December 2000

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12-1-00

The Motto For This Trip:  "If I Go There, It Snows There."

 

After getting in my truck in Council Bluffs, IA and grabbing an empty trailer, I headed up to Wakefield, NE.  It was a drop & hook headed to Englewood, NJ for Monday, Dec. 4th.

 

I thought that Englewood, NJ was just a little too close to New York City for my comfort, but what the heck... gotta go sometime, I guess.

 

On the way to Wakefield, NE the weather started to show signs of its lack of participation in my plan.  The two lane roads were getting icy and I was a little worried since I was empty.  I felt much, much better after getting the trailer picked up as it was maxxed out weight wise.  A heavy trailer gets far better traction than an empty.  I didn't have any problems with the road until getting back down to I-80.  Once on I-80, though, it started going downhill fast.  The roads were icing up -- they were just on the verge of being bad -- but not quite horrible yet.  This didn't stop 15 cars from ditch digging, though.  There was also one jackknife outside of Des Moines, IA.  A single axle tractor/trailer had jackknifed his tractor and sat facing the eastbound traffic though he had been headed eastbound himself.  Those single axles tend to go first -- those and the doubles -- because with the single axles, they just don't have the weight that a truck with two drive axles has.  I took it easy and made it on past all that craziness to What Cheer, IA, exit 201 and crashed.  (not literally... :)  )

 

12-2-00

 

The roads were fine today and the temperature came up.  I made a quick pit-stop for fuel in Lake Station, IN.  It was then time for the trek across US 20.  I made it to middle of Ohio on Highway 2 and slept in the pickle park.  I don't often sleep in rest areas but I was very tired and there wasn't a truckstop for a long way.  The weather cooperated for the most part -- some flurries but the road was only wet. 

 

12-3-00

 

I stopped to sleep and shower in Milesburg, PA in the afternoon.  It just made more sense to do it this way.  If I kept going I'd be in New Jersey much too early.  The only truckstop that I know of and that I'm willing to even go to close to my destination is at Exit 4 in New Jersey.  Unfortunately, that truckstop is always jam packed.  I wasn't willing to go that far just to discover I wouldn't be able to park or sleep.  By staying in Milesburg, PA, then getting up in the wee hours of the morning, I could drive straight in and not worry about the parking space problem.  It's amazing sometimes how far ahead you have to be thinking just to park.

 

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The roads deteriorated in Pennsylvania.  It was snowing but the road wasn't too bad yet -- though it was starting to be questionable. 

 

The sun starts to set at 3:45 PM Central Time out here and it's night by 4:15 PM.  (I am personally on Central Time but I am now in the Eastern Time Zone.)  That feels strange.  It must be really weird to be from somewhere that is on Pacific Time and come here.... the sun would be setting at 1:45 PM and it would be night at 2:45 PM. 

 

12-4-00

 

After leaving Milesburg, PA I made a fuel stop in Hazelton, PA and continued on.  I was making better time than I had expected so I stopped at a pickle park inside New Jersey and took a nap for about 1 1/2 hours.  I didn't know if the receiver had a secure parking area or not and considering the area I was going into, I wasn't going to find out the hard way.  I didn't want to be much more than 45 minutes early.  As it turned out, I am glad I was thinking this way.  There was nowhere to park.  I mean nowhere. 

 

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The receiver's lot was so small that you could only get the truck and trailer in, but you could not turn it around.  When it was time for me to unload, they had me drop the trailer and their shag truck put it in the dock door.  Until it was my turn, though, I had to just sit tight beside a "NO PARKING" sign ... I was just waiting for a ticket.  A police car did go by but he just ignored me.  They must be used to it at that place.  I'm glad for that - I'd hate to know how much their parking tickets are.

 

Once that load is delivered, I'm headed to Elizabeth, NJ for the reload.  It's pretty fast, a couple of hours.  This load goes to Jackson, WI for Wednesday, 12-6-00.  It has an "open" appointment - meaning I have a time window.  I love that.  I can deliver anytime from 9AM to 2PM. 

 

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The Big Apple

Look at all that smog!

