April 28, 2011

All of our Family are Safe and Accounted For

Malcolm and I got home last night and since then I've spent most of my time on the computer and on the phone with Mom.

Yesterday, starting early in the morning, my home state of Tennessee was attacked by mother nature. Not just my home state, but my home town.

As I've sat here at my kitchen table, 2000 miles away, I've been left...speechless and quite honestly shaken!

My sister's town in Murfreesboro did have a small tornado yesterday early morning. It touched down briefly the street over from hers, but she and her family and property were fine. It was a releif for me to have that news, as that area of Tennessee is so frequently assualted.

It was where the storms did their most damage that was so unexpected for me. As we were loading yesterday morning in Great Falls I was on Facebook reading posts from friends and family members in Chattanooga, all of whom were posting from basements, closets, and interior bathrooms where they were hiding out, as the first storm made its way through the area.

Loaded and heading home, I had checked in with my Dad who said they were all good. The storm was on the other side of Chattanooga from them. Mom was still at school in Ringgold, where they were working towards an early dismissal.  Malcolm spoke with his aunt, who lives on the northwest side of Chattanooga where a tornado had touched down, and she said they had a lot of trees down and that the Walmart down the road from her had lost its roof, but other than that they were OK. We breathed a sigh of relief and continued on towards home.

It is so hard to be so far away at times like these. Not that there is anything we could do if we were there, but still, you want to be able to be there, to see with your own eyes, to touch and know that all is OK, mostly to be there to lend support and just be with each other.

Later in the early evening I called Mom back to check back in and learn the latest as the day was to hold a number of violent storms. She said a tree had fallen on one of Dad's rental houses in the most recent storm but there didn't appear to be any damage. There was another HUGE tree leaning precariously towards my Dad's business, but nothing could be done but to wait and see. They had lost power around 3:00 in the afternoon at the house and at the restaurant, and were worried about the products and meat in the coolers, but that was the extent of their problems.

An hour later my sister called me and wanted to know if I had heard from Mom. I told her I had an hour ago, and she said she'd just texted her and Mom had replied in a text that they were fine but that Ringgold had been hit bad.

Ringgold, GA is a small southern town about 20 miles down the road from myparent's home in Ooltewah. Ringgold is the town Malcolm and I lived in before moving to Montana. We lived just outside town. He drove truck and was gone Monday through Friday. I taught 7th grade inclusion at Ringgold Middle School where Mom teaches still. I was worried about people I knew and places I treasured in my memory, but nothing could be done till morning.

And then this morning...

Malcolm's aunt and uncle were still fine with only some minor damages. We were thankful. My brother and his family are safe, and even have power! My aunt and her family who live very near Ringgold were able to stand in their yard and watch the tornado, but escaped damages and are all safe. My grandparents, uncles and aunts...all are safe and escaped damages. Even my cousins who live in Tuscaloosa, AL, another incredibly hard hit town, are fine and unharmed. We are thanking God for all their safety!

My parents are also safe and unharmed. Mom said it was amazing to look around this morning, knowing what awful damages have been done, and see that nothing, not even her garden, appears to be harmed! How is that? But we are so thankful!

The tree leaning towards the restaurant never fell. Dad had a huge expensive shipment of meat in his coolers, with no power to keep cool, and last night the Bi-Lo grocery store manager let Dad bring his meat to the store and they packed it on a pallet and put it in their cooler for him. They were in a part of town that still had power. I am so grateful to that man for his generosity. I know it was a relief for Dad. I asked Mom how they were going to eat with no power, probably for several days, and her response was that Dad had spent more than an hour this morning in a line of traffic at the BoJangles waiting for biscuits. Everyone is without power and no one can cook! And then once he got to the drive through window, they were unable to take credit or debit cards. Only cash worked! All those poor people who were sitting there hungry and waiting forever! It pays to always have a little cash with you, which Dad did thankfully, and I tucked that little lesson learned into the mind for future use.

Then, a small miracle, power was restored to Dad's restaurant, probably in time to save a good deal of what was in the coolers and freezers, and Dad was able to get the restaurant open early this afternoon. They have been swamped since opening. I am just so grateful that all my family has escaped harm or damages, and I'm sure there are a lot of people grateful that someone is able to cook and feed them!

