31 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 90 (90 Days? Really?!)

It's hard to believe I've been doing this series for 90 straight days (so far). By the end of this year, I'll probably say the same thing then (except 365 will replace 90).

Alan and I stopped at the yard in Madison, IL, which is right next to East St. Louis, IL (and I'm sure I don't need to say that's right across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, MO... but I just did!) and took take of a few things: shower, laundry, shopping, and, of course... Starbucks (my first stop in a week). The good thing is, we don't have to go through St. Louis tonight, since today is the season opener for The Cardinals.

Presently we are continuing our trip to Lenoir City, TN. I was hoping we would be getting Alan back to Little Rock tomorrow so he could get his own truck, but that may not happen until next week. He's a little bummed, as am I, but in this line of work, you have to learn to adapt, as things change quickly. For example, I once had a load with 3 stops: Los Lunas, NM, Casa Grande, AZ, and Riverside, CA - ALL Walmart Distribution Centers. Well, the Riverside drop cancelled part of the order... while it was en route! It's one thing if it hadn't shipped yet, but I was making the Arizona drop when they cancelled the order for 4 pallets of product. In my opinion, that is too much power they have been given... but what do I know, I'm just a measly consumer.

What are your thoughts?

Am I overreacting?

Am I off base?

Should I NEVER go more than 4 days without Starbucks?

- Another rant via BlogPress

30 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 89 (This Load Is A Piece Of Cake - LITERALLY!)

We were sent our next load assignment just before noon to pick up a load at Dolly Madison Bakery (yes, that Dolly Madison) in Emporia, KS. I would have really liked to have gotten this load dispatched sooner, then we could have covered more ground by now. This load has two drops: one in Moberly, MO (just west of St. Louis), and it finishes off in Lenoir City, TN (just west of Knoxville), with a whopping grand total weight of less than 14,000 lbs.

Moberly's drop is due in the morning, which is why I would have wanted to be dispatched sooner; we could have gotten loaded, down the road, and shut down earlier than the predicted 2200 that we are presently looking at. That, and I may have had some time to visit my sister in Kansas City. After we deliver Friday morning, I'm really hoping that we will get sent through the N. Little Rock yard, so Alan can get processed out of the training program and get his own truck.

Out here in Kansas, where we're about 50-70 south of Kansas City, there appears to be a battle raging between winter and spring; spring is vying for control of the weather, but winter isn't ready to go into hibernation yet. Though, judging by the tweets I've been seeing in my twitter stream, it seems that people are ready for spring to assume control... but I'm rather enjoying this cool weather!

- Another rant via BlogPress

29 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 88 (Subway Or Chester's Chicken? Maybe Some Noodles.)

We left out of Mt. Pleasant, TX at 0815 and are making our way to Enid, OK, and so far, the weather has been rather bleary, to say the least. Though I still see it as a beautiful day, because The Lord has provided another day for me.

We got to the customer just before 1500, got unloaded, now we are sitting at the Love's truck stop in Tonkawa, OK, and we may not get our next load until tomorrow. It's just as well, since I've got a headache right now, probably just pressure from the cold/overcast weather.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

Hopefully Starbucks.

That would be nice.

- Another rant via BlogPress

28 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 87 (Oklahomaaaa, O.K. - I Guess)

We unloaded this morning in Longview, TX, and are now sitting at a chicken plant (NOT Tyson), waiting to pick up a load bound for Enid, OK, though the 0700 delivery tomorrow we will not make. This is due to, as I've mentioned in previous posts, us being out of hours in accordance with the "14 hour rule" as established by the Department Of Transportation, a.k.a. DOT.

In a few more days, Alan will be processed out of the training program and his status changed from "student" to "driver", and he will be getting assigned a truck. I think he will do well, as long as he keeps his current level of caution.

I sit here looking across the street and I see a chicken wandering through the trailer drop lot, possibly plotting its next phase of the impromptu escape, one that was suddenly "hatched" out of opportunity. It reminds me of a time, several years ago (and at a Tyson plant in NC) when Michelle saw a loose chicken. She ran after it, trying to chase it off the property, shouting, "Run away! Run away! Save yourself" - very similar to Eric Idle in Monty Python & The Holy Grail, except he was running away... from a rabbit.

