Adrift on an Asphalt Sea

Viking, Minnesota

Rural Reflections Radio

On occasion I drive semi for the local elevator. This Winter I’ve spent a few days hauling sunflowers to and from a variety of locations, mostly in North Dakota. It’s quite enjoyable and somewhat like I’m the captain of my own ship. This can be good like piloting a ship on calm seas or bad as in Titanic bad. Let’s check the ship’s log for the last few months.


I deliver mostly sunflowers from one location to another. It’s like dinner with a huge family, the plates never hit the table-they’re just passed from one person to another. There must be a large percentage of sunflowers that are never in storage but rather riding behind a semi up and down Highway #2 in northern North Dakota. When you reach the terminal it’s like coming into port but without the shore leave. I spent nineteen hours moving sunflowers on Monday of which about ten of the hours were spent driving. I always get a kick out of the first contact with the terminal employees-especially if the load is high-moisture content. When you haul a load of slightly moist ‘flowers or canola into a processing plant they stare like you’re only horns, tail and a pitchfork short of absolute evil. Now since I didn’t harvest the load, store the load or even load the load I have trouble feeling guilty about the moisture content. Actually since I was able to cross troubled asphalt seas plus get through the twenty step process it takes to dump a load at most facilities maybe I should receive a heroes welcome-just an idea.

Lisa and I watched “the Perfect Storm” just the other night. George Clooney played the part of a fishing boat captain and I noticed he rarely slept and the boat had occasional breakdowns. As the Captain of my own asphalt-going ship I can commiserate. Last month I went to bed the night before a big trip. Through the evening I accumulated approximately 45 minutes of sleep. That morning (is 3 am morning or late night?) I left for Minot feeling fully rested. Somewhere East of Leeds, North Dakota a split heater hose was announced with a sudden lack of heat in the cab. I grabbed the radio and called an SOS which was answered by a co-worker about fifteen minutes behind me. Brian stopped and fixed the hose in less than favorable conditions. I guess he’s like the Coast Guard for this particular voyage. I would also guess that I owe him pretty big.

As the captain/driver part of my duty is to keep an accurate log. Let’s set the record straight. I’m just kidding around about elevators and other terminals, they do a great job. Part of my job as captain/driver of my own truck is to maintain good relations with people I meet. It’s always good to have friends when like a red-headed stepchild that next load of seventeen percent moisture sunflowers becomes yours.