Posted on 1:57 AM

Fri... Jan 29.... Into the Storm!

Filed Under () By Lynette at 1:57 AM

This week has been crazy... nights, nights, and more nights. There's nothing like picking up a load at 11 p.m. driving/riding 400 miles and delivering at 8 a.m. You fall asleep at the dock while you're being unloaded and then wake-up to find a truck stop or parking area. Once your there, you go back to sleep for a few hours, get up, eat, and wait to get beeped... or not sometimes. If not, you're just up all night. This has been our week, until Thursday night....

We left MS on Thursday morning and drove to West Memphis, TN to relay a load. Our relay arrived and we headed to Joplin, MO. I was skeptical because of the winter storm that was brewing! Our trip to Joplin was uneventful and I was sure that we'd get shut-down there because the weather was suppose to turn bad. I was making plans to sit in the truck until at least Saturday and the Joplin terminal. It's a nice place so I was content.

However; Trapper asked me where I wanted to go, if we were given a choice, and I quickly said, "North!We can anywhere but OK, AR, or TN." I had studied the weather maps and wanted no part of Oklahoma or all the snow that was being forcast.

Well 7:00 a.m. Friday morning we are dispatched to Coffeyville, KS and then to Dallas, TX! That's right.... due west and then due south.... right through Oklahoma!

We left Joplin, MO around 7:30 a.m. on our 444 total mile trip. Conditions weren't all that bad, but I prefer dry. We drove 70 miles west to Coffeyville, KS and I was ready to shut-down... I'm such a passenger!
Here we are approaching Coffeyville.

We made it to our pick-up and within a little while we were headed toward Oklahoma. Here we are on a 4-lane state hiway that runs through OK... I was ready to call it a day! Due to all the bad weather this month, etc. the company would say, "If conditions are too bad to drive in, find a secure place, and stop. Communicate with us." My question to you... as you look out our front windshield.... do you see a place to stop???

South of Tulsa, OK our pilot car finally showed up! We fell in behind a snow plow and we stayed behind the snow plow!!!!

A little futher south, as we crossed into TX, the snow stopped and the roads were much better. We made our delivery (a little late) and headed to the terminal.

The majority of today was spent at 30-35 mph. We averaged our drive time and I think it was 41 mph. It was a long day!

Posted on 12:54 AM

Fri... Jan 22.... Back to Texas

Filed Under () By Lynette at 12:54 AM

The trucking gods must have been in our corner Thursday morning when the qualcomm beeped. We were sitting in Roanoke, VA when we were dispatched to Abingdon, VA to pick-up and deliver in Laredo, TX.

As for tonight.... Fri night... we sit in Lancaster, TX..... tomorrow night, yes, Laredo! I don't mind Laredo, as I've stated many times before. I think we are going to reset there so I will be able to go in the terminal, spread out, and concentrate on school work.

Last week one of my assignments was "time management". We had to complete a "daily schedule" and analyze it to find time in our schedule that could be utilized better. OK.... I looked at it and laughed then I emailed my instructor.... "Melody... after reviewing this week's assignment, I have a question for you. I ride, up to 11 hours a day... I can't change it, make it better, or sugar coat it. bla, bla." She replied, "Do the best you can with it." Boy... it took a master's degree to tell me that? I pushed through the assignment and came out on top!

The other assignment was "learning to study and finding the right atmosphere that works for you. There was a worksheet to complete. (I know I drive my instructor's insane with my answers.) Here's a sample:

1. What was your environment while studying?
Answer: Sitting in the back of our cab on the bunk with my material spread out, bouncing down I-70 in Indiana. I felt like I was sitting on a trampoline with someone else jumping on it. Studying was impossible.

2. What did you do to change/enhance your environment to better aid your study time?
Answer: I decided to wait until we crossed into Illinois where the interstate was smoother.

How many other students do you think they get answers like that from? Probably not too many. But, I decided that I should make good use of my time out here and finishing my education was my goal. Trip planning has also turned into school planning in order to get assignments turned in on time, etc.

Another experience!

Posted on 4:47 PM

Wed... Jan 20... Coffee-Mate Crush

Filed Under () By Lynette at 4:47 PM

This is what happens when the Coffee-Mate bottle gets stuck under one of the front seats. The seats are "air-ride" so with every bump.... it gets lower, lower, lower!

