May 19, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Giggety Gig

Another gift from God and a lesson in trusting Him and not stressing over things.

I was so stressed out about getting home on Friday, getting the grad gift figured out, found, and purchased, and all the other little things that needed done so that we could get to Baker on time and relax and enjoy the weekend there.

I wish I was able to control my emotions better and not stress and get worried about that sort of thing because I know God will take care of it, and everything will get done, and if it doesn't get done its not that big of a deal.

Anyway, God let me stress a little and then took over (prooving a point to me) and things have just fallen into place even better than I thought they would.

For starters we didn't have to sit in Idaho for a day. Mark, the broker, found a load of fertilizer that delivered in North Dakota this morning and now we're on our way to reload corn in Steele. We'll be home tonight, and in the morning we'll dump the corn off at a feed lot 5 miles from our house. How much closer could he have gotten us? (well there is a feed lot TWO miles from the house, but I'll settle for what we got)

Then yesterday I contacted my hair girl, who is a doll and has become a friend, and asked her for ideas about a grad gift, because my sister-in-law is going to cosmetology school and is going into that line of work. Not only did my hair girl have a great idea, she is going to pick it up for me, getting it at her cost, and all I have to do is swing by her shop to get it before we leave.

And not exactly in sink with the story, but still taking stress off my mind...our April trip sheets were due in to the prorate office in Billings the first week of May, but I haven't been able to get to a post office. Last night we passed through Billings and were able to swing by their office and drop the packet into their mail drop slot. So that's delivered, and I think before the Oregon fuel taxes are due this month so I might still be on time...sort of! That was a load off my mind too!

So...home agian, home again, giggety gig... a day earlier than planned and now with one less thing to do! Hope you all have a great weekend and I'll be in touch sometime next week.

I'm leaving you with a picture from last evening. It drizzled rain all day in Idaho, but last night just north of Idaho Falls, the clouds broke and the sunlight hit the rain clouds. It always makes them look so much more dramatic and threatening...and beautiful when it does that!

May 17, 2010

On Donner's Pass Tonight

We crossed Donner's Pass on I-80 in the Sierra Nevada Mountains this evening around 7:00pm.

Today we loaded blood meal in California. Yep...blood meal. Don't even ask...trust me.

It rained all day, kind of drizzly. I told Malcolm it was a good thing it wasn't winter cause when its raining in the valley, you know what its doing on Donner's. I should have kept my mouth shut.

Well its wasn't so bad really, just foggy and towards the top it finally got down around 34 degrees and that really fine mist of snow was falling. But it was still early in the evening, and I hope the west bound trucks we're passing now aren't going to dilly dally in Reno.

Last weekend they shut down the westbound side for a little while over night because of snow.

Over the top, and on down towards Nevada where the sun was breaking through the clouds and it was almost 50 degrees.

And I got to Reno just in time to see it and the surrounding hills bathed in sunset light.

We'll deliver in Idaho in the morning, twiddle our thumbs for the day, and then load potatoes going to Jamestown, ND. That is supposed to deliver Thursday, and then we're hopefully going to have a load of corn coming back to Billings Friday. Its cutting it close, but at least we're going to make it. Graduation is Saturday afternoon, so I'll scramble to do some laundry, get the girls bathed and clipped, pack the car all on Friday evening and we'll leave for Baker on Saturday morning.

Got big plans, fun stuff in mind, for the whole time we're out of the truck. The only icky part that I'm not looking forward to is I'm having Ella spayed on Monday. I feel for her, and its going to ruin her vacation, but in the long run its worth it. She's due for another heat in a month or so, and she hates wearing those panties. So she'll be happier in the long run and so will I. Other than that...lots of good stuff should be going on and I'll share all when we get back, you know I will. Might even manage to get some posts up while we're home, depending on internet cooperation as usual.

But hey...that's still several days ahead. I'll be in touch before we get out of the truck.

