Trip Two - Three Weeks Out
by, 09.22.2013 at 02.12 PM (1768 Views)
I have been documenting our experiences trucking OTR as it happens. Two-finger typing into an iPad, using the notes application, not the easiest thing to do. It has voice-recognition, so sometimes I use that, but if we're driving while I'm talking into the mic it doesn't understand me because it's kind of noisy in the truck. So I end up going back to two-finger typing. And that's not always easy either, it gets pretty bouncy in there!
I posted our first trip (4 weeks OTR) a couple weeks ago and honestly didn't know how to make the blog posts go in a logical order to make them easier to follow. I put each day's notes into a separate post and it just didn't work out really well that way. The first day's notes display last and the last day's notes display first. I didn't know how to make them read like a book without readers having to follow the links at the bottom of each post. Anyway, I got a nice private message from Vic, Victor_V explaining how to create a running blog and I will try to do that with trip 2. Thanks Vic!
After we got home from trip number two I copied each day's notes into an email and sent them to myself. That's a job in itself! From those 21 emails, I am copying and pasting them into this blog. (This could take awhile, I have 3 weeks worth.) Please forgive any typos but I will try to catch as many as I can so as not to annoy the perfectionists out there who may read this blog. Remember, this is not about perfection in typing and English/Spelling, it's about documenting our experiences in real-time, as it happens. So this is what you get.
So here we go.
OH wait. I want to try to summarize what took place on our first 4 weeks out for anyone who may not have read that part, just jumped in here on trip two. We are a newbie trucker and his wife, he drives, I ride (I'm along for moral support mostly.) But, on second thought, how do I summarize something so complex and confusing as our first 4 weeks out? I can't, it boggles my mind. Well, basically, we were out for 28 days and made very little money because we spent the majority of our time in service bays getting trailers fixed or in truck stops babysitting loads over entire weekends for shippers/receivers who were not open when we arrived or sitting in their lots waiting to get loaded/unloaded. Our company ignored us, abandoned us for hours and days sometimes. Suffice it to say it kinda sucked... but we got through it and lived to tell about it.
Guess you have to read the story. --------> Over there on the right side, The Truth About Trucking -------->
And now, on to the next chapter of our story:
Trip Two - Three Weeks Out
TRIP 2-Day 1
We are starting out and our first load is to Orlando, Florida to get Pepsi.
We asked to be home again before the Labor Day holiday so we don't get stuck somewhere while everyone else is having a vacation. We learned from the first 4 weeks out that trucking is totally dependent on shippers/receivers being open when you arrive. So if they all shut down for a 4 day holiday weekend, we don't want to be stuck in some dirty truck stop for 4 days. Been there, done that, didn't get the t-shirt. So we told the company that we wanted to be back home in FL before that holiday begins. We will see how that goes. They responded that it was acknowledged, but that doesn't mean we will get home. Good answer ... no commitment on their part. *rolling my eyes*
Kitsi was really excited, she couldn't wait to get back in the truck. Spend our days off doing things we needed to do. I got my nails done, Tim got a haircut and the dog got groomed. We cleaned the entire inside of this dirty truck that we just got from the Indy terminal because our first truck broke down. We scrubbed everything, the walls, ceiling, floor, windows, shelves, etc, with Pine-Sol and then sprayed it with Febreeze. You won't believe the dirt that we removed, the bucket of hot water turned to mud instantly, we had to keep getting clean water. Our cleaning rags turned brownish-yellow when we wiped the smoke off the walls/ceiling and black when we washed the floor. Some of the smoke smell is gone, not all of it, but it's better than it was. It looks really clean and homey right now, but I know that won't last. We bought seat covers over at the tractor supply store. RealTreeGirl for me and Mossy Oak for him, because the seats have cigarette burn holes in them and they smell bad too. Yuck. When it was all cleaned and the new, Walmart sheets were on the bunks, throw rugs down on the clean floor, seat covers in place, I had to laugh. It was a mixture of flowered rugs and camo seats. I told Tim, "This place looks like a redneck '60s love shack! lol"
I think Tim's scheduler thinks that we are in Lakeland, Florida but we are in North Port/Port Charlotte, 2.5 hours away. The trip shows that it should only take us 55 minutes to get to Orlando. But it's at least a 3 hour drive. We are scheduled to be there by 1:45 in the afternoon, thank goodness they gave us "plenty of time" to drive there! We need to get moving. We have just enough time to get there if nothing happens with traffic.
