I knew I shoulda turned left at Albuquerque…

Well, I made it to Oklahoma City, OK as I planned, though now I realize I made a small boo boo. It would have been a shorter route to go through the Dallas / Fort Worth on I-35 west instead of east. By habit I turned to the eastbound side and went up to our terminal in Lancaster to take on fuel. Oh well, live and learn. The real optimum route would have been to go up several state highways from the DFW area to where they intersect I-44 in Oklahoma but the out-of-route miles going my way aren’t too bad, to me at least.

There was a severe wreck on southbound I-35 in southern Oklahoma which had traffic on both sides tied up, but the southbound traffic was being diverted to side roads. I took some pics which I will post eventually. Four wheeler lost control, crashed into a truck with a skateboard, it went over a guard rail, that kind of thing.

View all Oklahoma Crash pics

Turns out, the load has a window

A window means a span of time the consignee (or shipper, I suppose, depending where you’re going) will accept the load and not consider it late. My consignee wants the load in Iola, KS between 8 AM and 12 noon tomorrow, so I’ve been rescheduled to noon. Assuming we can get a new tire on and a gladhand fix taken care of fairly quickly, it shouldn’t be a problem.

A tire, a tire, my kingdom for a tire!

I got up this morning and found my trailer in the yard. I noticed it was up pretty high (landing gear was cranked 8-10 inches higher than it should be) and tried cranking it down but whoever backed it into place wasn’t paying attention and bent the gear such that it couldn’t move. I went over to the inspection bay and asked the guy on duty if he would help with a yard dog. He was agreeable and lifted the trailer to let me crank up the gear a bit then set it down.

Fifteen minutes wasted, no biggie I’ll make it up later. Then, on my walkaround, I find one of the trailer tires has about 35 pounds pressure. Looked absolutely normal. Sounded normal when kicked (cough — do you use a pressure gauge always? — cough). I tow it over to the maintenance area and walk in to find a mechanic. Turns out, CFI doesn’t have one on duty 24/7 and I’ll have to wait to depart until after 8 AM when one does come on.

This is a problem in more than one way, as this means I will not be able to run a full day since to do so will mean my 10 hour break would keep me from arriving in the morning on time. I’m going to chat up local Laredo dispatch to see if we can get it rescheduled for delivery later tomorrow.

GPS messages

I forgot to mention… a few days ago I was approaching Houston from the east along I-10 when my Garmin unit started thinking I was off track. Apparently they have widened the freeway a bit and it thought I was going westbound on the eastbound I-10 lanes! The directions line in green at the top of the unit said “Heading westbound on I-10 east” and once I realized this I wanted to get a picture.

Unfortunately, by the time I got my camera out it had figured out the problem and had me on the correct side of the road again, at least virtually. So no picture to email in to safety, asking them “What is wrong with this photo?”

Recovering, reset, and soon to resume

My number hit the top of the board Friday night (!) which was very speedy. I made the mistake of getting on the board immediately instead of waiting, as I wanted to take 34 hours off to reset my log book. There were numerous loads available but most would require me leaving Saturday to make them so I chose from a smaller set that I could get away with starting on Sunday. Tomorrow I’m off to Iola, Kansas for an 8 AM CDT delivery. This will require a full day’s drive Sunday then up early and the last couple hundred miles Monday morning. I would prefer to do it differently but that is my best scenario, given the load choices.

Restocked the truck this morning. Walmart has apparently discontinued the large Mission tortilla wrapper things and I got basic flour ones instead. The Mission kind they used to have came in sun dried tomato, garlic, and jalapeno (I favored the first two). I use wraps instead of bread because they contain crumbs easier and, frankly, let me stuff more into each! I get a couple pounds of sliced ham at the deli counter, plus tomatoes, baby spinach and sometimes diced onion and that makes my basic sandwich. I hated spinach when I was a youngster because I only ever had it cooked… my lord, whoever invented cooking that poor vegetable needs to be forcibly prevented from procreating.

I also finally broke down and purchased a basic toaster. I’ve had a hankering to wake up to an english muffin with butter and jelly for a while now.

