January 30, 2009
Got home Wednesday morning. We were home for a day and a half. In that time we shuffled a lot of things around. First we moved furniture, including Malcolm's million pound gun safe. We were making room for our new things. We moved an antique cabinet to the basement living room, my hope chest to its real home upstairs in our bedroom, all the living room furniture around and around because we just can't seem to get it how we want it, and on and on.
This was Wednesday afternoon. By 6:00 that evening we were tired, hungry, and not done. I had caught Ella eyeing Malcolm's deer and antelope which to this point had still been lying on the floor waiting to be hung. Figured we'd better get them up before she decided to try them out as gigantic rawhide chews. So we hung them both up, and since we were doing that we hung a few pictures too.
Then the UPS guy had shown up with our kennel that we had ordered, so we put that together and moved the girls in. It was just getting TOO crowded in the bed, queen size or not.
Wednesday night found our house filled with 5 traumatized individuals. Malcolm and I felt like horrible people. It was really really sad. But....we slept really really good too. And in the morning when I went to get the girls up, they didn't seem that upset. They came excitedly hopping out of their kennel and we went outside, and they must not mind it much because they spent the day going in and out of it everytime I was in the laundry room.
Thursday afternoon some of our new furniture was delivered. Specifically my chairs and ottomans for my library, the TV stand, and an additional bedside table. The bookshelves that I have coveted for so long turned out to be unavailable. Curses....
So we got our money back and have taken a huge leap of faith and ordered some on-line. They'll be here end of March. Please pray with me that they are acceptable!
Back on the road. We delivered in Salt Lake City this morning and are re-loading in Idaho bound for....drum roll........TEXAS! Dallas to be specific. Steve got the tire account back which means occasionally there is a load of tires coming from Dallas to Billings and we get brokered loads to get down there. We're taking potatoes to Dallas.
So something new and different, and you all know how much I like Texas. I think its because Texas is a cross between my two favorite regions. Its a southern state, but its western too. Its like a little bit of both my homes.
January 26, 2009
While I worked, the girls played and then camped out in front of the wood stove. I got them a new bed. Carlie and Paris don't know how to use it correctly, but Ella figured it out and demonstrated for them.
Also Thursday morning I was delighted to discover that after a month of frustrated waiting, the birds had finally found my feeders. Granted, it was just a bunch of sparrows (about 30-40 of them) but maybe if they found it, the others will soon come too. I was thrilled. I had to take pictures to prove to myself that I had birds at my feeders, and I unknowingly took this shot of a bird in flight. The spring feeder in the lower part of the picture is my new addition that I picked up the day before at Wild Birds. It has whole peanuts in it, and then in the spring, you can put nesting material in it for the birds to take.
Malcolm returned to his shop to work, and I began the project I had set this day aside for. I spent the whole day, practically, working on my little Valentine quilt project. Its just a small thing for hanging on the wall or laying on a table, which was perfect for me because I'm not very good at this yet. Anyway, I was very proud of this project because this was my first time ever cutting the fabric without a coach there to help me. I did it all by myself. And while not all my seams met up exactly where they were supposed to, it was pretty close and I am very happy with the outcome. I still have to applique the heart and then of couse it needs quilted and binding, but I had a lot of fun and it was fast and turnedd out pretty.
Saturday we wern't leaving till in the evening sometime, so the day was spent getting things together, finishing laundry, and doing a little relaxing in front of the TV. I wanted to share a couple of my new favorite things for breakfast.
Malcolm's mom fixed this coffed at Christmas and it was really good. I thought it would be too strong, like McD's coffee, but its actually quite yummy.
January 24, 2009
After arriving back in Billings early Wednesday morning, we took a few needed days off. And I had such a good time. I had three days of total Martha Stewarting! I'll tell you all about it later. But for now, I'm tired, so you'll have to wait to see all my little projects.