May 16, 2010

Sunday Stills: Flowers...and...An Oregon Scenic View

This weeks Sunday Stills challenge was "flowers." As slow as this week was, I didn't run into many flowers when I had my camera handy. But Friday evening we had lots of time to kill, a whole 2 1/2 days to travel a little over 700 miles. We drove the first 200 or so, and stopped in Bend, OR so I could do some shopping on Saturday. On the way, we paused at the Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint on US97 near Redmond to take in the view, and there happened to be a few flowers handy. I'm assuming that flowering shrubs count. This part of the country has lots of scraggly evergreens, sage, and other plant life that can thrive in the cool dry climate. Its desert country up here. Not the kind you typically think of when you hear the word desert, but it is a desert none the less, and I think its beautiful!
That small yellowish shrub in the picture below is covered in little yellow flowers. I don't know what it is though. A close up:

And if you look closer here, past the bush in front, you can see a small plant with red flowers clinging to the edge of the cliff. Fragile flowers in a rugged environment.

And of course Dandelions...weed or flower? I think its up to an individuals perspective, and also where they are growing. As long as they are not in my garden or yard, they are a flower to me.To see more Sunday Stills posts from other participants, click here.

On to the rest of the post.
As I mentioned we stopped at the scenic view area. We've crossed the Crooked River numerous times as we go up and down US97 between California and Washington. I've wished to stop and see this gorge every time, but never new we could, thinking there wasn't' parking for a vehicle like ours. But this time, Malcolm asked if I wanted to stop, and had noticed that there was actually a parking area for the scenic view. It actually had truck parking! It always amazes me what we fail to see when we travel, which is, I guess, what makes this job interesting. We can drive the same road a hundred times, and see something new every time.
Anyway, so we parked and got out to take in the sights, and had thought we'd take the girls along as there was no one else there and they would have enjoyed stretching their legs. But the first thing that greets you as you walk towards the park is this sign.
After reading the lower sign, we changed our minds.

Peter Skene Ogden, for whom this overlook is named, was a frontiersman who led men from the Hudson Bay Company into and through this area.

This is the Oregon Trunk Railroad Bridge, completed in 1911. Prior to its completion, the only structure that crossed the gorge was a one lane wooden bridge that existed about a mile upstream where the gorge begins to taper off some.
To build the bridge, workers climbed a rope ladder to reach the construction sight. Also, once the two sides were completed, some scaffolding connected by a board plank were used to go between the two sides to work on the center, and workers joked about "walking the plank." I hope it was a high paying job.

There is something very artistic about bridges, particularly the older ones. To think that they built it in the early 1900's and it is still in use today. They don't build things like that anymore, to last like that, you know?

I was going to leave this tidbit out, but Malcolm thinks I should include it. Looking down from this vantage point, there was a ledge before it continued to drop to the river. And sadly, there was indeed a dog lying there that had apparently crossed the barrier wall and fallen.

A small waterfall drops over the edge of the gorge and trickles over the rocks to join the river at the bottom. The moisture is just enough to encourage plant life to cling to the rocky edges. The gorge was also full of birds flying from one side to the other. It was like looking down into a world in its own little bubble.

There are three bridges at this location now. The railroad bridge is the furthest to the west.

A few yards to the east are the other two bridges.The bridge in front is the old highway bridge, the Crooked River "High" Bridge. It was constructed in 1926, and at 295 feet above the river it was the highest single arch span bridge in the nation at that time. It was the only automobile crossing of the Crooked River Gorge for more than 70 years, until the traffic on US97 became more than the bridge could accommodate. In the early 1990's a new bridge was constructed, and the High Bridge was turned into a walking bridge.The new bridge, was constructed in the 1990's. The engineers tryed to stay true to the design of the other two bridges.These river gorges are amazing to see. Its a long way down there. The Crooked River Gorge is, in appearance as you drive by, very similar to the Snake River Gorge over in Idaho. We've driven by and along its edge many times as well, but have yet to be able to stop. It is on my list, an ever lengthening list, of places to stop and explore. We are loaded with meat and bone meal coming out of the Pasco, WA area once again. We'll deliver in Turlock, CA in the morning and I am keeping my fingers crossed and sending up a couple of quick prayers as well that from there we'll be heading to Ogden, UT instead of south for more onions or something similar. We are supposed to be heading home and we often get there by way of Ogden when we're coming out of California. We need to be back before next Saturday because Malcolm's baby sister is graduating high school and we promised we'd be there to share in her moment of glory (plus after 8 weeks on the road we simply need some home time). Keep your fingers crossed with me. I feel like we're kind of cutting it close, and I still have to get to town and finish up her graduation gift. But first I have to figure out what that's going to be. Any ideas?

