March 31, 2009

A Taste Of Spring

This post is for my friends and family who are buried under 4 feet of snow in Montana. Just a sweet reminder that Spring is on the way! It WILL come...eventually!

These were taken this morning when we stopped at a pull off area to let the girls out. California highway 152 is a pretty little drive crossing the hills that seperate the interior valley from the coastal valley. It was warm, 72 degrees, and sunny with a gentle breeze blowing. It was hard to get back in the truck.

March 30, 2009

Sunny San Francisco

This morning, after unloading flour in Santa Rosa, we headed south towards Salinas. We had the good fortune to be traveling through the San Francisco area on a day when the air was remarkably clear. And YOU had the good fortune of traffic being kind of thick and sluggish, so I was able to snatch up the camera and squeeze in a few nice shots for you.

That's San Francisco in the background. I thought the shot was interesting with the rusty tanker in the forground and the city skyline behind, so I kept it. Ignore the upper right corner where the bridge we were on jumped in the picture. I said traffic was sluggish, not still, so I was still moving and bouncing along. The Golden Gate Bridge across the bay from this park. I didn't realize that it was a park with people. I was very focused on getting a picture of the bridge and keeping the rolling bouncing truck out of it, so when I downloaded this to my computer, I was surprised and pleased that I had accidently taken a picture of a peacful spring morning on the bay, complete with sight seers (see-ers, seers....how the heck do you spell that?) and a park, and a cute little wooden bridge.

Then I got lucky and got this shot of the full span of the bridge. It looks a little hazy so that was dissappointing. But considering I was battling a tall chain length fence between the edge of the road and everything I was trying to photograph, I think I got lucky here. The fence is in the bottom of all my other pictures of the bridge (except the two you see here), so I don't know how I got away with this one. I was trying to keep the fence out, but we kept hitting bumps at just the right moment, jarring me and the camera around. (again, remember we were SLUGGISH, not parked!)

Now, keep in mind, I'm identifying the bridge based on my observation of our position on our GPS map in comparison with landmards on the map. If I have mis-labeled this bridge, and its the Oakland Bay or another, please forgive me. But I feel confident in my belief that its the Golden Gate Bridge.

Ok, then there is this shot. US 101 covers mostly open territory. You see large hills, green pastures, farms, towns, etc, and trees too, but not closed in forests. But then there is this brief section, maybe not even half a mile, where both sides of the road are closed in with these tall whispy leaved trees. I don't know what they are, but they are on both shoulders and down the median, (to this day I can NOT get Malcolm to say "median" instead of "medium." Its cute though!) and I've always loved this little section. What makes it even more applealing is the approach and exit, because as you come into this spot, you go down a little hill and around a curve, and then coming out you drive up a little hill and around a curve, so that it's almost like you've stumbled across a hidden cove. Look at it. Isn't it all bright and summery looking? You should see it at 3:00am when your the only vehicle and its foggy, as it tends to be in that particular area, and dark, and the mist is drifting through the trees. Its rather refreshingly spooky.

We've got one of our stops loaded, but our next appointment isn't until 9:00 tonight. So we're sitting here killing time. I've been working on my blog, downloading a new audio book, and people watching (always a great entertainment no matter where you go!). We have appointments at 9, 10, and midnight, so we'll be lucky to get out of here before sunrise. But that will be ok. If I have to come to California, Salinas is a great place to come. I can't explain to you why I like it here so much better, but I think it has to do with the climate (its usually comfortably warm or cool) and the drive in and out of here is enjoyable as far as scenery and lack of traffic, by California standards. I always drive when we're leaving after loading because Malcolm's tired from being up all night or day getting the truck loaded. And the drive out of here is across a back highway crossing an un-populated hilly range, then north on I-5 to Sacremento and I-80, and then east across the Sierra Nevadas and Donner's Pass to Reno, NV where he gets up and takes over and ZOOMs across Nevada as fast as he's aloud to go (I forgive him cause we're heading home and he wants to be there as bad as me). I have always enjoyed that drive (though I-80 DESPERATLY needs paved, has in fact needed that for the past 3 years and possibly longer. I genuinly have NO idea how Malcolm sleeps through it. I've never successfully slept on that drive when I've had opportunity to try and sitting up front, I've hit bumps and pot holes that caused my behind to literally leave the seat cushion. Its primarily the right lane that is the problem, I think due to snow chains and such, but that's the lane I'm confined to since for the majority of the 80 miles or so of mountains I'm going too slow to be any further left. I do cheat sometimes though when there isn't much traffic, like in the middle of the night. I'll drive in the left lane then.).

