It’s Cold Out There


Flying J Truck Stop Interstate 25 exit 7, Cheyenne, Wyoming,  December 11

    At 7:47 MST the temperature is 22°F.  There is  a barely visible dusting of snow to be seen only in the edges of the windows and such.  Winds were gusting to 40 MPH yesterday.  I am marooned again for another 34 hour break to recharge my driving hours.  You have to wonder just what the deskbound regulatory wonk was thinking when he  this rule popped into his narrow mind.  The result is to strand drivers in remote places for a day and a half while reducing their paychecks proportionally .  That, and to  take an expensive piece of capital (the truck) out of production for the same period.

    The journey to get here was another pleasant drive.  After unloading in Cleburne, I drove down to Waco to drop my empty trailer and hook a full one with the load destined for Cheyenne.  By now the 14 hour rule had my drive time down to 6 hours.  From Waco, my route was through Fort Worth on Interstate 35W where the Eternal Construction Zone is located.  After that it was US 287 where the elegant Hardeman County rest area found me with a bit less than an hour of drive time at 2000 (eight PM).  Ten miles North is the new truck stop in Quanah and the prospect of a shower.  But, those parking spots fill up fast when the sun goes down and I could find myself with no alternative but to press on down the road – with a dwindling drive clock – to a picnic area with no restroom (leave alone showers).  Here, I had an easy, pull-through diagonal parking spot and a short walk to the facilities – albeit with no shower.  This is basic “Bird-in-the-hand” Theory (BITHT).

From there it was smooth sailing up 287 to I-70 in Colorado and the Pilot near that junction.  I had two hours left of my eleven and could have made the Loves in Bennett, CO.  That spot is popular because there is a supermarket with the odd name of “King Soopers”.  They are found only in Colorado and are associated with Kroger – as I discovered when I once tried out my Kroger discount card there, just for “a hoot” and it worked!

I had been to the Walmart in Cleburne while I renewed my meds at the Walgreens and had no reason for more groceries.  Besides, the Loves fills up quickly precisely because there is shopping nearby and the BITHT was in effect in Colorado as in Texas.

   I just received an assignment to “deadhead” to Lexington, Nebraska.  While that negates the 34 hour break, I am glad to get on the road again because:

  1. As the Walkabout has recently taught me, travelling is my heart’s desire. It gives me an inner peace and contentment.
  2. I actually get paid when I move this truck.

   So, there you have the sublime and mundane motivations for leaving soon.

  While I was inside the Pilot store for pre-departure preparations, the snow fairy visited.  In five minutes, the truck and surroundings were decorated as you see below.

snowincheyenneAbove: This is five minutes of snowfall.  The solid state precipitation stopped a few miles East of town


Parked at “The Shipper” in Fremont, Nebraska (50 mi. North of Omaha), December 12, 2016

    The time is 04:45.  Temperature 12°F.  As I might have explained before, the tractor cabin has an auxiliary power unit (APU) that provides 110 power, air conditioning and heat to the cabin while the main engine is off.  The 110 power is limited I have tripped the circuit breaker a few times when  the refrigerator started up while I was boiling water for instant coffee.  The air conditioning is inadequate for a Texas summer day, even when its effects are isolated to the sleeper bunk by a thick, thermal curtain.  The APU heater is a bad joke.  I have set the thermostat to 80° and I can see my breath until I start the main engine for a twenty minute warm-up.  This I do about every three hours and I take the current thaw as an opportunity to write to you. I will mention this problem to the mechanics when I am again called to Purgatory (not the ski resort).  There is no doubt another physical (re: blood pressure) and series of safety lectures I must attend there, soon.

    The deadhead to Lexington was about half complete when new messages began arriving.  These I knew to be the new load assignment,  Jill the Navigation Computer will tell me that new messages have arrived, but she will not allow me to read them.  She does spontaneously read a message aloud to me, but I still do not know how to make that happen on demand (perhaps I am not saying, “please”?).  I read the messages at a rest stop during my mandatory 30 minute break.  About 250 more miles were added to the deadhead, which is good tidings, as it means a few more dollars.  The load is meat and the destination is Fife (as in Barney) in Northern Washington State, near Seattle/Tacoma.  All told, the trip will be over 2000 miles, which I welcome from both personal and financial viewpoints.  Personally because I prefer driving to mucking about at shippers and receivers.  Financially…well, you know.

The road from Cheyenne to Fremont was pleasant and uneventful.  The snow disappeared after a few miles from the border with Nebraska.  I was attired in my winter Captain’s Uniform, which is based on “Road Pajamas” and features the rakish blue jacket and Jersey gloves.


Above:  The winter uniform.  The glove has the index fingertip cut off for operation of the touchscreen.

roadpyjamasAbove:  The Captain models “Road Pajamas”.  Comfortable for driving and sleeping.  Not at the same time, mind you!

Rest Area Interstate 90 exit 395, Bozeman, Montana, December 14, 2016

   It was an interesting day’s drive and I captured some photos.  The temperature here is a balmy 17°F above, here.


Above:  The rest area at Bozeman.  The reflection of Jill, the Navigation Computer floats in the center. 

“Open the truck cab door please, Jill.”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Steve.”


Above:  This is the dashboard readout at the previous stop near Rapid City, South Dakota.  Notice the temperature at upper left.  The 6.7 mile per gallon fuel economy may seem not much.  After all, your Ford Explorer may get over 25 mpg on the highway, right?  Your Ford might weigh 2 tons.  My Kenworth with loaded trailer scales out at just over 39 tons.  You get 50 ton-miles per gallon, while  I get 261 – far more efficient, you see.


Above:  Crossing a river at dusk in South Dakota.

   There is more, including impressive photos in Montana, but sleep beckons and the road ahead is long and cold.

Over The Road,


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