The night sky is pretty much a mystery to most City Dwellers. The glare of city light drowns out all but the brightest stars – and planets don’t do much better. If you are interested, I can tell you where to look to see these far-off worlds. If you were not interested, you would have stopped reading after the first sentence. So, at this point, I know my audience. 😉
The moon will be near full at the time. Mars happens to be near its closest to the Earth right now, as well. The sky map can be used by printing it out and holding it (or your phone, with the chart displayed) over your head. You need to orient the chart with the sky, of course. If you know where the North Star is, use that – or there are more than one compass apps for your phone to be downloaded for free.
When this reporter was young (an era also referred to as the Cretaceous Period), it was thought that Mars must certainly harbor life – at the very least, plant life – since it showed seasonal changes that were attributed to vegetation. After a fly-by passage of the space probe Mariner 4 past Mars, it became apparent that Mars more closely resembled the crater-covered surface of our own moon. Measurements of the atmospheric pressure on the Red Planet also made it quite unlikely that life as we know it – could survive on Mars. Subsequent orbiters and landers have all failed to produce evidence of life on Mars. The seasonal changes are now known to be dust patterns. While the seasonal ice caps at the poles do contain water ice, they also are composed of carbon dioxide ice frozen out from the mostly CO2 (and extremely low-pressure) atmosphere. Despite what many ill-informed Mars enthusiasts think, a human would need – for a walk on Mars – a space suit just like those used by Moonwalkers of the 1960’s/70’s. Still, Mars would be “A Nice Place to Visit”.
Mars is where the moon is and about as bright as it ever gets. Ya’ can’t miss it!
Notice that Jupiter and Saturn are still hanging around at 8 PM – both are not far from where they were previously. You should be able to spot them unaided, but use the skymap, if not.
Mars and the moon will be up all night, not just at 8 PM, so don’t try to use that as an excuse! 😉
Foreword: I am fully aware of the stereotypical reputation of posts about cats. So, I promise not to post anything like this again for at least a year. 😉 Posted: 6/27/2020
Some pet owners attribute human-like characteristics to their animal friends. But, some alleged domesticated cats have unique dog-like traits and other qualities that defy description. Locally, there is this dingy-gray cat named Pepper (but referred to as the Princess, for her attitude) who is the same color as some spots on the concrete driveway. She frequently likes to play “chicken” with the multi-ton Ford Explorer I am backing out of the garage (as I set off to drive for Uber – that’s the connection, you see). In the pre-dawn darkness, as imaged by the back-up camera, she appears as just another spot (albeit a moving one) on the driveway. I take great care to not let her become a literal spot on the driveway. This is the same cat who will jump into open cabinets despite the dishes there found and climb into empty boxes (Figure 1).
Unlike most sane cats, she loves to get in the car and we have to tell contractors and movers in the area to double check their trucks before they leave. She would sit outside the neighbor’s window and torture the poor dogs in the house. She hopped in the Ford while I was unloading from a One, Two, Three, Etc. road trip and I found her as I took the car to turn it around. So I drove her around the block instead. Far from cowering on the floorboards, this one. See figure 2 below
This feline is watched over by a woman who calls the cat “Princess” while referring to herself as “Abuelita” (Grandmother). Abuelita makes every effort to comfort the Princess – even to the point of providing her with a special chair, covered with the cat’s own blanket and a pillow included. Please see figure 3, below.
The Princess, however, rejects the throne and prefers to spend her time in a more rustic location. Please see figure 4, below.
So, this is the lunacy that (to some degree) makes the rest of life bearable. 😉
Time Runs Out October 17, 2016 (Reprinted from WordPress – Sept 2, 2019)
You may recall the explanation of the Federal regulations on truck driving that I explained partially in The Unforgiving Clock. There is yet another onerous burden placed on the driver’s time called the 70 Hour or Eight Day Clock. That says that I cannot accumulate more than 70 hours of “on duty” time in any eight day period. That includes not only driving, but also the vehicle inspections, time at shipper or receiver and fueling times. All of those are watched over by a department back in Purgatory (NTSR) called “Compliance”. That organization is exactly as forgiving as its name implies.;-).
