Cottonwood Jail, South Dakota

See anything odd about this forklift?

See anything odd about this forklift?

I’ve taken hundreds of photos over the last couple of weeks and let them pile up on my camera and didn’t get around to downloading them until today.  I’ve spent a lot of time in California, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and Arizona recently and quite honestly, there’s some very big similarities in landscape for much of those states.  So while I think these photos are beautiful, I can’t remember where I took them!   I *think* the lion’s share of these are from Wyoming.  No, actually, I’m pretty sure most of these photos came from Wyoming, come to think of it.  I also got a few while I was in South Dakota.

I actually have a fun story about driving through South Dakota last week.  I got to bobtail 382 miles (a record for me) to Rapid City, South Dakota to go pick up an empty so that I could take the empty to another load I was supposed to pick up in Harrold, South Dakota.  I was totally grokking the scenery, man.  Oh my goodness.  I didn’t take a lot of pictures, because I didn’t think of it.  I know, right?  ME!  The camera freak!  I was sooo loving the scenery that I completely forgot to take pictures until it was almost too late and I could only take a few little photos of the setting sun.  But I got to see all sorts of different kinds of terrain.  Rolling, grassy hills; forest; mountains; stuff that reminded me of Wyoming because it was all dry and desert-like; all sorts of stuff.

When I’m in a hurry I prefer to drive the freeway, because for most states it is the most direct route, with the fastest speed limits, etc.  But when I have a little time, I love taking the “back” routes.  The highways and byways.  State routes, county roads (where semis are allowed, that is–if they aren’t it can get pretty hairy pretty quick), etc.  You get to see America at it’s best and most diverse.  You learn a lot about what makes the country tick.  You see where our resources comes from.  What is grown, what is harvested, what is mined.  You see where the industry is and where stuff is made.  I love it.

Anyway, I passed a lot of tiny little towns while I was driving out on the highways, since I wasn’t driving the freeway.   One of the places I passed was Cottonwood.  I think it had the smallest population of any town I’d passed to date.  The sign said, “Cottonwood, Population 12.”  TWELVE.  This was one of those little towns that if you blink, you miss it.  It was basically a cluster of small houses and buildings spread out over about a half a mile to a mile.  There were more buildings than there were populace.  I wonder if every person had their own house?  Are any of the twelve people kids?  It was definitely a farming community, as there were farm implements and tractor-like beasts all over the place, along with beaten down trucks and other such farm paraphernalia.  But the thing that caught my eye the most as I whizzed past this tiny community was the Cottonwood Jail.

Yeah.  You got that right.  Cottonwood, the tiny community of 12, had a jail.  No little grocery store or corner gas station.  A jail.

It was basically a dilapidated wooden shack leaning over a little bit in somebody’s yard, and it was about the size of two outhouses put together.  There was no door, and through the opening, you could see through the shack and to the back wall where there was a window that was covered with iron bars.  On the front of the shack was a wooden sign that was scrawled, “Cottonwood Jail.”  I REAAAALLLY wish I had my camera out and ready right then.  I wish I had been able to take photos of this little town period.  But that jail?  It takes the cake.  A jail for a town of 12 and it had no front door.  And the shack looked like it would fall over if you breathed on it wrong.  This community has a lovely sense of humor.  I laughed hysterically as I left Cottonwood, until tears were streaming down my cheeks.  It was so damn funny!

Also funny was the fact that the trailer I bobtailed all that way to pick up wasn’t ready yet.  I couldn’t pick it up.  I get paid regardless, and it was rather amusing (for me anyway) to say the least.   The company does not like bobtailing people (bobtailing is when you drive the semi truck without a trailer) very far.  Heck they don’t like to deadhead (driving with an empty trailer) people very far, either.  If you have a truck and you are driving, it should be attached to a loaded trailer.  That’s how they make money, after all.  We drivers make money driving whichever way it’s done, so it’s a losing proposition for them to send us on miles that aren’t giving them income.  So…yeah.  Fortunately for them, there was another empty in the same city that they were able to direct me to.  Unfortunately for me, it had a bunch of mechanical problems and I had to call onroad (our breakdown assistance hotline).  The onroad guy came out and fixed me up, for the most part.  He wasn’t able to fix a couple of things, since he didn’t have the parts, but I was legal at least until I could get to a terminal.

Why is it when I see and interact with somebody attractive, that is when I have gas?  This onroad guy was super cute!  He kind of reminded me of a clean-cut Jesse James.  When he’d talk to me, he’d step up on one of the truck steps so we would be face to face and he was inches from me!  And I have gas and I’m trying like the devil to keep it in.  He’d go to the trailer and whack on stuff and I’d cut one and invariably he would decide that is when he had to ask me some other question and come over to my truck window again.  I hoped like heck he couldn’t smell the interior of my truck.  Egads. And why is it I’m more worried about a super cute guy smelling my rotten egg gas then if the guy looked like Quasimodo with ear hair down to his chin?

The next morning, I went to pick up my load, which was headed to Georgia and South Carolina.  I wasn’t going to be able to drive it all the way there, though.  They were having me do what is called a T-call (I presume the T stands for terminal).  That is when you take it to a terminal for someone else to pick up and deliver.  Which once I got to the terminal in Kansas City (well, actually, it’s a little ‘burb of KC, KS), I red-tagged the trailer and let them know of the repairs that needed fixing.

My own truck was due for its 50,000 mile B service (which is a lot like a tune up for cars), which meant I couldn’t get another load until it was done.  That took a couple of nights, since they were backed up.  I didn’t mind.  I had been out about five weeks at this point and I was tired and in need of a break.  This particular terminal has little rooms with beds and desks that you can reserve and sleep in.  Wait, that didn’t come out right.  I imagine you would probably want to sleep on the bed.  Not on the desk.  Anywaaaay,  I stayed in the company “hotel”, so to speak.  I caught up on quite a bit of blogging while I waited.  And I went for a little exploring adventure while I was waiting, as well.  I’ll write about that in another post.

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