30 November 2011

Day 333 (Tonight, Chicago Area; Tomorrow, Who Knows)

I left this morning from a small truck stop just north of Marion, AR. I made a couple quick stops along the way, then topped off the fuel in Effingham, IL - where I also made a trip to Starbucks.

In just a little over 30 days, I've realized, I will have fulfilled my challenge of blogging every day for a year. At this point, I'm really not sure where I will go next. Whether I continue blogging every day, or move on to something else, remains to be seen. Hopefully I can get a little input. I'm sure that I've had a few posts that were less than interesting, but (at this particular point) I don't know what I would do if I do end the blog... I have rather come to enjoy posting each day - even when I go on my occasional rant. I should come up with a firm decision within the next 32 days.

29 November 2011

Day 332 (Heading Up North - A Little)

Last night, by the time Tyson finished loading my trailer, I had only an hour left to drive. I decided to park at their facility for the night, mainly because I was unfamiliar with the first 75 miles of the route, and didn't know where I would have been able to park. It was also snowing, so I just sat there watching it fall. I made a stop on the way here to Russellville, AR (of course, at Starbucks), stretching my legs in Conway, AR.

I was given a pre-plan, which has me picking up at the same Tyson facility I'm delivering to. Fortunately, it had already been loaded, so I'm able to cover some ground tonight, then finish off tomorrow what's left. This load has me going to Hanover Park, IL - in the Chicago area - for Thursday morning. Probably by tomorrow afternoon I'll know where I will be going next. In just a few weeks, I'll take my first vacation with this company. We may not go anywhere, but at least I'll be home for the last few days of Chanukah.

28 November 2011

Day 331 (Back On The Road Until Chanukah)

I left out this morning and was dispatched just before noon. The load I am hauling picks up here in Dexter, MO and delivers tomorrow in Russellville, AR (though I would much prefer to avoid these Tyson loads). It was a very nice weekend at home. Spent some good time with my wife and youngest son. It was just the 3 of us for Thanksgiving, as my 18 year old son was unable to make it down. My youngest, Nathan, is pretty happy that my drums are set up in his room... we even had a mini jam session a few nights ago. My wife, Tikvah, and I were discussing earlier today, and I may take my vacation later in December. I may not be home for all of Chanukah, but I will be home for most of it. Probably after the first of the year, I may begin doing some upgrades on the set (replacing heads, etc.) though it could take a while before it's all complete.

Since I was told it will be a few hours before they even start loading me, I think I will take a nap. However, if Tyson isn't on the ball (and this facility rarely is), then this load won't be getting to Russellville by 0800.

At least I have some coffee from home.

27 November 2011

Day 330 (Relaxing Day, Caught Up On TWD)

This has been a very relaxing day. I thought it was rather cool that AMC had a marathon showing all the episodes (leading up to the season finale) of The Walking Dead. So today was spent getting caught up on those episodes (spoiler alert: they finally found Sophia). The bad thing is, now I have to wait until February for the next season.

On another note, for lunch today my awesome wife, Tikvah, made a most excellent pot pie, using the leftover turkey. Needless to say, there were NO leftovers. Tikvah had a craving a little later (and once she mentioned it, I then had the craving) for hot wings, so I ran over to Dollar General and grabbed a couple boxes. I cooked them up and had them ready by the time tonight's new "mid-season" finale came on. All in all, it was a good evening.

Oh yeah... there was also coffee today, too.

26 November 2011

Day 329 (A Wet Day, A Peaceful Sabbath)

Today was fairly peaceful, fairly lazy. A quiet Sabbath, spent some time in Torah. It's rained a bit, off and on, throughout the day. For dinner we had some leftovers from our Thanksgiving meal... and it still tasted good (by the way, my wife makes some incredible Sweet Potato Casserole). Tomorrow will be my last day at home. It's been nice being able to get home a few extra days earlier, but it's always so difficult to head back out on the road come Monday.

All three of us are presently watching Hell On Wheels on AMC. I've heard of the show, but only just now get to watch it. Tomorrow, however, The Walking Dead and Leverage will be on... both of which I haven't been able to see for a while. My youngest son, Nathan, had recorded the past few weeks of The Walking Dead on the DVR, but it went on the fritz, and since we exchanged the receiver, we lost all that was recorded.


