Outdoors

Warren’s World: The Escaped-Sheep Escapade

Lurching from one near disaster to another ...

If highway truck stops spent as much money on a good cook as they do on electricity to illuminate their 200-foot tall, 100-foot wide signs, it would be worth stopping at them for breakfast.

My wife and I spent a nice hour and a half in one the other day somewhere alongside the interstate in Idaho, or was it Utah? On the other hand, it might have been Wyoming.

Nineteen 18-wheelers were lined up with their engines running and the drivers asleep in the bunks in their tractors. The snow was falling heavily at a 60-degree angle in a 50-mph wind. Inside, Agnes the waitress, wearing a drip-dry nylon uniform, was pouring hot coffee. The only thing that saved her uniform from bursting, was the lumpy corset she was laced into. Her blue hair was in stark contrast to the cowboy decor of the restaurant. Her nicotine-stained fingers let you know that she didn’t believe the surgeon general’s warning.

Years ago, the truck drivers all wore plaid shirts, cowboy boots, big belt buckles and cowboy hats. Today they all wear plaid shirts, cowboy boots, bigger belt buckles and baseball hats. Some of the two-person driving teams wear matching colored plaid shirts, and baseball caps from the same truck stop somewhere else. I saw one truck-driving team where the man had a 51-inch waist and the wife or spousal equivalent had hips to match. Figures as much since these are easy to grow when you can have all the breakfast you can eat for $8.99. Biscuits and gravy, eggs, pancakes, French toast, waffles, English muffins, butter, apple turnovers and cinnamon rolls.

I watched four truck drivers at one table eat their way through giant helpings of one of everything on the buffet table. They all used their cell phone, telling their home office how bad the blizzard was while they wandered back for yet another helping.

We were finishing our second cup of tea, when someone came up to the table and told me he once worked in Sun Valley in 1982 and appeared in one of my movies. He was upset when I didn’t remember him, but he sat down at our table anyway and went into great lengths to tell me about his ski-racing record. He would have been on the Olympic team, but he crashed in a race and then he went into great detail explaining what the doctors did to him.

“I hurt my shoulder and the doctor said that I had torn my rotary cup. They also removed some cartridge from my right knee and sewed up the Kruchev interior on the other knee.”

Rather than try and correct his fractured medical description of his injuries I said, “Laurie and I have to be down the road 400 miles by nightfall so we have to leave. Can I have your business card and I will call you sometime?”

We left the booth, paid the bill and went out to where we had parked our car. It was completely surrounded by about 150 sheep. The lock on the rear gate of one of the trucks had broken and the whole truckload of sheep had escaped and were milling around our car.

When I told the truck stop cashier about the sheep, she hollered for Agnes. She had her dog in the cab of her pick-up truck. She let him out and that dog sure knew what to do. With Agnes whistling loud enough to be heard a mile away, and her nylon dress blowing in the wind, she had her dog performing like he was in a New Zealand sheep-herding contest. In less time than it takes to describe how hard it was to walk around our car, and how bad the smell was, that dog had all of the sheep back in the truck.

Again, the whole truck-stop-breakfast-sheep-escape-roundup took about an hour and a half. We finally were able to get back in our car with Laurie driving. I closed my eyes and continued to count sheep at 75 mph on an ice covered highway headed for Montana.