Barrel O Fun

I blog tonight from the parking lot of the Barrel O Fun company in Perham, Minnesota. Nope, I’ve never heard of the place either.

The night dispatcher was very anxious that I put in a delivery arrival time of past the deadline for the load. Why, I don’t know since I gave the same estimate yesterday after I picked up and indicated with the loaded call that I wouldn’t be able to deliver on time.

I should have guessed today’s weather. I was coming from Wisconsin and headed to North Dakota, and the combination of those state abbreviations is WIND. I was fighting a strong quartering tailwind all morning and when I finished in Fargo to head east it became very strong blowing directly on my right side. Having an empty trailer that acts like a sail didn’t help any and the 70-minute drive back into Minnesota was an experience. Much worse and I would have parked it.

I had a cab driver cut across four lanes at a time just in front of me in St. Paul this morning. Regular drivers do stupid things all the time but most cabbies I’ve seen have been a bit smarter.

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Bad Juju

I finished my run in to West Chicago, Illinois this morning without incident. There was a short pause after I punched in the load complete codes, then I was instructed to take the trailer in closer towards Chicago for a company called MME to use. Midwest Motor Express shares a building with Hill Bros. in Omaha and we pull freight for them regularly.

The trailer I picked up needed a washout, however. While I was getting directions for that little chore, my orders changed and now I was to run across to the north side of Chicago to pick up a load of Avon products heading to Fargo, North Dakota. Unfortunately, the load has to deliver by 10 AM tomorrow and given how far I’ve already driven today I don’t think I can make it there legally. After a bit of back-and-forth with HQ I’m told to do my best and I head out.

I’ll spare you the details of the traffic and streets. Suffice it to say plenty, and plenty tight. I had to take a couple curbs with my trailer tandems and several drivers were a bit concerned how close my big rig came to their personal vehicles. Welcome to big city driving.

I ended the day near Portage, Wisconsin. Tomorrow morning when I cross into North Dakota will mark the 49th US state I have visited, since I nabbed Alaska a few months ago. I’m patiently waiting on my dispatch out to Hawaii to complete my tour of all the states.

Weighty Issues

Question: A truck driver handles two loads in the same day. One load is 37,000 pounds, the other is 42,000 pounds. Which one is heavier?

If you were a logical thinker you might think that the 42,000 pound load was the heavier but you would be wrong in this case.

This morning I grabbed the paperwork and trailer from the ConAgra facility in Macon, Missouri. The load weight was right there, a tad over 37,000 pounds. No problemo, I hooked up and split.

About a hundred miles down the road I stopped at a truck stop in Cameron, Missouri I stayed at before and scaled my truck. I was at almost 79,000 lbs with my tanks less than a quarter full. Hmm.

The load itself was distributed very strangely. I was over on my trailer tandems by 2,600 pounds or so which wasn’t unexpected since I had the tandems slid all the way forward. I moved them back nine notches which at that weight would ordinarily give me a shift of about 3,500 pounds but it only moved about 2,000. Having more holes to go before the wheels were all the way at the rear of the trailer, I put in another four or five holes and the weight was distributed legally. Thirteen holes for about 2,700 pounds shift on a load that must have weighed 44,000 or so. Very odd.

Anyway, I motor over to Omaha, Nebraska to drop off the load and I’m allowed to drop the trailer there and bobtail back to the yard. Very nice.

While I’m there I had a chat with my temporary dispatcher and the head of operations and they helped me track down some outstanding payments for trips I had completed since leasing on. I also learned that the detention pay for the molassas-like warehouse folks in Fountain, Colorado had come in to the tune of $260. All told, this week should finish with a hefty paycheck even though I haven’t run that many miles for a change.

Back to the question I posed above. While I’m chatting with the operations folks my new orders come in and I’m heading out to Chicago for a delivery tomorrow afternoon. It is a load of meat weighing in at 42,000 lbs and change and I also filled my fuel tanks before I left, so I’m sweating how much my truck will weigh.

No problemo, as it turns out: I’m at just under 78,000.

I’m assuming the ConAgra folks don’t realize they sent tons (literally) of extra meat to their customer on that load. You’d be surprised how frequently shippers have no clue how much product they are sending out in a load.

The Dank Dungeon of Despair

I feared the destination for my load of chocolate was an underground storage location and I was right. What I did not know at the time was that this location is indeed the fabled Dank Dungeon of Despair.

I’ve been spelunking in my truck before (here and here) but those locations were light and airy compared to this dark, dank, depressing, debilitating destination.

There were fewer lights in the entire catacomb area compared to the other caves I’ve been in, and some areas curtained off right next to where I delivered that were very rough and undeveloped. The docks were difficult to back in to and arbitrarily marked.

I arrived to unload around 1030 and didn’t get sent down to The Pit until 1500. After an hour I was allowed to leave, which I did gratefully.

I have pics but tonight I’m in the small town of Macon, Missouri where internet access is at a premium so I will keep this brief.

UPDATE:

Here are the pictures (entire album here):

It started off okay, with a somewhat standard tunnel opening and well-lit entryway…

But as I slowly moved deeper inside the cave, the lights became fewer, and farther apart…

Once I parked in the dank dock area I got to stare at this until I was unloaded:

Taking a 34

A unique set of circumstances cropped up this weekend, allowing me to take a 34-hour break to reset my log book in Joplin, Missouri and visit with family and friends.

The chocolate factory was interesting. They have a large warehouse filled with boxes and boxes of frozen chocolate and I’m taking a load up to Independence, Missouri for long-term cold storage. I would have figured keeping chocolate at zero degrees F would change it somehow when it thaws, but according to them it is done all the time and you can do this with any good chocolate without problems.

I spent about $25 in the factory store getting goodies which goes a long way at one of those places. I brought over some of the proceeds to the party last night.

Of Wal-Mart and Cow Paths

I shut down last night a few miles north of Kansas City, MO at the last rest area before crossing into Kansas. I had a few hours I could have used to go further, but it was around 5 PM and who wants to fight the traffic for no good reason?

There was a lot of fog this morning but I drove safely and eventually it burned off.

Around 2 PM I arrived in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma and made another trucker “boo boo”. The DC I was heading for was a quick right off of the freeway and for some reason I took a left. Now, the smart thing would have been to immediately cross over the freeway, get on the northbound ramp and just go up a couple miles to the next exit and get turned around. But noooo, Mister Big Rig decided to do a little country driving just for kicks.

After about ten minutes I found myself on a dirt cow path with a tight corner that I thought I could get my trailer back around and thus to reverse course. This is out in the boonies, but one of the locals decided to come out and watch me run over a stop sign or something. It took a bit of effort, and there was a scare when I thought my right front tire was going to end up in the ditch next to the road, but I got it squared away and headed back over to the Wal-Mart.

Unfortunately, I was almost two hours early and they are strict about letting drivers in ahead of time so I had to park at a nearby lot for a while. Finally it was my turn and I went in, getting unloaded in about two hours or so.

After I punched in my unload code I get a plan sending me down to Texas to get a load of Russell Stover candy to bring up to Independence, Missouri for a Monday noon appointment. It is only 750 miles or so for the weekend which sucks, so I put in to see if I could drop it off at our Kansas City lot on Sunday and get something else to keep me moving.

Oh, and I think it is headed to the underground place I’ve been to before which is never a good thing in my book.

On the plus side, some friends in Joplin, Missouri are having a party tomorrow and I’m invited! Unless I get a serious case of the lazies I should be up there in the evening and we’ll see what that is all about.