It was so nice Wednesday. We got home and the snow was all melted and it went all the way to 60 degrees!!! Heat wave!
A short one. Actually its been kind of balmy lately, around the 40's and 50's, but it was a short lived break. It turned off cold again Thursday evening and that night we got around 2 inches of snow. Cold yesterday and right now its 5 degrees and snowing tiny little random flakes. It feels like winter will never end, and the truth is its barely begun.
Well, the guy is here to move the truck so we can get rollin'.
Hope you all had a great Saturday and that Sunday is all very relaxing and nice.
January 19, 2009
Well, I've been thinking for some time that I might do a post on trucking terms, but just kept putting it off. However, presented with Meagan's question, I've decided that I'll go ahead and do this because some of the terms are entertaining, plus its educational for all of you as far as getting an inside view into what we do.
Some of these are general trucking slang terms, and some of them are CB chat terms. The idea or source of the words make sense on some. Other's I don't really get, and I'll go ahead and tell you some of them probably have vulgar origins, but naive as I am, I don't get it, and those that I do, I'm not going to go into detail explaining. Just keep in mind that its mainly a man's world out here and therefor...well you can use your imagination.
So let's begin.
Sarah's Guide to Truckin' Talk:
freight shaker - a slang name for Freightliner trucks
KW - Kenworth
Pete - Peterbuilt
(notice that the Freightliner name is kind of deragatory...in the trucking world Peterbuilts and Kenworths are like your mercedes and jags, while Freightliners and Volvos are like your hondas and volkswagons. Thats the best way I can think of to make it relevant for you.)
reefer - a refridgerated trailer
stick wagon - a trailer used for hauling logs
bull rack, bulll wagon - livestock trailer
skate board - flat bed trailer
parking lot - trailer used for hauling cars (I think that one's cute.)
lot lizard - truck stop prostitute
pickle park - rest area (I still don't get this one)
bear, smoky bear - law enforement agent
full grown (smoky bear) - DOT law enforement agent
one with a customer - a law enforcement agent with a car pulled over on the shoulder
one with a big truck - a law enforcement agent with one of us pulled over
local; city kitty - any law enforement agent other than a DOT officer
chicken coop, coop - weigh station
your coop's open/closed - the weigh station you are approaching is open or closed; this is announced by opposing traffic for your benefit
Those are the main ones and the only ones I can think of.
The trucking world has its own hierarchy. Or perhaps it would be more appropriatly called a food chain, seeing as how those on top often feed on the bottom dwellers, at least in the joke and ridicule department.
Generally owner/operators, or those who own their own truck are at the top. Under them are other types of drivers and companies at various levels. Also, generally, at least out west and from what I can tell, cow haulers seem to be reverred, probably because they follow few rules often giving themselves the "green light" and "blowing" past scales, ignoring speed limits, and generally doing whatever the **** they want to. (or at leats a lot of them do) Beneath them are probably flat bedders, then tankers. I think these three are higher in rank because they are more specialized and because the dry vans and reefers are a dime a dozen. The majority of freight is shipped in those two type trailers. And as far as companies go, owner operators are at the top, then general companies fill in the middle. But definatly companies such as Swift, Schneider, Covenant Transport, JB Hunt and a few others are the bottom dwellers but mostly Swift who is the butt of MANY jokes. And the reason for this being that they train drivers, I use that term loosly, put them on the road with little experience and within a rediculous matter of time they allow their drivers to train, again I use that term loosly, other drivers. Seems like at least half the time there is a truck in the ditch, its a Swift truck. So steer clear of them! We do.
So there you go, a brief introduction to the world of trucking.
This modeling stuff wears a girl out!
January 17, 2009
January 15, 2009
January 13, 2009
Just wanted to let you know we got out.
