Thursday, February 19, 2015

Quiet Week

It's been a quiet week on I-40. The west coast ports labor dispute no doubt has a lot to do with it. Container ships are waiting offshore for as much as ten days to be unloaded, then being unloaded slowly. The trucking industry is probably holding back on taking loads that deliver in California because once a truck gets unloaded out there it will in many cases sit there for awhile before a load can be found for it. I've spent as much as three days sitting out there during normal times.

The old road house at Thoreau
I-40 carries a lot of truck traffic. At night there are more trucks out there than "four wheelers," which is what truckers call cars and pickups. I-40 goes across the middle of the country and is one of the main streets of the country for trucking. Like I-95 on the east coast, I-35 down the middle, and I-5 on the west coast, there sometimes can be a solid line of trucks in the right hand lane.

I don't enjoy driving under those conditions, but when it's quiet out there, it's nice. Set the cruise, put on a good book or podcast, lean back and relax. I had a nice taste of that a couple of time this winter when I-40 was being hit by weather and the Phoenix truck and I met in Lordsburg instead of Holbrook. I-25 going down to Las Cruces is very quiet at night. The change in scenery was nice, too. At night the scenery is mainly in your head. It's what's conjured up by the place names and the hazy outlines of cliffs and canyons in the starlight, the sharp outlines of a slender woman's body, the past, churning like the low rumble of the engine, the warm sunny days, the cold dark nights, mile markers ticking off, exits not taken, the road always stretched out ahead.

The port dispute will be over soon, most likely, resulting in a freight glut of a few weeks. The shipping companies owners' union has tried a lockout and tried ending overtime to cause the backup and make it worse and has tried getting the Obama Administration involved and their PR people are feeding non-stop propaganda to the media, but the situation is costing people money and the Longshoreman's Union is one of the strongest unions in the country. I think they'll flick off this latest attack by the port owners' union. Then freight rates for those California loads will spike and it will be back to normal on I-40.

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