Saturday, May 3, 2008

Indy 500 with a Pit Stop

Friday morning (April 25th) dispatch called me and asked if I would not mind doing a long round trip. Of course I told them "hell no I don't mind". So they asked me to go over to AWG and pickup a load there at 4pm and take it to Midland and once I unloaded I'd get the rest of my trip info and that I was pre-planned.

I said ok, and got ready to run.

The trip from AWG out to Midland was pretty uneventful as I've made it numerous times already. The only big difference between this one and other ones was half of it was in daylight for once.

This particular run had two stops, and I got to the first one around 10pm and the second one around 11pm. Both were nice and quick unloads which is unusual for grocery stores. They have to sit around arguing for twenty minutes about where to put the crap while they get it off the truck to sort it. Not my problem, just get it off my truck :)

Once I was done with the unloads dispatch gave me the rest of my information. I was going to head up to Friona, Texas and pickup a load of beef and take it to Indianapolis, Indiana. And I had two days to get it there. And once I got there I would get another load going back to Ft. Worth, Texas.

Now, I've never been to either Missouri or Indiana, but I have been to Illinois but it has been ten years since I went there and I only saw a small part of St. Louis while there. So I was definitely looking forward to the trip, especially the drive through the Ozarks.

I arrived in Friona about 5:30am and immediately picked up the trailer and headed into town to find a place to sleep. I found this little rundown truckstop that was half closed near the edge of town and packed it in for a nap.

Well my nap ended up being a bit over ten hours of solid sleep, that happens to me when I'm awake over 24 hours.

Once I got up I started my dash to Indy, with a pit stop in Amarillo for fuel and lunch.

The drive through the panhandle was nice and even went through Shamrock, Texas (home of Bill Mack) and got into Oklahoma with no problems. However, once I got into OKC I remembered that I-44 is a toll road, and of course I didn't get any cash from the bank before I headed out because I forgot.

Not that that is a problem, the world is loaded with ATM's but I hate paying fees, even if the fee is tax deductible. I looked and looked and never could find a Chase ATM let alone a branch (that I could get into with the truck) so I had to take money off my CommData card. I just hate doing that because it comes out of my check. Yes, the reimburse the toll fees and all that, but I hate messing with my check.

I got my money and made my run up I-44 in the middle of the night, I figured it would be beautiful going through there, especially since there are only like ten exits for over two hundred miles, but I'll never know (at least not right now) because it was dark as hell the whole drive.

I got to Joplin, MO around 4am and packed it in, man I was tired, driving forty tons for eleven hours straight is tough. Once I got up that afternoon, I was ready for my six hour drive through the Ozarks, and I was really looking forward to it. Even if I was gonna have to drag my ass up the hills in sixth gear because my truck sucks on hills.

[Driving I-44 through the Ozarks]

Once I got into Illinois I was happy, running the hills is difficult because you can not use the cruise, your shifting to much so my legs were hurting and was looking forward to getting to Effingham, Il to I could sleep.

However, my truck had other ideas.

If you remember a few posts back, I've been having trouble with the cooling system in the truck, it keeps overheating for one reason or another. Well this time it wasn't overheating, but just about five miles short of Vandalia, Il the truck shut down again while going down the freeway. Talk about pissing me off, again.

I limped the truck to a literally brand new truckstop there off the freeway and called dispatch and told them the problem. They said they would call TA and get someone out to look at it.

Now, Effingham was only about forty-five miles away, but TA road service took till 9:00am (12 hours later) to show up. They went over the truck, and checked the computer and they could find nothing wrong other than a sensor error saying the coolant level was dangerously low and that was shutting the truck off.

Well, the coolant level wasn't low, hell it was full. And we tried for an hour to get the truck to shut down again but it wouldn't. So the TA truck followed me and I drove to the Effingham shop and they looked at it some more but they couldn't figure it out and said I had to go to Freightliner. Which the only one around that was close was in Indianapolis. Hell I'm going that way anyways.

I told dispatch that I was gonna make the delivery and get to the Freightliner shop afterwards to have the thing looked at, they said no problem so off I went.

It never did it again. All the way to Indy and to the receiver it was just fine, never a problem.

Unfortunately I was late to the receiver but thankfully they didn't seem to care. Hell they were actually happy about it because they had been overloaded all morning and they were able to get me unloaded in about thirty minutes.

Afterwards I headed to Freightliner and checked it there, only to find out the minimum time I would have to wait would be three days, if not four before they could even check the computer to see if that was the problem with the truck since nothing else seemed to be wrong.

Well, to hell with that I said and told dispatch that I wasn't sitting in Indy for a week. They agreed and gave me my load information for my return trip to Ft. Worth, and they said they could look at it when I got into the shop.

