August, 2004

December 29, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Old Straycat Blog Posts | Leave a comment

August 1st (Sunday): Delivered the load from Pueblo, Co to Billings, MT (661 miles) this afternoon. I got a load from Worland, WY to Ontario, CA (162 miles empty, 1024 miles loaded). Since it doesn’t deliver until the 4th, i’ll probably T-call it in Salt Lake City, and get a load from there. The route for today will be I-90 west to US-310 south to US-20nsouth to Worland, WY. Then US-20 south to US-26 west to WY-789 southwest to WY-28 southwest to US-191 south to Rock Springs, WY. Then I-80 west about 40 miles to Little America, WY. Will finish the trip to Salt Lake tomorrow via I-80 west.
August 3rd (Tuesday): I love it when a plan comes together. I T-called the load from Worland, WY, yesterday afternoon in Salt Lake, and got a pre-plan for a load from Brigham City, UT to Brownsville, TX (52 miles empty, 1623 miles loaded). It picks up this AM as soon as I get there. The planned route today will be I-15 south to I-84 east to I-80 east to Cheyenne, Wy, then I-25 south into Denver,CO.
August 4th (Wednesday): Continuing the trip to Brownsville, TX. The route today was I-25 south all the way through Colorado into Raton, NM. Then US-87 east into Dumas, TX. From there, it’s US-287 south into Amarillo, TX, then I-27 south to I-20 east to Sweetwater, TX. Between Amarillo and Lubbock, I got into a nasty microburst. The rain was so heavy for about 6 miles that you literally couildn’t see 100 feet in front of you. I survived by following another truck through it. I could see that there was no one between us, so I just followed his tail-lights. I have no idea how the heck he was navigating through it. NO FUN at all.
August 5th (Thursday): Continuing the trip to Brownsville, TX. The route today was I-20 east to US-83 south through Laredo into Brownsville.
August 6th (Friday): Delivered the load (from Brigham City, UT) at the “consignee” in Brownsville, TX this AM. The Planner gave me a load that picked up at the Laredo, TX Terminal going to Hayward, CA (201 miles empty, 1725 miles loaded). The route for today was US-83 north to Laredo, I-35 north to US-83 north to Carriizo Springs, TX. Then US-277 west through Eagle Pass, TX to Del Rio, TX. From Del Rio, US-90 west to Sanderson, TX, then
US-285 north to Fort Stockton, TX. As it turned out this was “the load from HELL“!! I arrived in Laredo, picked up the paperwork for the load, and went out to hook-up to the trailer. I coundn’t find it anywhere in the yard. I finally found it in the Shop. They were installing new brake shoes. I finally got hooked to the trailer some 3 hours later. (the Shop has their priorities, & I have mine. They just happened to “collide” on this day). The “laden weight” of the load was 45,354 lbs (quite heavy, but “do-able” if the trailer was properly loaded). I was full of fuel (being the dutiful little trucker that I am, I had fueled upon entering the Terminal). Anyway, I went to the scale in the yard and weighed the load. It was legal according to that scale. Not being a trusting soul, I departed the terminal and went to the Pilot Truckstop and decided that a “certified” weight was needed. I scaled the load there, went inside to pay the fee and get my weight ticket. They couldn’t find it. (must have been a language problem. I speak & understand English, they didn’t). Sooooo, I fight my way through all the traffic in the truck stop and 15 minutes later am back on the scale. The lady takes my company and truck information again. I find another parking spot, go inside, and they can’t find this ticket either. At this point, I “inform” her (using more colorful and less urbane language) that, compared to her, FORREST GUMP was a genius, and trace her lineage clear back to LASSIE. Anyway, I leave the truck stop in disgust, and without a certified weight ticket (after all, it had scaled OK at the terminal). Between Carrizo Springs and Eagle Pass (about 20 miles form Eagle Pass), I have a tire “blow-out” on the left, inboard, forward axle of the trailer. I “limp” into Eagle Pass and call the company for help. This went relatively smoothly, considering the kind of day i’ve had so far. Swift has a network of hundreds of shops that they can call when a driver has mechanical problems on the road. Fortunately, there was a tire shop available right there in Eagle Pass. A half hour later the guy shows up with a new tire and has me ready to roll within a half hour of his arrival. Total time lost about 1.5 hours including getting a bite to eat & walking the doggies. I then continued my “slog” to Fort Stockton with no further problems.
