Thursday, April 24, 2008

Video Blog #1

My Home on the Road

This is my first attempt at a video blog, if it works out I might do more.

Sitting and Rushing

No, I didn't forget to post ... just my wireless wasn't working to good so I put it off till today.

My load out of Cargill in Fort Morgan didn't work out the way I wanted, apparently there was something wrong with the load that they wanted to give me so instead of sitting around Cargill had a shuttle load that needed to be moved so I accepted it.

Now a shuttle load is a load that is moving from one beef plant to another plant, usually one plant is short something so another plant supplies it. In this case I shuttled a 43,000 pound load of rumps from Fort Morgan to Dodge City, Kansas. The drive was pretty easy, but I had to push it through in one trip because it was "critical".

Now, I've always wanted to visit Dodge City. Where the "Wild West" really earned it's reputation. I even got a chance to look around a bit after I dropped my load (more on that in a minute) and frankly, I don't think I want to go back.

For one thing, that town stinks. And I mean literally. I could smell the beef plants, there are two or three, and the holding pins about ten miles before I ever got to the city limits. I can't imagine living there. My sinuses were on overload the whole time I was there. Was terrible.

[Cattle Pens outside the Cargill Plant in Dodge City, Kansas]

Once I got to Dodge City and unloaded, I was given a pickup number around 1:30 am on Saturday for a load that was going to Denver when I got there, and they said it would be ready shortly so I hunkered down and went to sleep.

However, that was about all I did other than look around town a bit. I sat in that town for eighteen hours. Finally dispatch, who had been calling Cargill every thirty minutes trying to push them so I could get going on a load that was already a day late in availability when I arrived, told me that if it wasn't ready by 10:00pm to find an empty on their lot and dead head back to Fort Morgan as they had four loads there ready for pickup and just burning up reefer fuel.

Just when I was about ready to just leave, Cargill called me on my phone and said my load was ready. It was now 8:00pm and I was due at 5:00am Monday morning in Denver. That's not too bad really as it only takes about 8 hours to get from Dodge City to Denver. At least I'll be able to goof off some and save up some hours because I was getting dangerously close to my 70 hour mark.

So I only drove a few hours to get to Lamar, Colorado and went to bed, then on Sunday I headed into Watkins, Colorado about ten miles from the receiver and packed it in again. Giving me time to watch a little TV. (I would have updated the blog then, but the network was to slow to even load the blog pages.)

Monday morning I finally found the receiver in a part of Denver that reminded me of South Dallas and got unloaded.

Soon as I sent my MT call in, they told me to fly to Fort Morgan and grab a trailer that was ready to roll and needed to be in San Antonio, Texas. Yesterday!

The wanted me to try and get it there by Tuesday Morning and I told them no dice, it was a 14 hour drive and there is no way I could do it and live. So they said just get there as fast as possible.

Well, we can only do 62 (my truck actually only does 60 even though it reads 62) so going fast is not an option really.

Unfortunately, the trucking gods were not smiling on me today. Around 5pm the truck over heated again. And this time it wasn't the thermostats, it was the cooling fan.

Now, on a big truck if you didn't know it the fan doesn't run at all unless the temp gets to high. Once it gets to be about 190 degrees the fan clutch kicks in and cools the radiator. Well, the fan wasn't working at all, especially when going up hills which is when the engine generates the most heat.

Being in Springfield, Colorado at the time, the nearest Freightliner service center was in Amarillo, Texas. About 200 miles away, which means if the company had decided to tow me it would have cost about $5,000 to pull me in if not more since I was pulling a fully loaded trailer.

I called dispatch and told them the issue and then spoke to the shop manager and we hatched a plan. I decided to limp the truck into Amarillo one overheat at a time. The problem with this was I would have to drive slow enough to keep the temp down (50mph or less) till I could get through the mountains there in Southern Colorado and begin my downhill run to Amarillo.

