Friday, November 21, 2014

Flashback Friday

I don't really have a Flashback Friday category, but I came across this picture today and I thought I'd share it since we haven't seen this truck in a looooong time.  It's Friday and I'm flashing back!

This was the first truck Ed ever purchased on his own to become an owner-operator.  This is the truck I learned to drive in back in 2006 when I got my CDL.  And this is the truck that took us all over the United States and Canada, up to Alaska and over to Newfoundland.  In my first year in this truck, I went to 49 states.  It was the most incredible travel I'd ever experienced up to that point in my life.

Ed put 1,300,000 miles on this truck.  It ran like a charm and we traveled like gypsies in it, with stuff crammed into every nook and cranny of the sleeper.  And although we have a 132" sleeper now, I still loved every minute we had in this one.




~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: The Best Kind Of Mob

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Delivering In The District

We had a load this week that took us a mile from the White House - elevator parts going to a building on K Street.  You can see where we were, the blue dot is us.  To the west, New York Avenue takes you straight to the White House and to the east, Massachusetts Avenue takes you toward the State Capitol.

It was extremely cold during the unload, but that wasn't the worst of it.  The worst was the traffic.  It took us two and a half hours to drive 79 miles from the location we shut down the night before. We had to be on site at 7:00 am.  Who orders an 18-wheeler into downtown Washington, DC in the middle of morning rush hour??

Neither one of us mind driving in traffic, meaning we don't avoid cities like some other drivers do.  There are many drivers who say "No Northeast" because they don't like to deal with the crush of people and cars and trucks and taxis and whatever else that might be in their way.  I grew up in New York, cut my teeth on tri-state traffic, drove to the Jersey Shore for the beach, Manhattan for nights out, and even drove to a concert in Connecticut once in the middle of a snowstorm.  Ed doesn't love traffic, he'd rather wait it out.  I like to people watch from high on my big rig perch.

We unloaded in the street, a practice that requires us to call our safety department in advance so we don't violate the policy they have in place typically forbidding that kind of action.  Since it was a job-site with no other option, by alerting them in advance, in addition to putting out triangles and turning on four-way flashers, we minimize some of the risk of being involved in an "incident".  The street we were on was permitted as a construction unloading zone and it wasn't very busy, so we got in and out with no problem.  

Next we're heading North.  Maybe we'll run into some of that beautiful white stuff.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Loving What's On The Inside
2012: When You Walk Like That, Talk Like That, Look Like That...
2011: Like And Loathing In Las Vegas
2010: Get Fresh With Me…Please!
2009: In The Blink Of An Eye
2008: Duck, Duck, Drake
2007: The Lady And Sons
2006: The Department Of Mindless Vegetables
2005: Ooo Rah Johnny Cash!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

BuffaSNOW

If you haven't heard about the snow in Buffalo, New York, you must live under a rock.  In the dessert.  Where there's only sand and sun.  Because this is amazing.

These are pictures from my friend Gary.  He was stuck all day yesterday, overnight, and into today just south of Buffalo.  In the lane of traffic.  Everything was closed down so although he could have moved - he's got the awesome Onspot Automatic Tire Chains - he said there was no point since he couldn't go anywhere.  
He was the lead truck, sitting first in line at the stoplight.  He said he had a good view of everything happening in the intersection.  There was an "upscale" Sunoco gas station about fifty feet away where he said about twenty people were hanging out, some of them sleeping on the floor.
The snow was epic.  This was Buffalo's first snowstorm of the season and it's already dropped 5 feet of snow and they're expecting another 3 feet.  That's more than they usually get all year.  It was quick and unrelenting.  The snow removal services couldn't keep up.

Of course, I'm the only one I know who wants to be there.  I love snow.  I love record-breaking snow.  And I kinda love the idea of being stranded.  Gary understood.  He texted me saying, "It's so whacked here it's kinda fun, you know what I mean?"  I said, "I totally know what you mean."  "I knew you'd understand." he said.  And I do.  


