Posted on 11:50 PM

Thurs, Jan 29... 233 Mile Dead Head!

By Lynette at 11:50 PM

Today found me waking up and wondering where I was. Our delivery was 7:00 am and needless to say, we were there early. Guess I slept through the short drive to the delivery place. (Imagine that.)

Awake and bushy tailed now... the qualcomm has already beeped and looks like we're being dead headed to West Memphis, AR from Nashville, TN. The power report indicates they are 15 trucks short at West Memphis. Hopefully, this means when we arrive we'll be dispatched somewhere warm!!

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Ok... the power report lied... we're in West Memphis, TN and there are plenty of trucks. Our preplan is to relay with a driver, here at the terminal, tomorrow at noon. The good thing is that we deliver in Tulsa, OK on Friday night.

There are three good things about being at the terminal... one, you don't have to stay here; two, showers are abundant; and three, laundry is cheap!

Posted on 10:26 PM

Wed, Jan 28... Mother Nature!

By Lynette at 10:26 PM

Mother Nature is a force to be reckoned with... Our day started a few miles west of St. Louis, MO and ended close to Nashville, TN.

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Our route today started on I-64, I-57, and I-24. We came through St. Louis, MO, south to Paducah, KY, and east to Nashville, TN. Watching all the weather reports and checking all online sources... we knew it would be slow going for today.

As we were coming through Missouri the sight was snow... and lots of it!

I-57 was treacherous and not only that but you have to deal with people driving cars! I'll admit, I was most likely was one of these exact drivers until I took position in the passenger seat!

I've seen more trucks and cars off the road in one day than I've seen the entire time I've been in this truck. The further southeast we traveled the icier everything was.

There were trucks stuck in snow and ice on the ramps into rest areas, trucks in the median, cars here and there, drivers out trying to shovel their trucks free.... Another driver was reporting his wrecker bill of $1055.00 to get pulled out of a ditch. You didn't read that wrong... yes, one thousand fifty five dollars!

I-57 looked more like an ice skating rink... and it was stop and go traffic all day....

The CB was a constant chatter of traffic stopping, wreckers in the road pulling trucks out, trucks stuck everywhere, and one report of a big truck running a tanker completely off the road. Fellow truckers were quick to post an a CB APB for the hit and run truck!

Here we are in Metropolis, IL (Superman's home). There must have been 1" of ice on the lines and anything that wasn't moving. The newspapers at this rest area were still Monday's... today is Wednesday.

You know it's going to be bad when Jim Cantore, from the Weather Channel, is reporting LIVE from the town you are headed to!

Here we are arriving in Paducah, KY. The CB radio, being our lifeline today, was full of reports and questions from drivers needing fuel, needing road conditions, and questioning if anyone got the phone number off the wrecker going the other direction!

The bright spot to this day was when the day was over... (I'm kidding)... it was a sail boat that someone is redoing... we made a decision that this will be our next ride...

Our day ended at TA close to our delivery place at 7:00 am tomorrow. The night was spent cooking dinner and watching "West Wing". Thank goodness for boxed sets! TV with NO commercials!!!

Posted on 12:24 AM

Tues, Jan 27.... Half Day at Headquarters

By Lynette at 12:24 AM

It's Tuesday, it's cold, and it's still sleeting, freezing rain, and a little snowy in Joplin, MO.

Trapper braved the cold by himself this morning. I was perfectly happy in the truck. We're still at CFI/ConWay headquarters in Joplin, MO so he decided to get our permit book updated and hang out in the driver's building for a while.

My "alone" time consisted of house duties and drinking coffee.

Finally ready to brave the cold myself, I caught up with him in the driver's lounge. One television is on the Weather Channel and of course that's where I was. I'm glad we left Arkansas when we did and I'm very thankful we are no where close to Paducah, KY!

Everyone in the lounge had "tales of the road" to tell. Interstates being closed, trucks off the road, and near misses! One driver comes in and announces to everyone that a truck was leaving the yard, turned onto the street, and the trailer slid half way off the 5th wheel. Not good... and right in front of headquarters!

Again, I'm glad we are where we are. So, after finding Trapper we headed to the cafeteria for breakfast and then I received the tour of the complex. I've only been to this building one other time and this time I was able to see the infamous "war room".

