Thursday, July 19, 2007

Blogging About Nothing

It is 7:20 local time in Viroqua, Wisconsin, and we are at a small shipper waiting to be loaded with paper that is going to a place in Morristown, Tennessee.  Terry is sleeping.  We got here about 1:30 this morning after delivering our last load to a Walmart distribution center about 50 miles up the road.  I slept all night, and Terry was up most of the night, in keeping with the schedules we are currently living on.  

The sun is coming up, and I can't believe that even here, in a small town in the middle of Wisconsin farm country, I still can sit up here in this truck and have an internet connection -- it is slow, and reminds me of my AOL connection from 1996 or so, but at least it's connected.  I've just balanced my checkbook and paid my bills.  

I went inside to see about using their facilities, and spoke to the woman who will be loading us:  a nice lady, she reminds me of a grandmotherly type, and she was pleasant, as most folks in Wisconsin are.

I have been wanting to blog the past few days, but usually I have to have something in mind to write about (ah, Heidi),  and the past couple of weeks have been pretty routine and unremarkable for us.

This is the first live load we've had in quite a while; the past couple of weeks, everything has been "drop-and-hook" for the most part.  This means that we get to a place anytime -- 24/7 -- and deliver the load we have, and then leave right away to go pick up the next load.  We have been dealing mostly with large companies (Wal-mart, Georgia-Pacific, Kimberly-Clark, Proctor and Gamble) whose facilities are open all the time.  So we get into a groove where we are pretty much rolling the wheels all the time, just stopping for short breaks here and there.  That's the way we get lots of miles and good $$ even if the loads are not that long (anything under 1000 miles to us is a short load).

Now, we've hit the live load/unload on both ends of this load.  We got here at 1:30 this morning, but they didn't open until about 7:00.  And tomorrow, we can deliver anytime after 7:30 am, but we will get there well before that.  So on these kinds of loads, we spend a fair amount of time waiting.  And if there are several of these kinds of loads together (like we had back in May after the first time we went to Virginia Beach), it can be frustrating because we don't get the miles or $$ that we could otherwise.

It's frustrating when we are doing everything we can do, and some limitation in the system, or the mechanics of the way freight is moving in a certain area or time caps our potential earning capacity.  It is already capped to some extent by the arbitrary government regulations we are saddled with (only working so many hours a week, that sort of thing; ostensibly it is for safety, but most of the time, to be honest with you, in my opinion, it's more of a headache than a safety net in practical terms), but at least if the loads we get are good miles and drop-and-hook, we can maximize our resources of time and energy.

The past few weeks have seen us in a routine that has been good for us in many ways:  we haven't had a load up in the northeast in what seems like a long time; I can't even remember the last time we had a load up there.  We've been mostly running in the south, midwest or southwest:  a couple of runs to Laredo (or more), several loads up here in Wisconsin, a couple of times in Florida, Louisiana, Mobile, Alabama -- places like that.  Not long runs, but good runs to and from good places with a minimum of hassles.  It lets us set a good pace for ourselves.

We had a run to Laredo after we left Virginia Beach the last time a couple of weeks ago, and on the way back through Dallas, we had to have some work done on our truck:  oil change, and routine maintenance that has to be done on a new truck.  We also had some problems with the front tires wearing unevenly, so that had to be corrected.  It took the better part of two days, so that gave us a little bit of a break, which was nice.  

We learned a little over a week ago that both of us got our first quarterly bonuses since starting to team together.  That gave us a boost, of course.  We see it on tomorrow's paycheck.  It adds up to be about a week's pay (a little more) for both of us, so that's nice.

I found another blog written by a guy who drove for Schneider but now drives for Wal-mart.  I haven't had time to read very much of it, and don't remember how I found it.  But you can click the link to check it out.  

I love reading journals, blogs, diaries -- anything like that.  One of the funnest and most helpful things to me when I was first considering driving a truck was to read online journals of some folks who had done it before me, especially over at the newbie trucker website, where I was able to read about the experiences of other people just coming into trucking from other careers.

Doing this blog is a bit of a journaling and creative outlet for me; writing has been one of my motivating passions since I can remember anything -- along with reading, computers and gadgets, and traveling, it is one of the cornerstones of my inner life.  I have kept a journal for most of my life -- the earliest journal I have dates back to 1977, when I was 11 years old.  My life on paper.

While I was driving a couple of days ago, somehow (don't ask; driving long distances lends itself to weird thoughts and daydreaming) I started thinking about what I would do if I had enough money to not have any need to work.  What would I do exactly?

Well, first on the list was to make sure no one in my family (of course, if I had this kind of money, my family would suddenly become much larger, I know, so I'm thinking of my immediate family) ever had to work again unless they wanted to.  (Remember, it's my daydream, so I can have enough money to do this, and have plenty left over for  me -- ha ha)

And me -- what would I do?  I'd travel.  I wouldn't buy a house (probably) -- I'd buy the nicest RV they make, with all the gizmos and gadgets that exist (satellite TV, but the kind that tracks wherever you are, and you always have a clear signal, no matter where you are; satellite phone; all that kind of thing), and would just live and travel in it.  And I'd do some traveling in other countries -- mostly Europe, living there for several months at a whack before moving on to the next place.  

And while I know that may never happen exactly like that, I guess I'm a pretty lucky man:  I'm getting paid good money to drive around the country, literally living in a truck, doing mostly what I love to do.  And I'm doing it with my best friend.  Doing this because I want to, not because I have to -- that's the essence of true freedom, isn't it (at least one type of freedom, anyway)?

So, really, I don't have to do too much daydreaming to realize that I'm for the most part living my dream on some level.  How many people in this world can say that?

And I'm grateful.  Blessed.  

Until next time . . . keep the wheels rollin' . . .

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