Oh I almost forgot! We stopped to fuel in Miles City, John went on trying to get to Ballentine to deliver, and I took over driving. I was just past Forsyth and out of the shadow's of darkness I suddenly realized there were two HUGE bull elk standing right on the shoulder. They were amazing! I've seen them before but not this far east! It was exciting. A few more miles down the road, I caught up with John who had pulled over for a 20 minute siesta. He pulled out behind me, passed me, and then I kept up with him and we chatted a bit. And wouldn't you know, a cow elk ran out and across the road right in front of us! They must be coming east for food is all I can figure! I never saw them over here last year.
We are very tallented in the area of time managment...sometimes. After unloading our truck and John's this morning (everyone, at least the good ones, stay around and help each other load and unload) we flew home. The road was icy so we didn't even try to back in our driveway. Just parked in the road (hope the neighbors don't start complaining). In less than an hour, we drove 17 miles to the house, both of us showered, threw my clothes and some things in a bag, and left again! Talk about out of breath. And worse, I have three VERY disgruntled girls to deal with. They were extatic to be home. Went absolutly wild. But when I started stashing things in a bag, Paris stopped mid game and just stared at me. She knew! Its was sad. Anyway, Ella's ok. She's too small to realize this isn't normal life. But the other two are in the bed, under the covers and I havn't seen them since we left, except for the brief time I drug them out to shave their little faces. Talk about insult to injury. They may not speak to me or Malcolm for days. Oh well..such is life.
Another hour later, we had had the steer tires replaced, grabbed McD's for brunch, and hit the road for Forsyth.
See, we use time well. Get a lot done. And then we sat in Forsyth for an hour and a half waiting for the buyer to call us and tell us to come to the corrals to load. Oh well..Malcolm took a nap, I shaved dogs and read, and caught my breath from this moring. All in all it was hectic and stressful, but just being clean makes it all worth while.
Of course then I got cow poopy slung on me when some cows got stubborn and I went to help cause it was just Malcolm loading. But they were just little flecks. Could have been worse.
Good Greif! Here we are in Miles City to get the other half of our cows, and what do you know. We're stuck on the ice! Malcolm just asked a truck from North Dakota to help out and he's backign up to our rear to give us a little shove. This is getting ridiculous! And its not working. But I'm getting whip lash from him bumping us...that got it! We're free!
January 11, 2009
Its Tuesday officially, but barely. As I sit here in Williston, ND at 12:30am, Malcolm and some of the other guys are back standing in the parking lot looking around.
We had just finished loading our cows bound for a scant few miles from home when three other trucks of Steve's pulled in and parked on the snowy parking lot, awaiting their turn to back into a chute to load. We pulled out, they tryed to pull forward, and discovered that two of them were stuck on the snowy icey pavement, tires just a spinnin'.
So Malcolm, loaded and much heavier, backed up to the one truck and chained to him and commenced to pull him out. Worked great! Malcolm and Sarah to the rescue. But in the process of backing up to the second truck, and maneuvering around the dark parking lot, we kind of apparently went a little too close to the edge, and now we're sitting in a foot of snow, not going anywhere. And so nice, we're the loaded ones, which means no one has a chance in you know where of pulling US out! Don't know whats going to happen...we'll see. All I know is I'm watching the clock tick away my chance of a shower at home and grabbing some clean clothes before we have to reload at Forsyth. Ahh...the adventures!
Anyway, here are a few pictures from our little jaunt to Sidney, MT the other day. Remember I was typing in route? Well it was pretty slick. In fact, we went about 40-45 all the way there, where as we usually drive 65-70 on that road. And several times our drive tires were spinning out and sliding sideways, but we got there fine and loaded, and headed east to cleaner happier roads. Since then we've been to Fairview, MT (just 5 miles north of Sidney) to re-load and took those to Alliance, NE and then back here to Williston (just 30 miles or so east of Sidney) to re-load going to Ballentine, MT just east of home. Its snowing gently. I'm going to start using these terms to describe snowing as they are more appropriate for this part of the country. Instead of lightly, I'm going to say gently, and instead of hard, I'm going to say its snowing violently! Don't you think that sums it up a little better?
