Due to the fires mentioned in last week’s post. The freeway (the normal route I drive for my job) was closed on Monday. So, I had to take an alternate route. Problem is, the alternate route is over Mt. Hood. Usually when I take this road, it’s in the middle of the winter and the abundance of snow combined with the extra miles, along with the slow climb, adds two to three hours to my run, and instead of making two trips, I can make only one.
This time though, it is summer and no snow—on the road anyway, the peak of the mountain is nearly always covered. So, I was figuring the detour would only cost me an hour and a half or so. I’d still be only able to make one trip but I’d get home sooner. Things went well on the first half of the trip but on my way back…
Rounding a corner, somewhere up on the mountain, I saw a bountiful display of flashing red lights shining in the night sky. As I drove closer, I could see the massive tree blocking the entire highway. With no way through, the police had coned off the road and were directing traffic onto a side road. Making the turn, I saw a parking lot that would do nicely to bypass the tree but it too, was coned off. So, with no other options, I followed two other semis up this narrow, winding mountain road. The further we went, the worse the road became. All three of us were becoming a little apprehensive but still hoping the road would lead back to the highway at some point we kept going. It wasn’t like we really had a choice; there was nowhere to turn around.
About two miles into our side trip, the lead driver saw a small road cutting up the hill to the left (a sharp left) and decided this would be a good turning around point. A good idea—if there had actually been room. It took only a few seconds for his truck to get high centered on the trailer’s landing gear. And there he sat, truck jackknifed across both roads, unable to move. He called a tow truck, and we all waited.
Meanwhile, a couple who lived in the area showed up, wanting to go down the road. While the other two drivers discussed (loudly) their rotten luck, I chose a more pragmatic approach—talking to the people in the car. The conversation proved to be rather helpful!
I learned the road we were on did not lead back to the highway. But, they said, up ahead about four miles was a pull off where we MIGHT be able to turn around. When I was hesitant over the “might,” they offered to give me a ride to see what I thought. After seeing the place, I decided there was enough room to make the turn—barely.
Back at the blocked intersection, I assured the other two drivers we’d be out of this mess in no time, providing Mr. High-Centered got out of the way at some point. Surprisingly, it didn’t take the tow truck long to arrive. As soon as we had room to squeeze by, the other driver and I headed on our way.
When we got to the turn around point, the guy in front of me stopped, not convinced he’d have enough room. But with a small wooden bridge ahead, a bridge we would crush, it seemed to be as far as we could go. For us, the road had ended. I should mention that backing down a rough and curvy mountain road, with the possibility of other vehicles coming up the hill, was not really a viable solution. Worst-case scenario, I’d do it but I’d really rather not; we had to turn around. However, about halfway through my turn, I was thinking backing down would have been a better choice. As you’ve probably guessed—since I’m back to civilization and able to post to this blog—we made it. But if the space had been even a couple of inches more narrow, we wouldn’t have. And just let me add, it’s not the best feeling, jockeying a semi back and forth with the trailer tires only inches from a cliff. For those who may not know, when a semi is turned sharp enough, the trailer actually backs up—while the cab is going forward, which made things a little harrowing. For a brief moment, I had my hand on the door handle, ready to bail.
But, all is well that ends well, or so I’ve heard. And in a few minutes, we were headed back to the highway. The tree was still blocking the road but by this time the police had figured out to route traffic through the parking lot—yeah, the one I thought would make a great bypass in the first place. The little adventure, that had cost me an hour and a half, could have been avoided. I ended up getting home about my regular time. But such is the life of a truck driver. On the bright side, at least the unplanned excursion gave me something to write about! ~
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, The Lana Denae Mysteries, and The Wynn Garrett Series. Available in ebook at www.amazon.com/Bruce-A.-Borders/e/B006SOLWQS and paperback on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million. Bruce A. Borders is a proud member of Rave Reviews Book Club.