Needless to say it took me about seven hours to limp from Springfield, Colorado to Amarillo, Texas. Once I got into Freightliner they said they wouldn't be able to even look at the truck till Tuesday afternoon. Which was about 18 hours away. I told them that wasn't acceptable at this point as the load I was under was already four days late on delivery and was their anything they could do just to get me running.

The shop manager at Freightliner said he could short out the clutch to turn the fan on, but it would run all the time regardless of the temp and would lower my fuel mileage.

After talking to my shop manager and dispatch we decided to go with that, so he did it and luckily for us didn't even charge us for it.

After that was taken care of I went to bed for a few hours then got up Tuesday morning and started heading towards San Antonio, Texas. One eye on the road and the other on the temperature gauge.

[West Texas Sheep Farming]

I actually made pretty good time and didn't really have any heating problems till I was going through the hill country on I-10. I got to the receiver around 7:30pm only to find out that they only accept deliveries between 6am and 2pm so I was stuck.

I bunked down at the Love's there in San Antonio after taking a shower and was set to be there the second they started receiving.

Wednesday morning dawned with me sitting on the worst dock in history to back into, I'm not going to go into details but it took me 20 minutes to back in because of the way the dock is configured. At least they were quick to unload.

Once done I was told to dead head back to Ft. Worth so they could work in the truck, and that is exactly what I did.

So, the truck is being worked on now and I'm home for a few days to get a reset and remind myself of what my wife and kids look like.

I'm probably going to head back out tomorrow if they finish working on the truck today like they said they would ... I'd like to spend a few more days at home, but frankly I'm broke and the rent is due :)

[Miles Driven Since Last Post: 2158]

Friday, April 18, 2008

On the Road Again

About an hour after I left my last post they pulled my truck into the shop to figure out what was wrong with it, other than the fact I knew it was overheating, it could be anything.

Sure enough, there was a heating problem ... I blew out both thermostats and the radiator seals. Something that the shop should have checked on a PM, but I'm not sure when the last time PM was done on the truck so ...

After about five hours in the shop, I was ready to go. Now one thing I failed to mention was that in the night another driver came and dropped off his trailer and took my load in to AWG for me since it would have been seriously late if I had sat on it. So I gave dispatch a call, told them I was ready and asked if they had another load out of Plainview I could go down and get so I could get back on the AWG circle.

Unfortunately they didn't, however they did have a driver who was on his way into Amarillo who needed to get back to DFW for some personal business, and his load was going to Loveland, Colorado with a 8:30am Thursday delivery time. I told them I would take it but I didn't want to be sitting in the Denver area for two days because there were no loads. I was told they had a lot coming out of all the meat plants so getting me out in a timely fashion wasn't going to be an issue.

I said ok, met the driver at the Love's on I-40 and started heading to Denver. And now is where the fun began. I knew that they were forcasting rain and light snow in Colorado for Wednesday night, but I personally think that they knew they were lying and didn't want folks to know driving at night was gonna be hell.

I left Amarillo around 7:30pm and scaled the truck in Cactus, Texas. Man was I in for a lot of work. I knew just on the hour long drive to Cactus that the truck was heavy, but was I in for a shock.

I scaled out at 81,000. The road limit in Texas and Oklahoma is 80,000, but the "Winter" limit in Colorado is 86,000 because of snow and ice accumulation on trucks. I was just hoping that the scales would be closed as they sometimes are.

So after sliding the tandems on the trailer more forward to get the weight even I started up the Raider Highway (US287) for a long slow drive, as since it was all up hill, it was going to be work.

Sure enough though, as I hit Springfield, Colorado the rain turned to snow. And man did it ever snow. Combined with a hellacious headwind in the 40-60mph range, I was driving like a 100 year old granny driving to church on Sunday. Needless to day it took a LONG time, 11 hours approximately, to get to Denver from Amarillo. If you've ever driven it yourself you know it takes about 6-7 hours tops.

