Sunday, June 29, 2008
Now Craig had one of those Twix commerical moments. You know the one, where you are presented with a question, and you're not quite sure how to answer it and you wish your mouth was full with a Twix bar, so you would have time to think? So Craig hesitantly says, "Yes, I am", and me being the woman, I'm thinking to myself, "Why, do we look and dress like truck drivers"?. But hoping that it was Craig's TWT hat that was the giveaway to the trucking profession, the man hands over two coupons for a free breakfast. How about that? We hit the jackpot and didn't have to even play a slot machine.
The man then told us, he was a truck driver too, and wasn't going to be using them, and he sure wasn't going to give them to anyone but a truck driver. We were down with that, and after thanking him several times, we proceeded to enjoy a very hot and delicious breakfast.
Of course, then we dropped $20 in the slots and although I could have walked away with an extra $10, that little voice in my head was telling me, "You were lucky before with the free breakfast, keep playing the slot machine, you're bound to walk away rich". The only thing we walked away with was our $20 diet cokes and a full belly, but hey, we can't complain.
It's always interesting to see how things change in a few days on Interstate 5. The last couple of trips, I have seen green fields growing, and then this morning.....boom.....there they were, sunflowers, all stretching their stems skyward in unison, towards the sun, their bright yellow petals sticking out like a sore thumb among the brown landscape. I have always loved sunflowers. Never having been a rose lover, I have always gone for the more standard carnation or daisy, but sunflowers are definitely my favorite, and after the great start we had so far today.....the sunflowers were just the icing on the cake!
Saturday, June 28, 2008
We staged in Pasco at the local truck stops and had our trailer washed out, now all we needed was the dispatch. At almost 2pm we received it, to head to AmeriCold, which is right across the street from Tyson Meats. We were picking up 44,000 pounds of miscellaneous boneless beef, which would be heading to the Swiss-American Sausage Company in Lathrop. Only question was, it was set to deliver on July 2 and we needed to be starting our home time on July 3.
A quick message to our dispatcher, confirmed that we would be dropping off the meat at our Company Yard, and then picking up a relay load of bananas to take to Puyallup, WA. Yes, the banana boat sets sail again. The delivery for the bananas is July 1 at 5am, which will give us plenty of time to possibly pick up a load out of Puyallup and take it into Spokane on the 2nd. If all works out well, we will be sitting pretty to start our home time right on schedule on July 3.
With all that cleared up, it was time to do the 18 wheel shuffle and weigh out the load. I have to say, this is the only part of doing refrigerated versus the boat fleet that I don't like, and that is the heavy loads and trying to scale out legal. We were heavy on the trailer axles so we had to move the tandems, but then we had to be sure not to move them too far back, as California has rules that Oregon and Washington doesn't.
Satisfied that we were within legal limits, we headed out and made it as far as Gordy's in LaPine, OR. Having pulled in around 10pm, we wouldn't be able to leave in the morning until 8am. We had a fuel stop in Corning, CA and tonight we will be in the Company yard where my Mother and Niece will be meeting us. We had asked them to bring our satellite dish, receivers, and some other miscellaneous stuff so that we could have it when we take possession of the house.
So after a nice visit with my Mom and Niece, we hooked up to the bananas, and will be ready to head back North in the morning. Home time here we come!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
It was an uneventful drive, other than the health warnings we heard on the radio to stay in doors as much as possible due to the smokey air. We passed other Company drivers, going in the opposite direction, with a wave and a smile. We enjoyed the cooler temperatures and the mountains and pine trees that soon became our traveling companions on Highway 97 in Oregon.
We had a quick stop in Chemult, OR for fuel and a lunch break and then it was on to Gordy's in LaPine, OR where we called it a day. This was our view out the front window of the cab of the truck. We settled in with our laptops to watch some of our favorite shows on the Internet.