So, I headed out and picked up my load on the north side of town and started my run back to Texas.

I got back to Effingham, Il that evening and crashed out. I even signed up for IdleAire while I was there. I'm tired of idling the truck to stay warm or cool when resting, and that system is going up all over the country and everything I pay while using it is 100% tax deductible.

So I spent a nice warm night in the truck without having to idle at all, and even got to watch real TV. (I have a Directv receiver and dish for the truck but hadn't had a chance to install it yet).

The next morning I left early and had a nice long drive through southern Illinois, part of Missouri and into Arkansas. Now Arkansas is a beautiful state, but it is tainted because it is the home of the Clinton's. But I'm definitely not going to go into a political rant right now :)

[Bridge span over the Mississippi River from Missouri into Arkansas]

I stopped in Prescott, Arkansas for the night and since the IdleAire facility at the TA there was full, I parked on the end of the lot and took the time to actually set up my Directv dish and stuff. Ah real TV while on the road ... what a blessing. Thankfully it was a comfortable night so I didn't have to idle at all, didn't sweat and didn't freeze.

The next morning (Wednesday the 30th) I set out for Ft. Worth. Got 100 feet down the road and the truck shut down again. Dammit.

I called dispatch and talked to them about it, and since I now knew how to pull the codes from the computer using the dash controls I told them what the thing was telling me. They looked it up and sure enough the code was for low coolant.

Well it wasn't empty or low at all. We finally came to the conclusion that the sensor was bad, and they told me how to bypass it so it wouldn't go off any more. Sure enough the fix worked and the truck has been running fine ever since.

I got to Ft Worth and made my delivery around 10:00am and took the truck to the shop. They confirmed our findings, unfortunately they didn't have any more sensors in stock and would have to order one. No problem, the fix is working I'll just have to keep an eye on it myself till they get the part in.

Once at the yard they said they didn't have anything for me so I'd have to wait till Thursday for a load and I said ok, so I went to the house to spend time with the family.

Once I got home they asked me if I could leave out at 4:00am and take a load to Houston that had to be there at 11:30am. I said sure, I needed the money.

Unfortunately, I went to bed at 10pm intending to get up a 3am to start the run, but I have chronic insomnia sometimes and something about the load was bugging me. So I kissed everyone goodbye at midnight and went to the yard.

Sure enough, I got there and looked at the paperwork for it, and it was a two stop load, the first stop being due at 6:00am. Crap, I had to hook up and leave now if I wanted any chance of getting there on time.

Well, it was not to be. The drive down I-45 was pretty uneventful till I got near Huntsville where the one lane construction started. Another truck had lost control or something and crashed dumping it's load. I sat in backed up traffic for four hours and only went about ten miles.
I finally got to the first stop at 9:30am and was positive that I would be late for the second one, but luckily other than bitching about me being late the receiver unloaded me quick and I made it to the second stop with ten minutes to spare.

After I was unloaded they told me that I would have to wait as they didn't have anything for me but was looking. Unfortunately I said ok and went to a small truckstop to wait.

Just as I was settling in they called me and told me they got me a broker load going to Arapho, Oklahoma and it was due the next day. No problem for me, Oklahoma is only ten hours from Houston so I could make that trip easy.

I got to the shipper and sat, and sat, and sat. Then after three hours of waiting was told that the load wasn't processed and would not be ready till Monday because of an error with the manufacturing plant.


In told dispatch and they told me to find a place to sleep and they would get me out in the morning, and that since the load was cancelled I'd get a day of layover pay for it. Fine by me, not as much as the original load would have payed but close enough.

The next morning they called me and told me to pickup in La Porte, Texas and bring the load to the yard and they would give me something else for the weekend.

I've picked up at AmeriCold before so it was nothing, I got loaded and started heading back. Only they waylaid me and asked me if they could get me to do some local work in Houston for a few hours and pay me hourly.

I said fine, and shuttled and loaded trailers for three hours in the Houston area before going back to our Houston yard to grab my trailer and head back to Fort Worth.

I got into Fort Worth about midnight, dropped the trailer and went to sleep.

I got up this morning to find out that they didn't have anything decent for me, so I was going to have to run an Alberston's load tonight to Amarillo, then pickup my load in Cactus going to New Jersey (yea! 3000 mile round trip) on Sunday morning.

So, here I am sitting at AWG waiting for my load.

Sorry the post took so long, I'll try and be better about getting something up every 2-3 days.

[Miles Driven Since Last Post: 3246]


spiritwalker said...

Thank Gawd you are young, us old folks could never do this. Hope the rest of your trip goes smoothly. BTW, we need to talk BG when you get back.


Texas Mike said...

I need to catch up on BG first :( I think I'm two shows behind.