March 29, 2009

Bagels and Bluebirds and Blizzards

Hey, what do you know? We were only home four days, if you count Wednesday when we arrived. We were there most of the day so I suppose we can count it. Just crossing the Sierra Nevadas at sunset, a great time to drive across them. And fortunatly this time its not snowing. In fact its almost 40 degrees so no snow chains this time!

We're delivering in the morning at a tortilla factory in Santa Rosa north of San Francisco. Then we'll reload in Salinas and head back home.....to the arctic.

Yes you read that right. I'm not there to see it, but according to the weather report we're getting snow at home today and tonight to the amount ot 8-12 inches. But I'm counting my blessings. They're having a blizzard again at the ranch in Baker, expecting another foot and a half on top of their mountains of snow from last Monday's storm. They just got Rachelle dug out yesterday, but I suppose by now she's back under it all again. The joys of remote living, right? (Girl, you know I'd be right there with you if I could. We'd play Scrabble and drink hot chocolate and take turns wading through the depths to feed the horses!)

I had myself all prepared for a nice warm springtime visit home (is it sad that I refer to going home as a "visit"). However, good ole mother nature had other plans. What started Wednesday as a beautiful, if somewhat chilly, day quickly changed over to clouds and around 3:00 in the afternoon, this was the scene from my porch.

Yep, the white stuff. As it was just warm enough, hovering around 32, it kind of fell, stuck, melted, and then the temperature dropped fast and all of a sudden our sidewalk and porch were coated in a thin sheet of ice with about two inches of snow on top by morning. It melted by mid day Thursday, but it stayed cold, windy, and wet, drizzling ice and rain off and on the rest of the week. And now its snowing. I just had to take a break to check the road reports for Brandon. He's in Denver and about to start his way north, but I don't think he'll get far. They've already started shutting the roads down in WY and Montana. I also just checked our weather report for Shepherd, and they've increased our snow amounts to 9-14 inches.

Do you like bagels? Its not uncommon for things to get damaged sometimes in trailers, whether from carelessness in driving, loading, or unloading.

Usually when that happens the people your delivering to refuse to take the cases that are damaged and the driver is left to dispose of it. As it so happened, when we were loading in Yuma last time, the guy next to us had a damaged case of bagels. He was trying to get rid of them, rather than just throw them away, so Malcolm took the case of onion bagels and now we have 72 bagels. Well, we've eaten maybe 6 of them, having had them for breakfast a few times, so not quite that many now. They are very good, very fresh, and Malcolm was very proud of his prize! I can't help but wish that it had been more of an assortment. Don't get me wrong, I like onion bagels. But it might have been nice to have some other varieties as well. However, they were free. So I don't see any room to complain, do you?
They were just in one big bag in the box, so I had to bag them up in groups of 8 in zip lock bags.
And when we were eating dinner before leaving on Saturday I looked out the front window's (we moved the table to sit in front of our big picture window in the front) and there perched happily in one of my few trees, was what I have decided (after consulting my bird book) is a Mountain Bluebird! Isnt' he pretty? I know, you can't really see him well. But there were two of them, and its the first ones I've seen. Maybe they move away for winter and come back. Well...they will soon find out, probably as we speak, that they came back too soon. But still, it was a lovely surprise!
And I'm leaving you with my sunset picture of the Sierra Nevadas in California. I'm rather proud of this shot.

Ok, it looks a lot more impressive when its filling the whole screen. Oh well....just take my word for it. It was a nice shot....pure luck though!

Malcolm's on the phone with his Dad discussing the storm and the need to move some snow so they can get around, or at least thats what I'm gathering from listening in to one side of the conversation. Sounds like we may be going over there when we get back to MT to use Malcolm's bull dozer to clear some things out. So maybe we get to see the "heap big snow" after all! Well actually it sounds like I have my own "heap big snow" at home, but obviously they have twice as much or more, so that will be interesting to say the least.

