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"The Hallelujah Trucker"
or, was I "The Sagittarian Mover" then?
San Francisco to St. Joe, MO in 1978.

 

         Sunday is Funday. My Wise Potato Chip house truck is so full of furniture that the leaf springs are bent flat. No, bent backwards - and that’s got me scared. Got a flat tire last night before sundown in the heat outside Sacramento: the left rear (one of the two beauties I bought in a junkyard). I fix it in the shade of an overpass and tie the flat to the back, instead of over the skylights on the top of the truck. My god. Imagine lugging it on the top all the way to St. Joseph and back. That would really be carrying the cross to St. Joe!

         I want to find a place right away that will repair my now flat spare, but the 7-10 Service Stations can't do it, so I go to the Nyack garage near the Sierra pass: a truck stop open all night. Now Nyack indeed fixes split-rim wheels, which is what I have. But when they see my tube, I get, "It can't be patched, and we don’t have that size tube in stock." And me with an extra tube just sitting back in San Rafael that I decided not to take!

         So I stay overnight at the Nyack garage and have a nice sleep under some pines with the stars so bright and close at the very top of the Sierra pass. I hope to get a new tube right outside Reno in Boomtown (yes, Boomtown) tomorrow, Sunday. Well, the two huge Boomtown truck stops don't have my tube, so I call a dozen garages, and finally every tire dealer in Reno. Fifty in all. If they’re open they don't have it, and if they have it, they’re not open.

         Finally I decide to press on across the desert to Femley (god bless it!) with no usable spare and my tires bulging at the seams. Look like the Grapes of Wrath. In Femley (pop. 1000), the second little garage I stop at has the tube, and fixes the tire in 15 minutes. Something about having “to service farm equipment.” Praise the Lord! Back on the road again. Four miles east of Femley—another flat. What a bitch to fix in the 100 degree heat. Drink two bottles of water.

         Back to Femley to find my savior, but he's closed. The owner of the second shop's gone fishing for the weekend, (so they tell me in a wonderfully cool and teeming bar that must have held half, maybe most, of the town). The third one's girl broke his thumb—"just an hour ago", and I never find out how or why—so he can't use his tools. And the last says he's too busy, but I beg, and say I'll wait, and he finally says OK, and that's where I am now as the sun goes down and the night comes on in Femley. I can hear his tools doing the job that will put me on the road again in the cool Nevada night. Hallelujah! Don't want to cross the Salt Lake desert with the sun over my head. Ship of the desert, drive all night. What a fine guy, this mechanic. Knows everyone. Pleasant, sweet girl friend has brought his dinner that is going cold while he works for me while I watch the cars returning in the cool of the night from that great lake that used to include almost all of Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, god knows. Thank you lord, and help me have faith.

         Monday, July 31st. Here I am in Elko, Nevada, 180 miles outside of Femley and about ready to start the five-hour push across the desert to Salt Lake. Can't relax. Sitting in a public park hating everyone. I'm really afraid. Will the springs hold out? Is the latest spare good? What’s gonna happen to me?

         Spend the night in a Winnemucca motel. The guy wanted $20, but he took $12 and thanks me when I leave. Finally get to use my client’s credit card in Elko for $7 gas. Feel like a California or Bust pioneer. Starting out at 2 am, should be in Salt Lake by 8 or earlier. That'll be about halfway to St. Joe. Here goes.

         Tuesday morning, coming out of Salt Lake. My god, Salt Lake City, the savior and the Charybdis! A whirlpool of traffic from all over the country seems to converge here. Sucks me right in almost faster than I can go round and round on one freeway after another, and spews me out in the far left lane if I want to go over the Rockies, and I do, I do. Straining uphill in the far left lane of the largest highway in 1000 miles, I drop below the 45 mph minimum. The foothills demand my first gear before I get to the top, out of gas, the only station closed. Bed down for the night in a field at the pass; beautiful place under the stars. Wake to a garbage truck emptying dumpsters. The rising sun turns cloud-bottoms red and black over the pine-covered mountains.

         Wednesday morning: Singing: "Three, three were the Friar's sons/Whose lives were large and green,/And so betwixt the both of them,/They licked the platter clean." Thank you, Kimball, Nebraska, and the Slumber Motel for taking me in. It rained last night "and the night before.") How good it is to be inside. Thinking a lot of f------- big ladies and how boring this trip is.

         Thursday, August 3: New moon. Slept last night in a Missouri cornfield. Noisy with insects, alive with heat, street lamps in my eyes, as bumpy as hell. Not as comfortable as the idea. The college in St. Joe where my client teaches and lives is hosting a national barbershop quartet convention. It's perfect. Big Missouri meal and barbershop quartets. I love it! $43 left. Spent $30 on tires, $15 gambling, $25 on motels, $20 on food, and so far, $70 on gas. I’m on the way back.

         Friday afternoon: Get my oil changed in central Nebraska. Sleep about 12 hours in a 5-hour truck stop. Wake with the sun pouring in on me, but it’s a cool day for Nebraska. Feel like some anger was lifted from me last night. Wake singing some song I can't remember now about laughing and the world laughs with you. God, I love midwestern women: they're so stuck-up and pure, not polluted like the sky and the land. I'm eating a lot of pie. Two today so far. Chinese dinner last night. Big fat guy owns the 66 station I'm stopped in, asks everyone what they like to eat, tells them the fast food places they can stop in. Offers me some snuff. "Put it under your lip." he says.

         Breakfast in Sidney. Yesterday very lonely. Approach two or three women in a shopping mall but they’re married or have other plans. End up buying the jeans I'm wearing now.

 

 

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The Hallelujah Trucker, pages 2,3

Pages 2-3 from your astrology reading in a fine art, personalized astrology book: You and the Universe

 

 

 

 

 

© Carl Woebcke: The Hallelujah Trucker, 1991-2017. All rights reserved.