November 2002

DOUBLE-WIDE DOUBLE-GONE AT FANCY GAP

Three thousand feet up on the Blue Ridge in Carroll County, the wind blows and blows. And blows. “I’ve seen some things I didn’t think were possible,” says State Trooper Randy Campbell of the area’s wind, which has been recorded at 123 mph.

For five years, Campbell has patrolled I-77 through Fancy Gap, Va., which is a notch through the Blue Ridge escarpment where hurricane-force winds occasionally hoist tractor-trailers and hurl them over the guardrail and down the slope.

Not long ago, a trucker hauling half of a double-wide home was heading up the 8-mile slope of I-77 from the North Carolina line when the wind suddenly punted the home down the steep slope. When the driver hauling the second half of the home pulled up to check on his buddy, the wind picked up his half, sending it spinning and sailing like Dorothy’s house in The Wizard of Oz.


VACATIONING AT THE RUDE RANCH

A piece in My Generation magazine showing family postcards from a fictional “Big Rig Dude Ranch” left a sour taste with trucker’s wife Carolyn Simmons of Columbia, N.C. In one entry, for example, the family writes about an occasional driver stopping by the “truck park” around sunset: “We’d buy him a Lone Star – or two – and listen to his stories about truck-stop girls and wrecks and amphetamine rushes till the night sky was full of stars.”

“Just another slam at the trucking industry and professional drivers,” writes Mrs. Simmons. My Generation is published by AARP, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons. You can e-mail the editor at: lettersmygen@aarp.org.


HIT ESCAPE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE

You’ve got tons of cargo behind you, road hazards and disabled vehicles in front. There’s severe weather and pesky weigh stations. To top it off, you’re dangerously low on fuel and about to nod off.

Relax. It’s not for real. ValuSoft’s (www.valusoft.com) new “Hard Truck: 18 Wheels of Steel” allows computer gamers to be their own boss behind the wheel of six different kinds of rigs. It’s the third release in the company’s popular Hard Truck series.


ANOTHER ROADSIDE DISTRACTION

“It’s just too easy for drivers to have accidents as they turn to gawk at the women. We’ve already had many crashes.”

– Taiwanese police spokesman, on plans to enforce a new dress code for scantily clad women who sell betel nut at roadside stands. The nuts, which stain the mouth, are chewed by truck drivers and others as a mild stimulant.


GO SLOW AT JOE’S

“Sometimes when I hear brakes squealing, I think, ‘Is this going to be another one?’ But most of the time, I just come out on my porch and watch.”

– Louise Cooper, who lives near the concrete slab known as “Joe’s Truck Stop” that protects a house in a sharp turn at the bottom of a hill on Alabama Highway 35 near Fort Payne.

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