TA #172, Sparks, Nevada

thunderous machines
brought to a complete standstill
by tiny snowflakes
drivers riding the storm out
telling tales of “this one time…”

During the early, and rather snowy, months of 2017, I found myself crossing the Sierra Nevada mountain range a lot more frequently than I really wanted. On one particular trip west I had to stop at the TA truck stop in Sparks, Nevada, to find out if California was letting trucks over Donner Pass because of a particularly heavy snowfall.

In Nevada, it seems like every business establishment, gas stations, grocery stores, truck stops, have some kind of casino section. This truck stop in Sparks is no exception. TA #172 is home to Sierra Sid’s Casino. Playing the slots isn’t my thing, but I do enjoy a good old fashioned truck stop diner, which #172 has.

Because of the weather, the diner was packed. I got a seat at the counter, which was alive with tall tales about roads and waitresses conquered. My father would often say that the first liar never has a chance. That is never more true than when you get a bunch of truckers together. Somebody always has a faster truck, drove an older truck, or chased a prettier waitress at some truck stop that he can’t seem to remember exactly where it was.

We drank bad coffee and swapped lies for a good long time that evening. The snow wasn’t letting up one bit, so we all just camped out at TA #172 waiting for the weather to break.

The above poem, from Tire Chains & Longing, is about this particular evening at TA #172, and has been made into a broadside by my publisher, Clare Songbirds Publishing House.

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