Take care and stay warm. Looks like we're in for another little arctic snap. (aka - cold snap)
January 9, 2009
We drove to Steve's office where we got the pleasant instructions to hook up to a triple axle trailer. You see, these bull racks come in tandom, like a normal trailer and thats all we've ever hauled. The guys like to tease us about hauling the baby trailer. Its all in good sport, but its a dissappointment too because the bigger trailers haul more weight which means your making more money. The other options are triple and quad axles or a spread axle and most of the other guys haul the 3's and 4's. No one could ever figure out why Steve didn't have us on a bigger trailer, but that was his choice and I guess he had his purposes.
So its back to the cattle trail from various points in Montana to various points in Colorado and there abouts. We loaded east of Billings and took fats (feedlot cattle) to the kill plant in Fort Morgan, CO.
It's good to be back on cattle. I like it. I like the country we travel and I like traveling with people we know. Yesterday on our way back north we traveled with three guys we'd delivered with. We all stopped to eat together and fueled together, and even when there was no one talking on the CB, it was still nice to see the truck in front and the truck in back and know that you were traveling with buddies. Its a nice way to be.
From Bowman, ND they all went north to Dickinson, but we were sent west to Miles City, MT where we ran into another buddy, Doug, and parked next to each other and breakfasted together. I guess the down side of this cow haulin' is we don't see the house as often and its more tiring because its more constant driving. But honestly, for now anyway, its worth it. And round about the time I'm getting burnt out on it and wanting to get a shower more often and do some laundry, things will die down again and we'll be sent home and back to reefer more than likely.
Cows are supposedly going to be moving good till the end of the month and maybe into February.
As far as the weather goes....its weird, and thats my personal opinion. Yesterday was balmy, in the 50's actually! Talk about a thaw! And of course when things thaw it gets all mushy, wet, muddy, and nasty. So that part was a pain in the you know where when it came to taking the girls out. I was reduced to taking them one at a time just so I could hold their muddy feet away from me so I wouldn't get dirty.
We came north through Nebraska and South Dakota because the wind was bad in Wyoming and too risky of a blow over. So we all headed that way, and it worked out nice cause we were able to stop in Belle Fourche and meet Malcolm's parents and sister on their way to Rapid City to run errands. Rachelle had brought her new cat, Luna, with her so we could see her. She is SUPER neat! Can't even begin to explain how neat. She's one of those Sphinx cats, the hairless ones, and if you ever get a chance to go see one, please do! Its worth it.
Heading back north it was questionable what was going to happen the next day. Reports from other drivers, called in to our traveling companions cell phones and such, said that it was "raining like hell" and twelve degrees in north-eastern Montana. Didn't sound good for western North Dakota where we were heading. But for the time being, it was open country, open road, and a glorious sunset in South Dakota.
The sunset as seen from the passenger side mirror. We were heading the wrong direction to have a frontal view, but it turned the surrounding area, with the snow and sage, all pink and purple wich was just as beautiful.
The open road. Driving north on Hwy 85 in South Dakota you can see ahead of you for miles from the top of each rise. Thats Crow Butte ahead in the distance.
Looking east across the plains you can see Bear Butte standing out in the mist of evening. There is an indian legend that connects Bear Butte with Devil's Tower in Wyoming, but I can't remember the exact story at this moment.