We hadn't heard yet when our appointment time was for our delivery in Spokane, WA, so we set the alarm for midnight to be sure we could be in the Spokane area by 8am. It took us a while to fall asleep and the alarm was not a welcome sound when it went off. Craig made sure to get himself a big cup of coffee and off we went.
As planned we pulled into the Company yard at 8am, fueled up, and went to see about our delivery. Come to find out, they couldn't get another delivery time until July 1, so we were instructed to drop the trailer in the yard and await further instructions.
Since we don't have but a couple of driving hours left for the day, I doubt we will see any action, so we once again settled in, did some laundry and waited to hear what our next assignment will be.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
We left the Miller Brewing Company in Irwindale, CA around 11pm Monday night. Once again, we ventured down to the little fuel stop in LA to scale the load. Thankfully, we only had to adjust the axle tandems one notch to be legal and still have room for fuel. We made it as far as Buttonwillow, CA before pulling into a TA Truck Stop to get a few hours of sleep.
TA's are not my favorite stops of the big 5 truck stops, but this one had a Starbucks right across the street, so I could overlook any imperfections. It also had a Denny's, so after a 3 hour nap, we decided to get a hot breakfast and then a Starbucks to fuel us on. Craig only had 5 driving hours left, so north we headed, first to the Company yard to drop off some trip packets and pick up log pages, and then to the Flying J in Lodi, CA.
We had an afternoon of relaxing, a good night's sleep, and a hot shower this morning and we were ready to forge onward north towards Spokane and our delivery destination at Odom Northwest Beverage Company. We then have one week left on the road, before we have asked for some home time in the Spokane area, as we hope to be able to take possession of our Park Model home in Usk, WA. Looks like maybe time for one more run down to California and back, but as we have found out, just when you think you know the routine, they go and change it on you, and that is what makes trucking fun.
Monday, June 23, 2008
There was some discussion as to what needed to be loaded first, even the shipper didn't know, and they also didn't know where we would be taking them. Like most Brokered loads, information is very limited, but it was finally decided to load the containers first and then the onions. Back in the truck we placed our loaded call and headed to the nearest truck stop about 5 miles away to scale out, just to be sure. No problems there, way under the weight limits, and with at least our first delivery location now available to us, we headed the heck out of Phoenix and towards the Company yard in Bloomington, CA.
We saw nothing but desert, unlike the more eye appealing southwest colors on our way into Phoenix. The temperature was well into the 100's and didn't show signs of cooling down the further we got into the LA area. We pulled into the yard and decided to take showers and do laundry and then get some sleep for our 3am wake up call.
This morning we took off for our first destination, the market area of down town Los Angeles, and weave our way through traffic to the warehouse district. We can't find the name of the place we are to drop, so I take the phone, and the paperwork, and go in search of, while Craig stays with the truck. I walk the entire length of the warehouses and as I make my way back, I decide to ask a driver who was sitting in his truck if he knew where Angelina's was. He pointed to the dock and said right through that door.
I go inside and check in with the forklift operator who points to an open dock and says "put your truck there". Never one to refuse an open dock when offered, I inform Craig and assist him in making a blind sided back safely into the dock.
We wait around, find another driver that once drove for our Company and then Craig's phone rings. Seems the broker now has the information we needed about 24 hours ago, in that, the onions which were sitting ready to be off loaded, should have been in the front of the trailer for the second drop and the containers needed to be dropped at Angelina's. Can you say " Oh Oh"
The way I looked at it, we had two options, pull away from the dock ( never a good option in my opinion) and go to the second delivery spot first, or walk up to the forklift driver and see if he wouldn't mind taking the 10 pallets of onions off our truck, unloading his 12 pallets of plastic containers, and then putting the 10 pallets of onions back on our truck.
As Craig said, "I'm sure glad you asked, instead of me". He seemed to think that me, being a woman and asking, had helped the situation. I just said, "You'd be surprised what a smile will do when asking for a favor", and about 30 minutes later we were on our way to drop off the onions at their rightful place.
