November 24, 2017

Seeing God’s Country ……. Fun Trips

Posted on August 28, 2012 by in God's Country

Seeing God’s Country ……. Fun Trips

 Fun Trips

Freight has not been moving very well lately and I’ve had a couple of weeks in dry dock, so I decided to write about some of our more memorable trips we’ve taken.

Pensacola Beach

Pensacola Beach, Florida is a beautiful resort town and we were fortunate enough to get a run there.  Back then we were driving Ole Gray, a 1999 Dodge 2500 diesel with a pipe rack on it.  The Boss actually bought this truck for me after I retired and it already had 95,000 miles on it.  Now don’t get me wrong, for a Cummins diesel motor this is just about break in mileage, so it was a heck of a deal.  It had a five speed standard transmission and what they called a quad cab design.  The back bench seat was about 12″ wide, and hard as a chunk of concrete, but we managed to sleep on it when we had too.  It was later sold with 438,000 miles on the odometer.  It was a damn good truck!

Pensacolla Beach

But back to the story… I had never been to Florida, and we were both excited to make this trip.  I had been to the Pacific Ocean on a motorcycle vacation trip once, but the Boss hadn’t ever seen anything but the Gulf of Mexico. We loaded the material on the pipe rack and headed out on our exciting journey.  As I recall it was a straight through drive, so we had to drive all through the day and most  of the night to get there, so we arrived bone tired.  We arrived at about 6:00am CST, and we couldn’t deliver the load till 8:00am EST.  I would like to mention that the drive along IH-10 across the Florida Panhandle is a long desolate haul.  There are very few fuel stops or towns along the way.  I noticed that there were call boxes about every half mile to call for help if you broke down.  These were left over from a time when cell phones didn’t exist.  We didn’t have any problems, so I don’t know if they still worked or not.

Pensacola Beach

We found the drop point and it was near the beach, so I told the Boss that if she wanted to go see the beach, we could drive over there and I would take a little nap.  She agreed and we found a parking lot just off the sand and we walked around to check it out.  I had watched a lot of Miami Vice and seen pictures on the TV, but when they said that the sand was a white powder, they were really telling the truth.  I’ve walked on the sand in Galveston before and it packs when you step on it, but this stuff never packed down, and it was like walking on volcanic ash.  Each step was laborious, and we didn’t go too far.  There were two beach patrol officers sitting in a four wheel drive Ford SUV, and an ATV.  Since it was in the winter time the beach was empty, but they were there just in case I guess.

Pensacola Beach

The most unusual thing I found was that the water was an aquamarine green.  I had never seen water so beautiful and so green.  There was no brown in it like the water in Galveston, Texas.  Down the beach a ways was a long pier that stretched out over the water for about half a mile.  It was a wooden pier, but appeared to be in good repair.

That’s saying something because the reason we were there was to deliver some high dollar copper pipe to repair some apartments that had been damaged by a recent hurricane.  Parts of the town were still showing signs of damage, and some of it was closed off to public traffic, but the beach was open, and was strikingly beautiful.  We sat there for a while and saw two tractors with big balloon tires go by dragging beach sweeping rakes to drag any debris off the sand.  Apparently the city fathers understand that the beach attracts the tourist’s dollars, so they went about cleaning and maintaining it first, after the storm passed. Most of the tourist places were closed for the winter season, so we didn’t stay too long, but given the opportunity to go again, I’d sign up for that trek in a heartbeat.  I’m sure that during the summer months that it’s a great vacation spot with a lot of fun things to see and do.

Miami

When the call came in for this run I was tremendously excited. Being a big fan of Miami Vice in the eighties, I expected to see skimpily clad women and Cuban cocaine dealers hanging out on every street corner. My kind of trip!

The load was a crate that was supposed to weigh 3200 pounds and be 48″ wide by eight feet long.  I went to pick it up and it turned out to be 4800 pounds and 50″ wide.  When the forklift operator put it in the bed of the Wonder truck I heard a crunch. When I looked in the bed, I saw that the inside fender wells had been smashed flat by the excess width and weight.  The wonder truck has a suspension enhancement system on it, so the springs didn’t collapse, and the tires seemed fine.