Arriving at Bowman, after our traveling companions had come and gone, we called in to Steve to see where we needed to head. By that time it was 43 degrees and drizzling rain. The other three, who had left us in Belle when we stopped, had gone to Bellfield and had called in to Steve that it was nothing but black ice up there. So we were sent to Miles City where we were supposed to call in and maybe go to Malta in the morning to load. We got there around 8:00pm and parked next to Doug who was asleep. Steve said head for Malta, so we ran into McD's to get a snack for dinner, and just as we were leaving, Steve called and said hold up there for the night. The wind was blowing in Malta and the shipper didn't know if he could get the cows in.This morning it was 12 degrees when we got up, and all that drizzling rain and melting snow had turned into a nightmare in the parking lot. It was "slick as snot" as Malcolm often says. We had breakfast with Doug, who was told to hold up there for the day (so he's going home to Shepherd because its only 120 miles and he's ready to be home for a day to see his kids) and we were told to head to Sidney, and then to Dickinson....yes thats right, back to where the other three guys were going yesterday. The road....well the interstate is a little slick, left lane iced over pretty good, but the right lane, the one we're in, is just patchy. Nothing out of the ordinary. I checked the internet and up there around Sidney (the area where it was "raining like hell" and 12 degrees yesterday afternoon) its supposed to be "no unnecessary travel". I've learned that many things don't apply to cow haulers, such as stop signs, speed limits, and most other road and traffic laws. And so off we go to travers the "no unnecessary travel" roads. And what I've also learned in this business is that often the road conditons are over exagerated, plus we weigh lots more than common cars, so we'll probably just be fine. You just take it slow, don't make fast moves, and don't be foolish. When it gets too bad you stop and call and tell him its too bad, and he is understanding and tells us to use our judgement and not take risks.
It was stupid, all this traversing the country side. We took a very round about way to get to Dickinson, and that stinks because in the cow haulin' part of this job, we eat the empty miles. Its just part of it though. We're always going the round about way, avoiding wind in Wyoming when we're empty, dodging storms and such like last night and this moring, and going to loads that get canceled mid-way there and having to change directions. Just part of the game we play.
Its a world of men. Among all our cow haulin' buddies, I'm the only woman. They are nice to me, these rough and rowdy guys. They tone down their language, most of them, and seem to mind their manners a little more, and so forth. I know because when we first started last year a lot of them didn't know I was in the truck and they'd get to going on the CB and one of them that did know I was there would get on the CB and holler at them to "tone it down, there's a lady present." And they arn't all rough and crude. Some have a tough exterior and are just really great guys on the inside. Some are weathered gentlemen, and then some are rough and crude, adn some are clean cut and clean mannered. They are, despite their rough ways, good guys, most of them anyway. And basically the only people I know in Montana other than family, so I'm kind of attached to them. There are stories there....another post for another day.
January 3, 2009
BUT....we were only going two miles to our next pick up! And we got CAUGHT!
Maybe I shouldn't have been bragging about the great safety rating. I was bragging after all....just a bit. But barely an hour after I had finished typing all that little story up, we got pulled over. Mr. Super Trucker didnt' have his seat belt on and got caught. But like I said we were going maybe two miles if that.
Oh, the drama! The guy was kind of gruff to start off with and gave us the "seatbelt" speech, and scared me by telling us that under federal law commercial truck drivers went to jail for not wearing a seatbelt and he was within his rights to take Malcolm in and I'd have to drive over to...where ever....and bail him out. Yikes!
Strike two....the medical card. He was disgusted with Malcolm for not having the medical card, and disgusted with the officer in Las Vegas for letting it slide. Another mild lecture.
"Are both of you drivers?"
"I need to see her license, medical card, and log book also. Do you know why?"
"Yes sir, I do. Because I was in the cab of the truck."
Strike three....I was sitting up front while we drove over to the next stop. Who wouldn't be, and I'll be honest. We brake this law ALL the time, because its DUMB. If I'm in the cab, I have to be logged, whether I'm driving or not. Well I'm sorry, but who's going to sit in the sleeper half the day. For one, its uncomfortable to sit back there, and I'd never get any blogging done! So I told him I wasn't logged, hadn't been logged since the 31st because thats the last time I did anything.
He looked at my loggs and tisked...and now I need to give a little explanation.