Within seconds of putting in the empty call we received our next assignment. We are heading back to the Miller Brewing Company in Irwindale and picking up over 44,000 pounds of beer again. This time Craig is doing some math to figure out just where to start placing the beer so that we don't run into the same problem as last time being too heavy on the drive axles. As I told Craig, "I don't think being a woman and smiling would get me the same type of favor at the weigh stations", but you know? It sure couldn't hurt!
Sunday, June 22, 2008
We took the opportunity to stop at the Glen Canyon Dam near the city of Page, Arizona. It reminded me very much of the Hoover Dam near Las Vegas. It is huge! On the other side of the bridge we looked down to see people getting onto rafts to do a river tour of the Grand Canyon. Definitely something we will want to do in the future. But as the sun was getting higher in the sky, we made our way back to the truck and headed to Flagstaff.
We arrived in Flagstaff with the temperature in the mid 80's and settled in to get some rest, but hold on there Sparky! Just as we had settled in, the truck computer beeped us with a preplan dispatch. Up we got to figure out if we had enough hours to accept the load. It will be close, and as Craig says "do-able", but we would have to leave Flagstaff and get into Phoenix right away. So we fired up the truck and set our sights on the Flying J in Phoenix which was our next fuel stop and only 6 miles from the receiver.
I don't know how the poor reefer did it, keeping the meat at a temperature of 28, because as we pulled into the parking lot, happy to see several open parking spaces, we noticed the temperature reading at 115. After sitting on the asphalt for about 30 minutes, it quickly rose to 134! Needless to say....it was HOT. Safely tucked inside with the AC running we went to sleep with a 1am wake up call.
Right now we are sitting at the Fry's Distribution Center in Phoenix as they unload the meat, and with our next Shipper only 1 mile away. It is a Broker dispatch, so there isn't much info on it yet, but we do know it delivers to two yet unknown locations in Los Angeles early tomorrow morning. All I can say is, we can't get out of Phoenix fast enough!
Saturday, June 21, 2008
So with plenty of time to sweep out the empty trailer, fill the reefer with fuel, we hit Tyson about an hour ahead of our appointment time. No problem, seems the trailer we are picking up has been loaded for a couple of days and just waiting for us. After dropping our empty trailer out in the back lot, we hooked up to the loaded one and headed to the truck stop to fuel and scale. Happily, this time we scaled out perfectly, and will be able to fill the tanks without worry that we will be too heavy.
With no worries, we enjoyed the drive on Interstate 84 with it's lush greenery, mountains, and streams. We made it as far as Baker City, OR and pulled into a small mom and pop truck stop. While I heated us up some dinner, Craig took a walk to the store. Imagine my surprise when he came back into the truck and in his hands was a very nice Conair blow dryer! Get this, they had three of them on the shelf. I still can't believe it, but boy am I a happy girl.
With a 0230am delivery time Sunday morning, we have slowly been adjusting to driving in the very early morning hours. Friday morning we left at 3am and stayed just south of Salt Lake City. As we were backing into a space we saw this guy standing nearby waiting for us. I even mentioned to Craig that I wondered what he wanted, Craig was thinking he was going to ask for money. To our surprise, he introduced himself and said that he was going to be hiring on with our company TWT on Monday! He was leaving another truck company he wasn't happy with and had said that he has heard nothing but good things about TWT. We couldn't agree more and he was on his way and we were headed to bed for a 1am wake up call.
Right now, in the predawn hours, I am writing this blog as we make our way towards the Arizona border. Our destination for the day is Flagstaff, AZ where we hope to take advantage of the cooler weather and getting some sleep before leaving late tonight for our 0230am delivery time Sunday morning. We are hoping our stay in the Phoenix area won't be long!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
All of the travel plazas only carry a 12 volt dryer which is meant more for defrosting windows than trying to tame my mop of hair. We figured we would stop at our friendly Wal Mart in Redmond, OR, but soon found out that they rerouted the highway around it. A stop at a local Safeway also proved to be useless.
