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TRUCKSTOP - By Rich Tatarka

Hello Mrs. Newsletter Editor, Ma’am, sorry for the delay on submitting this month’s Article and sending it just minutes before the deadline, but I can explain with one word, Busy, Busy, Busy…

Lately, the typical day starts with wheels-up for Big Sky at 2 AM sharp, or so. (Depending how long past bedtime one watched Longmire the night before…) 2 AM is the best time of the day I’d say, if you don’t mind the drunks and the elk herds where they ought not be. Like the herd that hangs out on the highway south of Gateway. I had a Moses Moment with them a few weeks ago… There was one of those famous Limo Suburbans that was trying to get some “Beautiful People” from the Airport to the “Yellowstone Club” in less than an hour, and he’s about 3 feet right behind me, his annoying headlights on a couple of notches above Bright. What with all the glare, I failed to notice several large elk all over a somewhat slick highway in front of me and just like Ol’ Moses parted the Red Sea a few years ago, I parted the elk herd and slickered through them unscathed. Silliest thing though, the Limo’s Bright lights were suddenly gone. He must’ve stopped so his clients could try and pet one, I guess… Once past this elk herd and the other nightly elk herd up by Big Sky, the only other annoyance is the occasional Limo hurrying Beautiful People to the airport, and these Limo Drivers think that they’re above any traffic laws and how dare you get in their way. (On a side note, Mrs. Newsletter Editor Ma’am, we need to spread the word that they just spent a bazillion dollars upgrading the Ennis Airport and you can now land your big jet there. Then hop in an awaiting helicopter and in twenty minutes you’re up at the “Club” sitting on your veranda enjoying caviar and smoked salmon! Darn fine idea I’d say, and leave that whole Limo ride from the Bozeman Airport to the mere peasant millionaires, right Old Sport?)

Continuing on with the day, once you get to the top by the ski area you start down the private gated Jack Creek Road. There’s a fairly large contingent of people that pay for the privilege of using this road to get from Ennis to the ski hill, and I remember when we started working up there last fall thinking that those people are nuts and drive way too fast for this road. Now that the road is snow packed and slick, I can’t help but think that boy, these people sure go in the ditch a lot…

     Right around the same time you are loaded and ready to leave the landing, about 4 or 5 thousand of your closest friends back in the Greater People’s Republic of Bozeman Area are gearing up for the morning mass exodus up to Big Sky. It is imperative that you make it to Four-Corners by 6 AM or you are going to have to deal with mile after mile of oncoming bumper to bumper headlights. Even wearing my pair of Super-Wazoo Double Super-Secret Top Quality Premium Nighttime Driving Glasses that I got from Uncle Amazon, meeting several hundred vehicles makes little puffs of smoke emit from your retinas. A few hundred more and the wiring from your eyeballs to your brain starts making that annoying vzzzt…vzzzt… sound much like an overloaded battery cable does… (This particular portion of the Article draws to mind a couple of points of contention Mrs. Newsletter Editor Ma’am that we will now discuss a bit. One, if you’re in a long line of bumper-to-bumper traffic at night do you really need to have your Hi-Beams on? Or is that perhaps as dim as they get? And two, the engineers who came up with the design of all these new high-tech headlights, come judgement day, are going straight to Hell…)

     That said Mrs. Newsletter Editor Ma’am, I must once again mention Jackrabbit Lane, and the freakin’ stoplights thereon. There are 7 stoplights between Four-Corners and the Interstate in Belgrade. I’ve been trying to come up with some sort of a procedure to help determine when they’re going to change, especially when you’re approaching one at 55 mph. Here is the procedure: Stare at the green light… Keep staring at the green light… Green light turns to yellow light whilst concentrating on green light… Deploy truck deceleration procedures to zero mph… If distance requirements to stop exceed distance allowed (the white line indicating intersection zone) then sucks to be you… One needs more input on the particular intersection you are approaching. Add to the green light stare the small walk/don’t walk indicator telling pedestrians when to cross and add any traffic waiting at the light waiting to get on Jackrabbit Lane with you. If it says Don’t Walk it’s about to change from green to yellow, maybe. If there are several cars there waiting for the light to change, it’s about to change, maybe… Yup, staring at cars waiting for a light and a little Walk/Don’t Walk sign is way better than a big sign telling you the light is about to change with the big flashing lights back up the highway a bit. Right…

Back in my pole-hauling days I went through Lethbridge, Alberta several times a week. All the traffic lights on the truck route around town had the flashing “I’m Gonna Change!” signs that if they weren’t flashing then you would make that light. But as you approached the sign before the light and it started flashing, you knew to start slowing down because you weren’t going to make the green light. At all these stoplights there were zero skid marks like we have here. And in all the trips I made through Lethbridge, I don’t remember any accidents at any of these lights. Two weeks ago today, in one day on Jackrabbit Lane there were six.

     That said, I must close now as word on the street says there’s open water at Canyon Ferry and I need to go get the boat out of storage, mainly to see if the Night Crawlers I left in there last fall are okay, or not…

Until Next Time,

Keep Haulin’ and That is All.

Rich Tee.   

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