Thursday, December 30, 2010

WE'RE ALMOST HOME

As we suspected, they didn't hold onto that Foster Farm load that was scheduled to be delivered in Grandview, WA Tuesday evening.  What they ended up doing instead, was taking it all the way into Pasco, WA, dropping the trailer there, and then bob tailing to Clackamas, OR to pick up a load going into Phoenix, AZ.  So as Craig headed south on Tuesday, I headed north, and right near the border of California/Oregon, we passed each other with a honk and a flash of the headlights.

It was nice to have him give me a weather update on what I could expect going my direction, as I gave him the update on what we had just gone through in Weed, CA where it had just started to snow and the wind was quite gusty.  When I checked in with Craig later that night, he told me that by the time they got there, it was almost white out conditions with the wind blowing the snow across the road, but that by the time they got a few miles down the road, it was clear.

On Wednesday, I made the next leg of my trip to Walla Walla, WA by watching the weather and satellite maps on my laptop.  There was still a nasty storm brewin,g and I either wanted to get ahead of it or stay behind it, and as the morning dawned, it was decided to stay and let the storm get well ahead of us.  That plan worked out well, as we only ran into the last remaining pockets of the storm as we made our way up Interstate 5 and then along Interstate 84, where earlier in the morning the roads were closed due to blizzard conditions. It was as if we entered a different environment when we got to Biggs, OR as the sky was blue and the sun shining and it remained that way until we arrived safely in Walla Walla. 

As we enjoyed the sunshine, Craig and Roy were doing battle making their seven deliveries in the greater Phoenix area in heavy rain.  They even had a delay at one of the stores, when it was noticed that the fuel level on their propane forklift was empty, and having been told that they would have to go retrieve their items at the next stop, and then gathering up enough employees to off load their portion by hand, the guy with the fuel arrived.  It put them off schedule by almost two hours, but they finished up and dead headed to Fontana, CA to pick up a USF Reddaway load this morning.

That leads us to Craig and Roy delivering that load into Spokane, WA tomorrow morning, and I will be leaving Walla Walla also in the morning to pick him up at the company yard to start his home time for the month.  If memory serves me right, this will be the first time ever, besides being in the truck together, that we will actually be at home together on New Year's Eve.  We've already been invited to a party by our great neighbors and with the weather looking good for the next week, we should have a wonderful time at home, and a fantastic beginning to the new year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

IT'S TIME TO HEAD NORTH

My time in Modesto is coming an end, as I will be packing up and heading north early tomorrow morning.  I've been watching the weather, and think we are timing it well between big storms, and the mad rush of holiday traffic.  Time will tell if I made the right decisions.

It was nice to be able to spend some time with Craig at the truck stop Christmas evening.  He was especially happy to have his phone back in working order.  They were both able to do a 34 hours restart on their driving hours, and after delivering in Modesto, CA at the WinCo DC, they were told to  drop the empty trailer at Foster Farms in Livingston, CA and await a load this morning.

They bob tailed to the truck stop down the road after dropping their trailer and enjoyed yet some more down time and plenty of non moving sleep.  This morning, the trailer was ready a full 3 hours ahead of time, and they were hooked up and scaled and heading north as well by 9am this morning.  The load, if they keep it, will deliver in Grandview, WA tomorrow evening at 7pm.  If they make it past Corning  and Weed, odds are that they will indeed keep it.

Roy will only drive until noon, when Craig takes his normal driving shift.  That puts him in position to be driving as they head up Highway 97 and no doubt come in contact with the snow storm I am hoping to avoid when I take off in the morning. If all goes as planned, they have put in for home time on January 1 where we are looking forward to enjoying a few days off before jumping full steam ahead into 2011.

Friday, December 24, 2010

MERRY CHRISTMAS

They didn't get a banana load after all, but were dead headed back to California for a USF load out of Fontana, CA.    They had a day and a half of driving and made it to Tacoma, WA early this morning for the drop, but found no empty trailers to hook up to.  Eventually, they were told to go to the Fred Meyer DC in Puyallup, WA to pick up an empty there, and travel to Toppenish, WA for a load of meat this morning.

Usually, there is quite a wait at AB Foods for the meat loads, but I sensed there were a lot of employees who wanted to start their holiday festivities early, and the trailer was ready for them when they arrived.  What wasn't so good, was the weights on the tandems being over the limit and having the load be reworked and stacked in the trailer to make it all legal.  But by noon,  they had scaled out legal and were on their way south with get this........a load delivering in Modesto early Sunday morning.  Thank you Santa for my Christmas present!

They should be at the company yard in French Camp, CA about 4am Christmas morning, and they will take the time there to fuel, shower, and scan paperwork.  Then they will drive about 15 miles to Ripon, CA to the Flying J truck stop, which is only 10 miles from Modesto, and I will be able to spend some time with Craig.

He is super excited, because earlier this week, his new DroidX phone crashed during an online upgrade, and I had to meet him at French Camp and take possession of the phone and high tail it to Verizon to see if they could get it fixed for him.  They couldn't, so they overnighted a new phone to me in Modesto, and it arrived today, just in time for me to bring it to him Christmas morning.  He loves that phone, and it will make his day to have a working one again tomorrow.

Here's hoping all of you will also be able to enjoy a very Merry Christmas with the ones you love.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

SANTA'S LITTLE HELPERS

And just like that, they are back enroute to Arizona.  With plenty of time for Craig to do his 34 hour restart on his driving hours, they got to the Port of  San Diego around 9am Monday morning.  After checking in and waiting around, they were unassigned the banana load out of the Port, and told to go to the secondary loading area tucked away in the residential area.  No real worries, as they were in and out and headed north by 1pm.

Only problem they would encounter would be San Diego and Los Angeles traffic during a pretty substantial down pour of rain.  It was agonizingly slow, as they made there way north and switched drivers in French Camp.  Roy had the night time driving duties, as Craig checked the weather reports and road conditions as they made their way towards Puyallup, WA.  When they got to Corning, chains were required going over the passes, but as luck would have it, by the time they got to Siskiyou Pass, the roads were clear and no snow in sight.

By this morning they were called to stop their northward progress in Rice Hill, OR and await a team load out of Clackamas by a solo driver.  With a couple of hours to wait for the other driver, they took showers and enjoyed a meal until the swap could be made.  They have six deliveries that they will be making in the greater Phoenix area tomorrow afternoon, no doubt as before, loaded with lots of goodies that will eventually end up under the Christmas tree come Saturday morning.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

BLUE SKIES IN ARIZONA, CAN'T SAY THE SAME FOR CALIFORNIA

The rain finally came to Modesto last night.  They have been talking about this big storm for most of the previous week, and we kept waiting for it, and I gotta say, it is packing quite a punch.  Weather isn't anything that Craig and Roy have had to worry about the last few days, but that may change come tomorrow.

They had the usual prompt unload at FedEx in Portland, OR on Thursday night, then were told to drop their empty trailer at the Fred Meyer DC in Clackamas for a team load early Friday morning.  They were happy little campers when they were able to bob tail just down the street to the McDonald's and not only enjoy a few things off the value menu, but park there for the night and be just a mile away when they returned to pick up their loaded trailer.