So this morning, after taking my shower, I let my hair do it's thing. If I wasn't so vain, I would have taken a picture of the life my hair took on as it slowly dried. But as we made our way into Prosser, WA for a break at the Starbucks right across from a rest area, (my husband loves me), I went to work on it with my flat iron and I am here to tell you, all is right with the world again. And if I don't find a blow dryer before the next shower, I know I can survive just fine without it.
I last left you when we were getting our trailer tire replaced in Lebec, CA. That went smoothly, and we were headed north with what little fuel we could put in the tanks and hoping to get the green PrePass light at the weigh stations. We were successful in that endeavor, and we made it safely on fumes into the Flying J in Corning, CA for the evening.
Up early Wednesday morning, we headed to our next fuel stop in Chemult, OR where we threw caution to the wind and fueled up with as much as we dared and took on the one weigh station we knew we would have to cross near Madras, OR. Of course it was open, and as we slowly crossed we watched the numbers flash across the readout. It was over on the drive axle, but we were well below the maximum gross and we received the green light and were thankful to be on our way.
After our aforementioned break at the Starbucks, we rolled into the receivers gates for our 10am delivery time. A smooth back up into the open dock, and as I type this, we are being unloaded. I for one will be happy to have this load off the trailer and will be hoping we receive a much lighter load when we finish up here. I figure the odds of that, are about as good as me finding that darn blow dryer.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
It took Sysco almost four hours to unload the frozen french fries from our subzero trailer. About an hour into the waiting, I was having fantasies about being a frozen french fry. The weather was quite warm and the temperature reading said 97 degrees, but on the bright side, there was a slight breeze.
After putting in our empty call, we were immediately dispatched just 18 miles away to the Miller Brewing Company to pick up over 44,000 pounds of beer. "Woo Hoo, party at the Shantz's truck tonight!!"
Then another fantasy came into my mind, wanting a nice icy mug of that cold delectable brew, but I knew that wasn't going to happen, so I went to work trying to find the quickest route on the LA freeways to make it there on time. We had a 45 minute window of opportunity and we were safely there and waiting for our dock number with 20 minutes to spare. This time while waiting for the trailer to be loaded, I ran the APU and sat comfortably inside the cab as it jerked and rocked with each pallet of beer they loaded.
Scaling a load in the greater LA area is like going on a treasure hunt. Of course the one scale within a mile of the Miller plant closed down at 5pm. Hence, the 30 mile run, in commute traffic, to a tiny little gas station that had a scale, in a part of town I would not like to see again, and especially at night! The scale ticket showed us over weight on the drives by 300 pounds, so with a little adjustment on the fifth wheel, and making sure we don't have too much fuel in the tanks, we just might make it to our destination without being summoned in for a friendly little visit to the scale master.
Speaking of destinations, we are headed right back to Kennewick, WA to the Mount Hood Beverage Company. Our delivery is for Thursday, but we don't know the time as of yet. Shouldn't be too much of a problem, it's only a little over 1000 miles to get there. But wouldn't you know it? While I'm typing this blog, Craig notices a trailer tire that needs to be replaced. So here we sit at the tire bay getting a new tire.
It's like we always say.... It's not a job, It's an adventure!
Monday, June 16, 2008
So MacGyver gets on the Internet, finds all the Fox shows we love: Simpson's, Family Guy, King of the Hill, and American Dad, hooks the audio into our stereo speakers in the truck, and we sit back and have a weekend marathon of almost commercial free television viewing. I say almost commercial free, because they do throw in a 30 second ad in a couple of times during the 22 minute show.