If drive times are moderate and on-duty-not-driving is limited, one can expect to spread 70 hours over days one through eight and then gain the hours of the ninth day back. That would let you continue to earn a pittance for all your time away from home. If, however, there are some long distance assignments that leave not much spare time, the day comes that your Eight Day Clock is down to five hours or so and you still have two hour’s worth of driving (and mucking about at the receiver) for the day and exactly zero hours to be regained tomorrow. Restoring the “fresh 70 hours” is a matter of abstaining from driving for 34 hours. The result of which is a forced “weekend” of poverty in a place you don’t want to be, when you would rather be earning a living,. Thanks a bundle, Federal Department of Transportation!
And that is why this post is originating in Albuquerque.
I am once again “Marooned” as in Thirty Four Hours in Ripon or again in Mostly Wisconsin. I know from those experiences and others that it is advisable to find some meaningful activity, thus to avoid being dragged down into the swirling maelstrom of desperate depression. Thus, this narrative becomes Queequeg’s Coffin to my Ishmael. If that metaphor escapes you, I am afraid you will have to read “Moby Dick” by Hermann Melville. You will learn more about whales than you ever wanted to know. The novel will also explain to you the origin of the name of a well-known chain of over-priced coffee houses.
I was obligated to read this in college. It was a burden at the time, as are most college assignments, but I re-read that same book I had bought for the course years later and actually found it fascinating and interesting. That was the exact same paperback edition that can be seen (on a shelf as Chekov discovers the “Botany Bay” belt buckle) in Star Trek II – theWrath of Khan, which was heavily laced with Moby Dick references. The plot involved more than one “Marooning” as well, making it doubly appropriate. Ricardo Montalban played what I consider to be his greatest role ever.
If you don’t have time to read a bulky classic of literature, you can “cheat” and see the 1956 movie of the same name. It starred Gregory Peck, who thought himself too young for the “old man” role of Captain Ahab and Richard Basehart who (older than Peck) was too old for the role of “young man” Ishmael. There was also a well-played supporting role by Orson Wells as Father Maple. If you view the trailer, Queequeg is the shirtless gent with the elaborate body and facial tattoos. While I was researching how exactly to spell “Queequeg”, I discovered arestaurant by that name. While naming establishments after characters in Moby Dick has proven wildly successful in at least one case, I feel I must point out that Queequeg was a cannibal – albeit a fictional one.
Breaking the Seal
When delivering a cargo, it is typical that the Receiver tells the Driver to break the seal, open the trailer doors and back into a warehouse cargo door. Usually the seals are plastic bands that can be broken with bare hands. Coca-Cola, however, has seen fit to make their seals with stainless steel cables. Not with a crow bar and hacksaw could I manage to sever the cable and trucks with impatient drivers were accumulating behind me while I struggled with it. The yard tractor -atypically – at least twice passed me as I struggled, without stopping. One driver loaned me a pair of wire cutters that made short work of it all. Her motives were entirely selfless since I was not blocking her rig. I returned the cutters with thanks and resolved to buy a pair before the next load.
The truck stop sells a line of tools and I found a pair of tin snips – the only candidate that might do the job. I tried them out on the remains of the Coke seal. You see the results. Not to worry, I was able to gnaw away at the cable with the pretend-tool until it finally surrendered – in a minute or two. The second photo shows what I knew that I would find on the label.
Above: It is a shame that the Company has to pay for such substandard tools.
Watch Out for That Next Wave
I reckon all of you receive unsolicited ads and promotions. I got one from LinkedIn that makes me a bit paranoid. A jackass who wants to replace truck drivers with robots.
Someone at LinkedIn figures that a 61 year-old man who took up truck driving when he was forced out of a professional position to be replaced by thirty-somethings would be interested in this neophyte who wants to drive him out of that occupation as well?
Let me think…NoThankYouVeryMuch!
The Answer is 42
My life has become my job.