March 24, 2009

Cluck Cluck

I'm so jealous! Rachelle informed me last week when we met them in Roundup that she has ordered baby chickens! Oh! I look forward to the day when I am set up and home so I can have chickens again! I love them!

Anyway, thinking chickens reminded me that my cousin, Cindy, recently asked me to post pictures of the quilts I have done. Aside from the little Valentine quilt I showed you in February, I've only done two really. One was a gift for my sister, and she has it at her house and I never took a picture. She's going to send me one when she gets time and I'll post it.

But this is the other one, the first one I did, and as soon as I get the right shelf to hang it on, I'm going to hang it in my kitchen/dining room to join all my other chicken thingies.

So here you go Cindy. One of my quilt projects, the first of many I hope.

Snowy Plains and Sunny Beaches

Yesterday as we traveled between deliveries, we cruised along the Pacific Ocean between Los Angelas and San Diego. It was cool, in the 60's, but we still rolled the windows down, turned the music up, and made sure we got a few shots of California beach living.

Back to colder climates, I hear through Malcolm, who has stayed in touch with his parents through this lovely storm that came and went over the last few days, that they've had one hum dinger of a storm. Actually, its probably the worst in a long long time. I know you'll all think I'm crazy, but I'm mad that I missed it. Keep in mind this is coming from someone who would like to experience a hurricane and to this day still wants to stand and watch a tornado (the little one I saw this summer doesn't count. I want to see the "real" thing.) I guess the snow has tapered off, but they got lots of it, about 14 inches last I heard, with an 8 foot drift in the yard. Its drifted over fences, wind breaks, pretty much everything from the sounds of it. I'm just hoping it melts off slow enough that it soaks in and is useful rather than just washing away. And also that it doesn't swell the creek and risk flooding Rachelle and the Darling Poodles out of their home. Thats happened a few times over the past half century since that house was built. We'll keep our fingers crossed.

A few blog entries ago I promised you pictures of Malcolm's shop. Well, they arn't the best. Its one of those things thats so large its hard to capture in a photograph, or several. First, here is Malcolm's "project." This is his 1987 379 Peterbuilt. It has a rebuilt engine with only a couple hundred thousand miles on it (for non trucking people, thats low mileage).

Its old enough that it doesn't have an air ride sleeper, so he's taking the sleeper off, and putting this one on it.

And then he has another sleeper that someone gave him that's a flat top. We've got to go to Fairview to pick it up, then he's going to use that top on his new sleeper. Throw in a paint job, a little chrome, and few gismos, new interior, seats, etc, etc, etc.....and he'll have one cool Pete that will be envyed by all. And eventually when I retire from driving, that will be his truck.

Here's the rest of the shop. You can kind of get an idea of how large it is based on the evidence that it easily houses TWO semis, a pickup, a jeep, a fork lift (a small one mind you), and multiple other tools.
Back when Linen's and Things was closing, Malcolm went to the store and asked about their shelving. They sold him their stock room shelves (just the shelf, not the frame) for $1 a shelf. He got 80 of them, then bought some lumber, and built these shelves, including drawers in the one set that he dumped all his bolts, nuts, screws, etc in and now he can just pull out the drawer and dig through them all to find the right piece instead of having to dump out cans and buckets. He's used 68 of the 80 shelves so far. He always amazes me in what he's able to "invent" and make. He just comes up with an idea and a little while later its a reality.

Well, we've crossed into Idaho and its snowing, grounds white, roads a little icy, just typical March stuff.....I guess. We'll be home sometime tonight unless we stop and sleep a little. Malcolm's not been sleeping well this trip out and I got up at 6:00 this morning and have been up since then so I'll not be driving I imagine. Anyway, just thought I'd give you a heads up that I'm probably going to dissappear again for a few days, unless by some miracle they have a load waiting for us when we get back. If not, typically we're staying home close to a week, and if thats the case, I'll stay home when Malcolm leaves on the next trip because Laura will be coming a week from Saturday and I wouldn't have time to make a trip and get back in time. So if you don't hear from me for a couple of weeks, don't give up on me. I'll be back with news to share. If the weather's good, I have big plans for my three days with Laura including a quick drive through the northern section of Yellowstone, provided its open. We'll see. But I'll definatly take my camera for whatever we do, and I'll take you on a little mini vacation with us when I get back. Till then stay warm, dry and safe!

