June 25, 2009

All Grown Up

Well, my baby girl is all grown up. All you girls can sympathise with her. A few days ago she started her first heat, and as you can see in this picture, she's got the "PMS" look down to an art. Actually, this is more about having to wear panties than anything else. She wasn't too thrilled, and the last couple days she's been spending more time in Malcolm's lap and less in mine. I think I'm being punished for making her wear them.

Normally I wouldn't broadcast this as blog worthy news. I'm sure you really didn't want to hear about it. But she just looks so pitiful in the picture, I had to post it. Currently she's in the back having a snarling snappy argument with Carlie Jean. They've all three been a little, shall we say....snippy, lately, even though the older two are spayed. Its been several weeks of growling, snarling, and space defending. Rachelle said that's normal. When one goes in heat, they all act like it. Oh good! Because if there's anything better than one dog in a snit....its three!

Speaking of Rachelle:

Check out this link to Darling Poodles puppy page! Rachelle has three new litters of puppies and they are all just so darn cute! "Gucci" and "Prada" have a cute story. Rachelle went to Rapid City with her mom and sister. Stella was due soon, so she took her on the trip to keep an eye on her, and she ended up having the two puppies while they were at the mall. That's why Rachelle named them Gucci and Prada. Too cute!

Trucking 101: Super Singles

After lots of consideration, I've decided to start a dating service for truck drivers. They live such a lonely life. I'm calling it "Super Singles."

Well, it sounded like a good name for a dating service, but that's not what this is about. We're not talking romantic relationships today. We're going to discuss tires.
Traditionally, trucks have had dual tires. I'm sure everyone has noticed the multiple tires on the axles as you drive by at face level with them. Count them sometime. You'll understand the name "18 wheeler." Probably, if you've even payed the least bit of attention, it wouldn't take much, you've already put two and two together, no pun intended.
In recent years, with new technology and the ever present and increasing drive to increase fuel deficiency and save money, everything about the trucking industry has been subject to inspection, consideration, and eventual change. Truckers, though, are generally really stuck in their ways. They are for the most part somewhat of a renegade group. They don't like to be told what to do, and they don't take changes very gracefully. Thus, newer trends in trucking, newer technology, is slow to take hold, and receives a lot of criticism in the mean time.
A few years ago, someone somewhere developed the theory that a single tire, instead of dual tires, would be better. Oh how the CB buzzed with the discussions. Drive down the road and check out the trucks. The majority of them are still running with their 18 wheels. Sit down at any truck stop cafe and eavesdrop on the conversations. If you stay long enough, your bound to eventually hear a couple of crusty, grumpy, sleep deprived truck drivers debating the pros and cons of "super singles," the slang name given to single tires, and whether or not they are "super."
After much consideration, Malcolm decided to go ahead and put them on the trailer. We'll also get them on the new truck. We'll not put them on this one thouhg since we don't plan to stay in it much longer. We had discussed using "super singles" off and on for the past year or so, but always decided against it. At the times we discussed it we were hauling cattle and produce. Now with the hopper, things are a little different.
Here are the general reasons for not getting Super Singles:
1. if you have a flat tire, your done, where as with duals if one goes flat the other is still there and you can limp along slowly to a tire repair shop. With singles, you are stuck on the shoulder in the middle of no where, in the middle of the night, until the repair truck can come to you and then charge you millions of dollars because they had to drive 500 miles to service you out in the boonies. Of course, Malcolm just added you can get a chain, jack your axle up, wrap a chain tightly around the tire, and then limp along like that to a service area. Neither option sounds very appealing.
2. Tire life could be longer or shorter, depending on conditions. Tires driven on gravel roads a lot have shorter lives than those that cruise on smooth asphalt all the time. It depends on where your going. Only one way to find out how they'll last for us...try them.
3. Rumor has it, they slip on snow and ice. I guess we'll see!
4. Malcolm added this one: they are ugly and goofy looking. (I added: truck drivers are just a little critical of each other, and have super high ego's. So appearances are important.)
5. They cost a little more than duals. A set of Super Singles on the trailer cost approximately $3600 where as regular duals cost around $3000. You usually replace the trailer or drive tires once a year.
Here are some reasons in favor of getting Super Singles:
1. "Should" get better fuel mileage, they say. We'll see.
2. They are lighter than duals, so it increases your loading capacity by about 400 pounds. That amounts to about $4000 more a year if you have them on the truck and trailer. ($2000 if you just have them on the trailer like us) So basically one set of tires saves you enough money to pay for one set of tires, almost, provided you don't have any of those out in the boonies service calls mentioned earlier. Did I make any sense there?
3. In some states, like California, shippers are penalized if they let you leave their facility weighing more than 80,000lbs, because that is the maximum weight limit (with standard tandem axles. You can haul more with permits, or more axles, but we're getting into a whole other topic here.) With "Super Singles" you have a lighter empty weight, which makes it easier to load. The amount of fuel you have on the truck is less critical. (Fuel weighs approximately 8 lbs per gallon, and we have a 200 gallon capacity. You do the math.)
When we were working mostly with produce, we were being paid by the mile. Weight had nothing to do with it, and so there wasn't really any benefit to getting single tires. However, with the hopper, its all about weight. Everything we do comes down to how much we weigh, and our goal is to get the truck and trailer as light as possible so that we can haul more weight. When we're going into a shipper, we try to be as low on fuel as possible, so that we can load more product, getting our fuel after we leave the shipper. This means that we do run over weight some, but I'm not talking thousands of pounds, just a few hundred. We don't try to be overweight, but there is a 500 lb overweight "grace" amount.....and we use every bit of that. Its all about the money.
The new truck that Malcolm is working with Kenworth on is going to be built as light as possible. We have a heavy duty bumper on this truck in case of hitting deer. It weighs four hundred pounds. We're leaving it off. Our generator, the one that's now broken and needs a $2700 repair, weighs about 400 lbs, and we're leaving it off too. The new truck, with newer technology, is legal to idle in all states. (for heating and cooling purposes. Again, a total new topic. Stay tuned for a Trucking 101: Idling)
We want to get one of the trucks with the 86" studio sleepers. We currently have a 72" sleeper. It would give us more living room, and only weighs 300 lbs more, so we had to find some way to compensate for the extra weight. The Super Singles will do that for us.
And I've tryed to use the "be lighter/make more money" as an incentive to loose some weight myself, but so far it hasn't been enough.