(View from northbound I-95)

 

I stopped for a nap in PA for a couple of hours and took off again in the early evening.  The road went bad yet again and stayed that way across Pennsylvania.  I could still average about 50-55 mph so I kept with it.  My own personal "rule" is that if I can't make decent time, it isn't worth it.  It just eats up my hours if I can only manage 25 mph or less.  I stopped in Youngstown, OH to fuel and shower and took off again.  It was back to the good ole two lanes.  I was a little worried that the two lanes would be in bad shape as opposed to the interstate but they were fine.  I didn't want to run Highway 2 this time because I wondered about lake-effect snow. Info about Lake Effect Snow, Slide Show, Lake Effect & Other Storm Types

 

12-5-00

 

Made it across all those wonderful two lanes and through Chicago, IL to Racine, WI.  The snow just keeps falling and brrrrr, it is cold!  I showered, fueled and slept.  Thankfully the roads are decent and Wisconsin seems to be doing an admirable job in keeping them that way.  That's the thing about the northern states --- yes, they may get more snow than other places, but at least they have the equipment and understanding to deal with it.  Wait 'til you experience your first ice storm in Georgia and you'll see what I mean.

 

12-6-00

 

I made a stop at Albert Lea, MN to fuel and shower.  The snow persisted and became heavier.  I made it to Williams, IA to find the other driver already there.  We traded out and I decided enough was enough and went to bed.

 

12-7-00

 

I made it up to Jackson, WI and unloaded as the relentless snow intensified.  My reload was a drop & hook in Rice Lake, WI -- 300 miles away.  I was supposed to take that load to Williams, IA to trade with another driver.  The driver had an empty trailer that I would take to Iowa City, IA to drop & hook the next day. 

 

I was less than excited to run the 300 miles to Rice Lake on snowy roads with an empty trailer.  A driver is almost always better off with at least some weight (the more the better) when roads are slick.  You get better traction.  I also had to run two-lanes for about 65 miles.  The two lanes were the worst of it - though they weren't as bad as I expected.  The state of Wisconsin was out in force to dump stuff & clear the roads.  The traffic was very light, too.  It was a little icy and I didn't make good time by any means, but I made it to the interstate and the road dramatically improved. 

 

Finally arrived in Rice Lake, WI, and dropped & hooked.  Of course, it is still snowing and now it's nighttime, too.  Goody, goody.  Naturally there's a good distance of two-lane road to cover also.  The two-lanes were predictably snow covered and questionably icy so it was rather slow-going but again upon hitting the interstate, there was an improvement. 

 

Unfortunately, the improvement was short lived.  Once I got into the twin cities of Minneapolis/St Paul, the snow increased with a vengeance.  Minnesota wasn't doing the snow removal job that Wisconsin had been, either, so it was quickly becoming snow-pack with a layer of ice.  Not pretty.  It was also pretty windy so seeing was difficult.  I sighed and kept at it.  I knew it was getting somewhat bad, but did not feel I was pushing past my own abilities.  This is a judgment call that every driver has to learn to make -- and to make accurately -- and so often it is easy to allow ego to get in the way of a smart decision.  (Admittedly, I am as guilty as anyone.)  Luckily, I was loaded to the gills and I was anxious but not overwhelmingly so.

 

After waking and doing my morning routines, I headed towards Iowa City, IA.  The load I take out of Iowa City, IA goes to Norfolk, NE for 12-8-00.

 

As I neared Iowa City, IA, there was a traffic slowdown because I-80 was closed ahead.  All traffic was being detoured.  There had been a nasty accident that morning and the road was still closed in the late afternoon.  Three trucks were involved -- and I heard one was a tanker.  I don't know the details of this accident yet but it was a big one, no doubt. 

 

As I turned onto the highway that the detoured traffic was required to take, some big-mouth started spouting off with nasty stuff like, "That damn CDL, look what has happened since they started with that, it is no good and now anyone can just drive a truck and look what they do?!  They smash 'em up in the highway!"   The man went on and on.  I normally wouldn't have had my CB radio on at all -- I've grown weary over the years of big mouth idiots like this, but when the traffic did a brake check, I had turned it on.  Now I'd wished I hadn't.  I couldn't just flip it off, though, without seeing what stupid had to say and just how stupid he really was.  He didn't disappoint.  He was dumber than a box of rocks.  Next he blamed the trainees of the country for the accidents, the low freight rates, the this and the that.  Trainees had terrible attitudes, he said, they thought they knew it all and he was sick of training.  (I sent up a short prayer at this time for any poor trainee that ended up in this jerk's truck.)  I asked him if his attitude might have anything to do with the receptiveness of a trainee, but he wasn't bright enough to get this concept.  He and I continued to spar for a short while and he performed miserably because he did not know his subject matter. 

 

I asked him at what point in a driver's experience was it statistically the most likely that the driver would be involved in a major accident.  He blamed the trainee.  The real answer is right around 10 years worth of experience.  The majority of trainees will have a slight fender bender around 6 months, while experienced drivers have more of a tendency to smash em up badly around 10 years.  That's just what the statistics say, mind you.  Anyway, he didn't have a clue about anything at all and he looked like a fool.  The lesson behind this?  BE CAREFUL what you believe out here!  Some people sound as though they know what they're talking about, but they do NOT.  

