September 4, 2011

Another Week, This One Better

Let me start by saying I do not like the new version of blogger! I rarely like the new version of anything! When will I learn not to click on the buttons that say "update available?"

This week I had wanted to post on several occasions, but my blogging moods always landed on days when our internet signal was too weak. The other days I was too tired. This is why...

Can you see the green lines? Those represent our routes for the week. We started in Valier, MT and will end tomorrow in Williston, ND, for a grand total of (drum roll) 5,042 miles! MUCH better than last week!

I'm also tired because we did several nights of all night driving and I just don't sleep well when the trucks moving. But I'm trying to catch up this weekend.

Photography has been a bit of a challenge this week as well.
As of a few days ago, Montana has the most fires burning in the country, and Oregon was a close second. The air quality out here leaves a lot to be desired. The mountains are hidden in smoky haze, and add the bug splatters on the windshield, and well...after a few attempts, I called it quits. No point, because the shots weren't very good.
passing through the western edge of Yellowstone National Park in Montana on Wednesday
There were a few things to share and I also got some practice taking night pictures. I was surprised at how well my little Cannon Elph did!

Monday, after loading near Chester, MT, we headed for Spokane, by way of Helena. On the short cut from Helena to the interstate, I drove through a whole valley filled with these awesome hay stacks.

Malcolm explained the process to me, but I'd love to see it in action one day! They were quite impressive!

We delivered in Spokane on Tuesday morning and headed south through eastern Washington. Its harvest time in this part of the country, and they are busy getting at it!
Some of Washington's hillsides are impressively steep. They have some brave farmers over in that country. I don't think you'd catch me up there on those slopes in a tractor!
Many of the fields have already been harvested and the grain is being loaded and transported to its various locations. Some of it is being stored in private bins,

while some of it is being transported to large grain elevators, where despite their huge facilities, there always seems to be a surplus this time of year.
compare the size of the pile to the truck in front for scale
And on the other side of the Snake River from the elevator above, they had another pile of grain behind the bins and were loading a barge down with more grain to move downriver.
We loaded organic spring wheat near Milton Freewater, OR, which is just across the state line from Walla Walla, WA. The wheat we hauled was taken across the Oregon mountains...
...to LaGrange, where we hopped on I-84 and trucked on into Idaho. It was late evening as we were finishing up our Idaho stretch and the lightning was flickering on the horizon. I like to watch the lightning as I drive, but this time of year, as dry as it is, lightning is not really what you want to see. And sure enough, a few miles down the road, we drove past some of its handy work just getting started.
These grass and brush fires take off so quickly. It had already spread to cover a few acres. Highway Patrol had just passed us and was parked on the shoulder of the interstate to monitor the fires progress. I never heard any more about it so I'm assuming (and hoping) that nothing more came of it. There are already enough burning without more being added!

The next morning we delivered the wheat in Collinston, UT and then headed north towards Pocatello, ID to pick up a load of fertilizer, stopping south of town to grab a bite to eat.

Idaho is also where we saw one of the more amusing sights of the week. Creative camping...
that is not 1, but 2 vans altered to ride atop the bus!

The fertilizer went to Miles City, MT where we delivered first thing Thursday morning. And then we went straight north, almost to the Canadian line, to Opheim, MT to load lentils.

I love driving through northeast Montana. Its one of my favorite areas of the state.
And I know its only the beginning of September, but its definitely starting to look a little and feel like fall out here! And I'm excited about that! I love fall and I'm even anticipating winter's arrival!

We drove all night with the lentils over to eastern North Dakota, south of Grand Forks. Malcolm pulled into the parking lot at 3:00am to discover another truck had arrived just before us, and had gotten himself into a sticky situation.
He had somehow made a huge mistake and in trying to back out onto the road, he instead backed into the ditch! Not a good situation for any truck, but especially a hopper, as our hopper doors hang down beneath the trailer and are vulnerable in this type of situation.
It just so happened that one of the company employees had come in early and so they hooked the truck to the mills front end loader, and pulled him out of the ditch. And sure enough, the back hopper got drug, forcing the hopper door open and spilling lentils.
all that light colored stuff on the ground is lentils, there was much more than what's in the picture!
They had to use a sledge hammer to pound the door back shut and then Malcolm used his tools to repair the door so it could be used again. And then he and the driver shoveled up all the spilled lentils. All this, even though he was tired and could have just layed down and gotten some rest while the driver figured out his own problems. Most guys these days would have done exactly that! But not my husband! He's always the first one to jump in and help, and always has the answers to save the day too!

After that, we drove over to the southeast side of Minneapolis and loaded sand. That was on Friday morning. We're on our second load of sand now. We're going to go get another one just as soon as we drop this one off in the morning in Williston, ND.
the sand pit and mill where we load near Minneapolis
 This is drilling sand that's being used in the oil field up there around Williston. I've heard that region of North Dakota referred to as a modern day gold rush. All I know is these loads pay well enough to drive back EMPTY to Minneapolis, 650 miles, and that Williston and the little towns up there have become crazy boom towns where there is no where to park, no where to live, and it takes 3 times as long to get places as it used to.
This morning we got in to load early, and now we're headed back west. We have plans to stop in Bismarck this afternoon and have dinner with Malcolm's other sister and her fiance. And then we'll finish off the trip to Williston, and then turn around in the morning and head back to MN! Tomorrow starts another week. It will be interesting to see where it takes us!


Judy Johnson said...

You covered a lot of country that is for sure!! Lots of nice photos to prove that!!! Hey, if you are going to be in Williston, I hope you get down this way long enough for a quick coke!!

TexWisGirl said...

a lot of miles! those fires in montana would have been terrible. and i hated to see the excess grain just poured on the ground at that grainery! your hubby is a great guy to help that poor stranded trucker. hopefully kharma will repay him 10 fold!

Valerie said...

Whew!!! Wears me out just reading what all ya'll did last week. Thank goodness it was a better week. I thought the pics were beautiful even with the smoke. Love ya'll. Stay safe!

Dreaming said...

The map was just what I needed to 'see' your travels. I have never been in that area of our country, so it was great to see the pictures.
I think it's really neat the way Malcolm helped out the other trucker. It's sad that others don't step in and help. That must make for a lonely life.

Louise said...

That is one crazy, busy week. It did my heart good to hear that Malcolm helped out his fellow trucker. We need more people like that.

Meagan said...

Goodness! You've been a busy girl! lol. I absolutely love the pictures near the end of the post takin in Montana... the bright sun and dark skies? Great lighting!! Malcolm was really sweet to help that other truck driver - I know the other guy was probably so thankful! :-) Love you both - be careful!

Mike said...

I know where that picture of the 6 or so smaller grain silos was taken! Highway 195 just north of Colfax. I used to drive that road all the time. I love wheat season on the Palouse. A beautiful time to drive through

Shirley said...

You have been busy! I really like the wheat photo and the light in the Montana pics.
Your husband is a good guy.