Omaha, then Missouri

After finishing with the PetSmart deliveries I eventually got orders to head north to Fort Collins to pick up a load of beer heading to Des Moines, Iowa. The following day this was modified to bring the load to our yard in Omaha and t-call it so they could get me a load home.

Unfortunately, by the time I got the load I didn’t have much time left to run so I decided to spend the night in Omaha. Unfortunate, since the light snow showers expected overnight turned into near-blizzard conditions from Omaha to Kansas City and I’m holed up at a rest area near KC now waiting for the weather to improve and the snowplows to get a handle on it. Other than the freezing rain storm earlier this month this is the worst weather I’ve personally encountered on the road so far.

Another PetSmart load

Late that afternoon (see previous post) I was beeped with a deadhead back to Phoenix then a trip from there to the Denver area for PetSmart. It was, of course, too late for me to actually use some of my driving hours that day to make it partway there, so I made the best of it and slept.

The following morning I was running again, first to Tonopah, Arizona to a T/A where the trailer brake problem was identified and fixed. Oh, and a shower since I needed one. I bounced about thirty miles east to Phoenix and dropped my empty trailer, only to find out my load was not yet ready so I had to chill for a few hours. I managed to head out of town right on the very edge of the evening rush hour with a heavily-loaded trailer so I’m glad it wasn’t any later. Made it to Winslow, Arizona before shutting down for the night.

Enter creepy retired trucker dude. I’m walking back to my truck with some supplies from the Wal-Mart next door when an older guy walks up and just starts chattering away. Have I heard that Pilot has bought this (mom and pop) truck stop? Where you from? Too bad you weren’t here earlier or we could have sat down at the nearby Arby’s and talk. Oh hell no.

I let him ramble on for a few minutes to be polite then said I had cold stuff I had to put away and just turned and walked. He was still chattering after me until I got into my truck. Thank goodness for door locks.

Yesterday morning I began the long drive up to Denver. 695 miles later I pulled in, ready for my first drop this morning. For some reason they had me go past Monument, Colorado to Denver first, then afterward I’m to head back south 30 miles or so for the other half of the load to be taken off.

I’m currently at the first stop this morning. Extremely poorly laid out dock with a stop sign that must be knocked down regularly and a storage container (aka shipping container) that is positioned to scrape the side of anyone backing in here. Same ole’, same ole’.

I brake for the CHP

Up at 0300 (0400 my time) and running this morning. Zipped through Phoenix along the 101 and out to the west. State route 85 to the south, then I-10 east all the way to the California border, where I (and every other truck I saw) was pulled in to the scale for a full-blown inspection.

License, medical card, truck registration, turn your head and cough. Left turn signal, right turn signal, high beams. Blah blah blah.

My truck was fine but the inspector found that one of the four brakes on the trailer wasn’t working properly. It looks fine on a pre-trip, mind you, but it doesn’t work when the service brake is used. Trailer gets written up, I get a fix-it ticket and a kick in the butt and I’m running the final few miles to Calexico to get the load delivered.

I always realize about five seconds too late when I’ve turned into a business that I have no business turning in to, in a big rig. In my own defense, I thought there was a way through to the other side of the L-shaped building but I was wrong, and there wasn’t enough space to turn around to hit “dock 3 or 4” that they wanted me to. What followed was a squeaker of a blind-side u-turn then backing up a ways before setting up for the final 90 degree turn into the dock. The smarter truckers (read: the ones that had been there before) that followed after me drove past the entrance on the street then backed in, as I should have.

Afterwards the wait began. After the hour you’re supposed to wait before pestering, I pestered my dispatcher with a short message. “Still waiting,” he replies. No, really?

An hour or so after that I called, but got his voice mail.

A while after that I called and he gave me the cheerful news that there are several other drivers in California that are waiting on loads.

I’ve noticed that it is tough getting a load on a day where you finish up with only four or five hours left to run. I would think that they would just have you deadhead for a load the following day, but it doesn’t appear to work that way most often.

My GPS located a small truck stop about six miles north so I moved up there and, as of now, plan on parking for the night. Hopefully a load will present itself in the morning.

Running hard

1300 miles have fallen behind my truck in the past two days. Starting in Omaha I ended yesterday near Dalhart, Texas and today drove almost to Phoenix, Arizona. Tomorrow I have to get up early to finish the trip to Calexico, California.

Combined with the 4,000 miles I drove last week, this has been a lot of driving. I’m heading to bed.

A Monster Week

I started driving big rigs almost 30 months ago but this last week was the corker of the bunch. Since Wednesday is the cutoff for trips for each pay period and I was running very hard all last week I thought it would be a nice paycheck, but wow.

The numbers:

Loaded miles: 3,593
Empty miles: 426
Total miles: 4,019

Total fuel purchased: 921
Total FSC paid: 643
Adjusted fuel cost: 278

Net pay after all truck expenses: 2,336 (plus 500 more to my savings escrow towards the balloon payment).

I had thought that with the time I took off in early December then again near Christmas that this quarter wouldn’t be as profitable as my first two but I’m on track to match or surpass them, depending on how the next two weeks turn out.

Good news on that front: my dispatcher got me a trip tomorrow from Omaha to Calexico, California for delivery Monday.

Flatbed on its side

I took this video a month or two back, though I don’t recall where. What is interesting comes at the very end where you see the trailer this guy was pulling on its side 90 degrees but the load still tarped and strapped in place.

Take this trailer… please

After dropping off a load of Sam’s Club stuff last night I parked in their parking lot to snooze. Across the street was a Wal-Mart supercenter so this morning when I got up I grabbed supplies.

Today’s orders: run southwest to Dodge City, Kansas to pick up a load of beef heading to Waterloo, Iowa. I had told my dispatcher the day before that I didn’t have enough hours to complete the run and when I asked this morning they said go ahead and pick it up, we’ll t-call it somewhere.

By the time I arrived in Dodge City plans had changed. A driver picking up a load last night from the same plant had his clutch go out so I was told to grab his trailer and paperwork and bring the load up to Omaha for a t-call. It took a while to locate the Kenworth dealership he had been sent to but eventually that was sorted out.

Then I look at the trailer as I’m hooking up. The unit is running but the readout is showing a fault. I walk around the trailer doing my usual checks only to find one of the trailer tires very flat — so much so the thing was just hanging from the rim. Hmmm. Apparently the previous driver wasn’t very conscientious.

I phoned in to our breakdown guy and he got a truck rolling to repair the tire. I reset the alarm on the reefer and it didn’t pop back on immediately so that was okay for the time being. It was keeping temperature just fine.

A couple hours later I’m rolling with one less screw embedded in the trailer tire and about eight hours later I’m in Omaha. The Safety Lane folks that check our trailers added some engine coolant to the reefer, which is what it was bitching about and I swapped it to a different truck that was taking it the rest of the way tonight. I don’t know what the reefer was having a problem with, the coolant jug was more than 2/3’s full and the sensor on the side was under the coolant level. Maybe it was a bad sensor.

Tomorrow I have a rare day off while I’m out on the road. I only pick up one hour on my 70 and I only have about one hour left from today so my dispatcher agreed that I would take a 34 and come back Saturday morning. Yay me.