The flu symptoms are almost entirely gone now. Still hacking through phlegm (try spelling that correctly the first time — I dare you!) and dealing with a runny nose but it isn’t a show stopper.

Alarm is set for 4 AM, then off up the road, hopefully all 680 miles to Oklahoma City for shutdown tomorrow.

The path to Laredo strewn with wreckage

I arrived this morning in Laredo tired, runny nose, slight fever at the end of a short shot of the flu. I know exactly where I got it as well. To that cashier in North Carolina — thanks a pantload!

I overnighted on the east side of Laredo and set my alarm for 4 AM I stopped tossing and turning around 3 AM and headed out, only to find I-10 shut down in downtown Laredo with a major accident involving a big rig hauling hazmat. How a hazmat load got into downtown when it is clearly marked that they have to take the outer 610 ring is beyond me.

Yesterday was a doozy of an accident in Louisianna involving several cars, a RV and a big rig car hauler. The car hauler went off the interstate on my side of the road while everything else happened on the other side. The rig was up on its left side with the cars dangling by their chains, one side of each mashed up. It left quite a long gash of brown dirt in the shoulder as well.

I’m 57th on the board so I’ll have a load out tomorrow, most likely. Hopefully I can stretch that to Sunday morning and get a restart as my log book is pretty thin.

Mommy, what does “Service Failure” mean?

I got up this morning rested and relaxed, had a banana and an apple then reviewed my trip planning for today. Just to be certain I had the times right (east coast vs central time and all) I looked up the dispatch on my sat unit, only to find I was due to pick up this load yesterday afternoon instead of this morning.

We get several messages with times on them when we get dispatched, but the only real important one is the dispatch itself — it has the “official” times. I was looking at what the system calls a stop summary, which had me in this morning at 10 AM EST. The dispatch had me in yesterday afternoon at 3:39 PM. Oops.

So, its my first “official” service failure. I was three minutes late to a customer a few months ago which kind of counts, though the customer was backed up and couldn’t even give me a dock for two hours after that so it didn’t make any real difference.

I called night dispatch this morning to let them know and get my scolding. I asked why it was that a message wasn’t sent on the dispatch time telling me I was late, as I could have picked up the load a few minutes late as I was literally 5 miles away. “The system” sometimes blows it too, apparently. Makes you wonder when an error would have been brought to someone’s attention if I was sitting at the truck stop all day today though.

I’m at the plant now getting loaded. The gate guard asked if I had any pets aboard and I answered truthfully. Apparently CFI hasn’t got around to telling these folks that many of our trucks have pets aboard, and they don’t officially allow them into the plant. Blaze didn’t seem to care much though.

One good aspect to all of this is that I will be loaded a few hours earlier this morning than I would have been if the time had actually been 10 AM, so I can run a bit further with my sleep schedule.

This guy gives me the willies (Willieb, that is)

I got a call this afternoon from WillieB, a member of the CFIdrivers.com forums who I met last month as he was finishing up Crowder college. He subsequently graduated, passed the CFI orientation and just now wrapped up his 7,500 miles out with a finisher and got his first truck. His is a 22xxx series 2007 T600 with about 100k miles on it. He didn’t know if it had a bunk heater in it or not, though 😛

He plans on getting on the board this friday so if you are in the Joplin area stay OFF the sidewalks!

(congrats man!)

Dispatched back to My Favorite Terminal&#153

After a few more hours of waiting, my masters bade me to travel about 150 miles south near Florence, SC for a load picking up tomorrow morning at 10 AM eastern time. I’ve been hoping for a load with a lot of miles on it, since I’ve had nothing over 800 miles in a few weeks. I simultaneously got my wish (1,450 miles) and smacked myself on the forehead as I note it is back to My Favorite Terminalâ„¢, Laredo.

I suppose there is a load planner at CFI with a vicious sense of humor who is giggling like a little girl right about now. Thanks a pantload!

