Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Truck Burger and other final thoughts

So we've been back in New York for four full days now, and I've had some time to reflect on the five days we spent cramped in the cab of a truck making our way to a new life. Here are some final thoughts:

1) We were amazingly lucky. Everywhere we went, it seems, was hit by storms, floods and tornadoes either two days before we got there or two days after we left. As we drove out of Oklahoma City, we commented to each other about the storm clouds settling in over the city. We drove east into beautiful weather, then watched on the news that night about storms pounding Oklahoma.  It was the same thing in Illinois.  Seems like we missed swimming cross-country by an inch.

2) I'd like to do this again some day, just not in a truck.  Before we left, we made a plan.  We bought a book called Roadfood, which tells you good and interesting places to eat on a roadtrip. We picked out lunch and dinner spots for most days of the trip. That was going to be our motivation - a good, unique meal that will give us a taste of local flavor at each stop. 

There were two things I didn't really anticipate. First of all, I thought we'd be driving 8 to 10 hours a day, based on an average speed of about 70-75 miles per hour.  That was impossible in this truck. Our average speed was probably about 60. That tacked 2-3 hours onto each day, which means we were arriving at our destinations pretty late, and we were pretty exhausted. Often, we just wanted to curl up in our hotel room and not bother going out for a meal.

The second thing I didn't anticipate is how difficult the rig would be to park.  I've written about this in the past on this blog, but to be blunt, it was a bitch.  Everywhere we went, we had to think about the parking situation.  Is there truck parking? Would we be able to maneuver the truck and trailer?  More often than not, the answer was no.  One day, we saw a sign for Wendy's on the freeway, and thought that sounded good for lunch.  We called from our cells to ask if they have truck parking. This conversation ensued:

Wendy's woman: "You want what kind of burger?"
Me: "Truck parking. I want to know if you have truck parking."
WW: "Truck burger? I don't think we have that."
Me: "No. We're driving a truck. We want to know if we can park it. So we can come inside and eat."
WW: "Oh, no, we don't have that."

The Wendy's Woman (truck burger? seriously?) was probably the second-most-stupid woman I dealt with on the trip. No. 1 goes to Barb at the Flying J in western Pennsylvania. This was Wednesday night.  We wanted to put gas in our truck, as many people are want to do at a gas station. I went inside, handed my credit card to Barb, asked her to activate Pump 19, then went back outside. Waiting behind me in line was a woman attempting to return a $500 GPS unit.  I pumped about $130 worth of gas, then went inside to pay.  One problem - while I was outside, Barb had accidentally swiped my credit card, instead of the woman's, and credited it $500 for the GPS. And she couldn't figure out how to void the transition. So instead, she figured she'd just charge my card $500, off-setting the credit. Except Mastercard saw this crediting/charging as suspicious and declined my card, putting a fraud alert on it.  All of this happened while I was outside. I came in to find a perplexed Barb, trying to figure out what to do. She called her manager. She called Mastercard. Nobody could help her. All along, I was standing there waiting for her to give me my card back - nearly 30 minutes in all. Finally, I said, "Listen, I got to go. You've got the transaction info on the receipts, you should be able to void this. Just give me my card back." She did.

Anyway, I digress. This was all about not being able to get around on our stops. We only went to a few of our planned stops - In N Out in Arizona (the furthest east In N Out they have, so we could have one last double-double), Cattleman's Cafe in Oklahoma City, the Dairy in Ohio - that's about it.  I'd like to do this trip in a car, where we'd have the freedom to explore these places. And hopefully avoid Barb.

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