Thanksgiving On The Road
This weekend, Thanksgiving Day Weekend, is the most heavily traveled time of the year. Whether by train, plane, bus, car or whatever, many people are on the move to spend the Thanksgiving time with loved ones. Fortunately for most folks, the travel involves a short trip of a few miles or an hour or so, but for quite a few, the distance traveled and time spent are substantial.
Until just the past couple of years, I’ve been one of the latter most of my life. It feels good not to have to do all that traveling just to be with family and loved ones on Thanksgiving weekend. For many years, I was a professional person on the road driving as part of my occupation. Drivers of those eighteen wheelers are in this group. Thanksgiving was one day, a Thursday. Most often, Fridays, Saturdays and even Sundays were considered workdays.
No professional driver likes to be traveling when there are so many other drivers outnumbering you who only do distance travel a few times a year. Many of them are oblivious to the ways of the road, and the professional traveler has to watch out for them and to be courteous and helpful to them while he is on his own mission. That can be a real chore.
I would often wait till late at night on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to hit the road. Usually I worked all day so I had little choice. Those Wednesdays on the road are real headaches and it’s better to travel when others aren’t. Such was the case one Thanksgiving when I found myself in the Raleigh-Durham area working until late on Wednesday evening.
I was living in Atlanta at the time, about an eight-hour drive away. I deliberately spent the night to get an early start on Thanksgiving Thursday, a fairly light travel day compared to Wednesday. A number of eighteen wheelers had the same idea. We were on I-85 southbound at early light. Most of us had CB’s. We had never met. Never mind that we had not met, we were all in the same boat. The chatter over the waves was light and quite funny at times.
Coming south out of Greensboro, I picked up this driver from a well-known national carrier on “one-nine.” He was headed to a great Thanksgiving with his family, a large one, all of whom lived somewhere near Greenville. His home depot was in that area. All of us heading southbound were soon in a lively conversation about Thanksgiving dinner. This driver was going to the terminal to park the truck and meet his wife to go home for dinner.
This guy was from the south, from the country. For the next few hours, we all worked our way through roast turkey with gravy and dressing, or stuffing or whatever, mashed potatoes and fresh cranberry sauce. Then we got into the biscuits, cornbread, and sweet potatoes, candied at that and covered with roasted marshmallows, collard greens, home grown snap beans, and beets.
We drooled our way through oyster dressing with gravy, and black-eyed peas, and a good helping of fresh cut smoked sugar cured ham with pineapple glaze, red-eye gravy and again mashed potatoes, and some macaroni and cheese roasted in the oven. And we had a glass of buttermilk, a glass of sweet milk, some iced tea, and several cups of fresh brewed coffee. Then we suffered through the pumpkin pie, the pecan pie, the peanut pie, the lemon-meringue pie with homemade crust, and of course cherry, apple, rhubarb and minced meat pies. And thrown in from time to time was talk of momma, of brothers and parents and nieces, and nephews and so on and so on. And it wasn’t over yet.
I finally figured out which carrier this guy worked for, which truck was his. I knew his terminal. I went out front and sped on ahead. I got off I-85 at an early exit and on to back roads and out of hearing shot of this driver. I pulled up outside his terminal. No one was in sight. I had my mind on this Thanksgiving dinner and I just had to meet him and more importantly his wife who was putting this feast together. In a few minutes, he pulled up. Behind him were a couple other eighteen wheelers and four wheelers, all on the same mission. We did meet his wife. What a charm. No, we weren’t invited to dinner…
That Thursday was great. That was one of the better times on the road on Thanksgiving. I mean, you could see it, you could smell it, you could taste it, and everytime he mentioned mashed potatoes and gravy, It was hard to stay between the lines. But it was a great way to pass the miles and the time till you got home. So until we meet again looking for Trouble in Cedar Key, see if you can top those mashed potatoes and gravy and all the rest while out there on the road.
This article was first printed by “Salty” Raftis in the Cedar Key Beacon. It was copyrighted November 19, 2000. Some changes have been made and newly copyrighted on November 24, 2014.