 

Some general thoughts, comments and otherwise about the CDL, Driver Shortage, Deregulation, etc....

The CDL   The first clue that he was an idiot was his comment about the CDL.  Prior to the CDL, all that was required to drive a big truck was a Chauffeur's License.  This was not difficult to get and you didn't have to even drive an eighteen wheeler to be tested.  If you got too many tickets in the state you originally licensed in, you could go to another state, get another one and start over!  Drivers would end up with a handful of licenses and their offenses in one state stayed there.  There was no reporting of offenses between states.  Deregulation had allowed tons of companies to get into the trucking business and the decline of professionalism, respect and courtesy began.  Drug use, as compared to now, was wide-spread.  Drug testing was not done in the way it is now nor was it done as often.  The penalties for drug use were nowhere near as severe, either.  Dispatchers could push drivers hard and rarely see any repercussions.  It's no small wonder that the image of the professional driver as the "Knight of the Road" became the "Terror on the Highway".  The CDL came along and required more testing -- and testing that was aimed towards the vehicle type. (No longer could you use a goose-neck trailer with a pickup for your driving test.)  No longer could a driver obtain multiple licenses because the states would all be "connected".  (Though in real life, there's still work to be done here.)  The driver would be drug tested prior to employment as well as subjected to random testing and in certain accident situations.   I believe the CDL was a step in the right direction, though there is a lot of room for improvement. 

 

The supposed "Driver Shortage" is a subject drivers can argue about forever.  Personally, I believe we are seeing and feeling a lot of the "fallout" from the CDL, as well as increased demand for goods in the country.  Approximately a decade ago, the CDL was born and those cowboy drivers were slowly but surely weeded out.  As they messed up their licenses, they could no longer go to another state to get a second chance.  They got out of trucking or more accurately -- were forced out of it.  Some drivers thought the CDL was the worst thing that had ever happened and did not renew their licenses (or grandfather them in) and just left trucking.  I believe there IS DEFINITELY a shortage of PROFESSIONAL drivers in this industry.  A great deal can be blamed on the nature of the industry -- the extensive time away from home, the pay structure, treatment of drivers, etc.  makes it hard to attract professional people.  Trucking could "fix" some of it's own problems with Driver Shortage, however, by making this job more driver-friendly and family-friendly.  Except for a few exceptions, it has not done so.  Some companies are seeing the light of day and recognizing that they must go out of their way to develop special routes, benefits, etc. because there are just not as many people today who will sacrifice so much for a job.

 

Deregulation allowed thousands of companies to form and this allowed many to get into trucking that might not have been able to otherwise.  It also set the stage for competition, i.e. lower freight rates.  The consumer benefits from the breaking of a monopoly.  The shippers and receivers of this nation are also enjoying and benefiting from the intense competition in the trucking industry.

I am sorry to have rambled on, but I just think every driver should know a bit about where trucking has come from.  What has shaped it to be what it is.  Of course, these are only my philosophies so I strongly encourage you to read, research, etc.  Just don't take what other people tell you at face value.  The idiot that blamed all of trucking's problems on the CDL was a truly clueless individual but if you didn't know better, you might buy into it.

 

After the drop & hook in Iowa City, IA I headed back west and stopped in Des Moines, IA and went to bed.  I decided I'd get up around 4:AM, take a shower and head over to Norfolk, NE.  I had an appointment "window" and had to be there between 6AM and noon. 

 

12-8-00

 

I was up, showered and rolling by 5:30 AM and rolled into Norfolk, NE mid-morning. 

 

The forklift driver was a real piece of work.  He was furious because the shipper of the load demanded that the receiver do the unloading -- and that it be done in no more than two hours.  The fork driver went on and on about how the driver should be doing the work because it wasn't HIS job to break down the pallets, etc.  I couldn't believe this guy.  What is he being paid an hourly wage for?  I told him to get to work because he only had two hours.  I am pretty sure that is was smoke I saw coming out of his ears.  I smiled happily -- this is such a different scenario from the usual.  The fork driver demanded that I stay on the dock as he pulled the pallets off -- which I am sure he did solely to punish me.  He said I had to count pallets.  Okay, pal.  I counted the stupid pallets and was out of there in, you guessed it, two hours.

 

I deadheaded back to Council Bluffs, IA and called it a week....

