Thursday, May 31, 2007
Good news was that we were still to go to Pipestone, Minnesota to pick up boats. Bad news, and yes, there always seems to be a little bad with the good, we will have to be returning to not one, but two docks in Baltimore, Maryland. One being where we waited over 4 hours for a signature on our delivery papers. Good news, we now know how to work the system there, and we are confident that we will breeze through this time. Bad news, Craig reminds me, those chickens aren't hatched yet.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Like the main character in the film A Room With A View, Lucy Honeychurch, I too came at a crossroads in my life where I was faced with a decision to make. Should I opt for a safe, secure journey into my pre-retirement years, keeping a job that no longer gave me joy, or throw it away for a bohemian, unpredictable lifestyle in which I would be nowhere long enough to even think about putting down roots. Choosing my own Mr. Emerson, my husband Craig, I took the plunge and have happily never looked back or regretted my decision. I now have my own room with a view, and as the subtitle of this blog site states, it is my life from the passenger seat.
Everyday, sitting high up in my seat, my feet plopped up on the dash, my computer in my lap, and when Craig can tolerate it, my singing out loud and enthusiastically to music from the 70's , I get a view of life and this country I wish everyone could experience.
Just yesterday, while stopped at a rest area for a break, I sat back and enjoyed the pure pleasure of a dog enjoying a game of Frisbee with its owner. Out in the open, never growing tired of chasing down its plastic prey, they played until the owner, more tired than the dog, walked back to her vehicle and they drove off.
We get to see beautiful houses, in beautiful locations, and as we drive by I imagine what it must feel like to live in a paradise like that. But then my attention is averted to another scene, many miles away and realize that for now, I don't want to put down roots just yet. It is much more fun driving by, using my imagination and just for a moment picturing myself living wherever we might be and then moving on without the hassles of the paperwork of selling a house, and the sore back from moving furniture.
We are on our way back to Pipestone for the third time in as many dispatches. When the trailer is loaded, we will be headed to Kent, WA, to a dealer we are very familiar with, then to the Port of Seattle, with a boat destined to Hong Kong, and finally, just across the border, to Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. It is such a short trip into Canada, I'm thinking we will be in and out quicker than it will take to submit and get the paperwork approved. But , until then, you'll find me in my room, admiring my ever changing view.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Try as I might, squinting through the glaring sun, I failed to glimpse Brad Pitt fly fishing on any of the beautiful rivers I saw over the last couple of days. But I did see people kayaking, rafting, and yes, even fly fishing, getting an early start on this holiday weekend. Our country is so beautiful and if I wasn't so lucky to be sitting in this passenger seat, I would have never had seen what I have this past year.
Our routing has taken us off the main Interstates, onto roads first forged many years ago and long past forgotten for roads that will take you where you want to go just a little bit faster. I find I like the roads less traveled, as they give you the opportunity to see some of nature left untouched, unchanged by progress.
It surprised me when looking on the map that we would actually drive through the very western park of Yellowstone National Park. Although just seeing a microscopic portion of this great park, it was still awe inspiring, not only for me, but for the long parade of cars, RV's, and motorcycles we saw driving towards it like the mecca for nature lovers that it is.
Our drops went extremely smoothly in both Billings and Pocatello. We are left with one lonely looking boat on the trailer while we wait out the holiday weekend in Boise to make the last delivery Tuesday morning. The rest over Sunday and Monday will be welcomed, as we have been running pretty hard, putting thousands of miles behind us, over the last ten days.
Yes, a river runs through it.... the road is never ending....the quest to travel and see America is insatiable.... and these words are mine.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
........... then you get a glimpse of a rainbow peeking out from between the clouds. Most people who know me, know that I love the rain, love overcast, cloudy days where the temperature hovers around 50 degrees. I have been in heaven the last couple of days, the weather is cool, the skies are cloudy, and there is a crisp cool wind blowing. What I especially love iwith this weather is a fire in the fireplace, doing a little reading, cross stitching, or even baking a batch of cookies. All of which I can do from the comfort of my passenger seat, with a great picture window in front of me, albeit with a few bug splatters here and there. What I can't have is the fireplace and the baking, but then we just turn up the heat a bit and buy a cookie at the next truck stop down the road.
We were the first truck in line Thursday morning at the Bayliner Plant in Pipestone, MN and they started loading the boats by 6:30am. Since we had drove so late the night before to get there, we had to wait a couple of hours after getting loaded before we could leave. That gave me sufficient time to call the three dealerships and schedule delivery times. Billings was no problem, 750 miles away, we could deliver on Friday, Pocatello was agreeable to have us deliver on Saturday. With Boise so close to Pocatello, we were hoping they would also take delivery on Saturday. No such luck, with the Memorial Day holiday, they informed me that there would be no one there over the weekend and that we would have to wait until Tuesday morning to deliver. Well, we half expected this to happen. That gives us two days sitting idle in Boise. We are hoping to take off on foot and explore as much as we can, and if we get lucky, enjoy a movie and dinner like we did in Fargo.