Yesterday we left Rocky Mt, NC and headed towards Greensboro, NC. We're really kind of messed up right now because we only have a very limited number of hours on our 70 ours. I think we are down to 2 hours. Where can you go in 2 hours.... not far!
We spent Tuesday sitting at K-Mart Dist in Greensboro, NC. We picked up our trailer around midnight and headed out to Roanoke, VA around 3:30 a.m. Arriving in Roanoke, VA at 6:00 a.m., I decided it was time to say goodnight.

According to Trapper it took them 3 hours to unload us. The K-Mart store unloads by hand and the trailer was full... We are stopped now just outside Roanoke in the pouring rain. Laundry, clean house, and lunch were all that was on the agenda for today. Hopefully we'll be dispatched after midnight.... we gain a good many hours at midnight. These little shuffle runs are enough to drive a person insane.... maybe we will actually go somewhere this time!

Posted on 12:35 AM

Mon... Jan 18, 2010.... My 200th Post

Filed Under () By Lynette at 12:35 AM

January 18, 2010 and I am making my 200th post! I can't believe I've written so much! Some day I'm going to spend weeks reading this and remembering the fun (most of the time) that we have had out here.

My 200th post is going to be dedicated to the folks that read this blog (and others) to decide if trucking would be for them.....

Trucking might be for you if.....

  • you can sit in your walk-in closet for an entire weekend.
  • you can handle NOT taking a shower every day.
  • you can read a map.
  • you can drive 600 - 650 miles a day within 11 eleven hours.
  • you don't mind sitting for very very long hours.
  • you don't mind crazy people slamming their brakes on... in front of you!
  • you don't mind extreme climate changes.
  • you are not totally dependent on your GPS.
  • you don't want to pay rent and utilities. (some people don't have a physical address)
  • you like the hermit lifestyle currently.
  • you don't like being around humans or having interactions with humans.
  • you like a change of scenery... every hour.
  • you can back a trailer.
  • you can handle wearing the same clothes a couple of days in a row.
  • you can handle being away from your family.
  • you understand that not many people care where you've been or what you've done.
  • you understand everyone else's life goes on while you're on the road.
  • you can understand the "70 hour rule".
  • you are not high maintenance.
  • you don't require your t-shirts ironed.
  • you can figure out how to keep all your "business affairs" in order.
  • you can manage to not drink or smoke dope for weeks on end. (no, mom... this is not a problem for us, but it is for some people that we've crossed path's with! LOL)
  • you if you don't need contstant entertaining.
  • you can live in one time zone, run a log in another, and deliver in yet another and be on time!

  • you like the potential to make as much money (solo 1-2 yrs.) as a school teacher (in SC) with a bachelor's degree and 25 YEARS service!

I think the last reason is the main reason most people subject themselves to this industry and this lifestyle. It's still funny to me.... this job is classified as "unskilled" labor.

Fellow drivers/riders are reading the list laughing to themselves (you know it's all true) and future drivers are thinking that I'm crazy!

I look forward to the next 200 posts!

Posted on 11:06 PM

Sun...Jan 17.... Back in PA

Filed Under () By Lynette at 11:06 PM

Our relay arrived in Pocahontus, IL last night around 10:00 p.m. Our 14 hours were exhausted so after the quick trade of trailers... they were on their way to Phoenix, AZ and Trapper's only thought was going back to sleep!

I knew we were headed right back the way we had just come and my intentions were to stay up as last as possible so I could sleep through Indiana! I-70 is terrible in my opinion. So, I woke up this morning some 300 miles back toward PA... I think we were in Ohio. I will have to stay "thank you" to the folks that finally decided to raise the truck speed limit in Ohio and Illinois... made the trip a little easier!

The rain sat in and so did the fog! The flashing traffic signs were blasting a warning to slow down to 30 mph and even that was too fast. Luckily, it was just a few miles of fog coming down the mountain.

Tomorrow morning we deliver at 8:00 a.m. and I really hope they let us sit.... Trapper may disagree but we're both exhausted. He doens't say much, but I can tell.

We only have a few hours falling off our 70 hours, so we may get stuck on the PA shuffle! Those are those short tedious runs between PA and Jersey and if we're really unlucky..... over to NYC.

It's no wonder companies pay drivers more for driving in the northeast. PA is alright... the turnpike is easy to navigate and parking is not that big of an issue. New Jersey and New York (along with Delaware and Rhode Island).... well, forget it. There are too many people (drivers) and very limited parking. Everything is so compact shall I say!

I forget exactly which state, but the welcome center sign proudly boasts..... "Welcome to _______" and underneath.... "NO TRUCKS ALLOWED"..... ok... One day the trucking companies are going to say, "No mass, No mass.... if you want it, come to the state line and get it yourself!"

