Learning from the mistakes of others, with owner-op Bill Ater from last week’s early-Spring blizzard

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Updated Jul 19, 2021

“Learn from the mistakes of others, because you can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.” Arlington, Texas-based owner-operator Bill Ater first heard that adage from his father, who passed several years ago. He’s since heard it from others, he notes, but he’s put to great use over his 45 years in the trucking business, more if you count living vicariously through his parents as a youth.

In this week’s edition of the Overdrive Radio podcast we drop into the scene at The Junction truck stop in Blunt, S.D. at U.S. 83 and 14, round about mid-week last week, with the Landstar-leased owner-operator and a fellow hauler on a run from Midland, Texas, up to the Williston, N.D., oil fields. The two found themselves at the stop just ahead of the early-Spring blizzard that hammered the area and surrounding states last week.

They spent a good deal longer at The Junction than they’d initially expected –- nearly three days, all told –- and owner-operator Ater and others marooned at the stop came out of the experience with a new appreciation for the place, and especially for the dedication and generosity of Colleen Pool, manager of The Junction. Take a listen:

Owner-operator Ater’s tractor at a certain point in the three-night sojourn at The Junction. Blowing snow in the flat landscape created monster drifts in other spots. In the podcast, too, Ater describes how the wind filled the space behind his 2000 FLD’s front bumper with snow when it got particularly bad.Owner-operator Ater’s tractor at a certain point in the three-night sojourn at The Junction. Blowing snow in the flat landscape created monster drifts in other spots. In the podcast, too, Ater describes how the wind filled the space behind his 2000 FLD’s front bumper with snow when it got particularly bad. Pool, manager at The Junction, left early Wednesday for home after relaying news that the road North was shut down with a tractor-trailer accident, news that fatefully came for Ater and fellow Landstar owner-op Luke Mitchell at an opportune moment — just as they were about to venture out. Thankfully, they didn’t, thus avoiding simply being stuck out in the worst of it that night on the two-lane highway.Pool, manager at The Junction, left early Wednesday for home after relaying news that the road North was shut down with a tractor-trailer accident, news that fatefully came for Ater and fellow Landstar owner-op Luke Mitchell at an opportune moment — just as they were about to venture out. Thankfully, they didn’t, thus avoiding simply being stuck out in the worst of it that night on the two-lane highway. On Thursday, Pool was able to get back to the stop with her brother and his tractor to move some of the snow around the parking lot, and likewise open up the store/cafe to cook for the haulers waiting out the weather there.On Thursday, Pool was able to get back to the stop with her brother and his tractor to move some of the snow around the parking lot, and likewise open up the store/cafe to cook for the haulers waiting out the weather there. There was still plenty of shoveling yet left on Friday, Ater says — he took the picture here while catching his breath as Mitchell shoveled on, before the pair took three hours to venture 100 miles north toward their destination in still-quite-difficult conditions. Hear his full telling of the story in the podcast, and if you’re through the area around The Junction in Blunt, stop in and have a burger, he adds. You won’t regret it.There was still plenty of shoveling yet left on Friday, Ater says — he took the picture here while catching his breath as Mitchell shoveled on, before the pair took three hours to venture 100 miles north toward their destination in still-quite-difficult conditions. Hear his full telling of the story in the podcast, and if you’re through the area around The Junction in Blunt, stop in and have a burger, he adds. You won’t regret it.
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