Denver is Like an Old Friend Now

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Pilot Truck Stop, Hesperia, California, March 12, 2017

I have a new load assignment.  It is not for Houston but rather for Denver.  The pick up appointment if for today at 1:30 PM, back in Carson.  It is Sunday, but Los Angeles won’t fool me.  Nine AM is the departure time for this countdown.  The load is due in Denver on the morning of the 15th.  My Home Leave was supposed to start on the 13th.  Sadly, I have come to expect this sort of treatment from the “Company”.  But, Life is too short to spend it complaining. Onward!

  If I leave straight from the pick and burn my clock, I might make St George – arriving well after midnight at a truck stop overflowing into the streets with other late arrivals.  I think Wiskey Pete’s might be a better answer, arriving mid-evening to a place that has a big empty lot behind it.  The rest of the trip is familiar territory, now.  The fuel stops don’t work out for overnight, but there are lots of rest areas in Wyoming. 

  So, why Wyoming?  Would it not be better to take Interstate 70 into Denver? Yes, but, as a “rookie” driver, I am not allowed to drive I-70 West of Denver (mountains, snow – stuff like that). It might not be as safe as double parking in the dedicated bus route or completely blocking traffic (3 lanes each way) on a main avenue to back into a door at midnight in Brooklyn. That, they will let me – nay, command me – to do. 😉

 

Pilot Truck Stop, I-70, exit 276A,  Denver Colorado, March 14, 2017

  This is the “Travel Center” from whence began A Most Excellent Day in Denver and the Golden  Opportunity.  Alas, no such sojourns will there be time for now.  Arriving at about 3 PM assures ease of parking.  Some late arrivals struggled mightily to fit in the remaining spaces.  This Trucker has learned not to attempt truck stops late at night, but rather to find rest areas where at least a few early arrivals have departed.  Nineteen times out of twenty, that works.

The road from Los Angeles was uneventful, for the most part thanks to the fact that I was leaving on a Sunday afternoon.  That did not stop the Angelinos from creating a few traffic scrambling collisions, though.  Carson, itself was a lonely place due to their decision to put all the warehouses in one place.  This is a zone where trucks come and go all day – on weekdays.  They have rather shortsightedly decided that trucks should not be allowed to park on the wide boulevards in this Industrial Zone.  That might make some semblance of logic on weekdays, but this Sunday afternoon, I must need wait outside the shippers lot – only an hour or so – while my new load is being stocked into a trailer for which I will swap my empty.  There is one place where the parked vehicle does not block traffic and there is a lack of “no Parking” signs.  You see the result below:

MiddleOfCarssonROadFrint  The Shipper’s lot is behind, left.  All the curbs are decorated with signs that say “No Parking Any Time”.  So, we waited in the turn lane.  A quarter-mile behind is another truck, doing exactly the same thing in front of another shipper.  I don’t know what it is like during the week, but in the hour I waited, one truck passed me.

I weighed the truck at Barstow and found it to be heavy on the drive wheels.  Normally, this is solved by moving the trailer tandem axles forward, but I find them already as far in front as possible.  This can only be resolved by moving the fifth wheel, again.  You may remember my traumatic experience when last this was necessary, as explained in Marooned at Brady’s Leap.  As a result, I do this task with great trepidation and caution.  All attempts were in vain.  The mechanism was again jammed, this time at the rear-most extreme.  Locking the trailer brakes and pushing back with the tractor should make the released 5th wheel slide forward.  All that I accomplished was to skid the fully-loaded trailer on its un-rotating wheels.  I know how to fix this, but it requires some structure that can act as a barrier for further trailer movement.  Nothing fit the bill at the Pilot where I scaled, so I went on – illegally – into the afternoon.

This route is now a familiar one.  The passage to Nevada again reveals the awesome view of Ivanpah.  It is actually a very impressive sight, when you don’t know the pitiful details about the place.  I was wrong about the mirrors of the middle tower.  As seen below, there are at least some still deployed.

IvanpahSouthView1

Ivanpah’s middle tower does indeed have some mirrors still deployed.  This is in the early evening when the Sun is off to the left, behind the mountains and all the towers are unilluminated.  Any power from Ivanpah is now fueled by clean, efficient, cheap Natural Gas.

Whiskey Pete’s is also where I found the “bulkhead” structure I needed to move the 5th  wheel.  You see an example in the photo below:

WhiskeyPeateTruckX

A view of the truck (on the occasion of my previous visit) from atop Whiskey Pete’s Garage.  The “bulkhead” is similar to the yellow square of concrete and steel you see at the base of the light pole at extreme right.  Also, notice the “X” on top of my truck.  Don’t worry, I have not been marked like the killer in the 1930’s movie “M”.  It is only the shadow of the light fixture at the top of that pole.

That particular bulkhead was in the wrong place for my purposes, but there was another out back of Pete’s, all alone and without the steel poles around it.  The trailer is backed up to a corner and the rear wheels jammed up against the curb.  Now, let’s see that trailer slide – HAR!  I strapped my seatbelt tightly and made sure to keep the back of my head against the headrest.  Then, I unleashed the might diesel engine on the unyielding apparatus.  The final victory was a bit anticlimactic.  The stubborn 5th wheel gave up quickly and I could continue the trip with a peaceful sense of legality.

The next leg of the journey featured a very scenic pass through the “Arizona Strip” near Littlefield.  A lot of these beautiful vistas escape my photography because I am maintaining a death grip on the steering wheel.  Beautiful vistas frequently come with extremely winding and mountainous roads – many with sheer drop-offs two feet away, with only a three-foot wall.  The trailer floor is also about three feet high and the 20-odd tons of cargo would be only too willing to topple over that wall!

This particular vista was not nearly as hazardous:

ArizonaStripLittlefield

Near Littlefield

  The delivery is tomorrow at 800 Mountain Daylight Time and only a mile and a half from here.  I will return here afterward and stay until the next assignment.  Kansas, for a meat load, I expect.  And from there to Dallas, where I will hand the truck over to the mechanics who have been dunning me with messages about some “Campaign” which is a lot like what Auto Dealers refer to as a “Recall”.  From there, the Megabus to Houston is the way to go.  It stops only once and that, only for the drivers “relief”. 

  I had thought to end this post there.  Perhaps it would be better to finish the delivery first.  I need to sleep now, so Goodnight!

 Receiver’s Door, Denver Colorado, March 15, 2017

    These are among the “in-between” moments when life’s mysteries can be contemplated.  Contemplation would be easier is the truck did not shake with every advance and retreat of the forklift as the Lumpers do their job – i.e., unload.  I just got a call from another Driver Manager who asks that I make a trailer swap after this.  Another driver has run out of clock and can’t make his second stop of the delivery.  I was about to accept, when she offered me $75.  Well, you drive a hard bargain, but…OK.

   The “Standard Rate” for a second stop is $25.  This does put off my eventual return home by a few hours, but hopefully I would have wasted those same hours doing nothing at the meat plant while I waited for a load.

  There is a knock on the cab – gotta go!

 Sapp Brothers Truck Stop, I-70 exit 278, Denver Colorado, March 15, 2017

   The load is complete and I have swapped loads with a newbie driver.  Don’t worry, I told him about wearing his seat belt when moving the 5th wheel and the Carl Junior’s in LA.  My delivery is 1 (ONE) pallet at 1600 local time.  It is now 11:30.  The place is about eight miles away.  I have three hours to burn and there are some life chores to which I must attend.  For one thing, I am looking for a real job.  As much as I find this to be a Grand Adventure (no, really!) I cannot afford to support a family on the miserable pittance I receive for it. 

 Over The Road,

Steve  

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