It has been a long nine days since I have written.

We made it to Portland. I slept most of the way and Liz got to drive through snow and fog in the dark in the mountains. Western Oregon is everything I have ever heard. Very beautiful and wet. After that we headed to Butte, Montana with a FedEx load. Lots of FedEx freight is carried by other carriers. Some of their locations are just like in the movie Castaway and others are a little smaller. The guy who accepted our load in Butte was also the same guy running the forklift. Of course it was 11:00 at night. Next we took rolls of paper from Missoula to near Salinas, CA. Ran nearly 150 miles unpaid. We then picked up empty boxes for Bose and took them to Phoenix. From Phoenix we got a reefer (refrigerated truck) to take to Albuquerque, NM. You are supposed to get some training on how to take care of a reefer and we had never had that. I got a phone call with a brief statement on what to keep an eye on. Fortunately nothing went wrong and once again Liz got to drive up mountains in the dark. We are supposed to deadhead back to California but our truck is making funny noises so we are sitting in Albuquerque waiting to see what the problem is.

Getting paid. We are paid based on a the Rand McNally Household Movers Guide. This is the definitive document that the large trucking companies and moving companies use to bill customers. However it rarely covers all the miles required to actually drive the route. The trip from Missoula to Salinas is listed as 1085 miles. In reality given a route that a semi can drive on in any kind of reasonable time, including the route we were instructed to use is 135 miles longer. Typically we get screwed out of five to eight percent on a trip but this one was over 10%. Some companies pay “practical miles.” These are the miles that it really takes to make a run and is one of the criteria we have for finding a new company once we both have six months done here and get our tuition money back.

Jerry is a bit of nut about driving as his last comment proves. ūüėČ I’ll try and cover a few things he asked about.

Meals: We eat a wide variety of ways. We have some food in the truck that we heat up in the microwave at the terminals we stop in. Last night we actually had chicken breasts with spaghetti sauce and cheese on it. It was really good and made several drivers jealous. Other days we eat in a truck stop. That is a real crap shoot. There are five major players in the truck stop business. Pilot, Flying J, Loves, Petro and Travel Centers of America (TA). Or at least it looks live five players. Petro and TA merged several years ago and Pilot is taking over Flying J in January. The big problem with this is that Flying J has nice little restaurants with a good variety of food. Pilot’s on the other hand are all fast food. They are the single biggest franchiser of Subway but also have other fast food restaurants. The current rumors are that the restaurants in the Flying J stops will be taken over by Denny’s.

Fuel bills. Fortunately we don’t pay for the fuel out of pocket. We have a ComData card that we use like a credit card. When we fill up we typically put in 100 to 175 gallons at about $2.75 a gallon. A $450 bill is not uncommon. Heck, topping up the tanks puts more fuel in them than you typically can put in your car.

Other expenses. Tolls and scales are the most likely expenses. We submit the receipts with the other paperwork from the trip and get paid with the next check. Up to two weeks later since we get paid a week behind.

Hopefully they will call us shortly and tell us the truck is OK so we can get going. Not driving is not earning.

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