When last we left our hero…

I haven’t been able to access the Blogger site for the past couple days so updates have ground to a halt for a bit. Now, where was I…

Ah yes. I spent Tuesday driving from St George, Utah to Rawlins, Wyoming. Plenty of hills and a few mountains to climb and descend but the MPG wasn’t bad with only 12,000 or so in the box. The weather was clear and warm with little wind, except for one big gust of air midway through the day that pushed me over quite a bit.

Overnight in Rawlins was pleasant, with temps in the low to mid 50’s. After the sun went down I turned the APU off and enjoyed a quiet night for a change. Starting before dawn, I got an interesting surprise during my pre-trip: my oil dipstick broke! The last couple inches that actually dip down into the oil are a black plastic (why they chose black is beyond me) and when I went to get a reading on my oil level only the top 90% of the dipstick came out! The Volvo guys said it happens occasionally and not to worry about the tip: it will get caught in one of the filters or fall out in a future oil change.

The trip to Omaha, Nebraska took the entire day and I stopped by the Volvo dealer there to get a new dipstick. The plastic tips come in any color you want, so long as it is black apparently. Sigh.

Overnight in Omaha last night and fueled this morning at the yard for $4.10 a gallon, the cheapest I’ve seen since I started running my own truck. FSC this week is 56 cents if I recall, so (56 x 6) $3.36 of that is covered if you get 6 MPG.

Speaking of MPG, I have also discovered that the trip computer in my truck doesn’t register the correct MPG. My 1,220 mile trip from St George to Omaha took 159 gallons of fuel, for an average of 7.67 where my trip computer was telling me I was getting around 8.6. I expect the computer only averages the last 25-30 gallons it puts through the engine rather than every gallon since I reset it when I fuel. A pity, I thought I was doing so well… Actually, I’m still doing fine as I track it in dollar amounts vs revenue anyway.

I dropped off the load this afternoon in Ottawa, Illinois at the PetSmart DC I’ve often picked up at. I have a few hours left I could run with today but I’m a bit tired after this long trip and am taking off the afternoon so as to get a fresh start tomorrow morning.

Trip #29: North Hollywood, CA to Ottawa, IL

See that map? That is my run for the first half of this week. The trip I just ran down to Phoenix was about 1,300 miles and this one is over 2,300, including deadhead. By far the longest trip I’ve had at Hill Bros. Much good karma is in store for my dispatcher. Believe it.

The parking situation in North Hollywood was TIGHT, however. I looked it up on my Garmin before I departed and noted that the shipper was down a dead-end street. Loading wasn’t much better, as they had a forklift to run out each pallet to the truck then a hand cart I had to use to move the pallet up to the front of the box.

There was a note on the load screen that said I had to call a certain person at HQ once I found out how many pallets it would be. Rut roh. It turns out that they try to match up several smaller loads into full truckloads heading back east and a different shipper in the Los Angeles area had enough pallets to fill out the back of the trailer so I had to detour over to Fontana and get that taken care of before I departed for real.

The traffic around LA wasn’t too bad; much better than Vegas was a few hours later for some reason.

Temps were in the low triple digits once I made it to the desert area north of LA. When I pulled in at the Flying J in St George, Utah this evening to fuel and pack it in it showed 104 degrees while I was rolling down the freeway and 120 once I got to the parking area.

2008 Alaska Cruise Day 2 Pics

Continuing with my occasional series of photo uploads, we have a hundred or so from the second day aboard the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship:

From 2008 Alaska C…

This is the large theater on board called The Stardust.

Here is our ship running down a humpback whale at about 20 knots.

NOTE: There are a decent number of very similar pics in this album which are shot over a period of seconds by my DSLR camera. You can view the entire album here.

Off to Cali

This morning’s drop went off without a hitch, which was kind of surprising considering I got my trailer unloaded very quickly on a Saturday at 0600.

Afterwards I moved off to the west for a half hour or so and pulled in to the T/A at Tonopah, Arizona to get a PM done for my tractor. A PM in the trucking world is like a super oil change for regular cars and includes things like changing a lot of filters, greasing various chassis points, checking coolant levels, etc. I also had them replace one of my gladhands that had got bent at one point and was causing a random air leak on some trailers.

I drove another ninety minutes or so towards California then stopped and got a shower at the Flying J right at the CA-AZ border. Surprisingly, they don’t have a TripPak box there so I had to hang on to it a bit longer.

Ending up around Palm Springs, I’m taking the rest of the weekend off to visit family and friends and catch up on my rest. Come Monday I will be heading off first to North Hollywood then loading up for a 2,000 mile trip through the Rockies to Ottawa, Illinois.

Take It Easy

Yesterday I was told to fuel up in Winslow, Arizona so naturally the Eagles song “Take It Easy” came to mind. My original plan was to press on past Flagstaff to a rest area I know between there and Phoenix but I got a case of the lazies after fueling and decided to overnight here instead. My load delivers tomorrow morning at 0600 local time which is 0800 my time which is no problem.

I got a preplan for Monday with a deadhead to North Hollywood, California then a 2,000 mile trip to Ottawa, Illinois with 6,000 lbs of pet supplies. I am so all over that, baby.

The Wind

So there is a Texas oilman who wants to put up thousands of wind turbines along a corridor in the mid south to convert wind power into electricity. If today was any indication, he’ll do well in his endeavor.

I was told my load in Crete, Nebraska was ready to go as soon as I got there so I left around dawn and arrived in Crete around 0800. The Nestle/Purina pet food factory is undergoing a lot of construction so finding the right spot to report in at was a challenge. Once I found the right door I sidled up to the shipping lady and told her I was there for my preloaded trailer. She laughed at me. Without any further explanation, she punched some buttons on her computer and told me my trailer was being loaded “for its 11 AM departure” and I should drop off my empty trailer at the approved spot then hook up to the one being loaded.

About two hours later I was loaded, sealed, scaled and departing.

Most readers of this blog and my previous one are aware I prefer to take interstate highways when possible. However, this load is going to Phoenix, Arizona and there isn’t an interstate route that doesn’t include 100+ miles of out of route mileage which I have to pay for out of my own pocket. Thus, almost half of the miles for this trip will be along state highways in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.

The wind during my entire trip down to Dalhart, Texas was gale force. Since I fueled at our Omaha yard before departing, I also reset my MPG counter and was pleased that I arrived in Crete at 8.2 MPG with an empty trailer. By the time I arrived in Texas and shut down for the night, I was staring at 5.7 MPG and I had driven cautiously the entire way. The 44,000 pounds of dog chow in the back hurts my MPG a lot more going uphill than it helps going downhill.

Just Another Day on the Road

Today was a mostly ordinary day, though I did spend a decent amount of time swapping trailers here and there. I rolled in to Lenexa, Kansas first thing this morning and dropped off my load of Nabisco products. Eventually, I was sent over to the Sam’s Club DC (Distribution Center) in Kansas City, Missouri to grab a load and bring it up to the Sam’s store in Lincoln, Nebraska. There I docked my full trailer and pulled an empty van and brought it up to Kelloggs in Omaha where I got my cardio in sweeping out the trailer. It wasn’t dirty at all but the Kelloggs people are anal about the way they load trailers.

Finally, I headed over to the yard to have a mano-a-mano with the dispatcher on my next trip. I’ve been planning something for a while now and it is kinda going to work and kinda not. I’ll update everyone in a few days on how it turns out.