Aaaah, the funny memories we have, and the odd situations of life that trigger them!

- Another rant via BlogPress

27 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 86 (In Texas, Is It Still Called "Texas Toast" Or Just "Toast"?)

This morning we started from Fairview, TN and continuing to make our way to Longview, TX. Alan got some good experience yesterday - we had some snowfall coming through the Louisville area, big flakes I might add. It wasn't exactly a heavy fall, much like what is commonly seen in Denver, CO or Cheyenne, WY, but it was uncommon, since it was Kentucky in mid-March.

These last 2 weeks he has seen a bit of the real environment I have endured all these years - rude, inconsiderate, and self-centered driver... especially from fellow truck drivers. The good thing is, he remains undeterred from continuing in this line of work (we all have to support our families, right?).

This trip will find us making our way through Texarkana, a city that, like Kansas City, is on a state line and covers two states (Texarkana is in Texas & Arkansas; Kansas City is in Kansas & Missouri). I was hoping we would make it into Longview tonight, but our logbook hours won't allow that plan to come to its fruition, so we'll have to finish it up in the morning.

In just a few more days I'll be dropping Alan from my truck and he'll be getting his own, then I'll go home for a few days. I may have a new student by then, and the cycle will begin anew... or there may not be any students.

I'll find out.

Sooner or later.

- Another rant via BlogPress

26 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 85 (Texas, Anyone?)

The appointment time to load today was for 1400 (ET), but we got it loaded and on the road before 1100 (ET), so that is a plus (or in the words of Charlie Sheen, we are #winning!). Alan backed the truck into the dock, and did quite well... plus, it also helped that he had room to work with.

The next couple days will be busy, as we only have our logbook hours that we pick up each day to work with - not much spare time to play with. My goal is to get us into Longview, TX on Sunday, then we can have our full day of hours to work with first thing on Monday.

Sitting in the passenger seat offers a different view (and different perspective) of the road, but it also allows more of a chance to look around at the passing terrain (though to be going through New Mexico or Arizona while in this seat would offer some great photo opps. It will be a lot greener here in OH in about another month and a half, unlike now:

The company I drive for, hopefully, will be getting more freight going west, so I can post those shots... until then, not much by way of mountainous photography.


- Another rant via BlogPress

25 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 84 (Wooster? What's In Wooster)

The Nestlé load we had didn't make it to Bedford Heights, OH by 0800 (we ran out of hours), so the broker that we got the load from had it rescheduled for 2000. However, it got unloaded about 3 1/2 hours early (which is good), so Alan drove us here in Wooster, OH, where we will pick up our load tomorrow afternoon, though we are hoping to get it loaded early as well. This load will take us to Longview, TX, which delivers Monday.

Today, I have moved Alan into the 3rd phase of his training. What that means is he will be doing it ALL - the only thing I will be doing is observing. For this third week, it will be as if I'm not in the truck... he will do all the paperwork, route planning, calling customers for directions, etc; basically, I'm just getting him fine-tuned and prepared to go solo: his own truck. Although, I have informed him that once he goes out in his own truck, I am still just a phone call away, should he have any questions. Three weeks could never give you even a majority of "real world" scenarios that one may encounter as a truck driver. These last 2 weeks, Alan has seen many types of situations he may encounter, but still has barely scratched the surface. In the 10+ years I've driven, there is still something I encounter that I haven't dealt with before.

I think he will do well. Only time, and experience, will refine his skills and abilities that three weeks cannot.

- Another rant via BlogPress

24 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 83 (Cleveland Doesn't Rock - It Just Wobbles)

Alan and I are still here on the west side of Allentown, but now we are getting loaded at Nestlé with product delivering tomorrow morning in Bedford Heights, OH, a suburb city of Cleveland. I had Alan back into the dock door, which posed a bit of a challenge for him, since there are trailers just across from the dock doors, not to mention the trailers in the doors on either side of us. But he did pretty well. I was outside spotting for him since he had not done anything like this before, but he took it in stride, and did a pretty good job.

Though it's less than 400 miles to Bedford Heights, the longer they take to load us - and as of this writing, they haven't started - the longer this night could be.