[Photos from a rest area outside Hugo, Colorado. These photos do not do the driving winds and snow justice as it is a completely different perspective while driving down the road in it]

And my fuel milage suffered horribly as well on the trip, about 4.5mpg which is just over half of what I'm used to getting. You figure the math ... 81,000 pounds, up hill, in driving snow with 40-60 mph head winds; that means crawling I averaged about 40mph from Springfield to Limon, Colorado.

Luckily for me the Lamar, Colorado scales were closed ... however the Limon, Colorado scales were open.

I rolled across those scales and winced as I saw the numbers climb up, and stared at the stop light waiting for the "come inside" message on the display board. I was looking at the trooper through the window in the shack and he just looked at me, shook his head and waved me on ... YEA! No overweight ticket for me today!

Once I got on I-70 things did get better and I was able to make 50-55 mph on average. I made it to Loveland at 8:00am, an hour and a half early (their time) for the appointment.

After I got unloaded, I told dispatch I needed sleep so they asked me to drop my trailer at Swift in Greeley, Colorado so I drove over there and checked it in then crashed in the truck at the Stampeed Truck Stop in Evans, Colorado just down the road.

[The Rocky Mountains as seen from the Sam's DC in Loveland, Colorado]

That evening after I got up they asked me to pickup a load at Swift going to Maine, however it had six stops and I told them I had no desire to sit under a load for five days and that many stops. So they asked me to take the load to Fort Morgan, Colorado and swap it with another driver and pickup out of Cargil there in Fort Morgan on Friday morning.

Being the nice guy I am I decided to do it, and so that's where I am right now. Sitting in the bullpin parking lot across from the gate waiting for my load. Hopefully I'm getting the load going to Lufkin, Texas that is due for a Sunday delivery. If so, I'll spend the night at the house tomorrow, but I haven't been promised anything yet.

[Miles Driven Since Last Post: 570]

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Down But Not Out

It has been a few days, but since my last post I've been running like mad and getting the job done.

When I last posted I was heading to Plainview, Texas to pickup a load going to New Mexico. However, it was not to be.

About half way to Plainview dispatch called me and begged me for help. They had a load which was missed and was running two days late in Friona, Texas at the Cargill meat plant.. The load was going back to Ft. Worth and they really needed it taken care of.

Being the nice guy I am I told them I'd take care of it. I turned through Lubbock, Texas and headed up the back roads to Friona and got there about midnight. Luckily the load was already ready for pickup, it had better been since it was supposed to be picked up on Friday and it was now Sunday morning.

I looked at my options in regards to how many hours I had left and how far I had to go and decided I'd make a run or Wichita Falls, Texas and then camp out for a few hours and then pull it in the rest of the way.

I got into Wichita Falls about 6:30am and parked it. I had only planned on sleeping 3-4 hours but ended up crashing for a full ten hours.

Once I got up, I checked in with dispatch, took a shower and started the three hour trip to the AWG distribution center.

I arrived about 9:00pm and dropped their load, then at dispatches request I ran up to the yard grabbed another trailer and headed back down to the AWG DC to do a midnight run to Midland/Odessa, Texas.

Luckily for me when I got back with the trailer I was supposed to drop my new load was ready so I picked it up and took off just after 10:00pm.

This particular run was a two store stop and I was hoping that each stop wouldn't take that long, and good for me it was. I got into the Odessa store and even though the store didn't open for another hour once I got there they got me unloaded and I was out by the time the store opened.

I hopped down Highway 191 into Midland and unloaded the second part of the load and made my MT call. Dispatch told me to run up to Plainview and pickup a load going back to the AWG DC, and since I was out of driving hours I told them I was going to camp out in Big Spring, Texas then drive up and pick it up. No problems there as the load wasn't going to be due till Wednesday morning.

After a good sleep and a shower there at the TA I headed up to the Cargill plant in Plainview and picked up my pre-loaded trailer and started to head out.

Now, things started to go downhill from there.

I got about thirty minutes out of Plainview and the truck broke down, it had overheated going up a hill.

After going over the truck to see if there was a problem I could not find anything, I even repositioned the trailer to redistribute the weight on the drives.

