Monday, December 31, 2012

Wrapping Up A Year Of Making My Own Sunshine

As I've done for the last several years, I'm wrapping up 2012 with a year-end meme.  Here we go...

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

Shot footage for a "sizzle reel" for a possible TV show. Visited the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Appeared as a guest on a radio show.  Had six months off work (planned and unplanned time).  Saw a naked man driving on the interstate. Caught vandals in the act.  Went to our family reunion without one of the most treasured family members. And the biggest thing I did that has never been done before?  I bought my mother a car.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Well, I didn’t learn Italian or exercise, but I did eat less fast food and more fruit, which allowed me to lose 25 pounds, so I guess that's a good thing.  I haven’t decided on any resolutions for 2013 yet. Oddly, I’m really not a resolution making type of girl, but I do them because it seems  to be what people do.  Maybe I’ll come up with a few good ones.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not that I'm aware of.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Well, not someone close to me, but the father of a very good friend died on December 21st. I am deeply saddened by this news.

5. What countries did you visit?
None this year. So sad.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
I think I’m ready to buy a house in Nashville.  I have my fingers crossed and will continue to look, but I won't hold my breath for it to actually happen this year. I’d really like to go to Europe again – Northern Italy, Switzerland and Austria are on my list. And I’d also like to do a European River Cruise.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
February 11, 2012: The real day the music died. We lost Whitney Houston.  I was in Los Angeles the day it happened, thirty miles away from the hotel room where she was found.  It was both shocking and expected, but still sad.

December 14, 2012: The Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. The killings of 26 people in Newtown, CT - 20 children ages 6 and 7, and 6 teachers and administrators – will forever stick in my mind. I can’t even think about it without crying.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Probably losing those 25 pounds. It's so freakin' hard, you know. I went back and forth with three pounds and thought I was going to pull my hair out - gain, lose, gain, lose. For weeks I was at a standstill. It’s a never-ending battle, but I have more to go so I will continue trying.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not getting material together for a project Ed and I are working on. I’ve been talking about it, taken notes here and there, done some organizing, consulted other people, etc., but I didn’t put enough time into it and didn’t make anywhere near the progress I wanted to.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No illnesses, no injuries. I'm lucky like that.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I never really buy anything significant for myself - I buy makeup here and there, purses, shoes, etc. - Ed usually buys me the good stuff. This year he bought me an iPad (which I LOVE!), my Rosetta Stone Italian software (which I have yet to use), and a new camera.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
I would have to say I'm pretty impressed with my mother and how she's handled the year after my step-father's death.  She spent 31 years with a person who one day was just gone.  She's been fairly strong on the outside, but also let some of her sadness show so that those of us closest to her were able to reach out and let her know that we're here, we remember Frank, and we'll keep him alive in memories.  She surrounded herself with people who are also dealing with loss, and in doing that I think she's gained a little more footing and was able to have days that weren't so horrible.  I admire her strength and think she should be celebrated for handling such a terrible life event with grace and courage.   

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The Republicans of Rape - Todd Akin from Missouri and Richard Mourdock from Indiana.  Thankfully, both of them were “legitimately shut down”.  I have no tolerance for people who support them or think like they do.

14. Where did most of your money go?
After maxing out the contribution to my IRA, the things I spent the most money on were songs from iTunes, books from, stuff from Amazon (I LOVE Amazon), Dunkin' Donuts, Las Vegas (gambling losses), and magazines.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I don’t get really excited about anything, so this question is really hard to answer, but I guess the thing I get most excited about is spending time with my best friend, and this year we got to do it a few times. Not nearly enough time, but a few more than normal.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
I can never pick just one song, but these all remind me of this year.  I Look To You by Whitney Houston, New York by Snow Patrol, Ho Hey by The Lumineers, and Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?
I think I’m the same on the happy/sad scale, I’m definitely a little thinner, and because we had six months off this year, if we were to run the numbers, I’d say I’m probably a little poorer. And I only say that because on paper, that’s probably the case, but in reality, I don’t feel one bit poorer than I did last year. Ed’s answer would probably be a little different on this one. LOL