Our computer logging program carries the line over to the next day everytime we change duty status. This is hard to explain without a picture to illustrate, but none is available. Anyway, because I hadn't done anything since I went off duty at 5:00pm on the 31st, thats where the line stopped.
Mr. Arizona Officer Man said that was a 7 day log violation because I wasn't up to date. He was going to shut me down for 10 hours.
By this time I was near tears, and he told me not to start crying. Ok, like I have control over that at this point. It was just too much. And he was being nice about it, and he was impressed that we knew the things we knew, like that I wasn't supposed to be in the front seat. Apparently other driver's don't know that, or claim ignorance.
Anyway, he took all our papers, and Malcolm back to his car. And I waited and waited and finally Malcolm comes back and gets in and hands me a stack of papers. Turns out the rough exterior was covering up a nice guy (plus he saw our safety rating). He wrote Malcolm a ticket for $28 for not having a seatbelt on. He also wrote up the medical card and log violation in his inspection report, but didn't write a citation for it. What a relief. The whole thing only took an HOUR!
And then Malcolm went to start the truck to leave and....it was DEAD! Could this day get any worse! Don't know what was up with that, but he was able to hook some jumper cables to the reefer unit on the trailer and then to our batteries and get her rumbling. And we were out of there. And since then I've been cowering in the back, and occasionally sitting up front with my logg book showing me sitting up here, wasting my hours, and fussing at Malcolm for not putting his seatbelt on right away cause I figure the guys out there lurking around watching for us. We were, after all, the 5th truck he'd pulled over that morning and we were going to be the third one he shut down.
Just so you know....
we are sticklers for seatbelts. We've seen too many accidents, and too many BAD accidents where the drivers walked away ONLY because of seatbelts. The ONLY time we don't wear them is when we're going between stops that are just a few blocks apart...and sometimes on the roads around the ranch, cause its just different somehow. So don't send me a dozen emails lecturing on seatbelts. We always wear them. He just caught us on a bad day. Seriously...the guy could have met his monthly quota just on us and been done for the month of January just on the second day. He was REALLY nice and forgiving!
January 2, 2009
Ok, as we were heading south on Wednesay morning, we were approaching Las Vegas. Just north of there, the NV DOT has an inspection station which I have never seen open, but that morning it was. They were randomly pulling trucks in to inspect. Lucky us, there were no other trucks passing by at the moment, so we got pulled in.
Now, a little lesson in DOT inspections and weigh stations:
When a truck rolls across a scale or into an inspection, the first thing they do is punch your DOT number, which is displayed on the side of the truck, into their computer. This pulls up all the company information like location, number of trucks and drivers, your safety rating, etc. The safety rating is based on the number of "incidents" your company has had in a certain amount of time,the results of previous inspections (level 1, 2, or 3 explained later) as well as other factors like your saftey inspection, which we did last January where they look at all your paperwork, your logs, how organized you are, etc.
After they pull your number and info, they ask for your license, medical card, log book, vehicle and trailer registration, bills of lading, and any other piece of relevant paperwork. If they just check your paperwork its considered a level 3 inspection. Level two is when they do a walk around and inspect the truck as well as your paperwork. Level one is the most indepth. They literally crawl under the truck and trailer and inspect the brakes, tires, air lines, EVERYTHING, in addition to your paperwork. I've had a level one done in California once, but mostly they just do level 3 inspections.
Back to the present. This was a level two inspection because they were checking for bombs, so as Malcolm got our paperwork together, the DOT officer walked around the truck and checked it, and then came back for the paperwork. Its at this point where things went down hill. Malcolm couldn't find his medical card. He did have his old one, which was really odd, and let us to wonder if perhaps he hadn't mistakenly thrown out his new one instead. We hadn't been inspected since May and he'd gotten his new card in June, so there was no way to look in our records and see if he'd shown it to anyone since getting it.