Ringgold, as you may have seen on the news, is another story. From what I can gather from the pictures available, a good deal of the newer development of businesses are gone. I'm thankful that the more historic parts of town seem to have escaped, but the damages that exist are overwhelming. Its one thing to see on the news when something like this happens to a town somewhere. You hurt for the people, you think "how tragic" and you go about your business and its out of your mind in a few moments. When its a town you know, when its people who were or are part of your life, its a different experience.

Instead of being productive today and using my time at home to do the things I miss doing, I've been on the computer, fighting with my internet signal, to pull up pictures and trying to watch news reports. The town is closed and all roads are blocked so pictures are limited, but its still obvious that its horrible. There are fatalities. I hear that a high school junior is one of them and I worry because my dance team girls that I coached as 6th graders are juniors this year. There are friends on facebook asking 'has anyone heard from" this person or that. There are co-workers of Mom's that haven't been accounted for yet. There are businesses that were community landmarks, businesses that were like historic treasures for the community, that are gone! And maybe what touches me the closest, Ringgold Middle School has lost the roof off of part of the building and been seriously damaged. My Mom's classroom is exposed to the sky.

Though you couldn't tell from this rather lengthy post, I really have been left just speechless! I can describe what happened, but I can't describe my feelings, or put into words...there are no words! The picture above is from a Chattanooga news station. Here is a link to their website and the rest of the aerial shots.

More pictures here of damages on Cherokee Valley Road, which comes into Ringgold across the road from our former home. They are still going through houses looking for bodies in that area.

The thought occurred to me a little while ago that if this had happened 5 years ago, I would have been home alone and Malcolm would have been on the road in Virginia somewhere. I am so thankful that is not the case!

I am beyond just plain thankful that my loved ones are safe and in good positions. And I am devastated for a community that welcomed us and made us feel like family. So many people whose lives have been just torn apart, literally and figuratively. Its overwhelming to say the least. And that's from 2000 miles away!

I feel like this is a lame ending to an emotionally packed post, but I've run out of things to say. Or rather I don't know how to say anything. It goes without saying, but please pray for the people of this community, and all the others that had such a horrible day and night. They will be living a nightmare for many days to come!

April 27, 2011

The "F" Word

but not the one your thinking! You know me better than that, at least I hope you do.

We're talking "F"uel! Yeah, that "F" word, the one that is just about as dirty as the other "F" word thanks to what its costing us all as of late.

Fueling was never fun, but as prices continue to rise, and our rates continue to fail to keep up with it, fueling gets more and more depressing. In California on Friday I fueled up, 115 gallons of diesel, for $4.52 a gallon. Most of the prices we're seeing over here in the western parts are between $4.40 and $4.50. Its kind of nasty!
Delivering the other day in Wenatchee, WA we were planning on fueling after we went south and reloaded. We generally try to stock up as much as we can before going into California, but our weight also limits us, so we plan ahead as much as we can, but sometimes its no use. As we were leaving Wenatchee, we were also looking for breakfast and when we noticed a small truck stop on the side of the road that also advertised a cafe, we decided to go ahead and fuel there, shower, and get something to eat before going to reload.
If fuel is going to stay this high (and apparently it isn't! Its going to go higher!) then this is the most reasonable, rather brilliant fueling policy I've seen in a long time! Incentive for truckers to buy more, and we get rewarded (of sorts) for spending our money at their store. Granted its only for cash purchases, and we fuel on credit so we didn't get to take part. We've never liked the idea of hauling around as much cash as it would take to fuel on, but we might come to that if fuel continues to climb. The savings would be worth it, if you can call it saving.

Anyway, this is the first I've seen of this fueling policy. The more gallons you pump, the less it costs you per gallon! I felt like this fueling station was trying to work with us a little, and granted, I know their prices are still much higher than is necessary, but small as their effort was, its more than we're seeing from most. I don't see why all stations can't offer something like this to all fuelers, commercial and private alike!