Of course, Gary has a big sleeper truck.  Not as big as ours, but bigger than standard truck sleepers.  And he had full fuel tanks, which is his winter plan - always be full of fuel and food.  He had food in the truck and they were sitting around watching TV while others were in their cars, presumably cursing the fact that they decided to go out in the snow.  Even other big trucks have it better off  than a regular passenger car.  Even with full fuel tanks in a standard sleeper truck, you can idle continuously for days.  

Buffalo is expecting more snow in the next few days.  Unfortunately we'll be in the Carolinas.  But I told Ed I'm ready to go snow tubing again, because it really was totally like Sochi.

I need to go buy a winter coat first.  And maybe boots.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: The White Dove Of The Desert

2012: A Beautiful Listen
2011: The Music Of The Night
2010: There’s No Better Place On Earth
2009: Getting Tanked In Al-Nahar
2008: Bracing For A World Of Mouse Ears
2007: At Least He’s Up Front About It
2006: Aten HUT!!
2005: Be The Player

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Whole Big Lot Of Love

Graphic from Google Images
My mother called me from the car yesterday.  She was on her way to Big Lots to look an area rug she had seen online.  She called the local store first to find out if they had a rug she saw online, in stock at the store.

She said she gave the nice kid on the phone all the information he asked for - SKU number, price, description.  He told her to hold while he went to go look.


When he got back on the phone he apologized for taking so long, said he had to look through the entire rug aisle.

"No problem." my mother said.  "I appreciate you taking the time to look."

"No problem, really.  I also looked at the inventory on the computer and that particular rug is not on display at our store but we have many others in that size." he said.

"Okay," she said.  "I'll probably take a ride up there later today.  You have a really good evening and once again, thank you very much."

"Oh, no prob." he said.  "You have a good night too.  Love ya!"


And with that, he hung up the phone.

We could not stop laughing.  She said the kid was probably mortified when he hung up the phone but my mother said he was so nice and personable she felt like she was talking to me or my brother.

I've been on the verge of doing this very thing when talking to non-family members

I'm sure that kid is hoping she never comes in for that rug.




~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: When A Pig Wraps Himself Around A Chicken Deliciousness Ensues

2012: Let The Stockpiling Begin
2011: From The Island To The Desert
2010: The Town I Was Dying To See
2009: Gleaming Curve
2008: Color Me Casual
2007: Eddie Goes Running Friday
2006: Forever Yours
2005: Home Away From Home

Thursday, November 13, 2014

One Last Fling

We were sitting in the parking lot of the Petro truck stop in Bordentown, New Jersey, when I decided to walk over to the trees at the edge of the lot to see if I could find some leaves to photograph.  I've been taking pictures these last few weeks while enjoying the change of colors in the Northeast and haven't really gotten exactly what I wanted.

Today I was trying to find leaves without blemishes.  I was unsuccessful.  Then again, only I would try to find a perfect leaf.  There were a lot of reds, a few golden-colored trees, and several that were still green.  I figured the leaf quality was either due to some sort of blight, or because the trees were so close to hundreds of trucks idling day after day.  That can't be good for a leaf's little lungs.

I often wonder about the pollution thing, specifically because it seems like the trees that line the interstate, where they'd get the most exposure to exhaust, change before the other trees in their groupings, the ones behind them.  I'm sure there's something to that.

Changing leaf color is a scientific thing, but it still seems mysterious to me.  I know it happens, I just don't know when.  And by when I don't mean the season in which it happens, I mean the moment in which it happens.

Have you ever noticed the trees in your yard, or neighborhood, or on the ride to work?  How one day, all of a sudden, boom! they're scarlet and muted gold, burgundy and bright yellow, hunter green and bright, bright tangerine.  The orange shades are my favorite fall colors by far.

I know there are all kinds of time lapse photography out there depicting the changing of the leaf colors, but I'm talking about looking at a leaf.  Just one.  I wonder when it goes from green to whatever color it becomes when it falls to the ground.  Did it gradually turn color like graying hair does, or did it just get all red overnight like when you were a kid and woke up with chicken pox?  I would love to track the change of a leaf - I never have, can't from the truck, and probably never will.  But I want to.

