Tag: Trucking

Ad Hoc Ergo Dormio

SteveTrucker2Sign123_Lone

10/1/2019 – Reprinted from the WordPress site

Stop & Shop DC, Assonet, Massachusetts, September 6, 2016

How I Spent Labor Day

You may remember I was headed for the final stop on a meat load.  It was another part of Massachusetts over by the East Coast.  Once again, I back into a door and they unload the truck while I either write or try to sleep.  They finish and tell me that there were some damaged goods.  Four boxes of Beef Liver at fifteen pounds each.  I have to inspect this for the claims department and dispose of it – two more of my unpaid duties.  The cardboard of the boxes is bent, but the plastic wrapper on each liver is still sealed.  In other words, this is perfectly acceptable product and it is stupid to waste it.  In talking to the freight handlers (“Lumpers”) in Massachusetts and in most of the Northeast, I find that the language spoken among them is almost exclusively Spanish.  Conveniently, I am fluent same and given my Gringo Good Looks, I am able to spring a thunderbolt of a surprise on these unsuspecting obreros.  They are frankly astonished when – out of the blue – I speak their language more eloquently and correctly than they do.  This is because I worked with Colombians and Peruvians who are quite crisp in their pronunciation and grammar.  And Bolivians (I know you’re out there;-).  I can also adopt a mush-mouth Maracaibo accent when the fancy strikes me.  But it really hurts my head to do so.  I can muster a convincing “Gringo” accent as well.  Remind me to tell you the story of the country boy surveyor in Venezeula who told the local field crew to bring their coolers over to the truck so he could fill them with ice.

I did offer the 60 pounds of liver to the Receiving clerk, who politely asked me if I was crazy.  I made same offer in Spanish and English to the Lumpers and Drivers.  No dice!  As I pointed out to one of them, if it were sir loin, they would all take it.  Heck, for sixty pounds of sir loin I would find a way to get it home. I called (from the receiving phone) to the Salvation Army and another charity.  Neither was open for Labor Day, but the Salvation Army God-Blessed me on their voice mail message.  Finally I left with the 60 pounds of liver figuratively hung from a twine around my neck like an albatross.  At the gate I have to open the cargo doors to show that I’m not pilfering and I mentioned the liver to the guard.  He called a Catholic food bank director who came over personally to take the liver off my hands.  The guard let me linger in the 5 minute parking until the director showed up. Apparently this kind of scenario happens frequently.  That is, the damage is limited to the container while the product is completely intact.

While that was transpiring, I got a message that my load from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania had been canceled.  A new load from New Jersey to Laredo took its place.  While I was deadheading (driving with an empty trailer) to New Jersey,  that load was also canceled.  Fortunately, it was another New Jersey shipper, so the travel wasn’t wasted.  But, I ran into traffic coming back from Labor Day and decided that attempting New York City was best left to the wee small hours of the morning.  Every last space of the fuel stop parking was taken, but I found a “Service Plaza” before the Bronx.  It was from there, on the public WiFi that I got a message out about the “graveyard dead” iPhone.

On to New Jersey , Lucca Cold Storage Vineland, NJ

The drive in the morning was astonishingly uncomplicated.  Truckers complain about the George Washington Bridge mostly because the lanes are narrow, but I found both the bridge and the river quite  scenic.  Admittedly, it was like the following:  Jerk head to left, briefly look at river, then eyes back to the road in a hurry. The same on the right.  Yup, scenic!

I got to the new shipper where more Spanish speaking Lumpers loaded my truck with exactly four pallets that took up about the first six feet of the 53 foot trailer and did not rise above 4 feet in height.  The total weight is 590 pounds.  Frozen catfish – destined for two different Wal Mart distribution centers in Texas.  This trip makes no economic sense at all.  I will burn about 250 gallons of diesel fuel to get this relatively tiny load to Texas.  Between that, my pay and the overhead it already will cost over two dollars a pound just to put the product on the shelf.  But, as long as they  still pay the going rate, who am I to complain? Far from it.  The light load means I will not have to play the downshift game while climbing hills.

The loading was two hours late, there was confusion about the tiny size of the load and the flashing red light that told me not to move refused to go out.  The Company (that’s what I will call the people I work for, from now on) thinks that this is a produce load.  They have certain rules and procedures for produce that are stricter  and require more free work from the drivers.  There is no possibility of convincing the system that fish is not produce, so I need to report a set of read-outs from the refrigeration unit every 12 hours. I took care of all these niggling details, sent my required messages and hit the road.