So as the sun sets on another day, I'll keep enjoying my cloudy, cool days, marking off the miles on my mapping program as we get closer to Billings, and always looking for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
We had an uneventful day driving through North Dakota to the Canadian border. Approaching the border, again my anxiety level increased. As I have written before, no two border crossing are ever the same and this proved to be no exception. We must have gotten a new, right out of training, Customs Officer, as she looked to be only 18 years old. She asked us every question in the book, making sure we verbally stated our answers instead of our usual shaking of the head "no". We paused when asked if we were ever asked to go inside and talk to immigration. Now I know we have been sent to Canada a lot lately, but immigrating was not an option I wanted to utilize.
With a stamp of approval on our paperwork, we were headed to our stop for the night, Regina, Saskatchewan which was also a fuel stop. We ran into another boat hauler from another company who had been at the truck stop since Saturday. He must have been lonely with his extended stay during the Victoria Day holiday, that he seemed to stalk Craig where ever he went to chat. Safely tucked away inside our truck watching our DVD's of Grey's Anatomy, it started to rain, and continued to rain throughout the night.
Out on the road Monday morning it was like we had the entire highway to ourselves. I think the rain put a damper on the Canadian holiday and most people were staying home. With a stop in Lloydminster for a break, we arrived in Edmonton for our last fuel stop. We decided to stay at the dealership, instead of the truck stop, in hopes of being the first one there to get unloaded. We had seen several trucks with boats and not knowing if they were going to the same destination, did not want to be the last one to the dance. Sadly, we were not the first one there, as another driver was already parked to be first to be unloaded. Damn........seems we weren't the only one with a plan.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
With the four correct boats on our trailer, we spent the night in the yard of the boat plant in Pipestone Thursday night. On Friday we made it into Fargo for our 34 hour rest period to reset Craig's driving hours. We took showers, did laundry, and I even made time to get a massage with a licensed therapist at a Chiropractor's office at the Petro truck stop we were staying at. Boy did I need that as I was quite relaxed when the sky started turning dark.
What the massage didn't prepare me for was the rain, wind, thunder and lightning that came next. There were constant flashes of lightning, but what got my complete attention, was the radio station we were listening to, telling us of a confirmed tornado sighting near Fargo. I had my eyes glued to the skies scanning left and right. To my left, total darkness, but to my right I could still see some night sky through the clouds. Since there was no mad dash of trucks leaving the parking lot, I felt a bit of ease, but not until the radio station gave the all clear about 20 minutes later.After breakfast Saturday, we hit the local coffee shack for a cup of java and then wandered over to The Home Depot. Craig purchased a pneumatic impact wrench. When loading the boats still on trailers, to keep them from being to high, they remove the tires from the trailers. This new tool will make quick work of putting the tires back on the trailers after off loading them.
We took off on foot again and found a Best Buy and of course had to go in and check out the new TV shows on DVD. We decided on season 1 & 2 of Rescue Me. Craig also got a new game for his Playstation portable and I picked out a new program on CD to learn Italian.
Venturing further down the road we came upon a theater and thought we would catch a movie. We watched Fracture with Anthony Hopkins. We both give it an enthusiastic "thumbs up". After the movie we stopped by Johnny Carinos for some Italian food. Continuing with the Italian theme, we returned to the truck to watch "Good Fellows" on DVD.
With one more stop first thing this morning at the local Wal Mart to replenish supplies in the truck we will be back on the road. Thank goodness....... WHEW....we need some time to rest!
Friday, May 18, 2007
We arrived in Pipestone Wednesday morning and four hours later we were on our way back to Canada. When we were in Winnipeg, some of the employees at the dealership were talking about a holiday coming up. So when I called Edmonton to confirm our delivery, I learned that they would not take delivery on Saturday and that in deed, Monday was a holiday, Victoria Day, and that they would be closed. That left us with a Tuesday morning delivery and a three day sit. We didn't like the idea of that, so Craig took out his log book and did some figuring. We had just enough hours to make it into Edmonton on Friday afternoon. We will have to do a 34 hour reset on his driving hours, which means we can't start driving again until Sunday. Worse case is we sit until Monday for a dispatch, but at least it is one day less in Edmonton.
And here is where our little story goes awry. Between Carrington and Skyeston, ND we get an urgent message on our truck computer saying to stop immediately and call dispatch. As luck would have it, we were already pulling into a rest area, so Craig placed the call. The look on his face told me it wasn't good. Seems the loaders in Pipestone had mistakenly loaded a boat destined to another location on our trailer. You guessed it.....we headed back to Pipestone. Just think of the nightmare this would have caused if that boat stayed on the trailer and we tried to cross the border with no paperwork on it. YIKES..... I'm more than happy to retrace our route back to avoid that dilemma. Craig kept a watchful eye while the correct boat was being loaded onto our trailer.