I haven't followed the news on the fuel issues, but I've seen various posts on facebook from friends and I'm getting the feeling that Washington DC isn't interested in intervening on the American public's behalf. After an experience last week I'm fully convinced that the only reason the fuel prices are so high is an old fashioned case of price gouging. We were in Oregon or Washington and most of the prices were around $4.45 a gallon. Then on a little back road in a little town we ran into a price war between two stations. One was selling diesel at $3.80 a gallon and the other was at $3.81. Down the road it was back up to $4.46 or so. If those two stations can sell their fuel for a full $0.65 less than the rest of the state and still make money on it, then you can't tell me the other stations don't have their prices hiked as high as they dare! Maddening!

So there is my rant on fuel! It's a painful topic, as it is for most of us I'd wager.

I still believe that we live in a marvelous country and I am patriotic to the core. I wouldn't want to live in any other country. But fuel prices, along with certain other things going on right now (things we won't get started on as we would be here all day long) have me rather soured right now. I'm not impressed with our government and hugely disappointed in society as a whole, no offense meant to you my friends.

On a lighter note, another interesting sight we saw while delivering in Wenatchee...
I'm sure your thinking right now, "Sarah, how is a dog that interesting?"
The most effective guard dogs are provided with a means by which to monitor your entire property at once without expending a lot of energy patrolling.
So if your going for energy efficiency and trying to cut back on expenditures since everything is becoming so costly, here's you one idea! The guard dog that doesn't have to constantly patrol the perimeters of his property, probably consumes less dog food.

A different and better "F" word: Friend

I have a dear friend and her name is Lily.
Lily, you may remember, is not just my friend but recently became my for real niece. I've been Aunt Sarah to her since the day she met me and heard my niece Bentlee calling me that. Lily and I bonded from the start. She finds horse books and saves them to read to me when I come visit. Smart girl! She picked up on my horse love right away. I'm not even sure how. And I started sending her an occasional post card last year, not realizing she was keeping them all. Then one day my sister sent me this picture...
...and told me how delighted Lily was, ecstatic really, every time she got a postcard and the first thing she did when she got one was rush to her room, pull out her map, and with Meagan's help find the state and color it in. Meagan and Chris were using my postcards to help Lily understand the concepts of continent, country, state, and city.

And so I need your help, if your able. There have been several states we've been in where I was not able to get a postcard! But I'd still like to be able to send Lily one from every state. So I was wondering, if you live in or near one of the states listed below, or travel to one this summer, could you send me 2 post cards? Two, because I'm thinking of starting this with someone else, so I might as well go ahead and get 2 cards as we don't travel often in a number of the states on my list. My list of needed states is below and if you are willing and able can you just pickup 2 postcards, stick them in an envelope for me, and mail them to me? I would appreciate it so much and so will Lily!

I need postcards from these states:
New Hampshire
Rhode Island
North Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

I know its a lot of New England states. They don't have as many truck stops and they are so small we hardly ever stop in them when we're going through...which is hardly ever. Any help is appreciated! Wouldn't it be awesome for Lily to have a postcard from every state in our great nation?

If you are able to help out you can email me by way of the button at the top of the sidebar or at whitelinechasers@yahoo.com and I'll respond with my address and a huge "thank you".  Please put something like "postcards for Lily" in the subject of the email so I'll know its not Spam and delete you!

We're loaded up and headed to Idaho, then we have a load of fertilizer to Montana! Back to the home country! (and sadly the cold country as they got more snow this week in places)

April 25, 2011

From Mountain Peak to Mountain Lake

This weekend we had a long leisurely drive down US97 through Oregon's high desert and into the mountains of northern California. It's a drive we enjoy, with several small towns along the way where we can stop and enjoy local restaurants instead of fast food and truck stop food. And its not unusual to find ourselves on this road over weekends when we load in California and can't deliver in Washington till Monday or vice versa.

