28 May Sage: The Sammons Adventure from Montana to Texas
Holliday, Texas- Welcome all to Sammons Adventures. Currently we are in Holliday, Texas and just started cutting yesterday, May 27th, 2010. But the adventure started way before we even left our home base of Cut Bank, Mont.
I started my journey two hours after my last final in Las Vegas, and made the trek from Vegas to Billings, Mont. I went to Billings, which is about five hours south of Cut Bank, to get my Commercial Driver’s License. I met up with three other members of our crew there, and we spent a week going through CDL training. Literally, I had one day of summer before I was back at the books trying to cram for tests. After the long week, we all hurried home to Cut Bank to get ready to go, because the rumor was we were going to leave the next day. But because of the huge storm system Texas received, we were postponed until May 23rd.
Meanwhile, we spent our time washing, polishing trucks and tying up loose ends before we left. During one of the washing sessions, the exhaust from the pressure washer started the roof of our shop on fire, so we got a friendly visit from Cut Bank’s finest volunteer Fire Department. Everything turned out fine as only part of the roof was damaged. The only injury was my dad getting 10 stitches and a tetanus shot while trying to save an already ruined light fixture. It could have been more of a disaster, but a quick response by the crew saved a potential catastrophe.
After things cooled off, we hit the road bound for Texas. On our first day, we made it from Cut Bank to Buffalo, Wyo., a record first day travel for Sammons Adventures. On our second day, we were in for a big adventure. The day started with the lead pick-up having overheating issues, but that is almost expected as it is pulling a 15,000-pound header through the rolling hills of Wyoming. Our first big traffic jam came south of Casper as we had to cross a narrow bridge. The widest load happened to be me at 14’8” and the bridge they were working on had a paver on one side and a cement wall on the other. In grandma, with low reduction applied, I crawled across the bridge in my 1986 359 Peterbilt. I cleared the obstacle with only inches to spare on either side, but it seemed much closer.
We stopped for lunch about 30 minutes after that, and as we were pulling out of the rest stop, we were inundated by hail. It only lasted for ten minutes but the rainstorm chased us to the Nebraska border. By the time we got to Scott’s Bluff, Neb., a new environmental phenomenon hit the convoy, 50 mile-per-hour quartering tail winds. A dust storm limited visibility to 500 feet, which slowed the convoy down, not to mention literally rocking and rolling of the rigs.
The winds died down and we muscled through, but lost a truck driver along the way. A no cell policy while driving forced him to hit his own dusty trail. Dad started the policy after having too many close calls with cell phones, and during the convoy we all have 2-way radios in every vehicle to communicate. It was not a messy divorce at all, but it did create a new problem for the convoy, as there were only two HAZMAT drivers, the one who left and my dad. Dad hopped in the service truck and we made it to Wray, Colo. We ended the night by parking all of our red equipment in one of the widest lots in town, the John Deere dealership.
Our third day had the possibility of being our best day of driving, but after 300 miles we had a starter go out in one of the trucks in Bryan’s Corner, Okla. After four hours of refueling and repairing, we were back on the road, but only made it to Wheeler, Texas.
After a good night of sleep, we started what would be our last day on the road. But we were stopped only ten minutes after starting by Texas DOT at 6:20 a.m. He was very impressed by our crew and the shape of our equipment, and so was my dad. We did however have to drop our grain trailers, as we were a few feet over the legal limit. Three hours later we rolled into our destination, Holliday, Texas.
Thursday morning found the crew getting the combines ready, for what we thought would be sampling the crop on Friday. But after lunch, we tried the wheat and shocked the area as we were able to harvest 12.6 percent moisture wheat. Mac-Don came out and made some safety updates to our headers. After our first load came in dry, we got all the combines rolling. We were only able to get off two truckloads to the elevator because it closed at 7:30 p.m., but didn’t quit until all the trucks were loaded.
Harvest officially started for Sammons Adventures on May 27, 2010. We look forward to a safe and efficient summer. I personally look forward to recapping our journey and sharing my experience with all of you.
Sage Sammons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. All Aboard 2010 Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and DuPont Crop Protection.