I only drove nine hours today, leaving me only ten hours tomorrow to get closer to my destination. I need about twelve hours total, so the rest will have to come either Sunday or Monday morning perhaps. The driving itself was boring and uneventful, and I ended up between Dallas and El Paso along I-20 for the night.
Today I drove 650 miles west along I-85 then I-20 under cloudy skies. It rained nearly the entire way and the sun didn’t come out even once. The only real hitch came around Atlanta in the morning traffic but I timed my arrival just about right at 1000 and by then it was moving, at least.
Here is the whole map of the journey. I’m about 1/3rd of the way complete now. Tomorrow I will spend most of the day crossing half of Texas.
I got up this morning with a plan. A fine plan, involving delivering my load then taking the rest of the day off to rest and recuperate. It would be about six hours from where I stopped last night (the very last parking spot at a crowded T/A near Jacksonville, Florida) and that would be enough.
I was running long before dawn and made it to my drop in Columbia, South Carolina by 1100 local time. It was a single dock that some numbnutz had surrounded with tight cinder block walls but I made it in with one dinky pull up. The warehouse guy was on the ball and got me unloaded in a half hour or so and I’m thinking great, time to hit the truck stop and call it a day.
Run over to the nearest one and turn the truck off and am about to enjoy some soup when my satellite beeper goes off. Goes off with the sustained beep that I know means I have either a long form message or a new dispatch. Boom… I’m dispatched about an hour northwest to Laurens, South Carolina to a Michelin tire plant I’ve been to before.
“Can I pick up the trailer tomorrow morning instead of today?” I asked my fleet manager. No luck.
So I run an hour north, drop my old trailer, get the paperwork for the load then run around and find the loaded trailer. It is one of the newest in the fleet with the white and blue Conway logos, super-single tires, everything. Oh, and a heckuva oil leak coming from the back axle. Something that would have been obvious to the idiot who dropped the trailer there as he was STANDING NEXT TO IT WHEN HE SLID HIS TANDEMS BACK.
So, I call in to Road Service and wait. And wait. And wait. I wait about ten minutes on hold and finally someone answers and gives me the phone number to Duck Pye. I kid you not, there is a trailer repair joint in Greenville, South Carolina named Duck Pye.
Getting there is an adventure as it is located in the boonies and if your trailer doesn’t have a tire or suspension problem before you get there, the last turn you make and the road that follows is nearly certain to jar something loose.
The mechanics are quick and have me in and out in under an hour and by then it is about 1530 and it being the east coast, it is time to decide where to park. I know that a few miles away is a Pilot that I’ve been to before so I rush over… and get the next-to-last parking spot. The guy behind me took the last one next to my truck.
The load I’m on could have been a good one, were it not for the timing. I have five days to get it to Nogales, Arizona, a distance of 2,000 miles. Since the folks there don’t work weekends, I can’t deliver before Monday so I will just slog it through.
Oh, then I got beeped as I was leaving the trailer repair place. A certain “Tim Townsend” is tied for 5th place in the current recruiting contest. Lucky bastard.
I was beeped around 0900 local time to head over to pick up a load about 15 miles away to run up to South Carolina for tomorrow. I don’t have to pick up until noon so I’m going to wait another hour for traffic to die down then skit.
I arrived in Miami, Florida at my consignee just before 1330 local time, eleven hours ahead of schedule. I was expecting some flack from the gate guard but he was surprisingly gentle with the rubber gloves and lubricant. Then, he directed me to the receiving folks and amazingly, they didn’t kick me off the lot. Instead, they took the paperwork and pointed me at an open door.
“Take door 18, we’ll try to get you in between three and four.” I was told.
I busted a move (silently, and without moving of course) and took my truck over to the right spot.
Could I get unloaded this afternoon?
UPDATE: It took a good long while, but eventually I was unloaded. I ran over to the only truckstop I know in the area and managed to snag the last empty spot. Woo hoo.
Today I drove from just west of Houston, Texas to the panhandle of Florida through some of the roughest thunderstorms I’ve seen on the road. I spent almost 300 miles in the pouring rain at speeds ranging from 10-65 mph. When I was nearing Pensacola, Florida I saw a series of five or six bolts of lightning hit what appeared to be the same spot over a period of two or three seconds, then several times more in the next 15 minutes or so as I passed the town.
As described in USA Today: (link)
Severe storms stream through South and destroy homes
MOLINO, Fla. (AP) — Severe storms blew across the South on Sunday, producing at least one tornado and destroying homes in the Florida Panhandle and Alabama. No injuries were immediately reported.
I’m about 550 miles out from my destination in Miami. I got running as early as I could this morning and plan on doing the same tomorrow morning so I arrive in the afternoon, which will let me get some rest in before the scheduled unloading around midnight.
It is a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. I got on the board last night instead of this morning because there were quite a few people waiting already and I wanted most of the weekend to run. Still, it was mid afternoon before I got beeped to choose between loads going to Missouri, Ohio and Florida. They didn’t have to twist my arm to head off to Miami, though the unload is scheduled for Monday night at midnight and the warehouse in question is a bit of a pain to deal with.
I knocked out about 330 miles today and ended up near Houston, Texas. Tomorrow is Sunday so running through Houston shouldn’t be that much of a problem and the rest of the way to Florida is a fairly easy drive.