Three days of that and the citizens would let us park in their front yard! LOL

Posted on 12:48 AM

Map.... Jan 10 - 17

By Lynette at 12:48 AM

View Larger Map

You can click on the map to make it bigger or use the link. We had a busy week!

I have to admit, my admiration for solo drivers to get anywhere on time is at an all time high!

We made it to Rome, NY on Thursday. I did find some snow as well... it was pushed up in the parking lot and the pile of snow was taller than the cab of the truck. I'm glad I wasn't there watching it fall!

Thursday we were dispatched to Cortland, NY to pick-up and load and deliver it in Monroe Township, NJ on Friday.

Friday we delivered in Monroe Township, NJ and picked-up in the same town. That's a rariety. We then delivered that load in Mercerville, NJ. On the way to Mercerville, NJ we were pre-palnned on a load to Phoenix, AZ.

Ok... stop the clock! Time out! We had to stop and do the math on the pre-plan. Our 70 hours are getting low with not a lot falling off... we had to break the news that since there was no delivery "window" we would have to relay the load. The company choose Pochahontas, IL for the rely.

I was dreading getting to Pochahontas. There's really nothing there. It's a nice drop yard with bathroom facilities and that's it. A big gravel parking lot. The best thing is this restaurant next door with fabulous Walleye!!!!

My dreading was cut short with another pre-plan! As soon as we drop our load at the yard, we are picking up there and heading back to Mechanicsburg, PA!

For all the non-drivers that read this let me explain... every time we stop there are at least 5 qual comm messages to send in. There are directions to the next place to write down with other info and we put the directions into the map and the GPS. The driver has to calculate their hours to make sure they can get to the next place legally. And then... there is getting there.

It saves us time because I am always available to do to the paperwork or computer stuff while Trapper does the trailer and the paperwork inside. I would go crazy, forget what stop I was at, and probably drive off without my trailer if I were doing this all by myself. Oh! and don't forget the 600 miles to drive (or however far it is.)

Truck drivers are a tough breed of people. This job and this lifestyle would not suit everyone!

Posted on 11:56 PM

Wed... Jan 13... Where's the Snow????

By Lynette at 11:56 PM

We arrived at our logistics place in Savannah, GA at 2:30 a.m. We were, like always, 30 minutes early for our pick-up. Trapper slept most of the evening due to the fact he would have to drive all night.

Of course, when he walked back out to the truck and asked me to check the qualcomm to ensure we had written down the right order #.... we both new something wasn't going to be right with this load.

And guess what! We were correct! There was NO paperwork nor was there a load going to Rome, NY.... nothing.... nada..... the poor guard looked the guard shack over for the paperwork. A call to dispatch was unproductive, so we headed back to the truck stop and to send a quick "free form" message.

The qualcomm said it was to be a live load, but the place was actually closed. The employee's didn't come in to work until 7 a.m. My typing skills and interpersonal skills.... that's right... he dictated and I typed.... "Shipper has no record of load, they open at 7 a.m., will continue sitting at truck stop until advised further."

That sounded professional, huh? I finally went to sleep around 4 a..m. and poor Trapper stayed up, reading. He slept all afternoon... sleep was not on his agenda.

Finally, around 8 a.m. the qualcomm buzzed us to return to the shipper. As much as I wanted to blame someone on the night shift, it wasn't their fault this time. The clerk that transports the bills to the guard shack at night had "dropped" a couple of bill of ladings and our load was one of them! How cool was that? Lucky us... wish I could pick the right lottery numbers!

We hooked up, it was a drop n hook, not a live load and headed north. I really wanted to see some snow and I figured I would about the time we crossed into Virginia. Here's all I could find, so far.

I'm sure as we trek northward toward NY I will find some more.

Truck driving and flexibility must go hand and in hand!

Posted on 11:52 PM

Sat - Tues... Jan 9-12... Playing Catch-Up

By Lynette at 11:52 PM

We decided to reset our hours in West Memphis and Trapper suggested we go to a motel for Saturday night! Needless to say... I put up NO fight about that. We've only been out a week and we're headed to the motel. How sad... we're getting old. Normally we stay out 6-9 weeks without resorting to the motel. LOL

It was a great break. While we were at the terminal we did the normal things... shower, laundry, fill the water jugs, clean the truck out... we got to the motel later on Saturday... Trapper watched tv and I worked on school work. I thought this online schooling would be easy out here... well, being on the road is an added challenge!