The trip down from North Carolina was fairly uneventful. I did take a series of smaller highways in places and its always interesting to see rural communities contrasted against the larger towns and cities I pass through. There was one field in particular that was odd to look at: there were wide swaths of violets (I believe) with a bluish-reddish color and the road had a series of dips and ridges and as the truck went up and down the angle changed on the flowers and they went from brownish, to bluish, to violet, then back to blue then brown. There was no place to pull over or I would have tried to capture the effect with my camera.

I’m parked at the Petro truck stop in Florence due in large part to a billboard of theirs advertising a 20 oz. ribeye steak for $9.99. I was planning on eating some onboard food tonight but after that percolated in my head for a while I had to give it a try. Now, at many truck stops, offers like this get you some pretty dicey meat with lots of fat and gristle but this was not the case here. I’ve eaten at some nice steak houses in my day and this steak would not have been out of place at any of them.

Currently, I’m on my bunk typing, Blaze is up front doing her best to intimidate trucks going by (I think that is what she’s doing when she crouches down and peeks at them over the dash, anyway), the truck is idling (88 degrees, after all) and I’m relaxing after that great meal and a shower.

Oh, that reminds me: when I went to take my shower I really appreciated the extra cushion of safety that Petro provided. Upon opening the door to the floor-to-ceiling tile shower stall I noticed a sprinkler in the roof. Just in case, you know, it caught fire or something.

Essential Electronics

One of these days I’m going to resume work on my website, and as part of that I want to run down a list of items that I find useful aboard my truck. Also a few items I’ve bought that haven’t been useful.

Topping the list of pry-if-from-my-cold-dead-fingers items would have to be my Nuvi 660 GPS unit from Garmin. There are many ways to get usable GPS directions on your truck, including standalone units from Magellan, Tom-tom and others as well as add-on software and hardware like Microsoft Streets & Trips, Delorme, and Co-pilot. No solution is perfect, but I consider the Garmin standalones to be head and shoulders superior to the others for the following reasons:

1) The unit itself is compact and light — it fits on my dash easily, plugs into one of my DC sockets below. That’s it. No laptop, no extra cabling, nothing. The display is extremely bright and can be seen easily under all conditions. At night it can dim itself and the user can select a range of brightness levels for day and night time.

2) The unit is almost shockproof, with no moving parts. Laptops have easily-busted hinges (for the screen), fans and of course hard drives. The read/write heads in a hard drive hover .001 of an inch off of the platters so every bump you encounter going down the road gouges the surface of your hard drives and will eventually cause data corruption and/or loss.

3) If you miss a turn the unit detects this in a few seconds and automatically recalculates a route from the new direction you have chosen. Some other units require you to hit a key, which isn’t always possible in the midst of missing important turns in heavy traffic.

4) The unit speaks in dozens of different voices (and languages). Approximately one minute before each turn it will say something like “In one mile, turn left on Telegraph Canyon road, then stay right.” As you get closer it briefly repeats critical turn information so you rarely even have to look at the unit.

5) The unit is bluetooth compatible and has an enormous database of the millions of businesses in the US. It will interface with your cell phone such that if I’m somewhere and want to order a pizza, or check movie listings or the like I look up the closest pizza joint and it automatically dials my phone with the number with the push of a button.

There are some limitations for truck drivers, most of which are shared by every GPS unit and program. First, the map database is never completely up to date so occasionally you will be sent down a road that has been closed, or turned into a one-way street, or the like. Just make a turn and it will recalculate on the fly and navigate you around the issue.

Second, it doesn’t attempt to cover truck routes, low bridges, hazmat routes or the like. If you are hauling hazmat, for instance, you will still need to navigate around some cities by hand. However, it will recalculate every time you make your own turns so this really isn’t a big deal.

Third is the cost. I purchased mine for about $700 at the start of 2007 (it is probably $100 or more less than this now). If you already have a laptop, adding on a simple program like Streets and Trips will run you about $100, and they include the GPS receiver you will need to plug in. But, see point #2, above, about durability issues.

I still occasionally miss a turn or get “lost”, but with the Garmin I don’t sweat it so much. The unit will figure out a way to correct the problem so as long as I keep my eyes open for low bridges and the like it works spectacularly well.

