Thursday, April 21, 2016
I had a blast for the five years I was out there, and I don't regret a thing - but I sure am glad to be home now. I get to have a garden for the first time since we headed out, and it is so pleasurable to get my hands dirty with soil again. I look forward to a healthy harvest.
If you like the way I write, I do have an ongoing blog, which is home to book reviews, musings about the books I'm working on, as well as news about my writing in general.
I would love for you to visit: http://inanutshellbound.blogspot.com/
Saturday, January 2, 2016
I accepted that challenge—although I don't remember who issued it as it was a friend of a friend—and I have been working on it. I've got 16 of them covered, so far. It's going to take a while.
I've found it's a good exercise both for my memory and just creativity in general.
Here are the results:
Except where noted, all memories are as an adult, between 1992 and the present.
- Spent a day and a half exploring Tombstone, including being invited to John the bartender’s wedding at Big Nose Kate’s, which happened right out in the street in front. Sadly, he was waaay drunk. Cool ‘reenactments’ and buying 1880’s clothes. Window shopping the souvenirs.
- Highway 60 through the White River Canyon—scary and gorgeous. Seeing cars that had gone over the sides and were left because it was impossible to get them out.
- Of course, the Grand Canyon. Three times, once as a kid. This last time going in stormy weather, standing on the rim with my hair standing straight up from the electrical charge. Walking parts of the South Rim trail, ending up having to catch a shuttle back in a downpour.
- Exploring Flagstaff on foot. Nice shops. Nice people—we talked to several, in shops and on the bus. Driving rental car to Grand Canyon, and also to the Two Arrows Casino east of town.
- Driving the Virgin River Gorge several times, but once with the moon rising and making the canyon walls look super cool—which they do anyway.
- Picking up copper plates at a copper mine/smelter in Hayden in +100 degree heat. Seeing (from a distance) the molten copper being poured out of giant kettles and marveling that the workers could stand the heat—noticing how they all moved really slowly.
- Delivering a load to Avila Beach, spending the rest of the day walking on the beach, talking to locals, having dinner in a nice restaurant, watching the sunset over the boardwalk, and then falling asleep to the sound of the waves right outside the truck window.
- Driving down the Grapevine with a heavy load the first time. I stayed slow, so it was fine, but I was nervous.
- Being part of a convoy of trucks delivering solar farm parts to a remote location near Santa Margarita. Road was so curvy they had to close it to traffic coming the other way so trucks could clear corners without worry.
- Driving into a huge electrical storm near Barstow while hauling a load of coiled rebar.
- Several trips over Donner Pass, a few in crappy weather. Views when stopped on top at the rest areas. Once waiting for highway to open, we had a great lunch at a tiny café in Applegate.
- Delivering a load to a construction site just near Crissy Field, and exploring the beach on the Bay, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the near distance.
- Delivering reclaimed/recycled wood materials to McCloud in a snowstorm. We had parked just outside their yard that night, and had to chain up just to get into their yard so we could deliver.
- Spending the day with my uncle and his wife exploring Tarpon Springs, an old Greek community of sponge divers. Neat aquarium. Got to ‘pet’ snakes and little manta rays.
- Visiting Kissimmee, watching the show at Medieval Times, walking around exploring, seeing a ‘gator farm.’ Shopping for souvenirs.
- Delivering a load of rocket parts to Cape Canaveral—actually out onto the base. Saw where they launch the shuttles from. Then spent the rest of the day at the beach by the port, watching dolphins escorting the passing cruise ships, seeing manatees, sea turtles, and other wildlife.
- Breaking down in Vero Beach and ‘having’ to spend a couple days there. Walking on the beach, drinking great piña coladas and eating at Waldo’s, visiting with locals.
- Making a delivery in Miami, arriving late and parking on the street outside the receiver, and having a woman knock on the door at 2am, ostensibly checking out where we were delivering, but probably selling drugs or herself.
- Coming down Fourth of July Pass and seeing the beautiful vistas. Same with the Idaho side of Lookout Pass.
- Driving US 12 between Missoula (MT) and Kooskia. (Done it in a car and in the truck.) Beautiful vistas, mountains, valleys and rivers.
