A Day in a New Life

It’s 8:30 a.m. Saturday June 30th and I’m 335 miles into my first loaded trip as a solo driver. My rig is a 2007 Volvo VNL 670 with a 400+ horsepower Cummins Diesel engine. My destination is Sparks, Nevada, and I’m about half-way there. I’m just south of the small town of Jordan Valley, Oregon as I slice through the southwest corner of the state. My route takes me from Lewiston, Idaho south on highway 95 and then west on I-80 at Winnemucka, Nevada. It’s an easy, uncomplicated trip.

After hooking up a trailer late yesterday afternoon at the Lewiston terminal I only have to drop it off at our Sparks terminal outside Reno. A “T-Call” as it’s referred to, meaning another driver will pick up the trailer and deliver it to it’s destination. In this case a Longs Drug Store distribution center in Patterson, California. A lot of people will have me to thank when nature calls and they partake of their share of the 21,732 lbs of “Bathroom Tissue” I’m carrying.I’ve run out of hours per D.O.T. regulations. After taking a “nap” break near Parma, Idaho of 4 1/2 hours I hit the road again only to realize I had just a couple of hours left of the 14 hours of “on duty” time I’m allowed. I had no choice, I would have to take a 10 hour break. I would have been better off had I just stayed where I was in Parma and taken my entire 10 hours there. As it is, the clock starts all over again from this stop. Being a rookie, I’m allowed some mistakes, besides I’ve plenty of time to complete this trip and I can use the time for rest and to relax a bit.

So here I am hidden behind my cab curtains along a wide spot in the road and plenty of time on my hands. I’m out of range for making cell phone calls, which would help wile away the hours. It’s 81 degrees outside and my ACs on with the remote-controlled radio tuned to an oldies station playing the Guess Who’s 70’s hit “No Time.” My laptop is powered through a 450 watt inverter that converts the 12 Volt DC in-cab power to 115 AC for home appliances etc.

I’m driving a less than one year old Volvo tractor with a little more than 100,000 miles. As I get some mileage behind me I’m learning the best way to organize and stay organized in my confined quarters. One things for sure, if you don’t constantly keep straightening after yourself you could quickly get disorganized. Just as Brigham Young once said; A place for everything, and everything in it’s place. Reminds me of the small camper trailers I would sleep in with one of my ex-brother-in-laws, only my home is even smaller! That same brother-in-law is celebrating his birthday today and I reminded myself last night that I’ll want to give him a call today. He was born on the exact middle day of the century, so you can figure out his age. I’ll only tell you he’s A LOT older than me!

One disappointment with my new truck is that it doesn’t allow space for a refrigerator. One can adapt by sitting the fridge on the passenger seat using bungee cords to secure it, but that’s not my style. As my son Sean would say, “I don’t roll that way!”  But I’ll have to figure out something so I can store at least a small amount of cold foods.

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It’s 12:35 in the afternoon now and after some rest in my bunk I’ve woken and visited outside of the rig. My in-dash temperature guage says it’s 85 degrees outside, although I would have thought it maybe a bit warmer. The truck has been idling for the entire morning to keep me cool. I’m not sure how much fuel I’ve used while sleeping, but I’m glad I’m not an owner-operator. I forgot to reset the meter on the readout to give me an idea, but I suspect I’ve burned a couple of gallons. I’ve slept well and maybe woke up momentarily twice the last few hours. My mattress is comfortable but not the quality pillow-mattress my mentor had in his truck. I’m hoping to rectify that in the next few weeks.

I can’t believe I’ve been so lucky to get through these last couple of months fairly unscathed and with a bright, shiny new rig to do my work. In a few more hours I’ll have rested the required ten and I’ll be on my way once again. I expect I’ll arrive at my destination around 1 a.m. in the morning. Where my next assignment will take me, I have no idea …

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