This Is For All The Lonely People

This is for all the lonely people
Thinking that life has passed them by
Don’t give up
Until you drink from the silver cup
And ride that highway in the sky

This is for all the single people
Thinking that love has left them dry
Don’t give up
Until you drink from the silver cup
You never know until you try

Well, I’m on my way
Yes, I’m back to stay
Well, I’m on my way back home

This is for all the lonely people
Thinking that life has passed them by
Don’t give up
Until you drink from the silver cup
She’ll never take you down or
Never give you up
You’ll never know until you try

Lonely People – America

So I’m sitting in another rest area, this time in Pennsylvania. I’m parked in a bad spot as I ran out of hours to drive, and I hope I don’t get a knock at the door late this evening. If I do it wont be a “Lady of the evening” but most likely a State Trooper telling me to leave. This is what happens to truck drivers all the time, not enough parking spaces for the number of trucks on the road. The bullshit drivers have to go through has taken it’s toll on me. I’m so glad it will come to an end in the not too distant future for me.

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The never ending traffic jams, the rude and sometimes hostile drivers, arrogant receivers, breakdowns and all the other negative influences in the day of a truck driver can have a strong effect on ones outlook on life. I miss the positive side of driving. The beauty of the open road, the stillness of the “Big Sky” of Montana, the endless grassy plains of New Mexico, and the red rocks of Utah, they are lost to me now as this company no longer travels out of the Northeast.

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Montana
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New Mexico
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Utah

I remember each of these moments as if they were just yesterday. Each photograph is a part of the movie running in my mind everytime I feel life is passing me by. When I think about the moment I took each picture I can still feel the excitement I felt standing before that majestic mountain, driving for hours with nothing but grass, gazing down on that almost moon like landscape. It’s moments like tonight that I realize it’s not too late, life has not passed me by. I still have time to fill my album some more, complete what I started when I bought my first camera.

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Southern Arizona
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Colorado Rockies
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Smoky Mountains
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Southern California

When I think about it, I have been lucky. Most people never move more than 50 miles from their birthplace, never take a vacation to the four corners of this country. They never get to see what I have seen, never get to experience the incredible panorama. No, life has not passed me by just yet, I still have time to capture the essence of life on a boat. I have time to bring the unmatched beauty of the aquatic side of this planet to all those who wish to see as I see. I have time to try and express every emotion with words as I snap the shutter. As to love passing me by, I haven’t given up on that either!

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Another Holiday, Another Rest Area

I’m sitting in a rest area in Williston Vermont tonight. I will deliver the first stop of this load tomorrow in Burlington, then continue to Martinsburg West Virginia. I have worked almost every holiday my entire working career, but I’m getting very tired of it. As I drove over US route 2 from Rumford Maine through northern New Hampshire and into Vermont I realized just how much time I have lost trying to follow a dream that was not my own.

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Driving in the mountains almost brought me to tears when I thought about the missed days camping in the meadows, swimming in the ice cold streams, all the photographs never taken. I thought about the time camping with my folks, my sister and my wife in the field below this mountain so many years ago. That was a snapshot in time I will never forget. I never lost my sense of wonder and the feeling of complete joy being out in nature, even if only driving through like today.

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So many places I have lived, each holds a special place in my memory. Many days spent as a young boy sitting on the rocks beside this lighthouse dreaming of high adventure. A fertile imagination unbounded and alive even now, I have the power to make it real. Today validated all my plans, assured me my path was the right one. When I grow up I want to be a nature photographer, and that time is now.

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But how do I compete, there are so many others? There is more nature than all the worlds photographers combined could ever capture, and each brings their own vision to the lens. Each has their own story to tell. I wanted to stop so many times today to pull into the lens the beauty I felt through my eyes. But like all of my adult life to date, I am at the mercy of my employer. Not much longer.

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Every sunrise brings another opportunity to share the feelings only seen by one, create the same experience if only in a picture. This morning was spent paddling in a canoe, the only sounds were the splash of the water and the cry of the Loons. A perfect morning.

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Even a dusty field behind a truck stop holds wonders of nature to those with patience and a steady hand. I don’t think I will ever run out of things to see. And soon I will add the aspect of the water view to the mix. The coast of Maine is truly one of the greatest spots on earth.