But since it's unlikely I'll do any of that, I guess I will just enjoy the colors like I always do.  I'll mourn the days when the trees look a little emptier, and not because winter is coming because I love winter, but because the amount of time the trees are ablaze with color is just never long enough.

It truly is a fling.  One of the good ones.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013:  I Drive With A Soundtrack

2012: Who Doesn’t Love A Sunset?
2011: Personally Yours. But Not Mine.
2010: Sheltered Madonna And Child
2009: Breaking A Leg Doesn’t Always Mean Good Luck
2008: Showing Its True Colors, Even On The Cloudiest Day
2007: Priorities
2006: It’s All In The Cards
2005: A Blond Moment

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Kind Of Weather

I've got nothing going on today so I thought I'd post this photo I found online.

I see it not so much as saying snow, but more as saying sNOW.


The white stuff can't get here soon enough for me.  

We've been out of the snow zone so far, but I'm hoping we get through some of it soon.

I can only say that I'm happy to see the temperatures finally dropping below sixty.

My kind of weather is finally on its way.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Pick A Plate And Go

2012: Just In Case You Were Wonderin'
2011:
Life Is For Living
2010: These Sure Would Look Snazzy On The Feet Of A Trucker
2009: There’s No Whey In The Way Of This Delicious Treat
2008: O Canada!
2007: Ladies Night (And Day) Our
2006: The Queen Is Bleak
2005: Literacy In The South

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Freebie Time!

For several years now, we've been taking advantage of the deals and discounts offered to Ed for his service in the United States Marine Corp.

There are lots of restaurants on the list that we enjoy going to and on Veterans Day we try to hit whichever ones we can depending on the area we're in.


This year they've even added a truck stop - the Petro Stopping Centers - to the list.  I'm not sure we'll be dining there, but it's good to know other truckers, many who are veterans, can get a free meal if they're so inclined.  

Click HERE to see the complete list of businesses offering deals for our country's veterans.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Reaping The Harvest

2012: It Doesn't Take Much To Keep A Marine Happy
2011:
It’s Not Just Time On A Digital Clock Display Anymore
2010: Roman Glow
2009: Let There Be A Lesson In The Words Of Mark Twin, Who Seems To Have A Handle On Who Is The Real Patrio
2008: Sometimes The Nights Just Fly By
2007: Who Thought Putting These Two Words Together Was A Good Idea?
2006: We Would All Go Down Together
2005: Missing Me?

Monday, November 10, 2014

I Can't Even Explain

I'm a huge fan of Hugh MacLeod and his drawings.  I can't seem to form words to fully explain my frustration this week with people I have to interact with in order to do my job.  So I'm just going to let his cartoons speak for me.











~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Same Love

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Three Hours Of Mumbling McConaughey

I'm not really sure what the purpose of having a Delaware State Trooper posted in the lobby of the movie theater was - so bored with the non-activity, that he spent quite a bit of time texting - but I did feel safe for the three hours I was in the theater watching Interstellar.  



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Pulling The Curtain Back

2012: A Great Way To End The Week
2011: Squirreled Away In Olean
2010: Home Sweet Home
2009: You Build It, We’ll Haul It
2008: The Canadian MJ II
2007: Eddie In The Half Moon Hall Friday
2006: The Italian Death March
2005: How You Doin’?

Saturday, November 08, 2014

NASA Really Does Have All The Answers

Photograph by Christina Holmes
You don't need to get married to make this amazing chicken.  

Marilyn Monroe's Naked Dress is my favorite.

I had a spoon ring when I was younger, but I always wanted to make one.  Maybe now I can tackle that crafty dream.  


My two favorites are whinging and chuffed.  I have to figure out how I can work them into my daily conversations.  

I think I'm going to try the luxury house sitting thing.

