Friday, February 19, 2021

Beautiful Freak Of Nature

I’m talking about this saguaro, not my husband. 

Ed wanted to go to the Grand Canyon for his birthday earlier this month. I nixed the idea because a) he sprung it on me the day before when I asked, “So, what do you want to do for your birthday this year?” and b) it’s winter in Northern  Arizona. I’m not driving 5 hours to look at a snowy hole. 

So we went to Sabino Canyon instead and took a tram ride 3.7 miles up into the canyon to look at rocks and cactus. Not quite the grandeur of the other canyon, but something to do. 


And there, on one of the trails, is where we found the crested saguaro. They are a 
rare mutation. And although not common, one Arizona man has documented over 2,200 of them as of 2019.  They even formed a society to tackle the task. Here’s a photo of Ed, in all of his glorious 46 years, standing in front of the crested saguaros we saw in Sabino Canyon.

This one is different than some I’ve seen. In other photos because this one has arms that continue to grow above the crest. Others just have the big crest at the top. 
I’ve been in Tucson for 40 years and this is the first time I’ve ever seen a crested saguaro. That should give you a good idea about how often I get outside. 

The Grand Canyon is still on the list. I think we’ll wait until Spring for that. It’ll still be cool up there, and there might be a bit of snow in The Canyon itself - which is like to see - but we’ll have a little more time to plan and can do a weekend in the area instead of a rushed day trip.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2020: Sorry, no post on this day.
2019: Ring The Bell For Tips
2018: Snacks & Bar
2017: So This Happened Today
2016: Agrarian
2015: Tied Off
2014: Seek And Ye Shall Find
2013: Frantically Trying To Get Back To Indonesia
2012: I’d Like Some Snow For Dessert
2011: Getting A Little Carried Away
2010: On A Need To Know Basis
2009: Something Has Gone Terribly Wrong
2008: Flying Into The Sun
2007: Riding The Rails
2006: Keeping Me Quiet With A Chocolate Snap
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

I Roll


I did a post in 2009 when we bought our last truck, a Freightliner Coronado, which we owned from 2009 to 2019.  This post is an update on that one, answering the questions we are often asked when approached by people who are interested in our truck, a Volvo.  

1. What kind of truck is that and how big is your sleeper?
Our new truck is a 2020 Volvo VNL 300 with a 132" ARI custom sleeper.  Truck sleepers are measured in inches, so the length of space we have in the sleeper clocks in at 11 feet (by 8 feet in width). It's like a tiny house on wheels.  

2. What kind of engine do you have in that thing?
We have a Volvo D-13.  It has turbo compounding, a diesel particulate filter system which makes it environmentally cleaner, 455 horsepower, and longer oil drain intervals, which means we can go 60,000 miles without an oil change!

3. How many gears/speeds does it have?
This truck has the Volvo I-Shift Automated Transmission.  This means we no longer manually shift - the truck does it for us - and we have 12 gears.  At first, I was disappointed with the automatic because I felt like shifting is what "real" truckers do and without shifting gears I'd be less of a trucker.  Well, I'm not really that much of a trucker, to begin with, and I realized very quickly that not shifting gears had its benefits.  No calf fatigue in traffic, no shifting when going up and down hills, and a much higher level of comfort while driving.  I've always said that driving a truck was like driving a big car, and now it truly is!

4. What kind of fuel mileage do you get and do you use more fuel since it’s heavier?
We get around 9 miles to the gallon, which in itself is pretty amazing, and 3 miles more to the gallon than we got in the old truck, even though this truck is about the same weight as our old one.

5. What’s inside the sleeper?
Inside the sleeper, we have everything we need to keep us rolling in comfort.  This sleeper has a taller interior than the last one - 8' ceilings - which makes it feel much more spacious even though we have the same length of space. 

We have a dinette table that when in the down position, turns into our bed.  There's a toilet/shower combo, a large refrigerator/freezer, convection oven/microwave, extra-deep sink, medicine cabinet, flat-panel TV with soundbar, DVD player, vinyl floors that look like distressed wood planks, a Fantastic Vent, rooftop air conditioner, two hanging clothes closets that we modified to be a pantry with shelves and additional storage, tinted interior windows, a back door with a window and a screen door to keep open when the weather's nice, a "porch light" over the back door, and a lighted grab handle outside the door to make it easy to find at night.  

These are not the best photos - I didn't take them and will replace them when I have my own photos - but it gives you a good idea of how this interior looks different than the last one.
View of the dinette table that when down, turns into a bed, and the door
on the left that contains the bathroom/shower. The curtains lead to the cab area.

Passenger side of sleeper - fridge, convection oven, cooktop, sink, TV.