Craig got there early again, in hopes of snagging the best load, but when he arrived, there was already another team there and it seemed like they had the only load going out.  A bit confused, he made a call into road service to confirm his load assignment, and found out the other team was hooking up to his load.  Come to find out, they were there a day early, and after a bumpy start, they hooked up to their trailer, scaled it out, and were on their way to Arizona before daylight.

It was a drive all day and all night affair, with them arriving at the first of their 5 stops before noon mountain time on Saturday.  Craig mentioned that most of the employees they came across were none too happy to see yet another load of goods coming into the store.  Seems the holiday spirit is draining out of the employees as fast as yet another load can come in.   But Craig and Roy did their part to take some products out of a couple of the stores, as they took turns at two of the drops to do some grocery shopping to restock their supplies.

By 6pm they were done and at the truck stop in Eloy, AZ with an assignment to dead head back to San Diego today for a banana load Monday morning.  With plenty of time on this load, Craig will be able to do a 34 hour restart on his driving hours, while Roy does the driving duties today.  That should set them up nicely to drop the banana load at the company yard in Bloomington and possibly get a USF load out of Fontana again.  All I know for sure is, if this rain/wind doesn't let up, we may need to put in a call to Noah to reserve room on that ark.

Friday, December 17, 2010

THREE FURNITURE MAKEOVERS

If you thought I was kicking back and relaxing while I've been in California, here is proof that I have indeed been putting in a little work while I am at my Mom's.  Oh sure, when I say work, it really means I am doing what I love to do, putting a new twist on old forgotten furniture and giving it a new lease on life.

My Mom had told me of two dressers she picked up, one free and another for $20 at an estate sale, and I had my eye on a natural pine bench that was in her entry way, that was just crying out for a punch of color.  So Monday I did my rounds to my usual haunts to pick up the supplies I would need to "get 'er done", and today I can truly sit back and relax and enjoy looking at my re-creations.

First up, is this mid century Broyhill dresser:
It had some wear and tear on it, but I was ready to make it look a little more distressed and add some color to it.  When I was done, it looked like this and looks great in one of the spare bedrooms:
Next up is the entryway bench
Here it is after
This little dresser will go in the spare room that I stay in when I visit, and have to say, what doesn't look better with a little black and an accent of burlap?
 Here it is looking fresh and new
I've had so much fun over the last three days working on these projects, that I think my Mom just may find a few more things to makeover during my stay.  It just gets me geared up for my return to Washington and making a go of turning a fun hobby into a profitable business.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WHEN IT ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY HAS TO GET THERE ON TIME

That team load out of Oakland Monday night?  Well, it turned out it was a FedEx load, where they are not too interested in the appointment time, but zero in on the "departure" time.  Craig and Roy collected 8 hours of detention pay, from 7pm (their appointment time), until 3am, when they were finally loaded, and they managed to leave just about 30 minutes ahead of the drop dead departure time.  No doubt, this being the busy time of year for FedEx, that they hire out extra help during the holiday season.
The very light load of FedEx mail and parcels was headed to Portland, Or for a 6pm delivery Tuesday night.  They arrived about an hour early for their appointment, and were promptly off loaded and empty by 7pm.  From Portland, they drove a short distance to Clackamas, OR where they dropped their empty trailer and bob tailed to Salem, OR to pick up an empty dry van to take to the PG&E yard in Marysville, CA.  Craig had the overnight driving duties and arrived this morning in Marysville, dropped the trailer and then bob tailed to the yard in French Camp with Roy doing the driving.

They will experience "deja vu" as they will have a repeat of Monday night again tonight.  Around 5pm they will take off to Oakland, most likely sit around for 8 hours again, and then boogie on up to Portland for a 6pm delivery Thursday night.  No word yet on what their next assignment(s) will be, but anytime they keep you moving non stop, is a good thing in the trucking business.  I think Craig is very much enjoying the team driving experience so far.

Monday, December 13, 2010

COVERING A LOT OF GROUND & CHINESE FOOD DREAMS

It comes as no surprise to other teams drivers, but Craig and Roy have been covering a lot of ground lately.  So much so, that it is making my head spin trying to keep up with what they are doing, and where they are going.  Even Craig has a hard time remembering exactly what day it is, and rarely knows where he is at, except for when he is driving.

After making the five deliveries in the Phoenix, AZ area, they dropped the dry van in the company yard in Phoenix and drove to Tolleson, AZ to pick up a loaded trailer at the Sara Lee Plant.  Then they drove to the company yard in Bloomington, CA and dropped it there.  They took the time to take showers, and then it was off to the USF Reddaway yard in Fontana, CA after hooking up to an empty trailer in the yard , for a drop and hook load which would take them to Tacoma, WA.

As I was on my way south to California, they were headed north to Washington, and I warned them about the rain I was experiencing on my travels, and gave Craig the heads up about Snoqualmie Pass having been closed due to the snow and avalanche control.  I was certain that they would have to travel that pass after their drop in Tacoma, and sure enough, while they were enroute, they received the info to pick up an empty after they dropped the loaded trailer and dead head to Wallula, WA for a load of meat.

Craig arrived in Tacoma around midnight Saturday night, and as he made his approach to Snoqualmie Pass, having watched the radar screen on his DroidX, he knew that the snow had turned to rain, and the only concern would be flooding rather than avalanches.  They safely arrived in Wallula yesterday morning, where Craig called me to report on their progress and then got some well deserved sleep, while Roy took on the driving duties.

Last night, with both of their hours on their 70 hour clock down to zero and 1 hour, they stopped in Redding, CA at the TA truck stop for a few hours of non moving sleep, before Craig generated some more driving hours at midnight.  When the appointed hour arrived, he drove into the company yard in French Camp, CA where they dropped the trailer, and would await for word on a team load out of Oakland, CA for later tonight.
With more than a few hours of down time, (of course it is always guaranteed to change at a moment's notice, as we have come to expect), the plan is for me to drive into French Camp this afternoon with Craig's favorite combination plate from our local Chinese take out here in Modesto.  He has been dreaming of it for the past week, and never fails to mention it to me every time we talk.  Here's hoping his dream comes true and he'll be happily eating his chow mien prior to taking on their next team assignment.

Friday, December 10, 2010

GOODBYE LONG BEACH, HELLO ARIZONA

With what I'm sure will be the norm, rather than the unusual, Craig and Roy were told to drop the trailer of frozen french fries at the company yard in French Camp.  That was accomplished around 2am Thursday morning, and then they hooked up to a Fred Meyer load of household products, no doubt which will turn up under many Christmas trees in the greater Phoenix area, and high tail it to Arizona. 

When they received the assignment, and after doing the math, even with a team, the load would deliver about 10 hours late.  The routing would take them on a route they haven't gone before, veering off of Highway 99 in California, and taking Highway 58, connecting to Interstate 40, and then taking Highway 89 south through the Prescott National Forest.  I'm thinking it might have been a scenic drive had it not been already dark by the time Craig drove through it around 8pm last night while he was talking to me.