- Standing at an overlook of Lake Coeur D’Alene with rags of fog blowing across the lake.
- McCall, seeing the boats in the marina at the lake, at sunset.
- Arco and the Craters of the Moon State Park – very otherworldly landscapes.
- Walking from the train station to Shedd Aquarium and having a very nice gentleman ask me to have coffee with him. (I turned him down, since I didn’t have much time to spare.) Same trip, seeing Chicago from the top of the Sears Tower.
- Driving through downtown Chicago in the semi, both on the Interstate, and on surface streets; traffic so bad it felt like we were backing up on the Interstates, and wondering if we were going to end up faced with a low overpass or nosed into some impossible situation on the surface streets.
- Waking up late at night to find Collin had stopped to help at the scene of a rollover semi accident near Joliet, flagging vehicles around it.
- Stopping at a rest area overlooking Duluth and Lake Superior. Very pretty.
- Delivering emergency bridge materials to Ray, up almost to the Canadian border, in the dark and pouring rain, and getting a flat tire from the yard. Coming back down and spending the night on the edge of a lake we couldn’t see until morning. Beautiful, under-populated country that feels almost forsaken, in a good way.
- Hanging out much of the day in Garrison, then watching the moon rise over Mille Lacs Lake.
- Visiting Little Bighorn National Monument (twice). Standing where Reno & Benteen hunkered down to await reinforcements, and thinking I had been there before. Listening to accounts of the Battle that were vastly different from what I learned in school—thankfully.
- Visiting good friends in Helena, having dinner with them, letting their kids play on the flatbed.
- Seeing the big hole in the ground that is Butte, Montana.
- Seeing the 500’ tall Anaconda copper smelting tower—and later seeing it from 30,000 feet as I flew east, heading to Great Britain.
- Exploring the Lewis & Clark caverns with Elaine. Having a bit of a hot flash when they turned off the lights.
- Getting detoured 200 miles (RT) off I-90 due to flooding on the interstate, wondering if the roads we were diverted to would stay open long enough for us to get back on track—weather was wild and woolley. Ended up buying a favorite pair of slip-on shoes in a store that I would never have been to, otherwise.
- Driving by Glacier National Park – beautiful country.
- Stopping at the $10,000 Silver Dollar trading post several times, mostly to buy knives.
- Delivering a load out to Long Island, running out of hours, and parking on the side of the road, where we got a flat in a pothole. Lots of time rubbernecking while in traffic going over the George Washington Bridge.
- Exploring Niagara Falls with my cousin. (Twice now, once with Collin, once earlier.) Taking the Maid of the Mists boat ride right up into the mist of the falls.
- Missing our exit off I-94, having to turn around, but not able to easily because we had to turn around due to a low clearance bridge. When we got back on track, got pulled in to a roadside inspection and got ticketed for hours of service violations.
- Picking up a load of jetskiis in Champlain, way up by the Canadian border. They were going to be delivered in Laredo, Texas.
- Delivering multiple loads of hay to the Mayor of Boyd. Very nice guy. Almost claiming one of the puppies born there. (If it had been old enough, we may have done.)
- Delivering load of jetskiis to Laredo—hurrying to get in and out of town before dark, as we had been told it was not a safe place to spend the night.
- Waiting for a load out of El Paso—spending the day exploring the Cielo Vista Mall, noticing how well behaved the children were, and how relaxed the parents were.
- Delivering wine equipment to new vineyards in the Texas Hill country around Johnson City. Ran into an overhanging branch and damaged one of the pieces. Receiver was very understanding.
- Spending the night in a truck stop near Denton, listening to the thunder and lightning all night long, pretty sure there was going to be a tornado. (There wasn’t.)
- Getting frustrated first time trying to drive through Dallas on the freeway during rush hour and missing our exchange at least twice. This was the inciting incident that convinced us we needed a GPS.
- Visiting Collin’s sister in Killeen twice. Once to give her our dog, Buddy, who didn’t like riding on the truck, once to visit him after.
