April 16, 2011

The Mission and The Reward

The Mission:
Deliver and reload in eastern Colorado, then drive 1400 miles to Stockton, CA. Deliver and drive 140 miles north to reload. Mission begins at 8:30am on Thursday. You must be at the reload in CA before 2:30pm on Friday.

Not a mission impossible, but definitely a challenge. Very little room for error or delay. We got a great start from Colorado, before we ever got to the place where we were to load!
Thankfully it was short lived and by the time we got to the load, we just had a bit of sleet pinging off the truck roof.

But the wind! Lets just say our fuel mileage hovers around 6 miles per gallon, but with the wind, by the time we got to Cheyenne, WY we were averaging 3.6 mpg. Gusts were 45+ mph and as a result of blowing snow and multiple accidents, Wyoming closed I-80 from Cheyenne to Laramie. We backed into a parking spot at a truck stop, somewhat shell shocked. If we'd been balloons there would have been some audible hissing as we deflated.

It wasn't that the load waiting for us in California was the only load available! Our broker already had some other ideas lined up "just in case." BUT the load we were aiming for was a really good paying load and the backup plan wasn't so great. We really wanted the load that the broker had lined up. So after a few moments of contemplation, a phone call to the broker, and a study of the map, we set off north, quite a ways north, and then turned west, heading off on a self-invented detour over to Laramie.

  It added 82 miles to our trip and took 2 1/2 hours because it was a narrow 2 lane that wound and climbed and dropped, not to mention the construction that required us to wait for and follow a pilot car for a few miles, but when we got over to Laramie, the roads were dry and open.
We were rather put out to discover that during our little excursion, I-80 had been re-opened. But that's the way it goes when traveling in Wyoming. If we had waited, we would have been on interstate the whole way. But they could have just as easily left the road closed till the next day. Its a gamble and you just have to live with whatever you decide to do. Wyoming is very unpredictable at any time of year.

We drove all night, pushing the truck right up to the limit of the speed limit, which makes for bad fuel mileage and hard sleeping conditions. But by the time it was my turn to turn in, apparently I was tired enough. I didn't wake up till Malcolm pulled into the agricultural inspection station at Truckee, CA. And of course they said we didn't have all our paperwork. Another short delay. But it got worked out and after a few minutes of waiting, we were on our way again.

We arrived at our delivery point at the Port of Stockton around 9:00am. Its a neat place, on an old military base. Because of security, I'm wary of taking pictures, so just take my word for it, but maybe I'll get brave one day and be seen with a camera. We like this place because they load and unload quickly...usually. And today they didn't let us down. We had to wait for them to finish loading another truck, and then we pulled into the warehouse and wind rowed our load of millet out onto the floor.

the other piles of grain in the warehouse. The millet was behind me.

Malcolm walking next to a pile gives you a hint at scale.
We were close to being done, but still had to get to our reload. We had 4 hours to go 140 miles, so the stress was off a little. We grabbed a burrito for breakfast from the little place on the corner, and made our way through Sacramento, arriving at the tiny, lost, and mostly abandoned town of Artois, CA. The people at the seed mill were on lunch break so we got to chill out for a few minutes before loading.
An hour later, we were loaded up with sunflower seeds and ready to head back east.
Mission Accomplished!

The Reward:
Should you accomplish the mission, your reward will be a high paying load that is light weight. You'll get good fuel mileage. You'll have 2 1/2 days to go 1800 miles. You'll get to go past the house for an over night stay and laundry time (not fun but needed). In addition there will be another good paying load waiting for you at the other end.

After loading our sunflower seeds, we pulled out onto the mostly abandoned road in the mostly abandoned town and set the brakes. Time for a short breather before heading back out of California.
Malcolm brought my attention to the trees lining the roadway by appearing in my window screaming, with dark red oozing from his hand. I wasn't fooled. First of all, it was too dark red, almost purple, and second he's not the type to over react at an injury. He'd plucked a mysterious berry from a tree, and squeezed it, only to be attacked by it. It squirted all over him, staining his hand purple.
There was a whole line of them along the roadway and if I'm not mistaken, these are olive trees. Can anyone verify or correct me?
I know they do grow olives in this particular part of California, so I'm assuming that's what they are.

Up the road we stopped again, parking in the road, to get a better look at a place we'd noticed on our way in.
Fenced and gate locked, the grove was overgrown and looked to be abandoned, just like the town. I got out to take a closer look and get a few pictures close up.
I've heard that orange blossoms smell good, but my goodness! As I stood beneath the branches of the trees trying to get a good close up picture, the perfume of the oranges was just devine! It wasn't as citrus-y as you might think. It was more super sweet floral with a hint of citrus! It was wonderful! I hid out under the branches a little longer than needed, taking time to get several pictures just so I could enjoy the smell.

And behind all those orange trees, nearly completely obscured from vision, that orange laden sidewalk led to this treasure.
I could see more of it than I was able to catch with the camera lens. It looks fairly well cared for, absolutely adorable, and completely uninhabited. I sincerely hope it has someone who loves it dearly and treats it well.

Malcolm went to bed after we got some dinner, and I got the pleasure of driving through Sacramento traffic on a Friday evening. The "Reno Rush" as I like to call it.  In southern CA they all run to Vegas for the weekend. And in central California if seems they all go to Reno, though it wasn't as bad this trip as I have encountered before. I made it through the typical traffic jam, across the ridiculously pot holed Sierra Nevada mountain highway, and dropped down into Reno just before dusk.

We stopped at midnight and slept for a while. Malcolm commenced driving this morning around 5:00 and at present I am sitting in the truck waiting for him to come back out from the Cabelas store in Billings. He wanted to pick up something the store was holding for him before we go home. Twenty-Eight miles to go!

We'll spend the night at home and finish the trip tomorrow afternoon. The sunflower seeds go to a town southeast of Fargo and we're reloading potatoes clear up on the North Dakota/Canada line. Then its off to Spokane.

The mission was tiring, but the reward pays off. Good rates are always enjoyed, and trips with time to rest and catch up are appreciated by all.
my co-pilots were too worn out to work much today


Meagan said...

Well, Hey busy lady! Sounds like you have been 90 to nothing! Whew! Impressed that you acheived your mission though - that's always good for the bank, and anything good for the bank ease the mind as well! :-) Enjoy your stop in at home and, as always, be careful! LOVE YOU!

Sonya said...

I enjoyed your trip. Enjoy reading your journeys.

Anonymous said...

Yep, those are olives all right! The Central Valley shares climate with Italy, so we can grow lots of the same things.

99 and 198

Shirley said...

Well done! That abandoned orange grove and house look interesting. Wish I could smell what you did, it sounds delightful.

gowestferalwoman said...

Thank you for doing the job that you do - people just dont understand that when they grab a can or package off of the store shelf, that the product they hold has gone through quite a process with many people helping it to get there!

Debbie @ Swampbilly Ranch said...

One of my most favorite things in the world are the smell of orange blossums. I don't know how you guys travel the way you do. I would love to see the things you get to see but I just could not do all that driving.

Vintage West said...

Wow what a trip, congrats on mission accomplished. I want to bite into those oranges, yummm!

Michaele said...

This isn't just a blog - for me it is a journey. I am from Wyoming and know exactly what you are talking about and what roads you are speaking about. There have been many, many bad accidents on that road you took out of Laramie. California is like a dream land. I can't imagine living in a place where you can pick citrus fruits off of the trees. You get to see so much and you work very hard. Trucking isn't an easy life. I hope you are saving up for an early retirement.