Since they would arrive so late after the original appointment time for the first of their 5 stops, they were updated with new appointments for first thing this morning starting at 7am.  Craig's plan was to just drive straight to the store last night and back into the dock to await the arrival of the employees to unload their portion of the load.  They will have four more stops to contend with this morning/afternoon, and then with an empty dry van, we suspect they will dead head back to the company yard in Bloomington, CA, unless there is something they can pick up that doesn't need refrigeration.

While that is all being decided, I will be busy here in Walla Walla preparing for my trip south to California.  Although it will be hard to take a break from the restoration business for a few weeks, both Cori and I are gearing up to go full force after the first of the year.  The forecast calls for nothing but rain on our journey, and I'll take that any day over driving in that white stuff!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

THEIR FIRST LEGITIMATE TEAM RUN

After Craig and Roy made the delivery on Monday morning, they were hit with their first legitimate team run, however, it wouldn't start until midnight.  They drove the sixty miles from Vernon, CA into the company yard in Bloomington, CA to scan their paperwork and kick back and rest up for the load later that evening.   By midnight, they were at the USF Reddaway yard, but they would end up waiting over three hours before their trailer would be ready for them to take.

Roy started the driving duties at 3am, while Craig adjusted to trying to sleep in the bunk, while being bounced by the pot holes and rough patches of road along Interstate 5.  With over 1200 miles to travel, it would take them around 24 hours to complete this run into Spokane, WA.  Craig took over the driving duties in Corning, CA and would drive until Biggs, OR where Roy would take over once again.  With a few fuel stops thrown in, they would arrive at the USF Reddaway yard in Spokane at 5am this morning.

With their first run under their belt, they were ready to take on their next assignment, but thought they would have a few hours in the yard, so Craig started a load of laundry.  Before he could put it in the dryer, they had their next load assignment to Quincy, WA for a load of french fries.  He had to take his wet clothes and hang them off the bunks to dry while they headed out to first pick up pallets and then head to Quincy.  This load will delivery in Long Beach on Friday morning, but since they will be able to be in LA by tomorrow we'll just have to wait and see if they will be dropping it in the yard prior to delivery.

As for me?  I'm actually seeing sunshine for the first time in almost a week, but with the prediction for rain the next five days, I'm sure it will be short lived.  I'll be heading south on Saturday, with Cori and her children to California for the holidays.  I'm looking forward to being able to go and see Craig on his way up and down I5 in French Camp over the two weeks I'll be there.  Plus, I have a few projects lined up at my Mom's house to keep me busy and get me ready for the new business at the beginning of the year!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

BACK TO WORK WE GO

We had to leave a day earlier than we wanted to, so that Craig could go get his fingerprints taken for his HazMat endorsement.  Once the process is completed, that will mean another two cents a mile for him and Roy while driving team, and speaking of which, the new team driving experience officially started Saturday.

Their first load is a run from the Tyson Plant in Wallula, WA to Vernon, CA for an early Monday morning delivery.  Since the load wasn't picked up and scaled until almost 2pm, Roy had the first shift of driving, while Craig napped in the sleeper.  They ran into a bit of snow going down Highway 97 in Oregon, but nothing too serious.  Craig would have the duties of driving through the night, as their plan was to drive all the way into Wheeler Ridge and stage there for either a swap or for the delivery Monday morning.

They should be in position, come Monday, to get into a normal team driving pattern.  It's always a bit tricky, and seems to take a couple of days, when coming back from home time to get back into a groove.  Their plan is to drive for four weeks and then take four days off.  What we know for sure at this point, is that the stress of picking up and delivering loads by a single driver, working with the electronic log, is now a thing of the past for Craig.  He is looking forward to pretty much stress free driving from here on out, barring any unexpected incidents that are bound to occur while out on the road.

I made it into Walla Walla yesterday, under a light dusting of snow.  Here I thought, the further south I went, the less likely it would be to run into that white stuff while driving. I'll be staying here until the end of the week, where I'll take off further south to visit with my Mom in California for a few weeks.  Then when the new year starts, we'll get to work trying to build up the business a bit more, which might be a bit challenging during the cold winter months, but we have a few ideas up our sleeves.

Friday, December 03, 2010

A CHANGE OF SEASONS

It seems like every two and a half years, we make a change in Craig's truck driving experience.  He started out driving OTR in the US and Canada delivering boats from coast to coast and border to border.  Then, after sustaining the back injury in July of 2007, and us both desiring to stay closer to family, he switched to the refrigerated division  in May of 2008 and drove basically the I5 corridor.  Well, it's two and a half years later and it's again time to change things up a bit.

The little side business I am involved in with my BFF Cori, has gotten off to a better start than we ever imagined.  We both want to devote more time to it with two spaces in the consignment store now, and also trying our hand with a few sales at the Cottage on her property.  Craig has over the past six months or so, entertained the idea of going team.  It would change things up a bit on the driving side, plus allow him to come home every month instead of every two months.  As he told me, he would much prefer to go team, than to do any more training.

So, starting Saturday, Craig will team up with his previous trainee Roy, (his son in law he was teaming with moved back east and left him without a driving partner), and I will divide my time between home and Walla Walla, WA as Cori and I embark on making the love we have in re purposing furniture and finding vintage items, into more of a full time business.  Both Craig and I are excited about the changes that are happening for us in the upcoming year.

Where does that leave this blog?  I'm not sure if my entries are quite as good when Craig is just relaying to me what assignments he has, versus my actually being in the truck and experiencing it myself.  I guess we'll just have to see how it goes and if the readership maintains during this departure from what we have been able to enjoy together.  I'll be posting as well, about the progress Cori and I make with our business, and hopefully, we'll find a happy medium for everyone to enjoy.  If not, I'd like the thank the ones who may lose interest in this blog that have accompanied us over the past 5 years, as Craig and I have had an adventure of a lifetime together.  We always enjoyed the company....... Thanks!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

“AH, THE JOYS OF WINTER. SURELY THERE MUST BE SOME"

