Bus Driver Jim has been an eclectic computer programmer and photographer since the early seventies. A recent twenty year stint in the transportation industry has earned him the handle and this blog is a documentary of his life and travels.
I drove to Rexburg this morning for some final supplies before starting my first trip and I stopped at our base to chat with a couple drivers. I mentioned that one of my stops was Williston ND, the oil boom town, and Jan asked “Why in the hell would you go to that armpit?”, or something to that effect :-)
It turns out she worked construction up there and watched the boom unfold. She said you travel through hundreds of miles of nothing to get there and then there’s nothing there but trucks. I’d already concluded it would be expensive to hang around and accommodations were out of the question. Oh well, scratch that!
So, my carefully planned adventure is tossed up in the air and who knows where I’ll land after leaving Billings on Saturday. I guess you’ll just have to drop by here to find out!
What’s the expression? Oh yea, Free, White and over 21. I definitely fit that category!
I had dinner in Billings yesterday and I asked the waitress if there was a good bar downtown. She pointed to a joint across the street and said “that place is nice but it’s mostly a younger crowd” to which I replied “Oh, never mind, I only hang out with old people”. She peered hard through my sunglasses and the corner of her mouth curled up as she said “that was funny”. Forty years ago that would have been an I just got lucky moment :-)
I’m writing this post on a paper tablet in my lap as I roll along westbound through Montana, smack dab in the middle of Big Sky Country. The mountain ranges are so far apart that the sky really seems flat and expansive. It’s an amazing effect.
There’s no life experience better than being free in America, especially when virgin areas are presenting themselves to your eyes in magnificent glory.
Being old enough to appreciate it makes it better, being a white man means I’m hassled less, and it’s only costing me 12.50 per hundred miles :-)
I drove down to Hamilton Montana this morning on Hwy 93 south of Missoula. I was intrigued about the town, as a good friend of mine has that last name. Very handsome little town, I was impressed. I veered eastward onto Hwy 278 via 43 and felt right at home as I encountered towns named Victor and Jackson.
Signs were everywhere reminding you that this area was a major part of the Lewis and Clark expedition and the Big Hole Battlefield. The mountain peaks have names like Sheep, Squaw and Homer, and huge cattle ranches appear to own the land…
I arrived at Mud Lake around noon to attempt some cat-fishing. Obviously I had to wait for evening so I scoped the place out and setup my spot. This is the first time I’ve had my new rig out so I spent a few hours experimenting with the very low water levels at the lake.
Around 1700 I had a worm on a bobber out in the middle of a school of fish and I felt one take it just as Steph called me on my cell. We talked a bit and then I reeled in a small trout. It had swallowed the hook deep and as I pulled it out I heard the fish make a painful sound. I had hurt it and I felt terrible! It hit the water swimming hard but I hope it can eventually eat normally again.
Suddenly, as if the fishing gods were scolding me, a thunderstorm rolled in hard, sending me scrambling. Hey, I’m sorry I hurt the fish! Ok?
Now I’m hunkered down at the back of my truck writing this post and working on a cocktail. I am going to consider the successful transmission of this post my accomplishment for the evening :-)
I nice couple from California and their baby rolled into the campground last night and shared the space with me. Patrick whipped up a fire in the main fire pit and within no time they were eating steak and baked potato, without a grill. I was impressed! I saw him put the potatoes in the coals wrapped in foil but I missed how he cooked the steak.
They were kind enough to share their fire with me and we hung out until dark. I got up early today and proceeded to drive right off without my blue chair. As I was preparing this, Christin left a comment that connected us :-)
I didn’t mention this in today’s post but I almost bought the farm coming back from Ashton across that beautiful farmland. The road is two lanes and hilly with a speed limit of 65mph. I was coming up one of those hills and was about a hundred feet from the crest when a large red pickup came flying over the top, in my lane. I was doing 65 and he had to be doing much more than that as I could see daylight under his tires. If I had been at the top of that hill, well, I wouldn’t be writing this…
As it turned out, a hundred feet was enough. I pride myself on what Steph calls my cat-like reflexes and they paid off as I swung my truck to the right, completely out of the lane in a split second as he went flying by. At that point I’m still climbing the hill but just not on the road and as I pulled her back in at the top I saw a vehicle on my left making a right turn onto a country road. The idiot had passed that vehicle at the top of a hill with no concern of what was coming up the hill in the other lane.
It dawned on me that I was really lucky to be alive so I did an adrenaline check. To my surprise, there was absolutely none. I had simply performed the correct maneuver to save my ass, and now on with the drive. Not a single bead of sweat or an added heartbeat to deal with. I wonder if this reaction comes from age, experience, or just the fact that the number of miles I’ve driven in my life is in the millions and nothing affects me anymore.
So live your life to the fullest as the end may only be a hundred feet away…
I had to put some time on the old company clock this morning and it wore me out! I guess summer vacation gets you out of work shape pretty quickly.
We’ve got one of the new Chevy buses at our base and somehow the sign glass over the drivers compartment got smashed. I’ve been called up to drive a couple of routes with this bus but I had to get her over to the glass shop this morning for a repair.
After 50 minutes of stressful vehicle management I was ready for a nap so I headed up to Teton Canyon. It’s so cool that I can drive five miles from our house, cross into Wyoming and find a quiet little spot in the National Forest to take a nap.
I heard on the radio today that Little Camus Reservoir, east of Boise, is being drained for irrigation. Yea, I’ve never heard of it either but the Idaho Fish and Game has opened it up for unlimited fishing for licensed fishermen. Actually they opened it up in May so hopefully the place still has fish.
I’ve just finished up a tough week as the TRPTA intercity driver (ok, two days this week, but hey, I’m out of shape :-) and I’m ready for my next adventure. Tomorrow I’m taking the house clan to the St Anthony parade and then I’m off to Little Camus on Sunday for some fishing and camping. I’ve had Boise on my mind as my next destination so a little fishing followed with some off season college town time sounds good!
I’m taking Route 20 out of Idaho Falls straight across the flatland of Idaho (I assume it’s flat…) through the Craters of the Moon national monument. Here’s my route.
The only issue I have is what to do with any fish I catch…