Yes! We made it home! Our home truck stop in sight.... we are here!
8 weeks on the road... it's a nice sight. I moved to Trapper's the weekend before we left so I know I have a mess to deal with, but it is a welcome mess.
I guess I will "really" move in and see my kids! Trapper's going to spend some time with his mom and I will deal with the inside of the house.
It's nice to be home for a few days... a toilet close by at all times, a shower, a kitchen, and the computer won't be bouncing around!
We'll return to the blog when we return to the road, in about a week!
Yes! We made it home! Our home truck stop in sight.... we are here!
South Carolina! We'll be home tomorrow!
Today we finished the few miles we had left and we are hanging out in North Carolina. We aren't too far from where we're delivering, so we're going to stay put.
For some reason we decided to clean the truck. The outside of the truck. The wheels, to be exact! So after 4 hours of working on them... we have nice shiny wheels!
We decided to walk across the parking lot to a Chinese restaurant for lunch... we played around outside Wal-Mart with these kiddy carnival things, and then we played around in the shoe store.
It's funny what you find to do when you're just waiting... I'm sure we were entertaining everyone at the truck stop with Barry White blarring from the truck... we forgot the windows were down!
Heads Carolina... tails California.... I'm choosing Heads!
We were dispatched this morning to go to Lebanon, TN drop a trailer and pick up a load that is going to Kernersville, NC. Which means we will be within an hour of the house but we've got to go right passed!
It's funny... we've been out almost 8 weeks, but once you decide it's time to go home.... It Is Time To Go Home! We're both ready to get there or say the heck with it and stay out!
Anyway... we make it to Lebanon, TN, drop the trailer and go back to Nashville, TN and pick up our load that is going to Kernersville, NC.
We spent the night, Friday night, at the Conway yard. Trucks moving around all night. I'm not sure either of us slept well... As soon as I get up I'm on the Qualcomm... not good... the new trailer number I sent them was actually in Mexico... needless to say... Trapper got a phone call wanting to know exactly what trailer we had! Oops... my bad!
It took us all day to get this done... Saturday we will be moving towards home...
After we received our dispatch last night, we decided to drive part of the trip. We stopped for the night at CFI/Conway’s terminal in northern TX. I tried staying awake with Trapper, but I had to call it a night. He drove a couple more hours and called it a night too.
This morning, I’m letting him sleep, and I’m going to venture to the terminal. It’s pouring down rain and colder than it was in Laredo. I think I should bring coffee back for us!
Not being in a huge hurry, we left around 2:00 p.m. and drove on to West Memphis, AR. Arriving there is a nice relief. Maybe we’ll get back on a day schedule now.
We dropped our loaded trailer and waited on another load. Maybe this load will take us home. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.
Deciding it was dinner time… off to the nearby Mexican restaurant! Ola!
Ok… We’re rested, reset, and ready!!
But, hey, we’re still 50 something on the board and we want to be headed to South Carolina!!
It’s 96 degrees here today. We should be sitting in the sun. Trapper’s playing cards, I’m blogging, and we’re getting stir crazy! Rumor has it there were 90 loads coming through customs, so hopefully we will be leaving here soon.
It’s nice when you have showers near, if you’re going to be in one place for an extended period of time. But, you can only take so many showers in a day! Dinner time is here… cool…. We get to move out of the parking lot!
We’re both happier when the truck is rollin’. Can you tell?
8:30 p.m. we get the “planned load summary” on the Qualcomm… we are headed to West Memphis, TN. We’re moving but not closer to home!! Oh well… we’ll make it home one day…
I almost forgot... unleaded gas in Laredo... $2.19!!!
9:00 a.m. arriving at the broker's to drop our load. There have been many times I'm thankful I am only a passenger. Today was one of them!
This is where we are delivering... someone has got to move!! Patience is a virtue with truck driving.
I've heard it said that if you can survive being an OTR driver... you can survive anything!