I remember asking years and years ago, why I needed to learn this or that in math because I "wasn't going to need it." The answer was always, "It might not seem like it now, but you'll use it someday," and I always thought in response, "sure, whatever!"

Now that "someday" is here, it seems like every spare minute is used up calculating weight, distance, fuel, and a million other things. Guess my teachers can say, "told you so."

This Just In:

Malcolm just got off the phone with Brandon. Turns out an a driver we know who is running 'Super Singles" just had a blow out near Idaho Falls, ID, which brings up another reasons I forgot to mention in my "cons" list. Very few people keep the "Super Singles" in stock because it hasn't achieved popularity yet. Therefor, he had a difficult time finding a replacement. I know it seems like the "cons" far outweigh the "pros." Just remember....for us it's all about the weight!

June 23, 2009

A Tasty Treat....Try Some

When we were pulling a reefer these past two years or so for Steve, we often loaded at Bolthouse Farms in Bakersfield, CA. They primarily packed carrots and there would be trailer load after trailer load sitting under sheds with misters waiting to be processed.
Its always fun to go to the store and recognize the names of places we loaded. Bolthouse, Foxy, Dole, and several others are common names we see at Wal-Mart, and we loaded at all these produce packers.
We discovered a couple years ago, while browsing in Wal-Mart that Bolthouse farms also produces juice. They have a carrot juice, a strawberry-banana juice, mocha, and a few others. The only one we've tryed was this one, the Vanilla Chai Tea, and its really quite good.
Used to I could find it in the produce section and Malcolm would get a bottle for a treat. It is now truly a rare treat, because we rarely can find it. The few Wal-Marts that still carry it have moved it to the dairy/juice isle, so you might look for it there.
Anyway, I'd recommend it, and I know Malcolm would. He loves the stuff. Its a tasty treat...try it sometime!

June 22, 2009

A Weekend at the Ritz

Ritzville, WA actually. I know in my last post I said we had the entire weekend to before we could unload in Quincy, WA. But Malcolm called the receiver in Quincy and they told us if we could be there by noon on Saturday, they'd unload us. Easy easy! We were there at 9:00 that morning and that was after parking to sleep four hours!

When Malcolm told Mark that we could unload Saturday, he got us a Monday morning reload. Still had a lot of sitting time though, but it was better than waiting till Monday afternoon or ever Tuesday morning to reload.

