Saturday, May 12, 2012


When (now Senator, then radio host) Al Franken says it, it's referring to himself as a fan of the Grateful Dead. For me, it's about work.  As in, traveling from point A to point B without getting paid for it.

It was a pretty weird day today. Make that weird in a good way. I was just sitting down with my morning cuppa to watch the news and weather before showering and getting dressed and packing a cooler, things I do every morning before  heading out the door. The phone rang. At 7 AM you can only hope it's work. Anything else is bad news.

Bill in dispatch was on the line. Lindstrom had one, ready now, going to Menomonie. That's double good news. Lindstrom means it's just five miles down the road, and I already knew who the pick was. Been there several times. Menomonie means no morning metro rush hour traffic, great scenery, and best of all, great pay. You can bet I was ready to chug the rest of the coffee, fast forward to the weather report, and rush through the rest of the routine to go get it. Even though it took me half an hour, when I arrived at the pick, I was greeted with, "How did you get here so soon?" Then he looked at me again, and followed up with, "Oh yeah, you live in Shafer."

I'll chalk up the disappointment in his voice to the notion that I made him rush through finishing getting the freight ready. He was expecting to have another 15-20 minutes that it would have taken a driver to head up from the metro to snag this one. Too bad.

Lovely sunny weather accompanied me out to Menomonie, and back in to to the east metro area again to wait for more work. I barely pulled off the freeway to park when a beep alerted me to my next bit of work.

Really? Montevideo? For me? Not a typo when the dispatcher typed in the driver number? Nope, a quick text accompanied the run affirming it was mine if I wanted it. Did I?

Well of course I wanted it! The part of my job I love best is getting out-state, especially in nice weather, and seeing what there is to see. Like, last night, driving around three sides of Lake Mille Lacs in the late afternoon/early evening just before fishing opener when the boats are sparse and the water becomes the horizon, trilliums carpeting the ground for miles, all for the sake of delivering drugs to Aitken. My camera phone, humble as it is, got a workout, especially on the way home when I could more easily justify pulling over to get just the right shot(s). And, apparently, woodticks.

Oh well.

As a side note, I am sure that you too have noticed that once you find and remove one tick, and circumstances prevent you from stripping then and there to seek out and destroy all possible other hitchhikers seeking a meal, your imagination supplies a myriad of other tickles that can surely only have been caused by a hoard of other little beasties?  Once home last night I invited Steve to assist in tick inspection duty. Or fun. At any rate, no complaints forthcoming, and no ticks located in what was the most thorough inspection I've ever... uh, well, nevermind.

Today this deadhead took me through the more southern part of the state, trilliums replaced by open fields, some flooded, most planted, corn shoots just brushing the soil with a light stubble of green. Pelicans were making their spring presence known, sometimes on open water, more often up high riding thermals and doing their arial dance in patterns only they can choreograph.

It was quite a deadhead, though. I'm not sure just how many miles from Menomonie to Montevideo. I do know, however, my total for the day was 494. Two tanks of gas, and a need to fill up tomorrow before my first spring trip up to Crex with the "real" camera. It's a long enough trip that today could easily have become a two-run day.

Dispatch had other plans, though. Shortly after I started back I got a call. "Hey, as long as you're out there, how about running over to Litchfield to pick up one coming back in? It's going to the same place you're dropping the one you're carrying."

This never happens. Uh-uh. Never. Two out-of-town runs from similar areas, called in hours apart, going to the same place with such good timing that one driver can scoop them both? Nope. Doesn't happen.

Except today.

So who cares about a little deadhead? I mean, really?

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