A Day in the Life…

stevetrucker2mariluslogoclickhere

If you read my previous post, we were taking bottled drinks to Denver,  That was altered just a bit in Amarillo, where I was asked to accept a cargo swap with another driver.  The new destination is Aurora, Colorado, which is close enough to Denver as to make little difference.  The other truck and its driver (Charles) arrived in a few hours. He needed to take a ten hour break and so could not make the on time delivery (OTD).  I am close to the end of my break and can make the 0900 delivery in the morning.  Meanwhile Charles can take my load for its appointment at 1500 – his break being complete by then

As you might suspect, we don’t unload the cargos.  Charles backs his truck into a space near where my truck has been parked for a while.  Then, we both uncouple our trucks from our own trailers and re-couple with the other’s.  This takes only about 15 minutes, after which we trade paperwork and Charles takes his new load to the scale.  I had thought that to be overly cautious, since we are both driving Kenworth T680 trucks and the load was legal for me. I was wrong.  Charles’ load is too heavy on the drive axles and he would be ticketed at the next scale station.  This could be a major problem.

We come to the conclusion that his truck has more fuel mine did while scaling.  His truck might also have a different, heavier engine.  Also, I had filled the “refer” tank that supplies the refrigeration unit on the trailer.  That was not strictly necessary, since my load was not refrigerated, but it is a standard thing to do when fueling.   I had put in about eight gallons and that would add 56 pounds, mostly up front.  I was just beginning to think we would have to call off  the swap when it occurred to me that  the trailer Charles was now towing was a brand new one and still had the bar that limits the travel of the trailer axles.  Those tend to disappear on older trailers.  With that removed he gained two more “notches” of adjustment which brought the drive axle weight to exactly 34,040 pounds, just 40 pounds over the limit.  He won’t leave it at that.  He started the unit and set it to cool the cargo overnight.  As long as it was above freezing, it made no difference to the cargo and by morning, that -along with the fuel the APU burned – should use up enough fuel to take the load close to the limit.  In the morning, any remainder would be burned at about one pound per mile.  I suspect that the authorities would overlook even the 40 pounds of excess, but this way, there was no doubt.

I delivered the cargo of barrels of “freight, all kinds” to Aurora the next morning and got instructions to go to Kansas.

Now, I told you all that so I could begin a new idea for this post:

A Day in the Life of…

Can I make a running time line of an entire “day” from bedtime to bedtime?

I’ll try and include any pictures made that day.  We will use military time that starts at 0000 (midnight) and ends at 23:59.  We begin at Noon, today.

September 29 12:00 – Loves Truck Stop at Holcomb, Kansas

After an early run from Denver to Holcomb and checking in at the shipper (which includes dropping the trailer) I made and submitted the plan for the journey to Newark, New Jersey.  I spoke with my new Driver Manager before taking a shower and retiring to the Sleeper Bunk at Noon

tractor12946_holcombAbove:  Kenworth 12946 awaits the load.  The crop in the background is milo which is usually employed as cattle feed.  The building beyond that is the Tyson Beef Plant where my load will be ready in the wee hours tomorrow.

September 29 14:00

I awoke from my nap to find a message that says there is an error in my trip plan.  I’ll fix that before I retire for the evening.  Meanwhile, I am having an allergic reaction to something I ate.  My hands are itching like crazy and I had to take time off from typing to smear hydrocortisone cream on them.  That done, I am being annoyed by a fly that must have gotten into the cab in Aurora, where the weather was so nice, I left the windows open.  I’ll fix the trip plan now, then sleep some more.

September 29 18:38

My hotspot WiFi connection is off-and-on here, so I signed up for the Loves WiFi using some of my bonus points.  I need the internet for my trip plans, using Google  Maps and a spreadsheet I wrote.  I could do this “by hand” but it would take three times as long.  So, now I have 20 hours more of high speed internet.  Being the Thrifty Scot that I am, I hated to waste that.  So, I am watching Netflix movies on my laptop to fall asleep. Viewing for sleep requires old movies or TV serials that I have seen many times.  You know what happens, so you won’t stay awake so as not to miss it.

Tonight’s  “Oldie” is Back to the Future.  Sure enough, I fell asleep about when Marty appeared in 1955 and woke up for the closing credits.  Watching the credits is an old habit of mine.  I like to know who did what and where.  When the kids were young they wanted to leave the theater, so I told them there is always a Campbell in the credits to keep them interested.  While that worked to keep them in their seats, it is actually almost always true.  The Back to the Future Credits contain “Special thanks to Mark Campbell”.

I now have “drive time” again, since it has been ten hours.  I will call to check if the load is ready. The cell connection is also flakey, as you might expect, given the hotspot internet outage which is also routed through the my phone.  Walking out in the parking lot gets a three bar connection.       End result – the load is not ready yet.