March 23, 2009

Another Round

Seems like my blogs are getting repetitive. Its hard when we're home so long and then do the same thing on our trip out to find things to write about that are new and interesting. I did take pictures of Malcolm's shop as well as his Peterbuilt project this time. I'll get those up and posted in my next entry.
We had another week at home waiting for a load. It was so nice last week. It was warm, in the 50's and 60's all week, with the exception of Monday evenign when it clouded over and snowed "dip n dots" type snow balls on us enough to dust the ground. But Tuesday, though cool, the nice weather had returned, and we enjoyed it.
Things we did at home:
Got my tax stuff finished up, mostly, and turned into our accountant. We're trying someone new this year, and I liked her. I wrote in to Dave Ramsey's website for a good accountant in our area, and she was the one they responded with. They really screen them too. I asked her how she got to be who they recommend and it sounded like a very indepth screening process, complete with a two hour phone interview. His whole thing is that people he endorses have to have the "heart of a teacher" which is what I desperatly need in the area of accounting. And she seems to fit the bill. I learned several things while we met with her. So I feel much better about that little situation. As a side note.....after adding up all our stuff from last year....well let me just say that even though I know we spend a lot on fuel it always comes as a shock when I get the big number, and I thought you'd be impressed and also it will give you an idea of what trucking costs. Last year we spent almost $120,000.00 on fuel for the truck. Scary isn't it???
We also went to Roundup last week to meet Rachelle, Peggy, and Justine who had gone up there to pick up a new horse Rachelle had bought. She's a beautiful appaloosa and I love her! Roundup is just 40 miles or so north of us and a neat little town. While we were eating lunch there at the cafe, we visited with Bill T. who hauls cows for Steve also. He was there with his wife. They live south of Roundup. Bill is my favorite of the cow haulers, and I was very happy to see him. He's an older fellow, and I think of him as a true cowboy. He always wears jeans, boots, a denim shirt and a black Stetson. He's polite, soft spoken, and has great stories to tell. We stopped by his place on the way home to visit some more and so he could show us his animals (he's trying to sell me his two lamas) His wife raises French Alpine Dairy goats which is the breed I want. No one seems to have them though so when I discoered that Bill and his wife had some, I was thrilled, and now that I've met them and visited those little creatures, I'm even more convinced that I need a pair of them!
We left Saturday morning for a delivery in Modesto, CA on Sunday. Lucky us, it was storming on Donner's in the Sierra Nevada's on I-80. Snow chains were mandatory, so Malcolm had to get out and lay in the slush to chain up. We've only had to do it twice in our trucking career, but both times it was going over Donner's.
Delivered yestereday and are now heading into the Los Angelas area for our second delivery. We just passed though Burbank and are in a traffic jam. Reportedly a car and motor cycle have crashed in the left lanes, and one passing driver said it looks like there's a fatality. What an aweful way to die! Motor cylces look fun, but we see an aweful lot of them wrecked, and its hardly ever pretty. Down here they drive around between cars and cut in and out of traffic, even driving down the dashed line between lanes of traffic. Its no wonder they are so often involved in accidents down here.
We'll deliver this in LA and then the rest of it goes just north of SanDiego. Then we'll be off to El Centro and Yuma, AZ to reload as usual. Then home, probably by Wednesday. I'd like to expect to go home to another great weather week, but Brandon said its cold and blowing like crazy there right now, and there's a massive snow storm moving across WY, SD, and eastern MT. I looked on the weather web site and saw that even Baker is now included in the blizzard warning till tomorrow afternoon, expecting 50mph winds and 1-2 feet of snow.
So much for Spring.