Have I mentioned that it's snowing?  I'm sure I have.  We did have a break for two days, one of which I made my escape into Spokane, got a hotel for the night, and awaited Craig's arrival at the yard.  I was beginning to think the forces were against Craig ever getting his home time, but we are home now, happy, warm, and enjoying the snow covered landscape around us.  Might I add, I'm ever so grateful for a husband who knows how to drive in the snow, and now that I don't have to drive in it, I can finally enjoy it.
Let me fill you in on Craig and Roy's travels over the past few days.  After picking up the load of produce in Salinas, Ca they drove straight through to Aurora, OR a full day ahead of their delivery appointment, in hopes that they would be able to drop the load and get something into Spokane by Sunday.  No such luck, and they ended up delivering at the Safeway in Clackamas, OR  on Monday morning.  So much for getting that home time as requested, but they were immediately given a load out of Prosser, WA that loaded at 4pm Monday afternoon. 
While I made my way into Spokane Monday afternoon, they finally went loaded at 7pm and made their way into Spokane by 10pm.  Roy, having used all his driving hours for the day, got to start his home time, while Craig had to stay with the truck and made the delivery at 5am in north Spokane.  As I patiently waited, and watched as the snow began to fall again from the heavens, Craig wasn't able to get unloaded until 9am.  Then thinking he was sure to head straight into the yard to start his home time, they dispatched him to pick up a load of juice on his way in.   
I was beginning to think that I'd be in the driver's lounge waiting for him all day, but finally, around 1pm he made his way into the yard, loaded up his stuff into our pickup, and we made our way home through a snow storm.  Thankfully, this time, Craig did the driving duties, and got us home safe and sound, and in time to join our neighbors at the weekly Tuesday night get together at the clubhouse.  We'll enjoy a few more days at home before it's time to get back to work.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

LIVING IN MY OWN LITTLE SNOW GLOBE

It has snowed for the past six days.  So much so, that they have said the amount of snow we have received, has exceeded all of the snow that they had last season.  I've told Craig that our timing really sucks when it comes to when we decide to go home during the winter.  Of course last year, we packed up and left it for four months, when in hindsight, that would have been the year to spend some time there.
This year, the whole coming home thing was turned upside down, with Craig having to remain on that load of meat going into Montana and Utah.  After being shut down on Highway 20 for over 8 hours, they were finally told to divert, as the Highway would not be opening anytime soon, and head north with an additional 150 miles tacked onto their trip.  After traveling that secondary route, it was soon closed as well due to a big rig flipping over and blocking the highway.
Onto plan C, and being diverted back up to Bozeman, then over to I90 to Butte and then south on I15 into Salt Lake City.  They finally managed to get into the Salt Lake City area by 10pm Wednesday night, almost 12 hour past their appointment time.  Speaking of which, they were able to reschedule their appointment to 5am Friday, which left them to sit and relax on Thanksgiving day at a local truck stop and at least enjoy a hot meal.

Yesterday, they were given the assignment to dead head over 900 miles to Salinas, CA to pick up a load of produce today.  Looking at the weather radar maps, they saw an approaching storm and wanted to beat that storm going over Donner Pass in California.  They were safely in the company yard, having avoided the storm by 9pm last night, and in Salinas this morning by 8am.
We still don't know when he will exactly be back in Spokane and in position to rescue me from my own personal snow globe that I've been in for the past 6 days.  There is a chance of it letting up on Sunday and Monday, and I'll either get up enough nerve to drive down to Spokane, or Craig will rent a SUV and drive up to take care of things at home and then I can drive the SUV back down while Craig follows in our pickup.  In either case, we will have yet another story to reminisce about in the years to come.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

BLIZZARDS (NOT THE DAIRY QUEEN ONE)

After surviving my little spin out and getting the truck safely home, I snuggled up warm and cozy at home, and watched as blizzard warnings were being flashed across my television screen for Tuesday evening and into Wednesday morning.  Growing up in California, blizzards only happened when you were lucky enough to be treated at the local Dairy Queen, with the white fluffy stuff that was sweet and tasty, not the fluffy stuff that seemed to continually fall from the sky with blustery winds.

But I was safe and warm inside, but not so much my husband who was valiantly, along with Roy, trying to make the meat deliveries during some pretty adverse conditions.  Craig said the drive into Helena, Montana wasn't too bad, some patchy, icy roads, but all in all pretty mild stuff.  Then, after the delivery, as they headed into Billings for their next stop, it got progressively worse.  They cautiously drove on through blowing snow, low visibility, and icy roads, and succeeded in making the delivery.

I wish I could say the same for their last stop in Salt Lake City.  It is due to be delivered at 10:30am today, but Craig and Roy, along with hundreds of other trucks, are stalled on Highway 20 in Idaho, since 7pm last night, where they have been shut down with the road being closed.  Over the past five years of driving truck, we have come close to being stranded on the road with highway closures, but have either just gotten through before the closing, or have made it into a truck stop.

I know they have plenty of food and water on board, along with the help of the APU to keep them warm and cozy inside the truck, but as far as making the delivery today?  Odds are they won't, but my hope is that they at least get moving and into Utah where they can be at a truck stop and try to make the most of what will definitely be a Thanksgiving we will remember for years to come.

Monday, November 22, 2010

THANKFULNESS

I may be a few days early for the traditional day of thankfulness, but my heart is so full of thanks and appreciation today.  I guess with any good story, you should start at the beginning, so let me get started.

Craig had asked for home time for today, and even when given an assignment while in Boise, ID which had him driving to Wallula, WA to pick up meat, and then with four deliveries attached to it, Post Falls, ID, Helena and Billings, Montana and lastly in Salt Lake City, Utah he was still confident that there was a plan in the works.  Myself?  Almost always the person who thinks the glass is half full, muttered several times that there was no way he was getting home time, and that the communication between the weekday people and the weekend person has always been nonexistent.

So after going loaded in Wallula, Craig calls into the weekend dispatcher to find that he knew nothing about Craig going home and that he would have to at least make the delivery in Post Falls, ID (just a short distance from Spokane) and then call into the office to see what would be decided.  To add even more to a complicated situation, Craig didn't even have enough hours to make the deliveries into Montana, let alone deal with the snow storm which had hit the region.

After making the delivery in Post Falls, he is told to come back to the yard, where a team driver (his previous trainee Roy who was now without a partner), would join him in the truck to ensure the deliveries were made.  It was a holiday week, as he was told, and they really had no other option.  Craig tried to protest, especially since that left me to fend for myself, (not that I'm incapable or anything), but he was concerned with the snowfall, and making sure everything was okay at home.

I put on a brave front, and told him that people for hundreds of years have lived in areas where it snowed, and in modern times even drive in it, and even though I have never driven in the snow, I would be okay and not to worry.  We parted ways with a hug and a kiss, and I love you, and off I went on my way, while he waited for Roy to come into the yard to join him.

Interstate 90 was pretty much asphalt.  The snow had let up and I confidently made my way up Division Street towards Highway 2 making a slow journey home.  The roads where pretty much covered in snow, but I had the Disneyland Utopia tire marks to follow.  I made it up Highway 2 okay, and then I made my turn onto a less traveled Highway 211.  Here is where any indication of a road started to vanish, and the snow started to fall quite heavily.  It was getting hard to see, and not having a four wheel drive vehicle concerned me a little, but to tell you the truth, I was so busy praying for help and guidance that my mind was on little else other than trying to stay on what I thought was the road.
I made it through to our little town of Usk, where in the beginning of this journey, I thought I would stop at the little store to pick up some milk and other supplies, but the snow had built up so much on the road, with no indication of any snowplows in sight, I made the decision to just keep going, knowing I had some food staples at home, and who was I kidding, I had enough stored fat on me, I wouldn't starve anytime soon.