Like most sweeping, unqualified statements, that one is full of unexplained circumstances and unexamined definitions of the very words that make up the sentence.
I reckon I had better start with the thoughts in my head when I first typed the words.
I spend all of my physical presence in or around this vehicle. I sleep in it, eat meals in it and I am mostly never more than a few hours away from it.
When you think about it, that – in itself – is not much more than saying that it is my home. I don’t own it, but most people do not own their own homes – at least not outright. This particular home is unusual in that it moves around the country, which is why its owners let me live in it. The “rent” I pay is by guiding it around and hauling big trailers (also theirs) that carry stuff to different places for profit. There is enough value in that pastime that they also pay me a commission based on how far I make this home travel.
My family live in other homes which circumstances allow that I visit occasionally. Most recently I visited my younger son in Dallas at his home on the University Campus there. It is unfortunate that there are few opportunities to visit Houston where my wife and older son live in the place I previously could claim was my home. We own that one! I will make it home – that particular home – around Thanksgiving for five days.
So, you see that whatever interaction I have now with my family is just something I work into the small gaps in my job. I can speak to them most any time. Using Skype or other such facility, we could actually see each other. I have not done that yet and I am not sure why.
I have noticed that the trip from shipper to receiver is the most pleasant and satisfying part of my life as it has become. The beginning and end of the trip are fraught with confusion and misspent energy. The third part is these interludes wherein I am neither loading, unloading nor traveling and that segment is the hardest to endure. It is made less onerous when I write, so you may expect more of that activity.
I have discovered that I keep writing because it hurts when I don’t.
Deep Thought (see The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
A destination is just an excuse for a journey. It is the journey that gives meaning to existence. If you doubt me, then:
Will you accept the metaphor that life is a journey?
If so, then what is the destination?
No matter what your answer to that last question, are you in a hurry to get there?
You may remember that I have been tolerating an air leak that leaves my driver’s seat on the floor after a while (please see the before and after photos below). It started out as an annoyance after a night’s break. Recently, I have been finding the seats on the floor after a ten minute fuel stop. Other drivers have noticed the escaping air noise and I wanted to get this fixed before the Highway Patrol notices. Remember that the brakes and suspension rely on air pressure – so it is not a trivial problem.
Eye-level view from the Captain’s Chair before (left) and after (right) air pressure.
The Powers That Be in Purgatory (not the ski resort) sent me a satellite mail to the effect that my tractor needed scheduled maintenance. I took that opportunity of a shop visit to request that the leak be repaired. So, after completing my last delivery in Harmony, Pennsylvania and before I accept another load I will drive to the TA truck stop near Barkeyville (I didn’t make that up) Pennsylvania.
The shop that performed the service check also changed out those near-bald drive tires that I have been putting up with for four months now. They were so bare that they would slip when driving on unpaved yards. The tractor starts out in four wheel drive but I had to shift into eight wheel drive to get any traction. I had asked the mechanics at Purgatory (NTSR) to change out those tires, but they refused.
The TA techs sent enough pictures to Purgatory to convince them to cough up for new tires, but they did not have the part to repair the air leak. Now, here I am in the driver’s lounge. It is a proper lounge with great big comfy recliners. You can see below that my fellow driver has found one and it has fulfilled the ultimate destiny of driver’s lounge recliners.
Above: Kenworth client demonstrates proper use for driver’s lounge recliners.
I appropriated the only desk in the room to indulge in my therapeutic literary activities.
Over the road trucking is not just an occupation, but rather a complete existential lifestyle. The truck feels so much like a ship that I cannot help but use such terms as “Captain’s Cabin” and “Ship’s Galley”. The truck is my mobile and very private domicile and the world as it passes, along with rest areas and truck stops are all parts of an ever changing but self-consistent existence.
Times like these, when I am “shipwrecked” are moments of alternate reality. I exist now in a circumscribed zone of quiet idleness while I depend on others to enable the continuance of the road venture. I know it could get depressing in a hurry. During those ten days in Maryland, I found diversion in expeditions on foot and mass transit. Likewise in another sentence to Purgatory I found a way to occupy my time with a visit to my son. More recently was theExcellent Day in Denver.