Last night was nice, though, because while we were in the truck stop, it snowed - and it was pretty watching it come down. There wasn't very much, but it was enjoyable watching it fall. The Weather Channel called for a rain/snow mix last night (which it did), and snow today (which has yet to show itself).

Maybe snow tonight.

Maybe not.

- Another rant via BlogPress

23 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 82 (It Was 20 Years Ago Today... )

Yes, it was 20 years ago today, but there was no Sgt. Pepper, nor any band... but there were lonely hearts (two to be exact). As I promised in the third paragraph of my Day 76 blog post, this is a special blog, dedicated to my soulmate & best friend, Michelle.

On this day, two decades ago, Michelle and I met - 1 week after I returned home from Operation Desert Storm, and 1 week before I would propose to her, though I had never met her until this day... well, not this day, but this very date, minus twenty years... you get the picture.

The young woman whom had introduced us was Christina. I had met Christina through her sister Caroline, in fact, I had known that family for about 5 years (Caroline and I met doing community theatre together, and had become really good friends).

The day Michelle and I met, I had spoke with Caroline and they were having a get-together for Christina's birthday. My car was temporarily out of commission, so they picked me up at a music store (where I picked up a few cd's) and brought me to the house. When I agreed to go, that's when Tina (Christina) began her plotting, because Michelle, at that time, was separated from her husband, and Tina had told her about this "really nice guy she HAD to meet." When Michelle arrived, I was chillin' in the den, while Tina was telling her that the "really nice guy" was there (though at that time, Michelle was adamant against meeting ANY men). When I walked into the front room, Michelle was bent over, looking through my bag of cd's. "Love & Rockets? Skinny Puppy? Frank Zappa?! Who listens to Frank Zappa?!" she asked, in disbelief. I replied, "What's wrong with Frank Zappa?" When she stood up and turned around, our eyes locked... and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

We have had our share of rough times (and we sometimes wonder if somebody else pawned off their share on us as well), but The Lord has helped us through EVERY time. We've learned to put our faith & trust in Him, and I continue, to this day, to thank Him for bringing Michelle into my life. The other day on the phone, she asked why I sounded so excited, and I told her it was because I was talking to her.

"You really need to get a life" she said.

I replied, "You are my life!"

I love you, Michelle, and I think we should go another 20... thousand years together...

Whadaya say?

- Another rant via BlogPress

22 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 81 (There's No "Panic On The Streets Of London" - Ohio, That Is)

We started off this morning from Strafford, MO and are now shut down in London, OH... a total of 612 miles away, 305 of those were driven by Alan. Tomorrow we will finish this trip, plus I have my special blog post to put up (I've given a few teasers in the past).

As of right now, we only have about 461 miles left on this run, and where we head to next is unknown. Obviously it's been a full day, and one that has been fueled by not one, but TWO visits to Starbucks - how cool is that (yay, me)! Tomorrow I will make a call to the customer we are delivering to, in the hopes they allow for overnight truck parking on their property, which I hope they do as it makes things a lot more convenient.

We shall see!

- Another rant via BlogPress

21 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 80 (Well We're Heading Out To Allentown - Yes, Another Song Reference)

It's Monday, the day is over, and we've been given the bird again... turkeys this time. Alan (my student - for any new readers) and I are taking a load of Butterball to PA. Today, one of the instructors at our company's training center was checking up to see how Alan was doing, to which I informed Mike that Alan was doing quite well.

At our company, any new student that gets on a truck with a trainer, must be out at least 3 weeks before getting their own truck and going solo. If that trainer is still not comfortable with the student's abilities, they can keep them out another week or two. With what I have seen, I don't think I'll have to keep Alan for more than the required minimum time frame. I have been pretty impressed, and, basically, all I'll be doing for his last week is fine-tuning. One thing that helps a trainer is when the student is not arrogant, as most younger people are. Alan, being slightly older that I, is neither arrogant, cocky, nor a "know-it-all." These next (less than) two weeks will be to help him to find a routine that is beneficial to HIS success; a pattern that will help him to remember all that is required, until it becomes to him as it is to me: second nature.

I'm quite sure of this...

... and I'm never wrong - I may not always be right, but I'm never wrong.

