it was one of THOSE days

The first trip to Colorado was pretty uneventful. The only problem I could mention that might be something a few out there would understand is parking for the night – next to a truck in a parking lot. We headed for the Walmart parking lot in Sidney with the Cottage to “dry camp” for the night. We didn’t realize this particular lot also housed the Over The Road trucker(s). Even with ear plugs in my ears, I bet I was awake more than I was sleeping. It was warm enough I had to have the windows open so every time a new truck pulled in, I heard it. And I swear it’s always the one with the running reefer that parks next to us. It’s almost like there’s a sign on the side of the trailer that says, “I’m trying to sleep so please park next to me and run your reefer all night”. 🙂  I keep saying “I” rather than “we” because Jim chooses to sleep in the Pete when we’re on the road. He says he does that so his snoring doesn’t wake me up – which I appreciate. But…it really won’t matter, I guess, as long as we park with the trucks.

Anyways, we arrived at our destination and opted to get a good night’s sleep rather than heading north again right away. This was Thursday evening. Our welcoming committee met us right away and invited us over for supper. It’s always good to see the people you said goodbye to the previous year. And, WOW, has Charley ever grown! We had supper with Scott, Sarah, Riley and Charley and probably extended our stay a bit too long. When questions about the summer and the different locations start flying, it’s always fun to bore others with the answers and our experiences. I hope we didn’t bore them too horribly bad!! At one point, I even had to walk back over to the trailer and get my bags of lentils, chickpeas and green peas to show them.

The next morning, we packed our bags and gathered our necessary items, loaded them in the Pete and set out for Chadron one last time for the summer. We made it as far as Bridgeport that first evening, found a quiet (close to the railroad tracks) corner of the gas station and parked for the night. I think by now, I was so tired from all the miles we had covered over the past week, I didn’t even care we were that close to the trains. However, I don’t remember hearing more than two or three. Speaking of miles, I asked Jim while we were headed back with trip #2 how many miles we had driven over the past week (including our trip to Canada) and he said about 3,000. “What a normal truck driver drives in a week”. Yikes! I think I’ve mentioned this before – it’s interesting to me when we’re on the road with the harvest, the miles are all a part of the job. When we’re home and think about driving 500 miles somewhere, it’s questioned a bit more. On harvest, you just do the job, regardless of the miles and the amount of fuel purchased.

As I’m making the bed in the Pete the next morning, Jim opens the truck door and tells me the plug he had put in the tire the day before didn’t hold. So, now we have a low truck tire and it’s Saturday morning. A call was made to the tire repair man and several hours later, we were headed north once again. And then I started smelling something that smelled like a campfire. “That’s an interesting smell”, I told Jim. I knew there had been a lot of smoke in the air but I really wasn’t seeing anything that I felt would create that strong of an odor. It went from smelling like a campfire to smelling like marshmallows cooking and then to smelling like garbage burning. “Do you think we should stop and see if something’s burning”? “No, I think it’s outside”. So, I rolled down my window to see if I agreed with him. “I don’t think it’s outside”. He didn’t act too concerned, so I sat back in the seat and watched out the front window. “I think it may have been paper towels burning under the hood. I just saw some out the rear view mirror”. By this time, we were almost to Alliance. “Are you going to stop and check”? “Yeah, when I find a wide spot. When we do, I’ll quickly open the hood and you grab the water jug…just in case”. So, when he found a parking lot of an abandoned gas station, we pulled in and he did what he was going to do but there was no fire so no need for the water jug. I got out to see where he was telling me the fire had been. Not a big deal but guess you might want to make sure you grab the paper towels before you close the hood of the truck. He had washed the windows in Bridgeport and forgot to grab them before closing the hood.

While walking around the Pete and checking things over, he simply rubbed the area the towels had caught fire and a bolt and spacer from the exhaust manifold fell to the ground. Apparently, the bolt had broken at some point and decided to make his day by falling off the truck at that time. This happened once before and we got stuck in Russell, Kansas. But that was after multiple bolts had broken. We’re hoping this will be the only one for now. Goodness, I went back into the NebraskaWheatie archives to find that post to link on here – that was over five years ago already. So, needless to say, this incident trumped both the tire and the fire in Jim’s head.

We got to Chadron before noon but neither of us were hungry (and we hadn’t had anything more than just a cup of coffee while waiting for the tire). So, we decided we’d get the combine loaded and stop back in Chadron for fuel and a bite to eat before heading south again. Who would have known what usually took us about an hour to do would take about three. It was hot, we hadn’t had anything to eat and everything seemed to be working against us. We were just checking truck lights and nearly done with the job when the clouds started rolling in from the north. As soon as that first cloud covered the sun, Jim says, “Of course…now that we’re done”.