 

12-15-00

 

About two days after getting home from my last trip, my hometown of Des Moines, IA received 9 inches of snow.  Three days later another three inches fell and a couple days after that, a "wintry mix" of icy stuff coated the roads.  The "wintry mix" day just so happened to occur on the day I had to leave out for the road.  Great.  I'm sure quite a few of you out there have had the pleasure of this storm system, too.

 

The roads weren't bad driving the car until about 30 miles outside of Council Bluffs, IA and they then became a bit icy.  I was running a bit behind - what's new - and needed to get to the yard to grab an empty trailer and pallets and go to Oakland, IA to live load.  I had to be there no later than 3:00 PM.  This wouldn't have been a problem ordinarily but the less than great roads slowed me down and upon arriving at the yard, I discovered there weren't any empty trailers.  I was told to run across town to pull one of a dock door and I could have it.... problem was though, with this additional activity I was now late for the 3:00 PM loading appointment.  My dispatcher was smokin' mad.  Well, in a way I saw her point -- I shouldn't have pushed the time -- but I would've made it had the trailer been where it was supposed to be.  I got blamed for the situation regardless.

 

The "Yard"... (You could say "terminal" but most drivers will say "yard".)  Some others will call it the "Junk Yard".  (Guess it depends on their current frame of mind towards the carrier...?)

 

I made it to Oakland, IA by 4:15 PM and was loaded and rolling by 6:30 PM towards Salt Lake City, UT for delivery on Monday, 12/18 at 10:AM local time.  (Which gave me an hour's advantage because of the time zone change.)  I had supper at the Sapp Brothers in Council Bluffs, IA and headed across Nebraska.  The winds were severe and the forecast was calling for them to get much worse.  Since I had quite a bit of time, I put it to bed at Lexington, NE.  (Made only about 250 miles for the night) The wind was so strong that it rocked my truck and in turn, rocked me right to sleep...

 

12-17-00

 

When I woke up the promised winds were indeed strong & severe.  The weather guy said there were 25-35 mph sustained winds across I-80, with gusts up to 60 mph.  I was glad to be loaded pretty heavy.  (grossed out about 69,000)  I would've liked to be tipping the scales right on 80,000 but you can't have it all.  That's one benefit I like a lot about running a reefer -- most of the time the loads are heavy.

 

I stopped in Big Springs, NE to stretch, goof off and have some supper.  A driver in the restaurant said that I-80 Westbound was closed in Wyoming due to high winds and whiteout conditions.  Swell.  I called Wyoming Road Conditions to double check and found out the driver's information was at least several hours old.  The road was open again.  That happens all the time.  Drivers pass along information that is hours & hours old -- doing you no good at all.  It's almost funny how drivers will ask about a mountain pass 6 hours or more before they'll even get there.  Why bother?  A mountain pass is rarely the same after so many hours pass.  Your absolute best source is the state's Road Conditions phone line and/or the State Patrol.  Period.

 

I pulled into the fuel line just before leaving to clean my glass.  As I was pulling away, a truck a couple of lines down was also pulling out.  He was getting through those gears like no tomorrow.  He had a whole block to a block and a half and he had to have already hit 6th-7th gear.  Duh.  There were trucks coming in the drive but he didn't care.  He pulled out right in front of all of them.  He also pulled directly onto my path but wasn't even smart enough to swing wide enough, so there we were.... this dingaling trying to turn across my path, but stuck because his trailer won't clear my tractor.  I was sitting there, since the trucks coming in the drive had the right-of-way but this Dick Simon driver was more important than anyone else.  I asked him on the CB what in the world he was doing.  He was a jerk from jerk-hell.  I do not want to offend anyone - but I have little to no doubt that this was a practically brand new driver.  He ignored anything resembling "truckstop etiquette", he was ripping through gears needlessly and didn't even know his unit well enough to swing it wide enough to make his turn.  He was in the middle of the lot - everyone could see what was going on - but he still had the nerve to get on the CB radio and attempt to blame ME.  I laughed.  He was so obviously stupid and inexperienced, yet totally resistant to admitting so.  I sat there for a moment, allowing him to see his own predicament, before I backed up a bit for him so he could make the turn.  I am one of the most sympathetic drivers you'll ever find towards new drivers -- that should be crystal clear -- but when I stumble across one like this -- I have not one ounce of sympathy whatsoever.  I'll embarrass that schmuck to death, given the chance.  There's no place for such arrogant pride out here.  Arrogant pride gets people DEAD.

 

At the Port of Entry in Wyoming I made the usual "Hi, How Are You" Pit Stop and noticed a sign posted on the door that read, "No Light Loads Across I-80."  Well, this wasn't surprising, but I've wondered every time I see such signs what their idea of a "light load" is.