This particular interlude will hopefully be brief and I will occupy my time with telling the tale rather than gathering the experiences. My life on the road may strike you as a lonesome or forlorn existence. But when I encounter truck stop workers, technicians or service representatives who work in one place, doing basically the same thing every day, I count myself fortunate. Those people know exactly what tomorrow will bring – or next week or next month. I cannot say, for certain, where I will go tomorrow. Perhaps to the mountains of Northern California, perhaps to the Desert Southwest, perhaps to the limitless grassy plains of South Dakota.
As old as I am, I am still learning how to live my life in a meaningful and satisfying way. My reality as it has become is somewhat solitary, but it is my nature to enjoy solitude. My only regret is to be so long away from my family. But, this Walkabout has made me a better, stronger and more thoughtful person and I hope the brief time that I will be with them will be all the better for that development.
In addition to a Driver Manager, I have a “Counselor” who is supposed
to represent me in matters of family considerations, personal leave and
financial matters. I will admit that I doubted the effectiveness of
this set-up from the start. It may be that I am too cynical on these
matters. But I insist that I have good reason to be cynical by default.
Nevertheless, I called and told my tale to my Counselor and she did
what someone should have done before they jerked my chain around like
they did. She found a place for me to store the truck and bought me an
air ticket home. So, while I cannot forgive the despicable way they
were treating me, I can say (somewhat grudgingly) that they ultimately
did the right thing. Since I am managing to get these loads delivered on
time and safely (and at bargain prices, I might add), I have every
right to expect the right thing.
So let’s move on. The place where I left the truck is the other
Peterbilt shop in Maryland, this one in Baltimore. I made sure to tell
them about my ten-day visit to their sister “Pete Store” in Landover
where I was so long a fixture in their shop that they joked about me
being put “on the payroll”.
I am in the Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) with an
hour and a half to burn. If it were anywhere but an airport, I would
have a beer. I vaguely remember beer. But the fact that the menus
don’t mention prices and that this is the Eastern Seaboard North of
Virginia tells me that these prices are out of my league. Besides, I’ve
waited over a month and it won’t hurt me to wait until I can have beer
at merely retail prices. On the other hand, I don’t do this often.
These days I almost don’t drink beer at all. Maybe just one. In the
spirit of investigation, you see. (That wasn’t hard to get over, now was
Well, beer at BWI is seven dollars for a draft pint. I can’t call it
reasonable. Indeed I can still call it excessive, but with the
understanding that the airport will set the rents for these places
knowing that they can charge these excessive amounts and so that is what
has to happen for them to meet that rent. So, I pay the seven bucks
for a Samuel Adams draft and tip a Dollar – once.
You may remember that this all came about because they wanted me to
go back to Illinois. In a weird twist of fate, I had a layover in
Chicago before the final flight to Houston. In Chicago O’Hare Airport
(ORD), the investigative urge comes upon me again and I find that the
price of beer went is now in double digits – for the same Samuel Adams
draft. I am an old man of limited means and so I appreciate very much
that the bartender selling this expensive brew contributed his tip to
the price of my beer.
So, now I am home at that same kitchen table where you saw my “before
and after” photos. I have been to the gym this morning to swim 15 laps
and already I have some muscle tone in my upper body that has been so
sadly lacking in the last few months. I also weighed myself to find out
that I am still 70 pounds lighter than the end of last year. That is a
really good thing, since my health was beginning to notice the extra
I have “taken care of business” – most importantly to get my youngest
son to college at UT Dallas. It is a great campus for a University
that is gaining a good reputation for Computer Science. Among their
corporate sponsors is Texas Instruments, a company that invented a
little thing called the “integrated circuit”.
I dutifully spoke the required phrases that all Fathers must recite.
“Why when I was in college, we had roommates and a bathroom down the
hall with a gang shower. Not these single bedrooms and private baths. ”
“ We had to lug around big piles of hardcover books, not your fancy-pants ipads.’