Carrie Underwood did a great job hosting the recent CMA Awards.  I remember buying her first album and listening to it every day on my way to trucking school.  I love her stuff.  This is her newest.  


Two movies I must see:  20 Feet from Stardom and The Sapphires.  

You don't always have to go through major airline hubs.  Or popular airports.  I learned this when I worked at American Airlines.  Now you can check out the shortcuts here.


And finally, the answer to one of life's more important questions.  



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Steak With A Side Of History

2012: 300 Ways To Roll Vintage Style 
2011:
I Have A Crush On A Boy-d
2010: Accentuate The Positive
2009: How The Train Derails
2008: Good Thing He Didn’t PAINT This On His Truck
2007: Red Snap
2006: Convexly Jackson
2005: Marriage Criterion

Friday, November 07, 2014

Before All The Leaves Fall

The last of the Fall colors are holding fast in Dover, Delaware.  The wind was so fierce today I thought these trees would be bare by the time the mini-storm was over.

The morning started out sunny, then rain came through riding on such a cold snap that it suddenly turned to sleet.  Ed announced, "I think it's snowing!"  More rain.  More wind.

And then it cleared up.

I love Fall.




~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013:  No Snow On The Horizon
2012: Moving Forward 
2011: Also Untouchable Because He’s Covered In Black Gold
2010: The Ride (And Thrill) Of A Lifetime
2009: Shot From A Safe Distance
2008: Eddie And The Moose Friday
2007: How Many Times Do You Have To Burn Your Hand Before You Stop Touching The Hot Stove?
2006: Just When You Thought There Wasn’t Another Ounce Of Fun To Be Had Or Another Drop Of Information To Be Remembered, It Doubles And Triples
2005: This Is What Fall Looks Like

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

I Led The Turtle Convoy

We just finished a team run that involved us and two other trucks.  A mini-convoy of sorts.  I hated it.

It wasn't a long run, only 900 miles, but running with two other teams means we have to coordinate load checks, breaks and any necessary stops because all three trucks must stay together.  It also meant we had to run with the CB on, which I despise.  When I drive at night I want to talk on the phone, enjoy the silence, or listen to my podcasts.  I don't like the serene environment of my cab to be broken by radio squawk.  

The worst part of it all is having to coordinate driving speed.  The last two times we did this, the other trucks agreed to our 58 mile-per-hour turtle-esque driving speed, but on this run the other team wanted to drive 67 miles-per-hour.  Sixty-seven!!

We compromised at 62, but that's still a bit too fast for my liking so I mostly stayed around 60.  In the last hour before delivery one of the other drivers was worried that we wouldn't make our appointment time and wanted to "step it up" to 65.  Yeah, because wasting fuel and driving faster in morning traffic to get there eleven minutes sooner is a good idea.

I mumbled some version of "yeah, sure" over the CB but didn't increase my speed.  My comfort level and safety are more important than some appointment time the receiver never adheres to anyway.  We wound up getting there exactly as Ed and I anticipated we would and surprise!, made the appointment time.

Which again proves Ed's oft-repeated mantra:  Slow and steady wins the race.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Where You Could Once Find A Bunch Of Damned Texans

2012: The Only Kind Of Pasty Ed Is Going To Get Me To Consider
2011: What Would You Think If You Saw A Grown Woman Climbing Out Of A Big Rig Wearing Pajamas?
2010: The Machines Might Be Old But The Smokers Start Young
2009: Don’t Take It For Granite
2008: Yes We Did!!
2007: Green Acres Is The Place To Be, Solar Living Is The Life For Me
2006: Hail To Our Beautiful Maine Coon Mascot
2005: Weekend In Nature

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Gearhead Paradise

We stopped at the Summit Racing Equipment headquarters in Tallmadge, Ohio to check out their enormous selection of car, truck, and even some motorcycle products.  If you're into car "stuff", this is the place for you.  The store is huge and the availability of products through their catalog and website is even greater.