With Trapper's ability to maneuver this truck in spaces that I can't imagine... the trailer is unhooked from the cab and we are free!
As we were heading back to the terminal, I couldn't help but notice the similarity of Laredo to an ant hill. There are trucks every where. One was running down the street with the trailer doors open.
Out of all the terminals, Laredo is my favorite. It's warm here and very driver friendly. We're highlighted for home, so hopefully we won't be here all that long. We deliver tomorrow (at the broker).
We left IL yesterday and made it through MO today. We needed a couple of things done to the truck so we planned on stopping in Joplin, MO. This is where CFI/Conway Truckload has their headquarters.
The terminal was nice. Very driver friendly… weight room, basketball courts inside, nice facilities. They don’t allow bobtailing, so they run a shuttle bus back for the drivers.
After a short tour… we were back on the road. Our day was going as planned… no mishaps with the map, equipment, or anything out of the ordinary. Our stop for the evening was in Big Cabin, OK. This is where the day got fun.
As we were getting everything shut down for the day… I noticed these trucks… obviously waiting on the mother ship! Except for the PAM truck... I guess he/she was a stepchild????
I took so long in the shower Trapper came knocking on the door (to make sure I was OK????) Actually, he was waiting on me, which I didn’t know… and he must have gotten tired of being in the tv room…. He is way too good to me… and I stepped it up a gear when I realized he was waiting on me! He's a good man... LUCKY ME!
I googled this really quick and found out that he does a lot of truck shows. I’m not sure if he hauls anything or not… it didn’t say????? Quite customized! The trailer was custom painted also. The name of the truck is "The Gambler".
Trapper started driving early this morning to ensure we get this cider delivered on time. I choose to stay in bed…. 140 miles down the road, I decided to get up. I was surprised I slept that long, but traveling on the OH turnpike is easy riding… you barely notice the truck moving.
Unloading the cider from WI went pretty quick. We were only carrying 20 pallets. We left N Aurora, IL and headed to Joliet, IL. We had 1 hour to drive 34 miles. This sounded easy enough and we thought we could simply leave the same way we came; however, my Streets And Maps went blank as we were pulling out of the plant and we made the rash decision to follow the GPS. This was not a good decision!
We made it to our pick up with 5 minutes to spare. Whew!
Our drop n’ hook took forty minutes and we were on our way! While Trapper was finishing with the shipping department, I set the map and GPS!
Although we were at our destination, rise and shine came early. This was suppose to be a drop n’ hook, but they did a live load. Loaded, map set, and QUALCOMM messages sent, we left Middlebury, VT around 10 am. We deliver on Friday in North Aurora, IL.
We’re hauling 43,000 lbs of cider to North Aurora, IL. We brought empty bottles to VT from PA and we’re taking bottles full of cider to IL. Ultimately it will be repackaged and distributed to retail stores. A lot of miles will be in that bottle of cider on the store shelf.
Our QUALCOMM beeped earlier and we’ve been preplanned to pick up in Joliet, IL on Friday and deliver in Laredo, TX on Sunday, Oct 17. No play time on this trip! There’s only a couple of hours between our delivery and pickup once we get to IL.
We had a relatively easy day today. An early start proved beneficial. We arrived in Middlebury, VT around 4:00 pm. We’re heavy, so the mountains made it a little slower than normal. The leaves have turned nicely since we were in this area (upstate NY) 3 weeks ago. Our trip will take us through the base of the Adirondack mountains.
We arrived in Middlebury and found the Green Mountain Beverage Company. The shipping department had left for the day. We weren’t suppose to be here until Thursday morning, so we had a little time to kill. We decided to drop the trailer and go sight seeing.
I googled Middlebury, VT earlier in the day and found out that this is where John Deere did a couple of years apprenticeship prior to leaving for IL and starting John Deere Company. The town was built around a company named “Marble Works” and the majority of the buildings downtown are in the National Registry of Historic Places.
