May 4, 2009

On a Rainy Monday Afternoon

According to our girls, there are only two things worth doing on drizzly, cool Monday afternoons. Give yourself comforting baths, and take long naps, preferably on your people's bed!

Something about this hopper pulling thing....we always feel like time passes kind of slow. Pleasantly, but slow. We started our day at 5:30 having to get up that early because the shipper was on central time and they were ready to start loading us. It was OK though. It meant a jump on the day.

It was sunny and bright, but somewhere around Plankinton, SD where we fueled, we started seeing dark gray clouds on the western horizon, and rain bands in the distance. By the time we had turned north and rolled into Fort Pierre, SD to unload, it was drizzling rain. We were unloaded by 11:30. 320 miles under our belt for the first trip and the day not even over.

In this type of trucking you are paid by the ton instead of the mile. And so the more tons of product we haul, the more we make. The load of fertilizer out of Minnesota paid $21 a ton. Doesn't sound like much, but when you consider that we loaded 25 tons....that load paid a little over $500. Not bad for a mornings work.
(before you go getting all excited thinking we're going to be millionaires soon, remember the expense of tires, parts, maintenance, payments, insurance, not to mention fuel, and the list goes on)
Still it was a good trip to start on. When you do the math, it averaged $1.80 something a mile, about 60 cents more than what we were doing with the reefer.

We're reloaded already! We picked up corn 200 miles north of Pierre in Steele, ND. That's just east of Bismarck. We're rolling west through a steady rain shower towards the feedlot that is 2 miles from our house. Seriously, I can hear the cows at night and in the mornings. We'll get there around 10:00 tonight, sleep in our bed, shower in our bathroom, and deliver it in the morning! Two loads in one day, about 900 miles or so, and home time to boot! I'm thinking I can live with this.

After unloading tomorrow, Malcolm's got to take the trailer downtown to get a couple of tires put on. They are almost bald. Then we're going south to Decker, MT to get coal for somewhere in MN. And after talking to our broker, Mark, this morning, Malcolm informed me that Mark already has our entire week booked, and is working on the weekend. By the time we deliver Friday we will have run about 3400 miles. That's about 500 miles more than our weekly average with the reefer, and it won't be a finished week. We'll rack up a few more miles on the weekend.

I know I told you we don't get paid by the mile, and we don't, but we still track the miles, do the math, and see what our average/mile is. It helps us know how we stand compared to others, and also keeping track of the miles gives us an idea of how we're doing profit wise because we can figure based on an average, how we're doing. Does that make sense? Plus the price per ton is set according to the length of the trip. Longer trips mean higher rates.

Well the rain let off, and on the western horizon, it looks sunny in Montana. It feels good to drive across the Dakotas again. I always like it out here, in the open, with the grass and sky and picturesque farms dotting the land. There's a comedian on the radio that says she ought to write a book about places not to visit. For the first chapter, she'd leave the first 10 pages blank and at the end say "See, that was North Dakota." You know what? That suits me just fine!

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