25 November 2011

Day 328 (A Day In Little Rock)

Today, Tikvah and I took a trip to Little Rock, about an hour and a half from our home, just to hang out and do stuff (for the record, we did not subject ourselves to the Black Friday madness - though the crowds that were out for that purpose were unavoidable). We did, however, make a stop for coffee at Starbucks. Our meal consisted of using the Outback gift card our oldest son gave us for an anniversary gift, which (in my opinion) was slightly above mediocre at best. It was a long day, stopping at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Guitar Center, Old Navy, and Target... just to name a few of our stops.

We also drove by the location where the Occupy Little Rock movement has set up their dwellings (a.k.a. tents). It was a pretty mild day, weather wise, and the traffic wasn't as insane as I would have expected. We are at home now, tomorrow is the Sabbath. I hope the evening finds you in good spirits, and recovering nicely from the self-imposed tryptophan-induced coma that many of us sentenced ourselves to yesterday. Actually, I may partake of the leftovers shortly.

24 November 2011

Day 327 (Thanksgiving Day)

This morning My wife and I got up and went to one of the local congregations to help out with their Thanksgiving meal (i.e. serving the meals, delivering to elderly). I left there about noon to head home and begin making our turkey. When Tikvah came home (around 1400) she made the green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and baked apples & cinnamon. The turkey turned out pretty good; rubbed with olive oil and seasonings, and sprinkled with granulated garlic and lemon pepper, then I put it in the pan with a 1/2 bottle of liquid smoke. Once it was all done Tikvah, Nathan and myself ate... Tikvah and I washed it down with a glass of Pomegranate wine. Yes it was delicious!

23 November 2011

Day 326 (What A Busy Day)

Well, today turned out to be a bit of a busy day. I did some running around with Tikvah, my wife, and was able to get the paperwork (from the load I delivered in Springfield, MO yesterday) faxed to my employer. Receipts were mailed off, Tikvah got her check, and I picked up my drums, which are now taking up residency in my youngest son, Nathan's, room:

After all that was accomplished, we even stopped by Sonic (I was craving the Chicago Dogs) for lunch. Went home, where Nathan helped me set the drums up... then we had a little jam session with one of the songs he wrote. Tikvah and I just got back a little while ago for the laundromat, since our washer decided to call it quits. Now we are getting ready to chill out to a movie (probably Heartbreak Ridge) and drink some coffee. Tomorrow will be a busy day; before we make our own dinner, we will be helping at one of the local congregations to prepare and serve meals to those who may be less fortunate. I think that's one thing I can be truly thankful for: that I can bring a little joy and happiness to others. In this time where there are many who are struggling financially just to make ends meet, to show them that there are others who are willing to serve them, to relieve them of their worries and burdens - if even for just a couple hours - that's more gratifying than the mere words that we speak to say what we are thankful for. 

Just food for thought (no pun intended).

Day 325 (Apologies For Posting Late)

I sincerely apologize to all my readers (however few they may be), but as I type this out, I am sitting at home. Doyle and I unloaded this afternoon in Springfield, MO, after which we were told to go home (of course, not before making a stop at Starbucks prior to heading home). In fact, one of the instructors from the training center (for the company to which whom I am employed) called me yesterday and told me to release Doyle to go home for the weekend. Come Monday, he will have to be at our North Little Rock terminal to take his final evaluation test, then get his own truck assigned to him.

I do not doubt that he will do well. When he took his "maiden voyage" through the snow in Wyoming 1 1/2 weeks ago, I noticed he may have been very nervous, but that meant he was also be very cautious - a positive sign. He did well driving through snow, and he successfully made it through the mountainous regions of Wyoming and Oregon. He's still young enough to where he will be driving for some time to come. May he be blessed!

21 November 2011

Day 324 (A Very Weird Dream)

Some say that weird dreams come depending on what you had eaten before bed. I don't know how true that is this, but the elves did a number on me last night, if that's the case. In my dream, though I don't remember much of it, I recall being in a large open field, filled with people. It seemed as though it was either a gathering for a Presidential Address being broadcast on a giant Jumbotron television, or a live rally. I do recall Obama, in his speech, was saying to the American people that Muslims were nothing to be afraid of and they were truly peaceful people. I'm sure we actually heard this before, but then there was a twist in what was going on.

Suddenly I am hearing this very same thing coming from Christian pastors... even from the ones I know personally. Sure, this, too, is happening in real life (except for the part about when it's coming from pastors I know personally), but in the dream, I recall getting a deep feeling in my gut that there was something very wrong happening. People around me were buying what was being fed to us, but I had the feeling doom was getting ready to fall upon us... at any moment! Almost as if I could literally sense those trying to bring violent harm upon us were waiting in the wings, and will pounce upon us all any moment, while everyone around me were celebrating what will happen to them.