- Another rant via BlogPress

20 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 79 (Monday, Monday - Blah, Blah... Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah)

Tomorrow is Monday, another delivery (this one at 5 in the morning)... I really don't like these early morning deliveries. Alan and I stopped at our yard in N. Little Rock and got a shower, did our respective laundry and I took care of some other business that needed tending to. We got here in Clarksville still before sunset. What tomorrow will bring, as far as our next load (or anything else, for that matter) is still undetermined. The good news is... I got some Starbucks!

Now that the weekend is over, there is another week before us, plus we have to worry about regaining a few hours on our logbooks. Though I think we may have to shut down somewhere and try to get a restart (which I think would be our best bet).

Tonight it's kind of cool, not cool enough for my liking, then again, you know my preference.

Did I mention that I get Starbucks today?

Carpe Java!!
(Seize the coffee)

- Another rant via BlogPress

19 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 78 (Going To Clarksville, But Not On The Last Train)

For those of you that are not well versed in pop culture/music, my parenthetical title was a reference to an old song by The Monkees; for those that did catch the reference... well... your age is showing (just kidding).

I'm sitting in Franklin, KY, just 1 1/2 miles north of the TN state line, and about 40 miles from Nashville. There are still quite a few miles to cover, but I'm hoping tomorrow is not a long day. Alan has been doing well, but I'm beginning to reconsider this whole trainer thing. The way I see it, if I'm going to be scrutinized so harshly, then why bother? I'd be better off just being a regular driver.

In the philosophic words of Forrest Gump, "That's all I'm gonna say about tha-yat!"

- Another rant via BlogPress

18 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 77 (Can I Get A "Do Over" Please?)

The long and short of it: this has been a day I'd rather not repeat, nor really go into tonight. Let's just suffice to say it's been a bad day.

Perhaps I'll go into detail tomorrow.

... or not.

- Another rant via BlogPress

17 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 76 (And Tyson Is So Great Why?!)

We got here just before lunch and security had us drop the trailer in the lot. We had one load preplanned, it cancelled, then this one, which delivers tomorrow morning in Washington Courthouse, OH - which the trailer is still not loaded.

I've said it before, I'll said it again: I detest dealing with Tyson!

Today is St. Patrick's Day, and it's hard to believe that 20 years ago today I was leaving from Kuwait and heading back to Camp Pendleton, CA, just 2 weeks after the cease-fire was called on Operation Desert Storm. It still doesn't seem that long ago... yet, 20 years ago today, I had no idea what would be in store - and YOU will find out what exactly that it, but you'll have to wait until the 23rd (hint: something happened that would forever change my life for the better).

- Another rant via BlogPress

16 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 75 (You Just Might Be A Truck Driver Yet, Kemosabe)

A lot of progress has been made by Alan today... Sunday (his first actual day of driving with me) he drove 195 miles, today he covered 410 of the 553 we covered. As any truck driver will attest to, it takes time to build up your driving stamina & endurance. It's no easy task to condition oneself to drive several hundred miles per day, not to mention the multitude of other tasks you must attend to with each load; route planning, time management, customer directions, and fuel stops along the way are just a few.

By the third week, I should be doing nothing more than sitting, observing, and fine-tuning... Alan should be doing it all as if it's his truck and he's the only person in it - so far he's off to a pretty good start.

We would have already been at the customer's facility, except Knoxville road crews decided to reduce the east bound side of I-40 from 3 lanes of traffic to one - DURING RUSH HOUR! That in itself delayed us enough to have to shut down 80 miles away (we ran out of hours).

It happens... we'll go at it again tomorrow.

15 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 74 (You Are Doing Well, Young Jedi)

We finished our trip to Horn Lake, MS, which Alan drove the last 200 miles. I also had him back the trailer into the dock door, just to see how he performed... and my analysis can only be summed up in the words of Darth Vader: "impressive... most impressive." While the trailer was getting unloaded, I spoke with Patrick (another friend and fellow truck driver) and jokingly told him that Alan backed a trailer better the him.