All that took a lot of time out of the middle of my driving day.  So, now my 14 hour total on-duty span was eating up 11 hour clock, but I had about 4 hours left to drive.  It was counting down whether I was driving or not, so I hastened to make use of the time.  There is no “taking a break” in this situation.  The remaining drive hours just counts down at 60 seconds per minute, no matter what.

You Can’t Get There From Here

Ultimately, I was caught out.  I ran into traffic around Washington and Baltimore and wound up in a race to get to I-81 in Virginia and the truck stop at exit 323.  I lost.  Jill had routed me down state highways and I was paralleling I-81 and needed to jog over to it and go back North to the exit.  Time was running out and when I stopped in front of a restaurant to tell Jill where the truck stop was and check the mileage left. I found I had 24 miles to go and 15 minutes do it.  The truck doesn’t go that fast.

Panic ensued as my mind raced to think of a way out of this nightmare. A slow dawn arose in my brain as I realized I was looking about 150 feet past the closed restaurant at a patch of land with a long abandoned parking lot where grass was growing out of cracks in the asphalt.  I pulled up and backed the truck into it and managed to get 50 feet between the cab and the highway.   I was back toward the trees in a reasonably inconspicuous place to hide for 10 hours.  I was trapped there by Federal Regulations for the time being.

About an hour later, another truck shows up.  The driver is Russian and asks me if it’s OK to park.  He is in the same regulatory limbo as I am.  I generously welcome him to my new truck stop. I am calling it The Ad Hoc Truck Stop (#1).

Ad hoc is a Latin phrase meaning “for this”. In English, it generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and not intended to be able to be adapted to other purposes.

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Above: Kenworth # 12946 at the Ad Hoc Truck Stop (#1).  I turned off the lights right after this and tried to “blend in” to the trees.

By the time I am fully charged with drive time at five AM, there are two more trucks parked over by the still closed restaurant.  There is a real estate broker’s sign here that advertises this as income producing property.  While the spot seems quite popular as a truck stop, the trouble is that unless you sell fuel, truckers are pretty self-sufficient.  For example, I have had dinner, watched television, slept comfortably through the night and then awakened and had breakfast with a cup of coffee. I have not spent a dime. No restroom facilities, but I did need to check the tires for leaks during the night.

Let’s See This Through to the End

Wal-Mart Distribution Center (DC) #6056, Terrell, Texas, September 9, 2016 9:40 AM

In the interest of having something complete to move on from, I will finish the sage of the frozen catfish.  By the way, these were “Farm Raised” catfish.  I had seen the words “Wild Caught” on the Bill of Lading earlier, but upon further investigation, it was only one item per pallet listed as such.  It is the data logger that records the temperature history of the cargo.  Somebody in New Jersey has a sense of humor.

I am waiting to be unloaded at the Wal-Mart DC in Terrell, Texas. I was 50 minutes early. Their system is for me to back in the door and then uncouple and move my tractor to a parking area. I had the trailer in the door about 7:45.  So, now my trailer’s refrigeration unit (“Reefer”) is trying its best to bring the entire warehouse down to 34° Fahrenheit while they ignore the now thawing two (2) pallets of frozen fish (that I had watched over like a new mother for 1500 miles).  It has been an hour and a half. The warehouse is kept cool, but it is nowhere near 34F.  The powered pallet jacks these guys drive can unload both pallets at once and get it to cold storage in less than 10 minutes.  I could have used an unpowered pallet jack and walked both to the freezer in 30 minutes.  I could have hand carried all the boxes in less than an hour.  The other DC’s cargo is also thawing in my now-opened-for-the-first-time-since-sealed trailer.

Very soon, I will again be into the 14 hour clock eating my driving time again.  I need at least 5 hours of drive time and to arrive at the truck stop near the final by 4:30 PM.  That will allow me to get to the last stop (another Wal-Mart Distribution Center) on time.  Being late will, of course be heaped at my door.  No matter that another Wal-Mart DC made me late.

Flying J Truck Stop, New Caney, Texas, September 9, 2016 8:50 PM

Once again, I exist at this Oasis in Limbo where all of us are prisoners of the Clock, serving out our 10 hour sentences so we may drive again.  Over the road truckers are adrift in time.  Some of us here are just waking up, some here for the 30 minute mandatory break in the middle of a driving day, some finally collapsing in the sleeper after a 600 mile sojourn.