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Write, watch movies, and practice my Rosetta Stone Italian.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Making small talk with people I don’t like.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
On the road, under a Hellfire and Brimstone hazmat load – transporting some of the most dangerous chemicals we’ve ever hauled - from Pennsylvania to California to Oregon and back. It was THE WORST Christmas we've ever had.  The only thing that saved it, was the fact that I got to see some snow. Otherwise, it sucked all around.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?
I haven't fallen in love with any people this year, but I am in love with stuff.  This year, it's my iPad, mascarpone cheese, Greek yogurt (Fage brand only), and country music (again) because of my new favorite TV show, Nashville.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
My favorites are Glee, Grey's Anatomy and Project Runway. I also love Chopped and David Rocco's Dolce Vita. I’ve realized I can no longer say, “I never watch TV." because although I generally stood by that because I don’t sit in front of it wasting away the hours.  I usually just watch a few shows a week, “my shows”, and that's it. But now I have so many shows, on so many nights, that I find I'm always watching something. I’m adding these three to my CANNOT MISS list: Nashville, Smash and Scandal.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Yep - two new people. There's been a growing dislike of these people over the years, but it's recently blossomed into a full-on can't stand. 

24. What was the best book you read?
This is another category I can’t list just one answer for, so here are a few of my favorites from this year:
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Winter Journey by Diane Armstrong
Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Nicholas David Mrozinski from The Voice.  I absolutely LOVE his sound and his style.

26. What did you want and get?
An iPad, and a second term for my President.

27. What did you want and not get?
A snowy cabin vacation.
28. What was your favorite film of this year?
By far, my favorite was Pitch Perfect. It took my love of all things musical and laced it with a whole bunch of comedy. I laughed and smiled through the entire thing.  I also loved I Am Love (Io Sono l’Amore) starring Tilda Swinton - it is just as the critics describe it; sumptuous viewing, mesmerizing, gorgeous, ravishing, undeniably sensuous, emotional, deep, rich, and human. It’s definitely not a movie for everyone, but I was transfixed.  And although this is not a film, this little video that my mother’s friend took, never fails to bring a smile to my face.  I also wind up singing the song for the rest of the day.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 45 this year and spent it at home in Tucson. Oddly, I can’t remember what I did, but I’m sure it involved dinner with the family. Hmmm. That’s disturbing. Can I be losing my mind already? I do remember getting these – they were a gift from a reader and cyber-friend and arrived a few days before my birthday. She made them. Aren’t they fabulous??

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Well, not having to listen to Ed talk about money and investments would be a good start. The subject makes me want to poke my eyes out.  Other than that, I think I would have liked to have made something - and by that I mean, something crafty. A knitted item, something hand sewn, a craft of some sort. I did make these for my best friend and I absolutely LOVED every minute of doing it – and I did it in the truck! So I guess I wish I had more moments like that. Being on the road doesn’t allow for me to have as many crafting/handmade opportunities as when I’m at the house.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
This question always cracks me up because I don’t really have a “personal fashion concept”.  I did discover a yoga pant with a slightly flared leg that I really like – I’ve been wearing the hell out of the one pair I have – and I did buy a bunch of new tops, but I pretty much stick with the same capri pant/flip-flop look throughout the summer, and just add jeans and closed-toe shoes in the winter. At least I haven’t fallen prey to the hideous trucker eagle/wolf/Indian spirits t-shirts.

32. What kept you sane?
All of my entertainment outlets (podcasts/movies/music/TV/books), talking to my best friend, on-the-road visits with The New York City Truckers, and enjoying the travel side of trucking.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I’m all about the boys this year. I love Channing Tatum, just love him.  I'm also pretty fond of Ashton Kutcher, Ben Affleck, and Ryan Gosling, and I’m fairly obsessed with Prince William and Kate Middleton,  Yes, I confess, I’m a Royal Watcher.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Gun Control.  Or more accurately, the lack of.

35. Who did you miss?
My grandparents. I’ve been working on the family tree and realized I had no one to ask about things I didn't know, and no one else in the family was able to help. Nanny would have known, and I wish she were here.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Unfortunately, I didn’t cross paths this year with anyone fabulous.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
This year's lesson can be summed up in a popular phrase used by kids today, and something that was repeatedly texted to be by my nephews:  #YOLO  The hashtag is mostly a Twitter thing, but the acronym stands for You Only Live Once.  And you really can't get more concise than a life lesson that has only four letters:  YOLO

