Rain and Driving

This may be considered a pet peave of mine, and I have shared comments about it before.

I made a trip to Cassville this morning in the rain; and I noticed many folks driving without their headlights on; not even park lights, or any kind of light.

Let me get this straight in my mind, and maybe in yours too.  I know you can see; after all it is daylight, the sun is up. I know you can see because you are smart enough to know not to drive if you cannot see.

I know you can see; but can you be seen? Headlights on enable the oncoming driver to see you.  Seeing you in the distance in case he/she might be following a slower drive he/she might need to get around.

Some of you use your automatic on, but do you know when the light is bright enough, as it is quite often when it is raining, they do not come on automatically.  You must switch the switch to the on position.

I am sharing this because it is a great safety issue in driving our cars and trucks on the roads and highways. Let me suggest one thing; use your headlight switch.  Not only is it a good idea to drive with headlights on in the rain, snow, sleet, fog, and the dark.  It is also the State law in the State of Missouri. If your windshield wipers are on you must have your headlights on.

The next time you get in your car or truck to drive, and it is raining, turn on your headlights. It could save someone’s life; even your own.

From the banks of Flat Creek,

`tim

Driving a School Bus

Where I live the new School year for ages K – 12 began on August 13; so we have been in school now for two weeks.

I have been driving for the Cassville R-IV School District in the southwest part of the State of Missouri now for the last 9 years, and started my tenth year.  I have a total of 16 years driving with the Cassville School District.  With the first stint being from 1984 – 1990.

I quit driving a bus for 12 years, even gave up my CDL for a regular license for a while until I decided I needed to go back to driving a bus.  That was in 2003, and I have been driving a bus ever since then.

Actually I am driving for Cassville for my third time.  When I came back in ’03 I came in as a sub driver, then was given a route in the beginning of 2004 (January).  I left at the end of that school year, moved to Farmington, Missouri, and drove a School bus for the Farmington District for two years, then moved back to Cassville.

Driving a School bus is a challenging job; yet it is rewarding.  The reward is watching those kids grow up.  I took the route I have now in March of 2007.  I now have one student who is the only original student who was riding when I started it.  She is a Senior this year.  She was a third grader when I started.

It is a difficult job while you are driving, watching the road, tending misbehaving children, and watching for other drivers who are not watching what they are doing.

I guess I am writing this because I know many School Districts are in need of good bus drivers; people who love and care for kids.  If you are one of those go to your local School District and talk to them about driving a bus.

If you do it for the money you will not make it.  If you do it because of the kids, and you enjoy it.  You will do great.

I am writing this from the banks of Flat Creek.

-tim

Coldest Day – So Far

When I came into my living room this morning about 4:45 the thermometer read minus two (-2) degrees.  Thirty minutes later it was at -3 degrees.  The last time a took a look it was at -4 degrees.

I just took a minute and looked again; now it is at -5 degrees.  Is that what is called, “Dropping like a rock”?  I guess it could drop a bit faster.

I am sure thankful this morning though.  Thankful for a nice warm home.  Thankful for flowing water.  Thankful for many things.

I am praying this morning for all the farmers who will need to be, and already are out in this snow and cold caring for their cattle, and other livestock.  For those who are maintaining our roads; praying for their wisdom and safety.  For the EMT’s, and other emergency personnel.  May I add, if you do not need to be out, stay in, and stay warm.

One more thing;  if you just have to get out and drive on the  highways turn on your headlights.  It is good to be seen; not just able to see.  It is a matter of safety; not just yours but others who are out as well.

-tim

Eagles at War???

This past Wednesday morning as I was driving home, and along the bluff road to our house there were several bald eagles perching in trees.  I drove a little ways, and suddenly one flew up from just beside me.  It seemed that it was standing on the steep bank, and my driving by it caused it to take flight through the trees.

What I found fascinating was that eagle made a half circle around in front of me, landed in a tree branch just over our road, and attacked another eagle sitting in that tree.  As I drove under the tree they both took flight, one after the other; but when the last one left it flew high, then, made a dive bomb attack on the other one.

A few minutes later I stepped on on the front porch or our house, and though I could not see the eagles I heard the screeching speech of an eagle.  It was a continued piercing screeching sound, clearly that of an eagle.  They were on the other side of the hill that rises slowly to the South of our home.

They are majestic birds.  Wonderful to watch.  I had never seen them behave that way before.  That is why I have the question marks on the end of the title.  It may have just been a domestic dispute.  It may have been a dominance dispute as well.  It is interesting here on the banks of Flat Creek.

-tim

Auctions and Sales

I attended an auction just outside of Clever yesterday.  My mother called me around 7:30 or so while I was out tending our dogs, and told me that a couple who has been there long time friends was having an auction, and would I take them?  At first I said “No!  I have plenty to get done today”, but about an hour later I called her back and told her I would take them.

