December 14, 2012

Catching Up

Since our visit to the house at Thanksgiving, time has been dragging. Freight this year has slacked off significantly, or at least it seems to have. Probably a person would think that it was the holidays causing it, but really, we've kept moving through the holidays in years past. And talking to other drivers, we're hearing the same complaints. Slow freight, low rates, and boggled up loads.
Overall, it's working out alright, but we've hit a slump here and there that left us bored and cranky. We had a couple of loads rejected too and that's always frustrating because it wastes our time, even though we still get paid for hauling the stuff.
And we had a couple days, both Monday's actually, where a decent load couldn't be found and we wound up sitting all day twiddling our thumbs. Something we're not used to doing.
With all that, my motivation for blogging was down. You'd think with all that spare time I'd have been on it. Something to entertain myself with! But given the blah mood it brought on, and the fact that I've had my nose glued to my Kindle during every spare moment lately, as I've stumbled across some really good books, the blogging got neglected.
So it's time to play catch up.
Two weekends ago, we headed north out of Phoenix, spent the night at Las Vegas, and the next day drove up US93 through eastern Nevada.
There's a lot of vacant land out there. US 93 goes up through the Great Basin National Park. We take a short cut and go off 93 for a bit in order to stay going straight north instead of swerving east. So we miss the park itself, but the scenery on the rest of 93 is still admirable. I think the most striking things about the region are...
...the almost absolute emptiness. We passed through about 4 "towns" in about 300 miles.
And also the patterns in the mountain sides are quite interesting. With a lack of trees and really much any kind of vegetation, you can admire the geology of the area from your car window. There was a lot of activity here eons ago. You can tell the ground was busy moving around.
fascinated by that black stripe of rock running through the mountain

its hard to tell what was going on here. Earthquakes? Floods? Those swirling lines of rock could keep you guessing for quite a while.

We delivered northeast of Boise Idaho on Monday morning (Dec. 3) and then sat all day long waiting to see what would come up. And the answer was nothing. Finally, Monday evening, we got directions to head to Caldwell, ID (near Boise) to load apples in the morning.
So Tuesday morning we loaded up apples...
...and headed to an unexpected location. The times in the past that we've hauled apples, they either went to Petaluma, CA or to Wisconsin. But these apples went to a town near Grand Junction, CO.  There was, to my great surprise, several wineries, vinyards, orchards, and this little juice making company where we delivered. I never would have thought the arid climate in western Colorado could have supported fruit, but apparently it does.
From there, we bounced down to Monte Vista, where we were a couple weeks earlier, and loaded canola.
Back to Idaho, near Rexburg, for a Thursday morning delivery and then we went down to southern Idaho and loaded fertilizer.
Interesting frustration occurred in Colorado. Out of the blue, I got wrapped up in a massive allergy battle. Violent sneezing, itchy watery eyes, sniffles......in Colorado....in December! I was very aggravated, as the winter is supposed to be my time of allergy liberation. What was up with that? The allergies followed me all they way to Idaho and persisted in annoying me throughout the day on Thursday.
winter skies near Soda Springs, ID

In fact I didn't find relief until I climbed into the mountains of the Yellowstone area near the MT/ID state line. My allergies cleared up right about the time the tires started slipping and sliding around on icy roads. And by Yellowstone the freezing rain had turned to snow, and I was breathing clearly. I guess there was just enough dust and garbage in the air to make us allergy victims suffer. Clearly, it's a dry winter following a too dry summer.
Crossing into Montana was like flipping a switch. All of a sudden we found winter, and it's been following us around ever since. We were on snowy roads almost all the way to Billings, and past that, though it dried up, it was still bitterly cold.  By the time we got to North Dakota Friday morning with our fertilizer, it was 6 degrees and a heavy fog was just lifting, at least the fog that hadn't frozen to every surface available.
Frozen fog can be messy, but it sure is pretty!
Since the load of apples, things had run smoothly, but we hit another glitch in North Dakota. After unloading, we were going to take a load of flax to Ohio. But the trailer had to be washed out first which presented a huge problem.
First and foremost, the closest place to washout was 160 miles away, in the wrong direction, from our reload, which was only 20 miles away. And a bigger issue was that even if we could find a place to wash out, at 6 degrees, the trailer doesn't wash. It freezes. The broker asked if we could just sweep really really well, but they turned that request down. No washout, no load.
So we sat around in northern ND for most of the day, and finally towards evening we got a load of safflower from Fairview, MT and headed south towards Colorado. 600 miles and the whole weekend to get it done. So we took our time, played some, rested lots, and made the best of it.
I'lll tell you about the weekend in the next post.


Badlands said...

I used to live in Petaluma, CA. What's it like now?

Cindy D. said...

I can relate to your frustrations as truck drivers. Not only does my man own a trucking company (luckily just local gravel hauling) but I sell truck parts for a living. So I hear a lot about how hard it is to make a living unless you are driving for a big company.
Since I sell truck parts for a living I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that your hood ornament is not OEM is it! LOL Its pretty darn cool though!
I also noticed that you guys managed to go through every state around WY but never went through WY. Or at least you didn't mention it. It makes me wonder, do you avoid Wyoming as much as possible or is it just not worth photographing? Either one is pretty understandable. High winds and sagebrush sure get old after a while!

MTWaggin said...

Good to see you back blogging and on the road. You sure are racking up the miles in our neck of the woods! As for allergies, no relief here either as no freakin snow! Last winter sucked for that reason. I feel your pain (or sneezes).

Meagan said...

I am jealous that you get to see a little winter white before Christmas!

The black stripe in that rock is really interesting!

Jake said...

I love that Great Basin country! I lived 4 years as a kid in McDermitt NV. Hope the trucking picks up.

Dreaming said...

How interesting that your allergies came on like that... and then left with the cold. I will have to say that we haven't had much of a freeze here, in Colorado, and little moisture, so I can imagine that there would be a lot of dust, pollutants and maybe even some pollen hanging around.

Shirley said...

I was kind of wondering about the hood ornament too... how about a close up shot of it?
I think the best part of your job is the beauty you get to see every day.