Ochelata, Oklahoma

A few hours after I dropped my load of chicken bouillon in Independence, Missouri the satellite unit went off with new orders: deadhead up to Council Bluffs, Iowa and take a load from there to the Walmart Distribution Center in Ochelata, Oklahoma. Thank goodness my GPS could find it.

I decided to run through our HQ before I picked up the load. This let me take the trailer through our Safety Lane for a quick checkup, get my truck and the reefer fueled up and see my homies. Oh, and pick up a couple hundred pounds of chains for my new chain box.

The load was supposed to be ready around 1530 hours but I wasn’t able to leave with it until closer to 1800. I ran about a 40 miles south along I-29 to a truck stop and spent the night before crossing over back into Nebraska and taking Hwy 75 south for hundreds of miles to Ochelata.

For the first time ever in my experience, this Walmart load was an open appointment. I could bring it in any time I wanted today and they would be fine with that. Another one of our trailers was just being towed off to the empty lot as I arrived so I dropped mine in the inbound line and grabbed the empty. It was pouring rain the entire way down from Nebraska and it didn’t let up, so I got soaked pretty good while switching trailers and taking the paperwork in to the clerks.

Tonight finds me across the road from the DC in an unpaved lot with space for about 20 trucks. This area is very rural and I suspect this lot was used as a construction marshaling yard during the construction process and trucks get to use it now after they are done across the street. Someone with some bucks should drop a small truck stop here and make a mint.

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I’ll take a dangerous trip for $800, Alex

After I got done with Americold in Minooka, Illinois, I moved off west along the interstate to the nearby rest area and took one of the last available spots. Lucky, since it was late at night.

Come morning time, the new orders arrived: head north about an hour or so to St Charles, Illinois and take a load from there to Independence, Missouri due by 0800 the following day. Total miles were about 550 which is a solid day’s drive but I wasn’t dispatched until late in the morning and the load wasn’t on my trailer until early afternoon.

Now, as far as the regulations go, I could drive directly from the shipper to the consignee with no problems. My body, however, doesn’t want to work that way so about sixty percent of the way there I really, really wanted to shut down and take a nap. But noooo, the way the regs are written say that if I shut down I’ll have to take a full 10 hours off and miss my appointment time. Or keep going even though I’m very tired and could potentially be a threat to myself and others on the road.

The preferred method to handle this would be to pull off into a rest area or truck stop and take a solid 5-7 hour nap then finish out the trip. The legal, but less safe method would be to just keep on driving, fighting my body and its need to rest. I arrived on time the following morning and in one piece. You can decide for yourself which method I chose to utilize.

Easy weekend trip

I dropped off my trailer in Omaha, as planned then waited around a few hours until the planners got caught up with things and started handing out assignments. I was told to take a trailer there at the yard to Minooka, Illinois for a live unload tonight. Roughly 550 miles for almost two days, easy driving.

Stopping at Iowa 80 in Walcott, Iowa, I bought a chain box and had it installed behind my cab just in front of my catwalk. The catwalk itself had to be pushed back about five inches but that wasn’t a big deal. I spent some time reworking my air line holders to keep the airlines up a bit higher off of the catwalk, as there is now a new place where they could get caught when I’m making right turns and I don’t want to have them ripped apart.

Turns out it is an AmeriCold load so the unloading process was needlessly complicated and slow.

Double Wild Turkey Strike

I know, it sounds like a special move you make in a video game (eg “Bob uses his Double Wild Turkey Strike to decapitate his opponent!”). But it really happened to my truck today. Here’s how:

I was minding my own business in the middle of Kansas, about to turn off of the state highway I was on to Interstate 70. On my left was a low hill with dozens of large wild turkeys squatting down doing whatever turkeys do when they aren’t being tuned up to be turned into lunch meat.

Suddenly, a couple of them take off and the whole flock takes to the air. Now, I have to believe that the ones in front had it in for some of the guys behind them since they flew right across the road about six feet off the ground and the bird brains behind them followed in formation. KER-SMACK! Two of them strike my windshield with a loud crash and the carcasses were flung off into the ditch. One of them showed its last full measure of displeasure as the crap was, literally, knocked out of it.

About thirty minutes later I’m at a truck stop in Salina, Kansas cleaning off my windshield and telling the guy next to me “You won’t believe what just happened, and its the truth!”