“We walked to classes in the snow, uphill – both ways”.
The elder son is now a Chef and I have counseled him to become a restauranteur extraordinaire and create a gastronomic empire on the model of Pappas family – now famously successful in Houston and all of Texas.
I figure that while I am dreaming, I should dream BIG.
I also was able to make room in the overstuffed garage for the second
of four automobiles that will live here with the two resident humans
for the near future. It is perhaps ominous that cats now outnumber
human occupants in my remote and fondly remembered home.
And my lovely wife is also busy with her many interests – not least
of which is her travel agency where she creates “Dream Vacations”,
arranging cruises and tours worldwide. I am happy that in my absence,
my loved ones are industrious and well-occupied.
Me? I am also well-occupied, back in my truck in North Carolina and
bound for Orlando. This is not what I imagined I would be doing at my
age, but it has been challenging and interesting. I will continue to
ply the highways and tell my tales. I of course appreciate your
interest, Dear Readers.
P.S., I know you like when I include photos. I don’t have any that
relate directly to the text. But, the photos below are from the time in
Maryland when I visited the Air and Space Museum. And, I did mention
The rig is parked in another gigantic lot, but this one is 90% vacant. All of the spaces are “pull throughs”, i.e., no backing involved. Many Thanks for this much needed relief! This is a “Service Plaza” on Ohio’s Turnpike which is really Interstate 80. I don’t know how the state got the right to put toll booths on a Federally funded Interstate, but they have spared no expense on these installations. Besides the ample and easy parking for cars and trucks alike, there is a well-appointed building with restrooms, a food court some shops and a trucker’s area with showers, laundromat and TV lounge.
It has been two days of over ten hours of driving and there is another ten to go before my first of two stops in Massachusetts. I will split this ten with a ten hour break in the middle. It is a bit complicated, but given the time of the appointment for deliver and the distance involved, there are ten hours of driving and ten hours of mandatory off-duty between now and then no matter what. I can drive straight to the receiver and hope there is a place to hide an 80 foot truck for 10 hours or stop in the middle, probably at the fuel stop. That way, I can arrive, on time at the receiver and drive away when through. It will be a very close thing and I have asked for another hour or two on the appointment.
Just when I am about to give up and stay in a roadside park when word
comes that there is on-site parking at the receiver. I won’t be turned
away for being early and be forced creep the streets illegally looking
for a place to park. So, now I can drive straight in and stay until my
appointment at 5 AM. That went well overall, but at the very end, Jill
the Navigation voice told me “turn right” where I saw nothing but
darkness. Immediately she added, “Not allowed. Return to the route
behind you.” It is an ineffective and singularly useless thing to say
to a man driving a truck on a narrow country road, with no shoulders to
speak of and nothing but narrow residential driveways and tiny
commercial parking lots on both sides. The usual defense of pressing
Jill’s Re-route button made her say “Communications Failure”. In other
words, “You’re on your own, Sucker!”
No, I must drive ever onward as my time runs down to the tens of
minutes, desperately searching for an area big enough to allow the
turning radius I need. Think of a football field. If I go straight
across on the Fifty yard line, I can turn and come back on the Twenty.
And there I was driving blindly into the night with no idea what I would
encounter. Finally I found a small motel on a corner lot with very few
guests. There was an entrance on both the highway and the cross
street. By using every inch of pavement on the cross street, the
highway and the parking lot, I managed to reverse direction.
Jill came back to consciousness and showed me the distance to the
turn-off. The sign on the road was low and unlit, but visible from this
direction. The gate guard seemed to know the motel I mentioned. In
my experience so far, Shipping, Receiving and Warehouse staff are
polite and helpful people. The gate guard at this place was exactly
that, explaining where I needed to be an when. He even had a number for
pizza delivery straight to the truck. I had previous plans for peanut
At 6:30 the call comes to find a door and be unloaded. They finish
around 8 and bring me the paperwork. Part if this was written while I
was “hiding” over in the parking area after closing up and sealing the
load for the next stop.. I didn’t need to stay, but I have nowhere to
be. I have drive time, but it is limited by the 8 day regulations to 7
hours and 11 minutes. The next stop is 3 hours from here. I don’t know
if I can go hang out there until my appointment at 7 AM tomorrow. I
transmitted the completion message for this stop and assembled the
paperwork for this trip so far.
