… and ugly weekend loads (see title of last post)

It took a while this morning but eventually the weekend crew gave me what looked like a fine run: a 450ish mile deadhead (!) from Denver to Seward, Nebraska to pick up a load of auto parts heading to Kansas City. It wasn’t scheduled to deliver until Monday at 1300, but the proper pronouncements were made about t-calling at our KC yard and I was contemplating running the entire 670 miles today if everything worked out right.

It didn’t.

This is a brokered load so I had to call them and get the load number and other details. As part of that I gave them my name, truck number and cell phone number then went about my business, driving the long deadhead to the shipper.

An hour or so later, the bad news: the shipper shuts down at 1400 on Saturdays and I can’t get there until about 1800. Neither can the other three or four Hill Bros trucks also coming from Denver to pick up these loads. On the plus side, someone promised to be at the shipper on Sunday at 1500 to load trucks so we can still deliver on time Monday.

Of course, this means that I will have spent all of Saturday and Sunday running 670 miles; not a good showing.

Only two things come out of Colorado (for us): Steers and… beers

No preplan showed up Thursday, but my phone was ringing off the hook Friday morning from around 0300. A pity I didn’t hear it since my iPhone was out of juice.

The caller was my old dispatcher, Ross, who now does some evening and night dispatch work for the company. He was looking for someone to repower a load from our yard out to Chicago for the morning and thought of me. Brings a tear to my eye.

Once I awoke and realized my phone was dead I started it on the charger, and realized I had missed some calls and had some voicemail. Just as I was listening to those, Ross calls again and I agree to take the load even though it was supposed to deliver in Chicago 30 minutes ago.

By the time I steer my truck from the Sapp Bros truck stop on the west side of town to our yard it gets called off: by the time I get there they will be closed, for the weekend no less. A different short repower is briefly considered and rejected, mostly because my miles this week kind of suck.

The long wait begins.

It is after 1000 when I get beeped to repower yet another load, this one heading to the Denver area for FedEx. I’m told the load won’t be on the yard for a few hours so make plans to head to a nearby WalMart and stock up, but then I pinged My Overlords and it turns out the trailer has just now arrived. Grab paperwork, hook up and inspect rig, get fueled up, get logbook straightened out, get on road. The usual drill.

It is only 530 miles and I have until midnight, so there isn’t a huge rush. I manage to stop in Lexington, Nebraska at My Favorite WalMart (lots of truck parking!) and spend $40 on food, which is unusual. Normally 30-40 bucks will handle most of a week for me and I didn’t think I was getting that much. I did get more snacks than normal and those things are a bit more expensive, it seems.

Anyway, a few hours west of Lexington is Big Springs, Nebraska and the wonderful Sam Bass Saloon. I love their steaks and fantastic steak fries, and the bread… mmmm, to die for.

Three hours further gets me to Henderson, Colorado where I drop off at the FedEx facility, then a few miles further to our dropyard where I parked for the night. Not a bad day’s drive, and the load was light.

Most of our loads heading out of Colorado are either meat or beer (or beer can) loads, with the occasional bunch of spuds thrown in. I grabbed a van instead of a reefer so hopefully I won’t have to deal with the congenital screwups at the Swift Greeley plant again.

(Short) Mission Accomplished

I took my ten after getting loaded in Hutchinson, Kansas then drove north to Lincoln, Nebraska for the first drop. What should have been an easy trip turned out to be difficult when the road towards my destination was closed to trucks. This meant heading a dozen miles around to the northeast side of Lincoln then south ten miles on a feeder road then a few other detours to finally make it back to where I was supposed to be.

The Lowes staff took care of the unloading at a respectable pace and I drove northeast to Omaha for the final drop.

Now, the address I got over the satellite sent me to a large bakery building with absolutely jacked-up docks — so bad you had to use a narrow 2-lane street up front to back into the parking lot then back about 200 feet to the docks. Just as I was maneuvering to make this happen a rather portly baker fellow ran out with the paperwork and told me they needed this salt at their other warehouse, about a half mile away. By this point my rig was jackknifed in their driveway and a dozen or so cars were watching my mad backing skillz. Gee, thanks mister, would have been so nice to hear this when I gave you the paperwork in the first place.

