Thursday, April 30, 2009
All along the way north out of the LA basin area, Craig was sending me commentary on their route. You can see from the first picture, just how serious he is taking this passenger seat duties. I guess from watching me the last three years, he learned quite quickly just how comfy it is to put your feet up and enjoy the views.
Although they left rather late from San Diego, they didn't run into too much commute traffic, since Don was following his routing, instead of what Craig would have normally done, and cut north to hit Interstate 210 to totally avoid the heart of the City of Los Angeles. It may be a few miles longer, but it saves so much time wise and sanity wise.
Craig continued to send me photos, along with this shot and comment asking, "Why do they call it the Grapevine, when there are no grapes and only weeds"? Which made me comment back to him, "It's amazing what you notice when you're not driving, right"? With so much time on his hands to sit back and just enjoy the lack of scenery in this particular section of California, his mind was working overtime. I about snorted out some water I was drinking through my nose when I read this comment he sent me before shutting down for the night...........
I see so much in this seat. Haven't missed a turn yet. I think I may use the time to be a blog correspondent . First piece. What is new in 2009 trucker fashion. With pictures. A new meaning to the belly shirt.
Now you know why I love this guy so much....never a dull moment!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
After their backing lessons in Fraizer Park, they left early Monday morning towards L.A. to make their three deliveries. Craig did all of the driving and come to find out, at all three places, he had to do blind side backs, but it must have been a good backing day for him, because he had no problems at any of them. All delivery spots had lumpers, so he was able to go through that process with Don and show him the ropes. By the time they pulled into the Company yard in Bloomington, CA, Craig had but 15 minutes left on his driving hours.
Like good little soldiers, they did their laundry and used the shower facilities and then kicked back for a nice relaxing night. That relaxing night, turned into a relaxing day on Tuesday, as the yard was full of drivers waiting for load assignments. By last Tuesday afternoon the new dispatch arrived for bananas in San Diego to be picked up this morning.
As part of his training, Don was told by Craig, when the assignment was received, that he would have to do the trip planning on his own, using only the tools he has available to him when he has his own truck. Since he doesn't have a laptop or GPS system yet, he was left to use just his map atlas, and any directions he could get from either the Qualcomm or from calling the Shipper or Receiver.
Since he doesn't have a TWIC yet, they will have to go to that tiny little receiving house, tucked tightly into a residential area near the port in San Diego. I remember the first time Craig and I went there, and it wasn't pretty. May the banana and trucking Gods be with them this morning!
Monday, April 27, 2009
I didn't get all the details, but there was some problems with scaling, and now that I know they are safely past all the weigh stations, how they solved it was by moving the trailer tandems just a bit further back than is legally allowed in California. But as they say, "no harm, no foul"........at least this run!
They made it into Pollard Flat,CA Saturday night, another first, as we have always commented about staying there, but have never had it work out time wise on any runs. Craig did all of the driving on Saturday and come Sunday morning, Don was in the driver's seat for most of the day. Another first was that the huge weigh station, just before going over the Grapevine in southern California was closed! Come to find out, there was a major accident on the pass and they needed the extra help so they closed the scales.
Craig, ever the task master, upon arriving at the Flying J in Lebec, CA had his trainee practice his backing skills in the parking lot of the truck stop. Craig had intentionally bought some small orange cones just for this purpose and they worked out well.
When he called me, Craig was putting up with some warm weather, while I was telling him that yet again the forecasters were predicting snow. But I'm happy to report that it is just raining this morning, as it is slightly above freezing here. Craig is busy in sunny LA making his three deliveries, including the dreaded Ralph's, where I have asked him to take some photos. Don't hold your breath though, I doubt he will remember!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Craig on the other hand, with not a flower in sight, and probably thankful for that, has met and got acquainted with his trainee Don, who has some previously truck driving experience, but it has been over 12 years since he has driven. They spent most of the day talking about themselves while waiting to receive a load. Wouldn't you know it, right out of the shoot, he gets something we have never had before.......a pick up at two different places.The dispatch was to respond to Americold in Wallula and pick up some boxed meat there at 3pm, then at 6pm, go across the street at get loaded at Tyson. Normally, at Tyson it is a drop and hook, but he was told to drop the trailer there and come back in the morning. Hey, what a deal! He'll take all that detention pay and get a good night's sleep.Today should find them headed to the Los Angeles area, where they will have three different drops to make on Monday, including the dreaded Ralph's, where the parking and dock area are so tight it's a miracle anyone can get in and out without scraping something.As for me, I'm going to enjoy another day in Walla Walla, and the beautiful flowers, and wonderful sunshine, before heading back up to the homestead, where I'm sure I will find lots to keep me occupied until Craig comes home for a visit in 3 or 4 weeks!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Of course, I will have to rely on Craig to relay all the down and dirty information to me in order to share it with you. I hope that there will be pictures to share along the way. This will not be a permanante change, but most likely a summer thing, and what better time for me to spend it at home. After all, we have had this house for just under a year, and have spent probably no more than a month here. Who knows, I may hit the streets and see if I can't find me a part time job to occupy my extra time with.