With a sigh of relief, I hit the entry road into our development, the snow even thicker here, I kept the truck  moving forward, until I felt it go loosey goosey in the tail end.  I started spinning, remembering Craig's words of wisdom during just this type of thing, foot off the gas, no brakes, and steer in the direction the tail end is fishtailing.  I tried to do all those things, and being a rookie at this snow driving I don't think I did too bad until I caught the road sign with my side mirror and it spun me even more dramatically until the pickup was sideways across the road and the rear wheels in the ditch.

Now what?  I knew there was probably someone at the club house that could help me, but I didn't have the phone number.  Directory assistance did no good as they connected me to their fax machine instead of the office number.  Just as I was calling Craig to get his input on the situation, (like he could really do anything from where he was at, but it was nice to hear his voice just the same), one of our neighbors, Terry, comes by and says....." Now how did you manage to do that?"   To which I will forever say..."It's my first time driving in these conditions" and hope that gives me a pass for ending up in the ditch.

He immediately tells me to get in his vehicle and he will take me home, and then proceeds to call his wife to call a couple of the other guys who live in the area to come by our house to get the keys to the truck and pull it out of the ditch for me.  Within 15 minutes, John and Chuck are at my door, taking my keys and telling me to relax, and that they will take care of it for me.  Twenty minutes later, our pickup is in our driveway, minus the glass on the passenger side mirror, and none the worse for the whole experience.  I don't even think there were any note worthy scratches either.

To say that I am thankful and appreciative of their help is truly an understatement.  Not only did they take care of the truck for me, but made sure the heat and water were running in the house, but Terry called from the store to see if there was anything he could pick up for me while he was there.  I was also told to stop by the clubhouse for pizza tomorrow night, and to bring my appetite on Thanksgiving for dinner on Thursday as well.

I can sit back and laugh about it now, but as Craig says, there isn't anyone who lives in the snow that hasn't spun out at least one time in their life......I just got mine done early!  Let's hope it's the last time, or if not, it has the same great ending.  Thankful I will be this Thanksgiving, and every day for the blessings in my life!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

WORKING IN THE DARK (hence why there are no photos lately)

We were up at 1am Friday morning, to take showers and then start our day by getting to the Fred Meyer DC in Clackamas, OR for our 5am delivery.  Don't know why they wanted us there at 5am, they didn't even start unloading us until 7am.  Oh well, just money in our pockets for sitting and waiting.  Can't complain too much, other than the whole sleep issue thing.

We sent in our empty call, and should have known better than to leave the premises, because as soon as we got down the road to the K-Mart to park, we got the news to drop the trailer back at Fred Meyer for a nice overnight drive to Idaho.  Back we went, dropped the trailer, and then bob tailed back to the parking lot of K-Mart, where we did a little shopping.  We basically had the store to ourselves, as it was still pretty early, and the employees were all having a meeting.

We tried to get some sleep on and off during the day, before our 10 hour break was up, and I think I managed an hour before we had to head back to pick up our loaded trailer.  It had been raining on and off all day, so we were wondering if we would be getting any snow going over cabbage outside of Pendleton.  With a stop in Troutdale, OR for fuel, we were off on Interstate 84, where we noticed the temperature dropping to as low as 23, but did not see a snowflake until we hit our first delivery stop in Nampa, ID at about 5am.

It was two hours ahead of schedule, but they were ready and waiting for us, and we were in and out in record time and onto our last stop in Garden City, ID about 22 miles away.  Just like our first stop, we were way ahead of schedule, but they unloaded us quickly, and we were headed to the TA truck stop in Boise to get some much needed sleep.

We had already been given our next assignment, to dead head to Wallula, WA for a load of meat on Sunday afternoon.  That meant, barring any pressing weather related issues which would make us leave earlier than we wanted to, we would be able to get somewhat normal sleep tonight, after a 3 hour power nap.  The meat load, with 5 stops, the first in Post Falls, ID, then ending with Salt Lake City, will most likely be handed over to another driver at the Company yard in Spokane, as Craig has requested a couple of days of home time.  We'll see just how well that all works out come tomorrow!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

BORING UPDATE

So we waited over 6 hours before finally getting into a dock in Vernon, CA Monday.  It finally took our Customer Service department to call them to get them to assign us a dock.  Once we were backed in, it took all of 20 minutes for them to off load their product.  The only think that makes less frustrating, is the detention pay we started receiving at the start of our appointment time until the time we went empty.

Immediately after going empty, we were sent a dispatch to head to San Diego to pick up bananas.  We had just made the maneuver to get onto southbound Interstate 5, when the QualComm beeped with a cancellation of that dispatch.  Then the phone rang while we were stopped at the traffic light, and we were told to head to Castaic to repower a load.  We bypassed I5 and saw the on ramp to eastbound Highway 60 which we took, and then took I710 north to hook back up with north I5.  We only had about 90 minutes left of driving time, so were hoping that we would not run into traffic.

Thankfully, we made it to Castaic, CA in time, but finding a parking space would be a challenge.  As any truck driver knows, the Pilot there is a zoo, with absolutely no parking, and after driving through and not seeing the truck we were repowering, we called in to see what his ETA was.  After being told that it would be another hour before he arrived, we went in search of parking.  We ended up in a large parking lot which truckers had taken over for parking next to an abandoned hotel.  Finding a spot for our trailer, we unhooked and then parked the truck two spaces over to hold a spot for the other driver.

While sitting there, Craig looks to his left and sees a Panda Express, and that was all he needed to make his day.  He loves his Chinese food, and was off in a flash to grab some food and wait until we could swap trailers.  At 6pm, and without another parking space in sight, the other driver shows up and we do the trailer swap shuffle, and then settle in for the night.  We were now in possession of a trailer with only 8,000 pounds of meat, which we would deliver to Pomona, CA at 8am Tuesday morning.

We left a little after 5am to make the drive, and arrived with plenty of time to make our appointment.  Even better was that they took us early to unload, and by 8:30am we were empty and being told to head to San Diego for bananas.  We stopped by the company yard to fuel and scan paperwork, and then headed south to the Port of San Diego.  After almost four hours at the port, we had our bananas and decided to just stay down the street in National City for the night.

At 2am Wednesday morning we were on the road, confident that we would have a clear sailing through LA.  With a stop in Lebec for fuel, we powered on and made it as far as Dunnigan, CA where we stayed last night.  This morning we started driving at 3am, stopping for fuel in Corning and then our plans are to stop at the TA in Coberg, OR , where we will stop for the day and take showers.  Our load is set to deliver at 5am tomorrow morning in Clackamas, OR.

Monday, November 15, 2010

DID I SAY JINX MYSELF?

I should have known better than to even write down what a great load assignment we had, because jinx myself I did.  We had a restful sleep, or should I say Craig did, as I had a battle with a rattle from the reefer going on most of the night, that kept me tossing and turning.  Never could figure out exactly where it was coming from, because no matter where I placed my hand it would stop for about 45 seconds and then start up again.  Anyway, back to Sunday.

