August 28, 2011

First Week Back on the Road

Just a little over 3600 miles this week. Not really very good, when you consider that we aim for a 4000m/week average, and usually get more than that! Yes, our first week back on the road was a bit of a disappointment, but maybe that was for the best. I guess maybe it was better than leaping back in on the run and wearing ourselves down when we've gotten out of practice.
Monday morning, we left the house around 10:00, and made a short run, hauling a load of canola seed from Regent, ND to Velva, ND. Upon arrival at Velva, we found ourselves in line behind about 30 other trucks, all waiting their turn to deliver. It was several hours before we were out of there.

Unloaded, we headed to Devil's Lake, ND and arrived around midnight. We were out of there by 2:00am with a load of pea starch, an ingredient that they needed at a mill in California where they were making horse feed. I drove out of Devil's Lake and through the early morning hours, which meant I got to enjoy the sunrise, something I often miss, due to the way our favorite driving shifts fall. Tuesday morning dawned chilly and foggy in central North Dakota. It felt and looked like fall.
 We drove through the day, all night, and arrived at our destination south of Sacramento on Wednesday morning around 10:00, where we were told our load wasn't scheduled for delivery till Friday and they
couldn't unload us. It was discouraging to say the least. So we sat there, all day Wednesday, and all night, and Thursday morning we woke up to find another truck had arrived, and wouldn't you know it? They were going to unload him first, because of the appointment schedule. Malcolm called our broker, who is marvelous at his job, and within a short time, we were pulling into the unloading area while the other truck waited. 

A short 30 mile hop down to Stockton, CA to reload fertilizer, and we were headed back out of California, slipping through Sacramento before afternoon traffic really picked up.
this is about as empty as I've ever seen this stretch of I-80
We had an 850 mile run to northeastern ID, with plenty of time to get it done. We stopped in NV to eat and shower and still got to ID a couple hours before they opened Friday morning in Sugar City.

Seemed like the week had salvaged itself a bit after our 24 hour layover in CA, but then it turned out that CA had messed up our chances for a decent weekend load. After a couple hours, the broker called with the best they could come up with from our position, a 450 mile load from Pocatello, ID to Valier, MT. Not good news going into the weekend. That was way too much time for that short of a trip.
But that's the way the cards were dealt this week. So we heaved a few sighs of frustration, loaded our fertilizer in Pocatello, and headed north.
approaching the ID/MT border on I-15
 It was still in the high 90's in Idaho so I just kept going till it had cooled off some.
Just across the border into Montana, we ran through a  little rain storm, which worked like a charm. Got the bugs off the windshield and cooled things off considerably. At one point it dropped down to 61 degrees! There's hardly anything between Idaho Falls and Butte, MT in the way of food with truck parking. So I drove all the way into Butte, finishing off nearly half our trip before the weekend had even gotten here!

The scenery along that empty stretch of I-15 is lovely. Like an introduction to Montana's mountains, the interstate meanders along between the smaller ranges, through ranching valleys, and as you near Butte, the terrain becomes more and more hilly, working you into the larger mountain peaks.
 We spent the night in Butte, and slept in Saturday morning. No point in rushing things. We only had about 250 miles left and two days to get it done. So we settled in for a relaxing weekend.
We headed north towards Helena, about a 70 mile trip from Butte. Once you leave Butte, the mountains close in a bit more. Normally, the mountains are really crisp, but as usual in the summer time, there are a number of fires going on in our state, and things were pretty hazy this weekend with the smoke that's in the air.
 Montana has not been spared the damages caused by pine beetles and other blights. Once the awe of the scenery wears off and you start looking at details, its almost depressing. Most of the hillsides between Butte and Helena look like they are just waiting for the perfect lightning strike. It's no wonder we have fires every summer!
 We stopped in Helena for breakfast at a truck stop we'd not been to before. I'd looked them up in our truck stop book, and glad I did. The cafe there served up a really good meal! We lingered over coffee, killing more time, and then headed north to Great Falls.
 Western Montana is considerably dryer than our eastern region! They obviously haven't had the rains we've been blessed with this summer!
 Just north of Helena, the mountains close in again and become quite rocky. I love all the formations, and patterns, and layers found in the rocks.
 Here, the interstate runs alongside the Missouri River, through the mountain passes...

Closer in towards Great Falls, the mountains start backing off a little....
 ...and pretty soon, they are opening up and your looking at a great expanse of grassland, interrupted only by the occasional butte or stray peak.
 The haziness made it difficult to capture what its like up here, but its really pretty!

