I haven’t updated in a few days, but rest assured everything is fine. I spent another four days out running hither and yon, eventually ending up in Omaha, Nebraska for a planned Leave of Absence so I can take a cruise.
Yes, I’ve wanted to cruise for a long while and made it one of my goals to do so this year, so I’m off for a week-long Alaskan cruise this week. I’ll be back next week with even more news, as I am about to change over from my company truck to my own leased truck so there will be lots of text and pictures to go along with that. Maybe even a video or two.
Today was an easy day in the life of this truck driver. I wasn’t in a big hurry, I knew my load was already waiting for me on another trailer — all I had to do was show up and swap then head off. Which is exactly what I did when I arrived in Ottawa, Illinois this morning.
For some reason, it being spring I suppose, I have hit an extraordinary number of birds the past few weeks. I’m talking ten or twelve that have managed to glide into the path of my truck as I head on down the road and I see them splat up against the windshield or air deflectors of my tractor. Today I didn’t hit any, though there were some close calls.
Anyway, I arrived mid-afternoon at our HQ in Omaha, Nebraska and dropped the trailer full of PetSmart goodies for someone else to take out to Colorado. I spoke briefly with one of our weekend dispatchers who said I was lined up for a load back to (my favorite) Carthage, Missouri and how I might be able to drop off the trailer there when I go home, then come back a couple days later and pick up a full trailer and thus avoid all the delays with loading and unloading. We shall see.
Or, so close, so far.
It turns out the only load getting me near home has a second, unwanted pickup heading to Illinois. So basically I get to wave as I go by and maybe later find my way home.
The load towards home took me back to the usual stop at Americold in Carthage, Missouri to drop off a load of frozen food for ConAgra from Council Bluffs, Iowa. After the five hours or so waiting for that to happen I headed a few hundred yards away to a different warehouse / cave complex to get loaded for a run to the Wal-mart facility in Sterling, Illinois. That only took another eight hours or so, for a grand total of some 13 hours to get unloaded and loaded.
Today I ran the load to its destination without incident and now I’m pre-planned yet again with a PetSmart load I pick up in Ottawa, Illinois and drop off in Omaha. Perhaps I will get home this time.
Today was an easy day, with an early-morning pickup at the PetSmart facility in Ottawa, IL and a 405-mile run in to Omaha where the load was handed off to another driver for delivery in Colorado.
I’ve been trying to return home for a few days off for a while now but the Planner Gods haven’t been able to make it happen. Soon, hopefully.
With a 0300 wakeup call I learned that the Conway load had canceled and I was instead being assigned a blown team load heading in to Chicago. A local driver brought it in from Omaha to Des Moines and I drove it in to Windy, as truckers call Chicago.
It turns out this was a UPS load and their facility is gigantic. To wit:
Just entering the facility involved some phone calls, a bright reflective vest and other goodness. The guard doing the cavity check was surprisingly gentle, though.
Afterward, I was directed a few miles away to a dropyard and had my choice between a dry van trailer with some air hose problems or an unwashed reefer unit with the remnants of a load of broccoli strewn about inside. Broccoli was the winner and I was directed to a washout facility in Ottawa to deal with the issue.
Okay, anyone who knew me before trucking knows that I used to be in the IT industry and I’ve always preferred cats over dogs. No matter what kind of pet you have you will probably get a few good chuckles from this video:
Irony, thy name is trucking.
This morning I ran the load I got earlier down to our dropyard in Kansas City then waited around for a while, until I was beeped to run back up the same highway back up to Des Moines and stage for a — wait for it — Conway load going to Dallas, Texas in the morning.
For crying out loud people, I leave there a few months ago and you still have me pulling your freight!
On the plus side, I got a nice, cleansing 200 mile deadhead back up to Des Moines and the 680-odd miles tomorrow entirely along interstates promises to be nice and relaxing. I have a new book on tape loaded up in my MP3 player and I get to leave around 0500, nice and early for me.
After I dropped off in Trenton, Missouri I was sent east to the familiar ConAgra plant in Macon, Missouri to pick up a load headed back up to Omaha. I was less than an hour away from Omaha when my satellite unit beeped and a message appeared, asking if I could help take a load from Omaha to Des Moines, Iowa after I dropped the trailer I was carrying at the yard so another driver could get home.
Sure, why not?
So, I did what I was told and picked up a load in nearby Council Bluffs, Iowa and took it to a certain truck stop near Des Moines where we agreed to meet up. He was taking my load back east to Pennsylvania and I would take his load to our drop yard in Kansas City, Missouri.
I arrived around 2130 and told our elite staff at HQ where I was parked and to have the other driver wake me up when he arrived. He did so around 0130 and I groggily exchanged trailers and paperwork with him, then got back to sleep.
I arrived in Russellville, Arkansas Saturday afternoon and dropped off my trailer at the cosnignee, then bobtailed over to a local truckstop. It turns out I didn’t have enough hours to pick up my next load and run it by the house, and the pickup was “any time” so no point in rushing.
The following morning I waited until sunup to depart, as it was very windy and I would be taking an empty north into the Ozark wilderness for over a hundred miles to exchange for a loaded trailer at the next shipper. I took this load blindly, and it turns out I should have done more research: Green Forest, Arkansas is at the drop-dead center of NOWHERE. Worse, the road from Russellville was a twisty, two-lane death slog of a “highway” with lots of climbing and descending. You know it isn’t going to be a good drive when you see a sign proclaiming “Curvy and Steep roads next 53 miles, drive carefully”. Only the fact that I was unloaded made it tolerable. There aren’t many places in the lower 48 where you are on a 55 MPH stretch of road with 15 and 20 MPH corners.