Memorial Day weekend 2009, we stopped and toured the Logging Museum north of Klamath Falls where we got to see all sorts of antique logging machinery. It was quite impressive how they managed with the tools they had, and also to see the progression and development of logging technology over time, not to mention cuttings  from gigantic trees!
And then one day last May we stopped for an hour or so to take a look at the Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint, which was also well worth the time. Such impressive views over the edge of the river gorge.
So on this Easter weekend we found ourselves once again traveling US97 with time to enjoy. This time we didn't do anything too time consuming, but we did pull off at a point of interest a ways north of Madras, OR. I've wanted to stop there for some time, but its never convenient, or when it is there are other vehicles parked in the only spot we'll fit into, or its too hazy to see anything. But on Saturday morning our parking spot was vacant, in fact we had the whole place to ourselves, and the air was mostly clear so we could see all the mountain peaks, thought they still didn't show up too well in my pictures.
From this hilltop in Oregon, you can see for miles, and I don't know who's responsible for it, the state or a private individual, but  someone has created a mountain peak identifier to help us recognize which mountains we're looking at.

 Its really quite impressive what you can see from here. From Mount Hood which is more prominent, though not the closest...

...to Mount Saint Helens, which is nearly 200 miles away, and barely visible!

After our mountain top experience we drove south through Madras and Redmond and then Bend. Along the way we passed the Painted Desert Farm. I always look close when we drive past. Last summer they had all their new foals in corrals out by the road. This year there was just one out and he was hiding in the shade with Mom.

Last summer their corrals were full of cute white and paint colts. Or at least that's what I thought I was looking at until I looked up their website and found out I was looking at $10,000+ white and painted thoroughbreds! Never heard of such, but there they were! Their horses are so expensive, I think I'd have them under lock and key and not out by the road for display! On their website the cover horse sold for $80,000! Not my style, but they were neat to see. Maybe they'll have more out this summer for viewing. In the mean time, the people down the road had a couple of new little ones out enjoying the Spring day, learning about their world.

Further down the road we had a clearer view of some of the mountain peaks that had been small points on the horizon earlier in the morning. Most prominent, the Three Sisters, lined up and keeping watch over the town of Bend.

We drove down to Chemult, had dinner, and then continued on to a rest area where we planned to stop for the night. This was just north of Weed, CA a few miles from where US97 meets I-5 in California.

This body of water is called Grass Lake. Perhaps that doesn't make sense to you, but to us its completely logical.
You see, in the summer time there is no water visible here. During the summer months this entire valley is a gorgeous grassy mountain meadow.
Perhaps it stays a wetland, but driving past, it just looks like a lush pasture. During the winter its snowy and then spring arrives, and snow melt from Mt Shasta and surrounding areas fills the valley floor with water and thus Grass Lake reappears. A number of species of water fowl and many bald eagles are frequently seen as you drive past. Of course by the time we parked and I got out with my camera, everyone had apparently heard I was coming, because the best I could photograph was a persistent gull...

a pair of red wing black birds...

...and a pair of mallards that hadn't gone into hiding fast enough, though the hen was blending in pretty well.
It was chilly at 40 degrees and a light mist of rain was starting to fall, but even with the cold and the lack of water fowl to enjoy, the scenery and peace of the place was enough for me.

I lingered as long as I wanted, until my fingers were starting to burn with the cold and the rain began to get a little heavier.

After that I retreated to the truck where I snuggled into bed with the girls and a book.

We relaxed through the evening, drove the remaining 300 miles on Sunday and had another relaxing evening while we waited to deliver, which we just finished doing this morning. Now we're off to reload in Stockton and then its "over the hill" to Sparks, NV just east of Reno. A short load that we'll have completed by this evening. This is a load we frequently run just to get us out of this area and closer to something better. I'm guessing we'll load at Winnemucca, NV with Min-Ad, and those loads usually turn out to be pretty good.

April 22, 2011

You Can Blame it on My Sister

Or perhaps thank her for it.

 Three years ago, I was sharing my experiences and pictures from our adventures on the road, but I was using a different media, long tedious emails with photos attached. It was a time consuming job for me, and time consuming on the other end as well, most of the time eaten up by uploading and down loading pictures.  

I don't remember how it started, but my sister started telling me I needed to start a blog, that a blog was the perfect way to share my pictures and stories. Until that point, I hadn't even heard of blogging, had no idea what it was all about.

Being completely intimidated by technology, I put her off. I didn't feel like trying to figure out how to make something on the computer work. I was having to do that far too often with our logging programs and GPS, etc, and it always turned into nerve burning experiences that left me stressed out and in bad moods. So no thank you, Meagan! I did NOT want to get into something else on the computer. I was comfortable where I was at. No challenges please.