I spoke with Tom on the phone about it and he suggested I head up to the TA service center in Amarillo, so I turned the truck around and limped it up there. Luckily it didn't stall out again, but then again I was only doing 50mph instead of my usual 62mph.

I called dispatch and let them know the issue and they were glad I made it to TA without having to be towed. That would have cost the company close to $2000.00 to tow the tractor and trailer the 75 miles to the service center.

I got in just at midnight and checked into the shop. They said it was probably the thermostat as I told them I didn't hear the cooling fan kick on while going up the hill as it should. Unfortunately they said it would be 3-4 hours before they could get me in the shop.

At 3:30am they called and said they were ready for me, so I moved the truck into the bay and they got to looking at it and said they were unable to work on the engine due to the configuration of the system in this truck.

So, luckily again for me there was a Freightliner dealership with a 24hour shop across the street (if I had known about it I would have gone there first!) to get it worked on.

After calling dispatch I went over to the Freightliner shop, dropped the trailer and checked in at the service bay. They said it would be no earlier than noon before they could get to it as they had nine trucks in line ahead of me for service.

I crashed out in the truck. It is now about 10:45am on Wednesday and I'm watching them move trucks in and out of the shop. Hopefully my time will come soon ...

[Miles Driven Since Last Post: 1342]

Sunday, April 13, 2008

"New" Old Truck

I got a call Friday afternoon from the company telling me that I was being assigned a new truck as the one I recovered would need quite a bit of work and the one I was getting was in good shape, and they said I could head back out again on Saturday on a Midland, Texas Albertson's run to start off my week.

It took me most of Friday to get all my stuff together and packed into the car, It is amazing how much stuff you think you need while out on the road.

Saturday at noon, I headed out to the yard to load up my truck and install all my stuff, including my CB and XM satellite radio. The whole process took the better part of five hours get it all in and get organized.

Dispatch let me know that my load, which was scheduled for an 11pm pickup time, was ready at 8pm so I headed on down to the AWG DC to pick it up. Sure enough, I was in and out in 20 minutes, nice ... wish that would happen more often.

So off I went on my second favorite road, Interstate 20 east bound for Midland.

After making my routine stops every two hours or so, I arrived at the store at 5:30am. Thirty minutes early for my appointment, which is what I like. However, it seems that the store doesn't even open till 6:00am, so I knew they wouldn't get my unloaded on time.

Sure enough, they finally came out at 7:00am and said they were ready. Took just the one guy nearly two hours to get me unloaded. Thankfully for me, they didn't have anything going back to the AWG DC, which means I don't have to go back to Ft. Worth today unless there is a regular load going that way, and we do not have any shippers out here.

So, I called into dispatch and they are going to deadhead me to Cargil in Plainview, TX about 200 miles away to pickup a load going to Albuquerque, NM.

Should be fun, I've never driven into New Mexico before!

[Miles Driven Since Last Post: 356]

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Free and Clear

Last night after Tom and I went and picked up the abandoned truck and spent nearly two hours moving my junk into it (can't believe how much I'd accumulated on the road, buying stuff in preparation for getting my own rig), he took me out for a steak dinner for a send off.

He said he'd miss having me around, and that I was the best student he'd ever had, and the one he had been the most comfortable with. As indicated by the fact that we started running teams on the fourth day out ... LOL.

So after dinner he went and checked back into his hotel because they said they would not be getting him out till the next morning, and my load was going to be ready sometime between midnight and 6:00am so I went back to my truck and parked at the Valero truck stop near the Wal-Mart.

Just to digress a bit, as I had an email asking about it; Here are the statistics for my time in training with Raider Express.

Total Days Training: 24 (Including Orientation)
Miles Driving: 5950
Time Off Duty: 241.25
Time In Sleeper: 168.25
Time Driving: 122.75 (Average MPH: 48.47) [Our trucks are governed at 62mph]
Time On-Duty (Non-Driving): 19.75
Total Hours: 552

Pretty pitiful really, students are supposed to do 12,000 miles before being released. But considering we spent five of my training days sitting, it isn't really too bad.