These will be exciting times for both of us and I can't wait to share them with you all!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
We stepped back and surveyed the results and were quite happy with them. Then we started calculating what we would need for stepping stones to the street behind the house, and then the bark and greenery we wanted to spread and plant to fill in the rest of the open spaces. This was just to the rear of the house and OH VEY! Let's just say that we will have to take baby steps on completing this project, but it does feel good to at least start the process.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
In short order our trailer was loaded and we were headed back to Troutdale one more time to fuel up and scale the load. Having been loaded as early as we were, we knew we would have no problem getting into the company yard in Spokane for the night. What we didn't expect was that we were unable to receive any decent TV signal, as we were hoping to catch 24, but we'll just catch it on the laptop later this week.
With plenty of time for rest and relaxation, we kicked back and watched the one channel we could get, while playing on our laptops. With an 8am delivery, we could sleep in, but wouldn't you know it, we were both up by 5am. We took showers and then decided to load up our pick up with all the stuff we were taking home with us, in order to make our exit home that much quicker when the time came.We arrived a little early at the receiver, and were told to go ahead and back up to the dock for unloading. In under an hour, we were unloaded and headed back to the yard to drop the trailer and park the truck, but only after cleaning and vacuuming the inside, so that it would be nice and clean when we returned. Now we are finally headed home. It has been almost 10 weeks since we have both been at the house. We should have great weather to enjoy, a few little projects to do around the house, and a whole lot of sitting back and relaxing to do until we go back out on the truck on Friday morning!
Monday, April 20, 2009
Being the trusting soul that I am, I scooted over to her blog and found that I was the recipent of the Friendship Award. The Friendship Award is given to blogs that are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement.
The aware further states that our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to those bloggers who must choose at least 5 more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”
Jersey Girl must be a silent reader of my blog, like I am to so many other blogs that I too read, but never leave a comment. I feel honored to have received this award and would like to award it to 5 other bloggers:
Scribbles and Scripts of a Reverent Bohemian - I love reading this blog, as Jennie always seems to be having fun, even when she doesn't realize just how great her life is to others looking in from the outside.
Cookie Crumbs - A relatively new blog that I found and enjoy, not only for the beautiful, and very delicious cookies that Laura makes, but for the big heart she has for animals of all kinds.
Justakrusen - A blog from an ex truck driver named Mark, who had to give up driving, not by choice, but by an injury, and trying to find his way back into the work force, but always with a sense of humor.
4 Little Men and Girly Twins - This is a guilty pleasure of mine. A blog that I read and never comment on, but enjoy none the less, because when I think my life may be hectic, all I have to do is read this one!
Tale from the Road, by the Fenian Godfather - This trucking blog is always a good read, and Joe's sarcastic sense of humor is just my cup of tea! (and no Joe......I know your blog is not out seeking to find friends or be charming, just accept this for what it is)
There you have it, enjoy stopping by these blogs if you are so inclined, I think you just might enjoy yourself, I know I always do.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Being fully rested and raring to go, we took off towards our next stop which was La Pine, OR. About an hour outside of Corning, CA the QualComm beeps. I immediately say "OH OH, someone needs a load repowered" , and reached down to read the message. (You never get beeped over the weekend unless there is a change in your load) Sure enough, we were to head to the Petro Truck Stop in Corning and swap loads with another driver who needed to get into Spokane for a doctor appointment.