 

 

 

I finished at the Port and went into the Sapp Bros, Cheyenne, WY at the next exit for fuel & a shower. The shower was a sauna.  Funny thing about showers -- it doesn't really matter what time of year it is, it seems like they are always much too HOT.  The people who run the showers haven't quite figured out that after you've taken a hot shower, you don't need all that extra heat pumping into the little tiny room. 

 

I bought a few things in the convenience store and chatted with the clerk for a couple of minutes.  I'm not sure how we got into the conversation, but he made a comment that he "couldn't wait until he was old enough to get a CDL and drive OTR because he was a "rebel" ".  I asked him why he thought the hiways and biways of America needed yet one more idiot rebel.  He kind of blinked - I'd caught him off guard I guess - and went on to tell me about his vision of a big fancy truck and massively huge and powerful CB radio.  Sad that he thinks this is the picture of a driver.  It has very little - if anything - to do with this career.  Don't worry yet, though, he was only 19 so the roads are safe from this aspiring "rebel" for two years, anyway.

 

After showering and taking care of an overwhelming urge for ice-cream (go figure), I was wide awake and decided to try to get on over Sherman Hill and into Laramie, WY.

 

It wasn't too terribly bad over Sherman but at the top it was very, very windy and the snow was blowing across the road, making it hard to see.  There were some slick spots but it wasn't nearly as bad as I've seen it... Some might say I was stupid for going over the hill at 3:AM with conditions as they were, but I was actually happy to do it this way because there was very little traffic on the road with me.   In fact, I don't remember ever feeling so "alone" on the road as I did going over the hill.  Everyone had holed up in the truckstops in Cheyenne and Laramie or in the rest area at the top of Sherman. 

 

Parking in Laramie, WY wasn't going to happen, however.  Everyone, their brother, sister and uncle were already there.  The trucks were parked on the on and off ramps all the way to the road.  There wasn't a single spot.  I sighed and kept going, knowing that I really should have expected this, and decided I'd go on over to Quealy Dome.

Good 'ole Quealy Dome Total Truckstop.  It's a tiny oasis (with a big parking lot) about 25 miles west of Laramie, WY.  (I-80, MM 290)  It's the last running water for awhile before you go into the Elk Mountain region.  (westbound)

 

I'd never seen this truckstop so packed but there were still a couple of spots left.  A lot of people duke it out for parking real estate in Laramie, WY, but if you just need a place to park and a phone, etc, this place always has a spot for you. 

 

When I woke the parking lot was empty except for me and a couple of trucks.  The sky was actually somewhat blue - which lifted my spirits until I tuned into the weather band.  More snow was coming and the wind wasn't abating.  Time to go. 

 

A Nasty Day Across I-80 in Wyoming

 

The day wore on, literally, and wore me out with it.  Obviously, I wasn't the only one having a rough day -- there were certainly those having much, much rougher ones.

 

I plodded along.  It was pretty slow-going at times but in all truth, the road wasn't that bad.  The hardest part is being able to tell when and where it really is slick.  On this particular day, the wind played a major role in making driving tough.

 

There were remnants of others who had found it tough.  There were several cars in ditches and trucks off the road.  I couldn't get shots of all the mayhem.

 

Not far out of Quealy Dome you enter the Elk Mountain Region (westbound) This area is notorious for strong winds, blowing and drifting snow, etc.  It's hard to believe the photo above and the photo below were were taken within a couple of hours of each other.  Things go bad fast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This truck has a wrecker hooked up to it.  There didn't appear to be any other vehicles involved.

 

 

 

 

 

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From a distance...

I-80, Wyoming around Rock Springs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you look closely you'll see there is a vehicle under the black trailer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sisters

The Sisters" have quite a reputation.  I don't know where this name came from but it is what drivers call three large hills that are one after another starting about MM 30 on I-80 in Wyoming.  They do not have a posted grade but they are relatively steep to climb as well as to descend.  They also tend to get pretty icy and nasty.

 

There had been an accident on the "Sisters" that closed I-80 for at least several hours. 

 

When the interstate re-opened, too many trucks all tried to go at the same time.  We were backed up for miles & miles & miles.  I had waited a couple of hours before I went, thinking the worst of the rush would have gotten through but it didn't work that way.  There were also rumors that there had been a second accident that had closed the road a second time but the only proof of an accident that I saw was the photo below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one smashed up around MM 18 on I-80, Wyoming.