I looked up a Pilot truck stop (they have an iPhone App) near the
final and drove there, saving a couple of hours tomorrow morning. It
was at I 95 exit 40 in Connecticut. Why Pilot? Because that is where
the company has us fuel up and that is where I get a shower credit for
each 50 gallons. I have six left and they expire after ten days, so it
behooves me to use them. I just found a receipt from Loves (the
competition) and it says I have 4 showers there. Those expire as well
so perhaps I had better double up on showers. But, Loves doesn’t seem
to have any locations nearby.
This trip I spent two nights at rest stops and missed my chance at a
shower. This particular Pilot is an addition to a general travel shop
in what looks like it used to be a hotel. There is a saddle and some
photos of a young barrel-racing cowgirl and her horses on display on the
staircase landing. I can only guess at the story behind this exhibit.
Was she the daughter of the hoteliers back in the 60’s? This is
obviously a sentimental shrine to the racer and her horses. Perhaps she
is the elderly owner of the travel stop, these days?
The showers have beautiful pedestal sinks from the 1950’s and ugly
rusty metal folding chairs from the 1960’s. The driver’s lounge seems to
be a coin-operated pool table and what is labeled a “Theater Room”. It
really is an old-style private theater that might have screened
projected movies for VIPs at one time, long ago. I couldn’t manage to
make the camera flash to get a good photo of this darkened studio The
parking lot is off behind the fueling bays and you would not know it
was there if not for the signs that point it out and threaten to tow
your rig if you park by the fuel island.
All these spaces are accompanied by ancient fixtures with ductwork,
built on massive concrete bases. These were evidently, life support
system for trucks in the old days when it was idle your engine or freeze
to death in the winter. These would be necessary in such a setting a
half-century ago. Imagine a capacity crowd of 80 such trucks all
gathered in a spot like this and idling You younger folks, who never
knew a world before emission controls on automobiles, cannot imagine
what a dismal cloud of unburned hydrocarbons would “surround and
penetrate you” in such a scenario. The more ancient of us can see why
these things were needed, at the time. As seen in the photo, this one
has a history of “incidental contact” that may date back decades. Most
trucks have Auxiliary power units (APU’s) these days. These are
clean-running small diesel generators that keep power and heat/AC in the
I had three days of decent wages on the Kansas – Massachusetts run.
Each day was about 580 miles. But there was a twenty four hour wait at
the Shipper – common with meat plants, Also, the double destinations at
the Receivers adds another full day of minimal pay. Today I got
unloaded at the first stop and drove about 150 miles. Oh, and I got $25
for the extra drop (Ka-Ching!*).
Tomorrow, I will drive about 60 miles to the last stop and then deadhead 90 miles to the next assignment.
There is a new trip on the horizon for which I only have places and
times, so far. It looks like I will be hauling candy from New Hampshire
to Pennsylvania. This is a short (500 miles) trip spread over three
days. Despite the short mileage, it sounds interesting.
Now, my phone is dead. I expect it is the cable, because I have
replaced same three times now since I have had this iPhone. They cost
about $25 and seem to last just a few months under heavy usage. Without
my phone cannot use the Apps to find a truck stops at which to buy a
new (and overpriced) cable. I do have the address of the next pick-up.
So, there I will set off that way and see what I stumble across. I can
see that I need a back-up for the iPhone. I have become dependent upon
it. Technology has its consequences.
September 16, 2016, 2 PM Loves Truck Stop in Ripon, CA
I was on my way to Walmart in Ceres, CA in the last post. Jill had the address for Walmart, so I wasted no time getting there. Only I somehow missed the whole Walmart. Turns out it was on the corner, facing the cross street, so I turned (as directed) and drove off into oblivion. I always get a sinking feeling when that happens because I could go for many miles before I find a place to turn around. But, I found a big, empty parking lot in just half a mile. I pressed Jill’s “re-route” button and she sends me back the way I came. My speed is too low because I am scanning for that blue sign, when a Walmart truck passes me. Now I can follow him home.
