Archive for February, 2010

The New Truck

For the most part we like the new truck.  Much smoother ride, bigger beds and mine has a real mattress. Storage is still a problem but after we get home we will reduce some of what we are carrying and see what we can do. All of the controls for the cruise, radio volume, flashing the headlights and marker lights are on the steering wheel so that is real nice. As you can see from the picture the TV us in a good place and it works as a computer monitor quite well. A little hard to tell but when the picture was taken i was downloading e-mail and getting ready to right this post all the time connected to the Internet via my iPhone.  On an EDGE connection this is a little slow but not too bad. I find it amusing that my newest computer uses a TV for the monitor just like my first computer. The computer is the little silver box at the top of the picture

Old Truck

New Truck

Computer Setup

By the way, this was all done while driving through the Arizona and New Mexico deserts at 62 miles an hour over the EDGE connection. Liz was driving.

My Amazing Wife

As you recall we have an ongoing issue with the size of our truck and how our DM and her boss treat us. As we got to Phoenix it just came to a head for Liz. She tracked down our terminal managers contact information and called him. She let him have it with both barrels. About the truck, the DM, her boss, the whole thing. We now have a brand new truck. I mean a 2010 model and we are the first to drive it besides the person who brought it in from the factory in Mexico.

Beer

We have 2808 18 packs of beer, nearly 45,000 pounds of beer. It was put in the trailer no later than February 20th in Mexico and is scheduled for delivery to a warehouse in California on March 3rd. Imagine if it was August. Maybe we should all be looking at our local brewers more often.

Well it was calm for awhile

I haven’t posted because we were actually getting in to a routine. We were getting decent trips and I was adjusting to night driving. After we went to Austin and then back east things fell apart. The length of the trips got shorter which meant pretty much no late night driving. Then we got stuck for a day because of the first mid-Atlantic snowstorm. The next day we talked to drivers and determined that the highway we needed in Virginia was clear so we left Harrisburg, PA and headed south. Our mistake was we did not ask about how the 35 miles that went through Maryland and Virginia were. That took over six hours. Two of it just parked on the highway. There was two inches of snow and ice which meant slow driving, people driving off the road and one case of a truck unable to climb a hill. That is what shut us down for two hours. Once we finally got to Virginia things opened up again.

Of course this all made us a day late for delivery. We had a follow on trip to Florida scheduled and plenty of time to pick it up but someone decided to remove that load from us and so we got stuck for half a day and when we finally got something it was a short haul. We have been running up and down the eastern part of the country for nearly two weeks. We did get to go to Florida so now we have been to 38 of the lower 48 states.

While headed to Indiana from Florida we got a trip that was about 900 miles but had to be picked up 180 miles from our delivery and only 30 minutes after. I contacted the night crew and we worked out that I could pickup late as there was plenty of time to deliver. I just needed to send in a message saying I would be late for the pickup. As I was tired and had time to spare I stopped for a nap. I sent in the message and went to bed When I woke up a couple of hours later I had Been removed from the next load and told someone was on the way to pickup my current load because I was running late. Apparently no one actually reads the messages about being late and didn’t realize everything was under control. I got it sorted out but of course was not given the other load back.

Then we got a trip of 305 miles that went to Chicago. A great replacement for a 900+ mile trip. That is what is unloading now. Fortunately our next load picks up around the corner and goes to Nogales, AZ. Hopefully we can get out of the snow and it will be warmer there.

The irritating theme here is that as drivers we are constantly told to be aware of our surroundings, be on top of things, make sure our paper work is correct, etc. But a planner simply sees a “running late” message and gets to go in to panic mode with out checking the details.

Way Behind on Updating

Clearly I have not updated in a long time.  Really not much has been going on. We have actually been keeping busy and getting a fair number of miles. It started out slow. After Conor’s graduation we had made ourselves available on Sunday the 24th but got nothing.  The truck stop we were in only held about 15 trucks and six of them were from our company. Finally Monday afternoon several of us got sent to Columbus, OH as a reposition move. This allowed us to get our “B-Service” done. This is an oil change, lube and other preventive maintenance. That went well and was complete in less than 90 minutes. There can be a two or three day wait at other terminals before you even get looked at. Unfortunately they found a couple of problems that required the regular maintenance shop to look at us and that killed the rest of the day and left us with a very small check for the week. Since then however we have been from Columbus to Laredo to Atlanta to Pueblo to Elkton, VA.  That was 5,499 miles between the 26th and the 3rd. We then deadheaded over to Chesapeake, VA to pick up a load to take to Albany, NY and right now are in a truck stop in Harrisburg, PA waiting out the weather before we go to Knoxville, TN and after that Palm Springs, FL Sitting in the snow on Friday and we will be in the sunshine state on Monday.

On the stupidity side we did have one event related to the pickup in Chesapeake. Apparently the company has problems with drivers getting to some shippers early and this causes problems so they won’t dispatch you before a certain time. typically the beginning of the pickup window. The dispatch gives you the address to pickup at, If you don’t have that it is harder to get there early. The stupidity part was that the window had already opened but they kept telling use we couldn’t get there until 9:15 which was the end of the window. We also had nearly 200 miles to drive. Finally we got through to the right person and they dispatched us. Then adding to the stupidity was a long list of requirements for the condition of the trailer that we took in. Fortunately our trailer was good but it would have added more time had we had to go find a trailer. Then we ended up spending two hours at the shipper because our trailer was not where we could get to it and they were in the middle of a shift change so no one could go get it.

Today Liz met a couple who team like we do and amazingly enough they used to be out of Lancaster and had the same DM we do.  They agreed she was a complete failure at her job and that once they got moved to a different terminal their opinion of the company greatly improved. Looks like we need to work on that again.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel is pretty neat to do once. The drive north through Virgina, Maryland and all of Delaware is a pain though. Before we were allowed to cross the bridge they actually measured the height of the truck to be sure we were not too tall. The toll was $35.00! These are pictures from the bridge and the entrance to the first north bound tunnel. Click on the images for larger versions.

The tunnels are one lane each direction but in 1999 the bridge portions were expanded to two lanes each way with the opening of a parallel bridge.

Hopefully tomorrow the roads will be under control and we can get rolling again. Need to get the trailer full of coffee we have to Knoxville.

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