These loads have a deadline or “DLD” beyond which they have to pay me extra if it is not ready.  This time mine is 04:05 tomorrow – about nine hours from now or 19 hours from when I dropped the trailer.  While it may be that some loads come in earlier, mine have always been late.  But not late enough for the detention pay to kick in, of course.

The situation would make good comedy.  Here I am able to communicate by satellite with websites around the world through the Loves WIFI connected to a satellite dish on the roof of the store.  My phone does not see the Loves WiFi, for some reason. Despite the fact that I can see the plant from here, I cannot drive over there because that will start my 14 hour clock which will run out while I wait.  I cannot contact them unless I wonder around outside.  I call and a human looks at a computer screen for a number I tell  him and says “that load is not ready yet”.   So, now I sleep to wake up in two hours and walk out to call again.  Just as well they don’t call me, since they would not get through unless I sleep on the sidewalk outside the store

I know damned well that this load will not be ready until 4 AM – unless I don’t call. Then Tyson will contact the Company in Dallas and tell them I didn’t show up or call.  Dallas will send a sternly worded satellite telegram and Jill, the computer voice will say “A new IMPORTANT message has arrived”.

The Beef Company just down the road has a website where one can check the load status or order a text message to be sent when the status changes.

Time for a snack and another sleep-inducing Netflix selection.

September 29, 22:00

I was wrong about the timing.  At about 21:00, the Company sent a satellite-gram that the load was ready.  The paperwork for these things always seems to take a while after the load is ready, so my response was to go back to sleep. In an hour and a half, I got up and went out to the parking lot to call and confirm the readiness with Tyson.

A lot has to be done to prepare to drive and to go get the load.  My checklist before driving was:

  1. Medications
  2. Coffee (instant) – in cup holder#1
  3. Water bottle in cup holder#2
  4. Snacks (laid out on the passenger seat for easy access) Two granola bars, two beef sticks and an apple.
  5. Approve logs for previous day.
  6. Daily report for Company
  7. Daily tractor inspection report for Department of Transportation (DOT)
  8. Daily trailer report for DOT
  9. Perform pre-trip inspection and log it.
  10. Start the truck and wait for the leaky air-seats to fill up.

 

Above: Left: Eye-level view from driver’s seat before air pressure buildup.  Right: After air pressure.

I am driving just the tractor – “bobtailing”.  By itself, the tractor is grotesquely over-powered and spectacularly nose heavy.  But more it is more maneuverable than a small car. It has to be to push the trailer around in yards.   Arriving at the Tyson plant, I am given a trailer number and I go hunt it down and connect to haul it out.

TrailersFull.jpg

Above: Where’s Waldo?   (Waldo’s Number is 15278)  There are, maybe 50 of these.

The scale at the plant tells me I am under the maximum, but still I have to balance the load at the public scale at the truck stop.  Then I can put my lock on the trailer.  It contains 42,940 pounds of tenderloin, which is worth almost a half million dollars at Sam’s club prices.

Once I have sent the “loaded and rolling” message, I can start the trip.  Until then, I have earned about three dollars for driving to the plant and back to the truck stop.

September 30 11:53 – Pilot Truck Stop near Boonville, Missouri

From Holcomb, Kansas my route was along State and US highways to Interstate 70, then to Boonville, Missouri, which is near Columbia.  Today’s trip took nine hours and seven minutes of driving and covered a distance of 508 miles.  The early hours were though Kansas countryside and featured sightings of jackrabbits and a fox.  No animals were smashed flat in the making of this journey. At one point, the Constellation Orion was prominent out front.  Orion includes Betelgeuse (pronounced “beetle juice” – no, really!).   Read my article about this star that is also called Alpha Orionis.

Another mental note reminds me that I saw a deer yesterday – a smart one who just looked at the highway from the sidelines. I also spotted a meteor of a type called a Bolide. Mine was green.

Bolide

A bolide is an extremely bright meteor, especially one that explodes in the atmosphere. In astronomy, it refers to a fireball approximately as bright as the full moon, and it is generally considered a synonym of a fireball.

en.wikipedia.org · Text under CC-BY-SA license

 

I have seen such a thing about three times in my life and once I saw a fireball that went from horizon to horizon and left a vapor trail.  It was an asteroid skimming the Earth’s atmosphere.  There was speculation that it might be a re-entering satellite, but I pointed out that it was going the wrong way (East-to-West) for that.  All satellites (with very few exceptions) are launched to the East – for reasons I will go into later.  A member of my Road Trip Interest Group was also there, about four decades ago.

In addition to the driving, I took a mandatory 30 minute breaks, during which I looked up truck stops and rest areas for where to end the days driving.  I also stopped near Kansas City and collapsed in the bunk for an hour’s sleep.  A Safety message had me call in for a talk about the sudden braking in Kansas where I almost missed a turn between highways.  The truck transmits position data, you see.  From that, sudden changes in velocity can be calculated and tracked.

At 13:00 – an hour after Noon – the “Day in the Life…” comes to an end.

Of course, I  woke up later to write this.

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