- Seeing the Gulf Coast while delivering to Brownsville, watching flying fish at the port we delivered at. Driving by Corpus Christie, and considering how flat everything is and what it would be like if a hurricane came through. Same trip, getting stopped by Border Patrol checkpoint, forgetting to remove my sunglasses, and having to open my door so a drug dog could sniff the entry.
- Spending Memorial Day weekend camping on my brother’s property in Pacific Beach—in the pouring rain. (My dog Dodger wanted to go home so bad he jumped into the trunk of my car when I was loading it.)
- Driving around Mt. St. Helens post-May 18, 1980 eruption—several times, now. (Once as a kid, more times as an adult.) Exploring the Ape Caves 3-4 times, walking both the upper and lower sections. Seeing what’s left of Spirit Lake.
- Going to see the King Tut Exhibit in Seattle as a kid. Having lunch in the Space Needle.
- Driving over Snoqualmie Pass in the snow.
- Stopping at a farmer’s market in northeastern Washington—I want to say Chewelah. Buying jam and fresh bread and having a picnic lunch of fresh treats.
- Delivering a load in Everett and having time to kill, so we went to the Saturday Market at the docks, bought fresh fruit. Ate dinner at a restaurant overlooking the marina and talked to lots of people.
- Getting “GPS lost” near Lovell and getting directed across 10-15 miles of dirt road in the snow, when we could have turned right and gone straight to the load out.
- Driving up US 20 from Shoshoni to Thermopolis, passing Boysen Reservoir and going through narrow canyons where the road has to tunnel through outcrops. In the snow. Beautiful.
- Camping with Elaine on a spit of land sticking out into Boysen Reservoir.
- Seeing a Moose near Fort Bridger. Also near Fort Bridger, picking up a couple motors from windmills at the wind farm, standing looking out across the mountains and feeling the emptiness.
- Driving in strong winds between Laramie and Cheyenne, and between Laramie and Rock Springs, hoping the truck doesn’t blow over.
- Stopping for fuel for Elaine’s Bronco in Sheridan, and getting more water than fuel. Getting stuck for 5 hours while the fuel tank was removed and dried out. Having a HUGE thunder, lightning and hailstorm pass over us. Then, back on the road, driving through the same storm. Stopping in Casper to call Elaine’s friend and having the storm blow over us again. Then driving through it again, singing the lines from U2’s Bullet the Blue Sky (“And the rain poured through the gaping wound, pelting the women and children...) and having it roll over us again while we stopped to see Elaine’s friend. (Coming in to camp in the Black Hills, seeing folks setting their tents back up and in the morning drying out sleeping bags—if we hadn’t been stopped by the fuel fiasco, we would have been there with camp already set up, too, when that same storm came through.)
Monday, April 28, 2014
I've made a few small posts about this already, and I don't want to come across as whiny, but it really does suck being sick on a truck.
I mean, it's not even really a bad cold, just stuffy head, sniffles, and aches, but oh, the things I take for granted when I'm sick at home.
One thing I like to do for a cold is drink tea and/or orange juice. Well, on a truck there is no readily available bathroom, so fluids intake is problematic.
Another thing is a good night's rest, and in general just lazing about. I've been lucky so far, since Collin has felt better and I needed to reset my hours, anyway. Except that trying to rest on a moving truck is not easy, or restful. Especially here in the east after a crappy winter has roads that were already bad, have been torn up even worse.
Even though we spent one night in a hotel, where I got to dip in the hot tub, I still woke up this morning feeling like I'd been in a sparing match with Hugh Jackman. (Think 'Real Steel')
I thought I'd at least be able to get some writing done, but my attention span is only equal to about 15 minutes. 20 on a good streak. Like I'm already losing interest in writing this....
It may just be the cold, but I also feel like I have no nerve for driving in this east coast hustle and traffic. Usually I'm able to just let Collin drive, but I've spent the last two days holding on to the OS handle and hollering at other drivers to stay in their lanes. Not like me at all!
The good part is that Collin and I have been chatting while I ride shotgun, which we don't seem to get to do, much. (I know, you'd think working together 24/7 we'd have said it all....) We've hatched a plan to pay off the house by 2016, so maybe we can go back to working local and hang up the Ball & Chain and our OTR miles in favor of a nice, simple life at home....
