Saturday, March 30, 2013

Red Solo Truck

Red Solo Truck…we fill you up…let’s tour the country…let’s tour the country. I love you Red Solo Truck…
We are almost a week into our new (used) truck and I can’t help but think that Toby Keith meant to sing about our truck instead of his Solo cup…lol.  It has definitely been a challenge, but we knew it would be.  Having to shift again after driving the automatic Volvo for 10 months is the biggest challenge. People have said, “Oh it’s just like riding a bike, you never forget”.  Irene has done well but for me…I crash my bike at least once a The truck shifts very, very smooth and with Irene’s gentle shifting it goes well for her…but for me, it’s like a bull in a China cabinet. I am doing a lot better with it though day by day.

The other challenge that we encountered was “where oh where do we put everything?” You see, it was like moving from a 4 bedroom house into a 1 bedroom. Thankfully Irene is good at packing things away and she has done just that.  It’s a science now to find anything, but everything does have its place. We tell each other several times a day that this is just a temporary setting and that we will upgrade by the 1st of the year.  Hopefully when we go home in April we can remove some winter items and perhaps add a couple of shelves for more storage.…in addition, I am just like Tim the Tool Man Taylor…I can build anything. Arghhh Arghhh Arghhh!
We left our home terminal in Joplin on the 18th and relayed our 1st load at our terminal in Lancaster, TX.  From there we picked up in Dallas and headed to Kettleman City, CA to deliver a Con-way Freight load. We enjoyed this trip very much because it took us for the 1st time thru Tehachapi Pass and on up to Bakersfield, CA. It also took us just a stone’s throw from Charles Manson’s home for many years, Corcoran State Prison. Tehachapi was a beautiful ride, as the pictures attached will show.



 After we left Kettleman, it was off to Sacramento for a load.  However, shortly after we arrived the load was cancelled. No problem because we still got paid for the ride. They reassigned us a load, which would send us down to Los Angeles, but we could not pick it up until the following morning. Therefore, Irene and I decided to wander a little and kill time. We came across an Asian supermarket called Ranch Market.  What a treat this place was. If you ever have the chance to stop at one, you need to do it! The store had a small style food court inside where you could purchase your food and sit right there and eat. I have to admit that I was a little frightened by some of the items they had. Whole ducks cooked…with the beak. Chickens feet…no way Jose, pigs feet…not happening, and other things that I could not even begin to describe. Irene and I just stuck with what we knew…sesame chicken, chow fun, fish. After we ate we wandered the rest of the store and we were both amazed.  At times I thought we left the United States and landed in Asia. Most everything was written in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and the list went on. They even had a live seafood section with fish tanks and OMG they had Carp in one tank!  Yep, carp, evidently a delicacy in Asia. But the funniest part for me (with my sick sense humor) was when I saw the packages of round things. Curiosity got the best of me and I had to investigate. These little round balls were exactly that…balls! There were beef balls, pork balls, and many other different balls all packaged up. They even had shrimp and fish balls. Wait shrimp and fish don’t have balls…do they? For you guys that have lost your balls…you can definitely find them here…ha ha ha…like I said, sick sense of humor.

Well it was time to go and if I hadn’t had enough fun already I believe Irene made me laugh the hardest. She said to me oh I know why everything is in Asian…we are close to Japan. I looked at her and without skipping a beat said…can you see it from your house Sarah Palin? Now I love Sarah but I couldn’t resist saying it as I laughed all the way to the checkout while Irene stood there with a puzzled look. Dang I love her…she always knows how to make me laugh…lol.

So we  picked up in Los Angeles and delivered to Chicago and from there it was onto Kansas City, then over to Pennsylvania. We are currently on our way to Oregon as I write this for our next delivery. We had a total of 5798 miles…not bad for our 1st full week as independent contractors. As long as the miles keep coming we can’t ask for much more. I have said it many times before… we are truly blessed to be able to enjoy this life on the road, the adventure, the laughs, new friendships, and everything else in between.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Great News...

Well, I figured it’s time that I share the latest news with everyone.
We have been investigating this for a while…and the timing just seemed right!  Irene and I have become Owner Operators (Independent Contractors) for Con-way Truckload.  We have purchased one of Con-way’s red 2007 Kenworth T600’s.  It has a Cat motor and we felt that this was a logical choice for dependability. These trucks have a good maintenance history and they have been very dependable for the company.  The truck is a little smaller then we would like, but this purchase allowed us to obtain the truck with no debt. Our plan is to run the truck until December and then upgrade into a newer one so that we can still run in California.  Since we are a “team”, California is usually a frequent stop for us. For those of you not familiar with California rules, as of January 1, 2014, drivers will not be allowed into the state without a DPF (diesel particulate filter).  These filters are only found on 2008 trucks or newer. Any truck prior to 2008 can be fitted with a filter but this is not something that interests us (very costly).  We would much rather put the money toward a newer truck.