Blocked, and blocked

This morning when I woke up I noticed I was blocked in by other trucks. During the night a number of trucks had some and parked “ghetto” style taking up every nook and cranny of the parking lot. Unfortunately, there were about a dozen of us in a line who were unable to make a tight right turn around one truck and since I was first out I had to wake someone up to move their truck. He was a pleasant young guy working for Knight and I eventually maneuvered through the mess and got out to the street.

I-40 across North Carolina is in pretty bad shape. Lots of potholes and rough areas. Plus three weigh stations — none of which with Prepass so I had to enter each of them! Lines were pretty long in each case, even though it was 5-7 AM.

Arrived in Browns Summit, NC about 9 AM eastern time for a 10 AM delivery. Got a message as I was pulling up that Proctor and Gamble was running short of the stuff on my trailer and I was to work with them to get it into a door for unloading ASAP. Finding the right P&G warehouse was a bit trying (its tough driving by a big warehouse with your customer’s logo on it, no matter what the directions may say…) but eventually I arrived and sure enough they had me crack it open and back it into a door.

CFI had preplanned an empty trailer at this location for pickup, but the folks here decided I needed to help them by taking a different trailer at a different door instead. I sent in my empty call with the new trailer number and fired up the laptop. Thank goodness this part of NC has heard of the internet!

After a few hours, I checked my board status online via our employee site and was alarmed to find that I wasn’t on the board. I called my dispatcher and she nonchalantly mentioned that was because I didn’t enter the trailer number they had assigned so the system didn’t put me on the board automatically. I wish “the system” would at least send a message to this effect instead of relying on guessing on my part. If I didn’t have a laptop and internet access I guess I would have remained here until someone noticed that truck in NC not moving, with no load.

More than you wanted to know, I’m sure

For lunch today I had a pouch of hickory smoked tuna; appropriate, considering I had just passed the birthplace of President Andrew Jackson — “Old Hickory” as he was known. The reason I mention this is because of an interesting observation I made regarding my cat. I often share bits and pieces of tuna, ham and such with her (well, she insists, really) and occasionally something she eats doesn’t sit well and up comes the contents of her stomach. Usually either on top of something valuable or in a spot that is difficult to access.

I’ve noticed that if I follow the tuna or ham with one of her Whiskas treats she likes so much she doesn’t toss her cookies. Or if she does, its in a place I have yet to see, which isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility.

On a related note, her automatic cat water dish is teaching me to be a better driver. The water is only a half inch or so below the lip of the dish, so any sudden movement can cause a bit or a lot to spill. The “back” side of the dish is high enough this isn’t a problem so I have that side facing forward, so braking isn’t a problem. I used to have a problem with taking turns a bit too rapidly, given the load in the box. This isn’t much of a problem any more.

East to North Carolina

My satellite buzzer went off just after 6 AM this morning and I schlepped inside to see what was available to run. Basically, a crappy short run, a really crappy 1,000ish mile run with two drops that was a high value load with no time to spare, and a load of soap going to a Proctor and Gamble facility in North Carolina. That ended up being the winner.

Realizing I had to drive through morning rush hour in Memphis I grabbed the trailer, fueled, pretripped and got out of there in a hurry. I was rolling by 7 AM and fortunately the bulk of the morning traffic was going the other way and there were no traffic jams. There was a guy in a tan minivan who decided he really, really needed to take an offramp he had just passed and did a bit of off roading to get up on to it.

There was enough rain along the way to clean off the windshield, which is always nice.

I’m parked tonight at a smallish TA truck stop just inside North Carolina. I barely have internet connectivity here; probably not surprising given the rural nature of this area.

Load Weight

Oh, I did scale my truck this morning before leaving Lancaster and I was at about 59,000 gross… meaning my load was no more than about 27,000 total rather than the 33,000 lbs they put on the Bill of Lading. This happened to me before once, but so long as the seals are intact (and they are) dispatch says to run with it. I wonder what happens when they put 17,000 on the Bill then it turns out it is 33,000 though…

West Memphis

Got up early. Drove most of the way through, stopping for a couple bathroom breaks. Aside from hundreds of moths committing suicide on every exposed surface of the front of my truck, there is nothing to report. Oh, I’m #5 on the board and the first four spots are all teams which is a bit unusual.