March 14, 2009

Air Show

We're still in Yuma, AZ here waiting to finish loading at our last pickup. We happen to be about a half mile from the airforce base here, and they are doing an air show! I can't see the actual show because of buildings in the way, but the jets keep flying over really low and making lots of noise, which I love. Carlie Jean isn't too thrilled. Everytime one flies over she jumps up and looks around frantically, but other than that, we're taking it all in and enjoying what we can see of it. Brings back memories of going to the air show in Chattanooga and seeing the Blue Angels when I was a kid. The Blue Angels arn't at this show. They are 60 miles west of here at El Centro, CA at another air show (I looked it up to see if it was them here.) I saw them yesterday practicing over El Centro when we passed through on our way here. If you ever get to go to one of their shows, you must. Its very exciting, even for people like me who arn't into airplanes or military stuff.

March 13, 2009

Tragedy in South Carolina

I'm posting this because its a tragedy that resulted from a serious problem in the trucker's world. The link below is to an article published by Land Line Magazine, which is a publication of OOIDA (Owner Operator Independant Driver Association). I would encourage you to read the article and then follow the link at the end and sign the petition. Parking is a huge problem in our industry, often putting drivers in dangerous and risky situations, not just risking a ticket, but also their lives. Recently a driver was murdered in South Carolina in a robbery. He was parked 12 miles from his destination. He left behind his wife, 2 year old son, and soon to be delivered twins. The petition is being presented in an effort to get law makers to do something about the lack of safe places for trucks to park while taking their mandatory break or waiting for appointment times. Please read the article, even if you don't plan to sign the petition.
I emailed this to several of you, but I'm posting it for those readers I don't know. I'd like as many people as possible to be aware of this possible.
Malcolm and I both were very saddened to hear about this incident and are praying for his family.

The post below is also from today. I made two because I felt this was important but didnt' want to delay sharing our events from the past week as well.

A Week in Review

As I sit her and write w're cruising down highway 60 south of LA with the windows down and I'm being subjected to Vanilla Ice and "Ice Ice Baby" on the XM Radio. (ok, well it does have a little nostalgic value for me....but only a little)
If you check this blog regularly, you're probably thinking that Malcolm and I fell of the edge of the world and dissappeared forever. Well....not exactly.
I didn't mention going home, because it was just going to be our usual day and a half (or so) lay over between loads. But Friday morning they still didn't have a load for us, Saturday they said check back Monday, and Monday they said "not today, not tomorrow, maybe Wednesday. Give us a call." That wasn't what I wanted to hear. By Sunday evening I was fluctuating between an attitude of "no big deal, extra time at home," and "Oh My God, we're going to be jobless and homeless too!" It was an emotional roller coaster for me these past few days. Not that this is out of the ordinary. We've had frequent erruptions of non-existant freight over the past couple of years, particularly during the spring months. I guess it was just the knowledge that the economy is crap right now and so many are loosing their jobs....it was just a little unsettling for me.

But no fear...we're back at work.

In the mean time, we had a week off. And what a week! Despite our worries, we had a lot of pleasant (and a few not so pleasant) surprises and events during our week. And since I am notorious for being over wordy and writing blogs that take you an hour to read, and since new things come up all the time and I get behind if I try to break it into multiple postings (see I already have another post I want to make from this morning) I'm going to do this in a "nut shell" or at least as much of a nut shell as I am capable of doing. (so you know its a rather large nut shell, right?)

Arrived home Wednesday morning to discover that my bird feeder had blown over. Remember this?
Well we couldn't get it in the ground deep enough because the ground is frozen. It is supposed to wind down like a cork screw, but it was only a few inches deep and didn't go far. Malcolm said we'll re-plant it in the spring after the thaw. Malcolm, true to form, got an idea in his head and went all out. I came home from running errands and found this in its final stages of completion. I now have the mother of all bird feeding stations in my back yard, complete with heated bird bath.

As we were finishing the bird feeder station, it turned dark, windy, cold, and started to rain. We stayed and finished anyway, and good thing because the next morning it was rather frigid and just got colder. Thursday morning we got a call from a freight company. My bookshelves were in Billings, a month early! So Thursday afternoon they delivered them to us, and I spent the evening unpacking books from their boxes and decorating my library.

Friday....it snowed a good dusting. Lovely....more snow. This was the day I had set aside to try hair remover on Ella. I used Veet, as recommended by several in the Crestie world. First her furnishings had to be covered so as not to remove them by accident.
This is almost 2 weeks worth of hair growth on her back and hips. Its more than it looks. If you saw her in person you'd see how fuzzy she really is. It looks like a very heavy "5 O'clock shadow" on her.