After comparing several Owner Operator contracts/companies, we felt that Con-way offered the best options that fit our needs. In addition, being familiar with their system, along with steady freight and great miles, it was really a no brainer. We hope that this will allow for a smooth transition.  Irene and I are very excited about our future. Of course along with excitement comes pressure to succeed.  We are no longer company employees…we own our company so we really have to watch our every move.  Being owners allows us to call the shots now and that is a big advantage along with more freedom. The truck itself is a tad smaller than the Volvo we were driving so I know there will be some growing pains…or maybe shrinking pains to deal with. Thankfully I have a lot of patience with Irene…LOL. Actually that may be the other way around.
I guess now Irene is not only my wife, lover, best friend and teammate…but also my business partner…lol. We have attached some photos of the truck and hope that you will enjoy our future blogs as owner/operators. Wish us luck! 

Our trucks side by side.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Ring

This past week has been a bit of a roller coaster ride.  As drivers you have to learn to roll with things as they come up.  Although this past week’s miles are down due to a flat tire on our truck, along with a loaded DOT illegal trailer that was relayed to us and our truck going to the shop, there were still some bright spots in the week. We met some great fellow drivers that we now can call friends. Among them we met Shaun and Sean who are Conway team drivers.  The ironic part is that both of these guys live in our hometown…talk about a small world! Meeting new people, making new friends, and sharing laughs has always been some of the best parts of this job. Irene and I hope to cross paths with all of them in the future and share good times.

With all the Gall Bladder drama in my last post I had forgotten to write about Irene’s wedding ring episode that took place while doing laundry. Whenever time allows, we like to catch up on laundry and while at our Taylor terminal that is exactly what we did. Apparently they had just installed new washers and there was a problem with the amount of water they were using during the different cycles. Irene said there was not enough water and that she had to adjust the clothes in the washer by hand to make sure they got washed and rinsed correctly. I hope Conway didn’t pay much for these machines.
Anyway, the cold water had allowed Irene’s wedding band to become very loose and fall off her finger, but it landed on top of the clothes. Thank God, she said, that she noticed it right away. “Yeah” I said with a tad bit of concern “that would not have been pleasant”. While she was working on the laundry I was catching up on other things that needed attention. A little while later Irene walks over to me and sits down.  After about 10 minutes, she says, “Where’s my ring”?  As I looked, I noticed her concern along with the fact that her ring was missing off of her finger.   I asked her if she put it in her pocket.  “No” she answered, “I had it on my finger”.  I asked her why she would do that when it already fell off her finger once and she wasn’t even close to being finished with the laundry.  “I don’t know,” she said. I just stared at her and if it weren’t for the fact that she was about to cry, I would have explained to her that now I know why blonde jokes exist…lol. We had no idea where she lost the ring this time.  I went to the washer machine that she had been using and opened the lid to see if there was any way that I may get lucky enough to find it. Meanwhile, Irene was frantic wondering if her wedding ring was gone for good.  Could the ring have slipped off her finger, fallen into the washer and gone under the center post? “Do you think you will find it Randy?” Irene asked me. I had no idea as I felt around inside the washer gently trying not to disturb things that much. This was going to be like trying to find a needle in a haystack with all the soapy water and the fact that is was loaded with clothes. Just then I felt the ring at the bottom of the drum and grabbed it while Irene was still pacing the floor and ready to cry.  As I lowered the lid and turned toward her with the ring in plain view I said, “Put it in your pocket this time”. She was ecstatic…”thank you, thank you, thank you” she said.   I looked at her and said…I know Beyonce sings “if you like it then you better put a ring on it” but I am sure she didn’t mean the washer…ha ha ha!