What say you?

20 November 2011

Day 323 (On The Final Leg Of This Trip)

Doyle and I started from Warrenton, MO this morning (just west of the St. Louis area), awaking to a temperature in the low 40's. He did his pre-trip and topped off the fuel, then we left with only 399 miles to cover today. We could have left sooner that 1215, but I felt like sleeping in this morning. We did, however, go into Denny's for breakfast. I ordered the Cheese & Veggie Omelet, which I ended up getting for free. As I was enjoying the food, I get about half way through the omelet when a piece of ham fell out. For those that know me personally, know I'm Jewish... therefore, I don't eat ham! When I brought it to the attention of our waitress (and before you ask, I was very courteous & respectful when addressing this issue), she apologized and said she would inform the manager. Two minutes later, the manager - showing the signs that he was doubling as a cook (i.e. perspiration on his forehead) during the brunch rush - came out and also apologized.

He told me he would make another omelet meal, for the inconvenience that had been caused (since I would not be able to eat another omelet, he put it in a "to go" box), AND did not charge me for the food. The L-rd does bless in all types of ways indeed.

It will only be a few more days before I will be bringing Doyle back to our terminal in North Little Rock for him to take his final evaluation test, then get assigned his own truck. This will probably happen this coming Wednesday, when I will also be heading home. Thanksgiving at home is always a blessing in itself. We will also be having a fourth guest at our table: our son, Sean-Patrick. He told me he will be home for a few days, then back up to Missouri, where he is trying to make some headway as a musician... and I must say, he is quite the guitar player.

Since it's raining right now, it's probably as good a time as any for Starbucks. Come to think of it, ANY day is a good time for Starbucks.

19 November 2011

Day 322 (It Is Getting A Bit Chilly)

Last night, Doyle made it to Big Springs, NE, covering a total of 613 miles yesterday (that number holding a special significance for those of us in the Jewish faith) - his biggest day yet. Today has been a very pleasant - albeit chilly - Sabbath. There has been no snow, but it has been a bit windy, which, of course, only increases the "bite" of the lower temperature:

I'm hoping we can make it to the terminal in Madison, IL before we shut down for the night, as that will give us less than 500 miles to finish off tomorrow. As we drive through northwestern Missouri, the skies look to be in a mildly temperamental mood, as if it wants to snow, but is still unsure of the prospect, yet is not yet relenting in its refusal to allow for the sun to come out and play a little longer. I think we shall make a stop just outside of Kansas City, MO at a Super Target, Starbucks will be just what is needed to eradicate this aftertaste of Pilot coffee that is still lingering.

18 November 2011

Day 321 (Where Will We Shut Down? Perhaps Nebraska)

We left the rest area in Brigham City, UT at 0715 (CT) this morning, stopped in Ogden,UT to top off the fuel, then one more stop in Riverdale, UT - about 15 minutes away - to pay a visit to the local Starbucks. Once we left from there, the only stops we made was for Doyle to do his load checks. We just left from the Petro truck stop in Laramie, WY where rid ourselves of the after effects of the aforementioned Starbucks. Doyle drove through a little snow in Evanston, WY (just a few miles from the Utah state line). There wasn't much, just a flurry, though The Weather Channel is predicting about a 70% chance there this afternoon. When we were on our way to Oregon, Doyle drove though the snow in that same area (last Saturday), where it was coming down pretty good. He did pretty good, though I could tell he was nervous. More precisely, he was more nervous than a pregnant nun in the Vatican.

The weather, temperature-wise, has been fairly mild (in my opinion, though Doyle would disagree), probably low to mid 40's, and the flurry in Evanston - plus what was already on the ground - has been the only snow we have seen. At the rate we are going, we will be shutting down in Nebraska... I'm just not sure exactly where.

Today also happens to be a special day, for today are the birthdays of both my wife and my youngest son (yes, 17 years ago today, she delivered a little boy on her birthday). I'll never forget her words, after getting the epidural put in, when she commented on the occasion: "This is a present only I can open". So to my son, Nathan: Happy Birthday, Champ... now clean the garage (just kidding!)! To my wife, Tikvah: Happy Birthday, my angel... you look as beautiful today as you did the day we met! I hope you both have a blessed day... and a joyous Sabbath!