Diagnosis: Terminal

Apparently, I am destined to move cargo from terminal to terminal for now. My number hit the top of the board right after I got back from lunch and the only real choice offered was to take a load from Laredo and deliver it tomorrow at our West Memphis, Arkansas terminal. About 850 miles total.

Our Lancaster terminal is roughly halfway between my start and end point so I decided to drive there today then finish up the rest tomorrow. I arrived just after 8 PM, got some dinner and resupplied the truck at Wal-Mart. The air is very humid and in the low 70’s so I’ve opened one of the side doors (there is one at the foot and head of the bunk area in this model truck) to let the breeze in. This sparked immense curiosity from Her Royal Highness, naturally.

The bill of lading says I’m carrying 33,000 pounds of something, but according to the way my truck drives I doubt its more than 25,000. I’m going to use the scale here in the morning before I go if I think of it to find out how much it is.

I’m supposed to fill my truck tanks when I’m at a terminal, which I did in Laredo. Since I have enough fuel to reach West Memphis without adding any more on, I will save my time and the extra weight of the fuel I’d simply be hauling there.

Ricky and Belinda

I neglected to mention earlier that when I went through trailer inspection who else should I happen to pull up next to in the inspection bay than Ricky, his wife Belinda and their dog Paco! I went to Crowder College with Ricky and we joined CFI the same day last November. They seem to be doing well and have one heck of a space-age cockpit there with an external touch-screen display for his laptop and GPS combo, dual (!) webcams and who knows what else. You can read up on them here.

OKC to Waco to Laredo

Yesterday I ended up at the Flying J at Waco, Texas. Conveniently located a long block from a Hooters eatery. I took this opportunity to finish off the last of my onboard veggies and went to bed early. Before I did I took a picture of a pair of truckers apparently swapping trucks: they had their various personal belongings out in the space between the trucks and were moving them back and forth. As they were working out what was going to go where, trucks were circling like vultures waiting for them to clear the spot so someone could back between them and call it a day.

Some of you know that I’m not a fan of the I-35 corridor, specifically the part from the DFW metroplex south to the border. There is lots of construction, an absurd amount of traffic, and some screwed up paths through three different cities (Dallas, Austin, San Antonio). Because of this, I planned to go through there early in the morning and so I set my alarm for 4 AM. It is about 3 1/2 hours from Waco to the south side of San Antonio in my truck at that time of the morning, and from there south it is mostly barren countryside. All went as planned and I arrived at our Laredo terminal at about 9:15 AM.

One of the reasons Laredo is my least favorite terminal is the extra work we get to contribute each time we arrive with a load. First, we have to head to our terminal where we wait in line for our trailers to get inspected and a written report created, documenting the condition of the tires, lights, etc. I got lucky this morning and only had to wait a few minutes before getting to the front, and only about 15 minutes for the inspection. Then another 10 minutes to pull through the adjoining trailer repair bay so they could fix a bum light.

Then I was given directions to the broker that would take this particular load over the border. This time it was the local Fedex international brokerage only a couple miles away in a nearby office park area. The waiting in line for the rent-a-security-guard to check my trailer out of the Laredo yard, optional truck wash (no thanks), drive to the broker, paperwork to get into their gate, parking to get inside, waiting around for their people to assign a dock door, backing to said door (my newfound backing mastery has managed to vanish again, mysteriously), cursing and moving forward to break the seal and open the doors, backing to said dock, dropping the trailer, driving to the other side of their building for their rent-a-security-guards to check me out of their lot, and drive back to the CFI yard are on my tab. In other words, gratis.

Did I mention traffic yet? Most days, this side of Laredo has more big rig trucks on the road than cars. Think I’m making this up? Here is an unfortunate driver trying to survive in the big bad world of trucks: (No, he didn’t end up crunched between those guys)

This was not, by the way, during rush hour… this was at about 10:30 AM.