We took off from the Pilot Truck Stop in Dunnigan, CA and was bebopping up Interstate 5 when Craig's phone starts ringing.  We both looked at each other and knew exactly what was going to happen.  Sure enough, we're told to head back to Dunnigan and wait for a driver that was on his way there from Weed, CA.  We did the math and figured it was going to take him over 3 hours to get there, so we kicked back and do what we do best........wait.

The other driver arrives around 10am and we go about swapping trailers and handing off paperwork.  We inherited a trailer full of meat to take right back down to Vernon where we were just at on Friday. We drove as far as Wheeler Ridge, CA where we stopped for the night and awoke this morning to take showers and do battle with the LA Monday morning commute.  It took a lot longer this morning than it did on Friday to get into Vernon, but we were still about an hour early for our appointment so we hung out for awhile before checking in.

Once we actually got to the receiver, we found a security guard who took our paperwork, had us write down our phone number, then promptly sent us off the property to go find a parking space on the street somewhere.  Thankfully in Vernon, that isn't too terribly hard to do, and we have been waiting ever since.  It's now starting our third hour of waiting to be called to a dock, with no signs of us getting unloaded any time soon.   Guess it's time to start that new book!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

SLEEP DEPRIVED

It's been a couple of days since I have posted, mostly because we have been doing nothing but driving at night, and then making the deliveries in the morning, and then finally trying to get some sleep before they send us on yet another load assignment.  I'm happy to report that last night we were able to go back to a normal sleeping pattern, but with falling dead asleep by 7pm, we were up and ready to hit the road with our newest load assigment at 3am.

To finish up on our last load, we left Weed, CA at 1am Thursday morning to get into Fremont for our first delivery at 10am.  We were concerned with commute traffic, but then we remembered that it was Vertern's Day and that most likely traffic would be dramatically reduced, and it was.  We arrived about two hours early for our appointment, but was given a dock right away.  You'd think we would be done early since we got that dock assignment, but nope!  We ended up being there over 4 hours, and on top of that they refused 3 cases of hamburger because the boxes were torn. ( by the way, the hamburger had to be dumped)

After all the phone calls and paperwork were completed, we headed out with only enough drive time left to get us into Santa Nella, CA.  Then it was trying to sleep again before getting up 1am to drive into Vernon, CA for our last delivery.  Again, with the holiday the previous day, traffic was much lighter than it would normally be.  We had a bit of a wait to get into the dock at King Meat, and then were hoping for a day of rest.  What we heard instead was a preplan to pick up a loaded trailer in the yard in Bloomington and be in Clackamas, OR by Sunday morning.

Well, Craig does the math quickly and with us having to drive two more nights to get there by 7am Sunday, he would be about 2 hours short on driving hours on his 70hr clock to make it.  I was never more relieved than when the message came across that the load would be assigned to someone with more hours and for us to head to the yard and await a different assignment.  That dispatch came across at 6pm for us to pick up a trailer loaded with bananas in the yard, and deliver in Puyallup, WA on Tuesday morning.  Praise the Lord!  A load assignment with more than enough time on it, which would allow us to go back to normal operations.
Now let's just hope I didn't jinx ourselves by saying so!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

AND SO IT BEGINS

We arrived in Salinas, CA yesterday mid morning, got the trailer washed out, and then dropped it at Fresh Express.  I could already see two of our trailers in the dock, and that told me that we would most likely be getting a dispatch later in the day.  The Pilot was packed, so much so, that we couldn't even find a small spot to park bob tailed, so we went across the street, parked and tried to get some sleep.  We got about 4 hours when the QualComm came a calling.
We were to pick up our trailer at 7pm and deliver to Clackamas, OR at 4am on Thursday.  It didn't take too much figuring to know with what hours Craig had left, that we would not be able to deliver the load on time.  In fact, to even pick up the load on time, we would have to do the split sleeper berth option yet again, leaving our parking space and heading to Fresh Express after 8 hours off duty.  Thankfully, our trailer was out of the dock and parked so that we could just hook up and stay there after getting the paperwork, and put in another 2 hours to complete our 10 hour break.
At 9:30pm we were once again driving into the night and trying to get as far as we could.  We stopped in Corning for fuel and showers, but even the showers didn't refresh us all that much.  Our sights were set on Weed, and as the first hint of lightness began to appear, we could see that it had snowed!  And so it begins.....winter has arrived with our first snowfall of the season,  Another shock for us was that when we took the exit for the truck stop in Weed, we found the road closed and the truck stop deserted and boarded up.  Word on the street is that Pilot will be taking ownership and reopening the truck stop in about 4 months. 
The closure of that truck stop sure took away some prime truck parking real estate, and we were lucky to find a spot on a side street to park and get some sleep.  We had informed dispatch of our location and the need for a swap before we went to sleep.  Still not hearing anything back after about 6 hours, Craig called to find out that the relay team responding was still 250 miles away, but with a load of meat that we would have to deliver at 10am in Fremont, CA tomorrow morning.  Oh boy!  Yet another night of driving and trying to work around the Bay Area commute traffic.

This new load has yet another drop for us back in Vernon, CA on Friday morning.  We don't have the particulars yet on that one as to the time, but I'm planning on another late night/early morning departure to make that delivery on time as well.  I guess we are destined to be creatures of the night for a few more days!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I LOVE TRUCKER FRIENDLY SHIPPERS/RECEIVERS

What is so great about this load we got yesterday morning, is that at Regional Western Delivery Service in Fullerton, it is a drop/hook situation, plus they let you stay on their property to sleep if you need to.  We would in fact be needing to since we started yesterday at 4:30am and would have to be on the road by 10pm.  That meant parking and trying to grab a few hours of sleep while trucks and trailers were being moved back and forth in their yard.  It's the usual game, trying to sleep when you're not tired, and yadda yadda yadda...... but just knowing we had a place to park and put in our 10 hour break was a blessing.
By 9:30pm we were hooking up to our trailer and heading towards Tracy.  Thankfully while at one of our earlier drops, a driver asked me if we listened to audio books and if we wanted to swap.  He had a Tom Clancy audio book and I knew right away that would be one that Craig would be interested in.  So I swapped out three of ours for three of his, and Craig had something to keep his interest while he drove through the night.
Once we arrived in Tracy at 5am, we were unloaded immediately, then parked in their lot to await the office crew to arrive.  Long about 7am we got the word to head to Salinas, CA to drop the trailer at Fresh Express, and we are currently enroute there now.  I won't be predicting when we'll get our new assignment, but I am hoping we don't hear anything until tomorrow afternoon.......We sure could use a good night's sleep!

Monday, November 08, 2010

BACK TO NORMAL DRIVING ONCE AGAIN

We've had a great couple of days since picking up this load in Wallula, WA on Friday morning.  With a nice paced delivery schedule we drove into La Pine, OR by 4pm Friday evening.  Then on Saturday we stopped in Corning, CA for fuel, grabbed us a Subway sandwich to share, and was comfortably in the company yard in French Camp at 3pm.  That set us up nicely for our delivery in Newark, CA at 6am Sunday morning.

