September 3, 2009

Covering Ground

We're here in Prosser, Wa getting the trailer washed out after delivering fertilizer this morning in Harrah. In this part of Washington, along with the fruit, they grow large fields of hops. Hops is used as a bittering agent in the brewing process of beer making. Driving in last night it smelled really good...almost minty, and they were out there in one of the fields harvesting even though it was well after midnight.

Washington and Oregon...and even Idaho...amaze me. Drive through the uncultivated areas and its a dry grassland with not much grass. Mostly dirt, rock, and sage. So I always ponder who exactly was it who came along and thought, "just add water." Because, literally, it seems if you just add water this land becomes a lush Eden. The areas that are farmed, and heavily irrigated, are a virtual cornucopia of produce. Orchards stacked one on top another up the hill slopes, vineyards, hay fields....and so on. I never tire of the smell of fresh cut hay. I still say they need to make a candle that smells like that. I'd keep the factory in business single handedly.The truck is celebrating its week and a half anniversary. We left the house Monday last (8/24/09) and I just glanced over at the odometer and it reads exactly 6000. We had 66 miles when we left home so do the math....that's 5,934 miles in a little less than two weeks. Whew! I also did some mental geography and we've taken it through 15 states in that time period. We've covered some ground!

We've also had a couple of issues. DOT requires that your business name, DOT number and VIN number be printed on the side of the truck where it is easily read. Last Thursday, Colorado pulled me in to their scale in Cortez to inform me that the VIN number on the side of our truck didn't match our registration. He was really nice about it, and walked out to the truck to check the VIN printed on the inside of the door. Sure enough, the last three numbers of our graphics don't match the factory VIN. He didn't give us a ticket or anything, just told us to get it fixed, and you can bet the next morning our graphics shop heard about it. They are mailing us the replacement numbers and Malcolm's going to fix it when we get home this weekend. I'm surprised we hadn't caught that ourselves, but it slipped by us. Fortunately we haven't been asked about it again. We were worried we were going to be harassed about it till we could get it changed.

Nothing stays new for long. On Monday, our one week anniversary with the truck, I was driving south through Oregon admiring the scenery. A road service truck passed me going north and threw a rock up onto the windshield.

Isn't it lovely? We don't seem to have much luck with windshields. We went through three or four with the old truck and it seemed like every time we got one replaced, we'd have a new ding or crack in it within weeks. Oh well...its ugly, but doesn't warrant replacement yet. If it cracks through our line of vision we'll have to get it changed, but for now its ok, and probably this winter we'll get all dinged up anyway. The windshield always looks awful after coming through the winter, with all the dirt and grit they spread on the roads.

Saturday, before the plague hit, I went boot shopping in Winnemucca. I'd been to several stores in Billings and found pairs I liked, but I had my heart set on square toes. Don't know why, but I just wanted squared off toes. I like the way it looks. Problem is there doesn't seem to be a lot of them around in women's boots. Add to that that I wear a larger size...it complicates things. So anyway, while Malcolm went into the auto parts store, I went next door to Boot Barn. Normally I'd take my business to a "mom and pop" place, and not a national chain, but I was just stretching to find what I wanted. And I had some luck!

They aren't exactly what I had in mind, but the problem is I didn't know exactly what I had in mind. That makes it hard to find it! They have blue decorative stitching. I think they are pretty...

...and Paris approves.

Confessing to a huge trucking sin:

We fib on our log books. The law says you don't drive over 11 hours without a 10 hour break, and your 11 have to be within a 14 hour period. Since there are two of us, we just switch when we get tired. Its kind of safer that way, in my opinion. What's the point of pushing yourself to drive 11 hours, when your exhausted, and in the mean time your co-driver is sitting in the back twiddling their thumbs in boredom, because quite frankly, I can't sleep for 10 hours anymore, and I just run out of things to do back there? So if we get tired we switch, and we just make our logs look right to make the powers that be happy.

So yesterday, that's what we did, and when Malcolm got up from a nap, he took over, but I put off "fixing" things till when we stopped to eat. Except when we left dinner, I forgot to change it, and 25 miles down the road the scale that is rarely open was indeed open...and MAD! It was FULL of trucks! And suddenly, as he was pulling in, I remembered the log, felt sick, and commenced to pray. Is it wrong to ask God to help you cheat the law? Probably so...but I did it anyway. But He didn't take my side. The first thing the DOT officer asked for was the log book, which showed Malcolm being 30 minutes over his 14 hours. Ooops....in a big way! Again, they were super nice about it, joked around with us, were really friendly, and put Malcolm out of service for 10 hours. That's what the other trucks were doing there. They had at least 7 trucks lining the ramp, parked out of service. Luckily, Malcolm has an excellent co-driver who, according to the log book hadn't worked all day! So she sweetly slid into the driver's seat and drove the remaining 250 miles to Harrah.

Don't hate us for cheating on this law. We do it for safety reasons really, because as a team we are able to be safe all the time. We never never drive tired...ever! Why do that when you have someone to take over for you? And if we are both tired, we just park it! Anyway, in Malcolm's almost 7 years of driving, that his first ever "out of service." It goes on our safety rating, but the officer said it shouldn't affect it much. We have an excellent safety rating and its something we're proud of and strive to maintain. We've been admired by more than one DOT officer for having such a high safety rating.

Anyway, that was something else that happened recently, and since part of my purpose for this blog is to educate the world about "all things trucking," I decided to just be honest and include it, even though it involved admitting to being law breakers. I sincerely hope you don't think less of us because of it.


Sharon Tachenko said...

Sarah - you are amazing! I love your writings, your photography, your reflections on your life and passing world. I love your spirit, optimism, and now your honesty! It all makes sense to me - and obviously to the LAW, as well!

Happy travels! thx for keeping us educated in such a beautiful and entertaining way!

I love you guys! & I LOVE YOUR BOOTS! They are COOL, Dudette!

Valerie said...

Absolute love the boots!!! They are fabulous. I actually would love to have a pair just like that, but honestly, when would I wear them? You have great taste.