But Meagan kept on after me, "you need to start a blog" and so finally, really more to get her off my case and make her happy than any other reason, and fully expecting to not stick with it, one day while Malcolm was working on the truck in a truck stop parking lot, I followed her link to the Blogger website and explored. It turned out a lot easier than I thought, and with a little coaching on my sister's part, Between You, Me and the Fencepost was born on April 6, 2008. That's when I did my first short post.

Even if I didn't have people reading, which is a reward in and of itself, the blog has been a great creative outlet for me. I can't get to my quilting or my candles, or my other crafts, but I can blog. And it also has been a much needed social outlet for me, starting out by keeping me in touch with friends and family, letting them know where we were and what we were doing. But over time, and to my great surprise, "strangers" took interest in my life, "followers" of my blog that have become treasured friends. I don't know where I'd be without my blog and the people it connects me to!

This month was my blog's third birthday. Three years of wonderful blogging! Meagan I thank you SO MUCH from the bottom of my heart for harassing me into starting a blog! Just goes to show, sometimes you shouldn't take no for an answer!

I'd been thinking of restructuring, refocusing a bit and had started this process a few weeks ago, and for my blog's birthday I sent it to the blog spa for some pampering and a make over. A new look for my new focus and dedication.

I want to take the opportunity to thank Angie at Strogirl's Designs for her great work and her patience with this blogger, who despite three years of blogging is still technically challenged and ignorant. Thank you for putting up with all my questions and my many indecisive moments. I love the end result! The new look is a wonderful reflection of me, which is exactly what I wanted. You did an awesome job Angie!

We're still tweaking it here and there, but appearance wise, this is my blogs new look and I love it! You might also notice, if you didn't catch it a few weeks ago, that I tweaked the title too. I liked Between You, Me and the Fencepost, but it didn't really reflect anything about my blog, and it almost started to sound like a gossip column if you gave it too much thought, which this blog is far from being! I wanted to stick with the Fencepost theme, and one night laying awake in bed, I started having all these ideas and the title just came to me, along with the explanation, which you can read below the header.

PS: I've got a button now, a really really cute button, over in the right margin. So if you really like my blog a lot, feel free to "grab my button!" How fun to be able to say that!

April 20, 2011

Visit to a Happy Place

After two nights of running in snow and ice and then an ugly run in with a DOT officer over burdened with ego (and he was MT DOT too which makes me sad), my attitude is a bit on the sour side and the truck is not where I want to be.

Knowing it was time to do another blog post, but knowing if I went into trucking, I'd more than likely leave you all in a bad mood too, I'm taking us all on a little trip to one of my happy places. Sometimes you just have to do that, you know?

We're going to my Mamma's house.

I was flipping through my file of "extra" pictures, things that I intend to blog about but have been holding onto to fill a gap when trucking isn't that interesting. Today fits the bill, so I selected the "mamma's house" file. It made me smile when I was looking at the pictures in it.

During our stay for my sister's wedding, it was not all rush and hurry and wedding plans being put into play. We kicked back and relaxed some too. Malcolm spent a good deal of the spare time with his aunt and uncle and so it was mostly me and Mom, which was really nice! We mostly just relaxed, which we needed. And her home is so relaxing! We started off the morning with a cup of hot chocolate and a cinnamon crunch bagel from Panera Bread that we had picked up the afternoon before while running errands. Yummy!
I love Mom's kitchen. Even on a cloudy rainy day, its bright and cheerful! She and Dad have collected quite an assortment of antique Fiesta dishes and I love the different ways she has them displayed. They are art in her kitchen.