August 7th (Saturday): Continuing the “saga” of the “trip from Hell”. The planned route for today was I-10 east through El Paso,TX; Las Cruses and Lordsburg, NM; into Arizona through Benson and Tucson and into Phoenix. The best laid plans of mice and men, however, are often thwarted by fate. I arrived at the El Paso Terminal at noon. I filled up with fuel, then (as an afterthought) decided to scale the load again. It was a “good thing”,because, sure enough, I was illegal (500 lbs overweight on the “steer axle” and 1700 lbs over on the “drive axles”) with no way to make any adjustments to the weight other than re-working the load. Had I entered the “port of entry” into New Mexico being that far overweight, I would have got a hefty ticket, and spent the week-end in my truck there until I could get help on Monday. I went into the office and told them of my plight. they said to go to the truckstop (10 miles away) and get a certified weight, then come back in to see them. I did so (with considerably less effort than yesterday). I told them that the load had to be re-worked, and asked if the shop could help me. They said that the shop did not work weekends and wouldn’t be in until Monday AM. I asked if they had a key to the shop so that I could use the forklift and re-work the load myself and continue on my way. They said that they had no access to the shop at all. I called my “home Terminal” (Salt Lake City, UT). My driver manager happened to be the “driver manager du jour” for the week-end. After some research, he said that Arizona allows 20,00 lbs on the steer-axle, so if i could “slide the weight forward on the 5th wheel, it would move all the excess weight to the steer-axle and the drives (drive-axles) wound then be legal and I could proceed to Phoenix and re-work the load there (where the shop doesn’t have “bankers hours”). I succeeded in moving the weight and got the drives legal (but just barely). I then asked him about New Mexico’s regulations. New Mexico does not specify a legal weight for the steer-axles. He said that he didn’t know and to use my judgement as to whether I should try to proceed with the “plan”. Being the cautious type I decided that the best plan of action was to call the New Mexico Port of Entry and find out their interpretation of “not specified”. Another “good thing”. The officer at the Port said that the maximum allowable weight was 12000 lbs, and they would write a citation for anything overweight. End of that “plan”. Satan 3, Ernie 0. I called my driver manager back & told him the bad news. The load that was to deliver Monday, would still be in El Paso awaiting re-work, and would have to be re-scheduled (despite my Herculean efforts).
August 9th(Monday): Still on “the load from Hell”. The planned route for this day was I-10 west through Phoenix, AZ, then on into Blythe,CA. This morning, I checked in with the EL Paso Terminal. They informed me that the “yard manager” had not showed up yet, and that I should check with the shop to see if they could help. I did so. When I told them what the problem was, they looked at me like I had just asked them to “throw their puppy into a wood-chipper”. I got no help there. Back to the Drivers Window I went, and not really happy. I asked to see the Terminal Manager. He “shined me on” for about 1 1/2 hours. He was in his office less than 20 feet from me with his door open. I finally got tired of that. I elevated my vocal timbre by about 50% and asked what the He** I had to do to get him to come talk to me about the problem. That got his attention. He came out of his office, obviously not pleased with the disturbance, and the verbal “fisticuffs” began. We traced each others lineage, he inferring that I was decended from the above mentioned LASSIE, and I inferring that he was “unaware of the identity of his paternal parent, and that he suffered from an Odephus complex ( again using the more colorful and less urbane language, much to the amusement of those in the office and the Drivers Lounge as well). He said that he didn’t have time to be dealing with drivers’ “petty complaints”. I said: ” I’ve been here for almost 48 hours waiting to get this load re-worked and that you can either find someone to help me re-work the load, or T-call it and get me on my way with something else, but that you are going to make for time this drivers ” petty complaint”, or that my next phone call would be to the Company President. Before the situation could deteriorate much further, the Yard Manager (who had been at the doctor passing a Kidney Stone) came in and said that he would help me. FINALLY. We had to pull every pallet out of the trailer and re-load it. Since the pallets were similar in weight and number to those of a beverage load, we decided to use the same load plan as a beverage load. Worked like a charm, and I was finally en-route once more. I do not suffer incompetance nor incompetants well, and this place is rife with both. I guess i’m “persona non gratis” in El Paso terminal for a while. Tsk, tsk. tsk. Anyway the rest of the day went well. The lesson learned from this is that you ALWAYS  get a certified scale certificate from a truck stop on any questionable load coming out of Mexico.
August 10th (Tuesday): Still on the Devil Load. The route today was. I-10 west to I-210 west (to avoid the LA grid-lock) to I-5 north to Santa Nella. All went well.
August 11th (Wednesday): The Hell Load will soon be history. It delivers at 0900 this morning and good riddance. All I have to do is navigate the 70 or so miles through the Bay Area traffic without killing any “bone-headed” California drivers. The route is I-5 north to I-580 west to I-880 south to Hayward. Yes, I finally arrived without incident and made the delivery on time (for the re-scheduled appointment), but “par for the course”, there was no freight available. The Planners did eventually find me a load, but it didn’t pick up until the next day, so I just headed to the Lathrop, CA terminal and “kicked back”.
August 12th (Thursday): The load that the Planners found for me picks up in Modesto, Ca at 8:00 AM and delivers today at 5:00 PM in Ontario, CA. The route will be I-5 south to CA-120 east to CA-99 south to Modesto. Then CA-99 south through Bakersfield, Ca (where i mis-spent my youth and can stop for some decent Chinese food) to I-5 south to I-210 south to I-15 south to Ontario, CA. I told my driver manager that I was ready to go “to the house” for a couple of days, so he “stacked” a plan on me that will get me home. All went well with this load. Delivered on time and went to the Fontana, Ca Terminal for fuel and sleep.
