We arrived at the receiver in Long Beach, CA Tuesday morning, to see three other TWT trucks already there, and before we left, three more would show up. This caused a problem, as this particular receiver usually only gets 4 trucks a day full of frozen french fries, and the refrigerated containers that they load the fries into, were dwindling fast. We waited almost 5 hours, (at $13.00 an hour), until they could scrounge up some additional containers. We were two of the last ones to get unloaded that day, while two trucks had to stay the night and wait until the next day to get unloaded.
As soon as we went empty, we were given a dispatch down to San Diego to pick up bananas, and to our delight, since we are the proud owners of our TWIC, we can now go to the harbor to pick them up. Sure beats having to go to the little hole in the wall, alternate loading place, tucked within a residential area, with no parking and little room to maneuver. Since it was past noon, and our pick up wasn't until the next morning, we decided instead of going out of our way to stay the night at our company yard in Bloomington, to head down Interstate 5 and stay at the one rest area that was about 50 miles from San Diego.
Arriving around 2pm, we had no problem finding a space to park, and took off immediately to take in the views. Say what you will about the Golden State of California, but it's coast line is one of the most beautiful, and this day would prove to be no different. Also, with the rest area being smack dab in the middle of Camp Pendleton, we had the added highlight of watching military training at sea and in the air. With the drone of the helicopters overhead, we retreated to our truck for an evening of rest and relaxation making use of the duct taped antenna.
Wednesday morning we arrived right on time for our appointment, and drove into the harbor, where we were confronted with our first check point. Here is where we whipped out our TWIC, had the officer check our faces against the photograph on the card, and gave us the go ahead to our next check point. We realized later that all the people milling around the first checkpoint were escorts, waiting for the poor soul who did not have a TWIC, and would have to pay $28 an hour for their services.
At the next checkpoint, we again had to show our TWIC, and were then given our port pass to proceed to the dock to pick up the bananas. As we waited for our turn, (yet another 2.5 hours of detention pay), I watched as other trucks left and made their way through the first of 3 checkpoints to exit the harbor. There, the Customs/Border Agents screened the truck for what we guessed was radioactive material.
With bananas safely on board, we used the scale facility in the harbor to make sure we were legal, (we were), and headed out towards the exit. As we approached that first checkpoint, we noticed an orange cone with a sign saying "closed" blocking the road. There was an alternate road around the checkpoint, which we saw an agent pointing to us to use. As we passed by, we found out why they were closed. Guess a lunch of fast food with fries was more important than checking our truck for anything illegal. Oh well, onto the next checkpoint.
At the second stop, we handed a copy of the bill of lading to yet another agent who stamped it and sent us onto the last checkpoint, where yet another agent took the stamped copy and our harbor pass and sent us safely out of the harbor. If President Obama is looking at way to cut costs, I think eliminating one or more of those checkpoints might do the trick.
We managed to avoid any major LA traffic, and made our way north to our first fuel stop in Lebec, CA, and then drove into Buttonwillow for the night with thoughts of a hot breakfast in the morning. With a Denny's across the street, that is exactly what we did this morning. Now with full stomachs we make our way north, with our final destination being the Fred Meyer DC in Clackamas, OR on Saturday morning. Yep, life's a beach and we couldn't be happier!