We hit the mall in Great Falls, did a little window shopping and actually found a couple things we treated ourselves to. Then we killed some time browsing at the farm supply store, which is always fun and interesting.

And it just so happens that Malcolm's sister and her husband recently moved to Great Falls, so Saturday night we were able to meet up with them for dinner and a visit.
This morning we were pretty much slept out, so we got up and went and had breakfast, and sat around reading magazines over coffee as long as we dared without frustrating the waitress. Then we killed a little more time, went to Walmart for some groceries, had pizza for dinner, and then left Great Falls to finish off the last 80 miles to Valier.

North of Great Falls its a gently rolling terrain, nearly every inch of every acre planted to one kind of grain or another.
I like the mountains, but there is just something about grassland that appeals to me. It's pretty up here, though there is a difference between these grasslands and those at home. I'll always love eastern Montana's prairies most of all!

The mountains are still hovering on the horizon to the southwest of us, and we'll be back in them tomorrow, as we reload and head for Spokane, WA for a Tuesday morning delivery. This was an easy week. Too easy. I guess it was a good way to break us back into trucking, but we're sure hoping we get to run our wheels off in the days to come!

August 25, 2011

Bulls, Broncs and the County Fair

Sad to say, even though I've lived in Montana for almost five years, until this year I had never attended the Fallon County Fair. We just never seemed to manage to be home when it was going on. That is, until this year!

The Fallon County Fair was last week, and though we didn't go every day, we did make sure we had time to go on Sunday, our last day at home before hitting the road again!

Its a small town and so its a small fair, but it was fun just the same. There is just something about fair time! Our first mission upon arrival was to get some food. Indian Tacos is this family's traditional fair food, and so Peggy and I claimed a table...
...while the guys stood in line and waited for the food.

Once we'd filled our empty tummies, we headed over to the displays to see what there was to see, and then over to the barn to check out the animals. There were the usual barn yard friends, waiting patiently for their rides to come take them home, as it was the last day of the fair. There were a number of dairy goats...
...quite a selection of sheep,...
...several hefty hogs...
...and two batches of wee ones. They sure are a lot cuter when they are this size!
Sight seeing completed it was time to head to Sunday's main attraction....the PRCA rodeo!
I love a good rodeo, especially the ones that are outside like this. There is just something special about it in this setting. I had fun with my camera, trying to capture the action. I know I should limit the number of pictures I put up on here, but there were just too many fun ones. So forgive me for getting carried away! I'm going to put you through rodeo overload.
Here's a fun filled run through of our afternoon at the rodeo:

First was some bronc riding -

Then they had the calf roping -

The steer wrestling didn't go so well, so I didn't get any pictures during that event. But then they went back to some more bronc riding and I got carried away.

The next one is my favorite of all my pictures from the day.
 Part of our big reason for coming to the rodeo was to watch family friend, Jesse Bail, ride. Jesse is currently #7 in the saddle bronc riding. I've gotten to watch him ride once before, several years ago at another rodeo.

As Malcolm said when Jesse's ride was over, "he makes it look so easy." And seriously, he does. Its like he's just sittin' on the horse waiting for it to finish doing its thing so he can get off. Since he's in the top 15, he'll be going to National Finals Rodeo in Vegas again this year. I've heard its quite a show. Maybe one day we'll get to go watch him ride there.
And of course he won the day's event!

After the bronc riding, there was a round of barrel racing. This event used to not interest me, but now I think it looks fun. Wish I'd been more aware of things when I was of the age to pursue this type of stuff. I think it would have been fun to compete.

 Besides, you get to wear really cute clothes and one girl had a hat on that I absolutely need for my own head!

And as usual, they saved the bull rides for last. Lots of action and entertainment there!

this is another favorite from the day's events

After the rodeo, we enjoyed ice cream with some friends, then said our goodbyes as we won't be seeing them till we get home for our next break. Then we did another pass through the animal barn, where most of them had managed to hitch a ride home.
By that time it was time to get home ourselves and finish packing the truck for work. But before we left town, we swung into the airport to take some pictures for Malcolm's dad.
After years of talking about flying, he started taking the steps towards making that dream come true. Several months ago he bought himself this amazingly beautiful aircraft. I'm looking forward to a ride in it one day in the near future!
Maybe I'll even learn to fly it myself! Why not?
If I can learn to be comfortable driving this rig, surely I can learn to fly a plane!

We left Monday morning on a short trip in North Dakota. Then we reloaded Monday night in Devil's Lake, ND and drove straight through to Elk Grove, CA, arriving yesterday morning. Unfortunately there were some complications with our load, but 24 hours later, we are finally unloaded and reloaded and on our way to Idaho for a morning delivery. And so, we're back on the road. Let the adventures begin! (as long as they are the good, fun type of adventures!)