Every time I am at her house I am inspired by something I see. She is so creative and has so many neat ideas. Its almost torture, because I see things and am inspired to go home and decorate my home, while knowing it will be weeks before I can get home to act on my ideas.
This time, the newest and neatest thing I found was in the kitchen window sill. Somewhere she found these neat little antique chicken measuring cups...
I thought they were neat, but do you see the smallest one? Do you see what she did? One of the eggs from her chickens had a perfect sized hole in the top, so she shook out the yolk, rinsed the shell, filled it with water, and stuck a sprig of some gardening delight in it. What a unique and clever "vase!"
The inside of the house is not the only place I find inspiration, peace, and soul mending. A walk through Mom's yard and garden, even on a drizzly day, can be so renewing and healing.
I always make sure to stop in at the greenhouse and see what's going on. Dad built this for Mom using windows from an old house. I have serious green house envy, even though I don't have anything to grow in a green house.
And as expected, even in early Spring, there were surprises and delights to be discovered inside. Such as these test tubes being used for bud vases. I never would have had that idea and look how prettily it worked!

There are all sorts of things that I'll encounter in the garden that make me smile. Like these guys. Mom and I share a love of birds, and her new whirly gig gave me a chuckle.

After months of rain and snow and ice and cold, it was refreshing to walk up to Mom's garden gate and see so much evidence of Springtime growth! April in Tennessee is so vastly different than April in Montana!
Back inside after my walk, and after Ella had her bath (she had gone with me and run through many muddy spots), I relaxed on the couch and visited some with Toby.
If you've ever visited Tuffy's blog, you'll recognize Toby as "the dog" that has invaded Tuffy's household. And if you haven't visited Tuffy's blog, Tuffy is my parent's youngest "child" (he thinks) and he's been severely insulted at their letting a dog in the house! He vents on it frequently.
Toby, for all his oddities and aggressive love, is a good dog, and when I can love on him without insulting the girls, I like to do so.

Another delight of visiting at Mom's is the evenings when my aunt Lisa is able to come over. She shares our passion for reading and so many other things. We have a tradition of playing Scrabble when the three of us are together, but this time they introduced  me to Banana Grams! It was so much fun!
Same concept as Scrabble, but a little different and just as fun! Give it a try sometime. I plan to add it to my meager collection of games so I can play with someone sometime.
I know this post has been kind of random, but after talking about one of my happy places, looking at pictures, and munching on coconut M&M's while we talked, I'm feeling a lot less stressed.

We're loaded up and headed on a short trip to Oregon. Then we'll grab a Washington load to California. We're trying to get set up to grab a few of those high paying California onion loads. They have started harvesting onions in southern California. The harvest is quick but the loads are worth the effort. And at least there's no snow in southern California!

April 16, 2011

The Mission and The Reward

The Mission:
Deliver and reload in eastern Colorado, then drive 1400 miles to Stockton, CA. Deliver and drive 140 miles north to reload. Mission begins at 8:30am on Thursday. You must be at the reload in CA before 2:30pm on Friday.

Not a mission impossible, but definitely a challenge. Very little room for error or delay. We got a great start from Colorado, before we ever got to the place where we were to load!
Thankfully it was short lived and by the time we got to the load, we just had a bit of sleet pinging off the truck roof.

But the wind! Lets just say our fuel mileage hovers around 6 miles per gallon, but with the wind, by the time we got to Cheyenne, WY we were averaging 3.6 mpg. Gusts were 45+ mph and as a result of blowing snow and multiple accidents, Wyoming closed I-80 from Cheyenne to Laramie. We backed into a parking spot at a truck stop, somewhat shell shocked. If we'd been balloons there would have been some audible hissing as we deflated.

It wasn't that the load waiting for us in California was the only load available! Our broker already had some other ideas lined up "just in case." BUT the load we were aiming for was a really good paying load and the backup plan wasn't so great. We really wanted the load that the broker had lined up. So after a few moments of contemplation, a phone call to the broker, and a study of the map, we set off north, quite a ways north, and then turned west, heading off on a self-invented detour over to Laramie.

  It added 82 miles to our trip and took 2 1/2 hours because it was a narrow 2 lane that wound and climbed and dropped, not to mention the construction that required us to wait for and follow a pilot car for a few miles, but when we got over to Laramie, the roads were dry and open.
We were rather put out to discover that during our little excursion, I-80 had been re-opened. But that's the way it goes when traveling in Wyoming. If we had waited, we would have been on interstate the whole way. But they could have just as easily left the road closed till the next day. Its a gamble and you just have to live with whatever you decide to do. Wyoming is very unpredictable at any time of year.