 

12-18-00

 

I made my delivery in Salt Lake City, UT, without getting lost.  This is amazing considering that Salt Lake seems to throw me every time.  The weather is beautiful, around 50 degrees, and the sun is bright.  The load came off quickly.  The reload was in Hyrum, UT and was going to Vernon, CA for 12-19 at 16:00.  The load would be ready between 16:00-18:00 and was a drop & hook.  I arrived there about 15:00.

 

Unfortunately they didn't feel the need to load on time.  They didn't have it ready until 21:30, which is 3-1/2 hours late.  I did the math and came to the conclusion that they had eliminated any possibility of running this load legally and being on time to deliver.  It was 779 miles from point A to point B.  It took a little extra figuring because each time I was working with was in a different time zone.  I personally am on central time, so I was trying to "translate" all these times.  It came down to the fact that I had to be in Vernon at 7:00 PM my time and I had 21-1/2 hours to run those 779 miles. 

 

In California, I can average a maximum of 55 mph.  The closest I can get to that without going above is 4.5 hours for 235 miles of CA. (52 mph avg)  There are then 544 more miles of Utah, Arizona and Nevada, for which I can average a max of 65 mph.  That will require 8.5 hours for those 544 miles. (64 mph avg)

How that breaks down for the logbook:

Drive

10

Keep in mind as you look at these numbers that there is NO extra time included for meals or showers, traffic jams, nor for any other stops.  It is also assuming I can truly average 52 mph in CA and 64 mph in UT, AZ and NV.  With the mountains and weather in this region, quite often you cannot manage these averages.

Pre Trip

1/4 hour

Fuel

1/4 hour

Sleep

8

Pre Trip

1/4 hour

Drive

3

TOTAL:

21.75

 

Earlier I said they had given me 21-1/2 hours to do the run.  Above you see that even packed tight and cut to not even a spare second, I needed 1/4 hour more.  There are so many times that I would have run with this and made it.  Maybe I'm getting older, maybe just sick & tired of drivers being forced to make up for shippers' ineptitudes, but I wasn't "covering" for them this time.  I called in and said it couldn't be done legally and I'd be there as soon as possible.  They were unhappy but knew I was right because they didn't debate anything.  A big problem is that these meat plants set the delivery appointment long before the load actually loads.  Before the cow is even slaughtered.  If they're late in loading (which they always are) this throws off the delivery appointment.  They hate changing these appointments and rarely will do so. 

 

I stopped for some fuel in Parowan, UT and put it to bed in Las Vegas, NV. 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way to Hyrum, UT on UT 89/ UT 91.

 

 

 

 

If you see a sign like this, be reasonably assured you're going to a meat plant!

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I think this is the Excalibur in Las Vegas, but I'm not sure.... Please someone correct me if I'm wrong.  If I ever go into a casino, it is to take advantage of the cheap food -- I'm not much of a gambler.  Many casinos do have truck parking, though, so if gambling is your thing...

 

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South of Las Vegas is Whiskey Pete's.  Of course there's a huge casino as well as a medium sized truckstop.  They used to give free showers to drivers, but I don't know if they still do this or not...

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My personal favorite place to stop is in Jean, NV at Exit #12 on I-15.  They have a good prime rib dinner for cheap and a lot of front row truck parking.  Across the interstate is a small convenience store with a huge parking lot.

 

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12-19-00

Ghost Town Road Exit

Just north of Barstow, CA on I-15.

 

Traffic in the Los Angeles area was horrible, as usual, but thankfully the worst of it was going the other way.  There was a backup of about 20 miles on I-15 northbound.

 

It was interesting that I rolled into the receiver in Vernon, CA exactly 3-1/2 hours later than the delivery appointment.  (Exactly the amount of time they were late loading)  If I said I didn't plan that out on purpose, would you believe me?

 

The load came off fast and sadly enough I did not have an immediate reload.  This meant that I'd have to drive back to Ontario to stay the night.  Ontario is where the truckstops are and depending where you're coming from, its about 50-70 miles back there from the Orange County area.  That can be several hours depending on traffic.  Ontario is extremely busy with truck traffic.  There used to be a 76 and a T/A truckstop across the street from one another - but T/A then bought out 76 so now there are two T/A's... it looks kind of stupid but there it is.  It also costs $10 to park more than four hours if you didn't spend at least $25 on fuel, truckwash or in the store -- but that's provided that you can find a spot at all.  Between the two stops, there are thousands of parking places but many nights they are completely full and people start desperation parking -- parking in the aisles, etc, because there's hardly anywhere else to go.  If you park in the street beside the truckstop, you'll get a parking ticket.  Just as FYI, this area is an industrial area and there are many, many side streets that don't have "No Parking" signs posted.  The streets are wide and you can find a place all to yourself without a lot of trouble.  You'll notice as you come southbound on I-15 that many drivers choose to park on the side of the interstate in dirt "lots".  I don't like doing that, but I surely understand why they do.  Ontario can be so busy with trucks coming in and out that just to wait in the line to get out of the truckstop can take nearly an hour.

