is the only port city in Alabama, and it is the tenth largest port city in the United States.

A journalist from Kenya, Albert Rukwaro worked at The Gardner News from 2000-2004 as a reporter before leaving to become an over the road truck driver.  He occasionally sends updates of his adventures on the road.

On The Road
Albert Rukwaro

Narrow roads

East Coast cities – Boston, Philadelphia, New York – make me appreciate the “newness” of Midwestern cities as I maneuver a trailer down 18th Century, East Coast roads originally platted in the days of horse and buggies. In Brooklyn, driving a refrigerated truck full of fresh, Roma tomatoes – I took a wrong turn. Roads were very narrow, and finding a place to turn around a 75,000 lb. truck in a morass of heavy traffic and one-way streets was impossible. After travelling several miles the wrong way, I eventually just stopped. It took six police officers directing traffic to get me turned around and headed the right direction. I did learn something: contrary to popular belief, New York does sleep. The best time to make a delivery is about 3 a.m.

A journalist from Kenya, Albert Rukwaro worked at The Gardner News from 2000-2004 as a reporter before leaving to become an over the road truck driver.  He occasionally sends updates of his adventures on the road.

On The Road
Albert Rukwaro

What Shakes Me

Sometimes the carnage I see on the road leave me shaking for days.  The cab on an 18 wheeler is high and offers a birds eye view. Returning from St. Louis to Kansas City hauling glass candle holders, I saw a horrible accident – a tractor trailer turned upside down on two small cars.  I still recall the sight of blood on the streets, and the scream of sirens. Even months later I remember it, and it gives me a new appreciation for our law enforcement and emergency medical personnel who deal with accidents each day.  Although I don’t know the details of this particular accident, all to often I have people cut in front of my rig, only to slow down.  Big trucks can’t stop on a dime. No matter what caused the accidents, many lives were forever changed.

A journalist from Kenya, Albert Rukwaro worked at The Gardner News from 2000-2004 as a reporter before leaving to become an over the road truck driver.  He occasionally sends updates of his adventures on the road.

On The Road
Albert Rukwaro

Armed Escort to Memphis

From Chicago to Memphis, a 10-hour trip, I had a security detail follow me from the warehouse to Memphis when I was delivering laptop computers.  Security escorts are fairly standard practice for high value electronic goods such as laptops, computer chips, Ipads and I phones, as a trailer can carry maybe $1 million in goods. The security detail followd me in a black SUV with four armed – probably off-duty police – men. Each time I needed to stop, I had to alert the security detail; they would follow the truck and keep the loading doors in view at all times. Although I’ve been told trucks carrying high-dollar goods have been hijacked, I’ve never known a driver to which it has happened.

A journalist from Kenya, Albert Rukwaro worked at The Gardner News from 2000-2004 as a reporter before leaving to become an over the road truck driver.  He occasionally sends updates of his adventures on the road.

On The Road
Albert Rukwaro

CB Radios

Unlike Smokey and the Bandit, CB radios are still around but have lost a lot of their glamour. They’ve been replaced with cell phones. I’ve  heard “breaker, breaker 1 9”, and “it’s a big 10 -4 buddy,” but a lot of the code seems to be lost. “Bear” still refers to police, however, a lot of the conversation is surprisingly political. Congress, Obama and immigration are top discussions. Sometimes the arguments get intense between several drivers, and then a different, deadpan voice will cut into the conversation and in a baritone voice say – AFLAC – as in the commercials. That usually ends the political debate.

As heated as discussions are in the anonyinmity afforded by the cab of a Kenworth hiding behind a a CB microphone, the same conversation can be heard over grits and gravy, but in a much more friendly manner at a truck stop.
I’m East Bound and down, good buddy.

A journalist from Kenya, Albert Rukwaro worked at The Gardner News from 2000-2004 as a reporter before leaving to become an over the road truck driver.  He occasionally sends updates about his adventures while maneuvering his Freightliner down the highway.

On The Road
Albert Rukwaro

Pharr, Texas

I delivered to a warehouse in Texas, and I was the only one who spoke English. All of the workers spoke Spanish, but somehow we managed to communicate and get the job done. I asked if they were American, and they indicated no, Mexican. Are you paid in dollars, I asked.  Again, they shook their heads no. Pesos, they said.  Do you live in Mexico or Texas I asked. They motioned they could live either place, although they preferred Mexico as it was cheaper. Apparently they could cross the border freely, but could not legally go past a check point.

A journalist from Kenya, Albert Rukwaro worked at The Gardner News from 2000-2004 as a reporter before leaving to become an over the road truck driver.  He occasionally sends updates about his adventures while maneuvering his Freightliner down the highway.

On The Road
Albert Rukwaro

Outskirts of New Orleans

Travelling from Savannah, Georgia,  to Louisiania, passing over Lake Ponchicrain, the outskirts of New Orleans looked almost forgotten. My GPS would head me down a road, only to find it closed, abandoned and overgrown with grass. Derelict apartments stood vacant, but the people appeared upbeat, despite the dejected environment.  All these many years since Hurricane Katrina, I would have thought the recovery would be farther along. The roads were dotted with chicken and shrimp eateries, a few gas stations and slow-moving construction projects.

A journalist from Kenya, Albert Rukwaro worked at The Gardner News from 2000-2004 as a reporter before leaving to become an over the road truck driver.  He occasionally sends updates about his adventures while maneuvering his Freightliner down the highway.

On The Road
Albert Rukwaro

Dangerfield

Dangerfield looks not much different than many other small Texas towns I travel through: tidy houses, tree-lined streets and run-of-the mill eateries. Except, it has what appeared to be a predominantly black-American population. From the warehousemen to the cowboys maneuvering huge pick up trucks down the streets, I was greeted by smiling black faces, and while that was commonplace in my native Kenya, it was a bit surprising in a rural Texas county.  Researching the community on the internet, I discovered there are two communities named Dangerfield, one with an extra vowel that is probably more well known.  But the community I visited was apparently named for former slave Dangerfield Newby,  whose master eventually freed all of his slave children in the 1850s.  Dangerfield was the first to die in abolitionist John Brown’s 1859 attack at Harper’s Ferry; Dangerfield took a spike to the neck and died instantly. Some accounts say his body was dismembered and fed to the hogs.

A journalist from Kenya, Albert Rukwaro worked at The Gardner News from 2000-2004 as a reporter before leaving to become an over the road truck driver.  He occasionally sends updates about his adventures while maneuvering his Freightliner down the highway.

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