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I really like the lyrics in the catchy, “I Make My Own Sunshine” song by Alyssa Bonagura.  If you haven't heard the song already (which would mean you're living under a rock since it was the theme song of the Lowe's TV commercial), you'll be singing it before long. Here are a few of the lyrics:
Everything is wonderful
Everything is great
Free as a bird singing outside my window pane
Got a fresh new start
It's a brand new day
And I got lots of love to give away

It don't matter if it's raining
Nothing can phase me
I make my own sunshine
And if you think you can break me
Baby you're crazy
I make my own sunshine

And my slogan for the New Year...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2011: Later, 2011!
2010: That’s A Wrap!
2009: Out With The Old
2008: Another Year, Another 365 Days
2007: All Good Things Come To An End
2006: The Symphony Of A Thousand Saws
2005: Suicidal Firewood

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Doesn't Look So Bad From A Distance

"Cabbage" doesn't look so bad when you view it from a distance.  Umatilla, Oregon.
The Grapevine, Cabbage, The Three Sisters, Lookout Pass, Tehachapi, Shasta, The Siskiyous, Donner, Loveland Pass, Fourth of July Pass, Fancy Pass, Monteagle.  Mention any of those names to any trucker and they'll know exactly what you're talking about.

These are the mountains we climb and descend. In sunshine we don't worry, in snow and ice, we contemplate.

If we have to "throw chains" (that's trucker speak for putting snow chains on your tires), we usually sit it out. If the weather is so bad that chain use is mandatory, the freight can wait.  We don't need 80,000 pounds pushing us down a hill or keeping us from cresting it.  It's just not worth it. 

It's very rare that Ed chains any load.  He avoids it at all costs.  I think it's a combination of it being a hateful task, and his years of experience "reading" the roads and the weather. I can count on one hand how many times in almost nine years I've seen him do it.  This load, based on where it was going, was one that might require chains to get through the roughest spots.  We were hauling hazardous material from Pennsylvania to Oregon, with stops in Salt Lake City and California.

We decided to deliver in Salt Lake City first.  There was a little bit of blowing snow across Nebraska and Wyoming, but nothing that slowed us down too much.  A small delay due to a three-car accident, but they didn't shut the highway down and we were able to get around it without too much of a wait.  The roads through Utah were fine, and there was a bright, full moon to illuminate the drive.  We got to Salt Lake late on Christmas Day - actually, it was the wee hours of the next day - needless to say, the guy receiving the load wasn't too thrilled to have to meet us at almost two in the morning.  After we delivered, we had to decide which stop was going to be next - Fremont, California or Tualatin, Oregon.

The weather was getting increasingly worse, with snow starting to come down steadily as we sat on the fuel island in the Tooele, Utah T/A deciding what to do.  Going to California first meant tackling Donner - which is always challenging in snow and ice - but coming in from Utah meant we'd have to cross the entire state of Nevada, which had a chain requirement from Wendover at the state line, all the way to the other side of Sierra Nevadas in California.  That would have been almost 500 miles with chains on.  Ed just wasn't going to do it.  He doesn't mind chaining up to get over a mountain pass, but there was no way he was going to drive 500 miles, at 35 miles per hour, with chains on.

Heading to Oregon posed another problem.  There were chain requirements in Northern Utah and in Oregon.  And going that way would mean chaining up to get over Cabbage. This hill, whose formal name is Emigrant Hill, is part of the Oregon Trail and located in Oregon's Blue Mountains.  The name "Cabbage Hill " comes from G.L. Dunn, of Gibbon, who used to herd sheep in that area.  He named it for the garden on the land at the top of the hill, owned by a Mr. Huderman, that supposedly contained a lot of cabbage. I'm sure it was lovely covered with cabbage, but it's a bitch covered in snow.

The Oregon DOT website says, "This seven-mile downgrade has some of the most changeable and severe weather conditions in the Northwest.  You'll lose about 2,000 feet of elevation in six miles and twist through a double hairpin turn at a 6% downgrade." 

The recommended speed for a fully-loaded tractor-trailer - which we were, scaling out at just under 80,000 pounds - is 18 miles per hour.  Do you know what it's like to chug down a steep hill at 18 miles an hour??  With people coming up behind you doing 65??  Not pleasant.

So we decided to skip both of those treacherous, overnight, snowy mountain options and chose to drop down to Las Vegas, and then head up Interstate 5.  We would hit Fremont first, then Tualatin before heading back to Pennsylvania.  The route took us several hours out of our way, but would actually take less time than driving the other routes with chains.  The only challenges would be getting over Shasta, which didn't seem like it'd be too bad, and then the Siskiyou Summit, which was the biggie.

