God Smiles Down
Grascals tour-bus driver/career trucker blessed with spot-on intuition in Nashville flooding
Stuart “Stubob” Myrick of Gallatin, Tenn., paid his driving dues behind the wheel of several dump trucks in the late 1970s, then logging miles with a grocery-distribution outfit pulling vans and, most recently, a flatbed in the private fleet of a container refurbishing company. Myrick’s earned his current “semi-retirement,” he says, as dedicated driver of the Mobil Delvac-sponsored 2001 Prevost coach — powered by a 500-hp Detroit Series 60 with an automated tranny — for bluegrass band the Grascals.
“Most people will tell you that as a rule truck drivers don’t make good bus drivers,” Myrick says. “We’re not used to having our product talk to us.” Still, all signs point to a quick and healthy adjustment for Myrick since he took the Prevost’s wheel three years ago. He always tries to “keep it in my mind that my guys and gal are on their feet all the time, and it’s my job to keep them there” — just as he did as the rain started to fall in Nashville, where the Grascals, who will open the Friday-night concert at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas Aug. 27, are based. The band was one of the last groups to play the Opry stage before floodwaters left it a wreck May 2. Coming off a west-coast run of shows with Hank Williams Jr., Myrick was there the night of May 1 to drive the band members back to their customary meeting location, then the 30 or so minutes to his home just outside Nashville. As after most late Saturday-night in-town gigs, Myrick headed to Gallatin to park the bus behind the College Heights Baptist Church where he and his wife are members to make the Sunday morning service.
Fortunately, that night his gut told him not to park there, and he went across the highway to higher ground in a brand-new grocery’s parking lot. “I wake up the next morning,” he says, “and where I was going to park behind the church is all flooded. It rained all night long, just bucketloads.”
It wasn’t the first time that what Myrick describes as “the good Lord watching over me and keeping me safe” has helped the band avoid disaster. Heading west on I-40 last October, Myrick made a rare late-night stop for a band member just before entering the Gorge area in far western North Carolina, where a rockslide was soon to close the freeway. “I didn’t see the slide actually happen,” Myrick says, “but there were just seven vehicles between us and the slide, and rocks bigger than a house.
“If we’d been there just a few minutes earlier, it could have been right on top of us.”
He thanks his lucky stars, and God, for his fortune, likewise for other things, looking back on his long experience in trucking.
“I thank God that I had the truck,” he says, “because it raised my family, gave me a place to live, raised my kids.”
All the same, Myrick’s enjoying semi-retirement and the chance to witness the growing success of the band. “I often say I hope I never have to go back to a truck,” he says.
Close encounters Carlile Transportation driver Jim “J.D.” Dobbs sees “a lot of wildlife” on somewhat regular runs on the Dalton Highway in Alaska to and from the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. But whoa! Dobbs describes the experience pictured here as “once in a lifetime. We were about 12 miles outside of Dead Horse on the Dalton Highway on the way to Prudhoe Bay,” he says. “There were a couple vehicles sitting there in front of me, pickup trucks. There was this bear way out off the road, digging, and it was pretty excited about digging, so I pulled up there and stopped and waited for a second — people were taking pictures and such. In Alaska on the Haul Road you’re not supposed to do anything to the animals to interfere with them — so I stopped and turned the truck off, just enjoying the view. When you’re sitting in the vehicle and you’re such a distance away it’s not very much of a threat — but then the bear looked over and started straight toward us.”
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