Finally, A Trailer Trip Without Mishap

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I took the slower but less stressful route from East Texas to Austin the other day. I was pulling my utility trailer back to begin loading up stuff in preparation for moving back Behind the Pine Curtain. After two years of living apart, the Beautiful Mystery Companion and I — along with daughter Abbie and Rosie the Wonder Dog — will all live full-time under the same roof. It makes me smile to think about it.

This trailer and I endured a couple of life-threatening mishaps during the last move. First the hitch lock broke and the trailer popped off the ball, luckily without mishap since I was only going 30 mph and using safety chains, as always. So I took it to someone to weld a new plate and hitch on the trailer. The fellow who welded the new plate on assured me he knew what he was doing.

On my third trip hauling stuff, while talking on a cell phone to my brother and going 70 mph on Highway 183, the weld broke. That means the trailer came loose, again held only by the safety chains. It whipped to and fro as I veered onto the shoulder. Somehow I managed to get the trailer off the highway, again without damage. I hired a real welder to come to my house and do the job correctly. After a rather terse conversation with the first welder, I got my money back plus tow-truck fees. There was a brief moment when I thought fisticuffs were in the offing, but I figure the fellow has already seen the inside of a jail cell and didn’t want a return engagement. He paid me out of his own pocket, and I took his hard-earned money without compunction. The tow truck driver said often when a trailer comes loose at that speed, it flips the vehicle towing it.

Anyway, even though the weld is secure I am a bit gun-shy using the trailer, since I figure the third time would not be a charm. I even wrapped a six-foot bicycle chain around the hitch and receiver as extra insurance. And I took Highway 79 back to Austin to avoid being on I-35 if the trailer decided to disassociate itself once again with the vehicle.

This is a prettier, more leisurely drive, especially in spring. Since the largely two-lane highway often is clogged with large trucks hauling mysterious-looking oilfield equipment, one must be resigned to going no faster than 50 mph for miles on end. That gave me ample opportunity to take in the scenery.

What a difference between now and last fall, the last time I took this route. Then, pastures were bare and sickly brown. Patches of burned forest dotted the country, dead pine trees poking out. The drought dried up stock ponds and creeks, leaving cracked earth and forlorn cattle. A patina of dust seemed to settle over everything, even the sky.

Six months later, on the same route, Indian paintbrushes coat the road’s shoulders in a thick pastel of nearly burnt-orange. There aren’t many bluebonnets this far east of Austin, but renegade rows pop up from time to time. For the first time in at least 18 months, I see ruts in the red-dirt roads that mark the East Texas countryside, meaning enough rain has fallen to turn them muddy. I crossed creeks where the water is up near the bridge. Halfway through the trip I cross the Trinity River spilling out of its banks and flooding woodland on either side of the highway for a half mile or so.

I never fail to marvel at nature’s resilience. The dead trees are now camouflaged under a thick canopy of pine and deciduous tree. Pastures are again filled with cattle. An acquaintance who lives near Taylor told me she sold nearly all her cattle last summer rather than pay for hay — if she could have found any. Now she has overgrown pastures, just a few cows and wishes she had many more. But cattle prices are now too high to make it economical. Besides, just because it is wet and green now doesn’t mean the drought won’t return. I’m glad I finally got the cow business out of my system.

For now, the land again is green, spring flowers are everywhere, and there is a 40 percent chance of rain tomorrow. The trailer behaved itself for the entire trip. Let the moving begin, once more.


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  • Joe McCarthy


    Last week you spoke of snake photos. It was prophetic, in a way. My wife went to the early show - movies with my daughter the other night. Daughter brought her home about 9:30 pm and they began ringing the doorbell. After a bit, I went to investigate - wondering who the h... was making all the racket. It was my wife. She wanted me to see the western diamondback rattler that was lolling in front of our door. My next door neighbor and his wife often take trips - towing a trailer. You should see the conglamoration of gadgets, chains and safety hookups on his rig. He told me that he had an experience like you described early on in his traveling career and wanted to make sure it will not happen again. Anything mechanical can fail but a lousy weld???? That courts disaster. I am glad to hear that you survived both incidents.

    • admin


      Joe: I have a similar story with a water moccasin that parked itself in the garage by the door and wouldn't leave. Even though I'm a peaceable sort, I finally had to kill it with a machete since it refused to exit the premises. And yes, the trailer incident could have turned out quite ugly, as well as my demand for a refund. Both were tense moments that turned out OK. Looking forward to being back in Longview, living with my family (finally!) and seeing what mischief I can stir up there. I plan to keep writing long as the the dear Lord lets me. Best, gb

  • Shirley


    Now that you are moving back to Longview, what are you going to do about your job(s)?

    • admin


      Well, I'm no longer at UT. So I'm working on a book, trying to gin up some freelance work, and pondering next steps. Thanks for asking. Best, gb

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