It took him way more times to get the combine on the trailer than it typically does. See Frank way down the hill by the yard?

The cloud that finally gave us some relief from the heat…after we were done.

Waiting on the light check. 

The view from where Frank was parked. 

It was 3:30 when the tornado warning alert came across our phones. We had just left the farmyard and was headed back into Chadron to start making our way south again. “What should we do?”, asks Jim. I voted to stop on top of the hill I was at and watch for tornadoes. The storm was headed directly in our path but appeared to be moving eastward. I told him I thought if we stopped where we were at, we could watch the storm as it moved away from us. We haven’t been in hardly any storms or rain this summer and I’m a cloud freak. I love to watch the clouds and am amazed with the beauty of a storm. We sat for 15 minutes or so before deciding it was good to go. We were just south of Chadron about three feet and it started hailing and I thought we had probably made a wrong decision. But the further south we went, the more we were driving out of the storm. Needless to say, we opted to wait until we got to Bridgeport for fuel and a bite to eat.

The tornadic storm making its way towards Chadron. Pretty good place to watch it here on top of this hill!

Same storm cloud – seemed to be following us for a while before it took a more eastward turn. 

A very brief stop at Bridgeport for a drink.

The closer we were getting to Bridgeport, the more we were aware that we were up against the sun going down. And with the combine, we have to have it parked at sundown. After arriving at Bridgeport, we decided the Frank had enough fuel to make it to Chappell. We would stop there for the night, get fuel and something to eat. We arrived at the Chappell fairgrounds at sundown, unhooked Frank from the header trailer and cruised main street Chappell (thinking there might be a motel still in operation). We decided if there wasn’t one, we would just continue to Julesburg – which is what we did. We stopped in a tiny little motel on the outskirts of Julesburg, rented a room and headed to Subway for something to FINALLY eat. It was about 9:00.

Chappell, Nebraska fairgrounds – a common place for harvesters to park when harvesting in this area. 

I was a bit concerned with the small town motel but was PLEASANTLY surprised! The Holiday Motel ended up being the best room we have ever stayed in! If you’re ever in Julesburg and need a place to take a shower and go to bed, I would highly recommend this place! It was like stepping back into the 1950’s. The tiles on the bathroom walls sparkled, the corners of room were spotless, the bed was great and not one bug did I find! I was so impressed, I even left a note to let them know how impressed I was.

The next morning, we headed back to Chappell, hooked the Frank back to the header trailer, got fuel and we were off…once again. We stopped in Burlington for lunch and made it to our destination about 6:00. We were both so tired, we shut off our trucks, gathered our overnight stuff and headed for the Cottage. The unloading could just wait til morning. “What are you going to do now?”, asked Jim. My reply, “Nothing”! And that’s exactly what we did…nothing. I finally tapped my snoring husband on the forehead about 11:00 and told him I was going to bed. He followed.

Sounds like we are going to sample tomorrow afternoon. See where we are and how things are going to work. The couple of down days that we’ve had have been welcome but it will also be good to get back in the cab of The Beast.

Best news of the day…Taylor and Callie are coming to hang out with us over the Labor Day weekend. And I can’t wait!!!

And here’s a few pictures I got over the weekend.

Brooklyn’s holding Ben, as Jillian watches. Mark is in the background. They must have had a family meal at the Rathe’s house on Sunday night.  

All the kiddos who call me Grandma…Eli, Jillian, Nora and Brooklyn holding Ben. So blessed!!!!

This kid is barely one month old…

2 comments on “it was one of THOSE days

  1. Lyndell & Judy Wood says:

    Retired farmer/trucker so it’s easy to feel a kinship. Was never on harvest run but have experienced similar machine/truck/equipment problems u have related. May God grant u safety and a great finish to ur harvest season. Without detail our last two years have been new ground for us. Judy experienced kidney failure and had a transplant in January (living donor). It’s amazing to see the handiwork of God in all this. Thanks for sharing your life’s story and struggles so openly. God bless. Lyndell

    • Nebraska Wheatie says:

      Oh my…Judy (and you) have certainly had a huge trial to overcome. How wonderful is the miracle of organ donation??? Thank you for your encouraging words! I know God has a plan and I just have to be patient with seeing the outcome.

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