Anyway, to make a long story even longer, I get back to CFI and go on the board… I’m 81st. I’ll probably be here the rest of today and most if not all of tomorrow before I get a load out to wherever. Good time to do laundry.

Dispatching disaster — narrowly averted

Yesterday afternoon, after the load lock incident, I was dispatched to Oklahoma City to receive a relay load bound for Springfield, Missouri. My arrival had to be before 7 PM local time which was no problem since it was only about 90 minutes away.

While I was driving the relay point got changed from one truck stop to another, and I dutifully reprogrammed my GPS and headed to the new destination. Upon arrival, I shut the rig down and took a closer look at the dispatch information, only to find:

  1. The estimated arrival of the other driver was 7 PM the following day, some 28 hours hence.
  2. The load was high priority and needed to get to the destination as soon as possible… but since I was going by CFI Joplin I had to stop there for inspection and fueling.
  3. It was a driver assist unload, meaning I would be inside the trailer helping them get whatever it was out.

If I left OKC at 7:15 PM I would arrive in Springfield around midnight, or 1 AM assuming I got in and out of CFI Joplin expeditiously. Assuming they were still open at that time, figure at least a couple hours to unload making it 3 AM. Then, assuming I could park on site for my break, I would be ready to take another load mid to late afternoon on a Friday. This after basically blowing three days for a 288 mile, driver assisted load.

I called my fleet manager and asked as sweetly as possible: “Am I reading this right? It looks like a 30 hour wait to relay this load in OKC?” My dispatcher brought up the information screen and agreed that it looked a bit odd, but noted that there wasn’t really that much else in the area to carry. My offer to deadhead to Seattle or Miami forthwith was quickly rebuffed.

She said she would look into it and check my satellite box when I got back to the truck for any update. Upon arrival, I found I was taken off the relay load and instead given a pickup in OKC bound for my oh-so-favorite CFI terminal, Laredo. All things considered, a good trade.

Pride goeth before the fall (and its just barely spring…)

So I arrive this morning in Lawton, OK. The paper reprocessing plant is something like 8 miles off of the freeway and the road through town is INCREDIBLY bumpy. Not like pothole bumpy, like rolling concrete bumpy. Up one wave of asphalt, down the other side. Over and over again. Might be fun in a four-wheeler; not so much in a big rig.

You check in at the front gate using a telephone system, get weighed on their scale, then head around back to get in line for a dock. There are bales of paper everywhere, and not a whole lot of room to maneuver. For a newer driver like myself, this is a recipe for ego disaster: a difficult back, no choice of spot to back to, and doing it in front of other professional drivers.

View all Paper reprocessing plant pics

Would you believe I nailed it the first time? This is the end result, click here for a number of pictures I took to give you an idea what it was like. I had to make a wide right turn, about 220 degrees worth then angle the truck back into the spot — and I did it better than anyone else at the dock! I had to work at keeping a self-satisfied grin off of my face as I went in with the paperwork.

After several hours of waiting I was unloaded so I pulled forward, got my trailer doors shut then headed off of the lot to await my next dispatch. Still basking in the afterglow of my newfound backing mastery, I decided to reorganize the upper bunk area of my truck so I can raise the bunk at night to give myself more room to relax in. I won’t disgust the gentle reader with a picture or two; suffice it to say I had work to do.

After an hour or so there was progress made and I was ready to take a few items and put them into my driver’s sidebox. A sidebox is a locked storage compartment you can access from outside your truck, so I grabbed my keys. Then I realized I had made a major boo-boo back in the plant.

Before I had backed into the dock I had taken off my load lock (think a very imposing hasp lock — almost impossible to open without the key) and placed it on the back bumper of my trailer. When I left, I was in a bit of a hurry to free up the dock and neglected to ensure it was still in my possession. Did I mention the dock was about 1/4 mile inside the plant, behind chain link fence and a now-imposing line of about a dozen big rigs waiting to unload?

If you lose your lock the company will replace it, and you’re out $40. Being relatively frugal, I wouldn’t leave it without a struggle so I drove back to the front gate, parked my truck and asked security if I could walk to the dock to look for my lock. They agreed.