17 November 2011

Day 320 (Getting A Re-Start In Utah)

Last night we made it to Brigham City, UT, where we shut down for the night. This morning when we got up, I noticed that we each had only 11 hours left on our logbooks, and we were picking up no hours tomorrow. I contacted Monica (my Fleet Manager) and Brent (the Broker), to let them know of this. My initial thought was to stay here in the rest area and get a 34 hour re-start, which was confirmed when Monica thought the very same thing. Brent told me that he would set up a delivery time for Sunday night.

It was unfortunate that I didn't have Doyle go to a truck stop. I mainly based my decision on past experiences, where if you get to a truck stop after a certain time, there's a chance you won't find a parking spot. Granted, the economy isn't what it used to be, and there are many trucking companies that have gone out of business, but I haven't been up in this region often enough to gauge accurately the traffic and parking availability within the truck stops. Therefore, we are settling for staying in this rest area until tomorrow morning.

At least we will be able to get some coffee at Starbucks tomorrow.

16 November 2011

Day 319 (Onward And Eastward)

So far this has been a long day. Last night Doyle and I shut down at a rest area just west of Hines, OR, right on U.S. 20. In fact, we were the only vehicle parked in the rest area. This morning as we finished the trip to Jerome, ID (where we are now, getting the trailer loaded), there was one area that had gotten as low as 14°... very brisk, indeed.

As I mentioned yesterday, this load will be going to Lebanon, TN. There has been no appointment date & time set yet, but I think it will be on Monday morning. In the process of getting here, we ran into a few snags: fuel was not really needed, but when picking up a load that's 43,000 lbs, it's a good idea to top off the tanks to make sure your gross & axle weights will be legal; there was also the matter of getting the trailer washed out, which is not really a problem unless there's a line - which there was. It all worked out; the fuel is topped off, and the trailer is washed out. The only thing left to do after getting this trailer loaded is to scale this out. Then we will be on our way to Lebanon, TN.

... and to get coffee.

15 November 2011

Day 318 (Farewell, Oregon)

Doyle and I made our two drops in Portland, OR this morning, then finished out this load in Eugene. While we made our way there (we were actually just a few miles north of Eugene), we were pre-planned on our next load. This load will have be a good run (a.k.a. good miles).We will pick up tomorrow by 1200 (MT) in Jerome, ID - about 500 miles from Eugene - then we will deliver it, probably on Monday, in Lebanon, TN. The weather in Oregon has been pretty mild, a bit rainy, and crisp, cool temperatures.

When we got into Eugene, we actually missed our turn (6th Ave.), so I had Doyle go one block, to 7th Ave, to make our turnaround. As we made our way around the block, we passed a park that appeared to be more of a campsite. It didn't take us long to figure out that the park was the "tent city" for the "Occupy Eugene" protesters. One thing I've noticed about these protesters of the "Occupy" movement, is they don't seem to want a hand up, but a hand out. The same people who are unemployed, yet if the manager of a fast food joint walked up to them and offered them a job that they could start the next day, would probably expect a starting wage of $15 an hour. In these economic times, you have to start at the bottom and work your way up.

For example, when I first began driving a truck (in the mid to late 90's). my starting pay was 25 cents/mile. That may not sound like much, but when you consider that a truck driver covers several hundred miles per day, it adds up. I did my job the best way I knew how. But - as I tell my students today - whether you were with a trainer for 3 weeks or 3 months, you could never cover every possible scenario you may encounter out on the road... NEVER. However, if you persevere - and work hard - your pay will increase. As of right now, when I'm not training a student, I make 40 cents/mile... with a student: 44 cents/mile - for ALL miles covered. 25 cents to 40 cents is a nice jump. The thing is I worked hard over the years: making pick ups & deliveries on time, being professional and courteous... even looking professional. I may not be wealthy, but I am blessed to have a job, and able to pay the bills. I haven't asked for a handout, and I don't expect to get something for nothing. I am driven by excellence. I've applied myself to provide for my family.

It's time for these protesters to wake up, smell the coffee, and realize that those organizations that are "donating" to their "cause" see those protesters as nothing more than useful idiots... dread-headed, mindless fiddles being played by socialist orchestrators who could even care less if a protester dies from pneumonia brought on by living in a tent at a park - as long as their ideologies have the fodder for which they can gain further political posturing. {*deep breath*}

14 November 2011

Day 317 (One Day, And 3 More Deliveries To Go)

This morning Doyle and I began the first of our two day deliveries, starting in Milwaukie, OR, then down to Woodburn. Our third drop was supposed to be in Beaverton, but as we were leaving the second drop, we get a message that it was being changed. Instead of going to Beaverton, we delivered it, instead, to Portland. I won't bore you with the details, but somewhere, somebody failed to pass on the information. The customer that we delivered to had moved this weekend into their new facility. We ended up being late, but the customer was very cool with it. Tomorrow our first drop will be about a 1/2 block from where we were this afternoon.