So we dumped our fertilizer off in Quincy, and then drove 60 miles to the town of Ritzville, WA where there was supposed to be a car wash that we could wash out the trailer.

I didn't get picture of this little exercise because I was busy pumping quarters into the machine and backing the truck up, pulling forward, backing up, etc while Malcolm crawled around on the rim washing it out. I also had to trot down the street and find a store in town that would make change on a $20. The change machine at the wash wouldn't take anything larger than a $10. I ended up dumping about $29 of quarters into the car wash machine, about $4 at a time. We also got a lot of strange looks, and one guy even had to pull in to tell Malcolm he'd not seen that done there before. And then also, an older lady who pulled in to wash her car next to us took pity when she saw me rolling and unrolling the tarp, getting hit with over spray in the mean time. She pulled a sheet out of her trunk that she had been taking to good will, and left it for us to dry off with. Part of that small town charm I love.

She also told us of a good place to eat in town, and I'd seen a movie theatre on my way to get change, so since we only had about 100 miles left and more than a day to get there, we decided to park by the car wash. There was a large gravel area near the grain elevator and the railroad.

After a nap for Malcolm, he needed one after all his climbing around in the trailer, we walked into town for dinner at a Mexican place. After we ate, we had an hour before the movie. Across the street was this little charmer. I had to go in and see for myself.

The sign doesn't lie! This is my first ever Fabric/Liquor combo store!! One wall was quilting fabric, a small but nice selection, and the other wall was liquor and regional wines, also a small but nice selection. The whole thing was very fascinating to me. Who on Earth ever thought to combine those two into one store! I'm still baffled by it.

Malcolm went to the truck to chat on the phone with Brandon. I grabbed my camera and went back to take the above pictures, then walked around town and took a couple more.
The movie started at 7:30. The Ritz is one of those old theatres, so often found in older towns. I hadn't been to one yet, but I knew about them because the one in Bowman, ND which was near the ranch, was similar. What I mean is that they only have one movie a week, and one showing a night, one theatre, and this one, it turns out, only had a one stall bathroom (one for men and one for women) sticking to its singular theme all the way through! The interior of the theatre had its water stained red wallpaper, or perhaps it was even fabric. Hard to tell in the dim lighting. And all the locals were showing up with their kids to watch Night at the Museum (the new one, not the original one). The place was about half full, everyone was snacking on popcorn and soda's, and it was fun watching everyone coming in and visiting....with other people, not the one's they came with. I didn't see that in Chattanooga very much!

The movie was cute. I couldn't figure out how they were going to do a sequel to the original movie, but they managed it quite well, with a plot I hadn't been able to predict. It was a fun and different way to kill time on a long weekend, and it only cost us $12, and that was with the more expensive seating that got us "extra leg room and a bigger seat."

Sunday morning we drove back to the interstate, ate at a cafe there that offered so so food and over priced at that. Typical...

Lounged around all morning. Malcolm took the dash apart and worked on some switches. I watched Becoming Jane, which I had bought over a year ago and still hadn't managed to watch. Then we drove to Palouse, WA. We were here a year ago on this same load. At the time we noticed a couple cafe's in town, so we planned to hit one of them for dinner, but they were closed for the evening. We ended up in the bar for dinner, watching the Nascar race with about 6 of the local guys. On a side note, we were stuck in the Nascar traffic on Thursday on our way out of our delivery in Petaluma, which is right by the speedway for this weekend's race. Congrats to Kayne (spelling?) on his win! See I payed attention! I even heard the announcer say that the best he'd done on that track was finishing 23rd or something like that. So I'm happy for the guy. Good driving! That track....I've not seen a track like that. Having watched some Nascar because I grew up in a southern home with a southern Dad and brother, I am familiar with some of the tracks. I know that Bristol has a lot of wrecks because its a short track, and I know that Daytona and Indianapolis are the biggies. But I'd not heard of this Sonoma race, and the track looked crazy!

Ok, enough on Nascar! Sorry!

Had intended to have a latte and scone at The Green Frog this morning. We parked in town a year ago and ate there waiting for the mill to open. The lady there was so friendly, and baked everything fresh. She even made Malcolm wait for something out of the oven. And the town people all saw our truck in town, called the mill owner, and told him there was a truck lost in town. He came to find us and guide us to the mill. More small town charm.