I scanned every inch of ground for a quarter mile as I walked to the dock, to no effect. I went in and talked with the dock workers to see if someone had turned it in; no joy. I looked under the truck that was now occupying that slot, but nothing was there but some trash. Crap, I thought: now I’m out the lock and a long walk back.

There was a small pile of trash behind the truck right up against the dock and I decided I wasn’t above sorting through it when I caught a glimpse of something shiny… my load lock! I let out a triumphant cry and held it above like the father of Kunta Kinte in Roots, dancing a little jig. Then walked back to my truck.

So remember: pride goeth before the fall.

Of mystery trailers, mystery birds and mysterious messages

I began today at that mom and pop truck stop (which, by the way, wasn’t bad at all. Nice big parking lot, a scale, only a few pumps though. No lot lizards, praise jeebus…) After my usual walk around inspection I drove for about 15 minutes to my consignee. As I pulled up, I noticed one of the four docks had a CFI trailer in front of it, and thinking nothing of it I went inside to see if they wanted to unload me early.

Turns out, no one knew why the other trailer was there. It wasn’t due until tomorrow (4/18) and the truck that dropped it off just backed it up to a dock, didn’t open the doors, and left. This was a bit of a problem because the company didn’t have a yard dog or truck of their own and couldn’t move the trailer! Seeing an opportunity to go a bit above and beyond in the service department, I offered to unhook from my trailer, hook the other one, move it up then set it back for them so they could unload both. They enthusiastically endorsed the idea and made sure to unload my trailer first (which makes sense, I was due today after all).

While I was waiting another big rig pulls into this company’s lot and we chat for a minute. Turns out he wasn’t there to deliver, he just needed to turn around and decided this was a good spot to do that. There was more than enough room in front of where the trucks were parked next to the dock for him to do a tight 180 degree turn but for some reason he insisted on backing up a hundred feet or so, then basically doing a 3-point turn using one of the empty docks to back in to. Guess he needed work on his backing.

I called dispatch about the mystery trailer and someone was supposed to get back with the company to make amends, I guess. Upon entering the empty trailer code on my satellite system, I was immediately dispatched about 3 miles away… to a landfill. Oh what delights we have sometimes here on the road.

Turns out, Columbia, Missouri has a pretty decent-sized recycling operation going on and once they separate the garbage from the recycled stuff, the stuff they can sell gets baled up and sent off by truck to places that reuse materials. I was getting a load of paper and cardboard headed to Lawton, Oklahoma and it took about an hour to load. I took out my camera and snapped some pictures while I waited.

View all Recycling Plant pics

While I was in my truck waiting to be loaded and doing paperwork, I glanced out my driver window and saw this bird on top of a nearby bale. It was a black bird with brilliant red, orange and yellow markings over the wings. Not being much into ornithology I’m not sure what kind it is, but I’ve not seen the like before. I carefully grabbed my camera (at arms length from the earlier photography around the plant) and took a couple shots. Unfortunately, my camera doesn’t have the greatest color perception and you don’t get the full effect.

Finally, on my way to southern Oklahoma I ran across this tanker. Well, he passed me and I saw something that wasn’t quite right with the, er, messaging displayed on the rear of his truck. I wonder if some truck chains might reconsider selling mud flaps with their names on them after a stunt like this…

Back in the saddle… again

After a long weekend off, I got back on the board this morning, 16th in line for a load. By noon it was my turn and I was called in to choose from three loads going to Kansas, one to northern Missouri and the other to Davenport, Iowa.

I still have a bad taste in my mouth from the last trip through Kansas (beer aftertaste, just from delivering?) so it was between MO and IA. Since the Iowa load would have most likely been followed by a John Deere relay load I chose to head up to Columbia, Missouri for a 9 AM delivery tomorrow.

The preferred route would have taken me through the middle of the state but I’m not a fan of it… the highways are one and two lane, twisty and there are a number of small cities along the way. Instead, I went north to Kansas City then hung a right on to I-70 to MM 121 where I am tonight at a large independent truckstop.