The drive up there was in much needed rain; and it rained and it rained and it kept on raining.  By the end of the day we had pools of water, running water, my grass seed getting plenty of water.  Yippppppeeee!!!  Anyway; back to the sale.  They had a few items I wanted to bid on.  I never even got in a bid because they started out higher than I could afford or wanted to pay.  I am happy for the couple having the sale; it was good for them.

There is something I have noticed about a lot of auctions I have attended.  People lose their heads at these things.  They end up paying the same price or more for a used item than they could buy a new one for in some cases.

I am sure thankful for the rain.  The grass is starting to green up again.  That is a good thing.

Thank YOU Lord for sending water to the earth and nourishment for it.

From along the banks of Flat Creek.

-Tim

School Has Started Again

Cassville R-IV Schools began on August 18, 2011.  And man, did my route change.  It is a little longer.
I now go down to the place by the Lake I did when I first took the route four years ago.  Down there I pick up two little girls who are a couple of sweet little girls, but need to learn how to stay in their seats, and be quiet; especially one of them; the youngest.

I do not think people realize how much of a distraction moving around and a loud voice can be to a bus driver.  It really is though.  One sudden move can call the driver’s attention to the mirror and away from the road.  Sure we have training, and experience, yet, even the best and most professional driver can mess up, by a child’s scream and such as that.

If you are a parent; please teach your small children to be seated; and a non-distraction.  It will go a long way in a peaceful ride on the School Bus and a long life for your child and the others on the bus.
I do not want to see any of them hurt, nor do I enjoy the idea of taking them to see their Principal.  If I must though, I must and will do so.
I will be taking care of; and most drivers I know will be taking good care of your children on the way to school.  There is no other way.
Tim A. Blankenship

Hazard on the Highway

My wife and I were coming home from church last night when we came up behind a couple of vehicles.  The one directly in front of us was a small pickup truck; and in front of them was a Ford Taurus [Though I did not know that until later.  We were too far in the back to tell].  The lady in the Taurus was driving slowly; about 40, maybe less; and she was driving into the Southbound lane of Highway 39 (we were headed North).  At times there was on coming traffic and there were several near misses.

The lady in the Taurus nearly ran in the ditch at one point, and my thought was that that was a good place for her before someone was seriously hurt.  The people in the small truck was afraid to get too close and kept putting on their hazard lights.  We got into Barry County, and about a mile into the county she actually hit the ditch on the West side of the road, did some pretty lively bouncing, veered back onto the road into the correct lane, and just shortly pulled into a driveway.

The small truck and us stopped.  The passenger [a woman] of the small truck got out and she was a bit shaken from seeing what all happened.  I was more angry than shaken.  I was almost sure that this individual was drunk.  I went over to the car, and the woman driving got out wondering what had happened.  “This is a friends car.” She said.  “Is it badly damaged?”  I was talking to her, and noticed that I was the only one standing there with her.  All the others had left the scene.

She did not have any smell of alcohol on her. I found out later that she had taken some kind of sleep medication, taken her friends car without permission, and now the car is damaged.  This woman did not even know where she was.

After I wrote out a statement for the Sheriff’s department I left the scene, and she was taken away in a patrol car.

You could say that was an eventful evening.  I am glad and thankful that the woman was not hurt or injured and that no one else was either.

I was not on the banks of Flat Creek when this happened, but fairly near.

-Tim

Nightmare for a School Bus Driver

And it was not as I was sleeping.  It happened as I was driving my morning route yesterday morning (8/25/11).  It was my last stop picking up children.

This year I had part of the town of Cassville added to my route.  I pick up thirty to forty children on this extra leg of my run; and drop them off of the evening before I head out of town to run the rural area of my route.

On this morning I put my yellow overhead lights on.  They were flashing at least 500 feet before the stop; there was on coming traffic; some not making any seeming effort to prepare to stop.  As I pulled to the stop one pickup truck went by as I was opening the door for the stop sign to come out and the red lights started flashing.  The boy I was picking up from the left side of the road came running out of the house toward the street with an oncoming Chevy Tahoe, burgundy in color; the boy running toward the bus, looking at the bus, seemingly unaware of the oncoming traffic.  I am screaming for him to stop; hoping that he will hear me.  I am screaming, “Stop. Stop. Stop.”  I should have laid on my  horn; but I did not even get the license plate number of the Tahoe.

The boy did finally stop when he reached the edge of the street/highway and the Tahoe went right on through the stop sign with red flashing lights.  Question.  How does someone miss seeing a large yellows School Bus with yellow or red flashing lights.  Red flashing lights in the stop sign on the left side of the bus.  Red flashing lights overhead on the bus.

I don’t know this for a fact, but my thoughts tell me that this person, male or female, was had one of those pieces of technology attached to their ear called a cell phone.  What are we supposed to be doing when we are behind the steering wheel of a car?  Driving.  Driving, especially in the city or a small town like Cassville; requires devotion to driving.  Concentrating on what you are doing.

DON’T BE STUPID!  How would you feel if you hit a child and killed, maimed and/or injured them?