Vermont completes Trapper’s list of states he has driven through. He’s made it to all 48 now!
We bobtailed to town, found a place to park the tractor and walked around for about an hour. Most of the buildings had established dates in the early 1800’s and early 1900’s erected dates.
Dinner was at a little place called Rosie’s and then back to the Green Mountain Beverage Company for the night… just in time for the presidential debate; of which, I survived the first 30 minutes. Trapper somehow survived the entire debate.
We had 4 stops today. The first one was the dock we were backed up to. Our appointment time was 5 am, the second stop was at 7:30 am (9 miles), the third was 9:30 am (18 miles) and we were preplanned to pick up a load at 10 am in Glenshaw, PA (18 miles) headed to Middlebury, VT.
Our schedule sounded ok, but Michael’s loads are unloaded by hand. We were carrying a load of Lenox Christmas decorations. It was 7:27 am when the first load was unloaded. We sent the unloaded QUALCOMM message and we were dispatched 9 miles to be delivered in 2 minutes. We both laughed. Trapper called operations and they had already contacted the customer and advised we would be late.
It took us 30 minutes to travel 9miles. It was rush hour traffic, 35 mph speed limits, and really skinny curvy roads. Detours don’t help either. There was bridge repair and a detoured truck route. We finally arrived at our second stop. Being docked and checked in with the customer… coffee was a priority. A quick walk across the parking lot marked coffee off the list. By 9:30 am we were unloaded from our 2nd second stop and en route to stop 3. By now, we’re late for the 3rd stop and our preplanned load that we were suppose to pick up at 10 am. We get the dispatch to the 3rd stop and we were given 30 minutes to drive 18 miles. We just shook our heads at each other this time and drove on.
We find the last shopping center, pull in, go around back and viola! Check out (in the pics) the overhang on the building! They removed part of the corner of the building so a truck/trailer could make it around. The other pictures (of the rocks) are out the passenger window of the cab. TIGHT!!!
We got around the building, checked in with the customer, docked, and all the Qualcomm messages were sent. We were here until 12:30 pm. We received the dispatch for our 10 am appointment and we were given 30 minutes to drive another 18 miles.
Another call to dispatch to explain our situation, the dispatcher agreed to move our appointment time back 15 minutes. … The dispatcher didn’t seem to understand why we couldn’t make 18 miles in 30 minutes, so a little explaining that the speed limit is 35 and in some places it was 25. We now had 45 minutes to get there.
We quickly look at the map we are on the road. We twist and turn through these tiny towns, curvy roads, and steep grades. We drove right past the place because the name we had was not the name on the building… find somewhere to turn around (which in a tiny town is not the easiest thing to do)… and we arrive at 1:30 pm.
Feeling like we have run a triathlon… the guard met us at the gate. Really nice man and very apologetic. He told us they wouldn’t be able to load us for approximately 3 hours! Ok… so we sit… and talk… and sit… Around 4 pm we’re docked and being loaded. The pictures are of the building and the driveway around the building. You have to exit the same way you enter… there is no room. The plant is sandwiched between a hiway and a railroad track.
At 4:15 pm we get a QUALCOMM message that the load won’t be ready until the next day and we need to stay put and pick it up tomorrow. Trapper was talking to another driver… I read the message, but couldn’t bring myself to respond the way I wanted to. This is Trapper’s job after all.
Trapper gets back in the truck and I read the message to him. He just looked at me. His first words… “Did you respond.?” I said, “No.” He looked relieved. We were loaded shortly thereafter and I sent all the QUALCOMM messages. We were finally on our way to Middlebury, VT with 35,000k lbs of empty bottles.
At this point Trapper calls our dispatcher again and inquires about the message we received. Everyone was totally confused on this load… but hey… didn’t matter to us… we were loaded and rollin’.
Driving too long today was not on either one of our minds and legally we don’t have too long that we can drive or be in service. Our home for tonight was at a rest area and we were glad to get there.
