Almost screwed

I noticed a shiny round object about the size of a dime on my left steer tire, and it turned out to be an inch-long screw. It was right up on the edge of the tire and went in vertically so all it hit was rubber, thank goodness. A little to the inside and it would have popped, a little diagonal in the sidewall and it would have been a set of new steer tires. Whew.

The planners got me a load down to Phoenix that delivers anytime Friday. This normally means that a) I will take a PetSmart load up towards Denver, and b) the rest of Friday will be wasted, due to a Saturday pickup. Late this afternoon my suspicions were proven on both counts.

It has been very windy on the way from Omaha to Albuquerque, New Mexico where I decided to stop tonight. My original plan was to push on to Jamestown or Gallup to give myself more available time tomorrow once I get to Phoenix, but now that doesn’t matter since I can’t pick up the next load until Saturday. They will get their 36,000 pounds of dog chow when I decide to show up, so nya.

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I won’t take that load! I won’t! … Okay, I’ll take it

Last Friday before I went home the planners at HQ gave me a preplan to take a load from the Springfield underground for Buske to Omaha, Nebraska on Monday. I immediately messaged back to decline the load unless they would allow me to drop off the trailer when I went home and picked it up on Monday. They wouldn’t allow that, so I turned it down.

Monday rolls around and I call my dispatcher to see if he has a different load. “It still shows you on that load from last week,” he said. I gave him the short rundown and was told that he’d find me something else for the following day.

Tuesday rolls around and it turns out the choices are that load, which simply wasn’t picked up the previous day, or to wait all day then run a load overnight down to Amarillo for 0600 delivery Wednesday morning. Comparing various amounts of suckitude, I eventually gave in and took the trip up to Omaha.

The reason I dislike this particular load so much is that I don’t get paid detention for the time spent waiting on Buske to get their act together. Twice before I arrived between 0600 and 0700 for an 0730 appointment only to find out they don’t have appointments and because they give our planners a window of (say) 0730 to 1400, they aren’t considered late until two hours after the end of that window, no matter what time I show up.

In short, I usually wait six hours to get loaded then drive six hours to the destination and this annoys the crap out of me, honestly.

I didn’t make any special effort to arrive early and showed up at the site around 0945. There were a long line of trucks waiting to get in and by about 1030 I was parked and checked in. Something really had a burr under their saddles, as it was no later than noon when I was given a door to load out of and by 1315 or so the trailer was full and I was on my way.

Another thing that grates on my nerves is sitting in traffic jams. I was about three hours from the north side of Kansas City so I wasted no time and skipped lunch to get ahead of the traffic. It was busy but still moving and as I was leaving town the crest of a wave of traffic was forming behind me.

If my day ended another three hours later when I arrived in Omaha that would have been great. This being trucking, it wasn’t the case.

First, the Pepsi folks receiving the load told me to drop off the trailer at our yard as they were getting full and expecting more product. Not unprecedented, but it is annoying to get into and out of their property due to the way the streets are designed.

Second, my APU wasn’t cooling so I had to go to the shop after dropping the trailer and finishing up the paperwork to get them to call over to ThermoKing to see if they could fix it tonight. They said sure and I bobtailed over.

Three hours later the problem is found (my aftermarket chainbox had moved slightly forward, causing the leading edge to rub against the line carrying Freon for the condenser), I’m tired and I have something else to get fixed.

Just before going to bed I notice my left steer has caught a nail or a screw as well. Will worry about all of that stuff tomorrow.

Three for the road

Here is a picture from a few days ago showing a train entirely made up of engines. Must be fun to run with all that power and no extra cargo slowing things down.

Yep, crossed it twice earlier this week.

I went straight through the US of A last week when I went to Holcomb, Kansas.

Windy day

This entire week has been very windy and today was no exception. For some reason the winds were out of the south instead of the west so me and my lightly-loaded trailer were blown around pretty good. Fuel economy wasn’t the greatest, either.

The actual route itself was easy after leaving the greater Denver area and I stopped a few times to nap, fuel the truck and eat.

I had been to this particular consignee before so getting there and checking in wasn’t a problem. After a few hours the cans had departed my trailer into their warehouse, and the planners have me a load tomorrow down to Carthage, Missouri then to the house for some time off over the weekend.

Oh, for an undamaged trailer

I was warned if I did not show up on time at the beverage distributor in Aurora, Colorado there might be a long wait for unload. Damn their honesty, it was a 5-hour wait for unloading.

The plywood front bulkhead of this particular trailer had a few holes punched into it along the floor from overeager forklift operators. My next load was to pick up from a company in Windsor, Colorado that I’ve been to before and I know they are very, very picky about the trailers used to haul their product. Thus, the search for an undamaged trailer was underway.

I was ordered to drop my current trailer at our yard in Commerce City then head about a mile away to the Estes yard for a van trailer. No joy, nothing there. Then the orders came to head over to the Watkins yard in Henderson to check there. The only empty van trailer was worse than the one I had just dropped, and dirty besides. I did note one slightly newer van of ours still on their crossdock so I went inside and pestered the operations folks. They checked and it turned out to be empty so I took it. It was dirty and there were some holes in that bulkhead as well, but it wasn’t as bad as the first one.

I shot up I-25 to Windsor and checked in. After some energetic sweeping it passed muster and the loading began.

Now the trailer is full with over 220,000 (not a misprint) empty aluminum cans for various beverages that I’m hauling to Kansas City tomorrow. But for now, it is lights out for me.

800

Today, my 800th blog post along this journey in trucking.

I was thinking recently how hard it was keeping up daily blog updates when I realized how hard I’ve been running this week. My average weekly miles hovers around 2,500 and I’ve run that many miles in the past four days to and from California.

Two days ago I did finish my trip out to California down Donner, which wasn’t too bad when there is only 25,000 pounds of freight in the trailer. Yesterday, I swapped my loaded trailer for an empty and ran out to Menlo Park, California to pick up 43,000 pounds of alcoholic beverages from Diageo heading to Aurora, Colorado. The truck struggled up from the coast to Sacramento then up the long, long slog of Donner. Much more difficult with a full load on board.

I ended the night in Winnemucca, Nevada after first trying to fuel in Fernley, Nevada. The Pilot there was out of fuel and half of their pumps were closed for remodeling anyway. Even though I was running very low on fuel I had to head back out to the freeway and keep on going. Several hours later a newish Pilot in Winnemucca presented itself and I spent the night there after filling up.

Yesterday was a bit breezy and today was gale-force gusts up to 50 MPH (mostly) behind me. There are some twists and turns heading east on I-80 and the truck shuddered convincingly whenever the wind hit broadside.

Tonight I ended up in Rawlins, Wyoming, leaving 240 miles or so for tomorrow. I very rarely miss appointment times on loads but this will be one case where I will show up an hour or two late. I already let my dispatcher and the broker for the load know, and I was told they do accept loads up to noon so I should still be able to get unloaded.

Saw something new today: a train composed entirely of 13 engines, nothing else.

Oh, last week my driver’s seat developed an air leak that the shop fixed when I was there. Today, the passenger seat developed a similar leak. Poor design on the manufacturer’s part. Some electrical tape made an effective short-term fix.