U-haul on the side of the road—on its side, unattached to any other vehicle—the contents scattered all along the shoulder. Smashed boxes, broken lamps and other fixtures, and some very wrinkled clothing, decorated the right of way. Not positive, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how those trailers were designed to be used. At least that’s not the way I’ve done it. Just doesn’t seem that efficient to me.
I considered stopping to offer my enlightening bit of wisdom but I doubt the people standing around with a lost look on their faces were interested in my advice. I guess I could have helped pick things up but with the two officers and wrecker there, they probably had enough hands. So, I kept driving. Besides, it was a bit windy. More than a bit, really.
Welcome to my world—The Columbia River Gorge, Home of the Great Wind. The wrecked U-haul was just the latest casualty. It happens a lot. It’s been known to blow loaded semi’s off the road and loaded boxcars of the tracks. The wind blows almost every day, although some days are worse than others. This day was a particularly strong windy day—even by our standards.
Five hours later, when I came back by, the U-haul was still there. The trailer had been set back on its wheels and reattached to the pickup. The family’s belongings that had been randomly strewn down the side of the highway appeared to have been shoved back into the trailer. The doors were lashed together with a ratcheting strap.
Leaving on my second trip of the night, I again passed the spot where the wreck had happened and this time they were gone. But a few miles down the road, I saw them again. The driver was apparently now a little gun shy. He was driving on the shoulder about 10 mph. At first I thought that might be due to the trailer being damaged but as I approached, the guy pulled off the road into the dirt and stopped. Once I’d gone by, he steered back onto the freeway.
A couple of days later, I talked to one of the officers who had responded to the wreck and found out why the driver was so squeamish when I passed him. Apparently, a passing semi is what caused the U-haul to turn over. He said he’d been fighting a side wind, steering into it hard just to keep going straight. When the semi pulled alongside, there was a sudden stop of the wind. He corrected his steering—just in time for the semi to move on past—and the wind to hit again. He’d been caught steering the same way the wind was blowing. When he tried to correct it again, he went a little too fast and the trailer protested by turning over.
“Technically,” the deputy said, “the accident was due to an inexperienced driver not paying attention.
“Did you give him a ticket?” I asked.
The deputy rolled his eyes. “I’m not that cruel. The poor guy had just had most of his belongings destroyed.”
That made sense. It was good to know the deputy wasn’t completely heartless.
“Besides,” he added. “It was way too windy to stay out there any longer than I had to.” ~
Bruce A. Borders is the author of more than a dozen books, including: Inside Room 913, Over My Dead Body, The Journey, Miscarriage Of Justice, and The Wynn Garrett Series. Available in ebook and paperback on iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, or at www.bruceabordersbooks.weebly.com. Amazon Profile – http://www.amazon.com/Bruce-A.-Borders/e/B006SOLWQS. Bruce A. Borders is a proud member of Rave Reviews Book Club.
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