We have been to Western Food Products in Newark several times before.  It's an easy off and on the freeway kinda place.  We only had to wait a short time before getting into one of their three docks, and it took only an hour to get their portion of the load off the trailer.  Our next stop would be Santa Nella, CA for a Starbucks stop.  My iced latte never tasted so good!  With drinks in hand, the rest of our journey was a piece of cake into Wheeler Ridge and the Petro Truck stop for fuel.

Since we were there at 1pm, we took showers, started a a couple of loads of laundry, and treated ourselves to some soup and salad.  Just what the overcast, drizzly day called for.  While the clothes were drying, we caught the last 90 minutes of a movie playing in the driver's lounge.  Then it was off to relax a few more hours before grabbing some sleep for this morning's deliveries.

After making our way through LA commute traffic, we found ourselves way ahead of schedule, so we pulled into our not so special or secret parking place in Vernon, the one where last December we got a parking ticket for staying there between 2am and 4am, but it suited us to wait out the hour until our appointment time at Randall Foods two miles away.

I have to say, of all the hole in the wall places we have delivered to in Vernon, it sure was nice to have a place with ample parking for the trucks staged to get unloaded, and plenty of room for backing into the docks.  A two hour stop there, and then it was off to our final delivery at Pilot Dist. about 2 miles away.  When we drove by this place early this morning, there were several trucks crammed into their small lot, but we were happy to see we would be the only ones there when we arrived at 10am.

This place had us unloaded so quickly, we were in and out in under 20 minutes and thinking that we would have the rest of the day sitting at the yard in Bloomington, especially with only 3 hours left of drive time for the day.  But wouldn't you know it, the QualComm started beeping and we are sent 25 miles away to Fullerton, CA for an overnight load into Tracy, CA at 5am tomorrow morning.  So much for that back to normal driving thing!

Friday, November 05, 2010

THE GHOST TOWN OF SHANIKO, OREGON

I wish I could tell you that we got to sleep last night, and in reality we did, but only until 3am, so I'm not sure that counts.  We got back to the yard yesterday after making the delivery in Coeur d'Alene, ID and promptly took showers and got into our pickup and drove over for Mongolian BBQ for lunch/dinner.  It worked out that we each had left overs which we took back to the truck for breakfast this morning.  With stomachs full, we had no energy left to do anything but lay on our beds and pray we would not get beeped with a new assignment.
At 5pm, we were beeped to hook up to a trailer and head to the Tyson Meat plant in Wallua, WA.  The message only said " take 70793 to Tyson".  Since there were no times added, and since we still had no sleep, and couldn't even leave until 11pm, we made the executive decision to stay put and sleep until at least 3am, because no one would be in the office to even give us any dispatch info until 6am.  We pulled into Tyson at 6am, dropped our empty trailer, and was then shortly there after given our new assignment.
We were happy to find out that the load was ready 5 hours ahead of schedule and we hooked up, scaled the load, and were on our way south by 9am.  This load has three deliveries, one in Newark, CA Sunday morning, and the other two in Vernon, CA on Monday morning.  Barring any unforeseen circumstances, this will be a nice easy run, during normal day time hours, and all the night sleeping we could want.
So with a little extra time on our hands, we decided, that after passing through the town of Shaniko hundreds of times over the past 5 years, that we would actually stop and take a look around.  Obvious to us, was that this town is not much more than a ghost town.  I imagine it is a bit more active during the summer months when the candy and ice cream store are open for business, but today there was only the Post Office and a gas station, with inoperable gas pumps that were open.
I love the feel of old buildings, and especially fell in love with the hotel, which is up for sale.  I love old brick buildings, and I could see this place coming back to life, along with the cafe next door.  Meandering around, I joked to Craig about finding him a new truck to drive, which looked like it has been parked in the same location since before my birth.  In all it took about 15 minutes for us to check out the town, and then it was back on the road to La Pine, OR where we made our home for the night.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

DREAMING OF SLEEPING AT NIGHT

I can't even remember the last time I posted.  Even though it was only a couple of days ago, it seems like at least a week.  My sense of time gets a bit warped when we do a lot of night driving.  It all started with that Foster Farms run, where we were delayed 5 hours with waiting for the load and then the bad tire.  That put our backs up against the wall to get to our three deliveries.  Craig has had to push it to the last few minutes of his driving hours the last three days.

They changed our appointment at Foster Farms in Kelso, WA, and thankfully this time there was no DOT officer looking through binoculars for seat belt infractions, not that he would have seen us not wearing ours.  From there, with the electronic QualComm sending out verbal warning messages, we made it to Toledo, WA and into the lot at Gee Cee's Truck Stop.  A short 8 hours later, we were on the road at 1:30am to get to our 4am appointment in Auburn, WA at the Safeway DC.  After getting their portion of the load removed from our trailer,  we were able to drive to the company yard in Pacific, WA to put in a 2 hour break to complete the split sleeper berth option, before heading up to Everett, WA to Food Service of America for our final delivery.



Even with leaving at 8:30am for our 11am appointment, and having only 50 miles to drive, we were sweating it a bit with the commute traffic headed to Seattle.  It was bumper to bumper traffic for the majority of the ride, but as soon as we got north of Seattle, it thinned out and we made our appointment time with minutes to spare.  Of course, wouldn't you know it, the place with the least amount coming off the trailer, (4 pallets), took the most amount of time.  We were there almost 4 hours waiting for the unload and the paperwork, while we watched Craig's 14 hour clock start ticking away.


Both of us were certain that we would be spending the rest of the day relaxing and dreaming of actually sleeping at night as we placed our empty call and started heading towards the truck stop about 10 miles away.  Even when the QualComm started beeping, we were confident that it was a load for the next day, and then as we listened to the information, shock set in that it was a load 120 miles away for 9pm that night.  It doesn't take a math scholar to figure out that starting at 1:30am, finishing up at 1:30pm would not get us to that appointment at 9pm.

They must have been short handed, because as Craig explained what he could do with the new assignment, with the hours that he had, he was told to do the best that he could.  That meant driving as close as we could get to the Fred Meyer DC in Chehalis, WA........we got as far as Olympia, sweating bullets through some stop and go traffic as the QualComm kept assaulting us with reminders of how rapidly Craig's driving hours were dwindling down.  Then we did yet another 8 hour break, and left at 11:45 pm to drive into the shipper, drop and hook, and start heading to Coeur d'Alene, ID for an 8am delivery that would not be met.

The drop/hook went like clock work, a stop for fuel and caffeine in Tacoma, and then an all too quck 2 hour break at a rest stop along the way to get some much needed sleep and complete the split sleeper berth requirement.  With the sun shining in our eyes, we are presently 39 miles away from delivery, and it looks like we will only be 90 minutes past the original delivery time.  Not too shabby if I say so myself.  Now do we dare think of getting the rest of the day/night off when we go empty?   A girl can only dream!


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

ROAD SHOW

I just realized, that last year I missed this road show of the changing colors along Interstate 5.  I was home while Craig was training.  Sure enjoying the scenery this year!