The war room looks like the room from which they monitor the space shuttle. There are super large wide screens on the walls with weather maps, truck information, and safety reminders. We were also able to call our fleet manager and introduce ourselves. This is quite an impressive operation!

We returned to the truck and were greeted with a beep from the qualcomm.... it read... "come to local dispatch."

Trapper went to check out the dispatch and came back with the news that we're being dead headed to Kansas City, MO to sit and wait on a load. They are anticipating needing trucks in that area tomorrow due to the pressure the ice storm has put on the schedules.

As I was checking the Missouri DOT website all I saw was blue and pink on the interstates. Green means that particular stretch of roadway is clear. I'm not really looking forward to this 160 miles. I'll have the death grip on the arm rest again!

Off to Kansas City!

We arrived at the drop yard around 4:30 pm and as we were trying to decide what we were going to do... go to a truck stop, rest area, drop the trailer, keep the trailer... and about that time big brother (the qualcomm) beeps us.

I quickly check and see that we're being sent to LaVergne, TN. I looked on the map... that's right... straight through St. Louis, MO.... straight through Paducah, KY... to Nashville....

Knowing we didn't have the hours to complete this trip as planned, Trapper called dispatch and they moved the arrival time back for us and allowed time for road conditions.

I just thought I was nervous before...

We only drove about 100 miles and decided to shut down. Luckily we "made" a spot at a rest area and called it a night. The road conditions were getting worse, it was dark, and not worth risking it.

After all, we're carrying kidney beans not a heart transplant.

Posted on 12:16 AM

Mon, Jan 26.... A Day of Trials & Laughs

By Lynette at 12:16 AM

As much as we hated leaving our sacred parking space at Pilot this morning... we had to arrive at our delivery at 8:00 am. We slowly left our spot and it was quickly filled!

I gave up the "sleep" ghost as soon as we were docked. The trailer started rocking pretty soon thereafter. Our unload went quickly and we sent the necessary unloaded call on the qualcomm and we were number 12.

Oh well... we decided to drive back to Pilot and check out the parking, but to (not) so much of a surprise... all spots were full. Our truck needed a minor repair so we drove on down to the Kenworth shop, got the necessary go ahead from headquarters, and checked in at Kenworth.

The Waffle House, directly across the street, was sending high frequency vibes to Trapper (he loves their grits) and all of a sudden we were in Waffle House.

Our waitress was right on cue and we had breakfast ordered and coffee in front of us within a couple of minutes... it doesn't get much better than this... and then... she reappeared with bad news.... "Hi Sweetie, she says to Trapper, The grits are like soup and the cook won't sell them if she wouldn't eat them. Can I get you something else?"

Trapper had his heart set on those darn grits, but he's a gentleman and suggested she bring hash browns instead. We also had to ask for hot coffee vs. the luke warm in front of us. She graciously accommodated and we enjoyed our breakfast.

Our waitress appears again and as she lays the ticket on the table she explains that due to the mix up on the grits she discounted our ticket 10%. She goes on and on about the discount and how sorry she was for the mishap. For me, I'm thinking this is cool, every discount counts!

She walks on to another table and Trapper is looking at the bill and starts laughing. He slides the ticket to me and asks, "What's 10% of $13.94?"

I looked at him and replied, "Roughly, $1.40." At which point I have the ticket in my hand and it shows..... $13.89 total, 10% discount .14, total bill $13.75. We both just laughed. I guess it was the thought that counted.

The Kenworth place finished with our truck and due to the inclement weather expected for this region today and tonight, Trapper calls Headquarters and they dead headed to Joplin, MO. We were number 2 on the board at this point, but being sent to Joplin was fine with us for this trip. The weather was calling for freezing rain, sleet, snow mix... schools were dismissing early... we were ready to leave Springdale, AR.

We headed north on 71 and the further we drove, the worse things were getting. It was 28 degrees, light sleet/rain, the roads didn't look bad, but the windshield was freezing up, icicle on the mirrors, etc.

We arrived in Joplin and checked our truck into the garage (for a windshield wiper relay) and we decided to walk to the drivers part of the terminal. This ice storm came out of nowhere. By the time we arrived in Joplin the surfaces were ice! Walking was more like ice skating and that point was made clear as I fell and busted my butt! Luckily I went down slow and easy, so I wasn't hurt... a little shook up, but not hurt. I just don't bounce well!

