Thursday, April 19, 2012

Here we go again...

I just finished up writing about how March was a disaster mileage wise for us with break downs and all. Well guess what…yep, truck is back in the shop. We had our best week ever last week with 8370 miles and then this. We were on our way from LA California to Columbus OH and as we were heading through Tulsa OK on I-44 the truck up and died. Luckily Irene was able to get it to the shoulder of the road and out of the way. We instantly smelled a strong odor of diesel fuel and I knew that was not good. Upon opening the hood I could see the engine was saturated with diesel and it appeared to be coming from the fuel pump. After several hours of tow trucks and relaying the trailer at a secure location and then getting to the International dealer we learned that the fuel pump had cracked and they would have to order the part…Uggggg! I want to scream. I called our Joplin terminal and spoke with truck assignment and it looks as though we will be getting a 2013 Peterbuilt…YES! But it will take a few days so I guess we have to take the good with the bad. We really like our 2012 International but it has had to many issues and it is time to move on. If it was just our truck it would be one thing, but everyone we talk to with the Internationals are having problems and our company has even decided to stop purchasing them along with the Freightliners…nothing but Peterbuilts, Kenworths and Vovlos from this point on is what we have been told.Okay…enough complaining.

We did have our best week last week since we started driving. We finally had a chance to run from southern California all the way north in it and that was interesting. About a month ago I remember saying to Irene that every time we are in California we never get to go all the way up through it. The farthest north we have ever gone is Sacramento. You know how they say be careful what you wish for? Well we dropped our trailer in Calexico at our drop yard on the Mexican border. We then found out there was a loaded trailer there waiting for us that was bound for Argona, Washington. We headed north through Cali and I was more than excited to get this opportunity to see new landscape. Well I should have looked at the map when I made my wish…it is damn near 800 miles to the Oregon border from Calexico…I felt like a little kid whining to Irene time after time…”when are we going to get there” how freaking long is this state? When we finally reached the Oregon border I said to Irene “I never want to do that again…way to long in one state”. Well we reached our drop in Washington and upon checking in with receiving, the gentleman said to me…”I think we have a load for you going back down to Calexico”…whatcha talkin bout Willis” is what I wanted to say but in a nice professional manner I said “oh that’s wonderful”…NOT! Nevertheless, that afternoon we were back on our way to Calexico…oh joy!

There were some good things along the way though. We did get to see Portland Oregon at night on the way up. It was beautiful! The mountains in California and Oregon were also a sight to see. I did get to see my 1st Elk ever in the wild that was along I-5 in Oregon. In addition, about 20 minutes later I saw a second one…so I can take that off my bucket list now…lol. We had a chance to travel past Mt. Shasta as well as Lake Shasta in California, and that was one long climb up and the ride down was not any shorter. Very beautiful area of California but what I found more interesting was our fuel stop…it was in a town called Weed, California…okay I maybe almost 50, but seriously who named this town? Are we talking “Weed” as in I have Glaucoma and I need to buy a bag…or “Weed” as in I need to buy some roundup weed killer? Oh well I wasn’t about to ask. My fuel stop went off without a hitch. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I walked into the Pilot truck stop, but everyone seems to look normal. No homemade brownies for sale, no paraphernalia to buy…okay, we were good…lol! It was a very nice area and the people were all very nice…you know me, I just couldn’t resist the urge to poke a little fun and write about this.

Overall the trip was great and I didn’t even whine to Irene as we headed back south through Cali…it’s amazing what a little “weed” can do for a guy…HA! HA! Couldn’t resist, again…(I am just kidding)So now we sit in a hotel patiently waiting for our new truck…I hope. We are more than ready to get back on the road…stay tuned!

Monday, April 9, 2012

March… a month I would like to forget…

March was one of the worst months we had since we started. Anything that could go wrong did! It seems that we spent more time sitting rather than driving. Every trailer that needed repair happened to have our name on it. We also had issues with our own truck, which resulted in cancelled loads and short mileage trips. I have said it before and I will say it again, if the wheels are not turning long distance, the wallet stays thin. Of course we did take a week off in March to spend time with family, which did not help, but it can’t be about the money all the time. We did have a few good trips though, and we had great weather all along. Everywhere we went the bad weather had just finished up or it was set to start soon after we left.It’s been refreshing to see all the spring colors popping out all over the country. With all the different colors and everything in bloom it really makes the job that much more enjoyable. We had to drop a trailer in Michigan and as we headed south our next run took us thru the Cumberland Mountains, Appalachian Mountains, and the Smokey Mountains. For Irene it was just a ho hum ride, the beach girl that she is, but I was in my glory. I love the mountains…. We picked up a trailer in Bryson City, NC in the Smokey Mountains. That load was bound for California. After reviewing the GPS route and the atlas, we headed south/west not realizing our route would take us thru the heart of white water rafting in North Carolina and Tennessee. For those of you who do not know, one of the items on Irene’s bucket list is to go white water rafting. Unfortunately this was not going to happen at this time. A, because we were under a load, and B, the road followed the river for miles, twisting and turning along with Irene’s stomach…yes, she got car sick. I should have known better, because years ago, when went thru the Adirondack Mountains, Irene was sick back then as well. Needless to say, the dozens and dozens of rafters we passed that appeared to be having the time of their life, Irene would never get to see, because she was in the sleeper hanging on to her stomach. After stopping for a bit and giving her a little Coke Cola she started to feel better.…Dramamine next time definitely…lol

We had the opportunity to do our 1st ever trip into the heart of Chicago. A very nice place as long as I never have to go back…lol. We had a 44,000 lb load of paper that we delivered to a place that was not truck friendly. Once again as luck would have it, Irene was behind the wheel. Just turning the corner onto the street that the business was on was a challenge in itself. I had to get out and hold up traffic while Irene turned the corner onto a street that was lined with cars on both sides. It left her with one lane to share with oncoming traffic…oh and let’s not forget that I was the one trying to stop traffic…in Chicago…oh not going to happen! I must have had a death wish…wait a minute, Irene sent me out there…ohhhh now I get it…I need to have a word with her about that.Anyway, she made it to the gate of the loading dock, and as we pulled up another driver said to me…“Dang, she’s good”. I wanted to say “wait a minute pal, did you see me dodging cars in the street?”…that was suicide in the making…but I just shook my head and agreed. I told the guy that I taught her everything she knows…ha ha! Once we checked in with receiving we learned that we would have to back into a long narrow alley from the street to the dock…this was going to be a challenge. I learned my lesson the night at the Nokia Theatre and I was not about to ask Irene if she wanted me to do it. I could tell she already had her game face on, so I along with 2 other drivers held up traffic while she maneuvered the truck into this alley. The drivers again complimented on how well she had done and with a couple of adjustments she was at the dock. After a short time we were unloaded and on our way…I looked at Irene and said…please get me out of this city! The area we were in reminded me a lot of where Archie Bunker lived. The houses were all very close together and it brought back memories of something I would see on “All in the Family” or “Laverne and Shirley”…lol. It was a beautiful day and it seemed like every one was on their front steps enjoying the weather, and of course all the kids wanted Irene to blow the air horn as she passed by. I remember doing the same thing when I was a little kid…I guess I didn’t realize then that I would be on the other end of the horn 40 years later…funny how things turn out.