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The Gauntlet

Whenever I hear those words I think of 3 things..

v1.bTsxMTM3MjY4MjtqOzE3NDExOzEyMDA7MTUzNjsyMDQ4#1 The 1977 movie staring Clint Eastwood and Sandra Locke. IMDB describes the movie as, “A hard but mediocre cop is assigned to escort a prostitute into custody from Las Vegas to Phoenix, so that she can testify in a mob trial. But a lot of people are literally betting that they won’t make it into town alive.” Like most men, I have always been a fan of Clint Eastwood and his style of brash, no nonsense bravado in all his films.

 

 

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#2 To me he epitomizes the stereotypical hard assed, blood and guts male that many a young boy of my era aspired to be, if only in our dreams. Unfortunately I for one could not attain the level of machismo needed to shelter me from all the bullies of my youth. Suffered I did through school and more, all the while dreaming of a time when I would be the one in control. I feel that time has come to pass in my life, and I relish it.

#3 The section of I95 that runs along coastal New Jersey north through New York City and into Connecticut. Ask any truck driver in the northeast and he will agree, this section of highway is “The Gauntlet.” Many drivers from the Midwest refuse to drive here because of the traffic and the vast confusion of roads. Many times I have been intimidated by the mad rush of those familiar with the area, dissuaded and confused with the many interchanges to be negotiated to arrive at a said delivery. This is not for the faint of heart in a car never mind a truck 70 feet long!

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Crossing George Washington Bridge Into New York City

In my years of driving I think this one area has helped me to overcome more than just a fear of getting lost or other such misgivings. I think by driving under this pressure I have found an inner strength and calmness in the face of adversity that will help guide me as I go forward into my chosen future, as I face uncertainty in unprotected waters. I don’t “Rattle” easy and stay calm even in the worst situations, a blessing to help make better decisions in the face of fear.

One learns many things in simple, daily experiences if you are willing to pay attention and see the lessons in life. Never should you feel content in all things lest you fall before the hard reality that you are never in complete control of your life. Never do you amass such a wealth of knowledge that nothing more can be added. The day you think that is the day you fail completely.

 

Patience Is A Virtue

 

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I’m back at the TA in Maybrook NY again this evening on my way back to Maine. I should arrive in Bangor sometime tomorrow afternoon. I’m taking the weekend off to go visit my mom and to pick up the dingy that is part of my boat purchase so I can restore it over the next few weekends. This will take the place of the canoe I was going to buy for my camping trips before this deal presented itself.

IMG_9197 (Large)After another disappointing meal, I should know better by now, I took Vinny for a walk around the truck stop. Poor old guy, he’s at his max dose of pain meds and his tumors are really showing now. I’m not sure how much longer I should keep him going. I guess as long as he’s still happy and playful, still able to get up on his own then his quality of life is still good.

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As we walk around on the freshly cut grass I remind myself that patience is a virtue. I’m almost there, in the grand scheme of things, almost living the life I want. Though it’s been a long road to date, the shadow that has lingered over my steps is beginning to be overcome by a radiant light. This light comes from hard work and never giving up on ones dreams, it comes from patience.

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The signs that lead the way have always been there, but the shadow was too dark, my vision obscured. I failed to understand how much effort is needed to achieve a lasting peace, so fooled was I with the false hope of easy this or that put forth by modern media. The best things in life take time, lots of time. I wish I had thought of these things earlier.

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As I sit here in my truck, the days miles behind me, I understand the view through my windshield is only temporary, a fleeting moment that will soon fade into my memory. In it’s place will be days of adventure and wonder, nights of peaceful slumber. Meeting like minded people instead of those still blinded by the pursuit of money. Sharing beautiful vistas and scary moments with those who wish to see through my eyes, feel what I feel. All you need is a little patience, and I’ll take you there.

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An Old Familiar Place

Another week behind the wheel, another week closer to my goals. I’m parked in Dingman’s Ferry Pa again tonight, and I took Vinny for a walk up the hill. Anytime the weather is good we go up top to stretch our legs.

