Sunday, August 19, 2007

Has it really been 3 weeks? Wow! Guess I need to write something . . .

Hello.  I'm writing this entry from the "Schneider hotel" -- the place Schneider uses for drivers to stay.  It's a Comfort Inn in Red Oak, Texas, just south of Dallas.

Terry has been on vacation for the past week, so I've been driving solo for the first time in several months.  Our truck was due for some routine maintenance, so I put it in the shop here in Dallas.  We're going to be rolling again tomorrow morning.  Julian (our dispatcher; Schneider calls them STL's; well, actually, they have a new name for them now, but I don't remember what it is; it's sort of like spring cleaning at many big companies:  well, it's been six months since we jumbled things around, so let's change some names and realign some departments so it will look like we're doing something) told me Friday to expect one of my favorite kinds of loads tomorrow:  one of those endearing "expedited" loads that I wrote about last entry.

Guess the joke's still going on even though the audience didn't laugh at it the first time and they've all gone home.

Before Terry's vacation.  The time since the last entry before Terry went on vacation was mostly good for us as far as miles go.  At one point right after the last entry, we had taken a load up to Pennsylvania.  From there, we picked up a live load in Long Island, New York.  To get there from where we were, we had to go through New York City (to me, any time we have to cross the George Washington Bridge on I-95, that's going through NYC).

It actually wasn't too bad this time.  We had some rush-hour traffic on our way out, but it still moved better than I've seen it in the past.  

The load we picked up in NYC was going Los Angeles, so we could put up with traffic for a while.  At almost 2800 miles, it's the longest single load we've gotten so far.  It was sweet.  If we had our choice, we'd just drive back and forth from coast to coast all the time -- so would every other driver out there, just about.

From LA, we got a load going up to Canada, near Toronto, Ontario.  I've been to Canada twice before:  once, in the early 1990's, I went up there for a month driving as part of the road crew for a Christian rock band.  I got to drive from Chicago (where I was living at the time) west to Washington state, and then north up into British Columbia.  During that month, we worked out way east through the Rockies and the plains of southern Canada, ending up in Montreal.  It was one of the most special times of my life.  For some of the concert stops, we got to stay in the homes of people in the area, so that was special, too.

The only other time I went to Canada was in December, 2005, when I was driving solo for Schneider.

We were both excited about going to Canada.  Most drivers hate going to Canada, but I think we would go to Canada as often as they will send us.  

Getting into Canada was a little bit of an adventure.  The shipper in California didn't have all the right paperwork for part of the load, and, to make a long story short, they gave us incomplete instructions about the proper procedures for handling that type of load (most of the time, everything is electronic, and if everything is done correctly, it is almost like going through the check-out line at Wal-mart or somewhere).  We got delayed at the border, and a couple of times, we thought they were going to send us back across the border.  

They did finally let us through, and we got to spend the better part of two days up in Ontario.  Beautiful country, and the people are very nice also.  

We didn't have any problems getting back into the US with our return load.  

Terry's vacation.  Terry had scheduled this past week for his vacation several months before we started teaming.  He has been looking forward to it for a long time.  He had scheduled it to coincide with his grandson, Deegan's, first birthday.

So, one week ago, I dropped Terry off in West Memphis, Arkansas, where his truck has been parked since we drove there in March to pick up our truck (Lori).   From there, he went up into northern Arkansas where his daughter and her husband (Allicia and Jesse) and, of course, Deegan, live.

We talked on the phone a few times while he was on vacation, but pretty much, we've had the longest time apart since we started teaming.  That was probably good for both of us -- gave us a chance to take showers and that sort of thing.  

Terry's coming into Dallas later today and he has some things to do before we head out in the morning.  

Driving solo.  It was very weird being the only one in the truck after teaming for over five months.  Sometimes, with two people sharing such a cramped space 24/7 for months on end, the truck seems very tiny.  This week, it seemed inordinately large.  I enjoyed the solitude most of the time, but I also missed Terry, and am glad he's coming back today.  I missed him.

When I dropped Terry in West Memphis last weekend, we were under a load to Laredo.  I drove as far as Dallas before shutting down, and then drove the rest of the way to Laredo the next day.

There was some confusion in Laredo about my next load because they gave the wrong trailer number (the trailer they told me to get was actually empty in Laredo, but they showed it being loaded and in Mexico).  So I waited all day Monday in Laredo for a loaded trailer to come in from Mexico when it was sitting there empty the whole time.  

Finally got the trailer confusion cleared up, and I was able to leave the next morning up to Tulsa, Oklahoma.  I stopped in Dallas for my break on the way up.  

Then it took forever it seemed to get my next load:  picking up in Muskogee, Oklahoma, for delivery over 24 hours later about midnight in Fort Worth.  From Muskogee to Fort Worth is about 300 miles, so I spent most of the time on that load waiting.  

Actually, I spent much more time last week waiting than I did driving.  The total miles I drove last week (about 1800) Terry and I typically will cover in about 36 hours (including stopping for breaks and that sort of thing), so it was a real change of pace.

I was sort of on (unpaid) vacation this week myself, and I'm sure I'll know just how much of a vacation I've been on next Friday when I find out how much I'm getting paid.  

That's just the way things work sometimes.

Well, that about catches things up for you.  

Until next time . . . keep the wheels rolling!


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