May 12, 2010

Crying Over Onions

I almost cried over onions, in more ways than one.
For starters, we came down here to Brawley, CA to deliver fertilizer and then load onions. We got here Tuesday morning bright and early. We didn't load the onions till just now. An entire day of sitting around in the truck, with scant choices for food, nothing to do, and on top of it all, Malcolm's been feeling ickish (some kind of sinus/fluish type thing). I figure those are sufficient reasons to bring me near tears, and it was mostly the onions doings.
Brawley is a small town that sits between California's southern interstates, 10 and 8. We used to load meat and bone meal down here a lot, but haven't been in this area since last summer I think. Its amazing that they even get stuff to grow here. Its sandy, dry, and in the summer, our truck's thermometer has frequently read 120+ degrees. And that was back in the day when we were not supposed to be running our truck while sitting, according to California's Clean Air acts. (that was one law that we blatantly disregarded...and I'm not sorry for it!) Now, in our new truck, we are "certified" for idling...new engine standards and all that stuff. So we ran it legally this time around.
Another interesting thing about the Brawley area...
It is well below sea level.
Yesterday the broker didn't have the load info and there was a scary moment when he informed us that they had ordered 25 trucks and then only ended up with 10 truck loads. But we were guaranteed a load, so good for us and I'm sorry for whoever else headed this way and got disappointed.
Then the onion field owner wouldn't answer his phone all evening to give us directions. He finally showed up at the truck stop this morning to lead us and the other three trucks in that had showed up to load.
We were second in line, and it was a game of follow the leader. Down one road...
...and then another.
Its so odd to see them cutting and baling hay! Feels other worldly...and smells divine. I think fresh cut hay has got to be one of my favorite aromas.
Its also one of the few places you can go and see palm trees growing in hay fields. Those two things just don't seem to go together.
Finally reached the onion field, where we waited to load.
Had to wait for the tractor and the other employees to get there.
More waiting...
...and in the midst of everyone standing around waiting, Ella got interested in something, stood up on the wheel for a better look, and honked the horn at everyone. I slipped a little further down in my seat.
And then they were ready and started loading the first truck.
I didn't feel like getting out in the dust to take better pictures. I was busy finishing my latest book, and also playing on FaceBook. But we loaded last year in this same area and did it the same way so if you want a more detailed explanation of how it works, and also some better pictures, you can read The Story of an Onion, my post from last year.
Amazing, and I never thought it would be, but apparently an onion field can make you cry too. By the time we were nearly done loading, my eyes were burning and I was starting to tear up. Must be the fumes from the onions crushed under the tractors tires.
And just like last year, there was an amazing and disgusting amount of waste. Really really depressing, so much so that I didn't even bother taking a picture of it. I don't like to think about it. I'm still letting myself pretend that they come back and pick them all up and do something with them. Let me live in my dream world.
OK, I just went back and read that onion story myself. I must have been in a goofy mood that day. It doesn't really give any more details on the ins and outs of onion harvesting than this one does,, but it was kind of humerous if your needing a laugh. If you didn't figure it out from the pictures, the trucks actually drive alongside the tractor as it digs the onions up. They are sorted by 3-4 people standing on the tractor and then a conveyor tosses them into the trailer. And for whatever reason, they only take the really big ones, leaving all the, what I consider to be, normal size onions laying in the field to rot, I assume. So there you have it.

May 8, 2010

Visiting Friends and Doing A Little Sight Seeing

We have had a wonderful weekend full of visiting friends and doing a little sight seeing.

We loaded meat and bone meal in Wallula, WA on Friday afternoon. While we were there, another truck pulled in to load and turned out to be someone we know. It still amuses me that in a country this big, we frequently run into other drivers we've gotten to know, or met just once. In this case, it was a gentleman from South Carolina who also works with Mark, our broker. We loaded onions with him last summer in southern California. Ironically, he is working his way back to southern California to load onions, as are we. In fact we might be loading together later this week.

After loading, we went to the truck stop in Pasco, and a little while later Jerry, that South Carolina driver, rolled in. We sat in the truck stop diner and talked till 10:30 that evening. It was a really nice visit.

We spent the night there and then visited with Jerry again in the morning over coffee and toast. Malcolm and I didn't want to eat too much because we had a lunch date with another friend.