I came in the wrong driveway and, even using all the pavement, I still had to hop the curb with the trailer tires. This might not have been the first time, because there were yellow posts just back from the curb. The critical problem is so far away that I can’t tell if a collision is near. Also, I am seeing it in the fish-eye mirror that makes it look even further away. Pivoting the big rectangular mirror out lets me see enough to ease the wheels up on the curb just inches from the posts and get through. My mouth gets very dry when I am doing things like this.
While I am shopping, the parking lot began to fill. A few items were forgotten, but best to exit before I get trapped by cars parking around the truck. Sometimes it seems that people think the drivers can call up Scotty and have their trucks beamed out to the highway Believe me, I have wished that many times myself.
The next stop is 18 miles away in Ripon. There is a Flying J (FJ) Truck stop and a Loves at the exit and following Jill’s directions puts me in a lot where I can see both signs. Of course, these signs are on sixty foot poles and can be seen from miles away. It is not until I have committed an hour and a half to the 34 that will reset me that I notice I am in the Loves lot, not FJ. I could “creep” the truck over without losing that break time, if I keep the speed low. But after the last software update, Jill has been saying things like “Warning! If you keep driving it may invalidate your break, which is not finished” when I move the truck while on break.
No worries, I can walk across the street to use the shower, and I did. The truck is in the backlot and the FJ storefront is almost the same distance away as the Loves. I should explain that flying J was bought out by Pilot – or the other way around. In any case, my Pilot shower credits are good there, as well. A short walk before a nap reveals that there is a supermarket just ten minutes away, past a corner of an orchard – almond trees, it turns out. In the morning I might make a nice stroll to buy those items I forgot at Walmart. This is not an activity for the afternoon, since the temperature is 101° F now that we have descended into the Central Valley of California. It was 48° in the morning in Arizona, but that was high up in a mountain pass.
I made the shower run and after a nap, I did my laundry, also at the FJ. There was time to sweep out the cab – a never ending task since the first time I step back in from the oily, greasy and litter strewn truck lot I negate any previous cleaning. Morning was a good time for a walk (58°F) and I made it to the Supermarket for “remainder” shopping. I found the bakery French loaf that Walmart did not have, milk and cookies and took pictures of the almond orchard.
Above: Almond trees ain’t much to look at. These are a frequent road-side sight along this stretch of CA 99. The almonds are seeds of a fruit that you see here (inset) dried and split open. The light brown kernel is what you see if you ever buy almonds “in the shell”.
Later, I swept out the trailer, since I may get a produce load and they are nitpicky about cleanliness. Some even insist on a washout, so my work might have been unnecessary. However, while normally trailers come and go, this particular trailer (15820T) has been with me for nearly two weeks now. It was there for the Great Massachusetts Beef Journey, the Frozen Catfish Sojourn, the Thirty Thousand Pounds of Bananas and the Twenty MulesFrozen Chicken dash to California. It was there at the Ad Hoc Truck Stop and the Tire Shop at Santa Rosa. It seems like part of the family now, so I reckon it should be clean.
To be available at Two AM tomorrow when my 34 is over, I need to sleep now. I have partaken of the previously mentioned milk and cookies as I was writing this part and they are as effective a sleep aid as any I have purchased over-the-counter at a pharmacy.
I was just awakening from an afternoon nap when a pre-plan came over the satellite link. I will be taking on a produce load in Salinas and delivering it to Denton, Texas. The pick up date is the 19th, so I sent my acceptance with a comment that I will be fully rested and ready with 11 hours of drive time and 70 hours of eight day duty at 2 AM on the 18th. It may be that I can get an early start on this load, but I have no idea if that will be possible. Of course, it is Saturday evening and I reckon there won’t be anyone available to ask.
This is as good a place as any to end this post and pick up with the new load later.