On our way down to the LA basin, we passed this little gem being hauled south. An old Southern Pacific passenger car, hopefully headed to someone who will restore it to it's former glory. Having only taken the train two times, once during the winter, with my Mom to Reno, NV., a beautiful ride, with the snow covered mountains. The other was a short little day trip from Modesto to Fresno to visit Craig's parents. It's always nice sitting back and letting your mind feel free to roam the landscape as the clickity clack of the rails lulls you with it's rhythm, just like the feeling I get everyday in the passenger seat of the truck.
As I mentioned, we had time on our hands and we spent it in the Frazier Park area, just on the other side of the Grapevine until this morning. I have never been more appreciative of the APU than I was this weekend. We both felt a little guilty as we watched one of our other drivers, without an APU, walk back from the store with two fans in his hands. It had to be quite warm in his truck as the temperature reading showed it to be 106 outside sitting on the asphalt.
Right now we are sitting in a dirt lot in the Sysco yard waiting to be called to a dock. We have no idea where we will be sent next or for what item we will pick up. I just know that as the sun gets higher in the sky, and the day grows hotter, that APU will become my new best friend!
Saturday, June 14, 2008
I was never a morning person. As I have mentioned before, during 80% of my law enforcement career I worked the night shift. I always took pleasure in knowing that I was heading to bed, while most everyone else was making that dreaded morning drive into work. Somewhere along the way, over the past couple of years, I have found that getting started early isn't half bad. It also helps, that we have very seldom ever thought of driving this truck around the country as a job.
There is something about being able to watch as the day slowly evolves, from the first hint of light cresting the horizon, and the coolness of that first morning air as you breath it in. This morning we were up at 4:30, and after taking our showers, and doing the pre trip inspection, we were ready to hit the road. But all around us there was already activity.
We saw an OES Strike Team heading to a wildfire in the town of Paradise, CA nearby, which had started yesterday, burning over 50 homes and leaving the air heavy with smoke. Two buses had pulled into the truck stop, with passengers getting off to use the facilities and grab come coffee as they continue on their way. Where they were going and where they had come from would remain a mystery. As we traveled down the Interstate we counted 3 crop dusters, 2 planes and a helicopter, busy spraying the fields. Traffic early in the morning is light, and especially on the weekends, more trucks than four wheelers, but all intent on getting to their destinations.
Most of all I love the promise of what the day will bring us. What interesting sights will we see? What breaking news will be broadcast on the airwaves? How many miles will we travel and just where will we end up for the night? But more importantly, knowing that several times throughout the day, we will look at each other, and share the knowledge that we are exactly where we want to be in our lives and enjoying every minute of it together.
Friday, June 13, 2008
We were tucked snugly in our beds late Wednesday evening, anticipating a 1am delivery time, when Craig's phone rang. The receiver could take our load ahead of time, so we jumped into action, fired up the truck, and headed to Railex. By midnight they had unloaded the 42,000 pounds of freshly dug up potatoes and we were the recipients of a new dispatch.
Just 10 miles away was Columbia Cold Storage in Kennewick, WA, and they had over 44,000 pounds of frozen steakhouse french fries for Red Robin Restaurants that needed to be picked up at 4am. I guess those offers of endless fries with your purchase of a burger is going over well. We used the empty Railex lot to park in, and grabbed a few more hours of sleep before heading over to the shipper. Wouldn't you know it, we get there, and they tell us they are running a couple of hours behind schedule. No worries, we are on the clock and getting paid, so we sit back, relax and catch a couple more Z's.
At 7:30am we are loaded and ready to fuel and scale the load. After some adjusting and figuring out just how much we could fuel up without going over the weight limits, we head south. The skies were blue and for one of the first times since we have been on this west coast run, no clouds, which gave us a clear, beautiful view of Mount Hood.
We decided to call it a day at Biggs Junction although it was only noon. But with all the interrupted sleep we got, and the knowledge that this load didn't deliver in the Los Angeles, CA area until Monday morning, we were more than happy to park the truck to give us a nice river front view and enjoyed the scenery. I bet the remnants of that old Hotel did a booming business back in the day!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
We took a break in LaPine, OR and as we got out of the truck, there was a light hail coming down, either that or a very coarse snow, but by the time we returned to the truck it had stopped and there was no evidence of it on the ground.