Monday, November 01, 2010

DELAYS BEYOND OUR CONTROL

We couldn't get any TV reception to watch the World Series last night in Livingston, CA at the Foster Farms facility, so we had to watch for updates on the computer......definitely not as fun as watching the action live, but the Giants won, and we're not complaining.  What we could complain about is the driver that dropped the dirty trailer at Foster Farms, which delayed our load getting onto the trailer by over two hours, and then the trailer they did load, had a tire that was so bad,  it would have never have passed an inspection.
By the time we scaled, and had the tire replaced, we were 5 hours behind schedule, and would not be able to make our first appointment.  If Customer Service can change the appointment, without effecting the other two drops on this load, we may just be able to keep it.  What isn't so great, is driving until 1am tonight.  Thank goodness for Diet Mt Dew!
As we approached Stockton, we saw warning signs of an accident ahead, and once again, we were delayed as we inched our way, with the backed up traffic, pass the accident scene.  At this point we really can't afford to have any more glitches along our route.  We did an Indy 500 pit stop for fuel and Mt Dew in Corning, CA at the TA truck stop, and were back on the road in record time.  We will use up just about every minute of Craig's driving hours to get us into Rice Hill, OR late tonight.  We'll have to wait to hear in the morning if we will continue with this load with a later delivery, or swap out with another driver. 
On a very happy note.....the Giants win the World Series......fun times in our truck tonight!.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

IT'S ALL ABOUT COMMUNICATION

The one thing we have learned over the past five years in trucking, is that if you don't communicate in a timely manner, issues can't be dealt with when they are manageable, and snowball into big problems.  We've heard and seen way too many times, of drivers that wait until the last minute to give their fleet manager/dispatcher a heads up about a problem, and then complain about how it was handled.  Or, the amount of times we have been stopped by truckers at a truck stop or rest area, wanting to know which direction a particular city or highway was.  A map isn't an expensive tool to buy, especially when you drive for a living.  Do they ever stop to think, that except for unforeseen issues, (accident/medical emergency), that if they took as little as 15 minutes to do a little planning, a lot of headaches could be eliminated.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Craig knew when he received the dispatch that the delivery times, combined with his driving hours, added onto his 14 hours clock, would present a problem, especially at his last drop.  It's not often that he ever calls into dispatch about a delivery problem, because he is like a dog with a bone, and refuses to give in until he looks at it from every angle and possible scenario, before finally making that call.  So yesterday he calls in and explains the situation, saying that the delivery is possible, but here are the factors involved, and the main one being the electronic log system that he is on.  It leaves no wiggle room what so ever!  About two hours later, he is told to drop the load in French Camp by 3am this morning, and that a local driver will make the deliveries and with that, what could have been somewhat of a big problem has been resolved by a little bit of communication. 

Craig has already received his next assignment, another load from Foster Farms in Livingston, destined for three drops in Washington.  What is sweet about this load, is that he is to bob tail to Livingston, which means he can swing by my Mom's house and pick me up on his way there, plus get to stop and visit for a short time.  After picking me up, we'll continue onto Livingston and go directly to Foster Farms to sleep in their lot and await our load in the morning.  I go on record saying that Craig had no problem what so ever communicating that information to me!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

Saturday, October 30, 2010

GRACE UNDER FIRE

We received a comment yesterday from Michelle and Kendall over at the Plum Trucker blog.  She mentioned how it can be a challenge for them to handle multiple drops, and in her words...."you guys always seem to handle them with such grace".  To that I say, that grace comes from experience, and sometimes even with that, it can be a challenge for us as well.

I know we owe 90% of our success rate to meticulous planning, and the other 10% to just plain old luck, but sometimes you get a load that is so tight, and leaves you with your hands tied and no escape route. Take for instance Craig's latest assignment. 

He was given the load a little before 7am on Friday.  Drive from Toledo, WA to Wallula, WA to pick up a load of meat by 1pm.  The load has three deliveries, one in Newark, CA, one in Daly City, CA, and the last stop in Santa Clara, CA all on Sunday morning starting at 5am.  When given such a load, the human calculator (Craig), starts figuring miles versus hours of driving, and when I'm in the truck, I start inputting the data into my mapping program to be able to give him the distance to and from any particular spot on our routing.  With me out of the truck, Craig either has time to do it on his own, or he will call me, as he knows my computer is never far from my reach, to get the information he needs.

With the amount of time he used to drive to Wallula, he knew that it would be an extremely tight delivery with his 14 hour clock in jeopardy on Sunday.  With a start time of 1am in Corning, CA  he needs to get to his first drop at 5am, and then ending with his last drop at 3pm.  Already most drivers have figured that the 14 hour clock will run out at the last delivery.  Our only hope is that the first two deliveries run ahead of schedule, that there are no traffic issues driving into and out of San Francisco on his second drop, and that he will be able to get to the last drop way before the 3pm appointment, get unloaded, and find some spot in the Bay Area to park.....as if there are any spots to park in the Bay Area.

With all of that being said, even with all the planning that is involved in thinking we have this under control, we are still going to need a hefty shot of that 10% just plain old luck, and a lot of grace under fire, to survive this assignment.

Friday, October 29, 2010

CLICK IT OR TICKET

Yesterday was an interesting day, and I'll go on record saying that I was glad I wasn't with Craig.  His first drop went like clock work, in and out and onto his second stop.  He arrived on time, and when he went into the receiving clerks office, there seemed to be a problem with the paperwork.  He left the details to be worked out between them and Foster Farms and retreated back to the truck to wait. 

After about 45 minutes he rechecked again, and found the receiving clerk still perplexed.  She kept checking and couldn't figure out who had ordered the product.  Long story short, after another 15 minutes or so, it was finally figured out that the turkeys that were being delivered were for the employees for Thanksgiving.  Once that mystery was solved, their portion of the load was taken off and Craig was on his way again.

Thanks to the delay, he was on an ever so tight schedule to make his last drop.  In fact he was just 3 blocks away, following a Foster Farms truck to the complex, when he noticed flashing blue and red lights behind him.  More than a tad bit confused as to why he was being pulled over, he found a spot safely off the roadway and awaited the officer's arrival at his door.
Seems the officer was parked at the corner, and looking through binoculars, it was in his opinion, that Craig was not wearing his seat belt.  I will go on the record here, that Craig never starts up the engine of his truck without having his seat belt on, even if it is to drive around the parking lot and never go out onto the street.  So you can also imagine Craig's surprise at this revelation by the officer. 
So let me put into evidence, exhibit #1.......the bright yellow coat.   Now notice the black collar of the coat where a black shoulder strap would lie, and then continue across a dark blue t-shirt.  Craig explained that he would never say that the officer was mistaken in what he thought he saw through his binoculars, but that he was indeed wearing his seat belt.  A level 3 inspection was done, with Craig passing with flying colors, and then the officer admitting that maybe he was mistaken in what he saw.  He sent Craig on his way, and he was only a few minutes late to his last delivery.

On a lighter note................THE GIANTS WON!

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