August 13th (Friday): Picked up a load in the Fontana yard that I will take to Henderson, NV (70 miles empty , 224 miles loaded) and swap with another driver. He will have an empty trailer for me. All went well. HOME AT LAST. I’ve been out since the 15th of July, almost a month. That’s too long.
August 15th (Sunday): Latched on to a good load this time. It picks up anytime today before 5:00 PM in North Las Vegas, NV and delivers in Denver, PA (not Colorado). It’s near Lancaster, PA (not Califfornia), (14 miles empty, 2384 loaded) on the 19th. The routing was I-15 north to I-70 east (through Utah, Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri to I-64 east (to bypass downtown St. Louis) then back to I-70 east through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, an 11 mile portion of West Virginia (through Wheeling), and into Pennsylvania. There i’ll connect with I-76 east (the PA Turnpike). Then on to Denver. The load went without incident except for some fairly heavy rain in eastern Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania which slowed everyone down, There was some “brutal” construction on the PA turnpike too. That, coupled with the rain and the darkness of night made for some “puckering” driving conditions at times. Delivered the load on time on the 19th.
August 19th (Thursday): Due to the late afternoon delivery, there was not much freight available that I could legally deliver on time. The Planner finally found a load for me from Bethlehem, PA to Carrollton (Dallas area), TX (59 miles empty and 1459 miles loaded). It is pre-loaded and I can pick it up this evening. The planned route was US-222 east to PA-61 north to I-78 east to US-22 east empty into Bethlehem. After pick-up the route was US-22 west to I-78 west to I-81 south all the way through Pennsylvaina, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and into Tennessee. There, I-81 ends and merges into I-40. I took I-40 west all the way through Tennessee and into Arkansas. At Little Rock, I took I-30 west into Texas and the Dallas area.
I arrived at our terminal in Lancaster, TX on Sunday evening. I traded this load for a “local delivery” on Monday afternoon, because this load didn’t deliver until Tuesday afternoon, and I want to keep rollin’.
August 23rd (Monday): The local delivery that I traded for delivered at 3:00 PM. It was a “live” unload (meaning that I back the trailer to the dock were it is unloaded and I then leave with the same trailer). All went well. The “back-up” load was a good one. It picked up in Greenville, TX and delivered in Red Bluff, CA (77 empty miles and 1881 loaded miles). The route was I-30 east to Greenville. I arrived at 7:00 PM. and picked up the load. The route from Greenville was US-69 north to US-82 west to US-287 north to Amarillo. Trom Amarillo, I took I-40 west through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and into California. At Barstow, CA I took CA-58 west through Bakersfield (where I mis-spent my youth) to Buttonwillow, CA. Then, I-5 north all the way to Red Bluff, CA. I arrived there late on Thursday afternoon. I delivered the load without incident or problems. When I arrived in Red Bluff, I had already used up 6.5 hours of the 11 hours that I had available for the day, plus I only picked up another 5.5 hours for the next day, so I decided to take the night off and consolidate the hours left from Thursday with the hours that I picked up on Friday so that I would have 10 hours total available thew next day.
August 27th (Friday): When I woke up this morning, I discovered that my Qual Com was not working. (Qual Com is the satellite link that I use to communicate with Swift). I had to use my cell-phone to contact my Driver Manager. Anyway, I had a load from Willows,Ca to Las Vegas, NV (46 miles empty and 625 miles loaded). The route was I-5 south to Willows, then I-5 south again to CA-58 east to I-15 north to Las Vegas. The load delivers Monday the 30th , so I’ll get some “home time”. I stopped at our terminal in Lathrop, CA to try to get the Qual Com repaired , but there was no one there who qualified to repair it. I did get both of my “steer” tires replaced. One was way out of balance. The terminal was also having Driver Appreciation Day, or as I call it “free food Friday”. Every Quarter, Swift has the Management personnel Bar-B Q for all the employees. They had brisket of beef with some excellent “ranch” beans and potato salad, chips, green salad, soda, etc. It was really good.
August 28th (Saturday): Finished the load to Las Vegas as planned without incident. Arrived In Las Vegas at 8:00 PM. The load delivers at 5:30 AM on Monday, so I get a day off at home.
August 30th (Monday): Delivered the load on-time and with no problems. The “guys” had a Vet appointment for some shots at 9:00 AM, and a grooming appointment at 11:00 AM, so I just took the rest of the day off.
August 31st (Tuesday): Still no Qual Com, so I called my DM. He had a load from Henderson, NV to Salt Lake City, UT (25 miles empty and 435 miles loaded). The route was I-15 north. The load went well and I arrived in Salt Lake at 9:00 PM.
Comments: All in all a fairly good month (except for the “Load From Hell” (ref: August 6 through 11). I drove a total of 731 miles empty and 12431 miles loaded for a total of 13162 miles.
I like to average between 12000 and 14000 miles a month, so it was a little above average.

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