Word came that Louis, my oldest son, is in the hospital for Diverticulitis again.  I called to talk to him.  They don’t think an operation will be necessary, but he has been in serious enough pain to merit a morphine IV.  He seems mostly irritated at the prospect of another boring hospital stay.  I am encouraged, because grumpy people are usually not seriously ill.  It’s when they give up and become polite and co-operative that you have to worry.  My father had been like that in his final hours.  I mentioned that I could possibly come by to see Number One Son, but he told me to get another load and earn more money.  He has no doubt been listening to his mother worry about expenses, now that I have joined the ranks of the underemployed.

At midnight, my eight day, 70 hour clock picks up the 10 hours and 43 minutes I used up nine days ago, making 11 hours and 29 minutes.  I will awaken at a quarter till two, when my 11 hour clock is renewed after the ten hours in Limbo.  The 14 hour clocks start when I log my pre trip inspection, shortly before I leave to deliver the last of the catfish.  That should take exactly two hours at the DC, since they would have to pay me to stay longer.  That is called “detention pay” and was a procedure adopted when drivers refused loads to certain abusive DC’s who burn up all their drive time while they wait to be unloaded.  I have it from knowledgeable sources that Wal-Mart DC 7010 would drag out unloading for seven hours, throwing away the drive time of drivers who – like me for the last few days –  have their 11 hour clock consumed by the 14 hour clock.  When they do that, it is like they reached into the driver’s pocket, pulled out a hundred dollars or so, and burned it in front of his eyes.

Now that they have to pay drivers some little pittance, they are suddenly all about efficiency, getting them in and out of the doors in exactly the free two hours.  We will pick up the story tomorrow at the End of Trip.  I’ll go use up one of my shower credits now.

Wal-Mart Distribution Center (DC) #7010, New Caney, Texas, September 10, 2016 3:53 AM

I hit the “rack” to have a short nap before going for a shower.  There had been 14 showers available at 3 PM.  At 8 PM there were 0 (Zero), so maybe after the final drop.

This DC has us break the seal, open the doors, bump the gate at the door and then uncouple and pull up about five feet.  All this is to assure they won’t find the trailer moving while they ignore the thawing load for an hour or so – oh, and when they actually unload.  I almost had an opportunity to unload myself and possibly capture the $50 they will pay to take two pallets to the freezer.  It would have taken me less than a half hour, with a human-powered pallet jack, or maybe an hour carrying the 112 Gorton’s boxes in by hand.  But, the Company has generously already agreed to pay that automatically to the illegal aliens – through a sub-contractor with legit credentials, of course.

It has been a full hour since I bumped the dock and the light in my mirror is still green, which means they have not even begun to think about unloading.  My “Arrived” message and the gate records say I got here at (actually 20 minutes before) my appointment.  I would bet you $100 that the call from Receiving telling me to pick up the paperwork will come at 5:10 AM – the “free” limit, before Detention Pay.

Detention Pay is really just a bunch of Fairy Dust, promised but never delivered.  I looked it up. I would be (would be) paid $12.50 per hour for up to ten hours after the two free hours (they actually call them “free hours” in the Driver’s manual).  This is payable in half hour increments, rounded off low. That price is about 80% of what I could make actually driving   I will never see it anyway, but at least the threat of detention pay keeps the Receivers from stealing the drivers’ time.  As we all know, Time is Money.

To sum up all this talk about clocks and limits:

  1. Drivers have a limited time per day – eleven hours – to drive, regardless of when it is done.
  2. Drivers must do all the day’s driving within a 14 hour window regardless of how much break time is done in that window – except when a continuous ten hour break occurs. Then another 14 hour window can begin.
  3. If pick up or delivery happens in the middle of the day and the delay exceeds three hours, now the Shipper/Receiver is taking hours that could be earning hours and turning them into “free” hours.
  4. The Eight Day 70 hour clock can also consume driving hours. On the 8th of September, for example, I had 11 driving hours and fourteen hours to do it.  But, because my eight day clock was down to 7 hours and 44 minutes, that is all I was allowed to drive. The next day I “got back” 10 hours and change that I had used nine days before.
  5. And why this obsession with driving? Because, my friends, driving is the ONLY thing that actually results in wages.  All the other stuff I have been telling you about is stuff I do for free so I can drive and make a living.
  6. By now you have heard more than you wanted to know about Federal regulations on trucker’s time and I will give that subject a rest, as well.

The empty call came about half an hour earlier than the two hours I expected.  I went to Receiving to get my paperwork and found out why.  There is a line of drivers waiting for documentation while the clerks finish it up.  Clever.  The call is the event logged as the end of the driver’s wait.  How long the driver stands in line for paperwork does not apply to detention pay.