Well to our disappointment, The Green Frog is closed on Monday morning, as is the Family Cafe. We ended up at the bar again...this time for breakfast. Different 6 locals this time and we watched the Early Show on CBS instead of Nascar.

Just finishing loading now, and then we'll head for San Francisco. We're supposed to deliver in the morning between 4:00 and 5:00. We have pearled barley and it's going to a bakery. Last year, the bakery guy was so happy to see us (apparently they were running low) that he gave us an entire grocery sack of fresh baked bread, an assortment of all kinds. We snacked on a loaf or two, and then had to throw the rest away. I felt so wasteful.

June 19, 2009

My Dad, My Hero

My Dad is one of my hero's. I couldn't have had a better one, and I never wanted anyone else's dad. I don't ever recall thinking, "wish my dad would do that/be like that." Probably because I knew he already had, and had done it or been it better.

There's always been a bond between my Dad and me, always will be. I have the type of Dad that worked long hours, till late at night, and then came home and played with his kids, even if he was bone tired. He still does that, even though we're grown. He's sacrificed for us, built things for us, played games with us, taken us places, set aside time for us to be together as a family, and gave us each opportunities to do things that many people never get to experience.

He built our home with his own two hands, built me a three story dollhouse from the ground up when I was little, indulged me in my obsession with horses, and sent me to Europe with a group from school when I was 12. He bought me my first car and taught me to drive, having the patience of a saint as I tryed to figure out how to shift gears.

When I was older, he gave good council, but let me make decisions, and didn't criticize when they were bad ones. He just stood to the side, making sure he was close to catch me if I needed him to. He taught by example, maybe not intentionally, but I learned a lot about serving others and responsibility just from watching him.

I ran across something in a book of mine that says it all. When I read it, I thought immediately of Dad.

"He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it."

He's still doing just that.

My "Playlist" has been changed for Father's Day. These are my favorite "Dad" songs. The first one, Small Town Southern Man by Allen Jackson, could have been written about my dad, especially the chorus. It's one of my favorites.

My Big Day

Yesterday was my day, my birthday that is. I was born on June 18.....32 years ago! How is that I am now 32. I seem to still picture myself somewhere closer to.... 22. Time does get away from us doesn't it?

I was much more photogenic at that age. Something happened around, oh, age 5 and ever since then I've looked awful in every picture taken of me, just about. So I'm not posting a picture of the 32 year old me.

My birthday started at 3:30am when I drug myself out of bed after a nearly sleepless night. We had to run all night, and since we hadn't driven through the night since the end of May, I wasn't used to a moving truck. Add torrential rain, and seeing an awful tractor trailer wreck (really awful) just before bed...I didn't sleep well at all. We finally stopped at Wendover, NV for 2 hours, and that was my sleep. I got up at 3:30 to drive.

Despite the early hour, I had a good morning. It was only an hour before sunrise, and it's peaceful out there Nevada. You kind of have the road all to yourself.

I had lots of calls from family and friends to wish me a Happy Birthday. It was great to hear from everyone!

While Malcolm unloaded our trailer in Petaluma, CA, I gave Ella a new hair due. I've been looking at pictures of Chinese Cresteds, and a lot of them have their ears shaved. I knew this already, but I like the ear fringe. However, Ella's ears droop, and I had come to the conclusion that probably if she didn't have ear hair weighting them down, they'd stand better. I've been putting if off, because I shaved Carlie's ears a few months ago for the same reason, and she looked awful! She's just now starting to look cute again. But Ella has more hair, so I hoped she'd look better even if I didn't like the ears. As it turns out....I like her naked ears better than her furry ones.



They still aren't quite where they should be, but they are standing better than they were. Maybe with time, they'll straighten even more. We'll see.

After unloading, we drove back towards Sacramento, stopping in Dixon where we squeezed into a parking spot that wasn't really a parking spot, and walked to Cattleman's for a birthday dinner. It was very good food...way too many people. I guess that's the most crowded restaurant we've eaten at in a long time, and it was taxing on our nerves. Probably we wouldn't have been so put out with the crowds and noise, if we hadn't had to listen to the guy at the next table give a 45 minute dissertation to his party about steaks, the perfect steak, and the art of cooking a steak, as well as all the chefs who had come to make sure he liked his steak at various restaurants, and all the managers that he has had "take care of him," etc etc. This guy had a major ego, dominated the entire conversation...not just his but ours.... OK, it finally reached the point where it was humorous so we spent our meal enjoying good food, and snickering behind our napkins and hands at the guy. Ahh...our own personal dinner theatre!