But wait a minute......we were suppose to go to Spokane as well for home time. So Craig placed a phone call into the weekend dispatcher, they put their heads together, and figured out a way to take the new load we would receive and drop it in the Troutdale drop yard. Then we would take a loaded trailer full of boxed meat from that same drop yard and deliver it Monday morning in Clackamas. Then if all the stars and planets are aligned just right, we will head to Portland after our drop in Clackamas and pick up a load headed to Spokane for Tuesday morning. We will only be delayed one day getting into Spokane and head for home, and for our troubles they gave us $104 layover pay to boot!
So far, half of that plan has worked out great. We are presently sitting at the Flying J in Troutdale with a trailer full of boxed meat chilling at 28 degrees while we chill inside the truck. We did manage to take a walk over to the Outlet Stores down the street this morning for a nice little walk. I refrained from buying everything I wanted and only purchased two tops. We do have an early wake up call in the morning for our delivery at the Safeway DC at 5am. All and all, we can't complain.......unlike this poor driver whose day just got that much worse when this happened to his rig on Interstate 5 yesterday.
Friday, April 17, 2009
I know exactly what's up with him and how he feels! The past few days have all melded together and I am constantly looking at our little calendar in the truck to make sure exactly what day it is. I guess I should follow up with that last assignment we were on, because it seemed like that assignment would never end, and we would never get rid of it.
Just when I thought I would be crawling into bed for some good old fashion sleep, Craig walks back to the day shift guard and asks about the possibility of us getting unloaded. For the record, the possibility, let alone probability, was at ZERO %. He informed Craig that our appointment would have to be rescheduled, and oh by the way, they only receive between 3pm and 2am.
With that little tidbit of information, we send in a message to dispatch, who first tell us to head to the yard, then start asking about how much product we have left on the truck. After sending them the information they requested, dispatch informs us that the last drop will work around the product and to head towards Los Angeles. Oh Vey.......this day will will never end!
Thankfully, because of the delay in San Bernardino, as we headed towards Los Angeles, most of the commute traffic had dissipated and a little over an hour later, we were at what was suppose to be our last drop. Good news is that they unloaded us quickly and only charged us $10 in lumper fees. With just about an hour left on Craig's 14 hour driving clock, we headed back to the yard with two pallets of frozen french fries still occupying our trailer at a crisp, cool, minus 20 degrees.
It wasn't until around 4pm when we finally were told to drop the trailer and put the last bit of paperwork in the compartment in front of the trailer, as the new appointment time for those last few fries would be the next day at 7pm. Woo Hoo.......you didn't have to tell us twice. We were more than happy to wash our hands of that load.
We did enjoy a very restful night's sleep and lounged around most of the day yesterday waiting to see what we would be assigned next. There were well over 10 other drivers sitting in the yard over the past two days that we saw coming and going, and when the beeps of the QualComm started coming across, I swung into action to see where we would be heading.
The good news was that we would be dead headed to Bakersfield, CA to pick up at the Dreyer's Ice Cream plant, the bad news was that we had to be there at 3:30am this morning. Yes, you guessed it, we would once again be hitting the road at 11pm at night and driving like the night owls we have become lately. Hello middle finger dude, I feel your pain.
Presently, we are about one hour out from our final destination for the day at the Flying J in Ripon, CA, and it's only 7am! We plan on getting our sleep clocks reset to normal on the rest of this trip into Spokane, WA, where we will make our delivery on Monday. Then after almost 10 weeks of being away from home, we plan on taking a couple of days and pay our little house a visit. With any luck, we'll fix that deck problem that the snow pack caused, and be able to enter the house through the front door. I'm getting too old to hurdle that front porch railing!
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Doing the math, we knew there would be night driving involved. I'll go on the record here as not being such a fan of driving at night. Sure, an argument can be made for there being less traffic, but it messes way too much with my body clock these days. The fact that the laws for truck drivers, and regulating their driving time to 11 hours, and having to stop when your not tired, and driving when you are tired, because of those laws, doesn't help either. Let's just say, sleep has been at a premium that last couple of days.So with that said, imagine if you will, Craig has crunched the numbers, and even with the limited driving hours he had left on his 70 hour clock, knew we could make the delivery dates listed on the dispatch, and even went as far as to advise dispatch to make the first drop in the late afternoon. Around 1pm on Monday we start receiving the appointment times.......Excellent! First drop is in Needles, CA at 10am on Tuesday. Not a problem, we can make that, and then comes San Bernardino, CA at 7pm that same day. What the what?!?! The original dispatch had that delivering on Wednesday along with Los Angeles, which now had an appointment of 7am.
