December 17, 2017

Seeing Gods Country

Posted on January 15, 2013 by in God's Country

Seeing Gods Country

Chicago, Land of Ice and Snow

This story is about the first time the Boss and I went to Chicago, Illinois and all of the strange and sometimes funny events that took place… which is really how this whole Seeing God’s Country column came about in the first place.

It was a Friday afternoon as I remember when the money phone rang and we were blessed with a long trip to Chicago. I went down to Galveston and picked up the load of copper tubing while the Boss packed us up for the trip. When I signed for the load the copper company didn’t have a delivery address for me, which I thought was strange. They told me that a man was going to off load me in Chicago and that the copper was actually going to an apartment complex in Indiana. They gave me a phone number to call when I was within 30 minutes of downtown Chicago.

I said OK and off I went to pick up the Boss and Bob, our dog. The copper company employee explained to me that this was the second copper load for this particular company in the last two days. My real Boss was running a flatbed one ton truck at the time, and he too left for Chicago with a load the day before. He also said that there had been a blizzard in Chicago the day before and the snow on the ground was deep. Panic! Panic! I don’t like to drive in snow, so I began praying for good weather right then and there.

It was late in the afternoon when we got started, and I didn’t tell the Boss about the snow storm. No sense in worrying her. So it was me, the Boss and Bob in a 1999 Dodge Quad Cab 2500 diesel pick-up truck with 2500 pounds of 20 foot copper tubing on the pipe rack along with all of our clothing and jackets. Now understand that Bob is a very large Bull Mastiff and at that time he weighed about eight five pounds, so we were a little crowded. I drove from home across Texas to Louisiana on I-10 and then we split off onto I-12 in Baton Rouge and rode it all the way to I-55 and then headed north before I gave it up and asked the Boss to take over. By this time it was daylight, and the last thing I remember telling her before I drifted off asleep was don’t get stopped by the police.

Within just a few minutes, she was hollering for me to wake up because we were being stopped. I immediately asked her if she was she speeding and she said no. I then saw that she wasn’t wearing her seat belt. Now in this old Dodge the seat belt shoulder strap doesn’t run from the door pillar like on a modern truck, it runs from the top of the seat and it’s most uncomfortable to wear. I myself don’t wear it either because it hurts my shoulder. We were somewhere in Mississippi and it seems that some small town had received a federal grant to work seat belt enforcement and they had been sitting in the freeway median looking for seat belt violations with binoculars. I told her to put her seat belt on and pull over. Now Bob was in the right front seat, and I was in the back seat where I had been trying to sleep. The officer walked up to the passenger side door and the boss started rolling down the window when Bob alerted and started snarling and biting at the window. I guess the officer didn’t smell just right. I grabbed his collar and pulled him down and the young officer wisely decided to go over to the driver’s side of the truck to conduct his business. He told her that he stopped her for not wearing a seat belt. I wound up having to show him my credentials to get her out of a ticket, but it ended well. The officer didn’t get eaten by Bob, the boss got out of a ticket, and I went back to sleep.

I-55 runs all the way from I-12 in Louisiana to Chicago so the Boss had a straight shot to drive. I slept long as I could in the cramped sleeping berth (the backseat) and when I woke up we had just crossed the Illinois state line. I took over the driving from this point and the Boss took her turn sleeping. We rolled into Chicago about 1:00pm on Saturday and I needed some fuel. We found a diesel pump at a convenience store and filled up. Back then the Boss was still smoking, so she told me that she wanted a carton on cigarettes. I asked the clerk for a carton of her brand and he told me it was $63.00 plus tax. My lower jaw dropped open and I decided that we just needed a couple of packs because that was almost double the price per carton for buying them back in Texas.

After we fueled up I called the phone number I had been given and the male voice on the phone gave us a location in Chicago and we headed off to that place. Naturally we couldn’t find it. (Chicago is a very big city.) This went on for about two hours before the man gave us a freeway we could actually locate. We finally just stopped in a large grocery store parking lot off the freeway and told him where we were. He sent his men to where we were. We waited about 45 minutes and I was about to doze off when someone tapped on the driver’s door window. It was a very scurrilous looking African-American male, so all of my mental alarms went off. He gave the man’s name that I had been talking to and said that he was supposed to pick-up the copper that I had on my truck. I said OK and he suggested that I follow him so he could back his bright yellow Ryder box truck up to the rear of mine so he could just slide the copper tubing off of my pipe rack into the floor of his truck. Mental alarms (something is wrong with the situation) were pounding in my head. I had him sign my proof of delivery receipt, but then I wrote down the license plate of the rental truck so if something was wrong the drivers of the truck could be traced and identified. (Turns out my instinct was right and about four months later I learned that someone had stolen the credit card of a construction company executive, and had ordered over $45,000.00 of copper tubing on his company credit card.) Talk about credit card fraud, this was a big case, and I was told that the FBI was investigating it because it crossed state lines. I got paid for making the delivery, but the copper company lost a lot of money.

