Our load of feather meal that we loaded on Tuesday morning, didn't have a delivery date, and since Mark, the broker, hadn't found our next load yet, he said he didn't care when we delivered it. Therefore, we told him we'd happily have it in Helm, CA first thing Friday morning...thus allowing us enough time to sleep in a parked truck both nights, and shower, and get decent meals.
Off track a little, but these lovely ladies were the welcoming committee at the dairy in Texas where we delivered the corn hominy from Illinois on Tuesday morning. They were quite eager for us to unload, but disappointed when we didn't dump it in their pasture.
After loading in Mount Pleasant, we drove 30 miles down the interstate to a rest area, parked it, and passed out for about 4 hours.
I actually didn't sleep...I hate sleeping when its a beautiful day outside (and Tuesday it was sunny and 80 degrees)...so I sat in bed and read, and then got up and drove the 120 miles to Benton, TX where there happens to be a Waffle House with parking nearby. If you haven't noticed yet, we have developed an uncanny ability to search out and remember all the various eateries that we can get to that AREN'T truck stops. We lived off Waffle House just about when we were renovating our house in Georgia back in the day, and so when we're down south...or in Texas or Phoenix...we try to stop at one.
Parked in another rest area south of Wichita Falls on Tuesday night and slept till about 6am. Wednesday was beautiful! Another pretty day, though partly cloudy and only around 50-60 degrees, and very windy. We drove to Amarillo, had the truck greased, and then on to Moriarty, NM where we stopped to eat at another favorite place. Do you notice that the highlights of our trips seem to always be meals? Might explain why I've put on a few pounds since starting this career. But there are just so many unique and yummy places that we have discovered, and no matter how many times I promise myself, I just can't make myself live on salad.
We got into traffic in Albuquerque, and so we missed a milestone in the trucks life. I was busy watching the other vehicles, and didn't notice the odometer roll over to 100,000. So sad! We had been watching for it and I wanted a picture! But as I told Malcolm, there will be other milestones...like 200,000 and 300,000 and 400,000 and hopefully not, but possibly 500,000. Anyway, we got this truck in mid August, so we've driven 100,000 miles in a little over 6 months.
Driving on, Malcolm was tired, so he went to bed, and I drove on into Arizona. Amazing how fast weather changes. It had looked stormy over Amarillo, but then cleared. It got stormy looking again at Albuquerque and spit some snow flurries on us, but then cleared. And as I approached the Arizona state line it was almost dark, but I could tell it was looking stormy again. After the days weather though, I thought no big deal. However...it was a little bigger deal this time. In fact, about 45 miles into Arizona, the roads turned real crappy, everyone was crawling along at 35 miles an hour, and it was snowing pretty good and blowing. A car had slid off on our side, there was a jack-knifed truck on the other side, and two trucks stuck and spinning out on an exit ramp, all in about a 2 mile stretch.
It was like that almost all the way to Winslow, then cleared up, but then west of Flagstaff it turned crappy again. At that point it was 10:00, I was tired, and Malcolm had gotten up. So he took over and drove on down the mountain to Kingman where we stopped for the night.
This morning, Thursday and the big birthday day, dawned clear, sunny, and chilly. The puddles in Kingman had a thin sheet of ice over them. After a shower at the Petro truck stop, we drove down the road to the heart of Kingman where we have discovered a Cracker Barrel restaurant with a dirt lot behind it. We are obviously not the first trucks to make use of it, and in fact we had a neighbor this morning when we parked. Malcolm's birthday breakfast was delicious and we both ate way too much. At the end of the meal, he thought he'd be cute and ask the waitress what he got free on his birthday. She got all excited and told him she'd bring him a piece of their chocolate coca cola cake. Well, Mr. Smarty forgot all about restaurants delighting in delivering free dessert with a rousing rendition of the birthday song. Malcolm had a goofy grin on his face, but I didn't see the mass of kitchen staff gathering behind me, so I nearly fell out of my chair when they burst into song. The cake was worth the embarrassment though. It was way too rich...and to die for!
After breakfast, I took over driving and gave Malcolm the day off. He looked at rifles on the internet for a while, took a nap with the girls, and then came back up front to prowl around online some more. He enjoyed all the birthday greeting phone calls too, chatting away for a long time.
