This Saturday, I’m taking a little trip to Paris, TX. I’m helping a Mercy Chef, a good friend of mine, with a cooking project. We haven’t worked together for a few months. The last time was a road trip to Colorado. Mercy Chefs was deployed to provide assistance after the flooding in September 2013.
The Colorado trip was probably one of the most eventful deployments I have been on. The funny thing is that the adventure was totally unrelated to Colorado, to floods, to feeding people, to anything we could have ever expected.
I left Shreveport around 10 pm and made it to his house near Dallas around 2 am. This happens to be the most normal leg of the trip.
We left town right after church. We had a lot of ground to cover. We were driving a big Dodge Ram 3500 something. I dunno. Is was a big diesel. We were pulling Mercy 1, our flagship mobile kitchen. Thirty-seven feet of kitchen. We certainly weren’t hauling a twelve foot Jon boat. I felt like Snowman on Smokey and the Bandit.
After a pit stop at Taco Casa it was my turn to drive. I was pretty jazzed. It was my first time pulling a trailer. I was doing okay, but the truck was acting strange. It was intermittent so we just kept cruising. We were on fumes and had to gas up.
Are you familiar with JIT? Just in time. It’s a manufacturing term. The JIT manufacturing philosophy requires a plant to have shallow inventory. Storing inventory costs money. Ideally, the plant will receive materials as they are needed. They receive it ‘just in time.’ No downtime.
Our fuel gauge was below the ‘E’ mark as we were pulling in Dumas, TX. To put it mildly, Dumas is a glorified truck stop. Nothing but rigs hauling cattle as far as the nose can smell.
Just as I was pulling into the truck stop, steam started emanating from under the hood. You never forget the smell of antifreeze in its gaseous state. It surprised me and I cut my turn too sharp. Skillfully using the trailer, I knocked out the trash cans next to the gas pump.
I could barely contain myself. It was hilarious! We are in a big fuming truck and I’m trashing cans. We finally stop and to fuel up and begin our radiator investigation.
It looks bad. Green fluid is pouring all over the ground. I was waiting on the EPA to declare a chemical disaster.
We found a mechanic next door and he tells us that we have a hole in the radiator and he has to order a new one. Great. Time now to find a hotel.
For two days we take in the sites in Dumas. Time really seems to stand still in Dumas. I actually think Dumas is the initial singularity. As philosopher Scott Weiland said, “Big Bang Baby.” We were in a black hole. (Just to be clear, I do not think the universe came from a big bang. Or a big pow for that matter).
Two days later, we are back on the road. After a really long time (not to get all technical on you), we reached our destination. I don’t remember anything out of the ordinary during our stay, but we did have a blowout on our post-Colorado travels. No, not a beer bash. A tire that is flattened vigorously. Good times.