My birthday was just a normal day, but it was very pleasant as well. We're loading this morning at the Port of Sacramento. More fertilizer going to Washington, and we have the whole weekend to get it there. It will be relaxing, only 750 miles and two and a half days to do it. Again...too much time for the miles, but at least we are getting loads and not sitting at the house like we were in April. Brandon talked to someone who works for Steve still, and they are now down to $1.12 a mile. He was paying $1.25 when we left the end of April and that was too low then and before fuel started going back up. I'm glad we got out when we did.

The truck turned over 500,000 miles this morning. I was going to take a picture of the odometer, but I forgot and didn't notice till we were at 500,016. That's a lot of miles in a little less than three years!

June 16, 2009

Monday Morning in Montana

Basically we've made a great big circle since last Friday, traveling a little over 1600 miles. We should have done more than that, but freight is slow right now...isn't everything?
Monday morning was cool and damp. We left Dubois, ID around 9:00 am after dropping off those potatoes, emptying back to Great Falls, MT where we loaded another load of malt bound New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, CO. The drive from Dubois to Great Falls is along I-15, and a very pretty drive through a bit of Idaho and then some of those mountains Montana's famous for.

We ran in and out of rain showers, and the mountains were shrouded in heavy low clouds. It was one of those Monday mornings that you just want to snuggle into your covers. Not the nasty kind of day, but just the type where you don't want to do anything but relax and be cozy.

This trip I feel like we did the grand tour of Montana's biggest cities. The only one I can think of that we didn't hit was Missoula, but we were there last week.
Clark Resevoir (south of Butte)

Once you pass Butte, the mountains close in around you and become rockier.

Eventually, as you near Helena, the mountains start to open up. Helena is nestled into a large valley. Once your past the city it closes in again.

Helena, the state capitol

After loading in Great Falls and getting dinner, tomato soup and grilled cheese..yummy...we drove about 50 miles east to a little parking area surrounded by fields for miles and miles, hardly a building in site. We were the only ones there. It was silent except for the soft wind rattling the cottonwood leaves and what must have been a million meadow larks singing goodnight to the day.

Tuesday morning we headed out again. This is, once again, a good paying trip with too much time on it. We could have been there Tuesday morning, but we couldn't deliver till Wednesday morning. So we took our time. Breakfast again at Eddie's Corner, and then south through Harlowton to Billings.

Road construction in Montana....its not uncommon on the two lanes in rural areas for them to just rip out the road, and traffic maneuvers through the construction as its happening. There were two guys flagging traffic so the heavy equipment could cross, but otherwise, your pretty much driving on mushy dirt and gravel as they build the road around you. It had just rained that morning and so the dirt was pretty soft. Just for kicks, I'll add that the main road to and from the airport in Billings looked just like this...ripped out....only there was a lot more traffic and buildings. Not your normal urban road construction job.

This is my favorite view of Billings. The airport sits up on the rim rocks and so as you drive along the highway, you look down on the city.

Downtown Billings....this is the biggest city in Montana.

We've called it "home" for a few months now, though we really live east of here. Its just easier to tell people "Billings" because they kind of have an idea of where that is.

As we drove past the Metra, which is the arena/fairgrounds, I noticed campers set up everywhere, and when I saw dog kennels I remembered that Tuesday was the first day of the AKC Yellowstone Valley Kennel Club Dog Show. It was supposed to be Ella's debut into the show world. I felt a little sad. Ella didn't seem to notice she was missing out on anything.

The rest of the day we meandered down through Wyoming. We're now about 60 miles north of Cheyenne, and will be in Fort Collins by midnight. We stopped at a rest area at sunset to let the girls play for a while. I love sunsets out here. They are extra special in Montana and Wyoming.

June 15, 2009

Don't Fence Me In

I'd wager you've seen all sorts of fences...lodgepole fences, board fences, barbed wire fences, smooth wire fences, hog wire fences, split rail fences and on and on. I'd also wager many of you have never seen, nor heard of, snow fences. So here's a little lesson for you on snow fences.

Snow fences....here's a few.

If we were sitting down together over a cup of coffee I'd draw you a diagram on a napkin and you'd understand it better. Its hard to explain the concept in just words without actually seeing the things, and in truth I may not get the whole concept myself, but I think I got the basics down.