We immediately send a message letting dispatch know we would not make the last two drops with the appointment times given, and we got back, "We will try and repower load". Okay, on we go with our plans to drive all night to get to Needles, and we make it there an hour early, and while unloading send in another reminder. "We will not be able to make 2nd/3rd appointment, out of hours until midnight tonight" We get back, "Will call them and figure something out".
By 2pm, we were tired and still hadn't heard anything. We ask again and are told when we know something we will send you a message. My Type A personality is going berserk. How long does it take to pick up a phone and call these businesses and change appointments? In the mean time, we sit and wait until almost close of business and send in one more question. "Do you want us to drive to company yard (which is very near our 2nd drop ) or sit here in Needles until new appointment times are made? We get back this rather ominous reply....."Present yourself at your 2nd drop when you can legally do so" Wow...... almost sounds like we are being sent to the principals office doesn't it?With that tidbit of information, we try and grab a few hours a sleep before hitting the road again at 11pm to drive into San Bernardino. We had positive thoughts, that when we arrived at 3am, we would be unloaded and still be able to make the last drop. But sadly, it is 8am and we are still sitting on the street looking at a closed gate, leading to the dock area, that we had hoped to have already occupied. Upon arriving, the night guard said to check back in at 9am. We once again let dispatch know the circumstances and and got the "Will try and repower the load" message again. I amused myself while watching the birds pick at the gummy worms that someone had thrown onto the ground. It didn't take long for them to figure out those worms weren't meant for eating!So there you have my sad little tale, but I wanted to be fair, and let those who are thinking about going into the business know that life out in the truck can be a bit frustrating at times. Things will go amiss, appointment times will be missed, equipment does fail, but our experience is that it doesn't happen very often, and when it does...........we just roll with the punches........'cause that's what we do!
PS- After reading this entry to Craig, he says I nit pick too much. He further says that trucking is adapt and overcome. We only know our side, and we don't always know what the other side of the story is. It always works out in the end..........and as he always tells me and my Type A personality......." JUST RELAX".........and with that, I think I'll go back to bed!
Monday, April 13, 2009
We had a bit of a surprise too this morning when we woke up to SNOW! It was only lightly snowing when we left the rest area, but boy did it pick up as we neared the summit. The snow was blowing right at us too, which made for visibility to be a bit limited. Sure was glad to get down off the mountain where it turned into rain and we had clear pavement to drive on.
What has been really nice is to finally getting to drive in a State that does not have a 55MPH limit for trucks. I had forgotten how fast the miles can fly by when you can go as fast as everyone else on the roads. Of course we do have governor on our truck that will not allow us to go faster than 65mph, but we will enjoy our time in Idaho and Nevada while it lasts!
Our plan is to use all available driving hours to make it into Wells, NV this afternoon. Then the trick will be to trick our minds into thinking it is evening and try to get some sleep before taking off again around midnight. We haven't had any caffeine today, so we are hoping that might help, but you can bet on massive dosages of caffeine when we wake up and hit the road!