So the run for the border is still happening, but instead of delivering on Friday, we will do a 34 hour reset in Fargo, ND and deliver the boats on Tuesday morning after the Victoria Day holiday. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to make a plan work, something comes along to throw you off. So, we'll just take advantage of our rest break and check out Fargo... yah...you're darn tootin' ..... don't cha know now.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Out of Texas and through Oklahoma, we started driving into Kansas. This particular stretch of Interstate 35 in Kansas is a toll road. What I like about these toll roads is the service areas they have every 40 miles or so. There is always plenty of room to park, and options for dining if so inclined. We grabbed a side salad from McDonalds to go with our home style microwaved meal inside the truck. This was our view out of our front window. You can see that there was no need for me to worry about tornados. Except for some wind, the weather was warm and sunny.
Up with the sunrise Monday morning we continued our journey North. Into Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota where we heard a beeping noise and Craig noticed the volt meter was not where it should be. We quickly turned off the refrigerator, microwave, and GASP.... yes, my computer. A phone call into the road service department, and we were headed to the Petro in Fargo, North Dakota. Craig had suspected it was the alternator going out and his suspicions were confirmed by the mechanic. In about an hour we had our new part and we were parked and enjoying our dinner while watching TV.
Tuesday morning we took on the challenge of the border crossing. With paperwork and passports in hand we drove up to the Customs Officer. Darn.......we needed a copy of the customs paperwork with the bar code on it. So off we went into the office to make a copy. Seems this must be a common occurrence, as the copy machine was out in the open for you to use as soon as you walked through the door. One quick copy and we were on our way again.
Now, if you ever hear Craig tell you that he works hard, just remind him of this picture. The dealership was a one man operation to off load the six boats we were delivering. We had some down time in between boats and Craig took advantage of that time to do a bit of relaxing. Ahhhhhh...... the life of a truck driver!
Sunday, May 13, 2007
I don't have anything clever to write about today. After making this trip to Pharr as often as we have the past year, there isn't anything interesting left to say, so I am left with Sgt. Joe Friday ringing in my ears..."Just the facts Ma'am." So sit back, enjoy, and read on.
We did make it into Pharr early Friday morning to drop off the trailer. As we drove by the Motel we stay at, we normally check to see how many System trucks we can see. We were surprised to count at least five. What we also didn't expect when we signed in at the Broker's yard was to see that eleven other System drivers had checked in with their trailers in the previous two days. That doesn't even count the drivers from two other companies that Brunswick contracts with that had also been there. I began counting the empty boat trailers in the yard and I counted eleven. We were both thinking the same thing.... we just might be here for a few days.
After leaving the yard we decided to run a few errands. First stop was Wal Mart, then to Home Depot so Craig could find something to McGyver a trailer fender which had lost its pin. It was only 9am and it was already 90 degrees, so off to Starbucks for something cold to drink. We ended up at Circuit City to purchase a new cell phone for Craig. His had decided it would check out, but not before I was able to forward his calls to my phone. Feeling as if we had accomplished a lot, we headed to the motel to check in. There we found several other drivers milling around, and Craig engaged in what I call "housewives talking by the clothesline" gossip and chit chat.
We decided to take in a movie, Lucky You, (mixed reviews from us) and dinner, Craig's favorite, Chinese buffet and we called it a night, but not before calling the Broker and finding out to our delight, that our trailer was on its way back to the yard. We told them we would be there first thing in the morning to pick it up.
On our way to pick up the trailer we pass by this dealership just as we have every previous time in Pharr. Craig and I have both laughed because of the name. So I ask you, would you buy a vehicle from a dealership with this name? You have to wonder if the owner couldn't think of some other line of work to go into other than car sales both new and used. But then, it doesn't sound good with anything...Boggus Tax Returns....Boggus Photos.....you get the idea.
We stopped just outside of Pharr to fax the Customs paperwork to the Broker dealing with our border crossing into Canada. Then it was off towards our fuel stop in Waco, where we stayed for the night.
The story you have just read is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Too bad the heat and the humidity is starting to creep up there too. It was over 90 degrees when we stopped at the rest area in Kentucky to reorganize the trailer. We had left it in a bit of disarray after our last drop and needed to put away the straps, ratchets and sort out the steel. I dare say this wannabe "Southern Belle" was perspiring....Lord have mercy....... but at least I knew my own home brew sweet tea was waiting for me inside the truck when we were finished.