To end the Saga of the Catfish, I will include a photo that captures the now empty trailer’s futile attempt to air condition the world as I pull it out of the door to close up and move on to a new cargo.

trailercoolstheearth

Above: Trailer 15820T makes a valiant effort to bring down the Earth’s temperature to 26° Fahrenheit. Alas, 53 feet away is the hot end of the refrigeration cycle dumping all the heat the trailer sucked out of its interior.

Albuquerque

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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.

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Above:  The Flying J Truck Stop parking at Albuquerque – whose lights are seen in the distance.

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 – the Wrath 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.

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Above:  Moby Dick Edition in a library of literary references in Star Trek  II

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 a restaurant 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?

Over The Road,

Steve

 

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Notes From the Drivers’ Lounge

stevetrucker2 “Reprint” from the old WordPress site…

 

 

November 15, 2016

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.

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 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.

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Above: Here is the Clintonville (I didn’t make that up, either) Kenworth shop.  In addition to this car lot, there are two more huge mostly-empty parking areas for trucks and trailers.  This is a far cry from the claustrophobic Peterbilt store in Landover Maryland.

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.

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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 the Excellent 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.

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Over The Road,

Steve

Too Briefly, Home

SteveTrucker2
Sign123_Lone

Another Masterpiece from the WordPress site


August 16-21, 2016

Baltimore Washington International Airport

Chicago O’Hare Airport

Home in Houston

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 it?).

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 stress!

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.

Like:

“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.

http://www.pappas.com/about/pappas-history/

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.

Stay tuned!

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 Maryland.

IMG_1589
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Fool Me Once…

SteveTrucker2
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From the old WordPress site…

Aberdeen, Maryland

August 16, 2016

The 25 hour lay-over completed, I drove to the final delivery, checked in for a door and backed in to be unloaded.  This was a well-laid-out docking area that had widely spaced doors and a long run-out in front of mine.  That did not stop a fellow trucker from parking across my long run-out to make it another high-angle parking situation.  So, again the ordeal of maneuvering the trailer backwards into a gap.  This time the gap was a bit bigger, though.  And, I seem to be getting better at this.

I thought of how to explain this and came up with the following analogy:

ParkingDiagram

Line up two dominoes with a gap between them that will fit a third domino with a small gap on either side. See the diagram above.

Once you have the “Start” laid out, put one hand in your pocket, then push on the center of the end of the third domino where you see the red diamond shape.  No fair pushing on the corners!  Now push that third domino until you have the “End”  configuration.  If the moving domino touches the others, you lose.  It would, of course be much easier if your moving domino were lined up – parallel and straight in front of the gap.  That is what I mean by “long run-out”.   Imagine doing this exercise with three hundred-thousand dollar vehicles (more with cargo), looking back at the trailer through the driver’s window and in mirrors. This from70 feet away.

I have to do that about once every two or three days.

Anyway, I got to the receiver, sent that status to the company and backed in to be unloaded.  They unload the trailer by driving a heavy forklift into it and picking up a multi-ton stack of cargo and exiting.  They do this hundreds of times a day and have gotten very fast at it.  The result is an earthquake-like shaking in the cab for an hour or two. But, in the meantime the long-awaited message will come that will tell me to pick up a load and take it to Texas and home.

Only, the message says go pick up a load and take it to Illinois – delivering on the second day of my pre-planned and approved home time (only Illinois ain’t my home). I put in for this break over a month ago and while I was in Purgatory (not the ski resort) they asked again and I requested the same and they approved it again.  Must be a mistake, right?

I call.

“Well,” they say,. “It will be easy to get you a load out of Illinois to Texas”.

If you read my previous post, you know that I have just come from Chicago.

That’s in Illinois.

I went there from Maryland because they said it would be easy to route me home from there.  Then they said, they had nothing from there and I could get a load home from Maryland.  So, I went to Maryland.

Somebody is being less than honest with me.

The load assignment has an acceptance auto-reply where I answer “yes” to the assignment and have an option to comment.  I answered “NO” and commented the story I just told you.  Some severe editing was needed to get that into the two line comment field. Then I went looking for a place to park.  But, this too shall pass and what else could go wrong?

Severe Thunderstorms.

Parking for big trucks is a critical problem in this part of the country, as my previous post mentioned.  There was a truck stop, nearby and it was one of those where you pay to park, but “any port in a storm”, as they say.  There was not one space left open.  I left.  The first two hours in this place are free (and darned well worth every penny, as it turns out) so, I didn’t have to pay to be turned away.  I drove toward the nearest stop I could find on the “apps” which is fifty miles away.  There is no real hope that they will have space, but what else can I do?