Ok, now for the rest of the story :)

Swift called my cellphone at 2:30am to tell me the load was ready, so I got up and drove up there from Dumas, Texas (about 13 miles south of Cactus) and checked in and hooked up the trailer.

After getting cleared out of there about 3:30am I headed towards Amarillo, Texas. I needed fuel bad, as the truck only had about 400 gallons left in it (our trucks hold 400 gallons).

Once I got to the Love's in Amarillo, Texas and fueled up I had to hang out for an hour because my EFS card wasn't working and dispatch couldn't get the thing straightened out and I ended up having to use my ComData card. Thank god we have them, or otherwise I'd been screwed and would have waited for a ComCheck transfer for over $1000.00. Ugh.

I got headed out after the fuel mess was taken care of and was ready to just push on towards Ft. Worth but it was not to be. Once I got near Hadley, Texas I stopped at one of the new Texas Safe Haven rest areas for a nap.

After three hours I woke up to the truck swinging back and forth and loud bangs outside. It appeared that the front had passed and the winds had kicked in. According to the XM radio weather service winds in open areas of Texas were going to be in the 30-50 mph range and from the south east, lovely a huge headwind. There goes my fuel mileage.

The banging was trucks being pulled into the rest area by Texas DPS DOT inspectors. They were hauling everyone in for level one inspections. Great, and they were doing it right in front of my truck.

Luckily for me, once I got up and sat in the seat a DPS officer saw me and walked over to my truck. I rolled down the window and said morning to him and he said, "no worries son, I know you were asleep so I'm not going to inspect you today. But I would like to see your logs if you don't mind". What do you think I did, yep! Handed him my logs. He spent about 10 minutes looking at the last ten days of my logs including today and said, "Perfect, good job. Have a good one." Then handed me my logs and walked away.

I didn't have to be told twice, I hauled ass out of there ... lol. And was happy about it, because that trailer would not have passed inspection, I won't go into why but it would not have.

After my near disaster with DOT and hauled ass for Ft. Worth and got in about 3:30pm and checked in with dispatch.

My replacement truck wasn't available, the one I recovered had to go to Freightliner, it needed some serious body work as it had been damaged in several places.

So I packed out all my things in to my car and am taking two days off, my new truck is supposed to be back from PM at Freightliner on Saturday morning.

Cya later!

Miles Driven since last post: 415

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Day 24, Free at Last

Well, things didn't work out as well for us today as we wanted. We hung out in our hotel rooms till check-out time at noon because dispatch didn't have anything for us yet.

We kept calling every two hours and nothing. However, at 4pm they finally made a decision, we were both getting separate loads, and I was getting my own truck!

Little background information here, back on March 28th they fired a driver while he was in Cactus, Texas while waiting for a load. I'm not sure on the whole story why, but apparently he'd been sitting a while waiting and smarted off to someone in management and they'd had enough of his crap so to speak. So he had to clean out his truck and leave it up there at one of our truck wash contract locations.

On the Saturday after that Tom and I drove by and saw the truck sitting there and told our driver manager that when we returned from Denver we'd be happy to bring the truck back, either bob-tail or pulling a load to Ft. Worth. Tom had assured them then that I was ready to go out on my own, and they were all for it at the time but they decided to just let it sit.

When we came up on Monday and saw that it was still there after ten days we told them since we were in Cactus we'd pull two loads to get it back. Seems this time they took the hint and gave me the truck as my own. Well at least till I could get it back to Ft. Worth.

They are still turning me loose once I get back to Ft. Worth on my own, Tom is going his own way. Probably to Denver they haven't told him yet.

So as of tonight when I pickup my load in Cactus, I'm free! Free at last!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Day 22-23, Amarillo by Morning

Woke up on Monday at the Yard in Ft. Worth after sleeping like a brick to find that our load had been taken off of us and we had been assigned a 3:00am Tuesday delivery in Amarillo.