 

Anyway, I made it back to Ontario, CA and found the absolute last spot in the entire truckstop.  I went inside and ordered supper, then went outside to smoke.  (You can't smoke in any indoor establishment in California, with some exceptions.)  I started talking to another smoker about trucking, life, etc.  Somehow we started talking about accidents.  He said, "Nope, I'm too careful, it won't happen to me."  I thought, oh man, do you have a brother that drives for Dick Simon?  What I said was, "Your arrogance will kill you someday."  I turned around and walked away.  I hate arrogance and I especially hate it in a driver.

 

12-20-00

 

Upon waking I qualcommed in and was given the backhaul that would take me home.  It would load in Los Angeles, CA between 14:00-16:00.  It was going to New Jersey for 12-27-00, but I'd drop it in Council Bluffs, IA, as usual.  I made it back down into LA and this one took about 5 hours to get loaded.  Of course it was done right at 5:00pm Los Angeles time, prime rush hour and double bad since I'd be going east, the direction that a zillion other people were all trying to go.  I sat on the shipper's lot for two hours, waiting for traffic to mellow just a little.  Finally they were shutting down for the workday and told me to get out or be locked in. 

 

I ran the I-710 north up to the Pomona and across.  The Pomona (60) is a better way to go than the I-10 at this time of day, in my opinion.  It's a narrower road, but I prefer it anyway.  You can also completely avoid the mess at the truckstop exit because you can come in the "back way" by cutting north on the Miliken exit.  It's pretty slick.  It wasn't so slick for one driver, though, because as I neared the truckstop, he was sitting in his truck on one side of an intersection while his truck's hood was on the other. 

 

I grabbed a soda pop and found a parking spot.  I remembered the mess on the I-15N from the other night and wanted to avoid that as much as possible.   A couple hours later I took off and traffic was moving very well.

 

At Barstow, CA I fueled and decided to hang it up. 

 

Oh, have I mentioned that I have been basking in 65-70 degree temperatures ever since I hit the Mojave?  Hallelujah!!!!!!!!!!  I have actually ran the AIR CONDITIONING during the day time.  This is a definite JOB BENEFIT, if you ask me...

 

I12-21-00

 

I woke to a beautiful day -- blue skies and warm outside.  I wish I could bottle this stuff because I know that by tonight, it will be but a memory.  Time to go back into the arctic, though, cause that's where home is.

 

I admit to taking my sweet time in Barstow, CA.... I took a leisurely shower, worked on paperwork, goofed off a bit.  I was just loving the warm weather.  I finally motivated out of there in the afternoon.

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An hour was lost in Las Vegas, NV because of a wreck.  I wanted to be home so much that the trip was starting to really D R A G.  Some are just like that, I guess.

 

I made it to Evanston, WY and put it to bed.

 

As I was getting ready to go again in the morning after sleeping in Evanston, WY, I saw this truck pull in and park.  Later that night I saw it again in Cheyenne, WY but this time it was night and all lit up like, well, a Christmas Tree! 

 

To top it off, the two people in the truck were both completely decked out in Santa Claus suits!  This photo doesn't quite do justice to the great job these people did in dressing it up.

 

12-22-00

 

I've seen 2-3 more truck wrecks across Wyoming that weren't here the other day. 

 

I am incredibly bored.  I'm moving, but it is taking all my willpower to do so. 

 

I made a pit stop in Cheyenne, WY for fuel, shower and supper.  When I walked into the motel building to claim my shower, I must have looked stressed because the shower person said, "How would you like a bubble bath?"  I just stared at him with "duh" on my face and muttered something like, "Ohhhh you're kidding..."  He handed me two small bottles of bubble bath, towels and a key and smiled.  There are angels in human form, I am sure of it.  The water was hot, the tub was clean and the bubble bath heavenly.  My sore muscles were enabled to then push it on to to Lexington, NE before calling it a day.

 

12-23-00

 

Only a couple hundred+ miles to go.... The anticipation is killing me and I just want to be home..... it is so hard to concentrate on the job when all you want is to be out of the truck.

 

12-25-00

 

Merry Christmas to Everyone and Many Hopes for a Fantastic New Year!