We drove all night, pushing the truck right up to the limit of the speed limit, which makes for bad fuel mileage and hard sleeping conditions. But by the time it was my turn to turn in, apparently I was tired enough. I didn't wake up till Malcolm pulled into the agricultural inspection station at Truckee, CA. And of course they said we didn't have all our paperwork. Another short delay. But it got worked out and after a few minutes of waiting, we were on our way again.

We arrived at our delivery point at the Port of Stockton around 9:00am. Its a neat place, on an old military base. Because of security, I'm wary of taking pictures, so just take my word for it, but maybe I'll get brave one day and be seen with a camera. We like this place because they load and unload quickly...usually. And today they didn't let us down. We had to wait for them to finish loading another truck, and then we pulled into the warehouse and wind rowed our load of millet out onto the floor.

the other piles of grain in the warehouse. The millet was behind me.

Malcolm walking next to a pile gives you a hint at scale.
We were close to being done, but still had to get to our reload. We had 4 hours to go 140 miles, so the stress was off a little. We grabbed a burrito for breakfast from the little place on the corner, and made our way through Sacramento, arriving at the tiny, lost, and mostly abandoned town of Artois, CA. The people at the seed mill were on lunch break so we got to chill out for a few minutes before loading.
An hour later, we were loaded up with sunflower seeds and ready to head back east.
Mission Accomplished!

The Reward:
Should you accomplish the mission, your reward will be a high paying load that is light weight. You'll get good fuel mileage. You'll have 2 1/2 days to go 1800 miles. You'll get to go past the house for an over night stay and laundry time (not fun but needed). In addition there will be another good paying load waiting for you at the other end.

After loading our sunflower seeds, we pulled out onto the mostly abandoned road in the mostly abandoned town and set the brakes. Time for a short breather before heading back out of California.
Malcolm brought my attention to the trees lining the roadway by appearing in my window screaming, with dark red oozing from his hand. I wasn't fooled. First of all, it was too dark red, almost purple, and second he's not the type to over react at an injury. He'd plucked a mysterious berry from a tree, and squeezed it, only to be attacked by it. It squirted all over him, staining his hand purple.
There was a whole line of them along the roadway and if I'm not mistaken, these are olive trees. Can anyone verify or correct me?
I know they do grow olives in this particular part of California, so I'm assuming that's what they are.

Up the road we stopped again, parking in the road, to get a better look at a place we'd noticed on our way in.
Fenced and gate locked, the grove was overgrown and looked to be abandoned, just like the town. I got out to take a closer look and get a few pictures close up.
I've heard that orange blossoms smell good, but my goodness! As I stood beneath the branches of the trees trying to get a good close up picture, the perfume of the oranges was just devine! It wasn't as citrus-y as you might think. It was more super sweet floral with a hint of citrus! It was wonderful! I hid out under the branches a little longer than needed, taking time to get several pictures just so I could enjoy the smell.

And behind all those orange trees, nearly completely obscured from vision, that orange laden sidewalk led to this treasure.
I could see more of it than I was able to catch with the camera lens. It looks fairly well cared for, absolutely adorable, and completely uninhabited. I sincerely hope it has someone who loves it dearly and treats it well.

Malcolm went to bed after we got some dinner, and I got the pleasure of driving through Sacramento traffic on a Friday evening. The "Reno Rush" as I like to call it.  In southern CA they all run to Vegas for the weekend. And in central California if seems they all go to Reno, though it wasn't as bad this trip as I have encountered before. I made it through the typical traffic jam, across the ridiculously pot holed Sierra Nevada mountain highway, and dropped down into Reno just before dusk.

We stopped at midnight and slept for a while. Malcolm commenced driving this morning around 5:00 and at present I am sitting in the truck waiting for him to come back out from the Cabelas store in Billings. He wanted to pick up something the store was holding for him before we go home. Twenty-Eight miles to go!

We'll spend the night at home and finish the trip tomorrow afternoon. The sunflower seeds go to a town southeast of Fargo and we're reloading potatoes clear up on the North Dakota/Canada line. Then its off to Spokane.

The mission was tiring, but the reward pays off. Good rates are always enjoyed, and trips with time to rest and catch up are appreciated by all.
my co-pilots were too worn out to work much today