Thursday, May 8, 2008

Manual Shift Commando

Things have been going pretty well since my last post, I've been running my ass off and building up my calves by driving through the mountains.

My load at AWG was ready about 8pm and the run to Amarillo was pretty uneventful. I've gotten so used to driving US287 now that I don't even pay attention to the landscape along the highway any longer. I'll probably start paying attention again next time the seasons change.

Got into Amarillo around 5am and took a break after getting fuel at the Love's, then made my delivery at 6am. Once I was done I headed up to Cactus, Texas as I had already talked to dispatch and had my load information for my trip to Syracuse, NY.

However, once I got there they said the load wasn't ready yet (it was supposed to be ready at 6am) and they would call me on my cell phone when it was. So since I was tired and out of hours I hit the rack for some sleep.

Around 1pm they called me and said it was ready, I told them that I'd get it after I finished my ten hour break. So around 8pm I strolled in and picked up the trailer and went over the paperwork. It was going to be a nice long run, with three days to deliver and two stops. The first one in Columbus, OH and then in Syracuse, NY the next day. Plenty of time ...

Now on my previous run up that way to Indy I drove through the southern part of the Ozarks, but this time I got to take the nice route across I-70 instead of on I-44. I think I like the I-70 route much more, it seems much prettier than the I-44 route. There are still the steep inclines but the road is much nicer and a severely easier drive.

The run itself into Columbus, OH was just great. Smooth and no problems, I even stopped a few times just to enjoy the view at some of the rest areas.

I stopped in Concordia, MO to sleep on the 5th, and took advantage of the IdleAir again. I tell you, that is probably one of the best tax deductible expenses I could have decided to take. Being able to keep the truck off, saves the company money on fuel which raises my MPG because I am not idling the truck.

I get TV other than my Directv which I do not hook up unless I'm going to be sitting for more than ten hours and not sleeping. The AC/Heat system keeps the truck comfortable and I get additional power instead of having to run my inverter. Almost like living in a dorm room.

After getting some much needed rest I got up and made the overnight run into Columbus, OH for my first stop. They were pretty quick getting me unloaded, however I had quite a bit of trouble with ComData and getting my ComChek authorized to pay the lumpers. Finally after waiting two hours I just paid cash for the lumpers and had the company rewrite the check to me which I could cash later to get the funds back.

I crashed out in Sunbury, OH about an hour north of where I did my partial unload and was thankful once I got there because it started to rain as I parked the truck. Unfortunately where I stayed didn't have IdleAir so I ended up having to idle the truck on and off to keep the humidity at a manageable level.

That evening the rain tapered off and I hit the road on my way to Syracuse, NY. I've never driven into PA and NY so I was kinda looking forward to it. Boy did that change quick.

All of I-90 in PA is under construction, especially around Erie, PA. Half of it is either under construction and only one lane, or needs to be. The ride itself was so rough I was popping Dones every two hours to settle my back pain to a manageable level.

And I-90 in NY, oh my God ... talk about driving hell. You would think that a dedicated interstate toll road would be a good decent road, they are in Texas, but not in New York. I guess the government there takes the toll road funds they collect and buys crack cocaine or something because they sure are not investing it in asphalt.

[Looking across the lake at Rodchester, NY from the I-90 Tollway]

After spending $75.00 on tolls to get to Syracuse I pulled into the receiver with a sigh of relief and exhausted, not to mention just barely on time.

This time I didn't have any issues with ComData so I knew I could finally cash that ComCheck the company issued me so I'll have cash again to pay for more tolls as I know that New York loves money and toll roads.

I called dispatch and told them I was done and was going to sleep. They said they were working on finding me a broker load to get out of NY and head back to Texas so I could be home for mother's day. I told them that's fine by me, I was going to bed.

Around 2pm they called me and told me they found me a load that was going to PA and then to Kentucky and would get my half way home, I told them cool beans and called the broker to get the info.

By now I was in a much better mood after getting some sleep and was looking forward to getting back on the road.

The broker told me I would be loading Apples in upstate New York and I needed to watch how they loaded me because they have a tendency to overload trucks and cause overweight issues.

So I headed up to North Rose, NY to the Apple Grower's Co-Op to load. Now, I've seen some beautiful places in my time, but this place takes the cake. The views are just incredible, and it was just overcast enough to make it even more lovely.

Once I got there I even ran into one of the Amish crop growers and had a great conversation about the orchards and the countryside. Now I can see why some folks love to live up here, it is awesome, to bad it is still yankee territory :)

[Amish Apple Orchards - Upstate New York]

After picking up my first load I headed over to another co-op in Albion, NY for the rest of my load. The area around the second pickup area was just as nice, but North Rose was much better. And unfortunately it was starting to rain again.

[Gas station in Albion, NY - Fuel prices are insane!]

Once loaded I started my way to Pottsville, PA, and after getting to Carfu, NY I decided the route that PCMiler gave me. The system has to be insane, soon as I ran the route for shortest distance it gave me every one lane road through the Appalachian Mountains it could think of.

So I called dispatch and told them I was taking the interstate even though it would put me about 100 miles out of route. I wasn't comfortable with trying to take all the backroads highways through both NY and PA in the weather I was getting.

They approved my route change, so I hit the toll road on I-90 to get to I-81. Unfortunately, even though the weather was coming in from the west and I was going east I wasn't outrunning it. By the time I got to Binghamton, NY on the PA border it was coming down.

I would imagine that the drive through the Appalachians is beautiful, however for me it was a white knuckle ride the whole way to Pottsville, PA. Between the rain, slick roads, hellacous hills and crazy drivers (some of them driving full size doubles) I was frankly terrified at times.

However, I got to Pottsville, PA in one piece just as the rain started to let up and the heavy fog settled in.

The Wal-Mart distribution center got me in and out in under and hour and that was a blessing as I was exhausted and in desperate need of sleep. So I headed over to the TA here in Harrisburg, PA for some much needed sleep.

So here I sit, biding my time. I'm pretty short on hours and I have a double delivery at 6:00am in Kentucky tomorrow. Once I get there it looks like I'll have to reset and won't make it home for Mother's Day.

But my mom understands and I'll take my two days off once I get back in on Monday.

[Miles Driven Since Last Post: 2636]

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