Once the copper was stolen from our truck, we found a hotel that accepted dogs and we turned in to get some sleep. When we woke up the next morning and a new blanket of snow covered the parking lot of the hotel. I had to take Bob out and he literally waded out into the deep snow and hiked his leg to pee on the snow. (This is why you never eat yellow snow.) He was shocked at the deep snow and quickly did his business. I later learned that it was 14 degrees that morning. I went out to start up the old Dodge and it didn’t crank the first time I turned the key. I was in a panic about getting stranded in Chicago, so I looked at the owner’s manual and it had a cold start procedure outlined in the manual. I went through this procedure step by step and it started right up. I loved that old Dodge, they don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

We packed up and the Boss said that she wanted to go drive around Chicago and to see the Miracle Mile”. We drove around and saw some of the sights as we circled around Lake Michigan. There are little parks near the lake so we drove off into several. The Boss wanted me to drive on the paved path next to the lake and I assured her that it was not for vehicles. She kept insisting so I told her that if she would find a cop that said that it was ok, then I would do it. I saw a Chicago PD unit parked on the paved path and pulled over. She wanted me to go ask the officer if we could drive around the lake on this paved path, and I told her NOT. If she wanted to know she would have to ask and by God she got right out of the truck and asked. Naturally it wasn’t ok and I bet the officer got a big laugh at the tourist wanting to drive on the bike path. After I finished laughing at my determined spouse, we drove around downtown Chicago and saw some more sights. We had never been to the state of Indiana at that time so we took a road that pointed us that way.

That’s when we first ran into the “Tolls of Chicago”. It seemed that every road we got on there was a toll charge and when we finally got down to just a few cents left in change, we decided to get back on I-55 and head back towards Texas. (I keep a whole door full of change for the car wash, it is ridiculous the number of toll roads there.)

After getting a hotel on the outskirts of town, we left Chicago early Monday morning and headed south towards home. Since we weren’t hauling a load we took our time and made about 350 miles per day. Basically we had sort of a mini-vacation on the way home. We visited the Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park and saw how the old time mariners moved freight via water. Snow and ice were everywhere and we had a grand old time.


Old man made canal used by the early mariners who mover cargo overland to and from Chicago via boat or barge.

Then we headed towards Oxford, Mississippi to visit with our baby daughter who was attending Ole Miss University (The Harvard of the South). This is the first time we met her beau, who would later become her husband. After leaving Oxford we found the Natchez Trace Parkway. This is a very scenic route that the Boss talked me into seeing for the first time. Now I was ready to get back home so we could get another load to somewhere, but the Boss is in charge on the return trips so we rode the Natchez Trace Parkway for quite a while. The top speed for the scenic route is 50 miles per hour at its fastest and it can slow to as low as 20 miles per hour. The old truck has a five speed manual transmission and the road was slippery due to cold weather and snow melt. We were driving along and came to a peak that had a scenic overlook. The Boss got out and walked around and Bob and I decided to stay in the warm truck.



Beautiful icicles created by God in the land of ice and snow.


Within about two minutes from the time we stopped it began to snow. Lightly at first, but then it started coming down fast with big fat snowflakes. I being scared to drive in snow begged the Boss to hurry, but she insisted I get out and snap some pictures. I saw where the water had frozen coming out of the rocks and created beautiful icicles. We stayed there and enjoyed the snow for about an hour.



Snow storm on Natchez Trace Parkway



By the time we got going the road was covered with snow. I was easing along real slow trying my best to keep the old truck on the road, so we didn’t run off the road and tumble down a cliff. Within an hour we got to a lower elevation and the snow had stopped. Finally the Natchez Trace Parkway was closed due to road construction and we had to get off. The Boss was disappointed, but I was secretly happy. I just don’t like driving in the snow.

Near Jackson, Mississippi we took I-20 and headed west towards Texarkana so we didn’t have to ride I-10 all the way home. We made it home after four days, and I was glad for the rest. It was another trip that went well and made us a little money. We have been to Chicago many times since this trip, but this was our first one so we tried to see all the sights. Now when we get close to Chicago on a trip we try to detour around it because of all the tolls and the heavy traffic. Well this is all of the space the Boss has allowed for this little article, so till next time, take the side roads and enjoy the sights. Be safe out there.


The Working Tourist








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