Since there is no truck parking permitted by the customer, we came over to the truck stops about 4 miles away. Which means we will be getting up about 0630 (CT) in the morning for a 0530 (PT) appointment. This afternoon, however, I received a message that my truck was due a service. Since I'm nowhere close to one of our terminals, we are authorized to get a service done at any T/A Service Center... which just happened to be where we are. Perhaps after we are done with that, it would be a good time for a movie.

... or two.

By the way, I apologize about getting the blog up past my 1630 deadline... I got lazy. I hope you'll forgive me>

13 November 2011

Day 316 (Almost To Portland)

Doyle and I are making our way on the final stretch of this trip. The fact that you are reading this now means that he has made it safely down Deadman Pass (a.k.a. Old Emigrant Hill a.k.a. "Cabbage"). Yesterday, he drove through snow in western Wyoming for his first time in a truck. He has been doing pretty good, and has shown improvement in several areas that he lacked confidence in. The weather out here in Oregon has been pretty mild; chilly with a breeze.

A couple of days ago, Doyle pulled out his laptop and had me watch How I Met Your Mother, which, up until then, I had never seen. I found it to be quite funny. We viewed it online using his Verizon MyFi internet card. The thing I noticed was there was some problems with the buffering - even though the transmitter was showing a full signal. When the advertisements would come on, the buffering would also lag. Yet, when the advert for Verizon would play... flawless! "America's fastest 4G network? I hardly think so!

Before we left from Mountain Home, ID this morning, we got some coffee from the Pilot we parked at, though I made mine a bit more tolerable than usual, simply by filling my cup 1/3 the way with their Columbian blend, and the other 2/3 with instant hot coco (you know, from the automated "cappuccino" machine). It may not be Starbucks, but it did the trick!

12 November 2011

Day 315 (I'd Like Some Feedback On This Idea)

Yesterday Doyle and I left out of Olathe, KS and made it as far as Laramie, WY when we shut down, the final leg (Big Spring, NE to Laramie, WY) having been driven by me. Today we continue the trip west. It's been a beautiful Sabbath, and Doyle has been getting some good experience in: driving through mountains and driving through snow. He's done pretty good thus far... we're still alive and not hospitalized, so that's a good sign.

Driving through Wyoming has always been enjoyable, though it does remind me of an idea I came up with several years ago, but can't see it through to fruition, as I have neither the contacts, nor the resources. The idea is fairly simple, yet complex, and it addresses several social issues. Wyoming is an expanse of a state, with a LOT of open space. Why not utilize that space? First stage would address the homeless issue we have. Find out, of all the homeless people we have, who wants a second chance at life (a.k.a. re-entering society).

Those that either have a background in the construction industry, or would be interested, could actually be key to get the multi-staged project going (they would, hence, be part of the first stage). Put them in temporary lodging (cleaned up, clothes, etc.) and begin their training/employment. They would then be relocated to a new town called Second Chance,Wyoming, where they would temporarily reside in mobile homes, while they begin the construction of housing developments. In the meantime, get contracts & future locations for businesses, from convenience stores/gas stations, grocery store, bank, etc. (possibly even a refinery or distribution center). The entire town wouldn't be built at once, just establish the foundation. The next group of homeless would then occupy the lodgings that were vacated by the initial group, receiving the necessary training to fill the positions of the businesses being built (while the initial group is undergoing the construction of said businesses, upon the completion of the housing developments).

As I said... simple, yet complex. The construction wouldn't be all at once, nor would the former homeless get their permanent home for free (I won't get into the financial details just yet). The point is that we could reduce the statistics for homelessness, provide jobs, and build up the economy (because if you build Second Chance, WY right next to the interstate, like I-80, travelers and truck drivers will be stopping in).

That's just a basic idea... what do YOU think?

11 November 2011

Day 314 (This Will Be A Busy Weekend)

Wednesday Doyle and I made our round trip run from Olathe, KS to Hutchinson, KS and back. The pre-plan we had gotten wasn't finished loading until early this morning, so we stayed at Tyson until about 0830 this morning, and got a restart on our logbooks. This load will have us (or more accurately, Doyle) busy for the weekend. It has a total of 6 drops, all within the Portland, OR area, delivering on Monday and Tuesday.