The underlying message for today…. A little communication goes a long way. Correct communication goes further!
Ok so I can't spell squeeze... LOL
Monday, Oct 13
The further south we go, the more imperative it is to get the air fixed! Obviously there is a little heat wave, even though we’re in OH! The Kenworth place was a nice relief, but being as busy as they are we’re going to be here 3-4 hours.
Trapper decided to check out the area behind the building prior to pulling around back. This was probably the navigator's job, but I'm really glad the driver did it!
Wednesday, Oct 8
We drove through North Dakota for the majority of the day. Trapper wasn’t feeling well at all, so we didn’t push ourselves.
Thursday, Oct 9
Today was scenery and driving, which equates to me sight-seeing and Trapper working. We woke up to 14 degrees this morning! We made our way through Minnesota and Wisconsin. After pushing our hours to the limit and Trapper’s health to the limit… we stopped for the night relatively early.
Friday, Oct 10
With our delivery being Saturday morning at 4:30 am we made the delivery Friday night around 9 pm in DePere, WI. This was a decent drop and we picked up our empty trailer. There was a Wal-Mart close by, so that was our stopping place for the night. A quick trip into Wal-Mart and we were done for the night.
Saturday, Oct 11
Trapper called our dispatcher and we were told that we would probably not get dispatched until Sunday or Monday so we were off to find a truck stop. Both of us were a little aggravated because we had originally been told we’d be dispatched out on Saturday.
We found a truck stop and decided this would be home for a couple of days. Being behind in my domestic duties… it was time to do laundry. I found the laundry (two washers/one dryer) and everything was full. So… back to the truck. Waiting on the laundry to free up, we decided to do some house cleaning. Like any normal couple… Trapper took the outside, I took the inside (but being such a gentleman… he helped with the inside.) We took everything apart, cleaned it out, cleaned it up, and put it back together. The laundry was finished in two hours… one load… and off to dinner and then showers. Well… no showers… no hot water at the truck stop. We sat around in the trucker’s lounge, for the first time ever, and talked to 3-4 other drivers. The day was a good rest and we’re working on our reset so it all worked out great.
Sunday, Oct 12
The Qualcomm is a beautiful sound once you’re physically and mentally ready to go again. We were dispatched for New Lenox, IL with our final destination being 3 stops in the Pittsburgh, PA area. We had to be in Pittsburgh, PA Tuesday at 5:00 a.m. The air conditioner on the truck is in need of repair, so we have to schedule some time to get this repaired. Trapper’s feeling much better and we’re rested and rolling!
We were dispatched at 5:00 am pacific time to go to Puyallup, WA (134 miles and south of Seattle) and then our second stop was in Tigard, OR (125 miles and south of Portland) with our final destination being De Pere, WI. We are scheduled to be in De Pere, WI on Saturday morning at 4:30 am.. Gonna be a quick trip. No goofing off; although, this is a drop n’ hook and the warehouse is open 24/7 (at the other end). We have a little extra time but not much.
We pulled into our first stop, Shopko, and just looked around. The warehouse wasn’t too far off the road, there were intermodal trailers parked everywhere, there was one truck in front of us (coming out), trucks lined up and down the road, trucks behind us, drivers walking around looking for trailers, and yard boys moving trailers around.
Our faces had the same confused looked on them. This place was a shock. The guard told us to drop the trailer right where we were. Trapper repeated it to her just to make sure she said “drop it here”. It wasn’t but a minute later a yard boy came rolling up to move it. The guard also stated we just needed to “look for” the trailer we were picking up. (fyi… most places have each company’s trailers together in a large lot and point you in the right direction or at least trailers are somewhat in one location.) Again, there are trailers all ove this place. We drove around looking for the trailer and found it. Trapper decided to get out and walk over to the trailer to make sure he could pull it out. If the cab had been 6” longer, the trailer would not have come out. Can you say t-i-g-h-t!