Sunday our relay arrived from California and we hooked up and headed to Atlanta, GA. We arrived at the terminal there around 11:00 p.m., dropped our trailer and started looking for an empty. Ok... no empties. Now, again, it's a pain in the butt if you don't have a trailer, so we were bummed and headed over to the drop yard in Atlanta. This place spooks me... I've made mention of this before... it's the drop yard next door to the prison... the drop yard with razor wire across the top of the fence.... the drop yard from.... I don't think I need to say more.

Luckily though, we found an empty there and hooked up immediately!

Monday, we ventured over to the Pilot... fellow drivers... you know the one... the second smallest Pilot in the world... Ex 53 I-285.... this place is ridiculously small and if you get in... well... getting out is another story. There was a bump up in the parking lot and we decided it was time to go back to the drop yard.

We were finally dispatched to pick-up at 10:00 p.m. and haul butt to Jacksonville, FL. We had to be in Jacksonville at 4:30 a.m. Yippee... night shift!

We rolled into Jacksonville, FL around 3:00 a.m. (we loaded and left a little early from Atlanta) and ended up sitting until 4:00 p.m. We were dispatched to pick up in Savannah, GA and ultimately we will end up in Rome, NY.... I'm sitting here in Savannah with the windows rolled down a little, truck turned off, and the bunk heater is off.... I think my luxury will come to an end soon... somewhere around the Virginia state line probably! I see cold weather in my future!

Posted on 1:33 AM

Fri... Jan 8... West Memphis, AR

By Lynette at 1:33 AM

We left Baton Rouge, LA on Wednesday morning and arrived in Laredo, TX around 7:00 p.m. Wednesday night. We were both ready to get stopped.

Normally I look forward to the warm weather in Laredo and it was warmer.... than the rest of the country... for a short while. I think it was 57 degrees when we arrived. Of course, we took advantage of the easy showers and by the time I turned in for the night it was 42 degrees. That still wasn't too bad.

Thursday morning, anxious to get out of there, we sat and sat and sat some more. Finally, around 4:30 p.m. we were dispatched to West Memphis, AR. The weather Thursday was horrible everywhere. We kept getting qualcomm messages about wrecks in Iowa. If I had been in charge I would have called all the drivers in Iowa and asked them to stop as soon as they safely could. Wreck after wreck after wreck. The temperature in Laredo was around 30 degrees by now and the wind was rocking the truck.

Due to all the backed up freight in the country, we (along with 9 other trucks) were deadheaded (paid for it, but no load...) 879 miles from Laredo to West Memphis. Evidentally, the company had a lot of expected trucks that had gotten stuck various places in the US.

I wasn't particulary looking forward to traveling north, empty trailer, and the wind blowing as bad as it was, but we had to go.

We stopped at the terminal in Lancaster, TX around midnight and left there on Friday morning. We safely arrived in West Memphis, AR at the terminal this afternoon and then came the fun part. The dispatcher asked us where we wanted to go....

Our choices were New Brunswick, Canada (north of Maine), Quebec, Canada (west of Maine), or Georgia! The two first trips would have been awesome in miles and scenery (under good conditions) but we decided to stick with Georgia. We were both at home so long, getting back out here and getting used to traveling 600 miles a day is kicking our butt's right now. There were two other drivers that jumped on the long loads, so everyone will be leaving West Memphis happy!

Our load doesn't pick up until Sunday night, so we're going to reset here. Groceries and laundry tomorrow and I'll even be able to get a jump start on school for next week. I see a trip to the hotel in order!

Posted on 2:01 AM

Did You Feel That?

By Lynette at 2:01 AM

Sitting here quietly at the itsty, bitsy, tiny, small, no space Pilot in Denham Springs, LA (exit 10, I10) broad daylight, sparsely occupied....our trailer rocks!

I hear a faint "bang" and then I feel the cab shove forward and backwards. I quickly asked Trapper, "Did you feel that?" At the same time I look out my side mirror and see a Swift trailer sideways behind us.

"Oh my gosh, we just got hit!"

"What? No we didn't. Are you sure?" (I'm still trying to figure his thought pattern with that series of sentences.... didn't he hear me, was he making a statement, or asking a question... all three at the same time?)

In my excitement all I can say is, "Yea... the Swift truck." as I bail out my door to run check this out!

I don't know what I was thinking.... here I am a professional passenger... if I saw damage was I going to run after the truck? What was I going to do if I caught the truck? I could see me now... chasing a Swift truck through the parking lot, jumping up on the step and demanding the driver stop?