After the trailer got unloaded, I drove us up to Matthews, MO, where we got fuel and showers (NOT together), then finished our journey to Dexter, MO, where our Wilkesboro, NC load was not only ready, but preloaded on one of our spot trailers (rather efficient for Tyson). We are now back in Matthews, where we parked for the night.

Seeing the influx of trucks trying to get the last remaining parking spots reminds me of some of the outlying areas of California, where trucks, there too, are scattering about trying to shut down for the night. Two such places would be Mojave (between Bakersfield and Barstow) and Lost Hills (about 120 miles north of L.A.). I've always liked parking in areas like that because there is a certain amount of isolation, away from the cacophonous cities. A place to look up at the sky, and even, in the summer months, feel the warm breeze blowing across the desert floor. Depending on where I'm at, even here the rustling of a lone tumbleweed as it makes its way, aimlessly, through the California tundra.

- Another rant via BlogPress

14 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 73 (Another Day)

Unloaded in Indianapolis this morning, waited 1 1/2 hours, reloaded in Indianapolis (which took a couple hours - they were behind) and Alan (my student) and I are heading to Horn Lake, MS... which is basically a suburb of Memphis, TN. It's due at 0700, but it's not going to make it, as we ran out of hours.

It's all good, though... 18 pallets of corn starch. He got a little more driving time in, this time in the rain (yay, him). He handled it pretty good. Maybe tomorrow I'll put him through a rougher task - driving through Memphis.

- Another rant via BlogPress

13 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 72 (Not Bad At All, Grasshopper)

Left this morning from Rogers, AR, made it all the way to Indianapolis, IN without a hitch. I got us through St. Louis into Illinois and stopped at the first rest area on the eastbound side of I-70, where Alan "got his feet wet" for a while. He drove all the way to the rest area just before Indy. 195 mile stretch and he did pretty good, considering that's the longest leg he's driven in a big truck, in one sitting. There's still 3 weeks with me he has to complete, but I think his progress will come along quite well.

I like what he said earlier when he told me he wants to make this training period "as boring for me as possible." Now that's a positive outlook (meaning he wants to do well... VERY well).

We kick this stuff off tomorrow morning, but no idea just yet where we'll be off to next. After all (in the words of Scarlett O'Hara) tomorrow is another day.

- Another rant via BlogPress

12 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 71 (Indianapolis Bound)

Left out this morning and picked up my student today. Alan lives in Missouri, used to be in construction, and seems laid back and eager to do the best he can as a truck driver. I don't claim to be a good judge of character, but The L-rd has given me a sense of discernment - and in Alan's case, my initial observation is that he will do well at this.

In order to help him in this new venture, I did the driving here to Rogers. Tomorrow he'll get some time behind the wheel. There will be updates on his progress in the next few weeks.

Baby steps...

After all, it worked for Bill Murray (watch the movie What About Bob?). I'm quite sure Alan won't take as long.

Tomorrow will be a full day, so, for now, I bid you goodnight.

... And don't forget to set your clocks ahead.

- Another rant via BlogPress

11 March 2011

The Road Scholar -Day 70 (So Much For The Weekend Off)

Got the dreaded task of having a tooth pulled today. I'm glad I got it over and done with, but what stinks is I'm going to have to go back out on the road tomorrow. I'll head to Little Rock, to our yard, to pick up my first student, then head up to Rogers, AR to pick up a load going to Indianapolis, IN, for Monday morning. Monday was actually the day I was planning to head out.

I'm getting ready for bed, bearing with the mild post-op pain. wondering what direction to go into (I think this is what is referred to as "writer's block"). But today did turn out pretty exciting, as I was a guest blogger on The Naked Redhead ... and I must say, I'm quite honored that I had that opportunity.

10 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 69 (My T.V. Room Is Complete - Almost)

Long and busy, but enough of Emeril's chef's knife. I (mostly) emptied the entertainment center, disassembled it then reassembled it in its new location. Most of the stuff from the shelves is at least in the room, just not put away yet, as I need to reorganize (records, dvd's, etc.). Then the matter of relocating the cable cord, moving a sofa into said room, then moving another sofa upstairs from the garage.

Needless to say, I'm tired... and I see the dentist tomorrow (boo!). At least I don't have to talk for blogging.

