September 3, 2016
The rig is parked in another gigantic lot, but this one is 90% vacant. All of the spaces are “pull throughs”, i.e., no backing involved. Many Thanks for this much needed relief! This is a “Service Plaza” on Ohio’s Turnpike which is really Interstate 80. I don’t know how the state got the right to put toll booths on a Federally funded Interstate, but they have spared no expense on these installations. Besides the ample and easy parking for cars and trucks alike, there is a well-appointed building with restrooms, a food court some shops and a trucker’s area with showers, laundromat and TV lounge.
Above: The Ohio Turnpike Service Plaza Building
Above: Inside the Service Plaza
It has been two days of over ten hours of driving and there is another ten to go before my first of two stops in Massachusetts. I will split this ten with a ten hour break in the middle. It is a bit complicated, but given the time of the appointment for deliver and the distance involved, there are ten hours of driving and ten hours of mandatory off-duty between now and then no matter what. I can drive straight to the receiver and hope there is a place to hide an 80 foot truck for 10 hours or stop in the middle, probably at the fuel stop. That way, I can arrive, on time at the receiver and drive away when through. It will be a very close thing and I have asked for another hour or two on the appointment.
Just when I am about to give up and stay in a roadside park when word comes that there is on-site parking at the receiver. I won’t be turned away for being early and be forced creep the streets illegally looking for a place to park. So, now I can drive straight in and stay until my appointment at 5 AM. That went well overall, but at the very end, Jill the Navigation voice told me “turn right” where I saw nothing but darkness. Immediately she added, “Not allowed. Return to the route behind you.” It is an ineffective and singularly useless thing to say to a man driving a truck on a narrow country road, with no shoulders to speak of and nothing but narrow residential driveways and tiny commercial parking lots on both sides. The usual defense of pressing Jill’s Re-route button made her say “Communications Failure”. In other words, “You’re on your own, Sucker!”
No, I must drive ever onward as my time runs down to the tens of minutes, desperately searching for an area big enough to allow the turning radius I need. Think of a football field. If I go straight across on the Fifty yard line, I can turn and come back on the Twenty. And there I was driving blindly into the night with no idea what I would encounter. Finally I found a small motel on a corner lot with very few guests. There was an entrance on both the highway and the cross street. By using every inch of pavement on the cross street, the highway and the parking lot, I managed to reverse direction.
Jill came back to consciousness and showed me the distance to the turn-off. The sign on the road was low and unlit, but visible from this direction. The gate guard seemed to know the motel I mentioned. In my experience so far, Shipping, Receiving and Warehouse staff are polite and helpful people. The gate guard at this place was exactly that, explaining where I needed to be an when. He even had a number for pizza delivery straight to the truck. I had previous plans for peanut butter sandwiches.
At 6:30 the call comes to find a door and be unloaded. They finish around 8 and bring me the paperwork. Part if this was written while I was “hiding” over in the parking area after closing up and sealing the load for the next stop.. I didn’t need to stay, but I have nowhere to be. I have drive time, but it is limited by the 8 day regulations to 7 hours and 11 minutes. The next stop is 3 hours from here. I don’t know if I can go hang out there until my appointment at 7 AM tomorrow. I transmitted the completion message for this stop and assembled the paperwork for this trip so far.
I looked up a Pilot truck stop (they have an iPhone App) near the final and drove there, saving a couple of hours tomorrow morning. It was at I 95 exit 40 in Connecticut. Why Pilot? Because that is where the company has us fuel up and that is where I get a shower credit for each 50 gallons. I have six left and they expire after ten days, so it behooves me to use them. I just found a receipt from Loves (the competition) and it says I have 4 showers there. Those expire as well so perhaps I had better double up on showers. But, Loves doesn’t seem to have any locations nearby.
This trip I spent two nights at rest stops and missed my chance at a shower. This particular Pilot is an addition to a general travel shop in what looks like it used to be a hotel. There is a saddle and some photos of a young barrel-racing cowgirl and her horses on display on the staircase landing. I can only guess at the story behind this exhibit. Was she the daughter of the hoteliers back in the 60’s? This is obviously a sentimental shrine to the racer and her horses. Perhaps she is the elderly owner of the travel stop, these days?
The showers have beautiful pedestal sinks from the 1950’s and ugly rusty metal folding chairs from the 1960’s. The driver’s lounge seems to be a coin-operated pool table and what is labeled a “Theater Room”. It really is an old-style private theater that might have screened projected movies for VIPs at one time, long ago. I couldn’t manage to make the camera flash to get a good photo of this darkened studio The parking lot is off behind the fueling bays and you would not know it was there if not for the signs that point it out and threaten to tow your rig if you park by the fuel island.
All these spaces are accompanied by ancient fixtures with ductwork, built on massive concrete bases. These were evidently, life support system for trucks in the old days when it was idle your engine or freeze to death in the winter. These would be necessary in such a setting a half-century ago. Imagine a capacity crowd of 80 such trucks all gathered in a spot like this and idling You younger folks, who never knew a world before emission controls on automobiles, cannot imagine what a dismal cloud of unburned hydrocarbons would “surround and penetrate you” in such a scenario. The more ancient of us can see why these things were needed, at the time. As seen in the photo, this one has a history of “incidental contact” that may date back decades. Most trucks have Auxiliary power units (APU’s) these days. These are clean-running small diesel generators that keep power and heat/AC in the sleepers.
Above: The truck stop oddities at I 95 exit 40. I need a photo editor that lets me adjust contrast for that far right picture. Anyone have a suggestion?
I had three days of decent wages on the Kansas – Massachusetts run. Each day was about 580 miles. But there was a twenty four hour wait at the Shipper – common with meat plants, Also, the double destinations at the Receivers adds another full day of minimal pay. Today I got unloaded at the first stop and drove about 150 miles. Oh, and I got $25 for the extra drop (Ka-Ching!*).
Tomorrow, I will drive about 60 miles to the last stop and then deadhead 90 miles to the next assignment.
There is a new trip on the horizon for which I only have places and times, so far. It looks like I will be hauling candy from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania. This is a short (500 miles) trip spread over three days. Despite the short mileage, it sounds interesting.
Now, my phone is dead. I expect it is the cable, because I have replaced same three times now since I have had this iPhone. They cost about $25 and seem to last just a few months under heavy usage. Without my phone cannot use the Apps to find a truck stops at which to buy a new (and overpriced) cable. I do have the address of the next pick-up. So, there I will set off that way and see what I stumble across. I can see that I need a back-up for the iPhone. I have become dependent upon it. Technology has its consequences.