Little did I know our trip back to the truck would prove more challenging! The wind had started blowing, it was sleeting bad, freezing rain, and you could not get any traction at all on your feet. At one point, my feet were moving, but I wasn't going anywhere. There's a slight slant on the grade of the parking lot, the wind was blowing, and I was slipping backwards. The only way out of this mess was to start moving as if I were cross country skiing (without the skis)... It was actually hilarious watching us... or at least me...

Here's the parking lot when we arrived in Joplin.

And 30 minutes later...tracks are gone...

A huge icicle, which actually slid off the mirror arm and then froze solid.

The qualcomm message finally came.... to all trucks at Joplin, we are experiencing a severe ice storm, you will not be going anywhere... to trucks in OK, AR, MO, or KY... if you are experiencing icing, stop safely and shut down.

I doubt anyone argued the point. Here we are in Joplin with all our siblings...

And the best picture of all... you know it's cold and nasty when the tires have icicles on them!

Our day ended on a good note. We're safe, sound, and warm and although we had a couple of trying times today... the laughs outweighed it!

Posted on 12:00 AM

Sun, Jan 25 .... Life At the Truck Stop

By Lynette at 12:00 AM

The word truck stop still seems to have such a bad connotation, doesn't it? Maybe this is the reason the words travel centers, travel plazas, or oasis have come to be... but I can think of several worse places to be...

This morning we headed back to the Pilot to try and secure a parking place. Showers and laundry were on the honey-do-list today. Trucks were parked everywhere... two and three deep in a couple of places. Just at the edge of this picture, to the right, is where the row of trucks started. We are packed in here like sardines....

Parked in the fuel island pull off area... we saw movement and Trapper put us in position quickly! We were not moving this truck today! There must have been 100 trucks pull through here today with nowhere to park.
Deciding it was time to do laundry... I packed it up and said good-bye... I knew I'd be gone for awhile. For all the folks that have never dared walk to the laundry room in a truck stop... here's a picture for you! It's not bad actually... a folding table would be really nice though...

And here is a picture of the hallway that has the showers.... Just like being at home. Four showers at this Pilot.

With laundry being finished, we goofed off all day. We cleaned the truck out... from being in subzero weather last week... we vacuumed, washed the floors, dusted, and I washed some dishes. We talked to Bill (our neighbor to the left that drives for Celadon) and the neighbor to the right who didn't say his name.
Trapper couldn't sit still so he was in and out of the cab all day, playing around on the computer, and letting me take candid pictures of him....

This van caught my eye early this morning. It's the one with the canoe on top of it. The van sat in that same spot all day. At 4:30 pm I noticed a man, with a gas can, putting gas in it. I had to stop and think about this for a minute... he was a at Pilot gas station but was putting gas in the van from a gas can...
Then I realized... it must have taken him all day to get enough people to give him little amounts of gas (as they were filling their tanks) or money, so he could afford the gas.... resourceful? desperate? or lazy?
As soon as he poured the 2-3 gallons (it was a small container) of gas in the tank... they were gone...

You learn to adapt to your surroundings out here. I've seen several camp sites where people live permanently, major truck stop areas have major tent cities in the grassy/woody cover leaf areas of the interstate exits, and hitchhikers are abundant.
Typically, most people are nice and considerate. Everyone has "their" story to tell but they all have the same undertone/questions... where are you coming from, where are you going, what state are you from, and how many miles are you running.
I've said before... it's not just a job... it's a lifestyle. There is a whole different world that operates out of the confines of what most folks consider "normal".

Posted on 11:15 PM

Sat, Jan 24... Leaving Choctaw Nation

By Lynette at 11:15 PM

Leaving Durant this morning, we were both glad the wind had stopped blowing so bad.

We are carrying only 5200 lbs of returned small appliances from Wal-Mart to Ozark Technologies in Springdale, AR and the wind was playing havoc with the truck last night. The truck stop started filling up quickly as the wind got stronger!

The Choctaw Nation is in total control here... there is an old casino behind us, the new one is beside us, and the store at the truck stop has a full blown casino room.