Out of there and on to the second stop…. We only weigh 14,900 lbs so we made good time down I-5 south (outside of hitting Seattle at rush hour) to Tigard, OR. Arriving at the second place was a surprise to them. Our planner was suppose to give the customer the heads up about our arrival. This didn’t happen, so they were surprised to see us. Luckily they said they would go ahead and load us, but it would take a while.
Six pallets and two hours later… we were out of there. We’re still really light… only an additional 3525 lbs. added.
I have to say that any man or woman who can take a 53' trailer and a 10' cab and squeeze it around in positions that you don't understand until you see it... well... my admiration goes to you.
We drove a few more hours and decided to stop. Trapper still isn’t feeling real well and we look like homeless people. The truck stop at the Washington/Canadian border had no facilities for laundry or showers…. So… yes, exit 104 on I-84 has showers! But no laundry… I may have to do the laundry in the creek but I don't see myself bathing in the creek!! LOL
Enough truck talk… the pictures are of Seattle, WA, Portland, OR, and then the trip between Portland and Biggs Junction on I-84. How lucky are we to go to sleep and wake up to this view!
I understand now the saying I learned in real estate school... location, location, location!!
After getting a good night's rest... we are ready to get this load to Canada! My body's clock is still completely messed up; although, Trapper tries to keep us on Central time... I'm still on Eastern. I honestly don't know what time it is. The cell phones have changed to Pacific, the radio is Central and the computer stays on Eastern!
I decided coffee should be the first task, for me. Trapper's been up for awhile... on the phone and QualComm... trying to get our paperwork right and to the right place. You have to get the manifest approved and in the Canadian Border Crossing computers so you can get in the country.
After a quick brisk walk to the nearest convenience store, I return with coffee, jump on the internet to see what the stock market was doing and now we are on our way to the border. Our dispatcher has told us that no one (or not the right one) has received the faxes we sent yesterday, so our only recourse is to cross the border and be sent over to the brokers office and wait again.
Busy morning at the border.
A couple cool pictures I took while we were in line... check out the stacks on the red truck... and then the dog checking himself out in the mirror....
We find our destination and find out we really aren't suppose to be here until tomorrow! Ok... they decided to go ahead and unload us, but it would take the rest of the day... Ok... we decided to walk over to a restaurant and have lunch.
The rest of our afternoon was spent with me sleeping and Trapper reading. It was peaceful. They actually didn't rock the truck too much at all. We were unloaded around 4:30 pm pacific time and everyone went home. I sent the QualComm message that we were unloaded and we were sent a dead head dispatch to go to Ferndale, WA (29 miles). No problem... well... not so quick... you have to have an "empty manifest".
We chose to stay at the same little truck stop that we stayed at last night. It's close, available parking, and coffee is a short walk. The truck is rocking tonight... 20 mph winds and no weight... makes a difference.
The little aggravations were really worth it, neither of us are complaining ... this was an awesome trip.
Today should be a breeze... we only have about 150 miles to drive, the paperwork for our load of furniture going to British Columbia was taken care of, and all we really had to do was make a phone call to dispatch and verify our load had been accepted. What a breeze!
Hopefully someone will get us our approval in the morning. We've had this furniture so long I'm afraid that my emotional attachment is going to turn to separation anxiety when we have to leave it with strangers.
This morning seemed to start early... but I'm either 2 or 3 hours behind my body clock... so I really don't know what time my eyes opened. Trapper was already up and around and it is cold and raining!
Montana is even pretty in the rain. The terrain changes so much. You'll be in desert like terrain to mountains and quick too. We don't have to kill ourselves today driving. We have about 300 miles left of this trip so we'll probably take it easy.
A couple of hours later... we are taking it easy. We've stopped 3 times already! We stopped at a rest area in the mountains of Montana. We're getting close to the Idaho border. As soon as you stepped out of the truck... the scent of pine was the first thing you recognized. The trees are like nothing I've ever seen. They are a color green that we just don't have in NC.
