Waiting for a Door in the Shipper’s Yard – Cuba, New York May 16, 2017
I am early for this load and waiting in the truck. This idle time in the middle of a day is rare and I had it in mind to call about a job with a Houston-based freight company, but there is no phone service here. That fact also rules out Netflix viewing or Internet activity as past-times. I have accumulated enough sleep and finished a GST* full of coffee, so that is not an option, either. So, what better time to compose another post?
This is a cheese plant, by the way, and my destination is in Wisconsin. This is a bit like importing coffee into Colombia or exporting oil to Venezuela and I have a bad feeling about this… 😉.
Actually, the US does export oil to Venezuela. It is light crude that must be mixed with the Venezuelan heavy oil so it will flow into the tankers. The Communist Dictator Chavez ousted all the Petroleros that ran the oil industry there and replaced them with political hacks. They have so mismanaged the industry that Venezuela no longer produces enough light oil and has to import some. The Petroleros went off to Colombia or Brazil or Katy, Texas. where they found work quickly.
*Green Stanley Thermos
The view from the Captain’s desk as he writes this. That cord hanging down is the one that little kids want the truck driver to pull – the air horn. The center of the steering wheel has a “city horn” that allegedly owes its existence to a little old lady who had a heart attack when she heard an air horn…and she sued.
I arrived in upstate New York after an all-night sprint to Clifton Park with a meat load received in a trailer swap in Pennsylvania. The load I traded in was also an afterthought. I had been sent to a meat plant in Kansas for a load that would take me to the Bronx in New York City. Speaking of NYC, I hear that there is a new island emerging from the Hudson River where truckers have been throwing their Safety Manuals off the George Washington Bridge as they enter “The Big Apple”.
While I was still in the early hours of my 30 hour sentence, waiting for that load, a phone call from Purgatory asked if I would like to leave in just a few hours and take a load to deliver to Pennsylvania, Ohio and upstate New York – not Clifton Park, but rather a place called Cheektowaga. The load was scheduled to leave in just 5 hours and was about the same mileage, but without New York City. The planners have to get my OK to reassign me like that and I have always accepted these sorts of changes, even though it sometimes works against me. I hope this results in more and better loads when the planners see my driver code pop up as available for assignment. In this case, I leave most of a day sooner and avoid New York. This is what is called a “win-win” situation.
It was on the second day of that load, when a test of a bit of advice was in order. When you have an excess of time on a load (I was told) hurry to a well-traveled zone and “camp” there just before your run in to the final. The planners (the theory goes on to say) will see you there and set up a swap so you can either get rolling sooner or farther. I camped at Brady’s Leap Service Plaza on Interstate 80 in Ohio about 20 hours before I was due the next day at 0530 in Pennsylvania – just 84 miles away.
A call did come to swap with a driver already in Pennsylvania, just 25 miles away. His single-drop load was from Arkansas, where he was detained for 24 hours after the alleged “deadline”. So, he was late from the start. I would take his single-drop load – like a baton in a relay race – to Clifton Park that night at 1900, while he waited for the dawn with my triple-drop load. About the same mileage, but earlier and with only the one stop. The bad news?…An all-night 500 mile marathon.
I made the marathon trip. If it had all been Interstate speeds, I would have made it by the original appointment. But, because there was an idiotic amount of road construction, a low-clearance exit that forced a detour and the truck threatened to run out of fuel, I was about 40 minutes late. Still, it was a great effort to get to the place that soon. As a reward, they gave me a door right away – where I sat for over five hours. My clock ran out, of course and I could park on-site. But, I got out asap and went to my assigned fuel stop. There was a big crowd of trucks buzzing around for a parking place, so the highway beckoned again and I found a rest area down the road for another ten hour break. I could have driven into the night – only to be turned away from one overflowing rest area or truck stop to the next. But there is no reason for that stupidity.
The appointment here in Cuba was fixed at 1400 and driving the last 240 miles last night or this morning would not change that If there is time to do so, I always stop in the early afternoon when parking is mostly vacant. That sets up a start in the wee hour of the morning when the roads are mostly empty and the repeat of the early afternoon stop. The Company doesn’t like us to travel then because “the drunks are out”. But, I reckon that by 0400, the drunks have all either gotten home, crashed or been arrested for DWI.
The appointment at 1400 is now an hour gone by. Just now the shipping clerk came out to assign me to a door. So, now I am “sitting in a door”, which can only be described as “Incremental Progress”. The truck is being buffeted which means they are loading now. The gyrations stopped, but no way that was 40,300 pounds of stuff and the light is still red – so we wait as yet. I wondered why the red light didn’t show up in the picture and then did a “DOH!” face palm. It blinks. A few more snapshots and I caught it..
The total mileage for this trip is 817 from here. If I can get in 150 miles or so today, that will leave me a 600 mile day tomorrow (par for an ”all-road” day) and a “Cakewalk” to the receiver for the 1000 appointment the next day. That’s about as far as I go for advanced trip planning these days. I have the tools to find appropriate stops and they are not rare in this part of the Country.
Loves Truck Stop, Interstate 90 exit 48, Oakdale, WI May 19, 2017
I am marooned again for an inevitable 34 hour paralysis. It’s all because of the “drive clock” silliness about which – I am sure – long-time readers are tired of hearing.
That wait at the New York cheese warehouse stretched out to 6 ½ hours. That late start was compounded by the Company calling me while I was driving to ask if I’d be on time. See, they can calculate that, and they know I have the time. But they feel the need to pull me off the road to answer their paranoid obsession.
…I was in my fifth paragraph about that when I decided to dump the subject (and four paragraphs) and get on with my life.
I was still on track to arrive promptly when I pulled off near Gary Indiana, thus to avoid Chicago at evening rush. During the post-trip inspection, I found the right-side mud flap horizontal on its bracket. The inner tire of the dual in front of same was now mostly stripped of its tread. Conclusion: the tire had shed part of a re-tread. Apparently, the “alligator” (strip of tread) flew off at sufficient energy to push the mud flap and its bracket up to parallel the road. If you have seen that episode of Mythbusters, you are not surprised. One of those things took poor Buster’s head clean off! The rest of the re-tread came off during the trip to the tire shop.
After the delivery of the New York cheese to Wisconsin, I found this nearest truck stop only 90 miles away. There is another across the highway. The route was mostly down back roads through farm country. Wisconsin seems to have a “red barn” tradition. I have assembled a montage of examples I managed to capture. There were, of course many more that I did not manage to photograph. You will note that the silos are pretty much all the same, as well. The only difference is in height. I reckon that if you are doing well enough to build a second silo, you might as well make it taller than the first.
Note that the aluminum siding on that multiplexed thing in the center is not nearly as deep red as the others and the red is on the roof, not the sides. That guy is treading on thin ice! Then there is the unashamed rebel at lower right, with his Bold Blue Barn. This is a fellow who seems to take the advice of my ex-colleague on a Seismic Party* in Venezuela – circa 1992. He was an Irish-Aborigine Australian (no – really) who once told me, “When you’re walkin’ on thin ice, you might as well dance!”
Now, I want you all to say that line – aloud – in your best Aussie accent. 😉
*That’s what they call such an oil-exploration group. There are jokes on the subject.
Over The Road,