I really like the drive-all-night road trip that is part of our annual MATS experience. I like feasting my eyes on cities like St. Louis at night and stopping in truck stops in the wee hours.
In recent years I have been traveling with Managing Editor Jami Jones and Associate Editor Dave Tanner. Somewhere along I-70 just east of St. Louie, we will normally pull in to the TA for snacks and caffeine. I poke around looking at DVDs (hey, they have all of Burt Reynolds’ movies) and books on tape. Jami Jones checks out a Buck Shot Pro game, grabs a Diet Coke and marvels at a 6-foot piece of beef jerky.
One stop I distinctly recall was at that TA this side of St. Louis. I think it was me, Jami and staff writer Charlie Morasch (who was wearing a snazzy Southern Trucker do-rag). On the way out the door of the c-store, we saw a driver in an OOIDA jacket. A fine looking gentlemen, fine in the way of Wilford Brimley. We introduced ourselves. He was surprised to see us skulking about the TA in the early a.m. but smiled big and shook our hands enthusiastically. I liked him. His name was Ed Sims.
We shouted him good night and good luck. We headed back to the mini-van and Ed trudged back into a black parking area of trucks. I looked back and watched him disappear into the shadows.
The lot was full and trucks were lined up solid. That’s when it hit me. I had found the elephant graveyard.