One other laugh that helped me get through this past week was one of Irene’s remarks she had made about a truck…a “Peterbuilt” to be exact. You see, most drivers refer to them as Pete’s and by now, I would have thought that Irene has picked up on that. So one afternoon while she was driving, I was looking through the Truck Paper at used trucks.  Irene and I are considering buying our own and I was reading the used Peterbuilt ads out loud to her. So, after about the third or fourth ad Irene says “Wow, that’s sounds just as good as Jeff’s Peter”. I believe Irene instantly knew by the look on my face that her statement was just wrong.  “It’s a Pete, Irene,” I said “promise me you will never refer to it as anyone’s Peter again”.  I believe I am going to start calling her Mrs. Entertainment…because there is never a dull moment with her on the road.
We are currently at our home terminal in Joplin getting some maintenance work done on our truck. With the truck being in the shop, our company pays for our stay in a hotel.  There are 2 of those Tornado Chaser trucks parked in the lot and I hope they are here for a convention and not to chase tornado’s…guess I need to turn on the weather channel. I hope to get pictures of them to put in a later post. They look like something out of a video game.

Wish us luck…

Friday, March 1, 2013

Scary couple of days…

Well another week has rolled by and unfortunately this one had a little more drama in it than I wanted. Sunday morning found us arriving at our terminal in Taylor Michigan where we dropped the trailer from Nogales AZ. Since we were very low on hours we decided to do our reset in Taylor. Therefore, it would be Monday afternoon before we headed back out. We decided to do laundry, watch TV, and just chill for the night.

Monday morning found us with a run from Taylor heading up to Quebec and then down toCrossville Tenn. Pretty decent run plus we had not been to Canada in a while so we were both excited. (Actually I was nervous…you know how Irene gets with Border Patrol) Around noon we were getting ready to shower and head north of the border when Irene mentioned that her chest hurt and she was not feeling well. She lied down on the bunk in the sleeper and within minutes was in serious pain. I asked her what hurt and she said her chest, but the pain was moving slowly down. My 1stthought was “heart attack” but she said it was more like extreme heartburn. I decided to drive to the store and get some Zantac or Pepcid to see if it would help. The store was just around the corner but by the time we arrived she was in excruciating pain.

Once at the store I grabbed some Zantac and Pepcid and hurriedly ran towards checkout. Of course…18 checkout lanes and 3 people working. Wait, I know, self-checkout! Of course another guy is just walking in that lane but he happens to notice my urgency and politely says “go ahead”. “Thank you sir” I replied. He then says to me“if you need a restroom they are right over there”. Totally stunned I stared at him and then it hit me…oh no! “My wife is sick in the truck and I am just trying to get out of here quickly,” I told him…I guess he thought I had a potty issue…lol

So off to the truck I sprint and this is where it begins. As I opened the door there were voices coming from the back that I had only heard once before and then I saw her…it was Linda Blaire from the Exorcist in my sleeper. Irene was screaming things at me I never heard before. As I looked at her I asked, who are you and what did you do with Irene…”GIVE ME A PILL” was all I heard. I swear her head rotated 360 degrees just like in the movie. I was so nervous I dropped the 1st pill on the floor as Irene screamed at me to hurry up! Finally I gave her a Zantac and water but it was too little too late…she looked at me and said, “it feels like labor pains”… wait a minute, what do you mean labor pains…”hey Lucy you gotta lot of explaining to do".

Just then a guy beside us was getting into his car so I asked him where the nearest Urgent Care was. He directed me to Oakwood, which was only a few blocks away. “Thank You God”, I thought to myself. Meanwhile, Irene was doubled over and moaning in pain pleading for me to do something. I told her that we were on our way to Urgent Care (while I held 2 pens in the sign of the cross as I drove…just in case Linda Blaire came at me)...ha ha! The next thing she yells at me is “why are you hitting all the bumps, it makes it worse” in which I answered… “Irene we are in Michigan there are no smooth roads”. When we arrived at Urgent Care the staff took one look at Irene and immediately told me to bring her into an examination room. All they asked about were the symptoms, they told me that the name and the usual paperwork can wait…all attention was on Irene. Of course I was praying the Dr. had Holy Water and a Bible because I’m was pretty sure we were going to perform an exorcism…lol.

Anyway after an EKG the Doctor assured us that it was not her heart. They then gave Irene a GI cocktail along with 2 shots one for pain and the other for nausea. Finally Irene started to settle down…The following day we had more tests, but the end result after all the testing was done was a Gall Bladder attack and the Gall Bladder needed to come out as soon as possible. We decided to contact our own family physician and get a referral to a specialist back in North Carolina to get another opinion before we decide. Irene is back to herself and feeling well right now. In fact she is currently behind the wheel heading us to our Lancaster terminal as I am writing.

Irene and I laugh about it now but it was pretty scary at the time…we are both glad that it wasn’t something worse. A lot of crazy things run thru your mind when a loved one is sick or in pain…we are blessed though that everything will be fine and we look forward to better days ahead.