Ed got us to Vegas, which was the easy part, which meant I had to take us over Shasta and the Siskiyous.  Turns out the weather was favorable, there were no snowflakes to dodge, and the road conditions were better than expected.  It's always a little white-knuckley driving at night, especially when you see areas that look wet, but you can't be sure if it's ice or not.  I always watch the outside temperature on the dash, if it says it's below 32 degrees, I'm even more cautious.  It's often deceiving because sometimes those spots aren't ice, but if you manage your speed and drive defensively and with caution, it's usually not as bad as it looks.

We made it through the mountains, made all our deliveries, and are now back in Pennsylvania.  Overall, it was a fairly shitty trip, which I will write about later in the week.  Right now I'm just ready to sleep and get over this cold I picked up along the way. 

Tomorrow is the last day of the year and I'll be doing my year end meme.  I'm hoping the first week of 2013 will be better than the last week of 2012. 

I don't see how it can't be.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2011: They Really Mean It When They Say, “We Come To You”
2010: It’s Only Snow
2009: Once In A Blue Moon
2008: Have Wet Saw, Will Travel
2007: Spiritual Motivation
2006: Who Needs Paint Chips When You Can Just Use An Old Flag For Inspiration?
2005: The Promised Land

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Winter Rest

Places that are usually teeming with people in warmer months, are ghost towns come winter.  This rest area, with only one car in the entire lot, is a perfect example. 

I happen to think rest areas at night are creepy in general - not so much the huge ones with Starbucks, Sbarro and Au Bon Pain - but ones like this, with a few bathrooms and an area for vending machines and useless traveler coupon books, makes me glad I have facilities in my truck and don't have to get out to pee.

The best part about vacant rest areas is, even if the truck parking side is jam packed, you can always sneak into the car side with no problems at all.  It's very rare that you'll get a rush of travelers at three in the morning - summer or winter.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2011: Happy 5005!
2010: It Really Doesn’t Need Any Help
2009: The Day The Music Lived
2008: It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas
2007: He Raises A Valid Point
2006: Eddie In Stripes Friday
2005: Customer Service Vigilante

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Blame It On Weed

Made a stop at the Pilot truck stop in Weed, California during this trip.  Got trapped in their parking lot for a while, but I'll tell you about that later.   

The town name has produced it's own little industry for all things declaring the love of weed.  Hats, t-shirts, buttons, mugs, postcards, etc.  I guess if you do love weed, this would be the place to get the shirt that tells the world all about it.  Although, I'd think twice about sitting at your desk job drinking coffee out of a mug that says "I Love Weed". 

I don't love weed.  I've never in my life even tried weed.  Don't know what effects it has, don't know about the munchies associated with it, don't have any roach clips, rolling papers or blown glass objects used to enjoy it with.  In fact, the first time I ever saw one of those things, I thought it was a vase.  It's probably safe to assume I won't be trying weed of any kind anytime in the near future.  Especially now that my paycheck depends on what the results of a random drug test says.

In the meantime, I'll just keep driving by this little town in Northern California and chuckle, as I always do.

And I'll legitimately be able to blame my case of the giggles on Weed.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2011: The Plum Is Missing
2010: The Voodoo That You Do
2009: Meet Me In St. Louis…If You Can Find It
2008: We Don’t Eat Gefilte Fish But We Do Like The Multi-Cultural Birthdays
2007: How To Picnic Like An Italian
2006: Dead Ant, Dead Ant, Dead Ant, Dead Ant, Dead Ant, Dead Ant, Dead Ant….
2005: The Cactus King

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I Need A Support Group

I have been a fan of these Cinnamon Sugar pita chips for a very long time now.  But just over the Christmas holiday, after I purchased some BelGioioso Mascarpone, did I discover what heaven is really going to be like.

I read on the packaging of the mascarpone that you can spread it on bread instead of butter, has 1/2 the calories, and is low in salt.  I figured if you can spread it on bread, why not a cinnamon sugar pita chip?

I should have never taken that step.  Because now I'm going to live permanently in the land of addiction (which I'm okay with if it involves Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips schmeared with Mascarpone) and the land of people with an ass the size of a small bus (which I'm also okay with, as long as I can buy stretchy yoga pants).

