November 18, 2010

Back to Work, Back with a Bang

Monday morning we returned to work after a couple weeks out of the truck. We packed a little bit of everything into this last "break." While filled with fun and lots of visiting, there wasn't much of a "break" involved.

We started off with a couple days at home to get things packed, and get the truck turned into the shop for a clutch adjustment and a few other repairs. Then we headed to the ranch where we helped out with getting the calves shipped and then having the cows preg. checked.  In all we were there 3 days, plus a few hours. Lots of fun, lots of visiting, a little asthma and allergy issues, but that was the only bummer.

From the ranch, we headed to Tennessee. This was the first trip we've taken down there in a personal vehicle since moving to Montana nearly 4 years ago! Up to this point we've always just gotten a load of something going down there, and then taken our time off once we delivered. Its quite a different experience traveling that many miles (about 1700) in a pickup, primarily that you can't stretch out and sleep good. We still managed to do it without stopping though. It took 27 hours. Could have been a little shorter except we drove 65mph in order to conserve some fuel and some money too. We stayed down there about three days and then turned around and came home. We went to visit, but there was also a purpose other than pure pleasure. It was time for my first car to come home to Montana.

This is my 1991 Mustang GT. Daddy bought it for me in 1994 when I was 16. It had 6000 miles on it. I love me little red car! My dad has been storing it in his garage for the past 7 years, but it was time to get it out of his way. Now I guess it will sit in my father-in-law's garage for the next 7 years. But maybe I can get it out once in a while and take it for a spin.

And since we had the trailer and had gone all that way, Malcolm brought a new toy home too. Dad was wanting to sell his 1971 CJ Jeep, and Malcolm thought it would be fun for bumping around the ranch in.

We got to the ranch Monday evening and woke up to a good old fashioned Montana winter morning on Tuesday. How's that for a "welcome home!" By Tuesday evening it still hadn't really cleared up, so we just struck out for home and hoped for the best. The gravel road was really messy.
Thirty miles later when we hit pavement it got better.
Baker was messy and it was getting dark. I guess the good thing about the messy weather was that it kept the deer off the road and they tend to be kind of bad from Baker to Miles City. And then half way to Miles City it cleared up and the roads were dry the rest of the way home.
We spent Wednesday at home, but Thursday we ran a quick over-night load from Great Falls to Fort Collins, CO as a favor to the broker. Friday afternoon in eastern Wyoming was beautiful!
A couple more days at home, and then we hit the road full time again Monday morning. Though some states start in September, the majority of states require us to carry snow chains November 1 - April 1. So Sunday evening Malcolm packed the truck up, and threw in the snow chains to take along with us.

Good thing we remembered them because this morning they had the chain law up for crossing "Cabbage" east of Pendlton, OR. Beautiful snow.....
...not so beautiful roads!
Malcolm pulled off in a rest area to chain up a ways before the actual chain up area. When we got there, we were glad we'd stopped early! There were dozens of trucks parked out in the road getting their chains on, barely leaving room to squeeze around them.
"Cabbage" is a long 6 mile grade that has some steep places, but the main thing about the grade is that its a bit curvy, so if you get going too fast, you'll miss the curve.
This is the first time we've crossed it in really bad weather, and it was pretty nasty looking on top. But about half way down it cleared up and was just wet.
And at the bottom there wasn't anything but a few puddles and a lot of disgruntled truck drivers who were wet and tired and cold and mad that they'd had to put on chains for a short 3 mile stretch.
This was the earliers we've ever chained up I think, and the most we've ever chained up in one winter was 3 times. I hope, very much, that today was not a peek at what is coming this year.

Got to the bottom, and on down towards the Columbia River it turned into a gorgeous day. It was like another world!
And then a few miles further on, it started looking like this again...

It got more and more rainy the closer to Portland we got. I feel like mother nature has kind of thrown a little bit of everything at us today! By the time I got to Vancouver it was just misty, and then as we pulled into Woodland, WA, where we are now, a rainbow came out and now the sun is struggling to burn off the clouds.

We reload in Portland in the morning and then make a short run back over towards Pendleton and the mountain. And then we have to cross over empty. We're hoping the weather improves a lot between now and tomorrow evening when that is supposed to take place. Climbing an icy hill with an empty trailer...well its not a good scenario. Chances are it would be hard to get to the top. And I know that makes little sense. Seems like if you were loaded heavy, you'd have a hard time climbing on icy roads, but reality is the heavier we are, the more traction we have. Light weights are a night mare on icy roads.

Looks like we'll be driving to Wyoming empty ALL the way from Washington, to get a load of potash going to North Carolina! Looking forward to the trip! But right now I'm looking forward to a shower, a good hot meal, and a long night in a parked truck, as soon as we get unloaded. And we're backing in now.


Jennifer said...

So you do make it to NC some times! If only we were there already. Hope you get another NC load in the future and can come visit us once we're settled.

Love seeing the snow pics.

Shirley said...

Hope you get where you are going safely! I think this will be a snowy winter. The kind that makes me glad I'm not a truck driver;0)

small farm girl said...

Glad to have you back! But, I didn't want to see the snow pictures this early yet. hehehehehe