The good thing is Doyle will get some good mountain training in on the way, since we will be going through Wyoming, Utah, and (of course) Oregon. Another good thing is I may get to see an old friend... possibly two. The first, Shaun, is and old childhood friend whom I grew up with in South Florida; the other, Brad, is a fellow Marine whom I haven't seen since '93, when I received my Honorable Discharge from the Corps. When I got out, I moved to Arkansas (what was I thinking?), and Brad moved back to Portland. I won't say Brad and I were the best of friends, but I do hold a great deal of respect for him, especially since he received a Silver Star during Desert Storm.

This load is fairly light, less than 24,000 pounds, which has the advantage in that the mountains won't be as big of a problem... the disadvantage, however, is that it won't create as much traction as if I were 15,000 lbs heavier going through the snow (if we do, that is). I'm not worried, though, for HaShem my G-d is with me... and this is (nearly) the Sabbath. May you all be blessed! On this day, should you cross paths with a military veteran... be sure to thank him, or her, for their service!

All gave some,
Some gave ALL

10 November 2011

Day 313 (Happy Birthday Marines! We STILL Look Good For 236 Years Old!)

Today is a special day... a very special day. Today I step away from my usual banter relating to truck driving, training, etc. For today I reflect upon a subject that has become part of who I was, who I am today, and whom I will always be: a Marine. Today, as many know, is the Marine Corps birthday. To the common citizen, it's just another day worthy of some sort of recognition... but to those of us who have served in the Marine Corps, it has become the very fiber of our individual - and collective - identity. While going through boot camp, the history of the Marine Corps was drilled into us.

A history that is ripe with tradition, and rich with honor and integrity. Considering the humble beginnings since its foundation in Tun Tavern in 1775, it's no wonder we hold ourselves within a tightly knit brotherhood... we were established in the City of Brotherly Love - Philadelphia, PA. We have the heroes that have shaped our very image, from LtGen Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller to SgtMaj Daniel Joseph "Dan" Daly to (even most recently) Sgt Dakota L. Meyer,  as well as the battles that have forged our place in American - and world - history, such as the Battle of Iwo Jima and the Battle of Belleau Wood.  The things we learned in boot camp, the experiences we shared in training, and the unbreakable bonds we made in battle will forever make us unique in the civilian world.

My wife shared this video with me recently. Watching it only stoked the flames of pride and honor within me that I hold the most revered and respected title of U. S. Marine. This video was made by the great people at The Warrior Song (whom also granted me the permission to post the video) and were able to capture the very essence of a Marine within a 6 minute music video.

Happy Birthday, my brothers and sisters!!

The U.S. Marine
No greater friend,
No worse enemy

09 November 2011

Day 312 (Wandering Through Kansas)

This morning Doyle and I left from Olathe, KS (doing a drop and hook) and headed to South Hutchinson, KS - where we are now - to deliver. Once the trailer is unloaded here, Tyson will re-load it, then we will head back to Olathe. The weather is a lot better today than what we drove through yesterday, which was mainly rain, but there was some snow thrown in for good measure. Today it's sunny and cool, with a little bit of a breeze blowing. Although it is rather torturous being here at this Tyson facility, as the air is permeated with the smell of freshly grilled chicken... I wonder if, being as I am now hungry, this can fall under the category of "cruel and unusual punishment."

We are due back in Olathe by 2100 tonight, but that all depends on the efficiency with which our trailer is re-loaded. Hopefully by later on this afternoon we will find out what our next load will be and where it will bring us (I'm still hoping for a Tulsa, OK to Woodinville, WA/Burnaby, BC run). I think on the way back to Olathe, I'll have us stop at a Starbucks... this Pilot coffee can only be tolerated for so long (and, yes, it can be tolerated as long as I drown its putrid taste with enough cream).

Before I forget, tomorrow I will be posting in honor of the Marine Corps' birthday... hope you all enjoy it!

Carpe Java - Seize the coffee!

08 November 2011

Day 311 (On Our Way To The Kansas City Area)

As I had predicted yesterday, we had no pre-plan, so once we got unloaded we parked at the customer's facility for the night. This morning, however, not only did we get a load (which picked up in Cherokee, IA, about 60 miles south), but were also put on a double pre-plan. This load is a plant-to-plant Tyson load, as are the next two, which delivers in Olathe, KS (just south of Kansas City).

