Okay, there you have it. In big print even.
I was given a short load from Independence, Missouri up to Council Bluffs, Iowa on Friday that let me just squeak into this week’s safety meeting before I delivered. There are some changes in the office, it seems: the new recruit trainer Scott has departed and there was a lively discussion from the safety folks about running legal logs, the operations people are evil, safety will be checking logs, drivers must stick together and only run legally so the evil operations people don’t run you over, and safety will REALLY REALLY be checking logs. Oh, and if you aren’t in safety then you are basically evil.
Good thing I’m a boy scout when it comes to running my truck.
After the meeting I ran across the river to the ConAgra plant in Council Bluffs and dropped off my load and tried to get my next load, heading out to Victorville, California. Alas, it wasn’t ready and wouldn’t be for another three or four hours so I got to wait. It was then I made my mistake.
See, there are basically three routes from the upper midwest out to southern California. The shortest, and nastiest by far, is to run I-70 through Denver, go up over the Eisenhower summit then take I-15 south. The next shortest, and the best one to run in good weather in my opinion, is to take I-80 through Nebraska and Wyoming, dropping down into Utah to take I-15 south. The longest, and the one that involves considerable state highway driving, is to head south along I-35 towards Emporia, Kansas, then over towards Dodge City, Kansas, then diagonally southwest to Tucumcari, New Mexico, then take I-40 west the rest of the way.
Instead of gathering relevant information about the trip first (read: weather reports) I tossed a coin and chose the Wyoming route along I-80.
As many of you now know, there is a large area of low pressure over the Rockies. Low pressure areas are kind of like vacuum cleaners, they suck in air from around them which brings lots of funky weather. Funky meaning cold-as-hell blasts of air from the north mostly, in this case.
Near the end of my driving day yesterday it was snowing and there was an impressive five-mile stretch of ice on the interstate. Several big rigs jackknifed, along with a number of four-wheelers that spun out into the ditch. No place to pull off (or desire… the ramps were frozen solid) so many of us hugged the right shoulder to use the rumble strip along the edge to (a) rattle any fillings in our mouths and (b) gain a little traction. One good thing about 40,000+ pounds of cargo in the trailer is that my truck had much better traction than most.
Wyoming DOT eventually shut down the eastbound traffic and slapped a number of chain restrictions on the passes near the Utah border along I-80.
I stopped at Rock Springs, Wyoming and got one of the last parking places at the Flying J. Well, it took some ghetto parking (the people paving the lot could argue I moved a cone here or there, I’m sure) but nothing like the guy who came in after and parked next to me, knocking down several cones in the process. Hope that new paving holds up.
My APU kicked out a nice gout of oil on to the ground when I started up the heater (for only the second time; I tested it once when I got the truck). It ran fine the rest of the night, though with a mildly unpleasant odor. Think the smell of singed hair.
How are conditions this morning, you ask?
I may be here a while.