The next stop was at Lookout Pass (Exit 0). This was where I saw the "Mountain Man" emerge out of Trapper. You could see it in his face. It's still drizzling and we were talking to another driver here that said we just missed the snow!
After seeing all the "chain up area" and "check your brakes" signs, not to mention the (what I call) "snow sticks" that are 7' tall... maybe I'm glad we missed the snow.
We reached Idaho... what an interesting history. The town of Wallace, ID was the city they used in the movie Dante's Peak. It was also home to the last red light on I-90 which enabled you to travel non-stop, coast to coast, on I-90 and the city had enough perseverance to have their entire downtown area listed in the National Registry of Historic Places to preserve the town prior to the construction of I-90 in this area.
Trucking, at times, can even be educational!! I've learned things about places that I would have never thought of before.
Driving on through Idaho and in to Washington, we had the opportunity to cross over the Columbia River. Absolutely beautiful. That's all that can be said about it. Spokane was next on the map... this town is full of old and new... side by side.
We drove on to the other side of Spokane and stopped at a medium sized truck stop for the night. We decided it was time for showers and dinner. With all that behind us... Trapper decides to go on to bed and I'm so confused on time there's no telling what time I'll turn in. After all, this time last week we were in Maine... 7 days later.... Washington state. I deserve to be confused!
We traveled through the remaining part of South Dakota and made our way to Three Forks, Mt before we ran out of hours today.
We ran hard today so we can have "play" time on Sunday when we reach the US/Canada border or somewhere close. We have to deliver on Monday morning at 5 a.m. so we'll cross the border Sunday evening.
This particular load, as mentioned earlier, has a lot paperwork and driver instructions with it. We don't want to wait until the wee hours of Monday morning to find out something isn't right. You don't want to play around on the front end of a trip (just in case something should happen) so if we're headed somewhere we've not been then we'll run hard and then save our time to play when we get close to our destination.
We probably didn't speak 100 words today... we were both engrossed in the scenery and I think I took about 100 pictures. Montana is VAST. That's the only word I can think of to use!
Time came for us to stop... we chose the Pilot at Three Forks, MT.... what an awesome view.
I didn't use all 100 pictures (lol)... I tried to pick the better ones... just click the arrow to start.
We started early this morning in Wisconsin. It was quite chilly.
Before we left South Carolina (almost 4 weeks ago!) Trapper was looking over the clothes that I was putting in the truck and just mentioned that I may want to take a few warmer clothes. My response was a simple, "I'm good."
But, I did put a pair of jeans and he slipped a jacket in the truck for me. I would have frozen this morning in my shorts, flip flops, and sleeveless t.
The drive through Wisconsin was nice. I get a kick out of the really large mice holding really big pieces of cheese.
Plus there were other things that caught my eye... this really large rock formation next to the interstate and crossing the Mississippi River (on the north side instead of the south.)
We crossed into Minnesota in the afternoon.... now, some of you will think I'm crazy, but I have never seen these awesome wind mills and I was fascinated. I have about 20 pictures of these but I'll spare you the pain! For my friends in North Carolina... I promised I'd add a picture...
We drove a few miles into South Dakota today. It was getting late and we were getting to our limit on hours, so we started looking for a resting place. Prior to stopping for the night we pulled into what must be the world's greatest rest area! This place was like a mini museum.... and the view... was breathtaking!!!
After enjoying this stop... we went to Mitchell, SD which is home of the Corn Palace. You should google this. The building was originally built in the late 1800's/early 1900's and the entire designs on the outside of the building are done with corn. The designs are changed yearly. Fascinating story and truly unique building.
A full day of miles, pictures, and fantastic scenery.... we decided to eat at Al's Oasis and head to the rest area to park it for the night.
This trip is the best of trucking. Yes, it is a job, first and foremost, but if you plan your dispatch and drive smart... you can squeeze in some fun time.