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I say hill, but it’s not much really. This may only be a parking area by a McDonald’s, but it’s better than a dirty old truck stop! It’s a short steep hill but worth the climb.

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The wind is strong today but the temp is 70 or so and Vinny just stands there as it blows past, slowly sniffing the scents we will never notice.

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I think it would be good to be a dog. Every moment a cascade of pleasure surrounded by the people that care for you and the simple pleasures only a dog could know. Sometimes he stares at the sky and I wonder if he can appreciate the beautiful blue color.

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When the wind rustles the dry leaves in the woods, does he sense the rhythm of nature, the symphony it places before us if we listen?

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I can’t help but feel a sense of comfort, a feeling of calm as I sit here. I’m in my element outdoors and I relish every moment I have to spend in the sunlight. Tomorrow I will drive 600 or more miles, and by Wednesday morning I will be in Georgia and half my week will be over. I hope to be back by Saturday so I can visit some people that have an existing charity in Maine and have offered to help me start my plan of sailing adventures for veterans and their children. I’m very excited to get started down my chosen path, my chance to make up for past mistakes and make a real difference. You can stand me up at the gates of hell but I won’t back down.

Exceptional People

I’m sitting in Carlisle PA tonight, and I will continue to Maine tomorrow and take a couple days off to rest and have my truck serviced. I always look forward to these brief respites back in the state of my birth. Even with all my travels it still feels like home.

In my lifetime to date I have met many people. Most are but a small blip in the movie reel running through my mind. Past coworkers and acquaintances left in the wake of time, some I thought were friends that have faded away. Lonely as I am, I was reminded recently that all is not lost, there are some exceptional people left in this world.

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This is the TA truck stop in Commerce GA that I stayed at two nights ago. It’s not far from Atlanta where I picked up my return load to PA. As I’ve said before I generally choose TA stops due to their cleanliness and amenities. It’s been about five months since I was last here, and I went to the same restaurant as the last visit. Only a “Chain” restaurant but I like to treat myself once a week just to keep it interesting.

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When I go out to eat I always sit at the bar for two reasons. I don’t feel the need to take a table that would serve many and I find the service faster at the bar. As I walk in I see the same young woman working that I remember from my last visit. When I sat down I could see the look of recognition in her eyes.

Mary is her name and she remembered me from my blog and the photographs I showed her on my last visit. I must admit I was a little stunned she remembered as most people in the service industry meet so many people It’s hard to remember a face after so long. They were not very busy and I showed her some more of my recent photo’s and blog posts.

When I told her of my fathers passing, and she read a few posts I had written about it, I could see genuine sadness in her eyes. It’s hard to explain how I felt right then, but I guess it borders on an understanding of how she was brought up, what her outlook on life is, what makes her an exceptional person. You might say, “How could you possibly know that in the moment”, but I say you can.

I think when you first meet someone there is a period of time when there is no mask, no false bravado or fake niceties. We tend to fall back on our upbringing and the lessons taught in being polite in society. I find this most evident in the south where family is still the most important part of the culture. Parents still take a greater hand in the raising of their children, instead of allowing teachers and modern culture impress ideals in young minds we may not agree with.

Church groups and an etiquette of modesty are more often the norm, not the look at me mentality that rules the airwaves and drunken clubs downtown. I may not be a religious person, but I can see the effect of that upbringing and the type of people it produces. I prefer them, to speak the truth, instead of the loose and free lifestyle of many younger people, or the bitter and angry middle aged souls that feel the world owes them something. I have felt the pull of that bitterness many times in the last few years but I am fighting with all my will to escape from it’s grasp.

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As I walk Vinny on a dusty patch of grass I start to think about other exceptional people from my past. Mr Lowell my high school Asst Principal, Mr Mason my Jr high science teacher, and of course my parents. The person I am today is due in part to the things they taught me as a young boy. Some I remember well, some come back to me in a given situation, but all were vital to the stable and productive person I hope I have become. And to Mary’s mother I say thank you, you did a great job!

 

My Name’s The Teacher

Well the dawn was coming,
Heard him ringing on my bell.
He said, “My name’s the teacher,
That is what I call myself.
And I have a lesson
That I must impart to you.
It’s an old expression
But I must insist it’s true.