Snow fences are all over the place out here, but I've seen them the most in Wyoming. One might ask, "Why Wyoming more than others" when Wyoming isn't necessarily known for its deep deep snows (except in the mountains of course). The answer is wind. Snow fences don't do anything for straight falling snow, but when it comes to wind driven snow....they can be the difference between making progress down the road, or sitting in a 10 foot snow drift. And Wyoming definatly has the wind thing going on.

Here's the idea...

...wind blows snow. The snow fences act as a wind break of sorts. The wind current is interrupted by the snow fence. On the other side of the fence, the wind is weaker and so the snow falls out of it, piling up and drifting below the fence.

They are strategically placed so that snow is prevented from drifting on roads, or at least creates smaller drifts more easily handled by snow plows.

I've learned since moving to Montana that lots of snow doesn't necessarily mean "winter wonderland," and the reason is the wind, which seems to always blow. Last winter during one snow storm that we were home for....a brief one....we got 3-4 inches of snow. It was one of the snows during which the wind didn't blow, so that when I woke in the morning I did actually wake to a beautiful world blanketed in sparkling white. But around mid-morning the wind picked up. By noon, it had drifted the snow around the house, and dug bare spots of ground between drifts. It didn't stop there. Within a short period I had brown snow, snow that was crusted in dirt that was being blown from the bare spots. Even when its not coated in dirt, its rarely a ground covering snow. It always drifts in spots with ground showing between, unless you get 4 feet of it like my in-laws did this spring. Then your pretty much looking at solid white...for weeks. But that's kind of rare in eastern Montana.

Well, I don't know if I did a sufficient job explaining how it works, but that's a snow fence. It was a point of great curiosity for me when I first saw them a few years ago, and so I figured it would be to others as well, especially my southern friends and relatives to whom snow is as foreign as Tibetan religious practices.

OK, so that's enough about snow. I'm afraid to speak the "s" word too much, seeing as how a nice early June snow, though somewhat rare, isn't unheard of. I don't want to jinx myself.

Rollin' Through the Weekend

Malcolm's sitting over here in the driver's seat talking to Brandon on the phone, and he just stated that he "couldn't think of one other thing he'd rather be doing."

I can! But over-all this isn't that bad, and it does have a lot of perks along with its struggles. For one, how many jobs do you know of that you get payed to sit on your rear and read, practically all day, and your boss say "oh you keep on reading. I'll just do your work for you for a while longer."

I'm feeling pretty good this morning. I woke up not wanting to get out of bed, and really didn't have to. We only had 45 miles left and Malcolm was driving it, but I was worried he wouldn't be able to read my writing on the directions. Sometimes when I call for directions, the people give them quickly and my writing ends up looking like chicken scratching. So I drug myself out of bed at 5:00 right along with him this morning. But it payed off. I got my Starbucks White Mocha!

Malcolm is an addict. He will go to great lengths to get to a Starbucks, and at 5:00 in the morning, we sometimes even pull into their parking lots, like this morning. You should see some of the looks we get. I guess its not everyday you see a 64 foot vehicle in the Starbucks parking lot. Since I discovered the white mocha last month, I've become an addict with him. So I'm not so squeamish about squeezing into incredibly ridiculous parking spots, because as Malcolm says of himself, "precious needs it!" (in a devilish little voice)

So, white mocha in hand, I have started my day with a smile on my face. Until a moment ago, when I looked up and realized that I as typed and Malcolm talked on the phone we'd missed our exit. Normally this wouldn't be any big deal, but out here when you miss an exit, the next one is often miles away. In this case, we just added about 13 miles to our trip. As Macolm just informed me, our little detour cost us $5.40 in fuel. There goes my White Mocha for tomorrow...and half of his too.

We're hauling potatoes. We came out of eastern Colorado and are delivering about 50 miles north of Idaho Falls. One would think we'd be taking potatoes from Idaho, but no, we're bringing them to Idaho. Last year we brought them seed potatoes from Colorado. Apparently they forgot to reserve a few from their own fields for the next years crop. This was a load of russet potatoes for processing.