Along the route (North on Interstate 95), there is a rest stop with truck parking, fuel and a big food court called Maryland House.  I’ve been there before.  It is hidden from the road and requires a left exit where the left lane is forbidden to trucks. Truckers often take their 30 minute breaks at places like this, so there was a chance I could find a recently-vacated space.  I did and I am there now.

It is four AM and there is still no word on my load home.  I will probably be denied my home break.  But, it will be denied by a human being on the phone – not by anonymous satellite message.  There are certain levels of decency that I expect out of life and this is one of them.

Then, I’ll go back to Illinois.  But I will remember this shabby treatment for a good long while.

Once More to The Vestibule of Hell

stevetrucker2This is yet another post that was languishing over at the WordPress site.

September 27, 2016

“Stay away from Dallas”. 

This sage advice is from me to myself.  I am in Denton, Texas, “sitting in a door” awaiting the unloading of produce from California.  A “preplan” has just come across the satellite link that tells me my next load will be picking up at the Coca Cola Syrup Plant in Dallas.  The destination is Denver for 840 miles – a two day trip that will undoubtedly be stretched into four days, as we discussed in earlier Chapters.  But, I accept the load because I really have no choice.

Now for the Rest of the Story:  A note from someone named Billy  says I should bring my load to the Yard.  So, you see the lesson is clear:  Stay away from Dallas.

I called my Driver Manager to Confirm this – since I have no idea who “Billy” is – and, yes I have to make an appearance in Purgatory (not the ski resort (NTSR)).  One reason is a physical exam , after the third such in the last nine months.  I passed them all, by the way.  The first and third exams  had a one year renewal.  But, since my livelihood is apparently a low priority, I have to go in for a forth.  Today is Friday.  Since it its nearly 4 PM and the light is still red – meaning I cannot yet leave the door – there is no way I can get there during “office hours” – and I suspect the Doctors do not work on Weekends.  So, unless I miss my guess, this will be three or possibly four more days of  ungainful unemployment.

The unloaded message from Target has come.  The light is still red but when it changes I can go to Coca Cola and then to Purgatory (NTSR).  Meanwhile, my clock has run out completely and utterly.  The Coca Cola Plant policy is – as I many times said as a bartender – “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”.  I had told the shipping clerk that if I could not be loaded in two hours, I would come back in the morning.  That particular clerk was not among the Polite and Helpful Shipping Personnel of whom I have written before. He ignored my advice completely.

While the clock was ticking down, – in anticipation of what finally did occur – I had called “Night Safety” and asked for advice.  Their sage counsel was basically this: “Call me when you actually fall off the cliff.”

One thing I have learned in this occupation (maybe I should start a list) is:  When you have an insoluble problem, ask the people in the plant because they have seen this a hundred times before,”  The first choice is the Yard Tractor Guy,  If he is unavailable (being very busy), ask the man who brings you your paperwork.  That helpful and cheerful individual clued me in to some big parking lots to be found about a half mile away.  I chose a Lowes lot, because, on the way in I had stopped there to confirm directions.  There was an old trailer parked there that I could hide behind to avoid any questions from the Local Constabulary.

I was officially “off duty” and I creeping the truck at 10 MPH – flashers going – I manage to stay that way to find the Lowes.  I also find another truck who has taken my hiding place behind the abandoned trailer.  One look by the loading docks finds tow-away warnings with certain words in bold font.  There was, however a string of about 10 conventional parking spots – off the side of the building, but in full view of the street.

Calling Night Safety is no longer useful since they may  well tell me to move.  And I have no confidence in their advice now anyway.  So, I mentally prepare my defense for the sin of parking.

  1. That sign that says no parking anytime (with emphasis) cannot possibly apply to me here because: What are these spaces between the eight lines that I am parked over?  That’s right – “Parking Spaces!”
  2. Yes, I have taken nine of them, but I can point to hundreds of empty spaces out in front of the store.
  3. I have every right to park here, because I am a customer. I need to buy a screwdriver.  I find that the store is closed now, but I don’t mind waiting.
  4. I will be leaving at 4:30 AM. Please tell me if the other spaces fill up before then.