Our next two are more like an extended shuttle run. The first one picks up in the morning, right there in Olathe, and goes to South Hutchison, KS, where we will pick up from there and go back to Olathe... which is about 400 miles round trip. Unfortunately, there hasn't been any coffee to consume... at least none worthy enough of human consumption (yes, a reference to Pilot). We did, however, grab a bite to eat at Taco John's (which was in the Pilot that we fueled),which was not too bad. Neither of us have had Taco John's before. Nothing to totally rave about, but not bad.

I still thing coffee is in order.

(p.s. The reason this has been posted much past my 1630 deadline, is due to lack of cell signal. My apologies.)

07 November 2011

Day 310 (What A Trip This Has Been)

Yesterday Doyle got some pretty good training, as our route took us through some curvy areas. I didn't put him through anything too harsh, but what he did have, he handled pretty good. Between Conway and Harrison, AR, there is a stretch of U.S. 65 that is a little crooked, just enough to keep a student focused. Once we made it through there, I had us make a stop at on of the Price Cutter stores in Springfield, MO. I needed to replenish my supply of Coca Cola (a 4-pack of 24 oz. bottles for $1.67), plus they also have a Starbucks in the store, so I paid them a visit, as well.

Since the customer in Pine Bluff took so long to get us loaded, we didn't get as far as I wanted, which was at least to the north side of Kansas City, MO. Instead, we only made it as far as Collins, MO, about 145 miles short. The weather today has been a bit overcast, but cool. At this present time (though there is about 3 hours left of the work day for the Operations Dept., so that may change) there is not a pre-plan for us. I called Monica earlier, just to touch bases with her. If there is no pre-plan by the time we get unloaded (which could be about 1900), to head somewhere that we can park for the night... but not too far away.

I'll think we'll have time to make another Starbucks run before we unload.

I also hope to see some snow - SOON!

06 November 2011

Day 309 (On The Way To Iowa... Maybe I'll See Kevin Costner)

Doyle and I left out ay around 0815 after getting the trailer washed out, and made our way to Pine Bluff, AR. When I spoke to the broker Friday about this load, he said that the product was going to be run on Sunday, and should be ready by about 0300 this morning. It wasn't. Not only was it not ready, the customer hadn't even run it yet. We finally got loaded, then scaled the truck, and just got underway about 30 minutes ago. The good thing is we have until 2000 tomorrow night to get there.

Being a truck driver isn't what some would expect. On any given day, I can run anywhere from 450-600 miles. In the case of today - because the product wasn't ready - that has cut into our driving time. Tyson is a constant offender of this (this, however, was not a Tyson load. Many have the perception that our commerce could probably serve better without truck drivers. Think about this: Without truck drivers, how would groceries get to the stores, cars to the dealerships, or gas to the gas stations? Sure all of these things could get there by rail, but how many hundreds of miles of additional track would have to be laid for that to happen? How drastically would that hinder commerce if there are railroad tracks and railcars at EVERY grocery store, gas station, and mall?

Just food for thought.

05 November 2011

Day 308 (Tomorrow We Head For Iowa)

It's been a nice peaceful Sabbath with cool weather all day. Tomorrow, however, we will be picking our load up in Pine Bluff, IA and take it to Sibley, IA. It was unfortunate that I couldn't get home for this re-start, but things like this happen this way sometimes. The L-rd works it out in the end for His purpose and glory.

Earlier, my wife, Tikvah, posted a video on my wall (Facebook) which she found. I have since re-posted it - and since it is Marine Corps based - I will do so again. This coming Thursday I plan on posting a link for that video on this blog, in honor of the Marine Corps birthday. Sure it's a teaser for you, but all I can say is... it will be worth the wait!

04 November 2011

Day 307 (Getting A Re-Start... But Not At Home)

First of all, please accept my apology for getting this posted past my deadline of 1630. I've been tied up with various things and lost track of time.

Yesterday, Doyle drove us from Midway, FL (just west of Tallahassee) all the way to West Memphis, AR - a total of 554 miles... not bad for a newcomer to trucking. When we arrived at West Memphis, I topped off the fuel and took over to bring us into the North Little Rock terminal, where we shut down. This morning, we took care of our personal effects (to include laundry). I had the truck brought into the shop to fix an air leak, and, as it turned out, I also had to sit in a few classes to ensure my training was up to date. After all that, I checked out the company vehicle and went to Pier 1 Imports to pick up a birthday gift for my Tikvah. She told me about a purse that she wanted, so now she has it... just not in her possession just yet:

After that was taken care of, I was finally able to make my run to Starbucks. Once I returned to the terminal, I found out that we were dispatched on our next load. However, it doesn't pick up until Sunday in Pine Bluff, AR (about 40 miles south of here) and delivers Monday in Sibley, IA, up in the northwest corner of the state. Sadly, I'll be here for the weekend, since I live about 90 miles in the opposite direction of where I load. Doyle, however, I allowed to go home (he has a ride going there)... at least until tomorrow night. I live north of him, but I didn't ride with him because, a) I didn't want to impose on him, and, b) my wife thought it best not to be home this weekend her "aunt" is visiting. Tomorrow will then be a quiet and serene Sabbath.