- Another rant via BlogPress

The Road Scholar - Day 68 (It's Nice To Relax)

It's been a nice day, just spending time with my best friend. Friday is getting closer (dentist appointment), and I'm getting a little nervous. I'll probably going to get my first student next week - more details to come...

- Another rant via BlogPress

08 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 67 (I Agree With Dorothy - There's No Place Like Home)

I am now at home! I probably would have have made it in last night, but I ran out of hours (legal driving time - and when the log book is electronic, it's rather hard to cheat the system), but I made it home. I met up with the other driver, we swapped trailers, and now he is on his way to Conklin, NY.

However, I did find out this morning that TCD (Temperature Controlled Division - the division I'm in) has 5 trainers (me being one of them), and there is one student in orientation this week, with 4 more slated for next week. So, by the end of next week, I will probably have my first student... unless they don't make the cut in orientation.

In the mean time, I'll have some things here at home to take care of: dentist, move the entertainment center into the recently vacated room (a.k.a. music room... and I think I will initiate it by playing some Steely Dan... or Café Jaques... or Brand X... or The Thompson Twins...

We'll see...

- Another rant via BlogPress

07 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 66 (Almost Home)

Delivered in Arlington... blah, blah, blah... yakkity schmakkity. Arlington to Ft. Worth, TX to here in our terminal in North Little Rock, AR. I was fortunate enough to get out of the D/FW (Dallas/Ft. Worth) area before traffic got bad, and in many places in that area, it's not hard. Take, for example, I-35, which splits in two just south of Denton and rejoins just less than 40 miles north of Waco. I-35E runs through Dallas (a total of about 97 miles), I-35W through Ft. Worth (86 miles). Once I-35W intersects with I-820, on the north end of Ft. Worth, that interchange is known as "Malfunction Junction" (and I'm sure no further elaboration is needed). But that interstate split is not unique in just Texas, as that same interstate (I-35) also repeats that I-35E/I-35W split for Minnesota's Twin Cities (I-35E through St. Paul, I-35W through Minneapolis).

I must admit, since becoming a truck driver, I have learned more about American geography than I recall ever learning in school... or maybe I just didn't pay attention in school.

Tomorrow I will be meeting up with another driver and giving him this New York load. I don't really want to give it up because it has good miles, but I don't want this tooth bothering me either, so I'll give up the miles. It will all work out in the end, The L-rd ALWAYS knows what He's doing - even when we don't (and that's the majority of the time - at least for me).

- Another rant via BlogPress

06 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 65 (Not "Deep In The Heart" Of Texas - More Like The Shoulderblade)

I made it to Arlington, TX at a relatively decent time, PLUS I was able to stop for Starbucks, then Carl's Jr. For those who may not know of the latter, it is the company that bought out Hardee's many years ago. Carl's Jr. is usually in TX, OK and all points west. The food is basically the same, but Carl's Jr.'s signature items (i.e. The Six Dollar Burger, and all it's different variations) are exclusively Carl's Jr.'s. It's something to do with territories and/or regions (the same thing with Hellman's Mayonnaise - when you get west of the Rockies, it's Best Foods Mayonnaise).

Once I get this unloaded, I will head to Ft. Worth to pick up a load bound for Conklin, NY, a load I won't be taking all the way, as I am getting home this Thursday, and a dentist appointment on Friday.

The temperature is very mild (48°), the traffic wasn't that bad coming down - I seen it MUCH worse on a Sunday. Basically, it's true: everything in Texas IS bigger... including the traffic jams (which I will have to deal with tomorrow, something I look forward to with as much enthusiasm as my upcoming tooth extraction).

- Another rant via BlogPress

05 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 64 (I'm Just An Okie From Muskogee... Ok, Not Really)

This has been a peaceful & relaxed day, as well it should be - it's the Sabbath. I started today from Madison, IL. Before I left from there, I was running low on milk, so I took the company vehicle into St. Louis, about 5 miles away, where they not only had milk, but it was Oberweis brand, which means it's milk in glass bottles. The place I went to, which is a common market chain in the St. Louis area, is called Schnuck's, but since it's located in the downtown part of S.L., it's designed in a more upscale motif (therefore it's called "Schnuck's Culinaria"). I was hoping another one of our drivers came along so he could have driven, and I could have collected a few pictures for you. Instead, I got just one:

Like this really surprises you, right?