Oops! The brakes locked up at some point (are you kidding me?) and we skinned a couple of back tires to the cords. Noticed the smoke as we came to the first stop sign. Hardly got two blocks from home! Not good. Bad way to start out. We drove to the Walgreens parking lot up the road, pulled into the back alley lane and notified breakdown that we need road service.
11:00 or so
Tim walked over to to Burger King and got us food, since we were stopped. We hadn't eaten anything, wanted to get going. Might as well use the time well, this could be our only meal today. Learned that when an opportunity presents itself, take it, don't ignore it. If we're stopped for any length of time, search for food within walking distance.
Noon or so
They sent someone to fix the tires.
A guy in a big truck pulling a bright orange trailer had the same problem. I was walking into Walgreens to use their bathroom and I heard him squealing really loudly and saw the truck on the road in front of the store as he was approaching the stop light. When I came back out he was parked in front of our truck on the road in front of us. Tim told me the driver had walked over and asked our maintenance guy if he could fix his tire "under the table". Our guy said no he had to get his company's approval first. Next thing you know 2 service trucks full of guys showed up to fix it at the same time, from two different companies! It looked like they were arguing but I'm not sure. A lot of gesturing going on, a lot of loud talking but I can't understand them. I think the driver must have called a bunch of service places or something and then they all came to help and how are arguing over who gets the job. Really? Wow. I took pictures of everyone arguing, it was fun, thought I might see a fist fight, but it didn't happen. Looks like all the tires in our area of town got flat today! He did the exact same thing, his brakes locked up. It's really, really hot out here this morning, probably about 98 degrees, maybe the heat makes the brakes do that? I don't know, I'm not a professional driver.
We are fixed now, that was pretty fast. We got two new tires installed. Looks like we're ready to go again.
Just took Kitsi out to the grass to go potty. I noticed that the tire that they just took off the orange trailer is laying in the grass over here. They just threw it over there in the grass! Tire littering! Maybe they're going to come get it later.
Need to reschedule the appointment, Tim is sending messages on the QC.
Arrived at Pepsi Co. Took pictures of our arrival, I always do that.
Trailer is still at the dock, waiting for a live load. Had to unhook after backing to the dock and move across the lot and park the truck until done.
That was fast, we are loaded! Only took about 20 min. That's the fastest load I've ever witnessed! Wow these people win the prize!
Hauling 45,668 lbs of Pepsi and Sierra Mist to Jacksonville, FL. Going to the Loves to get weighed first.
Pulled into the Loves to get weighed. This place is packed! And it backs up to a bunch of tall apartments or condos! I took a picture.
I went into the Arby's and got sandwiches for us while Tim waited in line for the scale. When I got back he said the driver of the truck blocking the scale was missing and they were looking for him. Big uproar out there, drivers out of their trucks, a big traffic mess in that tiny area where trucks are trying to fuel and lining up for the scale and also trying to back into tight parking spaces. This truck stop is literally shoehorned into a very tight area. Very strange place for a truck stop. OK! Finally someone moved the truck for us, we think it was a mechanic or another driver, (can they do that?) and we got weighed. We are good to go. Just have to take our 30 minute break before we leave.
We called the receiver to see if they were open all night and they are, but he said everyone who is there right now has a 6 hour wait. The trucks are all lined up at this shipper, waiting their turn, it's a mess over there. OK, we don't want to deal with that mess, so we are looking for a truck stop and will have the company re-schedule us for tomorrow morning. We Called about call-ahead parking at the TA and there are none left at any truck stops in the surrounding area. Oh boy. Not sure what we will do now.
Found a rest area, got lucky, got the last available parking space. At least I won't have to walk 4 blocks to the bathroom in the morning like I would've had to do at that huge trucks stop, it's just a short walk from the parking area to the bathrooms here at this rest area. That's the good news. Time for bed.
End Day One
TRIP 2-Day 2
Woke up a the rest area. I had a bad night, woke up dizzy and nauseous and had to wake Tim up to help me get the Emetrol out. Than God I brought it or I would've puked all over my bed. It got too hot up there I guess. Tim turned up the air and I let it blow on me for awhile and I was able to get back to sleep, but kept waking up all night long, hoping it was morning. It was a long night. I just wanted to get out of the truck and breathe fresh air for some reason.