Ella says, "This is peculiar Mom. What are we doing?"

Then on goes the Veet.

Ella says, "I'm under attack! Its chemical war fare!"

Scrape it off after 5 minutes and a quick bath, and voila.....smooth shiny skin. She looked great. Of course, three days later she was starting to get prickly again, BUT....thats just life with a hairy hairless Crested.

Ella says, "Hey, that wasn't so bad. She fed me cookies constantly for 5 mintutes and now she says I shouldn't have to have a hair cut for a couple of weeks!" (little does she know, Mommy was wrong about this last promise)

After that I worked on taxes till I couldn't stand it anymore, then sat in my library with the girls and read and puttered around the house.

Saturday, more of the same. During these two days Malcolm finished setting up and cleaning out his garage. It looks super nice. I need to get a picture of it for you. Remind me to do that.

Sunday morning dawned clear and beautiful. I woke up and layed in bed daydreaming about a nice little road trip to Roundup, MT (about 30 miles north) for dinner and a country drive. Roundup is a cute little western town where we've stopped before to eat while haulin cows. I like it there. So we planned to do that in the afternoon. But alas, around 10:00 that morning it clouded over, started snowing, and within an hour we could see less than a 1/4 mile and had three inches of snow on the ground. Goodbye leasurly drive through the country. We wouldn't have seen much scenery anyway in those conditions. So instead Brandon, who had just gotten home from his run, and his wife Jessica came over and we watched Smoky and the Bandit (a lovely little trucking movie that maybe is only truely and completly appreciated by truckers who understand more of whats going on, but still worth watching by all you "normal" people), visited, and then drove to their house for dinner. Afterwards Malcolm and Brandon retreated to his office to look at chrome for their trucks on the internet (Brandon is the chrome king and is trying to convert Malcolm I think) and Jessica and I watched a movie on TV.

Side note: its still snowing at this point. Had been all day in fact, and continued to do so all night and into the next day. However the wind was also blowing like nothing else, so we never accumulated more than a couple of inches.

Monday - Monday I did more of the same, puttered around the house. By this time I was running out of things to putter with. Malcolm went somewhere...can't remember where, then came back and called Nelson Trk. No load. They said not till Wednesday if then. So I suggested to Malcolm that we make the run to Baker than got canceled a few weeks ago due to their illness over there. We were planning to go maybe next week when Justine was home from school, but seeing as how we wer'e missing so much work, it didn't make sense to take time off next week, especially if freight had picked up at that point. So we packed the pickup, and made an evening road trip to Baker. We got there around 11:30 that night and visited/watched TV till 2:00 the next morning. Their first group of cows had started an early calving, so Malcolm's Dad was having to go out every hour or so to check on them. The next day we visited, ate, and went down to our former residence on the south part of the ranch to load some bedroom furniture we hadn't taken with us. We had planned to eventually buy something else for our spare room, but arn't wanting to do that yet, and, pleasantly, we are expecting company in a few weeks and she needs somewhere other than the floor to sleep. It was COLD. Actually the pick up therm. said -1 while we were loading the furniture.

Wednesday morning we visited more, then left around 10:00 or so. Malcolm wanted to get home in time to unload and return the little Uhaul trailer we had rented to go get the furniture., and then take a nap before we had to leave for work that night. When we left it was -7 and I don't think it went over 25 the entire day. Then I get home and talked to Dad on the phone and they've had temps in the 80's down there in TN and my sister's talking about wearing flip flops on her blog.....Gee....you know there are some things I miss about Tennessee. I'd take their spring time mud over more of the white stuff easily about now. In fact, Sunday I wore a tank top in protest of the snow. (of course I also had on a jacket and still froze every time I took the girls out)

We left Wednesday night around 11:00 for Idaho then California. Unfortunatly for Malcolm he spent half his birthday Wednesday driving, and wasn't even being paid for most of it, but the visit to Baker was worth it. We both enjoyed the time there. And now Malcolm can no longer tease me about my age because he has officially joined the ranks of those of us in or 30's. Not that he teased often, but now he can't at all.

