Monday, March 30, 2009

I Dragged a Moving Truck Ramp Along Canal Road Today

Even after moving all of our things into the new house the day before and battling the chaos that can be IKEA on a Sunday morning (even before the church crowd), I drove to BFE Virginia that Sunday afternoon to pickup a co-worker’s carpooling friend’s washer, dryer, and microwave. Thanks to the carpooler’s home being foreclosed it was mine for the taking.

I felt bad taking it out of his house because I benefited from his loss, but such is the cycle of home ownership I suppose. And I wasn’t about to turn down a chance to replace the original 20-year-old washer and dryer that came with our purchase.

Thanks to my GPS, I made my way out 66 and to another non-descript development of Virginia homes an hour from DC. With the appliance hand truck, We wheeled the appliances up the truck’s ramp and strapped them down for the ride back to MoCo. We pushed the ramp back into its holder on the truck and I was on my way.

I'll use the moving truck ramp to make my own sparks. Thank you very much.

An accident on the Beltway near 270 caused a major backup on the inner loop back to the 66 East exit so my GPS routed me to avoid the incident. Nice. I was told to take the Dulles Toll Road which, by the nature of its title, meant it had a toll and required money. Well, foolish me, I was traveling without a penny to my name. I pulled off in a Dulles Airport Marriott parking lot and told the GPS to avoid toll roads.

It got me back on the road toward Route 7 and Tyson’s Corner. Still worrisome of beltway traffic, it suggested I forgo joining the beltway there and continue on more local 2x2-lane roads. Well, those 2x2-lane roads turned into 1x1-lane roads. I had not only told the GPS to avoid toll roads, but I must have told it to avoid highways!

Before I knew it I had driven to where I had no choice, but to turn onto the Chain Bridge!

If you click on the image above from Wikipedia, you'll see a Penske truck on the Chain Bridge! Maybe it's me before the ramp fell out.

Yep, the same Chain Bridge leading to Canal Road. I’m very familiar with the road…when I’m in my Altima and not a truck. I’m also pretty sure trucks aren’t allowed on the road. I was exhausted and had trouble thinking straight so I just ignored common sense and let the GPS get me home.

I didn’t realize it was avoiding highways until it had me turn right toward the District. Even I knew Maryland was the other way, but I couldn’t turn left. I followed directions to turn the truck around on Arizona Avenue. Not exactly a convenient area to U-turn. Somehow, the automatic transmission powered the truck up the steep incline.

Next, the GPS thought the best way to turn the vehicle around would be a large U-turn using three right turns along Carolina Avenue, Galena Place, and Dorsett Place. I didn’t know this locale so I went with it, never mind that I had to maneuver the hulking truck around parked cars, including splitting cars parked on both sides. By sheer luck or by the grace of being the son of Milford Mill High School’s fastest parallel parker, I squeezed by with an inch to spare.

Relieved to have done the impossible, I just wanted to see my home. I made a right onto Canal Road and made my way toward the Beltway. I was in the clear and done with this truck I had grown so accustomed to driving.

That was until two cars passed me with horns honking and passengers yelling and pointing behind my truck. I nodded my head and thought nothing of it, figuring it was just that I was driving a truck on a road that doesn’t allow trucks.

Then I heard a back-and-forth metallic squeaking noise from the truck’s rear. Uh oh. I thought the backdoor hook had given and the microwave was about to fall out.

Canal Road offers few opportunities to pull over and even fewer places large enough for my behemoth vehicle. So I drove a good 1/2 mile to a mile with the ever increasingly loud noise until I had a shoulder large enough to check what was going on.

I had been dragging the ramp along Canal Road! Most assuredly causing sparks too!

The ramp came free of its holding latch somewhere along the bumpy areas of Canal Road, or maybe the Arizona Avenue neighborhood I used for my U-turn. Egg was over my face and I wanted out. I still feel nauseous when I think of the ramp falling off the truck in the middle of Canal Road.

Soooo, you're saying the ramp needs to be all the way inside the truck when moving?

I quickly put the ramp back in the truck, ensuring the latch was on the outside edge and not just latched to the teeth underneath. This wasn’t going to happen again on my watch. With no police cruisers in sight, I made it back on the road and onto the beltway.

I delivered the appliances home safe and sound, albeit shaken up at what could have been. A reminder why this is the last move I make without real movers.

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