This story hasn't been published. No, all the editors loved it. They all said it just didn't "fit" their needs. Oh, well, I guess I wrote it for fun. Enjoy.
Remember, though, it's still copyrighted material. Read, enjoy, share, but don't publish without written permission.
Austin.sailor at yahoo.com
Before cruising you must take care of all your "stuff". Last spring, for us aboard Rainbow Chaser, it involved getting rid of a lot of 'stuff", storing some, and taking too much. Now, this tale doesn't involve any sailing, rather, it involves getting ready to sail.
Nellie and I are both from the Midwest and I own a small piece of land up there near the rest of my family in Missouri, so the solution was to buy a large semi trailer and just fill it with the "stuff" we had in Austin which we wanted to save. All I had to do was get it there.
Nellie spent quite a bit of time sorting and packing. We ended up with a huge bunch of boxes, a lot of furniture, and Nellie's large antique oak rolltop desk that came from a steamship. She is really proud of the desk, so I had to take real good care of it.
My son, James, drove down to Austin from Missouri to help pack and to follow me back up.
I had an old two wheel cargo trailer I'd made many years ago from a Chevy van. We ended up putting the desk in this old van and piling boxes all around it, partly because the 20' Ryder truck wouldn't hold everything, partly because it would pad the desk and a whole lot because it was so damn heavy nobody wanted to lift it high enough to get it into the truck. We filled the Ryder truck almost completely full, hooked up the trailer and headed north with my son following in his car.
The truck was pretty heavy and I was sure that with the trailer we were way over the weight allowed on the truck's license. Besides that, the tires on the trailer were nearly shot 5 years earlier when I pulled it down from Missouri. I was a little skeptical as to whether they would make it back up to Missouri now.
When we left I started looking for a place to get the rig weighed. I wanted to know how much overweight I was before I got to a state weight station. I finally found one about a hundred miles north of Austin and found I was about 4000 lb. heavier than the license would cover. I wasn't sure how serious they got with those rental trucks but I was a little worried about it. I was giving a lot of thought about where the weigh stations were along the route we'd take and whether I'd stop, drive right past, or try to find a route around them.
We got to Dallas, and, as usual, there was construction on the highway all the way through. Rough bumps, humps, and narrow places with no room to pull over if you had a flat. I was sure one of those jolts was going to blow out a tire on that trailer. It had to be luck, but we made it through Dallas without a problem.
We were north of Dallas in the suburbs, doing great, driving about 65 miles an hour with James following when he came flying around, pulled in front of me with his right blinker going and took the exit. I couldn't even see the trailer in the mirrors but figured something had gone wrong, probably a low tire, and I followed him off. I passed him before I got stopped and waited for him to run up to the truck. He opened the door and I asked if I had a flat on the trailer.
"No, Dad!" he screamed, "It broke in half!!". I asked what he meant. With his arms making strange motions and a wild look of amazement on his face, he said "the trailer, it broke in half, it just BROKE IN HALF and you set the whole highway on fire!!" I couldn't quite imagine what the heck he meant, so I jumped out to look. Looking back, about a quarter mile behind us was fire on the shoulder of both sides of the road and smoke was completely blocking any view of the road. Cars were slowly coming out of the smoke at a crawl, then speeding on down the highway. I looked at the trailer and it was, well, broke in half. The tongue had collapsed under all the weight and it was scraping the highway.
We'd had a drought all over Texas for a few months and grass was very dry. There had been grass and woods fires all over, and now I had set North Dallas on fire. What the hell would I do now?
About then a cop drove out of the smoke and headed my way. "Damn, I've had it now. I'm going to jail for sure." I thought. When he got out of his patrol car, I apologized profusely for the trouble I'd caused. He told me he was sorry I'd had the problem, what could he do to help? I couldn't believe it - I'm looking over his shoulder as the fire department is stretching hoses to put out my fires, and he's offering to help? He started putting cones out in the street to direct the traffic around me and told me to just stay there and take all the time I needed to get it fixed.
About then an older pickup pulled up behind the cop car and a Harley rider in his forties got out and walked up. How did I know he was a Harley rider? Could have been the bandanna, maybe the boots and belt, but the vest was a dead giveaway. He told me he'd been sitting on the porch in front of his travel trailer about a mile back when I went by. There were sparks flying everywhere and he knew I had a problem. He was a welder and offered to help if he could.
I could just see him wanting an arm and leg to get me out of this fix, so I asked how much it would cost me. $50 and he'd bring his portable welding rig and put it back together. What a bargain! I asked the cop if we could do it here and he assured me we could do whatever we needed, take our time. The Harley rider/welder left to get his rig and I stayed to ponder the whole deal.
The trailer had broken once and the tires were shot. We were way over weight and still had to worry about that. I opened the back of the Ryder truck and studied. If I took out Nellie's dryer, which was nearly worn out anyway, and re-arranged a few things, I thought I could get the desk in. I could cram the boxes all over it and maybe get it all in the truck. I told James what I had in mind and he started piling boxes on the side of the road.
When the Harley rider got back with his welding rig, I told him I had an offer. If he'd help the dryer out and load the desk in the truck, he could have the trailer and dryer. He got a big grin and said that was a hell of a deal. We moved the dryer to the side of the road, then heaved and struggled with the desk until it was in the truck.
The dryer went into the trailer and boxes started going in the Ryder truck. We got it all in except one box and it went in the cab with me. We got the door on the back of the truck shut, barely, and prepared to leave. As I drove away an hour and fifteen minutes after it all began, I was looking in the rear view mirror at a Harley rider looking under the trailer trying to figure out how to patch it together, with a lot of smoke still smoldering in the background. I assume the cop came back later to get his cones, but I was on the road again.
Later that night, somewhere in Southern Missouri while stopping for gas, I called Nellie. She asked how it was going. I told her "Pretty good, but I gave the trailer and the dryer to a guy in Dallas." "What! You sold my dryer! Why would you sell my dryer?!"
"No, I didn't sell it, I gave it away." I told her."I had to get rid of either the desk or the dryer. I chose to keep the desk and get rid of the dryer. Which one would you rather have?" "Well, the desk, of course". I told her that I'd done good, then, and she should be happy.
We made it to our place up in North Central Missouri, got everything stowed, minus a dryer, and headed back to Texas. It's strange the deals you get into while cruising, isn't it?
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