Minutes later I’m at the other warehouse and on the bitch end of a verbal bitch slapping because our people at HQ don’t ever call to let these people know loads are showing up. I explain I’m just the driver, I’ve sent in an update via the satellite, WTF do you want from me, etc. Finally the guy lets it go and I’m free at last, free at last!

I’m also bushed since I had to get up very early to make it to my first drop on time. Coincidentally, the Lowes people couldn’t have cared less when I showed up from 0700 to 1600, but that is part of the life of being a driver sometimes.

There isn’t much going on for us in Omaha so I take the rest of the day off, hoping my dispatcher will get me preplanned on a nice load for Friday.

Two In One

I realized today wasn’t going to be a good driving day by 0900 or so. I was listed as being ready for a trip as of 0400 but basically, if you don’t have a preplan on you the night before then you’ll be waiting until the planners get up to speed the following morning.

Eventually the details came over the satellite: a 172-mile trip from Kansas City, Missouri to Salina, Kansas. I told my dispatcher it was kind of like french kissing one’s sister (ewww) and he helpfully pointed out that that is what makes for close families the trailer was preloaded and it was a drop and hook.

Despite my misgivings I took the trip, grabbed the trailer and headed off. It was missing the cover over the electrical junction box where the power line comes from the tractor, but nothing a couple twisty ties weren’t up to. Surprisingly versatile little buggers, those.

After I dropped, the other shoe did as well: travel to nearby Hutchinson, Kansas and pick up a (heavy) load of salt going to Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska for first thing tomorrow morning. Two piddly short runs and heavy loads to deal with. At least the trailer I picked up in Salina was in good order.

Kansas City

Nothing too terribly exciting to report about this trip. It was cloudy and rainy almost the entire way from Denver to KC, and quite windy the first half of the trip.

I stopped in Colby, Kansas to fuel, eat, get a shower and suchlike. The card reader on the pump decided to take the morning off so I had to go inside and reel off all the numbers and codes and such to the attendant to get authorization.

Denver, and rain

Made it up to the Denver area without much trouble this afternoon. I thought there would be more traffic on the drive this weekend, but aside from a few slow spots there really wasn’t much to write home about. I assume people are perfecting the ‘staycation’.

My first drop was in Parker, Colorado on the southeast side of Denver. I only had four pallets going there and the manager was kind enough to take them off my hands. This let me move on to my second stop in Arvada, Colorado on the northwest side of Denver to park overnight for my 0500 live unload of seven more pallets. The final 16 pallets are heading south almost 120 miles to Pueblo. Why they were loaded like this I have no clue, I just drive a truck and don’t get paid enough to drive and think.

While I was at my first stop another Hill Bros truck pulled up. Turns out the lady driver had a full load for just that store, to be unloaded in the morning. She is also preplanned to the same place in Windsor, Colorado I’m heading to, and we’re both going to Kansas City on Tuesday.

Lots and lots of rain this trip, unusual for New Mexico in particular. I got some video of a very dark set of clouds as I was coming into Denver and earlier I saw dozens of hot-air balloons lifting off from Albuquerque and letting the wind push them east.

Albuquerque, ah Albuquerque

Yesterday I departed Albuquerque on my way to Phoenix and today I departed Phoenix on my way to Albuquerque. It is about 465 miles each way, so a nice easy 8-hour day, minus the part in the hills between Phoenix and Flagstaff.

This particular PetSmart load has three stops. The first one has only four pallets, so I’m going to try to get them to offload them tomorrow afternoon so I can head to my second stop, set for Monday morning. Yeah, I know, the holiday.

Our crack administrative staff back at HQ set me up with a load picking up Monday afternoon. It is the same Windsor, Colorado to Kansas City, Missouri run I did the last time I was through here. It is a nice light load and 619 paid miles on a fairly straight path once you get through Denver so I won’t complain loudly.