Out across I-44, and into Joplin, MO, where I stopped to top off the fuel tanks (they do need attention sometimes). After I left there, I continued on, into OK, to Muskogee, where I am presently. Muskogee (sounds like the name for a bad smelling aftershave) is about 48 miles SE of Tulsa, and approximately 150 miles east (with a slight jog to the north) of Oklahoma City. It's a fairly decent sized city... big enough to warrant the ability to rock a 3G on AT&T. It's quiet here right now, and chilly (30°). No worries... I hope to rest nicely, and kick out these last 260 miles tomorrow. The depressing thing today is that my phone continues to be useless as a phone without my headset, and I have been unable to talk to my angel, but I got to hear her voice, along with an exchange of texts, but it's still not the same.

Let's see what the new day brings... maybe Starbucks...

... Please?

... Anyone?

... Beuller?

- Another rant via BlogPress

04 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 63 (Goodbye, Chicago - Until Next Time... Maybe)

Well, I finally got the chicken unloaded (and got a 34 hour restart in the process), got some Starbucks (like that's a big surprise), and travelled about 9 miles - still in Chicago - to put some MORE chicken on, but this time I'm going to Arlington, TX. Many people already know where Arlington is, thanks due to this last Super Bowl. For those that don't, here you go: Arlington is a city/suburb tucked in between Dallas and Ft. Worth... actually it's more accurate to say that Arlington is more like an extension of Dallas, since, if you've ever been through the area, the suburbs basically don't exist inside "The Mixmaster" (the interstate loop circling Dallas/Ft. Worth). But I digress...

The timing to get loaded and leave Chicago couldn't have been more perfect - almost 1700 (note the sarcasm?). It was a few miles north on Ashland Ave. to get to I-55 south, only to run into this:

It took about 2 1/2 hours to cover 90 miles, between the traffic and the rain. The traffic let up south of Joliet - about 35 miles - but the rain... well, that's another story. It let up to a mild drizzle two, maybe three, times... otherwise - free car wash! I'm done for the night, having parked at our terminal in Madison, IL (3 miles north of E. St. Louis, IL). I have until Monday to make it another 600-650 miles, so I may be able to get a few good pictures. In the mean time: Shabbat Shalom!

- Another rant via BlogPress

03 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 62 (Chicago? Still?!)

I am still here in Chicago. As it turned out, the distributor I'm delivering to didn't have room for the chicken I brought in, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow to get unloaded. I did, however, get to walk around the general vicinity a bit, including this place, which may be familiar to you all:

Yep, just a few blocks away from where I deliver. There were a variety of different eating establishments as well, including a place call Alhambra Palace (a Moroccan restaurant):

Their Lamb Tagine was pretty good:

... though I have to admit, not as flavorful as I expected... then again, I didn't really know what to expect. I'm sure whenever I get a clay Tagine cooker, I could probably do better (not to brag, but my sons - even in their pre-teen years, when they are most picky - rarely complained about my cooking).

There were some nice photo opportunities I seized upon, such as Randolph Rd., facing east toward the I-90/94 expressway:

Other than that, it's been rather uneventful. Fortunately, the customer I'm delivering to has a secured parking lot, so I don't have to hassle with the hustlers, though I do wish I could go back to the Alhambra Palace, as there is a band playing there tonight. The artist's name escapes me, but it's R&B, though at the sound check (when I was there), the bassist, drummer, and keyboardist were throwing down some smokin' grooves! Perhaps another time.

But it would have been cool to jam (on drums) with them... if only during the sound check.

Those cats were smokin'!

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The Road Scholar - Day 61 (This Crazy Little Thing Called "Life")

As I mentioned the other day, there is a crazy little thing, simply known as "life", which, unfortunately, has reared its ugly head towards me. I picked up this load in Green Forest, AR and it's bound for Chicago. Well, the driver that was going to swap, decided his home time was more important than mine (it's not like I'm dealing with a bad tooth, or anything like that). Therefore, I am now sitting in Chicago... but I have this feeling that The Lord has something in store, something which I will find out when the time comes.