We are always diligent in checking the weather along our route, especially in the Midwest. (Dorothy I don't know how you lived with the tornados) The map showed a lot of green and I thought to myself, rain, humidity, and heat.......forget about the tornados, frizzy hair is not far away. But as we made our way through Kentucky and then Tennessee without a cloud or raindrop I thought, those weather forecasters can't be that wrong. So as we settled in for the night in Arkansas, about 50 miles or so from the Texas border, the sky darkened, the wind picked up, and big fat raindrops began to fall. Then the thunder and lightening started. It rained so hard it looked like a river going down the pavement. Since the electricity was out in the area, the lightening flashes gave us a beautiful light show.
So with just over 700 miles to go to Pharr,and an estimated arrival of early Friday morning, we keep out a watchful eye on the sky, Craig keeps on truckin' down the road, and me......well I'm busy trying to keep my hair tamed and looking for the Chatterbox Cafe for some down home powder milk biscuits......save me a seat Garrison.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Sunday we were able to sleep in, but after getting up at midnight the previous three days, sleeping in meant 3am. Since we weren't scheduled to deliver our last boat until Monday morning, we took advantage of some down time to take showers and do laundry before driving 250 miles to be closer to our delivery location and spend the night.
If you haven't figured out by now, I love the water, and we made a point to buy our little lot where I can be near it. It doesn't matter if it's a stream, river, pond, lake, or ocean. There is just something I find comforting about it. But on the other hand, I have a fear of drowning, which you would think would be a fear of the water. Go figure. But back to our travels. The drive to our delivery took us through an area, that if I was Canadian, I would move heaven and earth to live in. The area is surrounded by lakes of all sizes, small quaint towns, trees of all kinds, and green hills. It was so beautiful I was sorry to know we would have to leave so soon, but this area was not tractor trailer friendly. Parking was at a premium and we tried not to block too much of the roadway going through town.
Now get this. We sent in our empty message and then called into dispatch to find out where we should head. We were both surprised to find out we were being dispatched to Pharr, Texas. That is almost 2000 miles empty. I thought for sure we would be sent to Minnesota to one of the three boat plants there, but Texas it is. We are happy to go as we have our routine when in Pharr. It will give us a chance to get groceries, replace Craig's phone, which is DOA, catch a movie, and of course stop by Starbucks.
But before we could get too excited about Pharr, we knew we had to get back into the USA , cross the border and deal with Customs. We headed towards the Port Huron border crossing. Previously, when we have been routed this way, there was quite a wait, first to cross the Blue Water Bridge and then to get through Customs. We were surprised to see we at least made it almost to the bridge before the back up of traffic started. After about 4o minutes of creeping slowly across the bridge and making our way to the Customs booth, we handed the officer our passports, gladly handed over $5.50 , and we found ourselves happily back in the USA.
Oh....did I mention the load of boats we are picking up in Pharr are headed to..........CANADA. At least it is only to Winnipeg, Manitoba, just a short drive from the North Dakota border. For now we head from one border to the north to the other border to the south.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Friday, May 04, 2007
This particular dispatch has us delivering to Laconia, New Hampshire, Saint-Paul-de-l'Ile-aux-Noix, Quebec, and Port Sandfield, Ontario. With the Canadian deliveries, we will, for the first time be dealing with two different Brokers for our clearance to get into Canada. I hope this does not cause us problems. As written before in previous entries, I always have a feeling of angst whenever crossing back and forth between USA and Canada. It seems no two border crossings are ever the same, so you never know what to expect. Keeps you on your toes, but I could do without the anxiety.
We have done a bit of traveling since my last entry from Wisconsin. Our routing to Johnson City, TN had us taking some back roads which are always nice for the scenic views, but not so nice for a tractor trailer rig loaded down with at 36,000 pound Genie. But we managed some steep hills, were courteous to other drivers and pulled over often to let them pass, and was able to capture a couple of nice photos along the way.
Making it into Vonore, and after getting loaded, we discovered an air leak in one of the air bags on the truck. After a quick phone call into Road Service, we were directed to the TA truck stop in Knoxville, where we got the air bag replaced, had a preventive maintenance done on the trailer, and had the truck and trailer washed.........just in time for it to rain. But that didn't hamper our incredible good luck on Thursday as we were able to accomplish all that before 9am Pacific time. We didn't have to wait in line to get any of them done. Feeling quite confident, we found a Wal Mart just seven miles from our next fuel stop and bought enough provisions to last us until we get back into the States again. After fueling up and finding the perfect parking space to call it a day, we settled in and was in bed by 4pm. Oh....did I mention we have been getting up around 1 or 2 in the morning Pacific time while we are in the East? Today we were up at midnight to ensure we get to New Jersey and our next fuel stop without having to deal too much with Friday afternoon commuters. Now where is the nearest Starbucks......I need some COFFEE !