Ohio “Service Area” Interstate 80 10/06
From Pennsylvania, the route is a day and a half down Interstate 80. Since I had only six hours remaining on my 8 day clock, I don’t get my 11 for the first day and then I spent two hours of that drive time dragging a trailer back and forth to the wash shop. I have yet to figure out why Ohio is permitted to put toll booths on an interstate. But because it is “limited access” they have built these “Service Plazas” every 30 miles or so along I80. There are no other truck stops unless you toll out and go down an intersecting highway.
The “Plazas” are nice though, with rest rooms and food courts. They have trucker’s lounges with showers and laundromats. There are lots of truck spaces but, even so I have seen some of these places overflowing out both entrance and exit with last-chance sleeping trucks, during my night driving.
“I, The Whistler know many things, for I walk by night…”
So, it was an easy first day, if a bit short.
Above: The food court at a Service Area on Interstate 80 in Ohio.
Large Asphalt Parking Lot, Loves* Park, Illinois 10/07
*not associated with the truck stop chain.
On the second day, I “gained” the 9 hours and change that I used up 9 days before. It still is short of the 11 but with careful management, I’ll make the delivery on time. I pushed the time limit to 26 minutes and would have gone on if there had been another possible stop. I pulled in to the Pilot truck stop I had all picked out and found, to my horror that they had no parking. I don’t mean that the space were all full, you realize. I mean to say that they had no spaces at all – it is a fuel-only station. It says that (“Parking N/A”) on the Pilot/Flying J App, but I did not manage to notice same.
You may remember I have learned that the answer to these sort of major problems are not to be found by calling “the Company” but rather by asking (nicely!) the people who work where the problem comes up. They have seen it all!! Sure enough, the nice lady at the Pilot referred me to a place called “Farm and Fleet”, just down the road.
Above: Parking at Farm and Fleet. They do seem to have plenty of room, but I asked first and parked way out on the edge. They are like Home Depot, but they did have a small non-refrigerated food section where I was able to get snack foods and summer sausage and mixed nuts. No bread, but I bought some rye crisps.
Flying J Truck Stop, Roberts Wisconsin 10/08
The load was delivered and a new assignment was denied me because I am low on service hours. It means a 34 hour stand down in a truck stop in Wisconsin. As I have mentioned before, truck stops are usually isolated and boring. These are the times when depression creeps out of its box. I try to shake it off, but… “I find myself growing grim about the mouth…it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul” – Mellville
I called my wife to chat for a while, but she is busy preparing for a trade show. Elder Son has only a few minutes to talk before returning to Professional Cheffery. Youngest, likewise has College stuff to do after a brief chat with Dad. Without the road to occupy my mind and time, there is only sleep to break the monotony. To keep my oddball work schedule, I need to go to bed in the early afternoon. “Morning” is two AM. No waiting for a shower, at least. The temperature outside is 35° F. The truck is still a bit warmer with residual heat from the day. After a few hours of reading the news and current events, depression has returned in force. By six AM, I am sleepy, in addition to depressed and bored…and it is getting colder. Now with jacket and two pair of socks, I settle for a nap. At eight, I awake shivering. The climate control I adjust to maximum heat. I pull on my support socks and cover those with “conventional” socks because my circulation-impaired feet are freezing. After a half hour, let’s see the temperature at the air vent:
Above: One of my trucker accouterments* is above pictured. The “pulp thermometer” is to measure produce but can also find out just how cold the “heater” air is.
*Accouterments was indeed the word I was looking for but MS Word said it was misspelled. For some reason, the Spellcheck function will not give me the correct spelling, but only underlines it in red until I fix it. I have never been good at guessing English spellings and I was always among the first to “be seated” at the spelling B preliminaries. But, I have found a way around that. One needs only to find the correct spelling of a synonym and then key the Thesaurus. That did not work when I typed “paraphenalia” or several other attempts at that word. I had no idea it had an “r” and it never occurred to me to try that! But “equipment” I could spell and that lead me to “paraphernalia” and from there to “accouterments”.
Spelling aside, please excuse me while I start the really big Cummins Diesel engine to get some heat in here. There are laws against “idling” here. There are signs everywhere to that effect. That is why we have Auxiliary Power Units (APU). You know, like the one keeping my bunk at a comfortable 48°F. After all, that is much warmer than the 9 AM temperature outside, i.e., 35° F. I need to go find one of those signs to see how long a run is defined as “idling”.
Nevertheless, in minutes, the cab is tolerable, if still “crisp” and I can shut off the main engine for a while. I was going to get you a horsepower number for the engine, but here is what the owner’s manual says under “engine identification”: “For further information., please refer to the Engine Operation and Maintenance Manual.” I don’t have one of those. I don’t have the APU manual, either – in case you were thinking to suggest that I look in that.
Here is the control panel for the APU heating and cooling.
Above: Seems easy. Just put the selector (left) to heat – the wavy lines. Then turn the thermostat to hot – the thick red zone for the center knob. Then the fan (right) to medium. That’s how I got 48° F
I find another cryptic little LCD (Liquid Crystal Display, for the non-Cretaceous readers) panel below that seems to promise a solution:
Above: Heater Stopped. I just have to start it, eh?
Above: Just press the middle power button and now it says “heater enabled”. No problem, right?
Above: A short while later: “No flame detect” seems to indicate that this thing burns diesel fuel to make heat. Could it have a pilot light, like a natural gas water heater? Note the extremely useful series of numbers at top.
Despite the error message the air exiting the vent is now up to 59° F. Progress.
The depression has vanished while I concentrated on telling you this story. I predict an Epiphany soon concerning this Walkabout.
I am going for a stroll now and to bed soon. When I awake I will have a “full clock” and be ready to drive. My new manager promised a prompt load assignment at that time.