The thing is, if you use one tablespoon of mascarpone and one ounce of pita chips, which works out to only five points for you Weight Watchers, it's completely doable.  You'll be just fine.

But I dare you to try it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2011: No One Mentioned The Elephant In The Room, But The Zebra Was A Big Topic Of Discussion
2010: White Chocolate Melts Away
2009: An Appetizer With Heart
2008: Angelic Eddie Friday
2007: Would You Like A Fried Egg With A Side Of Influenza?
2006: Cerrado
2005: The Best Gift Of All

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Ed and I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas - or whatever else you may celebrate - from the road!

We hope all of you are having a fantastic day, wherever you may be!

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to seeing you all back here after your Christmas dinner and eggnog has worn off!

"When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow, we hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago, and etched on vacant places are half-forgotten faces of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know."  ~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox, American Poet and Writer, 1850-1919

Monday, December 24, 2012

This Sled Is Being Pulled By Rudolph The Bucking Red-Nosed Reindeer

I will bet you every penny in my pocket that Santa is enjoying a more luxurious ride tonight than we are.  This trailer is beating the hell out of us.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is not our trailer.  And the way it's loaded (with the freight in the middle of the trailer), and the amount of weight that's loaded on it, is causing us to experience the roughest ride we've ever had.  Our trailer is an aluminum, air-ride trailer.  This one is a steel floor Conestoga (which is the brand name for a rolling tarp) style, with a rocker-arm suspension.  I couldn't tell you what that means, but Ed said:  "It means there's a pivot point on the frame between the axles - so basically when one axle goes up, the other goes down - there's essentially no suspension."  We're as heavy as we can get - right at 80,000 pounds - and it's a like pulling a bucking, hairy beast.  It's horrible.

Doesn't matter where you are in the cab, if you're not holding on, you can be thrown violently off your feet at any point.  Peeing while moving is a challenge.  Hell, sleeping is a challenge.  Imagine trying to take a nap on a mechanical bull.  Just sitting in the seats - driver or passenger - feels as if you're being beat with a two-by-four.  The backs of my thighs, if I could see them, are certainly black and blue, and the air suspension in the seats is worthless.  I've bottomed out more often than a low-rider in a car chase through Los Angeles. 

I'm trying to decide if the money is still worth it.  Because if I need to use the money we make to reattach the kidney that's being knocked loose, I'm not sure how great a Christmas present this load is going to turn out to be.

Now I know what it feels like to travel cross country. 

In a covered wagon. 

With wooden wheels. 

Being pulled by an ornery horse.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2011: Call Me For A Good Time – I’m ALWAYS Happy
2010: Blue Plates And Books For Christmas Eve
2009: Holiday Theft Is On The Rise…Right In Your Own Neighborhood!!
2008: The Team Finally Takes A Rest
2007: The Night Before Christmas And All Through The House
2006: The Only Visible Flames Came From The Candles On The Altar
2005: Tonight’s The Night, People

Sunday, December 23, 2012

This Space Available

This service plaza parking area was a ghost town.  It's rare that you see this many spaces available after eleven at night.  At that hour, you're lucky to squeeze in on an end, along the perimeter, or even nuzzle close up to the car section; if you're lucky enough to find a spot at all. 

I don't think I've ever pulled into a place where the lot was so empty.  And this was just one row.  This service plaza has at least ten rows.  That's not counting the perimeter area and the doubles/triples spots.

The traffic for a holiday weekend is surprisingly light.  Maybe there will be more tomorrow, but the roads we've been on so far, have been lighter than even a normal day.  And there seems to be very little truck traffic.  One of the truck stops we parked in over the weekend, in New Jersey, which is usually packed, was also a ghost town.

 It seems like a lot of drivers must have been able to get home for Christmas this year.  Good for them!  I hope they have a fabulous holiday and get plenty of food and rest before heading back out on the road with the rest of us.

And drivers, don't you worry - we'll leave the light on for you. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2011: The Road To Laramie
2010: Muscling Christ Back Into Christmas
2009: Holiday Gift Suggestions
2008: Weighing In
2007: When You Need Maternity Clothes And You’re Not Pregnant, You Know It’s Time For A Diet
2006: It’s The Real Thing!
2005: Spiraling Out Of Control

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Score!

Ed was right.  Wait, did I just say that?  Dammit, I did.  And he was.

Someone needed something.  And they needed it fast.