Traveling through Oklahoma is interesting. You find yourself on flat land, no trees or anything and then all of a sudden you're in the Ozark's. Parts of which are absolutely beautiful.

Look... Obama's car... it seemingly drives on water...

We're talking and driving along and we notice this huge plume of smoke ahead of us... grass fire? some kind of natural disaster getting ready to happen? tornado (no... it's not storming), so for miles we keep looking at this and trying to guess what it is...

Turned out all this smoke was coming from this.... smoke stacks.... in the middle of nowhere...

Made for good conversation for a few miles....
A quick stop at Wal-Mart proved we can handle being on a budget (remember $100 a week for groceries) and we spent $92.29!! Oklahoma, to my surprise, has a 9.147 % sales tax!! I almost fell over!

Our day was suppose to end at the Pilot on Hwy 412, off of I-540 in AR; however, it's the only truck stop for miles around and it was PACKED!!

We choose to drive on down the street a mile and stay in the customer's parking lot (the place we'll be delivering Monday morning.) We'll be in Springdale until at least Monday.

Posted on 10:28 PM

Fri, Jan 23.... The Day Starts with a Beep!

By Lynette at 10:28 PM

First thing... beep beep... Big Brother (the Qualcomm) was singing our song at 7:30 am!

Being that I get a great deal of pleasure seeing where we are being sent next... Trapper just says, "Ok, where to?" Being excited that we got a load so quickly... I glanced at the final city and it saw AR... for a split second I thought we were headed to Arizona... just to realize we were headed to Springdale, Arkansas.

It's a good run... we need a reset and the hours/miles will work perfectly for the week. It's a scenic run through the Ozarks and you travel through the Choctaw Nation... hmmm... did I budget for casino's?? (I don't think so...) Maybe I should do a budget restructure.

This load doesn't deliver until Monday... 435 miles in 3 days... it will be a relaxing trip.

A few more random pictures coming through Texas on I-35E North...

I've tried several times to get a picture of this building and today I finally did it. It's MONOLITHIC Dome Institute located in Italy, TX. OK? Creative nonetheless. A caterpillar with boots on it's feet. But seriously, after reading their website... these structures are billed as being tornado proof, hurricane proof, etc., etc. Again... creative design....

For my former co-workers... especially Misty... here's a picture of the AIG building in Dallas, TX... I know you have the address and phone number. Want me to stop in and get them on the ball for you? Make your numbers look a little better this month? LOL

OK... this is just NOT right... a Texas Heath billboard with a Condoms to Go store right under it? What is this? Did this store run out of money or space... please tell me they sell restaurants little packs of ketchup and mustard and there was a typo on the sign?...

Much to my surprise... and a little help from Google... yes, this is exactly as the name implies.

Moving on... an awesome picture of downtown Dallas, TX... if I do say so myself.

Our day ended in Choctaw Nation... we stopped in Durant, OK for the night. I've got to check the budget... the truck stop is within walking distance of the casino!

Posted on 9:54 PM

Thurs, Jan 22... No Appt Necessary!

By Lynette at 9:54 PM

I couldn't hang with my driver last night, I crashed about an hour before we stopped last night. Mornings like this start with me peering out the window to see my surroundings and try to figure out where we are!

With all the CFI trucks around, I realized we were at the terminal in West Memphis. Trapper hurried off to shower but I passed... choosing to stay in the truck, straighten up, read the news and drink coffee.

Moving out quickly... we are back on track to be in Waco, TX tonight. We deliver Friday morning at 7:00 am. It's going to be one of those "push all the hours" to the max and limited stopping days.

Our only planned stop was at the terminal in Lancaster, TX. We took ony long enough for me to shower and to get fuel. This was good with me... gave me a chance to put the snow boots away, slide on a pair of capri's and be a perfectly happy camper... out of all my winter get up!

I noticed on the bill of lading that appointments were not necessary at the Budweiser plant. This worked out perfectly for us... we hurried today, no delays, and minimal stopping... arrived at the Budweiser plant, unloaded, and made it to a truck stop with just a few "legal" minutes left.

This worked perfectly for us. We will be on the board first thing in the morning!

Being exhausted tonight... sleep was the main focus! (Here's the google map for this trip.)

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Posted on 11:24 AM

M,T,W; Jan 19-21.... Heck Yeah... 80 degrees!