However, before we could take off for that they gave me my own truck, very temporarily, so I could help Tom shuttle reefers around town to shippers. So for two hours we moved trailers and got bored.

Finally, once we were done we found out that we had a live load and only eight hours to get to Amarillo for our appointment time ... damn.

We got over to the Nestle DC and luckily for us they already have the load processed and ready to put on the truck, so we only waited about an hour before we could take off.

So at 8pm I pulled us out of the Nestle lot ready for a long haul non-stop run to Amarillo.

Now, I really hate Oklahoma roads, but US287 which we call the Raider Highway is so much under construction and there are so many little towns that you have to drop from 70 to 20 in less than a mile that traveling on it can be a bitch when your in a hurry, especially in Witchita Falls, Texas that it is beyond frustrating.

However, even though I stopped in Quannah, Texas for half an hour to use the restroom and stretch I made it at exactly 3:00am at the gate to the receiver.

As soon as I got in and pulled into my door I checked in and hit the bed.

They woke us up about three hours later and said we were ready to go, and Tom took over and drove us up to Cactus, Texas to get ready for our next load.

However, due to some backlog they can't explain we won't be getting out of here till at least Wednesday morning. So Tom and I each got a room at the Dumas Inn in Dumas, Texas just a few miles down the road.

[Beautiful downtown Dumas, Texas]

Least tonight I'll be able to take several hot showers and watch decent TV, or God forbid actually play World of Warcraft for a bit on my laptop :)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Day 20 "Continued" - 21, The Lost Wal-Mart

Tom and I met at 8:00am on Saturday at the truck and got things rolling. It was a beautiful day for a drive and I was ready for some serious wheel time after being off nearly two days.

We took off from the yard and hit the AmeriCold warehouse and headed north to North Platte, Nebraska. Unfortunately the route took us through Oklahoma but at least it was during the daytime.

[North Bound I-35 Arbuckle Mountain, Oklahoma]

The drive itself was pretty uneventful, just long. We swapped out in Phillipsburg, Kansas and Tom drove us on to North Platte, Nebraska and parked us at the Flying J for the rest of the night around 2:00am.

[Oklahoma has horrible roads, at least they are trying to fix parts of them]

I got up at 8:00am and hit the showers at the Flying J and got us on the road to our receiver. However, here is where we caught a glitch. We both knew that we were delivering to the Wal-Mart DC up there however the address we got from dispatch was to an actual store. Talk about a mess, we got to the store and of course they didn't know what to do with us. Finally we got ahold of the receiving manager and he gave us the correct address and directions to the DC.

After pissing around for an hour we finally got to the DC which was about 10 miles away and got ourselves unloaded.

Luckily for us, as soon as we sent our MT call we got another load assignment. This one was going to be a good long one.

We dead-headed 222 miles to Schuyler, Nebraska to the ConAgra meat packing facility and found out that our loaded trailer was waiting for us. So we dropped our empty and picked up the new one and took off, back to Texas :)

[The Great Platte River Road Archway Monument on I-80 in Kearney, Nebraska]

I've always said all roads at Raider lead to Ft. Worth and this one is no different. It was a multi-stop load, but we've already been informed they were going to give us another load once we got to the Ft. Worth yard and someone else would make the multi-stop deliveries.

So we are sitting here McPherson, Kansas about to switch drivers and I'm gonna get some sleep.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Day 19-20, Rest and Northbound

Well, Tom ended up taking another AWG run to Amarillo, Texas while I sat at home and did a 34 hour reset. It was nice to see the kids and my wife for a little bit, even got a chance to catch up on all my TV shows the DVR recorded.

But it's Saturday morning now and I'm about to leave the house and head out to the yard to pickup the truck, Tom should be back from his 10 hour break here soon as well and then we are off to North Platte, Nebraska.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Day 18, Out and Back

Well, we finally got loaded out a bit early and left for Midland, Texas around 9pm on Wednesday night. This was by far the easiest load I've had yet as far as driving is concerned.