And here's where the saftey rating came in to save the day. The DOT officer took Malcolm to the his car to go through the paperwork, and discuss the medical card. He had been super nice up to this point and fortunatly his happy demeanor stayed in place. He told Malcolm he wanted to show him something on the computer. He said the lowest safty rating he'd ever seen was an 11. He'd seen lots of elevens. He said "You have a safety rating of 10." (by the way, the low scores are good scores. High scores indicate a lot of "issues.") Then he said "Oh look...I forgot to check the medical card and I've already gone on to the next page." He told Malcolm that with a safety score like that he wasn't worried about it and for us to take care of the medical card and have a safe trip.
Update: Malcolm just talked to Dale and instead of our going to Calgary, we are going to load this trailer, then switch with a guy down here, load his trailer, then go to Billings. It means two days (really three if you count yesterday) in Yuma, and then we'll be off a couple of days in Billings, but it also means no problems at the border and a garuntee that I'll still be a US citizen. Sounds fine to me. And in the mean time maybe we can get in touch with the clinic in California where we got Malcolm's DOT physical done and get a new card, or I can find his "long form" which is just a sheet of paper from his physical at home. In addition I had left Ella's vaccination and rabies paperwork at home. She's still under 5 months so I don't think the border inspectors would have given us a problem, but now I can get them in the truck and have them in case we get sent up there again. I was, in a very small way, looking forward to seeing Alberta. I've heard it's pretty. But I'd rather do it under less stressful, more legal, circumstances! So...no trip to Canada this round. But a couple days at home and a couple days to chill in Yuma. I'll get lots of reading and maybe some movie watching done.
1. to live a more healthy life, loosing some weight while I'm at it
2. to spend more time reading my Bible, praying, and maybe even get to church on occasion even though this life style doesn't really cator to that idea
Wednesday, after delivering in Fullerton, CA which is south of LA, we headed for Yuma, AZ where we would be loading on Friday. Wow, a whole day and a half to go 200 miles. Hmmm...needless to say, we took our time. So we relaxed our way into the new year. No rush, no pressure, just chillin. We drove about 120 miles to Coachella where we stopped to get the truck washed. It was in bad need of it after its little mis-hap before Christmas. I don't think you heard of that one. We had stopped to have the oil changed somewhere on our way north. I was driving, and it was about....well I don't remember but it was the middle of the night and Malcolm was sleeping and I went through the Idaho weigh station. Pulling out of the station, an alarm went off and the check engine light came on and since it had done this for about 2 seconds earlier (which I had written off as an electrical problem cause I didn't want to wake up Malcolm) I decided that I'd better look into it, which meant Malcolm needed to get up and get out in the cold to check the engine for me. Turns out the cap to the oil had blown off due to being stripped out and the pressure of heated oil and all, and the dip stick was DRY! I'd blown out about 3-4 gallons of oil. Oops!
So needless to say, with oil blown out down the side of the truck, and the dirt they spread on the roads when they are icy, we were NASTY! So we stopped to get the truck washed in Coachella. And drove another 15 miles and decided we didn't really feel like driving more, so we stopped and this puny little truck stop in the middle of the California dessert that just happened to have a Starbucks in their parking lot! So New Years morning we started 2009 off right with Malcolm's traditional Vanilla Latte and I had a Gingersnap Latte. And I forgot to ask for skim milk. So much for resolution #1.
