OOIDA’s touring tractor-trailer heads to Barstow, Calif.

January 20, 2020

Chuck Robinson

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Barstow, Calif., is sort of like a diving board overlooking the huge swimming pool that is Los Angeles.

“It’s the gateway on I-5 to Los Angeles,” says Jon Osburn, skipper of OOIDA’s tour trailer, the Spirit of the American Trucker.

Barstow also is the next stop for The Spirit. Jon plans to be at the TA Travel Center in Barstow on Jan. 21-23.

Barstow lies at the junction of Interstate highways 15 and 40 and California Route 58 on routes connecting Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Flagstaff, Ariz.

The Barstow TA Travel Center is on Interstate 15 at the Lenwood Road exit, Exit 178. It is southwest of the downtown area. There are more than 300 parking spaces for trucks at the Barstow TA plus a Black Bear Diner, Subway and other amenities.

The Grapevine

Jon and The Spirit will pass by a community named Grapevine on the I-5, and in fact that stretch of I-5 is called the Grapevine, a name that is a holdover from when the general route was U.S. Highway 99. The name comes from not only the vineyards in the area but also because the stretch of road used to have a lot of twists and turns between Los Angeles and Bakersfield, Calif., like the tendrils of a grapevine.

Jon says many times trucks careened off the road over cliffs on the Grapvine. There was a strict 25 mph speed limit there, and lots of tickets were issued to truck drivers who didn’t slow down their vehicles.

Those of us of a certain age may recall a 1971 hit by Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen, “Hot Rod Lincoln.” It is a hard driving about a harrowing road race that starts with the line, “Son, you’re gonna drive me to drinkin’ if you don’t stop driving your hot rod Lincoln.”

The story told in that song was set on the Grapevine.

“Hot Rod Lincoln” was actually first written and released in 1955 by Charlie Ryan. It was written in response to a song that was a 1950 hit by Arkie Shibley and his Mountain Dew Boys, “Hot Rod Race,” about a hot rod race. The songs sound similar.

Hot issues from drivers

One issue that is bur under the saddle of a lot of professional commercial vehicle drivers in California concerns the different speed limits for truck and for smaller vehicles. Currently, smaller vehicles are allowed to drive 65 mph – 70 mph in certain locations – while large vehicles are limited to 55 mph.

Early last year, Assemblyman Randy Voepel, R-Santee, sponsored a bill that would have raised truck speed limits to 65 mph in rural areas. OOIDA supported Voepel’s efforts.

Drivers in California are complaining about higher truck insurance rates, Jon reports.

“Unfortunately they are right. Insurance rates have been on the rise for the last few years,” says Deb Winkler, manager of OOIDA’s Truck Insurance Department.

The source of the problem is the rising cost of claims, she said.

“While California does have higher premiums with us than some states, they are by far not the highest,” she added.

Bigger premium rate increases have been seen in Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and South Carolina, where there have been significantly higher loss ratios.

Whenever you see The Spirit tour truck, go say hello to Jon Osburn, skipper of The Spirit. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. You also can join or renew your OOIDA membership for $10 off the regular price there. You can get vouchers for flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccines from Jon at The Spirit.

Also, Jon has forms for the OOIDA Mary Johnston Scholarship Program, which has been assisting the children, grandchildren and legal dependents of OOIDA members in their efforts to gain a higher education since 1998. Applications and all required materials must be postmarked no later than Feb. 1.

You can find an application on the OOIDA website.

After Barstow, the next stop for Jon and The Spirit is Ontario, Calif., and then to Tonopah, Ariz. Here is the schedule.

TravelCenters

Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.