I20 is a great interstate with the exception of the 10 mile single lane construction zones, those can be a pain. I swear they put those k-rails to close together to piss off truckers ;)

Once we got out to Midland around 3:30 am we started our deliveries and got both stores done by 7:00 am, then we took a brief nap till dispatch told us what we were doing next. Lucky for us we just pulled a back haul from the store we last delivered to.

Once we loaded up all their return merchandise, pallets and cardboard trash we floored it back to Ft. Worth, Texas.

In route I figured out that I was about to run out of hours so we talked about it and I'm going to take a 34 hour reset and he is going to go solo for another AWG load tonight and then take Friday night off to see his mom.

We'll head out again on Saturday morning ... supposedly I'm supposed to be getting into my own truck next Friday when Tom pulls in for a three day break. We'll see, I'm hopeful myself ... he's been telling them since the end of my first week I was ready to go solo.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Day 16-17, Raider Highway

Well, we got up and arrived early at the shipper with the hopes that we would be able to get loaded and get out early and sure enough they were kind to us and we got out about an hour ahead of schedule.

Since the load needed to be in La Porte, Texas at 8:00am Thursday we were anxious to get going so we could be on time. 1087 miles is do able in two days, but with pretty constant driving and little time for breaks. The 14 hour work rule really screws up driving schedules, every driver hope they get rid of it or modify it at the hearings this summer.

We finally got underway at noon central time and floored it for Texas, well as much as we can floor it since we are restricted to 61 mph. US287 is a good highway to drive and is a straight shot from Denver, Colorado to Ft. Worth, Texas. The only thing bad about it is about every 10-20 miles you have to slow down to 30 mph because of some podunk town, otherwise the highway is 65/70 all the way.

One thing I have noticed is we move a lot of freight on US287. On average you see a Raider truck going the other way about every hour, and it doesn't matter if you are going North or South on it. Seems like half the fleet (about 100 trucks) is on US287 going one way or the other every day. So it seems pretty natural for it to be called Raider Highway, at least that is the nickname we've given it.

Well, I decided to do a hard push and shoot for getting to Amarillo, Texas before calling it quits for the day. It took nearly eleven hours of solid driving, with only pit stops every two hours for about five to ten minutes to use the restroom and check the reefer status.

After arriving at 11pm central time I stopped at the Loves Truck Stop to fuel up and take a shower. While I was inside Tom finally woke up and stated he wanted to drive for a few hours, so I was game. We had talked earlier about pushing to try and get to Ft. Worth by noon on Wednesday so we could see if we could either pawn off the La Porte load on someone else or at least take a short evening break at the house and drive all night to get to Houston for the delivery at 8am on Thursday.

He drove till about 4:30am and stopped in Vernon, Texas to camp out till my rest time was over. I really didn't notice other than to move from the bottom bunk to the top bunk once we parked.

I got up at 9am, pre-triped the truck and took off, getting us into the Ft. Worth yard just before 1pm which was pretty good time.

While we were in the yard they took the load off our hands and gave it to another driver because they wanted us to do an Odessa, Texas multi-stop run for AWG (Alberton's) so I could get experience doing that before they hopefully cut me loose in my own truck next week.

Another reason being is we were both randomly selected for drug testing, figure the odds on that one will ya :)

Since we had to do that, it was a good time to put the truck in the shop and have the engine looked at while we were gone. Frankly, there has been something wrong with the truck since I started driving it after it went through it's quarterly PM before I joined Tom.

The truck has just about no power in it when climbing hills, we have had to literally triple down-shift just to make it up 2% grade hills at 30 mph, and the fuel economy has been in the toilet. We've barely been getting 6.1 mpg where we should be getting 7.5 or more.

After our drug screens we checked on the truck when we got back and found that two of the fuel pumps were going bad and they were going to replace them, we've been assured that the repairs should fix the problems we've been having, we'll see ...

So now I sit at the AWG distribution center waiting for our load, which won't even be available till close to midnight, then it's an all night drive to Odessa, Texas to start our deliveries by 8am.