After driving almost 400 miles we called it a night at our favorite rest stop on Highway 97 in Oregon. Awaking this morning we even had to turn on the APU to get some heat circulating inside, it was that cold outside.
We only had 190 miles to drive today, and before crossing into Washington, we took a rest break in Biggs Junction. Now the Company has a very generous rider program, but picking up hitchhikers is not allowed. So imagine how we felt when this bird, despite how much we tried to explain, just stared blankly at us, as if we were the ones doing something a bit odd. I think it was also looking for a bit of food, and since we didn't have anything appropriate to give it, it took flight for greener pastures.
We are currently sitting at a truck stop about 15 miles away from our delivery, which will be at 1am in the morning. Gotta love those early wake up calls!
Monday, June 09, 2008
Craig had plenty of time to make the drop of frozen meat on Sunday afternoon, and then load up with 42,000 pounds of potatoes in Edison, CA which are headed to Schenectady, New York, by way of Burbank, WA. Seems they are destined for a train ride from Washington into New York State. The only not so pleasant thing about this run is the 1am delivery time Thursday morning.
Anyhoo, we made a quick transfer at the Love's Truck Stop again in Ripon, and we headed north with the intention of making the Rolling Hills Casino our home for the night. We pulled into their lot at a little after 5pm and ventured inside where we knew it would be nice and cool, since it was hovering almost at 100 degrees outside. After a bite to eat and our $50.00 free cokes in hand, we were back in the truck with the APU running full tilt and the reefer holding steady at a cool 40 degrees for the potato's comfort.
We have plenty of time to get into Burbank, WA so we can relax and awake without an alarm and get as far as we feel like tomorrow. Seems like our relaxed, "this job feels more like vacation, than a job" routine will last a few more days.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Since the load doesn't deliver until Sunday at 2pm, we only drove about 3 hours Thursday night before shutting down at one of the rest areas on Highway 97 in Oregon. Waiting our mandatory 10 hours we set out again Friday with our sights set on Corning, CA. Along the way, the skies were clear and blue and we had a fantastic viewing of Mount Shasta. We also ran across several of our fellow drivers headed in the same direction.
After a good nights sleep, and a shower this morning, we headed off to my drop off location in Ripon, CA at the Love's Truck Stop. My Mother and Niece were there to pick me up and I said my goodbyes to Craig, knowing that unless our plan goes terribly awry, that he would be back to pick me up on Monday, maybe Tuesday at the latest.
As I write this, I have gotten rid of the grey, enjoyed a nice lunch with my Niece, and am looking forward to spending tomorrow with my Mom and treating her to a belated birthday manicure/pedicure and lunch. If this experiment goes well, there will be many more stops in my future with both my Mom and Craig's parents. Wish us luck!
Friday, June 06, 2008
We were sitting at AB Foods, in Toppenish, WA, also know as Washington Beef, waiting for our trailer to be loaded with boxed meat, when I saw the cattle truck pull into the business. The cattle inside the trailer moving around inside and bleating their displeasure of being confined inside. For me, it was a shock to know that the cattle inside were just hours away from being processed into the food we eat. Now I'm no activist, and will this stop me from ever eating anything that was once a living, breathing animal? Probably not, but for just an instant, I thought about it.
On a lighter note, also while sitting and waiting, I watched as what looked like a stray dog, with no collar and a little catch in his get along, ambled on past us and into the loading dock area. I even mentioned it to Craig, who was too involved in his portable PlayStation game to even give my comment a second thought. But when I started laughing out loud, he stopped long enough to ask me what was so funny, and I told him what I had seen. There he was, that same stray dog, now with a new found strut, and no hint of a hind leg problem, happily strolling back from where he had come from, with a very large and meaty bone firmly gripped within his mouth. That was one very happy dog!