September 27, 2016 Pilot truck Stop outside Amarillo, Texas

Back in Purgatory

The “Yard” is a singularly depressing place.  Every driver there is earning nothing. When I arrive, I am handed a list of tasks I must accomplish in order to escape Purgatory (NTSR).  I find that I will be here at least three days between safety lectures and the physical exam.  A few of the safety items are accomplished before the office staff goes home at noon, Saturday.  The remainder must wait until Monday.  With few exceptions, every driver here is trapped without transportation.  You don’t just drive these trucks when you think you want to go somewhere – you must be “dispatched” and you won’t be, until your list is complete and signed off.  There are two “loaner” cars for the untold hundreds of drivers.  The waiting list is three hours long and the car must be returned within one hour. The entirety of Saturday afternoon was consumed with one trip to Walmart.  This was urgent, since the truck’s food supply has dwindled to “Spam Rations”.

Sunday was shaping up to be especially dismal, having literally nothing to advance the cause of getting out of Purgatory (NTSR).  I thought of my son Benjamin now attending college classes about 50 miles from Purgatory.  I would like to visit him, but that would be a trip out of the one-hour-loaner-car range.  A taxi is financially counter-indicated in my current circumstances.  Fortunately, Dallas has an extensive mass-transit rail system that nobody seems to know about. I hatched a plot to make a Great Railway Journey to The University of Texas at Dallas (which is really in Richardson, Texas).  Some research came up with this route:

Take the 597 bus that stops right in front of Purgatory (NTSR).  That takes me to Lawn View train station.  From there I take the Green line downtown and transfer to the Red Line which takes me almost to Plano.  I get off at City Line/Bush station and take the 883 UTD shuttle.  About two hours and fifteen minutes each way.  Since the alternative was to cool my heals in Purgatory, I decided to make the journey.  The price was right, being a five-dollar day pass.  I noticed that it was good until Three AM the next day.  I am quite sure this is because bars close at Two.

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Above:  The trip plan to UT Dallas.  The Astute Reader will notice that this is actually a picture of the return route.

img_1885Above: The Green Line station at Lawn View

img_1893Above: Benjamin’s Dormitory Building.  His window is third from the left on the second floor. Like almost every building on Campus, it is very new.

img_1894Above:  The lobby at Benjamins Dorm.

img_1895Above:  Benjamin

So, instead of a depressing and lonely vigil of hopelessness, Sunday had become an interesting trip to spend some time with my beloved son.  There is, after all a reason not to avoid Dallas.  For this much-needed relief I was truly thankful.

Benjamin took me to lunch and then we went shopping at Walmart.  That was yet another bus ride.  The stop outside Walmart was littered with abandoned shopping carts. I, your humble narrator, pointed out (ostensibly to Benjamin, but meant to be overheard by the mass of scholars there assembled) that the arriving student-shoppers could choose a cart from this stash and take it in with them.  I set them an example, but none of the “Future of America” saw fit to join me.  They did select carts at the door, however.  And no doubt they added to the collection at the bus stop on the way out.

img_1896Above:  The bus stop at Walmart

img_1903Above:  City Line / Bush Station, on the way back to Purgatory.  The emergency equipment was  there when I arrived for some poor commuter who somehow fell and was trapped between the bench and the partition that you see under the awning at left.  I didn’t rush over and photograph him, since I am sure he was dying of embarrassment, in addition to the nasty bruises I noticed as they put him in the ambulance.

There is some good that comes of this unwilling visit to Purgatory.  Mechanics replaced the duct taped improvised oil filler cap that I made from a fish oil pill bottle with a real oil cap and replaced the lost oil – five gallons of same. They also repaired the tractor suspension airbag that was leaking.  While I was in safety class and getting my blood pressure checked, they replaced my cracked windshield.  They transferred the EZ pass for tolls and the Prepass indicator for weigh stations to the new windshield.  One particular windshield-mounted item did not make the transition and I won’t miss it one bit.     (Update:  Since I am no longer employed by Stevens Transport I can tell you that the item in question was the “1984 – Big Brother Camera” (84BBC) that watched over me for those months before the windshield was replaced.  I did not mention it before because, in my Paranoia, I imagined that Stevens might read my blog and call me again to Purgatory for a replacement of the 84BBC.)

There was also a problem with the air-suspension seats, which tend to leak down while the engine is off and leave the driver looking eye-level at the steering wheel.  They did not get to that problem of the leaking seats but I can live with those.  When the engine is running the seats rise to comfortable height.  It would have taken longer and I needed to get on the road to actually earn a living.

On Monday, after all my assigned tasks were complete, I received a load assignment to take bottled soft drinks to Denver.