Over the Tehachapi Mountains in CA it was beautiful and green, a lovely drive. Once we dropped into Bakersfield, Malcolm said he's give me a break. There were only about 80 miles left to our stopping point. He had just started driving when we past an exit, and on the other side, parked on the entrance ramp, lined up and waiting, were EIGHT DOT vehicles. There was one up ahead on the shoulder with a truck pulled over and another heading back south to rejoin his partners in crime prevention. We were in shock...and briefly terrified. It was obviously some kind of speed trap of something like that. For whatever reason, they let us go. I'm not sure why, but I told Malcolm it was the CA DOT's birthday present to him. We haven't had a full inspection in over a year, and its a wonder we haven't been pulled in yet. Now that I type that, today will be the day, but oh well...we'll just get it over with. Anyway, that was quite a sight, those 8 DOT trucks waiting like wolves on the hunt.
When we reached Traver, CA Malcolm visited with another Montana trucker parked next to us while I walked across the street to this orchard and got a few blossom pictures as the sun was beginning to set. It was so pretty, so much pink! I just had to get some pictures to hold me over till springtime.
And then we walked over to this little place. I had gone in before on another stop, and wanted to show it to Malcolm. Its a restaurant/gift shop/deli, with a beautiful court yard in back with a small petting zoo. I wanted to visit the little goats again.
(I don't know what kind of goat this guy is. Anyone have any ideas? He's neat with his horns and curly hair. Too bad he wouldn't stand still for a good photo, but I wanted to know if anyone knew what he was, so I posted the blury picture anyway.)
They also have two mini-donkeys.
Cute, but I think I prefer the standard size guys.
Also with long ears were the bunnies, who wouldn't cooperate with my and my camera.
This little guy was luckier than the others, except for being in solitary confinement. But at least he got to hop around on grass, and I thought his little mobile home was really neat!
And there were a few kitties, who were shy, but one was brave enough to have his picture made.
The court yard has tables to eat at, and these huge trees in the center that are filled with happily singing sparrows and finches. There must be hundreds and they raise quite a chorus.
And also in the largest tree is this....
...the best tree house ever! Oh if I were a child still, I'd be hounding my Dad to build me one of these!!! Isn't that the most awesome tree house ever? For a quarter, you can go inside. Had we had two quarters in our pockets I'm sure we would have gone in, which makes me wonder about the statistics of its visitors. I imagine just as many adults go in as children...maybe more!
After our tour, we went across the street to eat at a favorite place. We always stop in Traver to eat when we are delivering in Helm. We park there for the night too, because its long about 40 miles from our delivery. This place is very quaint, very simply decorated, and one of our favorites. Its nothing fancy, but the food is spectacular, and the owner, her daughter, and her staff are precious. They always visit with us and fix Malcolm his Carnitas plate that he likes, even though its not on the menu. Last time we were there we had an adventure. The regular ladies were absent, the owner was at home, and the waitress and cook didn't speak a word of english. Malcolm had his heart set on his usual Carnitas, but they couldn't understand him. Finally, the girl got out her cell phone, called the owner, and put Malcolm on the phone with her. Its that kind of casual, enjoyable environment.
And just another reminder that I really ought to learn Spanish. I want to, but I'm no good at those self led language classes. I need to actually go attend a weekly class, but that's hard to do in my situation.
After dinner we bought a little tub of Haagen-Daz Butter Pecan ice cream and took it back to the truck where we took turns dipping our spoons in as I read Malcolm his birthday greetings on Facebook and email, and then he returned a number of birthday phone calls that he had missed while we were at dinner.
It was one of the most enjoyable days we've had in a while, which is kind of strange, since it wasn't that much out of the ordinary. But I heard Malcolm say 3-4 times while on the phone that he was having a great birthday, with such sincerity in his voice, and at the end of the day I asked him if he enjoyed his birthday, and he said it really was a great day. I'm so glad, and also so glad we found ways to make it a little special.
Now, after a nights sleep, its Friday morning and we are almost to our delivery. The sun is rising behind us, and its shaping up to be another beautiful day. Malcolm brought me a vanilla latte from the truck stop and I'm sipping it as we drive past miles of vineyards that are starting to leaf out and orchards that are full of dark purple blossoms. Its beautiful, and fills my heart with sunshine and joy! It makes me feel renewed, and so thankful to God for his amazing love. How he must love us to give us such beauty in this world!
As of yesterday morning, Mark the broker still didn't have our next load figured out. Maybe he will by the time we are unloaded, but if not that's ok. He'll find something by the end of the day I'm sure. And Malcolm told him the other day that we want a full week off at home at the end of the month, so I have that to look forward to and prepare for. Hope you all have a joy filled day, and in case its not going well, I hear is one more picture of spring. I hope it at least brings you a moment of warmth in your heart.