Jump up, look around,
Find yourself some fun,
No sense in sitting there hating everyone.
No man’s an island and his castle isn’t home,
The nest is for nothing when the bird has flown.”

So I took a journey,
Threw my world into the sea.
With me went the teacher
Who found fun instead of me.

Hey man, what’s the plan, what was that you said?
Sun-tanned, drink in hand, lying there in bed.
I try to socialize but I can’t seem to find
What I was looking for, got something on my mind.

Then the teacher told me
It had been a lot of fun.
Thanked me for his ticket
And all that I had done.

Hey man, what’s the plan, what was that you said?
Sun-tanned, drink in hand, lying there in bed.
I try to socialize but I can’t seem to find
What I was looking for, got something on my mind.

Teacher – Jethro Tull

I have had many different jobs in my life. From landscaping to carpentry, foundations to computer repairs, trucking to equipment operating. I have had many bosses, some good, many bad. There have been some jobs where I gave it my all, just to find I was being used and they didn’t really care. Some that care but there’s no future. But the currant company has given me hope that I have found something special.

Through all the trials of my life over the last few years they have been very accommodating, considerate and understanding, more than any company I have ever worked for. Now that my life has settled down some, I want to give something back. That opportunity has presented itself to me.

There is a tremendous shortage of qualified truck drivers in this country. Many people don’t like the idea of being away from home, the long hours, the mental strain and so forth. Many drivers have such a bad driving record most companies can’t hire them. And still more are ready to retire. Now what? Why in house training, that’s what!

This company, like many others, has decided to start a driver training program. Students that have graduated from a CDL school here in Maine will spend 6 to 8 weeks in a truck with a mentor, to help hone their skills in the safe handling of the largest vehicles on the road. All manor of driving conditions, backing situations, traffic conditions and other difficult problems will be addressed during training.

So how do I fit in? Myself and 3 other drivers volunteered to be trainers, and I should get my first student at the end of this month. When I first started driving I had gone to a school and had a mentor also. He was very thorough, patient and fun. I still remember the most important things he taught me, and I think I can pass them along to others and give them the same chance given to me so many years ago.

I hope to inspire them to give it a real chance, show them how it feels to be independent and in charge of your income. How each day, if you pay attention, you can find at least one moment that makes it all worthwhile, one moment that makes you smile, one image burned into your memory.

Like this one…

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Or this one…

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I really look forward to giving back to a company that has given me so much more than a job, they gave me a home, and I say Thank You!

This Way And That

I spent the night at the TA truck stop in Southington Connecticut last night. I try to frequent the TA chain more than others as they have better shower facilities, they are generally cleaner, (at least on the inside!) and I receive points for every gallon of diesel. Most chains give points but I’m not setting foot in their showers! Eww! As I walk Vinny this morning I am treated to a brilliant view.

First the truck stop looking west…You can just see the nose of my truck on the left.

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Now east!

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Enjoy your day and stay safe!

Reset In Maybrook New York

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Like most every reset I like to take a walk with Vinny my dog. Today we are at the TA in Maybrook NY. I was told by someone who works here of an old farm that used to be in the area, so we went to take a look.

Here’s the stone entrance he spoke of.

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Whats that smell? The smell of death is never mistaken for anything else. Here is the carcass of a dear and other trash dumped by someone.

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A little further up the road and one would think they arrived at the town dump.

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Even more around the next corner. Many people have no respect.

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Some of the trash has been here a long time. When was the last time you saw one of these?

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A little farther in I found the old farm well and what looked like a large stone BBQ.

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Here’s the remnants of a cement block barn, and even more trash!

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Past this point I come into an area that looks like it was open pasture some time ago.

 

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As we are walking back to the truck I notice something shiny in the crotch of a tree. What in the world is that doing there? You never know just what you will find at old homesteads.

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As we walk back into the truck stop, I thought it fitting that this truck came out hauling hay.

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Well Vinny, time to kick back, pluck all the ticks out of my socks and your fur and take a nap. Goodnight all!