Over The Road,

Steve

A Most Excellent Day in Denver

Homepage     Portfoliostevetrucker2mariluslogoclickhere

 

November 6, 2016      (Transferred from the WordPress site)

Pilot Truck Stop # 316, I-70 exit 276A, Denver, Colorado

All my plotting for a “day tour” in Chicago had been blasted to tiny bits by events as they materialized from the continuum.  Happenstance had its way with my plans which now lay in ruins.  Well, to paraphrase a nameless stereotypical Mexican Bandit in the Movie “Treasure of the Sierra Madre”, “Plans? We don’ need no estinking plans!”.

This current location has a train station less than a mile away.  Yesterday, I found out the hard way that it might as well be on the moon if walking there is contemplated.  A stroll yesterday revealed that there is a big ugly gash in the Earth and an excessively large grain elevator that separates the station from the truck stop and the rest of the world.  I could see busses and trains in the distance, but the route to  get there was not forthcoming.  I figured out that it might be possible to walk down the elevated freeway to get there.  I am not so inclined.

aerialphotoanoteAbove:  This view from Google Maps (obviously an older photo) shows the area where the new station was built in red.  The Gash is pointed out by the blue arrow, the Elevator by the Yellow and the location of the truck stop is off stage to the left.

There is a bus stop diagonally across the street from the truck stop.  It is the number 44 bus that takes me around the gash and the elevator to the shiny new station.  The bus stop ain’t much to look at (below).

busstopaintmuchtolookatAbove: The bus stop in question.

StationElevatorMountainsDay.jpgAbove: The station’s newness is obvious.  The grain elevator is seen.  The Rocky Mountains loom in the distance.

The train took me to Union Station in Downtown Denver.  From there we find free shuttles down Broadway that end at the Capitol.

coloradostatecapitalAbove:  The Capitol Building of the State of Colorado.  It is currently under construction.  The cost and delays are a subject of local dispute.

capitoldomeAbove: The Capitol Dome from within.

 

Rest Area at I70 exit 224, Kansas.

A new load assignment came in to interrupt the story.  Deadhead to Dodge City Kansas for a load of beef to bring to Omnivores in Maryland.

Denver also has a nice big city park where the Zoo and Museum of Nature and Science are found.  Both are worthy of a visit, if I had the time  – even at the steep prices of admission.  As it was, I wandered around and got some good photos.  Remember, this is about the journey, not the destination.  The park is reached by a bus near the Capitol to Colorado Avenue.

WolfStatues.jpgAbove: Wolf statues in front of the Museum.  These are obviously not “hands-off” art since there is a sign warning that the brass wolves may be really hot. 😉

mastadonstatueAbove:  A Mastadon statue based on some remains found at a construction site.  Truly a  Magnificent Work, in my humble opinion.  The scale is not obvious and I had no one to put in the picture for reference.  I estimate the tip of the animal’s trunk to be 18 feet off the ground.

lakeandskylineAbove: A view of the park’s lake and the Denver skyline with the Rocky Mountains in the distance.

About this time I got nervous about leaving the truck, so I went back to check on it.  A bus takes me North to that same rail station and I go back to the truck stop on that same #44 route.  As I arrived, there was a moment when I did not see the truck.  It was hiding behind a new arrival.  See it there behind the Square-nose Peterbilt?

trucklurkingbehingkenworthAbove:  My truck is there, hiding behind the Peterbilt, just to scare me. By coincidence there is a Freightliner in the foreground and a Volvo past my Kenworth.  Those four represent maybe 90% of the trucks on the road in the US. 

I ventured out in the afternoon to see the airport.  I could have  cut the $9 day pass to $4.50 without the airport, but that particular Denver facility has a storied history of cost overruns  and a baggage system that would make a Rube Goldberg machine look like the picture of efficiency.  It was so horrifically bad that the airport sat idle for 16 months after its completion and scholarly studies and analyses by consulting firms were done analyzing this massive failure.  The airport and baggage system costs ballooned from$700 Million to something like FIVE BILLION DOLLARS.

All this, with pictures after the next leg of the Kansas to Maryland Beef Transit.  I have to sleep now.  Life is keeping me busy, and unexpectedly happy.

Flying J Truck Stop, I-70 near Effingham, Illinois  

That same bus gets me back to the train station and I am whisked off in the out -of-town direction.  Before long, the cityscape disappears and the countryside ensues.

AirportNeighborhoodBlank.jpgAbove:  On the train to DIA.  East of Denver, the landscape is not what comes to mind when “Colorado” is uttered.