Even I found something to buy.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Even When It's Cloudy, Ed Is Happy

2012: The Yoopers Little Piece Of Heaven
2011: From Pot Roast At The Buckhorn To Gambling With An Inky Malbec
2010: Nestled In The Fertile Plain
2009: I Think I’m Kinda Lichen This Moss
2008: Holding My Breath
2007: Ahhhh…..Ahhhhh…..Aw Shit!
2006: Contemplating Flight
2005: Eddie Blurred By NyQuil Friday

Monday, November 03, 2014

Operating Empty In The Scenic South

We delivered in South Carolina on Thursday.  We sat around Friday recuperating from our back to back team runs and on Saturday, while surfing the net, we found a house for sale that we liked and wanted to look at.  It was in Nashville.  It had only been on the market for two days and met almost all of our "must haves".  Houses like this have come and gone in the blink of an eye and we knew if we didn't at least see it, we'd kick ourselves.  The realtor agreed to meet us on Sunday.

So we drove up to Nashville.  A nine-hour, 520-mile deadhead.

For those of you who don't know, deadheading is when you drive empty, with no load, from one place to another.  Sometimes a deadhead is part of your next load.  For instance, maybe you deliver in Newark, New Jersey and then pick up your next load in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which then delivers in Seattle, Washington.  The six hours from Newark to Pittsburgh would be your deadhead.  Because you're using fuel that you have to pay for to go get that load, you'll want to make sure the rate you get for the load covers the cost of that fuel.  


Typically, we don't deadhead more than two hours but there are situations where the load pays so insanely well, we'll do a four or six or eight hour deadhead to go get it.  A few times we've deadheaded eleven hours.  It's rare, but it happens.  I personally hate to do it because even though it pays, we have to do the actual driving to get it which just feels like another work day to me in a way that picking up a regular load doesn't.  I can't explain my reasoning and Ed hates when I comment about the distance we drive to get another load, but thankfully (for him) it doesn't happen very often.

We have, on occasion, deadheaded for personal reasons.  And when we do that, we pay the fuel out of our pocket since there is no load to cover the cost.  That's what we did this weekend.  The cost fluctuates depending on the fuel prices at the time, and right now it costs us about $0.45 per mile to drive somewhere empty.  So the deadhead from South Carolina to Nashville this weekend set us back about $234.00.  


When we were done house-hunting and visiting with my best friend and her family, we still had to deadhead from Nashville to Alabama to pick up our next load.  That was another six hours, covering approximately 340 miles, and adding an additional $153.00 to our cost.  Part of these two costs will be covered by what the load pays, and the rest we'll try to make up somewhere else down the line.  But if we don't, we don't.  That's trucking.  

We have two record-breaking deadheads.

The first happened when we took a load to Alaska back in 2005.  We picked up in Marietta, Oklahoma and delivered to Fort Richardson, Alaska - which is essentially Anchorage - a trip of over four thousand miles.  The money to make the trip included not only enough to turn a profit (duh, the whole point of being in business), but also enough to cover the 2,452 mile deadhead to Tacoma, Washington to pick up our next load.  If we had to pay the fuel for that 2,400 mile deadhead at the same rate as today, it would have cost us more than $1,100.00.  Likely more because the fuel in Canada is much higher than what we pay here and they sell it by the liter, not the gallon.  Don't even make me do that math, I have enough trouble remembering how many liters (almost four?) to a gallon.  This is a situation where it really matters that what you're getting paid for the load covers the cost of your deadhead.  Even more so because there is almost never freight out of Alaska.

Our second longest deadhead - where we did have to pay for the fuel out of our own pocket - came when we made the decision to make the trip from our home in Arizona to Florida, where the company we're leased to was holding the annual driver appreciation event.  We didn't have a load, we didn't want to fly, we thought it would be best to have our truck with us so we could go right back to work when it was over, and we really wanted to meet up with our friends who were also attending.  Because the event took place on a specific date, we couldn't sit around waiting for just the right freight to come our way, so we just decided to hit the road and foot the bill.  The trip was 1,950 miles, so about $900.00 in fuel.  We felt it was well worth it.