By Lynette at 11:24 AM

Monday morning found us in West Fargo, ND dropping our hazmat load at the Con-Way yard and then heading to for Detroit Lakes, MN. As we exited from the interstate... we were both looking for the road to make our turn...
"looking" in more ways than one!

Can you find the street?

We arrived at our pickup in Detroit Lakes, MN... at Pet Source. Here are a few random pictures of Detroit Lakes, MN...

The first one says, "Wish You Were Here"! LOL

Further into Minnesota... buffalo, frozen lakes and ice shanty's!

Stopping for the night in Oakdale, WI, I had my first experience with "snowmobile routes". Obviously they ride the snowmobiles in the north like we ride motorcycles in the south... for fun, to work, etc. I noticed all these tiny road signs along side the interstate and when we stopped at the truck stop for the night, I saw more of them. Evidently, these are known snowmobile passes and the signs caution the driver to oncoming traffic, merge, and stop.

Tuesday started out with us leaving Oakdale, WI. We left at 4:30 am to miss the traffic in Chicago, IL. We did miss the traffic but... were delayed an hour and 1/2 by a fluke little snow storm that lasted for 25 miles. Funny how a little bit of white stuff stops traffic in it's tracks!

We are hauling 42k pounds of kitty litter... natural kitty litter, that is, made from wheat! Kitties were not included, thank goodness. And we're delivering this to PetsMart in Groveport, OH on Wednesday morning.

Our appointment at PetsMart in Groveport, OH was 7:00 am and we were unloaded by 7:30am. I will give this place the "unload award"... we were no more backed into the dock and locked, when the trailer started bouncing... our kitty litter was gone and we were preplanned to pick up a load of beer at 10:00 am in Columbus, OH and take it to Waco, TX!

My job, at this point is to map out the dispatch, send the qualcomm messages, and make sure everything is secure before we leave.... for this preplan, forget all that business....

I checked the weather first! I knew TX had to be warmer than OH.... weatherman says we have 80 degrees in my near future! Yes!

Unloading kitty litter was a bit faster than loading beer. This was suppose to be a drop and hook, but someone must have dropped the ball and it was a live load. A live load that took about 3 hours.

Hauling beer comes with two pages of driver instructions. The funniest one reads, "in freezing weather conditions truck must idle at all times to keep product from freezing." Come to find out... the vibration of the engine idling is just enough to keep the liquid moving and prevents freezing. (Never knew that!)

Three hours later we have our 46k pounds of Bud Light and headed south!

The plan is to make to somewhere, TN tonight...

Posted on 12:18 AM

Sun, Jan 18... Snow Measured In Feet!

By Lynette at 12:18 AM

Maybe the cold weather has now left us... coffee brewing and a welcome 26 degrees this morning. With only 100 miles to drive, today should be a breeze!

As we were sitting in the truck, kicked back, drinking coffee, and enjoying the conversation... we were interuppted by a beep beep!

A preplan? That can't be... but with the second beep, we knew we had it. I anxiously grabbed the Qualcomm to see where we would be headed.... right back where we came from! The mapping part will be easy enough!

We meandered around a little and headed west on I-94. Not being in any big hurry we goofed off a lot this morning

Here are my "snow measured in feet" pictures.... click on the first one so you can actually get the right perspective of how much snow this part of MN has... this is a covered picnic table area at the rest area.

Here I am with 10 feet of snow behind me. Simply put, there are snow piles everywhere in this state. Snow on top of snow.

And this is just to show you what the side roads, parking lots, and shoulders of the interstates are like. It's an inch or two of frozen icey mix.

Of course Trapper's loving life! The mountain man in him is wanting to come out! He seems in his element here...

We made it to Fargo and parked at a truck stop 5 miles from our delivery point in the morning. We have been preplanned to pick up a load tomorrow in Detroit Lakes, MN and deliver that load in Groveport, OH on Wednesday.

I'm glad we got this run, it's been interesting and I'm very tickled we are not still in the Pittsburgh or Baltimore area. With the president-elect whistle stopping it through there and the inaguration coming up... can you say HEADACHE! It's hard enough manuvering on a good day... much less with a couple of million extra lost people!

Here's a map of our next dispatch...

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