 

Fragile Lives, Shattered Dreams

When we were young the future was so bright
The old neighborhood was so alive
And every kid on the whole damn street
Was gonna make it big and not be beat

Now the neighborhood’s cracked and torn
The kids are grown up but their lives are worn
How can one little street
Swallow so many lives

[Chorus]
Chances thrown
Nothing’s free
Longing for what used to be
Still it’s hard
Hard to see
Fragile lives, shattered dreams

Jamie had a chance, well she really did
Instead she dropped out and had a couple of kids
Mark still lives at home cause he’s got no job
He just plays guitar and smokes a lot of pot

Jay committed suicide
Brandon OD’d and died
What the hell is going on
The cruelest dream, reality

[Chorus]
Chances thrown
Nothing’s free
Longing for what used to be
Still it’s hard
Hard to see
Fragile lives, shattered dreams

The Kids Aren’t Alright – The Offspring

I was just sitting in a truck stop restaurant having dinner and I overheard two young women, both in their early 20’s, discussing their lives in the booth behind me. One woman was very animated in describing her unhappiness with her relationship. She went on and on about he did this, he did that, he never this or that. I thought to myself how silly her complaints seemed to me, but is it just because I am male, or because I’m much older?

Why when her friend said just leave him and she countered with “but then I’ll have no money or car” did I feel like she just didn’t get it? She didn’t seem to realize how petty and shallow that sounded. Is she just that immature or does she see relationships as a way to get things? Is her self esteem so low that the thought of going it alone seem beyond the limit of her ability?

I will admit I was very much like her when I was young. My self esteem was so low I really didn’t understand my worth in this world, the value of my life was lost in the simple thinking of day to day existence. Without a goal, without a plan to achieve it, I was open to the influence of others looking to use me for their gain. Just as that young woman was using him for his car and paycheck, he was using her for sex most likely. I hope she wakes up sooner than I did and realizes the benefit to the world she could be if she just believed in herself.

I think the dreams of youth can be inflated by pop culture, social media, ideological professors, disconnected parents and other outside influences that can cloud a young and fragile mind. Too often we read stories of young “Snowflake” millennial’s that can’t adjust to the world outside of the collage cocoon, no “Safe Space” to run to so they wont be hurt by words or ideas they don’t agree with. Just because you have a degree in some social science dreamscape does not mean you will find a six figure salary your first day after graduation, or ever for that matter. I don’t feel bad that you now have a huge student loan, it’s your responsibility to pay it off not the government or the taxpayers. Welcome to the real world!

I don’t feel you need a degree in this world to make a difference. We all do our part to make things better in some way, even something as simple as holding the door for others has an impact. You don’t need a degree to check on your elderly neighbors instead of thinking “Meals on Wheels” or some other agency will insure they are fed and safe.  All the big ideals of Globalization has caused us to ignore the people in our small sphere of influence. We forgot what it feels like to truly help another individual on a personal level. I’ve done this in the past, and I’m going to do it again.

Every time I see a politician or celebrity on TV talking about this government program or that charity, how the children will suffer or the homeless are dying, it really makes me mad. I wonder if they ever directly bought some food for a poor family, brought a homeless person into their home and fed them? You can bet that NEVER has happened! No, they donate their time for the adds, hold a fundraiser for a charity, or just write a check. They go back to their gated community and congratulate themselves on how they made the rest of us look uncaring and mean spirited.

I’m afraid modern society in many ways has forgotten what it means to be a good neighbor, what it means to help someone directly. Oh there are those who volunteer at a soup kitchen or even join the peace corps and travel to Africa to help starving children. To them I say thank you for really giving it your all. But why can’t you start right here at home? Are not other countries responsible for their own destiny for the most part? Why should we neglect our own while sending billions overseas, sometimes to people who hate us? Am I wrong or does that just seem stupid!

I don’t hold out much hope that anything will change in the near future. Our leaders are so power hungry they are blind to the plight of ordinary people. They are so removed from reality that our voices are nothing but the incessant buzz of a house fly to be swatted. The saddest part of it all is that it’s our own fault. We keep blindly voting the same group back in time after time, even though we complain about the lack of results. Sounds like the definition of insanity to me!