August 19, 2011

Beautified in Bismarck and Other News

Bright and early Tuesday morning, my mother-in-law, Peggy, and I set out on a little road trip to Bismarck, ND to visit Malcolm's sister, Justine.

About half way there, we stopped in Dickinson at the bridal shop to check on something, and then treated ourselves to a little mid-morning coffee break at a cute little place I spotted as we were driving through town.
On the road again, and almost to Bismarck, we started driving past fields of sunflowers. They were lovely and bright and cheerful!

And then we were in Bismarck! First stop was Justine's apartment to pick her up. I adore what she did with her walls (sponged them black over white and white over black) but I forgot to carry in my camera, so just use your imagination. They looked great!
From there we made our first stop, which was the hair stylist supply store. Had to pick up a few things, and while we were there, I spotted a bottle of shampoo that Malcolm and his Dad had gotten around Christmas time and they both loved it and used it all up quickly. So I thought I'd get Malcolm another bottle, and since his dad liked it also, Peggy decided to make sure neither of them ran out of shampoo for quite a while!
After that, it was off to the salon where Justine is working. It was her off day, but she's allowed to use the facilities on her own time to work on family. How convenient is that? Peggy went first. She's been a hot blond this summer, but it was time to move on to an autumn look for her.
And while her color was setting up, Justine and I discussed what we'd do with me hair. Thanks to trucking and my stinginess with home time, my poor head hadn't been touched since my marvelous Billings stylist last did it in FEBRUARY!  Not even a TRIM!
I was ready for something fun, different, and drastic...
Let me tell you what, its quite a drive over to Bismarck, about 4 hours there and another 4 to get back home. But it is worth it for the fun we have while we're there. And it is marvelous to have a very talented stylist in the family! Didn't she do a fantastic job? I look forward to being beautified in Bismarck more often!

All dolled up, we were ready for a day on the town. We went to a few stores and shopped and laughed and even enjoyed the necessary errands that had to be run.
Shopping with the girls is just the right way to spend a day once in a while! I've missed my shopping trips with my own mom and sister. It's so nice that I can have the same great experience with precious women in Malcolm's side of the family! I am so blessed to have so many marvelous women in my life

What a fun day! I made several small purchases, including some cosmetics, a really cool shirt, and my favorite of all, that I just love and love more every time I see it, and want to carry it around just for the sake of having it with me because I love it that much.....
After dinner with Justine and her fiance, we said goodbye to Bismarck and headed back home.

In other news this week:

Some really great stuff has been going on around here!

We're finished haying! Hooray!!!

Well they decided to cut a little of a second cutting here at the house, but not much. So I say haying is done!

Sky has been making the most of his break...
...since I've been paying a little more attention to his baby sister lately.

Have I told you yet that she finally has a name? I had my niece help me pick it out. Thanks, Lily, for the help!
" Little Bit" now goes by the name of Caddys Unique Gem. We just call her Gemma. On Monday, Gemma finally took notice of that black bucket her mama loves so dearly. Now if only her neck would catch up with her legs, she'd be all set!

And there's a new friend in the pasture! Last night, we brought home Malcolm's new buddy. Malcolm has not yet officially tagged him with a name, but whatever it is, I'm sure it will be fitting. I like roans a lot, and this guy is a very handsome one! No white markings other than a small star on his face.
He is a three year old grade gelding who was reported to not have been halter broke or anything. I have to say, for a wild pony, he sure was cooperative. He wasn't big on the idea, but Malcolm had convinced him to halter and was leading him around within about 10 minutes! He's either the most cooperative horse I've ever met, or someone had fooled around with him before. The two of them took a little stroll to get acquainted this morning, and then we turned him loose in the corral where he can settle in before meeting his new pasture mates. I love this picture!

We're hitting the road on Monday morning. Looks like we'll be going up near Minot, ND and then reloading somewhere out there and heading to Stockton, CA! But we still have two and a half days at home and we plan to make the most of it. We'll relax some, work on the truck some, maybe spend some time at the Fallon County Fair which is going on this weekend, and I'll definitely be spending some precious stolen moments with my horses. I probably won't be seeing them again till November, unless we are able to sneak home on a trip going past. I probably won't even recognize my little Gemma next time I see her. She's growing so fast!

PS: If your often needing a good book to read, you should bookmark my aunt's blog, A Reader Writes. She is an avid reader, and is blogging about the books she reads. I've already found several books to add to my reading list through her reviews! Its a great resource for all us bookworms!