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Surprisingly, we were both up well before the alarm went off at 2:30am this morning. Can't say we were bright eyed, but we managed to get to the Safeway DC in Clackamas a bit before our 4am appointment, and then wait until the employees arrived before Craig could even go inside and check in. Two hours and $185 later, they had unloaded and inventoried almost 3000 items of fresh produce. We were expecting to be there at least 4 hours.Immediately after going empty, we were directed to deadhead (drive empty) 233 miles to the Tyson Meat plant in Wallula, WA and drop our trailer there. Then we were to bob tail to the company drop yard in Pasco and wait for a loaded trailer of frozen french fries to be delivered there. It was a drizzly, overcast, foggy drive into Wallula, a perfect day for some great Northwest pictures, if I wasn't in a fast moving vehicle. The waterfalls coming off the rocks were awesome!After dropping the trailer we waited for our loaded trailer to arrive at the drop yard. By 2pm we were hooked up and heading to the truck stop to fuel and scale. We didn't have much more time left on Craig's 14 hour clock, but we wanted to get as far as we could because, as usual, we will be working on a tight time schedule to deliver to three different locations on Tuesday and Wednesday. We will be going to Needles, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles with these frozen french fries and it will consist of a lot of very early morning, if not night driving, to make those deliveries.Tonight we are staying at Deadman Pass Rest Area, after climbing Cabbage Hill in Oregon on Interstate 84, so named, because if you look up at the side of it, it looks like a head of cabbage. I'm just happy to pass over it in daylight, and with clear, dry pavement. But you got to love the views from up top, as you can look out over the valley below.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Upon checking in, we were told to drop our trailer and that we were number 8 on the list to be loaded. We bob tailed down the street to a very large parking lot and settled in with our laptops while waiting to hear them call us on the CB that our trailer was ready. A little over 3 hours later and $40 dollars richer in detention pay, we received the call and headed over to pick up the loaded trailer. With a scale on site, we were scaled and legal and on our way south.This particular dispatch has us delivering to 4 different locations in the San Francisco Bay area and one additional stop in Castroville, CA. With the delivery times, we knew we had to make the most of the time we had left, in order to make them on time, and with that in mind, we pushed on and made it to LaPine, OR around 9pm. Wednesday morning at 7am found us back on the road with the company yard in French Camp, CA as our destination for staging for the deliveries Thursday morning.
Knowing that Bay Area traffic can be a royal pain, we opted to leave well ahead of schedule in hopes that (A) traffic would be lighter and (B) the first receiver would take us early. We got lucky on both counts and breezed into San Leandro a good hour ahead of time, and we were unloaded and headed to Fremont for our next two deliveries.The two deliveries in Fremont went smooth as silk, and off we headed to Livermore to U.S. Foods. Well, so much for things running like clock work. Although an hour ahead of schedule, once again the planners scheduled our last appointment giving us only one hour to get unloaded in Livermore and then drive 100 miles to Castroville.......and we were on such a good roll too! On top of that, we had to wait well over two hours to get unloaded, and deal with the screwed up dock area that was cluttered with tractors, which made it almost impossible to get into our assigned dock. By the way, we only unloaded one lousy pallet of meat here too and being charged $45 by the lumpers to unload it!
Finally at 12:30pm we were on our way to Castroville. By 2:30 we had arrived and grabbed an open dock. In less than 15 minutes we had our last 4 pallets of meat unloaded and we went empty. WHEW.......what a long day and it wasn't over yet. While heading to Salinas, because it was the only truck stop anywhere in the area, we received a message to get our trailer washed out again and drop it at Fresh Express. Looks like we will be getting a load out of there tomorrow. One thing is for sure, after a very long day, we will be happy to get another good nights sleep again..........and might I add, a well deserved one!
Monday, April 06, 2009
Saturday, April 04, 2009
We stopped at the Petro in Wheeler Ridge, CA and enjoyed a nice relaxing evening knowing that we had two easy days of driving ahead of us. While we were there, we heard this buzzing sound and looked out to see a guy playing with his remote control car in the parking lot and the dirt lot across from us. He must have really enjoyed it, because he stayed out for well over an hour driving and crashing that car into the dirt. By 6am on Friday morning we were headed north with our sights set on the Starbucks in Santa Nella, CA as a spot to stop and treat ourselves to a nice cold refreshing frappacino. While walking back to the truck, Craig noticed a trailer tire that needed to be replaced so we headed to the company yard in French Camp to have it replaced. About 90 minutes after arriving at the yard, we had a new trailer tire and were headed to the casino in Corning as our place to stop for the night.
This morning we again left at 6am but stopped two miles up the road at the Petro for our fuel stop before continuing on our way. It has been a gorgeous day of clear blue cloudless skies and cool temperatures. There were an abundance of RV's and motorcycles out, no doubt taking advantage of spring break. We have made our final stop for the day in Aurora, OR tonight, with only 23 miles left to go in the morning to Clackamas, OR to deliver the bananas. We never quite know what to expect whenever we go empty in Clackamas, but if I have my choice, it would be a return trip to Tillamook, OR., but I'll just have to wait and see where the weekend dispatcher ends up sending us.