Which way to Wichita?

My fuel plan had me fueling in the Atlanta area then in Higginsville, Missouri on my way out to Wichita. That’s exit 49 on I-70 if you don’t know, and nowhere close to being along the route I would drive to Wichita, Kansas (which you can see above).

The weather was mostly sunny until I hit the Memphis area when someone opened the spigot and all kinds of rain came down. When you have a heavy load, like I do, water pooling on the road doesn’t really affect the truck while you’re driving in a straight line, but it sure does do funny things to all the four wheelers who are out there trying to struggle through it.

I left Conyers, Georgia in the early hours this morning and made it to Russellville, Arkansas by late afternoon. After a long shower I feel human again and shortly I will be snoozing away to prepare for tomorrow morning’s early departure to get to Wichita on time.

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The 45 minute workday

Today was a 45 minute workday for me. I bobtailed a short distance from where I dropped my last trailer, grabbed an empty van then drove to nearby Conyers, Georgia. My appointment time was 5 PM but I arrived early, hoping they would have my stuff ready to go and I could get a jump on the trip.

Nothing doing.

Instead I waited and waited, until eventually being called back to the docks about five hours after my appointment time. The loading process itself was quick, though getting into the dock was not for the faint of heart. Think a very tight 180 with no real way to go retreat if it turns out to be too tight.

It was 2230 or so before I had the paperwork so I sidled my truck back outside the gate and to the same sandy lot I and a dozen or so other truckers had been “enjoying” while we waited to spend the night.

Georgia (tornadoes) on my mind

I spent Tuesday night and most of Wednesday getting work done on the truck. I had no luck getting a load until late Thursday morning when one popped up from nearby Council Bluffs, Iowa to Atlanta. A thousand miles and enough time to get it there with a few hours to spare. Spiffy.

I stopped last night at the first rest area east of St Louis and was surprised to find it was 95% full (and 100% full once I parked). The hour was a bit late for me but I’ve used that rest area before and that is the first time I ever recall it being full of trucks.

Today’s journey was made ever so much more fun with dark storm clouds, lashing rain and at least a hundred lightning strikes in my range of vision. Entering Georgia I came across several electronic billboards warning that tornado warnings were posted until 10 PM for most of northern Georgia. Lovely.

The folks back at HQ had an odd set of instructions for me. After arriving at the consignee, I was to get the trailer unloaded then pick it up and move it a few hundred feet and drop it at the same location, then bobtail south about ten miles and pick up an empty van trailer for my next load. “Why,” I asked, “can’t I simply drop off the loaded trailer at the consignee?”

Some blather came back about us not having a trailer pool there. Naturally, I ignored the directive and once I arrived I asked if they really needed me to stay to supervise the unloading, to which they replied: “Oh hell no.”

Naturally, I beat feet out of there as soon as possible and found a nearby warehouse complex Available For Lease (according to the sign) to sit at until morning.

Arrived Denver

Just as I near my destination yesterday a very localized blizzard hit with almost whiteout conditions in Denver. It made the going slow, but 42,000 pounds of pet stuff in back kept the truck on the straight and narrow.

My first delivery is at a PetSmart with the most jacked up loading dock arrangement yet, and this is no mean feat for them! I took some video I’ll post soon. Until then, envision this: the back of the PetSmart is the parking lot for a Super Wal-Mart that has entrances too small to turn into without knocking down signs so you have to drive around the Wal-Mart the wrong way (for truck traffic) then back through the parking lot, hang a tight right then back uphill to the docks. Stupid effing commercial architects.

And I? I took the path less traveled by…

In other words, I departed I-40 at Holbrook, Arizona for Arizona 77, then Arizona 377, then Arizona 277, then 260, then 87… Oh. My. Lord. Bad call.

The roads were mostly one lane each way with no shoulder, and lots of twists and turns. Quite a bit of vertical development as well which wouldn’t be so bad if the wind wasn’t gusting 30-40 MPH from the west, thus hitting me broadside as I went south and slowing me down as I moved towards Phoenix. It was windy enough they shut 377 down towards Holbrook but had not yet blocked it from the east end where I started at.

I did so much shifting yesterday my arm was actually tired. I float most every gear so my left leg was okay, but my arm was twitching there when I arrived in Casa Grande.

The unload itself was the usual Wal-Mart experience and I spent the night at a nearby rest area. My next load was already zapped to me: pick up from the PetSmart in Phoenix and run it up to Denver for two drops early monday morning.

For some unknown reason, I decided to stop today at one of the casinos in New Mexico along I-40. They advertise free WiFi, but the speed is pretty poor as I found out. I also found out (again) why I don’t like spending time in casinos: my wallet tends to be empty when I leave. I’m not sure exactly why that is, but I’ve had my fix this millennium.

I’m dreaming of a white… April Fools?

The wind was gusting pretty good last night and when I opened an eyelid to peer about this morning, I could see the sunroof was frozen over. Oh, and I was a bit cold because I didn’t have the heater on last night. I flicked on said heater then opened up the curtains to reveal…

There was quite a bit of accumulation on the front side of the truck, facing the wind. It was wet, mushy snow that stuck pretty much everywhere up front but it wasn’t difficult to remove.

Today was one of those days where I just couldn’t get into my driving groove. I munched on too many snacks, stopped a few times to drain the main vein, even took a nap in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

Nothing seemed to work so I stopped early in Moriarty, New Mexico. This leaves about 550 miles if I take I-40 all the way to I-17 then head south, or about 480 if I try the back roads of Arizona via US-60. I’ll flip a coin in the morning I guess.

March portfolio update

Well, it has been a month since my first portfolio update, so here are the current numbers:

Name & Symbol Bought at Current Change
Apple (APPL) 81.97 108.69 +1,189
Google (GOOG) 298.76 354.09 +1,093
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) 56.79 53.04 -237
Berkshire Hathaway B (BRK-B) 3005.00 2819.00 -384
Ford (F) 1.60 2.74 +3,673
Citigroup (C) 1.47 2.68 +419

As you can see, every stock I have advanced during March, with JNJ and BRK-B trimming their losses by roughly half since I added them to the mix. Ford (F) was the Big Kahuna last month and it easily retains that title after adding almost $2,400 during March.

Google (GOOG) advanced some, but it was overtaken by Apple (APPL). My expectations for Citigroup (C) being a good place for the loose dollars in my Roth account has similarly borne fruit this month.

My only real short-term concern going forward with these stocks is Ford (F). GM appears to be prepping for a quickie, pre-determined bankruptcy filing that will let it shed a lot of its debt load and restructure what remains, which would likely put it at a competitive advantage to Ford. Since I’m not a short-term day trader type by inclination, and I believe Ford has a better product mix and is better situated, I’m going to hold on to Ford for the long haul.