We'd driven these parts of Colorado often when we were haulin' cows. There are a number of feed lots out in eastern Colorado, as well as the main kill plant in Fort Morgan, which we have made dozens of trips to. I didn't take photos while in eastern Colorado, but once we left Fort Collins and headed north on US 287, I got the camera out and snapped a few. This has always been a favorite drive of mine. Its a pretty part of Colorado.
These are the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. You leave the interstate to Fort Collins, CO and come out at Laramie, WY.
This was another one of those trips with too few miles for the time. We loaded Friday afternoon, and couldn't deliver till this morning. So, we were lazy truck driver's again. No point in rushing up there, so we only drove 450 miles and stopped at Little America, WY. There were dark, violent storms on the horizon with lightening breaking jagged lines from sky to ground. Malcolm, instead of backing into a parking spot, pulled in nose first into a spot at the back of the truck stop so that we could watch the storms. It never rained on us, just a few splatters on the wind shield, but the wind picked up significantly, the lightening was glorious, and the storm stretched across the sky from just south of us to as far north as we could see...which in Wyoming is a long way!

It was 73 degrees when we parked and within a half hour is was only 52 with a strong wind.

Yesterday, Sunday, we drove the remaining 260 miles to Idaho Falls. It was nice scenery, but I was lazy and didn't get out the camera. I'll capture it for you on another trip. We stopped at the Walmart in Idaho Falls and relaxed the day away. I finished a book, Malcolm took a nap, and the girls got their hair cuts and manicures (they were thrilled I assure you). For dinner, we walked across the parking lot to Olive Garden, my birthday dinner a few days early, in case we are in the boondocks on the actual day. I love their Capalini Pomadora (angel hair with roma tomatoes, basil, garlic, and olive oil), and then for dessert we split a piece of Tiramisu.
We're unloaded now, and just heading back north to Great Falls, MT again for another load of malt.
On a totally un-related topic ( you know me and horses), you have to go to Creekside Curlies blog and see the new baby. She's adorable!

June 13, 2009

Birthday List

I've been browsing on the internet lately. I tell myself I'm just looking. But we all know what "looking" leads to....WANTING!
I'm in love with this little fellow!

And then of course, there's my dear sister-in-law, Rachelle, who has taken it upon herself to shop for me, and send me links to things I need. She's really being so cruel! Recently she sent me this link to a Morgan gelding, a good age, well trained and experienced, and a great price on a Morgan.

I am, with great self-restraint, not buying either.

Anyone want to buy them for my birthday?????

Passing it On

Jennifer from "Ramblings of a Country Wife" posted this on her blog, and instead of "tagging" people, she said we could do it if we wanted. I've decided to post it, because I'm running dry on ideas for posts, and also because sometimes these things are a good way for people to get to know others. In fact, I just read one this morning from my sister, and learned something I didn't know about her!

Here are the rules: Respond & Rework. Answer questions on your own blog. Replace one question. Add one question. Then, tag 8 people.

1. What are your current obsessions?
Morgan horses, my imaginary farm/ranch

2. Who would you most like to have dinner with?
My Granny and Papaw, who have passed. I'd love to have dinner with them. I miss them and lately I've been thinking of a lot of questions I wish I'd have thought to ask them.

3. Last dream you had?
I don't remember sleep dreams, but if you want to know about day dreams...I'll fill your day! Mostly I "work" on my farm/ranch and raise my Morgan horses. Its hard work, but fulfilling...lol.

4. Last thing you bought?
confessions....I went to Barnes and Noble Wednesday and blew $30 on books I didn't need. I actually got $70 worth of books, but after my coupon, my membership, and two gift cards, I only spent $30 of actual cash. (forgive me?)

5. What are you listening to?
Well, I was enjoying the sound of the Colorado wind blowing through the cracked window, but now I'm listening to Malcolm on a three way call with his aunt and uncle.

6. The perfect house?
need you ask? a little white farm house way out in the country

7. Favorite holiday spots?
either my parent's house, his parent's house, or family at our house, which we've never tried, but I imagine I'd like it

8. Reading right now?
Prayer's for Sale by Sandra Dallas, and next is Blind Your Ponies by Stanley West

9. What is your favorite way to relax?
Sitting on the porch in a rocking chair or swing with a good book and a glass of iced tea. (only I don't have rocking chairs, and my swing still isn't hung, so I have to settle for sitting inside with the book and tea...still relaxing though.)

