I just love it when it all comes together like this

So I’ve been on this six-day marathon of a trip, warned repeatedly that I shouldn’t even think about arriving ahead of schedule because they won’t take loads early and I shouldn’t ask. Naturally, I arrive early expecting to wait until my assigned 0700 unload time only to find the warehouse guys happy to take my shipment off of me just as soon as I can get my truck backed up. Oh, and they are open 7/24 so I could have done this, say, last weekend.

After they take off the nine pallets of copper tubing, nine pallets of scrap copper get reloaded into the same positions inside the trailer and I head over to the shipping department to get a Bill of Lading typed up to make it all legal.

Since I can’t deliver this load to Fort Wayne, Indiana ahead of tomorrow’s scheduled 0800 delivery, I take my time driving down from Wisconsin, though Illinois then into the wilds and back roads of Indiana. My GPS had some fun at my expense and took me through the small Valparaiso (sp?) college campus to a road that didn’t exist and I had a very tight turn to make to get out of there. Eventually I got it sorted out and back on the correct path to the rural highway I wanted and ended the day in Plymouth, Indiana.

Even though it was probably 40 miles out of route, it would have been easier and more efficient to have simply taken I-80 over to I-69 then south to Fort Wayne. Lesson learned, again.

Southern Wisconsin

Yesterday I took the day off in Youngstown, OH so I could take a 34 hour reset so if I happen to get a good, long run in a few days I’ll have plenty of hours to use.

Today I drove the rest of the way through Ohio, then through Indiana and Illinois and ended up in southern Wisconsin. I wanted to stop at a truck stop a few miles away from my destination in De Forest but there was a big traffic jam just as I entered Wisconsin stretching six or seven miles in length due to construction so I called it quits early.

A few correspondents were confused about my last post so I will explain in a bit more depth. I was given an assignment on Friday morning that would force me to load then move that load about 1,100 miles to Wisconsin with the proviso that I couldn’t deliver early. If I could have delivered early I would have dropped it off in less than two days, so either Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. This would have meant two days of about 550 miles each (two times 550 equals 1,100 after all), a very nice use of my time. Doing the same distance in five days comes out to 220 miles per day, or a very poor use of my time.

Worse, this load has a second drop in Indiana which means after I wait and wait and wait until Tuesday morning, I have to run back through Chicagoland for a total of about 380 miles then wait to deliver Wednesday morning.

Worse yet, almost all the miles I’m driving in Indiana and Illinois are at 55 MPH which really grates on your nerves after a while. Not as bad as California, but still.

And to think my dispatcher was talking to me about getting more miles when we talked last week, suggesting I get on the board faster so I’m available earlier. I haven’t delayed getting on the board in months and have never done that habitually.

The Ultimate Mother of All Loads

Eventually the planners at CFI HQ came to their senses and got me a load, and boy is it a doozy! I pick up about 80 miles south of where I am, back in Connecticut, then head west for a whopping 1,100 miles to Wisconsin. Better yet, I not only have adequate time to do it in, I have an impressive five days to do it in! Better yet, after I drop in De Forest, WI I get to run over to Fort Wayne, IN for a second drop, heading back through the all-so-fun Chicago traffic.

Be still, my heart.

It turns out this is a load of copper tubing from the Phelps Dodge folks who run the mine wayyyy up in the Colorado Rockies I picked up from late last winter. When I picked up this morning I had lots of fun helping brace the copper coils with 2×4’s nailed into the floor of my trailer, as is customary with this type of load. I wasn’t paid anything to do this work; CFI considers it part of our workout regimen I suppose.

Hazelton, PA

The small town of Hazelton, PA is in the news of late with the courts overturning a local ordinance punishing landowners who rent to illegals and similar things. I don’t know about any of that, but I do know that I found yet another “winner” Pilot station when I was there yesterday to grab a shower, eat and fuel.

The parking lot is one of the worst Pilot has, and anyone who knows Pilots also knows that is an impressive accomplishment. It is small and poorly designed, so much so there is additional parking across the street (which isn’t designed particularly well either).

Anyway, I managed to get all three items marked off my list and out of there in one piece, so I guess there is something to be thankful for.

It is often easier to Apologize than to first ask Permission

This morning I forgot one of the things taught to me earlier in life, that it is often easier to do something that you believe is right and apologize if necessary instead of waiting meekly for permission.

I arrived at 6 AM local time at the Good Humor plant (owned by Breyers, apparently) and found the front guard shack uninhabited. There was a single quasi-legal place to park out on the street and dire warning signs about not parking inside the gate or going past the guard shack until permitted. I parked outside and walked in with the paperwork, only to confirm that the guard shack was indeed empty.

Now, what I should have done was to nose around and looked for a Shipping and Receiving door… just about every place with big rig docks has one. Most often labeled, too. Instead, I meekly turned around and went back to my truck and waited for 90 minutes until I got fed up and went back inside. I saw a worker on a smoke break and asked politely where the Shipping and Receiving was and he gave me vague directions.

After traipsing around the building for a few minutes I found a likely door and went inside and found another worker on a forklift. I showed him the paperwork and he waived me over to an empty dock and told me to back in and he would take care of it. Ten minutes later I was in the dock, and twenty minutes after that I was unloaded, just as my original appointment time rolled by, in fact.

So now I sit a few miles away at a service plaza on the Massachusetts Toll Pike idling in the 85-90 degree humid morning air, taking in the No Idling (more than 5 minutes) signs and the other dozen or so drivers doing the same thing. I think I will try to apologize instead of asking permission this time.

Kudos to TA

I stopped last night at a TA in Connecticut with a headlight that needed some TLC. I spoke with the guys in the shop and they didn’t mind changing it out where I was parked so I didn’t have to move (or give up my choice spot). If I didn’t have to walk inside to sign the paperwork or watch the kid spitting tobacco juice behind the counter it would have been perfect, in fact.

Shut down in Connecticut

My GPS unit disagreed with Google Maps on the best route to my consignee, so I flipped a coin and chose my Garmin. Glad I did, in retrospect, as I lost a headlight on the way and there were two T/A truck stops along the more southern route I followed. The repair garage is backed up with at least a dozen trucks so I parked nearby and hopefully can get them to come out and fix the light late tonight while I sleep.

I-84 in Pennsylvania has the most amazing series of construction bottlenecks yet witnessed by this writer. Every 5-10 miles traffic is funneled into one lane for a mile or three then its opened back up again. So they can do bridge work, apparently. I hope to not be leaving the northeast via that route.

I’m 105 miles from my drop in Massachusetts for tomorrow at 8 AM local time. I will be out of here by 4 AM local and will hopefully be the first truck on the dock there when the Good Humor folks put in an appearance.