Rainballs, Bugsplats, and a Mack Truck Sandwich

Leaving Harrisburg this morning by 10 and right on schedule, Savannah and I began our eight hour drive to Charlotte.  I headed to the highway, following the instructions of the female voice of the Magical Garmin.  Rain pounded the windshield; the wiper blades cut back and forth but did not help with the visibility as one 18-wheeler after another flew past us.  I chanted my little inner-chant, “Drive at the speed you are comfortable with” (thanks, Laura!) and hoped we would drive out of the storm.  The rain hit the car so hard that I imagined a giant fist hurling handfuls of water down upon us—rainballs like fat, splatter pellets smashing the glass.  After a couple of hours, the sky ahead of us began to clear and the sound of the rain diminished until it was gone altogether.

Right away, we both noticed another splattering sound on the windshield.  Bugs.  One after another—smack, smack, smack—white, yellow, and orange smears marked the windshield.  Wipers and windshield fluid proved no match for the constant, tiny deaths.  Occasionally, a fast flutter of black would swoop down in front of us and leave a giant mark.  The sun lit the fresh glass cemetery and we both groaned in disgust as we continued to collect more tiny bodies.

We soon stopped noticing this, as more and more trucks collected on I-85 and then I-77.  The trucks swooped down on us at every decline of highway, then chugged miserably slow on each incline, inspiring me to switch into the passing lane and go around them.  I was stunned by just how many trucks are on the highway and wondered about the efficiency of shipping this way instead of using trains.  There was not much time to focus on pondering this, as, over and over again, my car became sandwiched between two trucks.  There were even times when I felt like a club sandwich, with a truck behind me, in front of me, beside me on my left, and merging on my right all at once.  I tried to feel like seitan and not bacon, a tactic that helped me stop worrying about whether we would become a tightly pressed Panini sandwich by the end of the day.

A particularly strange segment of I-77 consisted of a seven mile downhill with dozens of warning signs in both words and universal symbols for downhill danger.  The angle was pretty steep!  Savannah noticed huge signs along the side of the highway for Runaway Trucks.  These warning signs were followed soon after by sharp, uphill ramps that ran right off the side of the road.  Unpaved, these hilly inclines, like black diamond ski slopes, had what looked like Mother Nature’s speed bumps—thick, high patches of grass, apparently to help those semis get a grip on themselves quickly if their brakes failed.  Each time I passed one, I felt weak in the knees, picturing any of the trucks behind me losing control of themselves and not having one of those special Runaway Truck ramps available before they drove right over us in our little wagon.

We arrived safely in Charlotte at 6:30, checked into our hotel, and found a place that served vegan sushi with a buy-one-get-one-free special.  Tomorrow:  an early morning run, breakfast at Zada Jane’s, then on to tour the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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One Comment on “Rainballs, Bugsplats, and a Mack Truck Sandwich”

  1. Craig Says:

    Sounds like I-77 took you through Fancy Gap, VA. (population 220). And you descended from an elevation of 3000 ft. I remember those same emergency truck pulloffs near Cedar City, Utah.

    One good thing about being surrounded by big semis on all sides. How many bugs can find their way to your windshield when you have a truck barricade around you?


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