Category: Travel

A Week in Willard One Night

Amish Horse & Buggy in Ohio
Amish Horse & Buggy in Ohio

I sit this morning in Willard, Ohio, about an hour or so drive west of Akron. I arrived last night at 7 p.m. eastern time after driving with only one short fueling and a bathroom break for a straight twelve hours. My Driver Manager phoned me along the way indicating the “consignee” was “chomping at the bit” to receive my load of 12 large paper rolls weighing in at more than 42-thousand pounds. But, When I arrived I found out I had an appointment time of 5:30 the following afternoon. To say the least I’m not a happy camper, especially in light of the fact that I could have stopped at one of two truck stops some 40 miles east of here. Instead I’m stuck here in a dirt lot among other disgruntled and waiting truckers next to the delivery docks.

On top of all this my Qualcomm communication keyboard hasn’t worked for several days and there is no cell phone service here in Willard. But I suppose things could be worse. (more…)

Wal-Mart Country

The Original Wal-Mart Store - Bentonville, AK

I’m parked at a Pilot Truck Stop in Springdale, Arkansas, just down the road from Bentonville and the Wal-Mart Distribution Center where I make my next delivery tomorrow morning. My load is nearly 37,000 pounds of mens and ladies watches. A “high value load” as they’re sometimes called. (I ended up with the assignment I’d thought I’d lost in my previous post). Bentonville also happens to be where Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart store in 1962 and where the world’s largest retailer is headquartered. The original “five and dime” store pictured above now serves as a Wal-Mart “Visitor Center” in Bentonville.

I arrived here at 1:30 this afternoon. After an hour or so visiting the truck stop store, updating my log and a bit of tidying up my small surroundings I laid down for a nap and just woke. Matt Drudge talks on the radio.

Just North of the Border

The U.S. - Mexican Border
The U.S. - Mexican Border near Otay Mesa, CA

Hard to believe that August is already upon us and summer is about to wind down and give way to cooler temperatures, at least in many parts of the country. But let’s not be too premature, there’s still the next 30 days as well as September and maybe part of October to enjoy. Maybe I can stay down in the southern part of the country and not see any snow or temps below 60 all winter long! I doubt it though.

I’m in Mexico! At least it feels that way. Everywhere I go I see signs in Spanish and everyone I hear seems to be speaking the same as I await another assignment. I just completed a 340 mile trip from Phoenix to the “Otay Mesa” area south of San Diego. Even further south yet of National City and Chula Vista! Heck I’m so close to Mexico even the Border Patrol checks me out as they pass. I saw a border patrolman on a four-wheeler a few hours ago arrayed in a camouflage helmet and combatish green outfit with holster ready to do battle. He passed my parked truck seeming to be on the lookout for something or someone outside Swift’s Otay Mesa Terminal on Calle de Linea (that’s the name of the street). (more…)

By The Time I Get To Phoenix

Well here I am finally in the ‘Valley of the Sun’, Phoenix, Arizona and my tractor parked at the company headquarters. I have once again learned that it isn’t always “what” you know but rather “who” you know when it comes to getting what you want. This truism was evident in my more than three-week effort to get down this way with several near-misses.

I’ve spent the weekend here in the Phoenix “burbs” having arrived early Friday evening amidst all the news about the two T-V news helicopters that collided here earlier in the day.

Rather than deal with the unknown parking situation at the terminal on a weekend night, and wanting to make the trip to pick me up as easy as possible on my various hosts, I chose to drive beyond the headquarters facility to the nearest Rest Area some 30+ miles further down I-10, half-way it seemed to Tucson. (more…)

Stuck in Sumner

The Dashboard of my 2007 Volvo VNL 670 Truck

Well it could be worse, I suppose. I could be stuck in Lodi as “Creedence” sings about. I’ve been through Lodi, California recently and no offense, but there’s nicer places. The song however seems to closely fit my situation, ‘cept the Lodi part.

“Just about a year ago, I set out on the road,
Seekin’ my fame and fortune, lookin’ for a pot of gold.
Things got bad, and things got worse, I guess you will know the tune.
Oh Lord, Stuck in Lodi again.”

Having just recently received my own truck I’d noted with my driver manager before I left Lewiston (Idaho) that it appeared to be near it’s required 30,000 mile periodic servicing. She put it off saying to let her know when it was past the 120-thousand mile mark. She couldn’t set up an appointment, I was told, until it had reached that magic number. (At the time it had just over 118-thousand on it’s odometer). So with the passage of time as well as a number of miles I finally had an opportunity this past Friday to have the work done when I arrived here at the Sumner, Washington terminal for a log book class, required of all new drivers. (more…)

“Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day”

It’s been two weeks to the day since I struck out on my own with my first solo trip out of Lewiston (Idaho). Since then, during my five trips so far, I’ve hauled, among other things, 12,000 lbs. of cardboard for Boise Cascade, 45,000 lbs of various wines to two different distributors in Boise, as well as hay for a Monteview, Idaho farmer. That’s right, hay! More than 41,000 lbs of it to be exact in large 1900-2000 lb. bales destined for a Kingsburg, California dairy farm, some 930 miles away. When I first read the assignment I thought to myself, “I’ve never heard of either one of these towns!”

This job can sure get awful dirty at times and that dairy was as dusty as it gets! Not only that, I had a crew of local flies in side my cab that decided to hitch a ride. It was a couple of days before I finally showed the last one out my opened passenger window, somewhere near Wheeler Ridge, CA.

Right now I have a trailer load of unknown product I picked up this afternoon from our Swift terminal in Troutdale, Oregon. The load is due anytime tomorrow for delivery to a Wal-Mart distribution center near Hermiston, Oregon. It’s been a nice drive the last couple of hours eastbound along I-84 and the Columbia River Gorge. Tonight I’ll sleep at Biggs Junction with my home state of Washington in sight, just across the Columbia River.


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. (more…)