10. Guilty pleasure?
remember those books I bought in an earlier question? enough said

11. Who or what makes you laugh until you're weak?
Usually reminiscing with my mom and sister

12. Favorite spring thing to do?
Get outside without being cold

13. Planning to travel to next?
Forgive me if I laugh....lol....well this load is going to Idaho, and I imagine from there we'll either go to California or west to Oregon. Outside of work, I'm taking a 5 day trip to Tennessee in July to see family.

14. Best thing you ate or drank lately?
Last weekend....my grilled chicken and my strawberry custard pie. Not just because it was home cooking, not everything I cook is good, but this was just plain delicious!

15. When did you last get tipsy?
Its been a long time...and I never got very much tipsy to begin with.

16. Favorite ever film?
Hard to say....there are so many....probably Anne of Green Gables

17. Care to share some wisdom?
I'm not good at "deep thoughts" on the spot like this. Just don't take the small stuff for granted.

18. What item could you not live without?
my Paris and Ella....and I have nothing against Carlie Jean. I'm just not as attached to her. She's Malcolm's dog, and that was her decision.

19. Thing you are looking forward to?
Visiting family and friends in Tennessee for July 4th.

20. What's your favorite smell?
fresh cut hay baking in the sun; if someon would bottle it as a perfume I'd wear it everyday

21. What food makes you heave?
Can't think of one; I wish desserts did! Maybe I could drop a few pounds that way.

22. Favorite childhood story book?
not exactly what this question had in mind, but the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder...they are still a favorite.

23. What's your favorite animal in the whole wide world, and why?
horses....they feed my soul

Like Jennifer, I'm going to refrain from "tagging" people. If you want to copy, paste and answer in your own blog, feel free to. If you do, please comment on here so I know you did and can go read your answers!

Another piece of business.....I've received my very first blogging award, also from Jennifer at Ramblings of a Country Wife. I found Jennifer when she joined my blog as a follower. I'm living my farm dreams vicariously through her, as she writes about her new baby chicks that hatched, fishing with her son, and planting her garden.

Of course there are rules, again. You are supposed to pass this on to 8 others and include this text.

"These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers."

Unfortunately, I don't have 8 blogs to pass it on to. Most of the blogs I read are either just getting started, private, or of a personal nature, like pictures of the kids so if you didn't know the person, it doesn't really mean anything to you. So I'm in a delima. Let me think on it for a few days, and I'll get back with you.

June 9, 2009

MT 200 from Missoula to Great Fallls

Today, after unloading in Spokane, WA, we headed back across the upper finger of Idaho and into Montana. Heading to Great Falls, we left the interstate to Missoula, taking MT 200. Its a two lane that winds through the mountains, up to Great Falls, and then on out through eastern Montana and into North Dakota. We'd traveled from Great Falls east, but had not yet been on this western portion of it.

Its always unsettling to round a curve in the road and see this.
Old fashioned game of chicken, anyone?

Take a second look...

Its always a little unsettling at first glance, until you realize that its a truck being hauled by a truck. I think they ought to turn it the other way, just to save everyone else a little stress.

Its a pretty drive along rivers and streams, through mountain passes where the pines shade the road and in the breaks you get views of peaks capped with the remnants of winter snows.

About 60 miles from Great Falls there is a change. Its almost as if, when creating the world, God took his finger and drew a line, and the trees stopped there.

To the north, the jagged peaks near Glacier are visible, and to the south are more of the forested mountain ranges that Montana is famous for. Its all beautiful, but I'll take the open plains of central and eastern Montana over its famous mountains any day. This is the Montana I fell in love with.

Here's a point of curiosity. This is a missile silo. There are a number of them between the ranch in Baker and Belle Fourche, SD. I've not seen them out here in Montana before though. Within that fence there is a giant underground silo where missiles were stored by the government. I believe the missiles are no longer housed in all of them, but I've seen at least two that were heavily protected, guard and everything, so it leaves me to believe that probably they are not all abandoned.
We've been to Great Falls twice before, once last summer delivering wheat to General Mills, and then again this past fall to load cows in the middle of a snow storm. That was an adventure. We came up here with Doug and went back to Shepherd with them, and the roads were sheets of ice coming and going.

There isn't much to Great Falls. I think there is some kind of military base here. It's a small city tucked into a curve of the Missouri River.

Wind Turbines

Rush hour traffic in Great Falls.
The Elevator where we loaded.

We're loading malt. Its going to Fort Collins, CO to a brewing company. We're not delivering till Friday morning, and we go past Shepherd. Looks like another day and a half at the house!