I checked out the trailer and there wasn't any damage that I could see. I never see the trailers when we pick them up... I'm always in the truck. I wouldn't have known if we were damaged or not, unless the doors were ripped off or something! Trapper was out of the truck quickly too, checking to make sure we weren't damaged. If we had been, I wonder if he would have said, "Catch that truck!" (probably so, lol)

The bump was no worse than backing into a dock, but it was the principle. Someone, a professional driver, driving in a tiny parking lot (this has got to be the wierdest Pilot in the USA) as if they were driving a Smart Car.

Posted on 1:39 AM

Wed... Jan 6 .... Trailer Theory

By Lynette at 1:39 AM

Anyone who is in the truck driving industry knows that you don't want to get stuck without a trailer! When Trapper came home for Christmas he was dispatched to take his "empty" trailer to Columbia, SC. We knew it could be a mess when we went back on the board.... but....

Sunday morning we go on the board at 7 a.m. We are preplanned to pick up a load at the terminal about 30 miles from home at 10 pm Sunday night. Ok... we thought... that's easy. Trapper called the company just to ensure they knew we had NO trailer. The qualcomm was showing a live load. Here lies the problem... How were they going to live load us and us bobtail???? Can you say weekend crew????

We decided to leave the house around 5 p.m. The truck was fairly ready with all the clothes, supplies, food, my stuff (and lots of it), etc., etc. We turned the heat down, set the light timers, turned the hot water heater off, unplugged tv's, computers, and small appliances. Leaving a house for weeks at a time is time consuming. We loaded a few more things in the truck and off we were.

As we're driving our few miles he calls dispatch just to reconfirm that we have NO trailer. The dispatcher, "Hold on." Next thing.... the qualcomm... "Load Unassigned." Next thing, "Sorry, you have no trailer, we can't load you if you have no trailer." My comment... well.... I won't type that.

We make a U-turn and return home. It's funny. Once you decided to come home you are ready to come home... once you make the decision to go back out... you're ready to go back out. Period! It's a mind set!

I was willing to stay at the truck stop vs. going back home for the night. That probably sounds pathetic but upon returning we had to undo all the stuff to the house that we had just done an hour before! Being mentally worn out by this time, sandwiches were in order for dinner. I couldn't face unpacking anything out of my fully and very carefully stocked fridge in the truck!

Monday rolls around and we were dispatched to Aiken, SC to pick up an empty trailer. Ok, so let's close the house up one more time.... we arrived in Aiken and.... wait for it...... the shipper wouldn't give us an empty!!!! I just laughed.

Another call to dispatch.... this time we had to explain the circumstances of the prior day and try to explain why we are running all over the state with no trailer! Finally, we were preplanned to pick a load up at this same shipper at 1:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

All is well now. We have a good trailer, stocked full! We're sitting tonight in Baton Rouge, LA. Every job has it's draw backs I suppose. There must be a trailer theory though. The qualcomm doesn't allow you to send some info if you can't put in a trailer number, you can't be actually put "on the board" if you have no trailer. My suggestion... death to the trailer theory! It's hard enough out here!

Posted on 11:16 PM

Fri... Jan 1... A New Year!

Filed Under () By Lynette at 11:16 PM

My month at home has come to an end now and I'm actually looking forward to returning to my home away from home!

The Christmas holiday's were a hoot around here. Trapper made it home on the 23rd. He was highlighted and sitting 50 miles from home but it took a little coercing to get the company to go ahead and dispatch him home. On the way to the house, the qualcomm beeps 4 times and the message was to take the trailer 100 miles east, drop it, and bobtail home. WHAT????

His mom, who has a passenger pass, was here at the house so I took her.... hauled butt down the interstate, and met him on the shoulder! She had never riden with him so the 200 mile trip was an experience for her! I told her she could mark it off her bucket list!

We had a house full for Christmas.... Trapper's mom and son and then my two children came down. My parents came down a couple of days after Christmas and spent the day with us.

We are very blessed to have the family we have.

My mother climbed up in the truck and was kinda amazed looking when she realized we had only one bunk! We had to have the top one taken out and a shelf put in. We needed the room.

Everyone seems amazed that we both can live and survive in such a small place. At times, we are surprised and impressed both!

It does actually take a lot of patience and the ability to adapt to change in order to survive living on the road. This lifestyle would not be for everyone.

So we will be headed back out, together, on Sunday morning. Being stuck without a trailer won't be the ideal situation but I'm sure the company will find us one somewhere close!