Christmas Day

I wanted to include a video with this post but I haven’t had the time to edit together the various shots I took and I don’t happen to be in a location with speedy internet service, so the baby Jesus weeps yet again.

On Christmas Eve I had delivered in Lawrence, Kansas and I was tired. Since the Bud distributor there lies next to a dead-end street with enough room for me to park my rig out of the way, I asked if anyone would blow a gasket if I snoozed there until morning. They had no problem with this so that is what I did.

I awoke to find several feet of snow drifts on the street in front of my truck. There was some room to get moving, though everything was a bit icy, so for a while I tried to carefully play battering ram to see if I could make my way through the snow. No joy, so I backed off and regrouped.

The side of the street away from the Bud distributor had a curb and a narrow sidewalk, but the lot beyond was just weeds. The snow was only a few inches deep there so I decided to see if I could inch my way around the mess on the road just long enough to get clear and get moving again.

This… almost worked. During one of my backups I managed to get stuck well enough that nothing from that point on got me moving and I needed a tow. My folks called our nationwide tow folks, they called around to local Kansas tow folks and found a wrecker about 30 minutes away. I intentionally avoided asking the bill for a wrecker to come out on Christmas Day and will be opening my next month’s settlements a bit gingerly to help dampen the monetary shock when it gets deducted from my maintenance account.

Anyway, the video I shot is priceless. Wrecker shows up and wrecker driver tut-tuts at my super single drive tires. “No wonder you got stuck, can’t get any traction with those!” I have several minutes of video showing wrecker driver subsequently getting stuck into the same snow drifts I did and eventually deciding the only way out was my sidewalk maneuver. Eat that, doubles driver!

30-40 minutes later and I’m rolling again after being winched forward about 200 feet. My next load was a very light shipment of Styrofoam containers heading from Kansas City, Kansas to Omaha, Nebraska for the Omaha Steaks folks. The shipper in KC was shut down (naturally) but I knew they leave all the trailers outside the gates of their facility which is tucked underneath an overpass in the industrial section of town. I also knew the roads getting there were secondary in nature and thus poorly plowed, and the storms had dumped quite a bit of snow over the past few days.

The exit ramp from I-70 to 57th street was the single scariest piece of driving I’ve ever done in a big rig. The ramp is fairly long but steep and I was skidding for about half of the distance, even though I was doing less than 20 MPH. I am pretty good about keeping my trailer in line and I keep plenty of extra sets of underwear on the truck, so it turned out okay.

The two miles from there to the entrance I needed was bad, but mostly level and I’m used to being empty or bobtailing on snow and ice now. The turn into their entrance was interesting (narrow driveway, curving away to the left and descending pretty rapidly at the beginning) but I managed that.

The fun began when I dropped my trailer along a line of similarly empty trailers that faced the gate along their long driveway. I know since I was here last winter that the loaded trailers were the ones facing away from the building and there was just one there, which happened to be mine. The problem came when I had to turn my bobtail tractor around on a narrow road with snow piled up on either side. After searching for a while I made the best of a slightly less bad section of road underneath one of the overpasses and very carefully got my rig turned around so I could hook up to my new trailer.

After all that I barely made it back up the driveway with my new trailer (Styrofoam hardly weighs anything) and back on to the road towards the Interstate. About thirty hair-raising minutes later I parked my rig at the northbound rest area just north of KC, having dodged deep troughs of snow in the parking lot to do so.

About thirty minutes after I arrived I hear a commotion outside and take a peek. It is a Werner truck that tried parking near me in a marginal spot, then tried pulling forward as if to leave. The combination of the deep snow and the turn was enough to get them stuck and the pair of drivers spent several hours spinning their wheels and digging out before I had enough and went to bed. The following morning they were gone, so apparently whatever they did worked.

That was my Christmas Day 2009.