By KYLE DOYLE - 12/04/05

That’s right, the name says it all this week.  December 2nd, 2005, I finally turned 21!  That means all partying and drinking, stumbling in the front door a few hours before sunrise, and waking up with a splitting headache, right?  Umm….not quite; at least not for me.  My birthday fell on a Friday this year, which means I probably would have gone out with some friends (minus the heavy drinking and stumbling), but I would find myself on the road to Maysville, KY this year.  That being said, let’s back up a bit.

My week was about an even split between working on the R/T to get it ready for its final gig of the year, and helping Geremie and Travis strip the near-new graphics and adhesive off of the Rammunition transporter.  Using a flamethrower technique similar to what the guys at Competition Graphics use (see my "North and South" article), G and Travis managed to get 90% of the graphics off in one day.  The adhesive, on the other hand, would prove to be quite a bit more stubborn.  When the vinyl is removed from the trailer, it leaves behind an adhesive film that has to be removed before the trailer can be pulled to Detroit for new graphics; if you don’t remove the adhesive, it will collect dust, dirt, road grime, and other “not-friendly-to-fancy-vinyl-graphics” pollutants.  Though it took a couple days for our fingers to grow back, the work was worth it as it cuts the down-time at CG to three days, instead of four or five.  The next trailer to be stripped will be our R/T hauler, which will begin its stripping process this week.

The Raminator R/T hauler.

Travis and I pulled out of the shop Friday morning, with me behind the wheel once again.  This time, however, I wouldn’t have to yield to my over-21 companion at the border, as my newly-found increase in age has now granted me the legal right to operate a commercial vehicle out of the state of Illinois.  Somewhat ironic that this privilege is granted to me on the same day as the right to drink legally, don’t you think?  Well, there won’t be any mixing of the two.  That being said, the drive to Maysville was pretty normal, i.e. boring.  As we closed in on our destination, however, it became apparent that this particular area of the Ohio River Valley has been around for some time; the rustic pre-turn-of-the-century architecture fit in nicely with the rolling hills of southern Ohio/ northern Kentucky.

We arrived at Maysville C-J-D, and after getting acquainted with everyone, they were nice enough to open up a service bay for us to pull the R/T into for the night.  Temperatures for Saturday were scheduled to be every bit as cold as Friday, and with the morning being the coldest part of the day, we figured it would be easier to fire the truck up while it was 32 degrees, as opposed to the forecasted low of 18 degrees.  After getting our loaner Dodge Intrepid sedan, we secured a hotel room and then went out in search of a birthday dinner.  While it is always best to be able to spend one’s birthday at home, I don’t think I could have asked for a better friend and teammate than Travis to hit the road with on my B-day.  After taking our time to enjoy a hot meal from Applebee’s (hey, it was that or Wendy’s!), we raided the near-by Wal-Mart Supercenter.  Being on the road as much as I am lets you do X-mas gift shopping in one of the most clandestine ways known to man.  After marking off some names on my gift list, we headed to the old downtown sector of Maysville.

Downtown Maysville is arguably one of the oldest towns in all of Kentucky, and it has the traditional pre-1900’s architecture to back it up.  In fact, one of the downtown banks had the phrase “The Oldest Bank in Kentucky” written on the back wall above the enormous classic-style vault door.  Located literally on the banks of the mighty Ohio river, the town was a real treat to explore, especially considering we practically had the place to ourselves as the clock struck 10pm.  One store window had a fascinating framed picture of the downtown area shot from an airplane.  Judging by the quality of the photo and knowing a bit about aviation, I’m guessing the picture probably dates back to the 1920’s or 1930’s.  The centerpiece of the downtown area was the beautiful two-lane suspension bridge that spans the Ohio river, connecting the residents of Kentucky and Ohio.  After my historic and photographic interests were satisfied, it was time to head back to the hotel and catch some much-needed rest.

The Maysville bridge at night.


Downtown Maysville.



Classic photo of historic Maysville, shot through the window of the building. Creative, eh?


This alleyway just looked cool…like something out of an X-Files episode.


The Oldest Bank in Kentucky! Check out the awesome (and huge) vault on the back wall.

Saturday brought cold temperatures and a searing wind, though we expected as much, and came prepared with winter weather gear to tire up in.  The Raminator R/T is a native of warmer climes (like shop bays), so it didn’t hesitate to fire right up after sitting all night in 70 degree bliss.  However, I almost swear I heard it griping at me as I backed it out into the 20 degree weather of northern Kentucky.  Thankfully, tiring up didn’t take too long at all.  While more people turned out to ride the truck than I had expected, with temperatures being cold enough to make an Eskimo shiver, the groups of ride seekers were spread out over the length of the day.  This worked out well for Travis and I, as it gave us a chance to hang out in the showroom and warm up between rides.  I’m pretty sure I drained the service department coffee pot at least twice.  Much respect and thanks to the hard-core Kentuckians who came out in the cold and rode the R/T; you guys made the final R/T gig of the year a successful one!


R/T hangin’ out at Maysville C-J-D.


C’mon guys, it’s the UK, not the U of I!  Back to work!


Travis looking for the Raminator ad in the local paper.


Another hapless soul gets his Ram horns, courtesy of Travis.


The dealership guys were a hoot to hang out with, especially during the UK vs. UNC basketball game; I thought we were going to have to get a referee for those guys!  As the day winded down, the sales staff and GM piled in front of , in, and on the R/T to get their picture taken.  As you can see, they liked clowning around….a lot.  I’m guessing that when their parents took them to Sears for their yearly pictures as young kids, they were the ones picking their noses and sticking their tongues out.


This is as serious as these guys get.

After a slow-paced yet [thankfully] uneventful trip home in the sleet and rain, it was time to head home and enjoy a bit of after-birthday festivities.  Primarily napping , wrapping X-mas gifts, shopping, and opening a couple birthday gifts that came while I was gone.  Thanks to all my friends and family for their birthday wishes, cards, gifts, etc.  It feels like just yesterday I was 18 and starting my first week of work for HBR…now, almost three years later, I’m up to my eyes in the monster truck lifestyle.  The last 21 years have been good to me; here’s to a whole bunch more.  Like Joe Walsh says, “Life’s been good to me so far”.  Thanks for reading.

- KD

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