That's what Ed said yesterday when we were looking for a load, and lo and behold, we found one.

Late in the day, a load popped up on the board going across the country, clear from one end to the other.  The pay was astronomical, even by our standards.  Ed couldn't dial the phone fast enough.  I thought he was going to break a finger.

After a series of phone calls to determine all the specifics, the load was ours.  We would pick it up over the weekend and be on our way.  This meant we'd be driving over Christmas.  Not ideal, but not horrible.

The load has two stops - something we usually don't do because there's always hassles with stops - but we're pulling their trailer (not our flatbed) and Ed doesn't have to do any strapping and unstrapping, or tarping and untarping.  It's a Conestoga trailer, which means the tarp just rolls back and they unload the freight from the side.  It's essentially no-touch freight.

We'll probably make the first stop on Christmas Day but won't unload until Wednesday, which is perfect for me because I can make the pork loin I have planned for our Christmas dinner.  I'm salivating just thinking of it.  I have movies lined up on my Amazon Prime Watchlist, but still have to come up with something for dessert.  I was thinking of making a cheesecake, but then we'd have to eat the whole cheesecake, so maybe I'll just make two fabulous individual desserts.  Must start Googling. 

The other benefit to taking this load is the fact that we'll likely be hitting enormous amounts of snow.  Maybe not on the initial trek across, but definitely once we get into the mountain passes.  I'm pretty thrilled to know I'll be seeing some of the white stuff for Christmas.

Now I must go prepare the sled.  We'll be taking off soon!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2011: Iowa Beef Dresses Up For The Holidays
2010: Weather, Wyoming And Wings
2009: The End Is Not Just Near, It’s Here!!
2008: Keeping The Mountain On The Right Side Of The Fence
2007: Divine Intervention Comes A Little To Late
2006: General Delivery
2005: Frumpy To Nicole

Friday, December 21, 2012

Money Vs. Meatballs

It's Friday and we don't have a load for the weekend yet.  We've been looking since yesterday, but nothing's popped up that strikes our fancy.  Our criteria for a holiday weekend load, especially one over a holiday like Christmas, is that it has to pay reeeaaallly well in order for us to take it.  Otherwise, why bother working when you can sit around and do Christmasy stuff?

We knew we probably wouldn't make it home for Christmas this year.  We had that class in Florida at the beginning of the month, which meant we didn't do the UPS load that we usually do.  The UPS run originates out of Phoenix, so it gets us home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but since it starts just after Thanksgiving and runs to just before Christmas, our class sort of screwed that up for us since it required us to be in Florida smack in the middle of the run. 

Now we're just looking for regular freight.  We had some pretty good loads before and after the class, and the last load we did was a sweet two day load I found that paid us what we'd usually make in a week.  Ed was really happy about that one.  But now it's getting a little close and if we don't find something by the end of the day, we might be stranded in Massachusetts until Wednesday.

I say stranded, but I don't really mean stranded.  We're less than four hours from where 95% of my family lives, so I'm quite certain I'd be able to get in a few visits and partake in several holiday meals;  I'm already planning in my mind where we'll go first.  Ed has no idea I'm planning this, but if that load board closes down without us booking anything, no worries, I've got an itinerary in place that'll keep up busy from now until the New Year if necessary.

In the meantime, I'm refreshing my computer screen, sitting three feet from Ed who is doing the same thing, waiting for something great to pop up.  Ed's been saying all morning, "Someone's gonna need something.  And they're going to need it fast."

He's right about that.  Whether it's a regular Friday, a holiday weekend, or in this case a few days before the holiday, something almost always comes up.  There always seems to be that 11th Hour emergency.  And when something like that happens, only a spectacular driving team like us can do the job.  OK, any team can do the job, but the point is, it almost always has to be a team, and if you had your choice, wouldn't you want a spectacular team?

So keep your fingers crossed.  A sweet load will be one of the best Christmas presents on Ed's list. 

As for me, I'd be happy with my Aunt Rosemarie's meatballs.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2011: A Window To The Past
2010: A Killer Rest Area
2009: The Barn Man
2008: Text Me
2007: Eddie Gets Impatient Friday
2006: If You Have A Note, Then It’s Perfectly Okay To Commit Credit Card Fraud
2005: Limo Scene

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Waking Up With A Fat Man

No, not Ed.  Santa.