After that we finished our trip to Yuma. Upon our arrival we slid into the parking lot at PetSmart. I had packed my usual amount of doggy food for our 4-5 day trip. But Dale, one of our dispatchers, had called the previous day and asked how we felt about taking this load on into Canada. More on my feeling about that later. Obviously, 4-5 days of dog food wasn't going to get it, especially since my girls had already finished about 1/2 my supply in less than 2 days. Hmm....someone must be growing. So I decided Ella needed some socializing and took her in the store with me. She was very alert, but overall did well. And she got LOTS of cooing over by one particular lady who just went on and on about how beautiful she was and how wonderful her coloring was and so on. It just makes you feel so good when someone goes on like that about one of your kids. Carlie Jean had come in with us also for some much needed socializing. Carlie thinks everyone is out to get her and is terrified of everything strange. So she sat in the buggy seat and shook like a leaf the whole time. But I was proud of her. She didnt' growl and bark, and even let the people who were captivated with Ella pet her some, though with cation. After that we let the girls play some in the parking lot, and relaxed. Then we walked over to Famous Daves and had BBQ chicken and rib tips for New Years Eve dinner. I know...we didn't follow tradition. See its traditional, at least in my family and it must be a southern thing, to have black eyed peas and collard greens on New Years Day. Something to do with money and good fortune, but I can't remember exactly what they represent. Sorry, but they just don't serve black eyed peas and collard greens in very many places west of Mississippi! So we settled for BBQ chicken and baked beans. We did get some sweet tea though and that was nice and refreshing!
We spent the night in the PetSmart parking lot and then, this morning, we were the first customers at yet another Starbucks, where I ordered a tall Caramel Machioto in honor of my sister as its her favorite drink. Faliure on resolution #1 again. Oh well...it was good though!
Now we're sitting here at Advanced Cooling waiting for them to open so we can make our first pickup of the day. We have five of them.
Turns out loads are kind of scarce, so instead of having us drop this in Billings and then sit, they want us to take it on into Canada. This load goes to Calgary in Alberta. There is still a chance that they will have us switch with another driver at the border. That might be easiest because of the dogs, and Malcolm has a hand gun in here because some places are kind of sketchy if you know what I mean, and also because...Oh I forgot that part of our trip down! I'll have to do a post on that for tomorrow. Anyway, Malcolm has lost his medical card, which basically means we'll get shut down if anyone asks for it and chances are they'll ask for it at the border. And its reportedly harder to get back into the US than to get into Canada. I can just see us trying to come home and them asking for his medical card and there we are...temporary residents of Canada till further notice. I don't think so!
So that's our new year, and my resolutions which I have thus far failed at miserably! Wow...I can tell 2009 is going to be so different from all the previous years. I sure wish I had more self-discipline!
Hope you all had a great 2008 and a better 2009. I'm going to go write up the medical card story, and then go play with my girls. Ella is needing her mommy.
PS: The blog post below this one was posted today also. I just wanted to get up to date so I posted two so I could be current.
January 1, 2009
Christmas afternoon I took the girls out to potty and while we were out there, I noticed a flock of grouse in the tree row behind the house. So I went back in and snatched my camera and went to take a few pictures.
They were pretty co-operative, but the trees got in the way so I didn't get the great shots that I was hoping for.
While I was stalking the grouse, I spooked up this guy, and I'm really happy with his photo.
He only went a little ways away, conveniently right to where the grouse were browsing. So I got a few pictures of the jack rabbit watching me, with the grouse watching him and me.
When I went in I told them I'd been taking picture of a flock of grouse in the tree row, and Peggy said they usually do that when its going to storm. Prophetic words.
The next day the wind blew and it snowed. The forcast said 6-8 inches, but who can tell. With the wind blowing like that, everything was drifting. When Boyd and Michelle and the kids left, you could see about a half mile, but visability came and went that day. At times you couldn't see past the gate, at others you could see almost a half mile or so. The girls were miserable and hardly pottied all day. Who can blame them. Ella didn't have any problems. She, as usual, went wherever she pleased, but the big girls wouldn't go out in the storm.
The next day dawned bright and clear and messy. There were drifts in front of the gate, drifts in the yard, drifts everywhere. Malcolm's dad came back from feeding and said there was a large drift of snow, around 6 feet, somewhere down at the barns, though I never went to see it. I should have though. That would have been neat to see.
Here are a few shots of drifting snow.
And later that day the grouse were in the front yard and I got an easy, great picture without leaving the warmth of the house.