The past three days in south Texas: warm; humid; long hours waiting.
After a drop-off Monday was delayed five hours after the scheduled 4 a.m. appointment, we showered at a Flying J truck stop and walked across the border to Mexico where we immediately purchased knock-off designer sunglasses and wandered streets, swallowed in color and the scents of frying onions, grilling meat, garbage. We sat under an awning and Daniel bantered in Spanish with the owner of the bar while a slim man took great care in preparing a complicated set of steps before walking over with two huge styrofoam cups rimmed in bright-red strawberry syrup and rolled in Tajin, micheladas packed with ice and green olives, a film of black pepper floating atop.
For dinner, tacos, of course.
Across from the lot where we’d parked on the Texas side was a grassy field, and under the stars we played frisbee with Hatch until he was worn out and our bare legs were itchy. Across the meadow the constant susurration of birds, and through the night as a grain mill was nearby.
The next day, 83 degrees, muggy, impossible to find a load. (Side note: Load boards are open roughly from 8 am. to 5 p.m. Eastern and show a list of available loads, destinations, and rates. We use brokers to book the load if the timing, rate and other criteria make sense for us. Daniel’s trailer is equipped with a reefer, or a refrigeration unit, which means he can haul both perishable and dry loads.) Near the end of the day, Daniel found a load of onions headed back to Washington, and the first thing Wednesday morning we showed up to get loaded.
I struggled to be patient as once more, hours passed with no progress. The pickup spot was rural, with goats and horses and a beautiful Jersey cow grazing nearby. I tried to tamp the anxiety of not yet finding work, to speak kindly as Daniel and I wilted in the heat. We walked to a Dollar Tree with Hatch for water. On the way home, a strong breeze as we passed tilled fields, meadows, a field of young onions.
I made chicken salad for an early dinner: canned chicken, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, chopped hot pickled peppers and kosher pickles (never too much pickle!), mayo, mustard and wrapped it with lettuce in flour tortillas. It’s not my preference to eat meat, but until I can get my feet under me again, I’m not being too discriminatory. I thought going veggie on the Arizona Trail was difficult, but it’s pretty tough on the road, too. Gas stations are chock-full of fried, meat-based products. The restaurants associated with them are usually fast food. Subsisting on precooked hard boiled eggs and cheese is not sustainable. And to eat mostly vegan, as I have for years, will require a level of thought and planning I haven’t quite reached yet as I navigate this new life.
But if I have learned anything over the years, it’s to be adaptable. Most often, situations aren’t going to be whatever the hell “ideal” is, and I’m learning to value experiences over expectations.
In the meantime, we’re headed to Washington with 42,000 pounds of onions from Mexico, saying farewell to tank tops and shorts — sure was a nice break from the 6 degree weather and blizzard conditions of the West! — and (hopefully) putting another day in the log books.
Onward and upward!