Believe it or not, despite hitting them at 60 MPH my windshield wasn’t cracked.

I ended up today in Knox, Nebraska, about two hours from Omaha. The satellite unit tells me that fuel tomorrow at the yard is dropping to just $2.86 a gallon so you can be sure I’m going to get all up into that puppy. Yes sir.

Stampeed to the east

Today I ran from Kingman, Arizona to Tucumcari, New Mexico with a short break in Winslow, Arizona to fuel up. West of Albuquerque I saw a bunch of dust rising from the area just off the highway to the right and thought it was a pickup off on the side, but it turns out there were a dozen or so cattle frightened by a passing train and they were stampeding. Not sure that few cattle qualifies, but it was interesting to watch.

Got to the Loves in Tucumcari and decided to try the Chesters fried chicken. One thing about Popeyes, they are very consistent with their quality. Chesters is cheaper and a bit different, but the quality varies all over the place. Unfortunately, tonight wasn’t a good quality night for them. Or me.

Got various communications via email and the satellite unit on detention pay, drop pay, this and that. Basically, some is due me and is coming, a bit is still being looked in to, and some I’m just shit outta luck on. The usual mix for a driver, I think.

Double Inversion

This morning I was up at my usual early hour, made even earlier by the time zone difference in California. I needed to get in to the LA area and across to the other side before the traffic became murderous and I’m happy to report that there were no traffic issues.

On the way into the LA basin area the temperature was around 77 degrees. Once I dropped down into the basin itself along the foothills highway (210) it dropped to 63 degrees. In meteorology this is referred to as an inversion: a layer of warmer air above colder. This is one of the reasons LA has smog problems, as the air below is trapped underneath the inversion and can’t circulate.

I was reflecting on this when I arrived in Carson, California at the UPS facility near the Port of Long Beach. Basically, this facility takes the 40 foot containers that come in from overseas and break down and repalletize the product for shipment within the US. 18,000 pounds of athletic equipment in the load I was to pick up, for instance.

Here is where the second inversion took place. Only, this was a common Cranial-Rectal inversion, better known as having ones head up ones ass. The gate guards filled out a bunch of paperwork checking my truck and trailer in, but they couldn’t find the load. So I eventually sweet-talked them into letting me go inside and talk with someone in the warehouse, and behold! There was my load all ready to go behind dock door 15. Only, my appointment wasn’t until 1000 and this was about 0400.

No problem, drop the trailer in back in the yard (not at the door) and take your tractor off of the lot, rather than park it next to the other half-dozen bobtails back there. Find someplace to park on the street and come back in roughly five hours… and we’ll do it all again.

I spent my time productively, putting finishing touches on my generic warehouse worker voodoo doll and catching some extra snooze time. I arrive back at the gate around 0830 and the same routine begins again. They still can’t find the order, they still have to log my truck in, check my ID, you name it.

Someone is scared up to order the yard jockey to take my empty trailer from the back lot, bring it up front and push it into door 15. Now that they are loading me, I’m sent to the bobtail area in the back lot to wait. At least until they knock on my door and tell me I need to witness the loading. March back up front, witness the loading, march back to truck for stupid form they didn’t ask for, march back to dock to sign various paperwork in blood, march back to truck with paperwork and a neato aluminum seal thingee, and wait. Wait for yard dog guy to go grab my trailer from the dock and bring it out back.

I could go on, but why? Eventually I was freed from the asylum and made my way east along the first leg of my trip back to Omaha. I stopped tonight in Kingman, Arizona and plan on driving to Tucumcari, New Mexico tomorrow.

Carson, California to Sioux Falls, South Dakota

I’m here near Victorville, California taking a 34-hour break to reset my logbook and the next load information has popped up. Tomorrow morning I take some UPS freight from Carson, California back to the midwest. Its about 1,900 miles and I have five days to do it in.

Well… actually I’ll be dropping it at the Omaha yard on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning and get something else to run over the weekend.

I learned my lesson in the past few days… I’m taking the southern route this time:

The computer tells me that I’ll be able to fuel in Winslow, Arizona for under $3.00 a gallon. It will be nice not putting in 800-1000 bucks into the tanks at one swoop for a change.