It's about 25° here and no snow (BOO!). What can I say about Chicago that hasn't been said? Where I am at is the Marketplace District... streets are lined with all kinds of markets (meat & produce) with the occasional speciality distributor (Hispanic, Asian, etc.), not to mention delivery trucks, either owned by those distributors, or the outside carriers bringing product in (such as me). Come sunrise, this area will be alive with activity.

In many cases, this area can be crawling with hustlers and scam artists, trying to shyster the drivers for money, either because it's a "show of gratitude" because the hustler told the driver where there was a safe place to park, or because their "mother is in the hospital" - welcome to Chicago! It's usually like this, but not tonight. It's actually rather quiet, an almost eerie dormancy.

I have a couple friends that live here, people I knew from the Marines, and I can understand going back home. I'm originally from Ft. Lauderdale, but I didn't move back, mainly because I don't like the humidity (yet, I live in Arkansas - go figure THAT one out)... but Chicago? Oh well, different strokes, etc., etc.

There is a lot to choose from here. In fact, I passed a Lebanese/Greek restaurant on the way here (and I would have stopped, had I not already picked up something from subway when I topped off my fuel) - and being the foodie I am, I'm always on the lookout for different places. However, me being Jewish, I'm sure I would have turned a couple heads if I walked into the Lebanese place - but the food! One other thing I should add to close with... there is a Starbucks just a couple blocks away. In the morning I may be holding true to my motto:
Carpe Java (seize the coffee).

note: I threw that in there for two people - my wife Michelle, and Lauri Rottmayer.

- Another rant via BlogPress

01 March 2011

The Road Scholar - Day 60 (The Clock Is Ticking)

Yesterday I swapped off my Indiana 3 stop load for one that I unloaded at zero dark-thirty this morning. I am now sitting in the dock getting loaded in Green Forest. AR, which is... well... in the sticks (at least it seems so). It's about 60 miles east of where I unloaded in Lowell (where the trucking company J. B. Hunt is headquartered), which itself is between Fayetteville and Bentonville (home of Walmart - to which I say, "la-di-bloody-da").

This load is heading to Chicago (and if you need me to add which state that's in, perhaps you need to go back to school) for Thursday, which I will swap this load off as well - remember, I'm going to the dentist on Friday (yay?). I haven't been taking very many calls today, not because my tooth is bothering me, but because I realized (when I was loading in Rogers, AR) that, in the midst of moving my stuff from my last truck to this one, I left my headset charger in that truck. Needless to say, I'm only talking on the phone when I am parked.

So I will sign off for now, my load is done, and I'd like to cover some ground tonight.


- Another rant via BlogPress

The Road Scholar - Day 59 (Time To Put On Your Big Boy Pants!)

I left out of Rogers, AR at 0230 on the 28th, and they (Tyson) expected me to make my first drop in Shipshewana, IN (716 miles away) by 0700 on the 1st. However, my parenthetical title is not in reference to my beef with them, but more towards many of the other truck drivers I encounter on the road. You, in fact, have also encountered them: the ones that are slobs, always in a foul mood, and gripe about everything.

Tonight there was a driver that's talking about leaving the company he (and I) drive for. His complaint was low miles, sitting around waiting to load, etc., etc. The problem here is, a) I'm not the one you should complain to, but your dispatcher, and, b) things may not be going your way, but here's a news flash for you: they rarely do! It's this funny little thing called "life" - deal with it! This may not be the best company to work for, but considering what I went through with my previous employer, this is the best company for me. Besides, now is NOT the time to switch employers... start somewhere else, things go fine at first, then WHAM!, it begins to tank, you're not happy and the cycle begins again... dude (and this goes to ALL with whom it applies), suck it up - and above all... don't just talk with your dispatcher - COMMUNICATE!

I'm sure many of you encounter this type of person within your workplaces, so this banter can actually be an "equal opportunity reality check," should you choose such an option.

I may not get many miles this week, which will give me a scant paycheck... but at least I will have a paycheck - and one that I worked for, not one that I felt "entitled" to. I guess the words of my SSgt (when I was stationed in Guam) have stuck with me all these years: EARN YOUR PAY!

- Another rant via BlogPress