Awakenings

This morning I jolted awake with the fear of having missed my alarm somehow, and my watch seemed to confirm this as it showed 0159 and my first appointment was at 0200!! My heart was pounding and I was furious at myself as I started throwing on clothes until I realized that I was in Mountain Time so it was really just before 0100 locally. Whew!

I motored over to the first PetSmart stop and boy am I thankful I didn’t show up there yesterday afternoon. The architect of this particular strip mall (for whom the 486th level of hell is reserved, I assure you) decided to make the docks all face one way and the natural entrance of the place for trucks backwards to this. Worse, in order to get oriented properly you had to go out back to the main street then find two places to get turned around, THEN squeeze into a single dock with cinder block walls on both sides. Grrr.

Of course, it was snowing off and on at this point and my first stop took half of my ballast load off. Also, I was running a bit low on fuel and after consultation with HQ I had to head north about 12 miles to the local Pilot, do a partial fill up, then run back down south forty miles to the last drop for this load. By this point it was snowing pretty good and there was a decent amount of ice on the road which I would have to navigate back through yet again as I made my way north to Fort Collins to pick up my next (pre-planned) load.

There was a cargo problem at the second stop, as one of the heavy pallets had fallen over on to a lighter pallet and they had to work all of that by hand. Eventually it was cleared up and I was able to shove off back out into the snow and ice.

I ran straight up I-25 to Fort Collins cautiously as there was some decent accumulation on the roads at this point. By the time I was almost there the weather was still freezing but no longer snowing, and there was no ice so it was a pleasant drive.

At the Budweiser plant there was a new wrinkle: no place to park an empty trailer! Apparently the plant itself wasn’t producing over Easter but the empties were still inbound and when I arrived all of the regular parking places were taken. By now I’m getting to be an old hand at what I call “ghetto parking” so I kind of made myself a spot on the far end of the empty lot. It was a good enough idea that when I was back there searching for my loaded trailer 15 minutes later another handful of trailers were using my technique.

I found my loaded trailer and backed under it only to find that the last inconsiderate asshole driver had cranked up the landing gear too high. The proper method is to crank them down to about an inch from the ground then lower your rear suspension as you pull away. This leaves the trailer a smidge lower in the nose so the next driver who hooks up has the landing gear off the ground by the time he walks back to crank them up so it isn’t a struggle. When you have twenty tons of beer loaded on top of them, cranking them up by hand isn’t for the faint hearted.

I eyeballed the tandems as I slid them back into place and when I scaled out it was right the first time. This is one area where an experienced driver has an advantage over a newer one.

Anyway, I chugged north a bit more to Cheyenne, Wyoming then turned east along I-80 towards Council Bluffs, Iowa where I will be delivering this load of suds tomorrow morning. I’m right up against the end of my logbook at the moment so I had to stop earlier than I would have otherwise wanted, but I can start early tomorrow and finish it up.

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