I got to meet another blogger! Marcee, also known as frugalmom, has become a blogging friend of mine. I don't know who found who's blog first, but we read each others, and I have so enjoyed sharing in her recent adventure of moving from Illinois to their new property in Washington. She's got land now, complete with a garden and fruit trees that I am seriously coveting! Animals are soon to come and I'm looking forward to reading all about it. You can too at her precious blog, Fancyin' The Farm Life.

Marcee, her mom who was visiting from Illinois, and her little man met us at a gas station on a corner near their home and we all enjoyed getting to know each other over a Subway lunch. Marcee is just as sweet and precious in person as she sounds on her blog. She even showed up with a beautiful bright yellow flower pot filled with these...
They are delicious and I'm having a really hard time staying out of them. Like the tissue paper around them was suggesting, they have made me happy happy happy!

After lunch, her little man got a tour of the big truck, and what kid gets in a big truck without getting to blow the air horn...several times. I was standing outside visiting with Marcee and I have to say, that horn is a lot louder from outside the truck than it is inside. I think I jumped three feet every time he blew it! The look of delight on his face was priceless.
After the tour of our truck, Marcee took us and the girls to their new home so the girls could play in the back yard with their dog, Darby. Darby is about the same age as Ella, and she is part Chinese Crested, and once the girls were side by side, you could really see it in her face, especially her erect spotted ears. Darby was beside herself with joy, actually so excited that she overwhelmed my girls a bit, which was good for them. They are usually the ones that are too much for the other dogs, so it was good for them to be on the bottom side of things for once.

Eventually though, everyone adjusted and we all had a great time sitting in the yard, visiting, soaking up some sunshine and fresh air, and watching the dogs run around chasing each other and having the time of their lives.

Eventually we had to get on the road and let Marcee and her crew get on with their Saturday. It was such fun and I hope we'll be able to get together again sometime. We're often in the Pasco area with a long weekend stretched out before us, so maybe we'll be able to make that happen sometime soon. Marcee, thank you for a wonderful visit and your hospitality and your wonderful cookies! And thanks to your family too. You have a beautiful home and an absolutely adorable and delightful family.
After we left Marcee's house, we drove about 100 miles down the road south and then west along the Columbia River. We stopped at Maryhill, WA because Malcolm has been wanting to see StoneHenge. OK, I know its not the real one, but this one has an interesting story. The girls were exhausted so they weren't too distraught at being left behind, but Paris did drag herself out of bed to make sure we weren't going too far.
The views from the Columbia River Gorge are just breathtaking, no matter which way you turn.

StoneHenge was built by a man named Sam Hill as a memorial for the 13 men from that county that were killed in WWI. Mr. Hill also built a mansion nearby, and had planned on starting a Quaker community. His plans were never quite successful, but his home is now the
Maryhill Museum of Art, which is open to the public and StoneHenge is part of the museum and sits near the property. I hope to one day visit the museum as well.

FYI, Marcee, this is only about 1.5 -2 hours away from you. It would be an easy day trip and the kids would probably enjoy exploring it. Just a thought.

The monument sits on a hill overlooking the Columbia River, and Mr. Hill is actually buried there. There is a stone staircase that leads down the hill to the grave sight.

The view from the memorial is amazing. The small town of Maryhill sits below and you can see miles of Oregon countryside across the river. Thanks to all the wind this week, the air was incredibly clean. I've not seen Mount Hood that clearly in a long time. It's on the right side just above the river.I couldn't decide which picture to post, so I put up three of them! I just couldn't get enough of looking out over the river!Once we left StoneHenge, the road drops down off the hills and we crossed the river. You can still see Mount Hood peaking up above the horizon, and a barge making its way to Portland.

We had dinner, and then drove about 80 miles to a rest area where we stopped for the night. This morning we have about 600 miles to do, a nice easy day's work. We just stopped in Madras, OR for some coffee and now I'm sitting here sipping my vanilla latte (and munching a couple chocolate chip cookies), soaking in the beauty of God's creation as we travel down US97. It smells SO good today! I don't know what causes it, but it smells like hay, and pine, earth, and home....where I will be in less than two weeks, God willing (please God?)!
To all my friends out there who are Mom's I hope you all have a wonderful and special day! And Happy Mother's Day to my Mom, Mother-in-law, and Grandmother! You have all three been a huge blessing to me, and I love you all dearly!