6. How much water do your tanks hold for showers, etc.?
We have two tanks - 31 gallons on the main tank, and 12 gallons on our backup. We do not use this water for drinking.  Our toilet water flush tank holds 7 gallons.  We don't drink that either!  As with the old truck, once we use up the water supply, we go to a truck stop or RV park to fill it with more fresh water and to dump the wastewater tank. We also carry 10 gallons of bottled water which is connected to its own spigot and used only for drinking.  

7. How do all of those electronics and appliances get power?
As with our last truck, we have a 7,500 watt Onan generator. It runs everything in the truck. 

8. Can I see inside?
If anyone even shows a whiff of interest, I always offer to show them the inside.  I often see people taking pictures, or walking around the outside looking at the truck, and many times I've popped open a window and called out, "Wanna see inside?"  I've yet to have anyone decline.  

9. How heavy is your truck?
The tractor weighs approximately 24,500 and the trailer is about 17,000 pounds.  That brings our total unladen weight to around 41,500 pounds. 

10. How much can you scale?
Legally, we can scale 80,000 GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) total without permits. The heaviest load we feel comfortable hauling is about 38,000 pounds which leave us wiggle room. In 2020, the average weight of the loads we hauled as 14,102 pounds.  

11. What do you haul?
We can haul a little bit of everything.  See this post for what we typically haul.  

Ed, standing inside the Conestoga trailer.

12. How long is your truck?
Our total length is 75 feet.  And yes, I can parallel park this baby.  

13. Can you still go everywhere you used to go?
This question was originally asked because we went from a 48" sleeper on a traditional tractor, to the big sleeper truck.  People still ask if we have trouble getting in and out of places.  The answer is still no.  First, Ed can get in and out of a thimble if he had to, so maneuvering for him is never a problem.  In fact, this truck has a shorter wheelbase, which makes getting around a bit easier.  Plus, we've had our other big sleeper truck for 10 years and are better aware of where we can and cannot "fit".  

14. How long is your wheelbase?
Our wheelbase is 243" long.  Our last big sleeper truck had a 316" wheelbase. And our first truck, with the standard factory sleeper, had a 218” wheelbase.

15. What about going to Canada?
I'm so excited to say we can go to Canada again!!  With our old truck, which didn't meet the  Canadian wheelbase restrictions, we were unable to go to the Great White North. For TEN years!  Boy, how I've missed it!  But now, with the new truck having a shorter wheelbase - one of the reasons we chose a Volvo - we'll be able to transport loads in and out of any Province or Territory we want.  We haven't gone yet but I am looking forward to visiting again and even taking another load to Alaska. 

16. How much did it cost?
Because we need specialized equipment for the type of freight we haul, our truck and trailer both have components that cost more than your average commercial combination vehicle.  The price of the truck came in around $330,000.00 and the trailer at right about $100,000.00.  With the additions of automatic tire chains, thermal imaging cameras, digital video recording system and more, the grand total came to approximately $430,000.00.  

17. Are you saving money having this truck over your old truck?
It's going to be about the same.  We save money on dining out and hotels, and we're able to be self-contained when the situation requires us to be.  Dining out is one of the biggest expenses outside of fuel and maintenance costs.  I do a lot of cooking in this beast! 

18. What do you like most about your sleeper?
I'm still in love with all the conveniences of having a big sleeper - toilet and shower, big refrigerator, being able to cook a meal on a real stovetop and in a convection oven (which is also a microwave), having an in-motion satellite TV system where I can watch a show while rolling down the road, WiFi, and a dinette table with comfortable seating for when we're lounging around.  It's really the most luxury a trucker can have while out on the road.  

19. Would you ever consider going back to a smaller sleeper?
Never, ever, EVER.  I think I'd quit before going back to a standard sleeper.

20. And last, but not least, one guy asked Ed "How many women can you fit in that thing?"
I'll keep the same answer I had on the last post about this:  Ed looked at him like he was crazy, the thought in his head being, Why the hell would anyone want to cart around more than one woman at a time?? One is more than enough.





~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2020: Sorry, no post on this day.
2019: Gilded Tourist Attraction
2018: Dining Up North

2017: Promoting International Cooperation
2016: Truly A Man Of Leisure
2015: Beer Run
2014: Field Two
2013: We Are A Very Rich, Blessed, Lucky, Fortunate Lot Aren't We?
2012: Passion Creates Pure Art
2011: Reflecting On The Day
2010: Crunching The Numbers
2009: Looking Grand At The Grand Canyon
2008: Overshadowing Government
2007: Miami International
2006: Did You Check The Solenoid?
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!