Sounds really good about now.
I know I'll be better in a day or so, but I hope we remember our incentive to pay down the house, so we can get this stage, this means to an end, behind us.
We can figure out what exactly the 'end' is later.
Okay. It's hot here in Miami, and we're waiting on the side of the road for our next load, and my attention is falling on napping more than writing this blog.
Thanks for reading! There will be more, later. ♡♥♡♥♡
Sunday, April 20, 2014
So I've been on the road for three weeks, now, and we have been back and forth across the USA -- not quite coast to coast.
Let's see: Mill City, OR to Sisseton, SD to Watertown, SD to Mason City, IA to Faribault MN to Seattle, WA to Ferndale, WA to Clearfield, UT to Spanish Fork, UT to Blaine, MN to Stewartville, MN to Spokane, WA to Swedesboro, NJ to Fonda, NY to Chino, CA.... Well, we'll deliver in Chino tomorrow morning. You get the picture.
That's over 13,000 (yes thousand!) miles.
I won't say I'd forgotten how tiring non-stop travel can be. But I had forgotten the reality of feeling that tired.
But it is funny because I've actually written more out here than I expected I would. Feels like more than I wrote all winter. Almost. I think the reason for that is because I can't get online at a moment's whim like I could at home. So when I'm not driving or sleeping, when I crank up the laptop, there's really not much else to do except write. Not much signal across Montana and South Dakota, never mind Wyoming. At least not a quality signal that doesn't have me pulling out my hair.
Oh, there is the never-ending receipts that have to be entered in the computer, and the husband who wants to implement a 5 year plan so we can go back to being local, which requires budgeting, which I can geek out on for hours.
But I'm getting the writing done, too. Plus, there's not much to do other than think of plot lines and conflicts and back story while driving. Inspiration is surprisingly abundant while I'm watching what little traffic is out there in Big Sky Country.
And you know what? The Google Keep app has pretty good voice recognition quality, so I can dictate notes into my phone hands free, at least well enough to know what idea I was trying to impart.
So, surprisingly, it is working. Which is what I should be doing now. Except I wanted to update folks on what it is like out here.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Monday, March 31, 2014
So, we kick off another year of trucking with a resounding thud.
Since I last blogged here, we changed our system so that I take a few months off in the winter, which does a lot toward preventing the need to save our marriage. See, things slow down enough in the winter that we would just be butting heads and going stir crazy.
But come April it is time for me to get back on the truck.
So last night (after pushing like crazy to get everything packed into the new truck, which has much less storage) we headed up to Vancouver Washington to pick up a load of brewing vats headed for Fargo North Dakota. Now, the vats themselves would fit on our trailer, but not with the ladder hooks and braces -- it was too big!
So we drove up here for nothing.
We had breakfast at the Cascade Grill at the Jubitz Truck Stop and have been sitting here pretty much all day. All the alternative loads haven't offered any good pay, but it looks like we're going to take some lumber out of Mill City headed for somewhere in eastern South Dakota.
Hopefully once we get off the left coast will get back to where there is good paying freight.
Friday, January 27, 2012
It took better than 3 hours of waiting before we could get our reels loaded, but we got them chained down - again we have the 'one chain short' issue we will have to remedy when we get home. Because of the lateness of our departure, and the Prineville customer not being ready, we won't deliver until Thursday after lunch there, and in Portland on Friday morning. We should be home Friday afternoon.
After a crazy night of driving over the Blue Mountains in a pretty significant snowstorm, and then winding our way past John Day on Hwy 26, we arrived in Prineville about four hours later than we planned, but still three hours ahead of schedule. It was good that we had pushed on, given how slow the going was once we got into Oregon.
After we got unloaded, we drove over Mt. Hood in minimal snowfall, and spent the night near a mill in Boring, Oregon, before heading in to Portland to deliver the last reel to General Electric on SE 17th.
On the way home we crossed the Woodburn Scales and got pulled in for a random level one DOT inspection, which we passed, including the logbooks. A good thing for our SMS score.
We were home by noon. Ah!