A few years ago when I was driving a bus in Farmington, MO. I saw a kindergarten girl hit by a car as I was getting ready to pull up to a stop where several apartment children met to ride the bus.  It was a horrifying sight.  I was relieved when I got there that she was not injured, but just in case, her father took her to get checked out.

Again, DON’T BE STUPID.  Schools are beginning to be in session.  Drive with care.  Notice those big yellow monsters called School Buses.  They are hauling the most precious cargo.  Your children and grand children.

Just another reflection from the banks of Flat Creek.

-Tim

Behind the Scenes or Out Front

The Creator of this Universe and all within it has called me to be a preacher of His Word, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I am not a type A personality; you know; one of those who like to be in the front of everything, and seen by everyone.  That ‘s not me.

If I could choose to be something anywhere it would be a back row usher, or the maintenance guy, or the cleanup person.  I can do some things and not expect any recognition for it.  There is one place I want to be seen; and that is while driving an automobile down the road.

Some of these type A personalities are probably ones I meet of the mornings who don’t have the headlights on in their cars; when they ought to be on.  Let me tell you something; just because you can see, doesn’t mean you are seen.  Headlights on your automobile are an integral part of visibility for you in dark, night time driving; but also for being seen by others who are on the road.

It is the state law in Missouri that you turn on your headlights if you run your windshield wipers.  For me, when its cloudy my headlights are on.  When it is still slightly dark outside my headlights are on.  It is a safety issue.  Be seen by others while driving.

Just two days ago as I was driving my School bus to pick up children; at 6:20 a.m. I met two people driving without headlights on; no lights at all; not even parking lights.  Yes!  It was light enough they could see; but I could not see them without some effort.

To me these are idiots, and stupid people.  I am sorry for the terms, but that’s what you are if you drive without your headlights on in those twilight hours.  O, and those auto headlight switches are made to operate manually.  Use your head, and think while you drive; about driving.  It will be safer for everybody on the road.

Working from behind the scenes, to be seen on the road.  I want to be along the banks of Flat Creek a little longer; and I would think you would want to be around a little while longer too.  TURN ON YOUR HEADLIGHTS.  It doesn’t take too much effort; just thinking, and then doing.

-Tim

Second Week

I have began my second week of no driving the school bus.  Have I missed it?  Not yet.  I have been busy.  I spent the very first week working at Youth Camp at Baptist Hill near Mt. Vernon, MO serving as a camp cook.
I really don’t think that camp cook is a proper title for me.  I have put food in the convection oven, prepared chicken for the oven, bacon for the oven,  eggs for the scrambling – 47 and one half dozen as a matter of fact – that is Jerry W. and myself cracked that many eggs.  We also added lemon juice to keep them from turning green, milk to make them fluffier, and also salt and pepper to season them.  The eggs were for breakfast Wednesday morning.
We were feeding about 175 youth and workers.  There were 9 youth who called on the name of the Lord for salvation; 11 other decisions and one who decided they needed to follow the Lord in Baptism.
My schedule while I was at camp went a little like this.  I was up at 3 a.m., at the cafeteria by 4 a.m. making coffee for the workers coming soon; and when the head cook [Jerry] arrived we visited a while, drank coffee, then started prepping breakfast.  One morning following breakfast I did go to my room and took a nap.  It was quite restful; and one afternoon I went and rested for a while.  Each night I was in bed by 9 p.m.  Tired, tired, tired; ready for bed and sleep.
The second week; it is hot,  hot, hot.  I prefer hot to cold though.  This morning I went out and hoed around our potatoes.  Even at 7 a.m. it was still pretty warm out.  I have more taters to work.
I am thankful for the strength which my Lord and God Jesus Christ has given me.  Thank YOU Lord.
Tim A. Blankenship

Headlights On The Road

This is just going to be a short reminder to those who drive the highways of our land. It is important that you be seen when you are on the highways driving a motorized vehicle. Some evidently do not realize how dangerous it is when they cannot be seen by other motorists.

Just this past Saturday morning near my place of dwelling, it was foggy, I was making a left turn into a gas station when all of the sudden there was a F150 pickup which did not have any headlights on. I made a quick and sudden decision and sharply and quickly got back into may lane, and there was no accident; thank the good Lord. The funny thing about this is the man driving the Ford pickup was some one that I know. I did not find that out until this morning when I entered the bus garage, before driving my bus route for the morning.

When we are on the highways we need to be as visible as we can possibly be. Safe driving is no accident. I do not claim to be the safest driver on the road, however, there are things which I endeavor to do which helps me to be more visible, and one of them is turning headlights on in the fog, even when it is light out. It is also wise to turn on headlights during cloudy days and rainy ones. Another time to have them on is at least thirty minutes before sunset, or sooner, and have them on up until at least thirty minutes after sunrise. It is a wise thing to even keep them on when driving long distances day or night. It is especially helpful when you drive a dark colored, and some other colors of car.

Better to arrive alive, than to the morgue dead. That is for you or the other driver.

 

-Tim A. Blankenship