May 26, 2010



I just arrived home from a road trip. Not the kind we took in college. But a business road trip. To Houston, Texas. That is south of here. A long ways south of here.
It was an interesting trip. First I had to go over to Casper, Wyo. Then headed south into and across Colorado. It was like traveling through a Louis L’Amour book. Or maybe Larry McMurty’s “Lonesome Dove.” I would be crossing the Oklahoma panhandle and into the Texas panhandle north of Amarillo.
The next couple of days I would be crossing the rivers that Gus and Cap’n Call trailed their herd across. As I drove, I felt I could see the Apaches on the horizon and had to marvel at how huge and open this world must have seemed a mere century and a half ago. I was making nearly 800 miles a day. Ten miles a day was good on a trail drive.
I went through Last Chance, Colo.After being up here in the oil boom, Last Chance looked as if maybe it had missed its chance. But then again, there was peace and quiet. I passed through Kit Carson, Colo. Goodnight, Texas. Quanah, Texas. Names that made me recall wonderful stories of wild times and strong men. Red Cloud, Nebraska. Fort Morgan, Colorado. Cheyenne, Wyoming. I drove in thunderstorms rolling down out of the Rockies and saw thunderheads spewing tornadoes on the Oklahoma plains.
I crossed the Republican and Arkansas rivers. Looked down on the Red River and saw the muddy waters of the Cimarron, churning from the burst of storms the past few days. I passed over the Dismal, Canadian, and Cheyenne Rivers. I traveled up the Solomon river valley in Kansas. I saw wheat fields ripening in Texas and the wonderful green wheat in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. I drove through the sandhills of Nebraska, and as they proudly say, saw “God’s own cattle country.”
But the most wonderful sight I saw was a young lady in Texas. She was driving a wrecker. Really! A fuel line had busted on my pickup between Dallas and Houston. It wasn’t the worst place in the world to break down, but it darn sure isn’t a spot you’d pick.
Being too dumb to figure out the GPS machine on the dash, which would tell me exactly where I was, I figured it out pretty close on the map. I then called Carm in Camp Crook, S.D. She googled me up a wrecker from a small town. They said they could be there in 45 minutes. I wasn’t leaving, so that was fine with me.
Then here comes this young lady driving the wrecker. She wheels through the traffic, backs up to my truck, starts throwing chains and cables around. Being a macho guy, I quickly stepped in to help. Promptly hooking everything up wrong. Finally, she politely asked that I just step back and she would load my truck up.
Turns out that she and her mother each had a wrecker. Her grandfather had started the business, but was in bad health, so she and her mother operated the company.
She had to hurry, because she was a single mother, and had to pick her son up at kindergarten in a bit. We had a good visit as she hauled me fifteen miles to a little fix it shop. She impressed me. I gave her a nice tip to buy her son something for kindergarten graduation.
And the next day, as I headed north, I was thinking, it was young people like that young lady that crossed those rivers and forged those trails that we have been following for the past couple hundred years.
And I was proud to know that wrecker truck driver.