March 2, 2009

Summertime, Where Are You

As I stood outside a moment ago waiting for Ella to potty, I was blessed with the wonderful event of gazing across a pristine, deep green hayfield with grass already a foot high, the warm sunshine on my face, and aroma of rich earth and warm grass. It was hard to refrain from walking out into that field of grass, plopping down, and rolling in it! Seriously, I was tempted.

Dear God, please send summer to Montana soon! I am SO ready for warmth, green (for the brief days Montana is green before it drys out and turns brown), the smell of fresh plowed earth, and fresh veggies, flowers, and sun tanned doggies. (yes my girls get sun tans in the summer)

Oh, for this to be the scene outside my window!

Trucking 101: Venting

Venting: No I'm not going to discuss with you how the trailers are vented, how warehouses or trucks or anything else out here gets vented.
What I'm going to do is vent myself. I need to get some things off my chest because this morning I'm a little peeved with the world and its anti-trucking, "lets make an extra penny off the truckers" attitude.
But first, I'm going to take a break before I begin because Malcolm just found a truck stop with access to a Starbucks. I need one, so we'll be back shortly and proceed with my venting, though I'll be somewhat mollified with my iced coffee. (well I'm in CA and its warm so I don't feel like my usual steamy hot latte)
Venting.....hold that thought.

Back....and the little walk and sipping of cool coffee has allowed me to dump some steam so you probably won't get a scathing report as I had planned. Of course once I get going I might get all worked up again! We'll see.
I got a mocha iced coffee, which is nothing like they usually are. It looks like I'm drinking mud, and the mocha part is a bit strong, but its still refreshing and decently good.

What got me going this morning was a small comment, but it was nothing major. Just another slight in a long line of insults to trucking. But there are three more recent events that I'll share with you as examples of why I struggle againts the pesimistic beleif that the world is anti-trucking. (and in truth I think its more a fact than a personal belief)

I say I struggle against it, because I am the type of person that thinks the best of everyone. This is a good practice, but it is apt to get you dissappointed and even taken advantage of occasionally, actually frequently. I think that in a perfect world, every person would be required to spend a day riding with the truck driver before they were able to get their driver's license. I know thats totally impossible, and in truth there are few truckers that actually want you in thier truck with them, but I wish everyone could get an idea of what its like to be out here on the road, and I'm not talking about the day to day living part of it. I'm talking about the nasty attitudes and disrespect we are shown by the drivers we share the road with, the communities we deliver to, and just society in general.
I know that trucker's arn't all innocent victims out here. In fact I'll be the first to speak up and say that there are some real jerks that drive trucks. But this is yet another instance where a hand full of bad apples have spoiled it for everyone.

It doesn't matter where we go in this country. There are always signs of the times that we are not welcome. Parking has become probably one of the biggest challenges for us out here. When delivering within cities, most of the time there isn't anywhere to park if you arrive early, because they are crammed into little warehouses with no parking lots. And heaven forbid you come in one minute late. You'll be pushed to the back of the line and put hours behind.
When it comes to our logging, we're not allowed to be on duty more than 11 hours in a 14 hour period. After 11 hours, we're required to park for 10 hours. For a team like us, this isn't much of a problem. We just swap seats when our 11 hours are up and cruise on down the road. But for solo drivers, can you imagine the challenge of finding somewhere to park for 10 hours when most truck stops fill up by 8:00 in the evening, rest areas have limited parking for trucks and many now restrict parking to just a couple of hours and advertise "no overnight parking." Even Walmart, the camper and truck friendly place to shop, has started posting "no truck parking" signs, and I'm not convinced that landscaping islands arn't purposefully placed just to keep trucks out. They may look pretty, but I don't think they are designed strictly for beauty anymore. As a last resort, many drivers will pull off on exit ramp shoulders to sleep, but more and more you run the risk of having a state trooper swing in and tell you to move on. So parking is mandatory and yet limited. Isn't that just peachy. Some states are more particular than others. Virginia is especially difficult to work with, and they just announced last week that they may possibly be closing around 20 of their 40 some odd rest areas. Thus goes the story. The problem of limited truck parking is always becoming more complicated.