Don't forget the REASON for the SEASON!!!!!

 

12-30-00

 

Time to go back to work... already.  Hope everyone had a Happy Holiday. 

 

One of the dumbest things happened at the start of this trip that has ever happened before in my trucking life.  I lost my truck.  More accurately, my truck got misplaced.  When I arrived at the yard, I drove around the lot to find the truck.  I always pull my car up alongside the truck to heave-ho my stuff into it.  I made one circuit of the lot and didn't see it.  I did another circuit and still, no truck.  I called dispatch (they're not located here at this yard) and asked if they knew anything about the truck being borrowed or something.  They did not.  Their computers said the last record of it was that it was shut off in the yard where I was.  I asked them if maybe it was in the shop and they replied that there was no way it could be -- that the shop always called them to inform them if they were holding a truck in  there.  They said to call them back  in 15 minutes.  They said they would have to call a supervisor, but were considering reporting the truck stolen.  I couldn't believe it -- isn't this one of those things that happens "to other people"?

 

As I waited for the 15 minutes to pass, me and the person who runs the fuel line got a flashlight and proceeded to peek inside the shop bays.  In nearly the last bay, what do you suppose we found?  My truck.  It was prisoner in the shop bay.  I informed dispatch and they said they didn't know why it was there, but that I'd have to call back in the morning.  SAY WHAT?  This is Saturday evening, so what good will it do to call back Sunday morning?  No one will be there on Sun AM to help me. 

 

I'll make an already long story shorter.... they sent me to a motel. 

 

12-31-00

 

On Sunday morning the truck was released from it's prison.  I was supposed to get an empty trailer out of the yard and head to Columbus, NE to drop & hook for Katy, TX.  There isn't an empty to be found here, though, so I head across town to a receiver that usually has at least a couple empties sitting around. 

 

Upon pulling into their drive, I see there are 3 trailers sitting in dock doors.  The place is closed.  I figure these trailers must all be empty but there's only one way to know for sure.  I picked the best of the bunch, a 53 ft air ride with ABS and back under it.  (Just for the record, even to this day, I get out and check the 5th wheel height before backing completely underneath.)  I hooked up the lines and cranked the gear up just halfway.  In case the thing is loaded, I don't want to have to crank the gear all the way back down.  I pulled it 7 foot or so out of the dock to peek in the doors.  Nope.  Nothing in it.  However, after closing the doors and as I walked up alongside the trailer to the gear, I notice the reefer tank is empty.  I checked the unit and see that it is still on, but in alarm.   This trailer has been dropped here with the reefer unit left on and has been allowed to run completely out of fuel in the dock.  The receivers couldn't be bothered to turn it off, I guess.  So much for that trailer.  No way am I messing with that... Getting a reefer re-started is a major pain in the you-know-what.  I qualcommed a message in to let them know they had a problem here, but it isn't going to be my problem.  Not today.  Trailer #2 is almost out of reefer fuel.  At least this time I was smart enough to check the reefer fuel level before hooking up.  Third trailer is a charm, though... full of fuel and empty. 

 

When you drop a reefer trailer most of the time the shipper will demand that the reefer fuel is full.  If it isn't, sometimes they won't accept it until you go fill it.  Sometimes the shipper will fill it -- at a cost per gallon about twice as much as usual.  This doesn't make the company very happy.

 

I head to Columbus, NE to pick up the load I was supposed to pick up yesterday.  At least by being so late it is actually ready for me.  It started snowing pretty hard on the way up.  I just wanted to hook the heavy trailer and get the heck outta there.  They were forecasting 4-6 inches in that area.

 

After dealing with a guard that was surely on dope, I got out of Columbus, NE and headed south.  I am just thrilled to death to be on the road on New Year's Eve.  For some reason, though, I've spent far more New Year's Eves on the road than anywhere else since I started driving.  I'm usually out in the middle of nowhere, which is just fine by me when drunks are running around all over the place.  There was one New Year's Eve, though, that I watched a limousine burn to the ground on the Dan Ryan Expressway in downtown Chicago.  Now that was interesting. 

 

Tonight, though, I don't see any drunks because I'm snoozing by midnight.  I make it to Tonkawa, OK, I-35 @ MM 214 and call it a day.  I see northern OK recently received 4-6 inches of snow and am impressed with how clear the roads are.  The exits are another story entirely, though.  They aren't cleared at all.  I discovered this as I exited at normal speed to find that I shouldn't have.  I do know better, but in all truth, I was tired and not as alert as I should have been.  Bad driver.

 

 

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