On the road again, passed a bad truck wreck at the southbound rest area, looks like it involved several trucks. One of them rear ended another and wreckers were pulling another one out of the trees. Southbound I-95 is shut down at the rest area, think its mile marker 303.
Arrived at Pepsi, road is jammed with trucks lined up to get in.
Inside the gate, at the guard check-in booth. That didn't take too long. It looked worse than it was.
Told to back in to dock18, then pull ahead 3 feet, for unloading. Sat at the waiting area for an hour first.
Sitting here watching the big trucks all jockeying for position in the lot around us. Interesting nobody hit anyone, it was crazy out there.
Backed up to the dock, still. They didn't have us pull away after all. Had to ask the guard to go inside and see if we can pull away from the dock, the green light never changed to red, nobody ever came out to let us know what was going on. He said we are good to go. We have been here for 3 hours.
New Trip info:
Savannah GA, Icon Health & Fitness
Champlain NY customs -Lacolle Quebec- Canada customs ... oh no, not Canada again. sigh.
Leaving Pepsi Company
Leaving the best Pilot truck stop we've seen. In Georgia, exit 1 on I-95. They have a food bar, pizza, sandwiches, groceries, drinks, salads, potato salad, good fresh bread, etc. lots of fuel lanes and a very large truck parking lot. Very clean too. We took time to get a slice of pizza and it was really tasty! Have to remember this one, took notes in my "Notes on Good Truck Stops" in my iPad.
Arrived at icon health and fitness. We just made it, they close the gates at 4:30 pm!
Called the Petro truck stop in Florence SC on I-95 to reserve a space to park and the woman said she has worked there since she was 7 (really? LOL), and the place never fills up, don't worry about it. Hope she's right.
Shipping dept forgot to give Tim the CA customs paperwork, they were in a huge hurry to get out of there. They all went home immediately after they loaded us and handed him the paperwork. Message to dispatch, they told us we need to come back here in the AM to get the paperwork for customs. Sent a MSG to dispatch again, asking if that paperwork can be faxed ahead so we can continue on the road rather than it setting us back 15 hours or so. Waiting for answer.
Leaving the shipper. Stopped at the guard shack to ask for the shipping dept info so we can call them in the morning. Found out from the guard, who was very nice, that the shipping mgr is still working, got in touch with him and he's going to try to get us the paperwork before we leave. Thank God!
Someone just came out of the bldg with paperwork for us. He says it will work for customs. Tim is asking the guard if he has a fax to send it to Canada briefing for us. If not, we have to stop at a close -by truck stop to use their fax. Guard has no fax. Off to Pilot.
Got fax approval for paperwork, leaving Pilot. Got call ahead parking at TA in Manning, SC.
Took two hours to get to the TA Truck stop to stop for the night. In Manning, SC. Fuel, wash that bug laden windshield, get a shower and a meal. Can't wait to eat!
End Day Two
TRIP 2-Day 3
On the road again. Hauling Nordic Track Gym Equipment.
Stopped to make lunch, pulled into a HUGE area in Kenly NC off I-95 with 4 truck stops.
Went inside to use the restrooms, OMG, the store at this place was freezing cold, I thought it would start snowing any minute! Had to get out of there! What's up with places that turn the A/C so cold it's like a meat locker inside? Literally ran out of there from the cold.
On the road again. Just a boring day driving along on the way to the receiver.
Just saw a Jaguar in the woods! Nope, not the animal, the car. Here are pictures:
5 hours of driving. Just got out of bad traffic around Washington, DC. I hate driving around Washington DC! I mean, I really, really hate it. What a mess and it's almost all under construction.
Is this the only way to get to Canada? OMG. Trying to get as far as PA today. Since we are driving into the night, we are worried that we won't find a place to park this huge rig for the night. Called TA to get reserved parking. Hate to do that, it costs $13 a night. Sounds OK for one night but if you had to buy a space every night, it would cost $90 a week. One week, on our previous trip, we only made $75, so can't really afford to do that. But we did ... we reserved a parking spot at the TA in Harrisburg PA for the night, just to make sure we had a place to stop.
Arrived with 4 min to spare to the TA truck stop in Harrisburg, PA. That's cutting it a little too close! Makes me a nervous wreck!
OK, three days with no major problems, just a bad start with tires. Maybe our first OTR experience was just a fluke, you think? Maybe this trucking thing isn't so bad after all. We shall see. (Oh boy, was I a dreamer.)