May you all be blessed!

03 November 2011

Day 306 (Heading Back To Arkansas)

Yesterday, after the publishing of the blog post, Doyle and I made a visit to a Super Target (yes, I got Starbucks), after which we fueled up in Wildwood, FL, then continued our journey - with an empty trailer - to our North Little Rock terminal. Since the company doesn't have a customer base in Florida (yet), we were told to head back that way, into an area where we do have a good customer base. We shut down in a rest area just west of Tallahassee. It was dry & clear when we started this morning, but have run into rain just before getting into Montgomery, AL.

We may not find out until tomorrow morning where we will load next (though I am hoping we continue deadheading all the way to Tulsa). I presently have a roast cooking in the crock pot (hint: a 3 pound roast with a citrus/savory rub as well as a little jerk & Tex-Mex Chipotle seasonings, 1/2 bottle of Mesquite flavored Liquid Smoke, 4 garlic cloves, shallots, 2 packages of powdered brown gravy mix, and baby potatoes). So far, the aroma has permeated the inside of the truck, necessitating the need to make a sandwich (to hold us over) so as not to partake of said cuisine "before its time". My wife, Tikvah, has been telling me of a chipotle seasoning she has grown rather fond of, which by the way, she is using the aforementioned seasoning tonight on the chicken that she has put in the crock pot at home.

A little while ago, I received a call from my 21 year old son, Erik. It it also good to hear from my sons. He apologized for not calling in a while, to which I told him, "don't worry about it. You're a grown man now, and have your own life." His reply: "Don't try giving me that Jewish guilt trip thing again." Naturally, I got a kick out of that, and then told him, "you know, I think your Mother missed her calling. She could've been a travel agent for guilt trips."

02 November 2011

Day 305 (Orlando Is Full Of Mice)

Doyle and I made it here to the customer in Orlando, though we were late for the appointment. Fortunately, they were cool about it and almost have us unloaded. Where we head from here is still in the air. The weather here is pretty nice: sunny and 76°.

Now that we are empty, I think I may take us over to a Super Target, not too far from where we are at. Besides, there is sure to be a Starbucks nearby, since the Super Target I saw earlier (on our way here) was in the Millennia Mall area. I'm due for some grocery shopping, and Doyle had never seen one. As I explained to him earlier, it's like a Walmart Supercenter... only better. I don't know when my next trip to the northwest will be. I think it's safe to say it may not be this week. I really hope to get a load heading up that way perhaps next Friday out of Tulsa. For one thing, it's beautiful driving... for another, it make for good mountain training for my students. Oh well, we shall see.

01 November 2011

Day 304 (Meandering Across Alabama)

We got our start today (late this morning) from Olive Branch, MS, which is just outside Memphis. Doyle and I topped off the fuel - and I got some coffee (Pilot coffee, with LOTS of creamer) - and began to make our way on this leg. On the way here to Birmingham, I received a very pleasant call from my "little sister" Kelli (for more about her, you can see my post for Day 18). We talked for a bit. She told me that she has, since our last conversation, moved. She's still in Nebraska, just 20 miles from where she had lived before.

As we make our way through the rest of Alabama and into Florida, I've seen that Doyle handles the truck quite well. When we made a stop here in Birbingham, I had him back into a parking spot. I guided him through his set-up, and found he is very good at straight backing. This may seem like a simple task, but in a truck with a 53' trailer... it's not as simple as it seems. So far he has been doing pretty good; good handling & lane control, frequent use of signals, professional courtesy, etc. This may not be as daunting as I had first thought (seeing as my previous students had some experience with a commercial vehicle of some sort). He says he's still nervous (or as I pointed out, he's as nervous as a pregnant nun in The Vatican), but so far he's doing well. When he first said he was nervous, I told him, "good... that means you will be extra cautious." More updates to come.

More coffee to be had, as well!