AirportTelephonePoleMystery.jpgAbove:  This construction of telephone poles on stilts greets new arrivals at the airport.  There is mirror image of this on the other side.  Their artistic significance was not immediately obvious.

airportarchitecture1Above: The Westin Hotel, left makes a bold architectural statement.

AirportArchitecture2.jpgAbove: Across from the Hotel the airport terminal is another statement that clashes dramatically with the Westin.

Note the aluminum “grassland” in the foreground.

WindSculptureReveal.jpgAbove: The Aluminum Alfalfa Field (I made that name  up) is a wind-driven mobile sculpture.  Its charm was mostly lost on this windless day.  While I can imagine that interesting waves and ripples would be generated,  I am an old techno-nerd.  I suspect that the people – especially young folks – now are so jaded by Computer Generated Images that they are not impressed by such things.

TelephonePoleSculptureReveal.jpgAbove:  The telephone poles viewed from the upper level, outside the hotel

I had plans to see other lines on the transit system, but it was getting late in the day and I would need to roll to Kansas at 5:00 AM.  I will no doubt be back this way and there is a line to Golden that might be interesting.

The weather was perfect for an entertaining and interesting day.  Even though I am marooned again for a day and a half, instead of boredom and depression I find contentment and purpose in a different sort of journey.

I said at the beginning of this Walkabout that did not know what I would learn.

Here is the first conclusive lesson.  It requires some explanation:

I have traveled a great deal in my life and I have always found it compelling and satisfying.  Looking back – I had not always sought out occupations that involved travel, but they seemed to have found me nonetheless.  When I found myself trapped in an office job in a windowless gang-office in Houston, I found a way to transfer to a part of the same company that works in the field (jungle, desert, mountains) in South America. There was no “transfer policy” in said company, as they did not expect people to want to move to the field.  It seems that “normal people” wanted to come in from the field and work in an office.  If you have not discovered this independently by reading my posts, let me just admit right now that I am not “normal”.

There were many reasons for my intention to go and work abroad, none of which had anything to do with travelling.  The most important result of that decision is my wife, who I met in Caracas, Venezuela (she is from Peru) and the family we have raised.  Beyond that, I found that travelling back and forth to the field was the most pleasant and interesting time, despite the sadness of leaving the family and the joy of returning.

Having said that, this latest change in my life has made clear what I knew only vaguely before.  That is: I am most content and my soul most at ease when traveling. With the exception of my family, the destination is just the excuse for the journey.

Steve

Update:  I-70 Tollway Travel Plaza @ Mile marker 112 in Pensylvainia.

My journey  from Denver to Maryland has thus far passed through Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.  I noticed Trump signs early on and kept a rough count.  There were about twenty seven (27), some in every state.  The largest was a billboard about 20 feet across.  The smallest was a custom made sign in West Virginia that said “Trump Digs Coal”.

As you may know, West Virginia coal miners have been begarded into poverty by a cruel and hateful Obama who is running coal companies out of business for no good reason*.  Hillary promises to do the same.

There were no Hillary signs to be seen – anywhere..

*Don’t argue with me, I know what I am talking about. 🙂

Thirty Four Hours in Ripon

stevetrucker2 Transferred from WordPressmariluslogoclickhere

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.

almondorchardandinsetAbove:  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 Mules Frozen 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.

Good Night.

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.

Over The Road,

Steve

Somewhere in Oklahoma

stevesafetyglassesJanuary 11, 2019      homepage

Many of my readers will be happy to know that I have again found employment in the Seismic Industry – as much out of friendship as of appreciation that I will not be complaining about being unemployed.  I will be somewhere in Oklahoma for a few weeks  A project in Texas is penciled in for later.  The client has rules about posting photos and project information, so I am intentionally vague.  If you are also in Seismic, you can guess who the client is.  The company may have such rules and so they will be referred to as “the Company”.  The photo below is not related to the project or the Company.  (As far as I know, the project does not extend to the sky).  This is an example of  “Sundogs” which is a pair of bright spots of refracted sunlight that illuminate a cloud layer.  This is fairly rare and I have seen it maybe 5 times in as many decades.

sundogs_crop_arrows2

A rainbow, by comparison, is both reflected and refracted and appears in the sky opposite of the sun.

Below (left) in my Personal Protective equipment.  (Yes, I will trim the beard soon) hardhatsteve

My job is driving the fuel truck. Fortunately for me, haz-mat drivers are in demand just now.    I don’t have a lot of spare time, so stay tuned!

Hasta Luego,

Steve