You may have noticed in the post about the Christmas decorations in the truck, I have Santa window clings on the kitchen window.  Well, my side of the bed faces the kitchen window, so when I roll over in the morning (or at night if we're parked next to a street light), this is what I see; a joyful Santa, hands in the air, floating among the stars.  And presents.

For the past few morning, I've been waking up very early to see good old Saint Nick.  The reason being, is that we were under an over-dimesional load and must make hay between sunrise and sunset.  More on that later.

Since we can't take anything over-height on our trailer, most of our over-dimensional loads are wide.  That was the case with this one - two teeny, tiny, light boxes of stuff for Raytheon that was 104" wide.  Our trailer is 102" wide.  That meant our freight was going to hang over the trailer by 1" on each side.

Now if you were to look at the trailer and see the load on it, you probably wouldn't notice a thing.  To the untrained eye, it would look normal.  Hell, to the trained eye it would look normal.  Made even less noticeable by the fact that the load had to be tarped.  In fact, there was more tarp material hanging over the side of the trailer than the freight itself.

Over-dimensional loads, in my opinion, offer one big perk; they pay exceptionally well.  Another perk, which can be seem by some as a limitation, because it actually is, is that you're limited to movement certain times of the day in certain states and have curfews in some cities within those states.  I don't mind this so much though, as usually the times fall between sunrise to sunset - or thirty minutes on either side of that. 

On this trip, because we were going to the Northeast, and because it's winter, the sun sets between 4:15 and 4:45 pm.  That means we've gotta be in a rest area or designated stopping place between 4:15 and 5:15pm.  And then dark falls like a blackout curtain.  No more movement allowed.  If you get caught driving, the fines are steep.  And if you take your "Oversized Load" signs off (like one agent suggested to us once), you're also screwed.  We don't do that kind of stuff. 

By pulling an over-dimensional load, you're subject to a completely different set of rules in addition to the ones we're federally mandated to follow in the first place.  This sometimes poses a problem or two.

In general, most over-dimensional loads must secure a permit for each state it's going to travel through.  No problem.  Most over-dimensional loads must have a pre-approved route.  Seems reasonable.  Most over-dimesional loads require additional signage, flags, lighting, etc.  No problem.  And most over-dimensional loads require you to travel at certain times of day.  Also, not a problem. the case when the over-dimensional load not only requires you to take a certain route, but also dictates that you're not allowed to deviate from that route for any.  reason.  whatsoever.  Meaning, you can't even pull off an exit to go to a truckstop to go to the bathroom, get food, fuel, a truck wash, a truck repair, etc.  You are for NO REASON allowed to leave the designated roadway for which you bought a permit.  You may stop at a rest area, but that's it.

In some states, like a few we were required to go through on this trip, told us when we purchased our permit, that we had to give them our route and tell them IN ADVANCE where we wanted to stop.  You're allowed to choose up to four stops.  And they can't be changed once the permit is issued. 

To me, that's just an unreasonable and unsafe rule.  What if I have to pee?  What if I'm hungry?  I'm supposed to know in advance of what could be a 3,000 mile trip, where I'm going to want to eat and pee when I get to that state??  That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.  For us it's not a problem, since we have the bathroom and the kitchen right in the truck.  Well, unless I have no food "in the house" because maybe I didn't buy everything I needed on the last grocery shop trip...that may or may not have happened once or twice. 

Custom sleeper trucks like ours make up only 1% of the industry.  So if we're in a truckstop and there are 100 trucks, there's only 1 of us.  What about the other 99% of drivers who may be under an over-dimensional load and need food or a restroom?  They have to wait for a rest area??  Do you know that some rest areas are 100 miles apart?  Do you know that some rest areas are closed and you don't know it until you're a mile from the rest area and you see a sign that says, "Rest Area:  CLOSED".

To me, it's just another way that truck drivers are being unreasonably regulated.  They alread tell us when we're allowed to drive and sleep.  Now they're going to tell us when we can eat and pee?

C'mon, now.  Use your brain, people.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2011: The King Lived Here
2010: Love
2009: Over The Hill And Over The Top
2008: Mr. & Mrs. Javelina And The Carb Encounter
2007: Disk This
2006: Ghostly Landmark
2005: Shopping In Hell

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

3...2...1...Cross The Hudson!

