The Road gets a little weary – 6th segment

I was totally surprised at how easy it was to steer this big truck, with a 45-foot trailer. I had no problem keeping the truck between the lines. Jerry had taught me a secret to maintaining a 24-foot bobtail truck, centered between the lines, just keep your right foot, in the middle of the lane, and you will be in the midst of the road. I used that technique with the big truck, looked in both rear view mirrors, and sure enough, I was in the middle of the road, been using that method ever since. You can use the hood ornament or a crease in the hood; it’s just easier for me to use the foot.

I passed a few vehicles without incidents, and I felt pretty comfortable. I exited the highway a few miles before we crossed the Mississippi River, and changed places with Bozo, and he drove into St. Paul, and the arena, that was the venue for that night’s show.

After we had unloaded the truck and parked, Bozo showed me how to fill out a log book, and went over a few dos and don’ts. Make sure you have your log book up to date when approaching a scale house, have your medical up to date, and never drive past an open scale house.

After the sound equipment was in place, and ready for the sound check, there was a situation I felt like I needed to address. At the start of Willies set in Chicago, it was painfully obvious to me that Jody Paine, Willie’s lead guitar player, was having trouble with his tuning. When it was time for him to play his part for the first time, it was way out of tune. I felt bad for the guy. I could tell from his reaction; he was embarrassed. The spotlight was on him, and he was trying to back away from it, but it just kept following him. I pulled his guitar out of the mix, and after the song, he was able to make the necessary corrections, and I brought him back into the mix.

I decided to take the liberty to go into the tuning room and make sure his guitar was tuned, and just as I was tuning the last string, one of the cool breezes, that didn’t get off the bus in Dallas, came into the tuning room, asked me what I was doing? I explained the situation, and he fired back, the guitars are somebody else’s job. I fired back that he was not doing a good job, and he replied, don’t rock the boat. I said, O.K., I guess you can make sure that the job gets done so Jody doesn’t get embarrassed tonight as I tuned the last string.

When I asked Jerry what this guys job was, he just rolled his eyes, saying he’s one of Willie’s friends. This guy had been pushing my buttons since the start of the tour, and I just about had enough. I was worn out from long hours, and three hours sleep a night, for the last few weeks, and was just about ready to hit the bricks, and head back to Austin before he and I got to mean street. The thought of driving big trucks got me back on track.

Poodie, Jerry, and I had a little sit down on the crew bus, and that gave me an opportunity to get some thangs off my chest. Poodie said he knew I was just taking care of bid’ness. He told me Willie was real happy with the sound, said he would smooth thangs out. All of Jody’s guitars were in tune that night and each night after that.

The next drive was just a little over 400 miles to Omaha, and Bozo invited me to come along, and he would let me drive most of the way. He said that there would be a couple of scales open along the way, both in Iowa. One on I-35, just after Ames, and one on I-80, about 40 miles before we cross the Missouri River into Omaha. I took it all in, and the excitement was intensifying more each day. My mind was very clear. I wanted to be a truck driver, Fewer hours and more money, plus it was fun.

The last show of the tour was Red Rocks, Colorado. A beautiful outdoor amphitheater, with a capacity of about 10,000, located in the mountains just west of Denver. What a majestic place. The seating is set between these two large red sandstone rocks that are just about ten stories tall, and the views of the surrounding valley, along with the acoustics, from the top row of seating, is fantastic. The Load-in and load-out are a little tight and tricky, but still, an excellent place to end a tour.

The band and crew stayed over at the Holiday Inn, there in Denver, and after a good night’s rest, little by little, there was a large table full of us, for late morning coffee and breakfast. With Willie, and Paul English, Willie’s longtime friend and drummer, in the bunch, there was a large side order of storytelling to boot.

We had a late afternoon check-out, and the sound and light crew boarded the R.V. by mid-afternoon. Bozo was long gone, leaving as soon as the trailer was loaded, and the doors were shut, so I traveled with the crew.

We were traveling through New Mexico, around 3:30 A.M., I was at the wheel, and everyone else in the bunks, sawing logs. Moving At 60 mph, the left front tire exploded with a loud boom, scaring the hell out of me, and bringing everyone out of the bunks, with the R.V. swaying side to side, as I worked hard to maintain control. I was able to bring the R.V. to the side of the road safely, and we all piled out to check the damage.

We were in the middle of nowhere, and this was a couple of years before cell phones. There was no traffic, the spare tire had no air, and it took a while to locate the jack. The R.V. had four tires on the rear axle, so we took one off the left side and put it on the left front, and resumed our journey to Austin.

One thought on “The Road gets a little weary – 6th segment

  1. I love this blog! Michael’s descriptions of his adventures on the road are excellent. I especially liked his description of the Red Rocks amphitheater in another blog as I have experienced the beauty of the place while I saw several concerts there.


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