When I picked up there was an argument over the satellite unit about which trailer I was picking up. The paperwork I got matched the trailer number I hooked to, but it didn’t match the number in the system. Guess what, I was right, and so was the paperwork.
Then I ran back up US-65 past Branson, Missouri enjoying steep grade after steep grade all the way to Springfield, where I stopped for a few hours at the house. I was originally going to have the weekend off, but in order to deliver this load on time I had to get back on the road and finish the last five hours so I could have a full day to run today. So much for time at home this go around.
I arrived in Trenton, Missouri in the early evening only to find no cellphone coverage or internet access. Sorry I couldn’t call you for Mother’s day Mom.
Yes, I know it has been a few days… I’ve been busy people!
I dropped off my load in Russellville, Arkansas and was given orders to deadhead over to Tulsa, Oklahoma and bring a load from there up to Omaha, Nebraska. I finished all of that this morning.
Now, I was supposed to have a load waiting nearby to go to Carthage, Missouri so I could go home for the weekend. I even accepted the pre-plan on my satellite unit days ago. But, as the cruel, cruel world would have it, some planner of (insert favorite dubious claim here) somehow managed to give it to another truck who promptly stole my load out from under me!
This has been something of a comedy of errors this week. Last week I had asked to go home around May 5 for a couple days, but somehow my dispatcher didn’t see the message. Then, May 7 was agreed to, but that came and went. Now May 9th was supposed to be “the day” but that fizzled as well. Worse, the new load that will take me home after this Russellville load won’t give me enough time there to reset my hours so I’m going to have to run on what I pick up for the next couple weeks.
After I delivered this morning I picked up a load in Kansas City, Missouri and brought it up to Omaha, Nebraska and handed off the delivery to a local driver while I put my truck in the shop. Later, I got beeped with a load for tomorrow picking up nearby and delivering tomorrow night in the now-familiar Russellville, Arkansas. It is a fairly easy nine or ten hour drive, which is good because I only have 9 3/4 hours to use tomorrow.
I was awakened late last night by my truck rocking violently back and forth. For a moment I sleepily thought someone was driving and we were going down one hell of a bumpy road, but it turns out it was just the wind. There were some fierce thunderstorms moving through with gusts I estimate at 40-50 mph and the big slab sides of my truck were catching a lot of air. It isn’t unusual for some gentle rocking from time to time but this was by far the most violent I’ve yet encountered while asleep.
It turns out the destination is actually Osage City, Kansas, not Osage Beach. There is an Osage Beach in Missouri that confuzzled me. That is my story and I’m sticking to it.
Anyway, I arrived this morning and found the consignee with a BIG helping hand from my GPS. It was dark, the side street I needed wasn’t obvious but the electronic directions were spot on. I wuv you mannnn!
Well, my alarm did go off at oh-dark-thirty yesterday morning and I made it to the Sears distribution center in Denver a few minutes past my delivery time. The Powers That Be ordered me to drop my trailer there and go rustle up a reefer from a nearby company, but they were out. This put the kibosh on a planned load picking up later that evening with two drops the following day, which I didn’t mind losing out on.
Later, the buzzer went off and the orders were to pick up an empty to take to the all-too-familiar Budweiser plant in Fort Collins then unload the following day in Osage Beach, Kansas. I made it as far as Salina, Kansas this afternoon before my hours ran out and just for a change I stopped at the Flying J instead of the Bosselman Pilot I normally use. Nicer parking area, I note.
Tomorrow I gain only 6.5 hours to use on top of the 15 minutes I didn’t use today so I will be done by midday most likely. I haven’t really been keeping track of the miles since I started with Hill Bros (this was easy to do at CFI with their online system) but I know if I’m running out my log book in short order then I’m spending my time doing something productive.
Well, I toted that load up to Dallas then dropped it at our yard and grabbed an empty, bringing it over to a Sears distribution center. The load I picked up there is due in Denver tomorrow morning at 0800 which is a very tight deadline. This afternoon I arrived in Amarillo, Texas about 440 miles away from my delivery and I leave at 0130 tomorrow morning in order to get it there in time. If my alarm wakes me up, of course.
Yesterday I ran from before sunup to sundown, first dropping off my load in Russellville, then moving over to Fayetteville to get a new load, then down to south Texas to get in striking range of my drop in Houston this morning, where I am typing this.
I messaged my dispatcher about this feeble 600 mile, 3-day weekend run and was told I would have to pick up the load and they would see if something could be finagled later. We’ll see.
An hour or so after I arrived at the trailer repair place I got beeped over the satellite system and ordered to leave that trailer with them and pick up an empty at a nearby FedEx facility and use that for the Budweiser load out of Fort Collins. I made the necessary adjustment and drove all the way to the destination yesterday, which was Grand Island, Nebraska.
This morning no fewer than five Hill Bros trucks converged at the local distributor with loads of suds. I was second to be unloaded, and I quickly received first one, then two then THREE pre-plans to run over the next three days.
First, I went to the nearby city of Hastings, Nebraska to pick up a load of frozen meatballs headed for Russellville, Arkansas for delivery tomorrow morning. After that, I’m running back along my route to Fayetteville, Arkansas to pick up another load of tortillas and running it down to Houston, for delivery the following morning. Finally, I grab a load in Texas and run it up to Wichita, Kansas for a Monday delivery though I’m going to talk to my dispatcher about that as it is a three-day run with only 625 or so miles on it. Hopefully I can run it up to our yard in Kansas City and pick up another load at least a day earlier.
I stopped tonight at a rest area near the town of Ozark, Arkansas after witnessing a fantastic sunset. I wasn’t able to photograph what I saw while I was driving but I got some shots of the remaining light I’ll post when I reach civilization.