December 16, 2010

From One End of the Country to the Other

Since the beginning of the month, we have run this country from one end to the other, or close to it. And believe me when I say it feels like it to. I'll be interestedd to see the months total miles, and if its not an higher than usual total, I'll be surprised.

On Dec. 2 we loaded fertilizer in San Diego, CA. That's the end we started on.
and after crossing these very rocky hills east of the city,

and the desert in southern CA, we delivered in western Arizona.

The next load was over on the east side of the state, in Wilcox. We drove over there after unloading and picked up 50,700 pounds of Granny Smith apples.

Who would have thought they grew apples in southern Arizona? They were quite tasty. We know because we got to eat a couple of them. The rest went to a little plant in Sebastopol, CA where they make organic cider and vinegar.

From there we headed to new territory, or at least its been long enough since we were there (4 years) that its kind of like going for the first time, especially since we've only been once before! We took a load of ground limestone from Nevada, all the way to northern Vermont.

We had smooth sailing until we reached Cleveland, OH. We were greeted there by evening rush hour and some sudden lake effect snow. It was quite a mess and ate up about an hour of our time. By the time we got through the city, we had realized there was a bypass of sorts that would have helped us avoid all that mess, and it was almost too dark to get a picture of Lake Erie. Between the snow and the dim light, and the traffic and a chain length fence, I nearly didn't manage. This was the best I could do of the little light house sitting out there on the point.

All the way across New York on I-90, the snow came and went, making it slushy but otherwise not interfering with our travels. By the time we got to leave the toll roads and enter Vermont, we had spent over $160 in tolls. Just one of the many joys of traveling in the northeast!

We arrived in Vergennes, VT early in the morning and couldn't see much, but sunrise revealed a precious little town that I would have loved to explore. Vergennes was established in 1766!
The age of the towns and farms in New England always have left me in awe! I know they are like babies compared to European history, but for North Americans, these towns and farms are ancient!

and so picturesque!

Vergennes was not far from the state line, so we had an excellent view of the Adirondacks in New York as we drove back south.

Just a scant 20 miles south of Vergennes, we got out of the snow, and Vermont looked less like a Christmas card, but still quite lovely.

We reloaded in Albany, NY, another beautiful city with tons of history! Oh how it killed me to not be able to take the time to explore! But these were rush in/rush out trips to get us back west where the freight paid good.

We delivered wheat mids in Mount Joy, PA which is just south of Hershey, PA in Lancaster County. Sadly it was also the middle of the night when we delivered, and we had to rush 350 miles west to Ohio. So Pennsylvania was toured in the dark. Just as the sun was coming up the next morning and I thought I might get a chance at a picture of rolling Pennsylvania hillsides, it started to snow, obliterating most of the view of the hills.
By the time we reached the bridge at Wheeling, West Virginia it hadn't improved much.

And the sun didn't appear till we were well into Ohio.
In Ohio we loaded, of all things, crushed glass. That was a new one for us! You already heard ALL about the blizzard adventure of this weekend. If not, check out the post below this one for an update.

Finally released from the clutches of old man winter, at least for the time being, we made our delivery in Keystone, SD on Monday morning, wind-rowing out the glass onto the ground.

There is so much snow in the glass its hard to tell what it is in these pictures. It had snowed on the pile of glass where they loaded us in Ohio, and of course it didn't have much of a chance to melt while we traveled through the northern frigid country!
While we were unloading, I enjoyed the sunrise over the Black Hills and a really nice view of Mount Rushmore.

The place in Keystone grinds the glass up and ships it to China where they use it in car part molds. I thought that was interesting and such an unusual product to be produced in a tourist trap town like Keystone!

We took a load of sunflower seed, after thoroughly washing out of course, to Texas. Ahhh...sunshine and considerably warmer with temps in the 50's! Then we reloaded with cotton seed to Idaho. That was an all night run and involved another winter weather adventure, though a much shorter one.

In western Wyoming I encountered icy roads with a little snow on top. It wasn't too bad, just took it slow and easy. But shortly they put the chain law up, and I had to wake Malcolm. We had switched drivers and were making our way, along with a number of other trucks, to the truck stop at the top of a hill, when the truck in front of us stopped. So we stopped, of course. What choice did we have. Except the truck in front started creeping forward again, but we stayed in place, tires spinning on ice.There had not yet been a place to pull off and chain up so we were on naked tires so to speak, and so there we were in the middle of the night in the middle of I-80 with trucks creeping up behind us, and two other trucks already parked behind waiting. Malcolm set the brake and got out to check out the situation and just as his feet hit the icy pavement....the truck began sliding backwards down the hill!
It only got away with a few inches before Malcolm was able to leap back in and stop it. In fact I hadn't even realized what was happening before it was almost over. But what a horrible situation that could have turned into! It was VERY uncomfortable for a while after that!
We had to chain up, while other trucks crept around us on one side. It was kind of embarrassing, but could have happened to anyone and in fact happened to several others across that section of I-80, forcing the DOT to close the road going west. We scrambled to put on the rest of our chains, turned back east 10 miles and cut north on another route we knew, just as they closed the east bound side.

The northern route was only 40 miles longer and hadn't gotten iced up as bad. And as we were unloading at noon the next day in Idaho I checked the road reports only to discover that I-80 was STILL closed both directions in Wyoming. We had gotten out of there by the skin of our teeth and were grateful that we were able to do so!

The northern route took us through some pretty mountains in Utah. The combination of ice and snow creates nightmares for driving, but it sure does make things beautiful! These are part of the Wasatch Range near Logan, UT.

Reloaded in Idaho, drove over night to Sterling, CO, getting to use the faster I-80 route as they had conveniently re-opened it in the afternoon, and delivered this morning. We're already reloaded again and heading north to Washington. We get to pass through Billings tonight, and will be crying as we drove by without stopping. Washington to Minnesota to Great Falls, MT and then, fingers crossed, HOME, a place we have not seen since November 15th! HOME...a sight for sore eyes! We are looking forward to it with much anticipation!


small farm girl said...

As the John Cash song goes, You've been everywhere man, you've been everywhere. lol. Sliding backwards in a truck could be a nightmare! I'm glad it wasn't worse.

Missy @ My Life Ain't Always Beautiful said...

Ooooh I love your pictures this once again esp. the last one. It sounds like you had quite the trip. I think your job would be fun in the summer but I wouldn't hop all over it in the winter ;)

I had to get up and get an apple to snack on before I left a comment. ;) I wanted apple pie but this will work.

Hope you have a very Merry Christmas & A Happy Snappy New Year if I don't chat with you again before then.

Meagan said...

Love the pictures... especially the apples! :-) Love and miss you!

Dreaming said...

I am exhausted just reading about your routes. OMG...slipping on the ice on I-80, backwards, how terrifying!
We are heading across country for Christmas. I am not looking forward to 1685 miles of driving. I'll have to think of what you guys do and put my big girl panties on!

Lisa said...

Reading this blog makes me tired! Glad it's you and not me. I'll stay in one place, thank you very much. :-)