The toll booth at the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge in New York.  If there's gotta be sun, I like it to be accompanied by brisk air - what a perfectly beautiful winter day. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2011: New Life
2010: Wearing Your Message On Your Sleeve. Er, Wrist.
2009: In The Round
2008: Eddie’s Adoring/Bored Girlfriend Friday
2007: Lux Perpetua
2006: The Lesser Known King Of Romance
2005: Wow. What Beautiful Gums You Have.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

One Week To A Delightfully Dazzling Christmas

Christmas is less than a week away and I'm still shopping.  I don't know why I do this every year.  I mean, it's not like I don't know when Christmas is.  The date doesn't change.  It's always the same month.  WHY am I not shopping in July?? 

I have most of my stuff done online, and things are being shipped home.  I've enlisted my mother to pick up my packages as they arrive, and wrap stuff for me.  I want to be able to have something to present my nephews on the actual day - my mother, brother, and sister-in-law can wait until I get home.

We're not sure if we'll be home for Christmas yet, we're really playing it by ear.  If a worthy load goes that way, we might grab it.  We didn't get home for Thanksgiving, so I'd like to be able to see everyone, and our friends will be in Phoenix and I'd invite them down to spend the holiday with us.  It would be great if this all worked out.

Fingers crossed!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2011: My, What A Long Truck You Have
2010: A Place For The Snow To Rest
2009: They’re Always Touching Their Hammers
2008: Raindrops On Roses And Whiskers On Kittens
2007: Love Hate Relationship
2006: Full Service
2005: Struffo-What??

Monday, December 17, 2012

Just In Case You've Run Out Of Ideas

Sometimes I spend waaaaay too much time online.  Hell, most of the time I spend way too much time online.  During those endless hours, I often come across things I really like and bookmark them.  Here are ten of those things - a perfect idea list for Christmas presents. 

Handmade Leather Goods: No sewing machine? Hand cut and stitched? One guy, one craft, One Star Leather Goods.

Cole Haan Village Zip Satchel Bag:  Reminds me of the one I used to have which was also silver with hot pink lining. I miss that bag.

Gold State Pendant Necklace: Delicate, unique, and real gold.  I'd get New York, of course!
Artisan Channel Set Sapphire Ring: I LOVE this ring. I love the squarish shape of the ring, the thin profile, and the sapphires – sapphires are my birthstone. I just wish it was real gold instead of gold plate.

Burrata: I want to make it and eat it. Or buy it and eat it.  Or get it as a gift and eat it.  Shit, I'd do most anything to just eat it.  It's deeeeelicious.  And if you've never had it, and you don't want to make it, you can sometimes find it in your local grocery store.  BelGioioso makes it and distributes it to a lot of regular chain groceries.  Look for it. Your life will improve.

Underwater Dogs: I’m not a dog fan, but I have a lot of friends who are. And I’m sure they’d love this book.
Nyan Cat Hoodie:  I wouldn't wear this, and I didn't know what "Nyan Cat" was until I researched it after I found the hoodie, but now that I've seen the hoodie, I totally wish I had someone to buy it for.  Genius.   A character with the body of a pop tart, as seen in a video that's been viewed over 89 million times can't be wrong to wear.

Mustache Door Mat: Because mustaches are so popular right now, and every marble entrance needs a mustache to greet guests.

Handblown Glass Fruit: I don’t have any need for glass fruit in the truck, but if I were to break down and buy some, I’d totally go for the fig.


USPS Mail Sack Tote: I am TOTE-ally crazy about totes. I have more than I need to carry stuff I don’t even have. Of course, I can always buy stuff to fill the totes. Hmmmm.

After this list was published, I came across another little something that I must include.  Let's call this a "bonus" item.  Or really, we can just call it a gift that cancels out all the other gifts on the list.  Because if I were to have say, oh I don't know, four or five of these to stack on a finger, I wouldn't care if I ever saw another glass fig in my life.

Tiffany Celebration Rings:  I have all kinds of celebrations in mind that would warrant one of these rings.  I guess that's why they're tiny, so you can get several.  This one is my favorite. I absolutely have a thing for squares.  One of these will be on my gift lists from now until I hit the grave.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2011: Getting Stoned In New York*
2010: I Used To Care But Now I Take A Pill For That
2009: Wet And Woodsy
2008: Bite Sized Yummy Goodness
2007: There’s A Time For Everything
2006: Colors Of The Barrio
2005: Puss In Breasts