A common complaint that the general public has against trucks is the noise. Many times, particularly in the northeast, we see signs posted for "no idoling," which basically means you can't leave you truck running when you park. This is in part due to an effort to cut down on air pollution, but also because many residential areas don't like the noise. And frankly, I can't blame them. Trucks do create noise. When we lived in Ringgold, GA often when there was a wreck on the interstate, traffic was diverted down the road in front of our house and there was nothing nicer than sitting in my living room listening to the rumble of jake brakes as the trucks coasted down the hill (I'm being saracstic of course.) Trucks create noise, and I can understand not wanting to hear it. Even as a resident of the truck, I love when its cool enough to turn the thing off while we wait for a loading dock to open up. The quiet is so nice. So I don't always begrudge the local residents their request that we try to keep the noise down. Not unless its hot outside because there is nothing like sitting in a box of metal and fiberglass that happens to be painted black with no AC to keep you cool. Sorry but open windows just don't cut it in that situation. I do however get offended when something like the following scenario takes place. I recently read on OOIDA's website (that is the Owner Operator / Independant Driver Association of which we are members) that a small town in southern California is trying to get a couple of roads that pass through their town closed to trucks. Their reason? They consider trucks to be "visual pollution." Well, excuse me! Go ahead and close those roads. I hope they run out of bread, milk, and toilet paper, but by George, they'll be free from the "visual pollution" we were causing. With an attitude like that, I'm prone to say good ridence to that town. I don't want to deliver to you anyway!

And then this morning....
Eating can be a bit of a challenge on the road. We try to respect communities and businesses that don't want us around. But fast food gets really old, so we've almost gotten to where we respectfully ignore the no trucks signs and park anyway. We're careful not to run over landscaping. We don't leave trash, and besides, we're spending money and supporting their economy. So we park anyway, as far out of the way and as inconspicuously as we can. Choices are very limited. We do however, still eat a lot of fast food. Check my waistline if you want proof. Truck stops often have fast food chain resteraunts within their properties for easy access. And I've often felt like they take advantage of us, knowing we are limited. Sometimes it seems like prices are a little higher at truck stops. Well this morning we stopped at a Love's in Coachella, CA to grab a bite to eat at the Carl's Jr. (For my southern supporters, Carl's Jr is the western counterpart to Hardee's, right down to the smily face star logo.) Malcolm ordered his sandwich and wanted a condiment portion of guacamole. He got the exact same thing two days ago in Idaho, and the guacamole was $0.50 extra. But in CA it was priced on the meno as being $0.75 extra. He said something to the manager who was ringing us up, not being snide, just curious. Her first response was to say, "Well your in California. Everything costs more here." True enough. But she went on to say, "Plus your in a truckstop. I'm considered a "specialty store" so everything costs a little more." So just because we can't go anywhere else, they feel justified in charging a few cents more for their merchandise.

I know I sound childish....but its not fair! And I don't think the non-truck drivers of this country realize how much the economy depends on this nations trucks, and how much we are taken for granted and taken advantage of, and in some cases even abused. I'm not looking for a pedastal and extra special treatment. I'm just looking for respect and equality. We're often treated like lower class citizens, sneered at, flipped off, cussed out, over charged, and unwanted. And at the same time, you couldn't survive without us.

Malcolm's lucky because he has me out here with him. Most of these guys are out here for weeks at a time, away from family and friends, living off the road. And I'll admit a lot of them are kind of sloppy, have fallen into the habit of not taking care of themselves, and some of them are rude and aggressive drivers. But I can't help but wonder if its not in part because they have been mis-treated by society a little. Its easy to start being a rude driver when everyone is rude to you. I've even caught myself speeding up to not let a car over because I was so tired of the cars trying to push me around. Its a lonely life out here for a lot of these people, and it gets more lonely when you start to realize you arn't wanted or welcomed. So make a trucker feel good today. Instead of cutting him off and giving him a dirty look for "getting in your way," how about giving him a smile, and wave, and a thank you for letting you merge.

(As a side note on the thank you part: Did you know that the accepted way to say "thanks" while driving is to flash your tail lights. As a "four wheeler" this is easily done by turning on your emergency flasher lights for a few flashes. Try it. Next time a truck backs off so you can move over in front of him, flash your lights for a thank you. You just might boost his faith in society for the day.)