When we're on the road our truck is our personal vehicle.  We use it to go grocery shopping, to the mall, to the movies, out to dinner, to go do laundry, etc.  If we find ourselves in one location for an extended period of time we will rent a car if we know we'll be doing a lot of driving or if we know we have to travel in locations that aren't truck friendly.  But for the everyday errands, it's all done by truck, and the fuel cost isn't covered by anyone but us.  

And because Ed is a stickler for doing things by the book when he's behind the wheel, even when we're not under a load we still log our miles as if we were.  Because there are two of us we really never have to worry about running out of time and we don't have an EOBR (yet) so we don't have to worry about staying within what they're calling "personal conveyance" time.  Which, by the way, is total bullshit.  I'd like to see the people who made these rules try to get ALL of their errands done within the very narrow slice of time they allot.

The bottom line is, deadhead is often unavoidable.  But it's also necessary if you want to continue to run a successful trucking operation.  If you're good with figuring your expenses and watching your numbers (that's all Ed, I have nothing to do with 'rithmatic), you will have the extra cash to use for those times when, on a whim, you drive nine hours to go look at a house that's for sale.

We're on our way to the Northeast now and don't plan on any epic deadheads in the near future.

I need to spend more time soaking in the Fall colors before the big snow hits.  It's coming, y'all.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: The Sun Shines For All Cyclists

2012: Lured Into A Tourist Trap
2011: Dining At The Buckhorn
2010: Ancient Details
2009: Framed By Fake Fall
2008: Let’s Hope This Five Year Old Is As Accurate With His Predictions As He Is With His Aim For The Toilet
2007: Belated Greetings From The Great Pumpkin Pile
2006: Working Man
2005: Black And White

Sunday, November 02, 2014

A Bun Of Spun Gold

While in Nashville, my best friend's daughter Mina was stuck to my side like glue.  And just like when she was five years old, she insisted I "do something" with her hair.

So I did.


She's been one of my greatest sources of joy over the years.  This girl has the "it" factor.

And she doesn't even know it yet.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: City Tour
2012: Capturing The Soul Of The Midwest  
2011:
Ed Weighs In
2010: You’ve Got Mail!
2009: Bigger Than Leif
2008: Newfies, Here We Come!
2007: Big Teeth And Dancing Just Don’t Mix
2006: Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay
2005: Nuts

Saturday, November 01, 2014

November In North Carolina

First day of November and we get stuck in a two hour backup on Interstate 40 in North Carolina.

Because of SNOW.  What the hell?

When we left South Carolina Sunday morning, the weather was a little drizzly.  Saturday had been sunny and warm, but overnight it turned.  We hadn't been watching TV, read no news online and had no idea what was going on so as we made our way up Interstate 26, we encountered rain and dropping temperatures.

Then I saw a few patches of snow, just south of Asheville.  Snow?  Already?

I love snow.  Any amount, any time.  But I was surprised to see it this early.

In this area, just south of the Tennessee state line, the road winds through the Pisgah National Forest.  It's a beautiful stretch of road that snakes through the mountains.  Trucks are relegated to the right lane which we're constantly reminded of by the "No Trucks In Left Lane" markings painted on the road, every few miles, throughout this entire stretch of highway.  Everything was moving along nicely, until we encountered a stopped line of trucks in front of us.

Cars whizzed past in the left lane - fools that they are, driving too fast for the conditions - but we just sat there.  When we did move, it was at a pace of three to five miles an hour.  For two hours.  You'd have thought they were experiencing epic snowfall, but that wasn't the case.

I've seen less snow in a snow globe.  



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Another Visitor Preying On Us

2012: Escaping The Southwest
2011:
There Can Only Be One
2010: The Doors. Italian Style.
2009: Please Leaf My Pinecone Alone
2008: A Call To Arms
2007: Where Defacing Rocks Are A Work Of Art
2006: One Idiot At A Time
2005: Find Your Spot