Miami Beach

I said to myself, “what the heck, the damage is done now”, I might as well haul the load and get paid for it.  I didn’t mention this to the Boss till we were well on our way, and she wasn’t pleased.  After that, I now make sure to verify the weight and dimensions of all the loads I haul.

Experience is a hard teacher some times.

 I hit the load/haul button on the Wonder Truck’s transmission, activated the jake brake, and off we went.  The crate filled up the entire bed of the truck, but it didn’t catch too much wind, so I got reasonable mileage. We made it to Florida without any problems, and then made the turn to go south all the way to Miami.  The Boss is the navigator, and she wisely made the decision to get us on the toll road that travels south from IH-10 to Miami.  The trip is long, but we didn’t have any problems, and we got there on time because of it. The delivery point was a freight station where they accept freight, send it through customs inspection and then it’s forwarded overseas.  We had about a two hour wait to get unloaded, and I had a communication problem because the receiving clerk spoke minimal English, and a lot of Cuban.  I sat waiting, listening to the other drivers chattering in Cuban. Not understanding a single word, I felt embarrassed for not having taken Spanish in high school when I had the chance.

Miami Beach

When I got unloaded I was able to see the damage to the Wonder Truck and it wasn’t pretty.  The truck was still very new at that time and I felt bad for getting it damaged.  The load was delivered and it was now sightseeing time.  The Boss directed me around and we saw all the waterfront cafés and eateries that we had seen on TV many times.  Something I had never noticed before was that all the outside dining tables had green overhangs on them to block the sun. They had a water misting system attached to them to cool the patrons as they ate or drank coffee.  It was kinda like the supermarkets do to the vegetables in the produce section. Weird, but necessary I guess.

We wanted a hotel room that faced the ocean because we don’t get to Florida very often. The one we found had a small elevated U-shaped driveway where you parked and went inside to check into the hotel.  I parked the truck and left the motor running with the Boss inside the cab.  Apparently they move your vehicle if the traffic gets backed up, because when I came back out my truck had been moved, and the Boss was very excited about it. She said a handsome Cuban man just got into the truck and moved it farther down the driveway.  I was highly annoyed but the Boss assured me that the young man was very polite and took great pains to assure her that she would be OK.

I think maybe she was a little happy to be in the company of what she described as a very handsome young man. 

The hotel was very expensive, $250.00, for one night.  It was a nice hotel, but once you got up into the room you could tell that it was very old, and was in the process of being renovated.  Our room was nice and faced the beach.  We took a nap, and by the time we woke up it was nighttime, and a lot of the beach and pool amenities were closed for the day.  We put on our swim suits and made it down to the beach any way. We found that for about fifty feet the green Atlantic water was choked with sea weed.  We braved the sea shrubbery and waded out into the water, but it was quite cold, so we didn’t stay long.  The pool was closed for the night so we couldn’t swim there either.  We gave up swimming, got us a bite to eat at a Cuban sandwich shop and went back to bed.

On the way back, we took a route that took us along the west side of the Florida peninsula.  We saw many small towns and tourist traps.  By this time I had run out of cigars, so the Boss went  about finding me a smoke shop.  We stopped at this little place and the clerk sold us a few cigars, and then I jokingly asked if he had any Cuban cigars? He said he did and that they were $15.00 each.  I didn’t dare spend that much on one cigar, but the Boss decided otherwise.

She went back inside and bought me a Cuban Monte Christo cigar.  The band read Hecha de Cuba (Made in Cuba).  I saved that cigar for almost a year because I decided I wanted to smoke it after my youngest daughter’s wedding.  We made our way back home without any problems.  The sightseeing in Florida was great, but make sure you bring plenty money if you intend to stay in Miami.  All in all we had a great time and I don’t know if that cigar was really made in Cuba or not, but by the time I smoked it, it really didn’t matter.

Possibly smoking a REAL Cuban cigar after walking your baby daughter down the aisle… life just doesn’t get any better than that.

The

Working Tourist

 

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