Monday, December 29, 2008

Second Verse Same as the First

We are still in Memphis and got to go back and have some more of that wonderful Mexican food.  It was just as good the second time around. 

For any Con-Way drivers, when you are in the West Memphis terminal, the restaurant is over by the Dog Track.  Most assuredly worth checking out!

We are going to be unloaded and then over to Kenworth for the truck maintenance.

And Oh Yea . . . a wonderful man at AT&T has managed to restore our air card to the original unlimited data usage plan.  So, we are up and running again and can access the internet while moving.  What a great thing that was!!!!!!!

Feliz Navidad and Good Mexican Food !

We had a wonderful Christmas break in Odessa with both of our sons.  I am ashamed to admit that I left the camera in it's bag the entire time.  No pictures of darling grandchildren (Xander and Sirena) or their dad (Travis) or of Micah.  We also managed to get in a overnight stop in Kingsland, Texas with my parents.  No pictures there either.  Not sure what is going on with that, but it was dumb!

Our break in Odessa was cut short by a call from our Fleet Manager with a request to deadhead to El Paso for a load.  We left at the @$#@#'ing crack of dawn (actually, I slept in the truck so I could get back on sleep/drive schedule and so was wonderfully asleep when Tony came out and got us rolling!) on Saturday morning and hit El Paso and turned around for Memphis.

We dropped our trailer temporarily in our West Memphis, Arkansas terminal and did some grocery shopping.  

We also found MEXICAN FOOD.  Yea!  This was the real-deal Mexican food we have missed since we left Terlingua.  Yummmmmmmmm.

I didn't take the camera in, but we had a great mixed fajita plate (beef, chicken AND shrimp) and a really gooey good queso flameado.  We will most certainly be back to this place often.

Not a clue where we go from here, but tomorrow will be spent having our 200,000 mile check-up/service done on the truck.   Can't believe we have put that many miles on since mid-February.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mr. SnowMan

It is cold in the upper sections of this country.  We are in Utah and as we came across Wyoming, Tony saw -3f on the temp. gauge on the dash.  YIKES.  I was going to make a Christmas tree for the seasonal dash ornament, but felt like this fellow would be a truer representative of the season!!!!!!!
We are having internet connectivity issues.  In a nutshell, the days of unlimited data transmission via cell are sadly coming to an end.  We are now limited to 5 gigs of usage per month. The problem is that our plan doesn't reset until January 2nd.  In the meantime, we will become more familiar with wi-fi hotspots around the country.  So, if I don't answer e-mails right away, that's my excuse!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

IOWA-80 TRUCKSTOP


We are parked in Wolcott, Iowa at the Iowa-80 Truckstop.  As  you can see, it is:
Once you get inside, this place is giagantic ... no really, it is huge!  There are 3 full size trucks INSIDE the show room.  As you can imagine, we love this place!  We actually highlight (ask Dispatch to send us here specifically for some time off) for this wonderland of trucking goodness.

They sell all the things that truck drivers need, plus some stuff they don't need.  As you can see below, they also customize stuff.  Truckers REALLY like to put writing on stuff.  They like to have company names, truck makers, branches of military put onto their clothes and truck accessories.  These folks also make window vinyl stick-ons.




Another reason that we love this place is because our dentist works here.  He is awesome and so easy for us to get to.  The parking is MUCH easier than at your dentist.

It also helps that he is such a nice guy.  Dr. Tom and his darling wife Amy are very easy to do business with.  Tony and I are catching up on all the dental care that we avoided for 20 years and Tom is the guy for us.  He doesn't lecture or nag, and he just cuts to the important stuff.
Did I mention that we love this guy!  He even loaned us his truck to make a grocery/wal-mart run.  That way, we didn't lose our fabulous front row parking space.  Did I tell you how much we like coming to this denstist!

And next door to the dentist, you can get your hair cut.  We haven't used this service yet, but I'm sure we will someday.


In addition to all this trucker wonderfullness, they have a great laundry.  It is large and there are folding tables too.  Most truckstops cram the laundry into a closet and there are usually 2 washers and 2 dryers.  Typically, you have to fold the laundry on top of one of the washers.  This is sooooooo much more spacious.  Tony will appreciate that tomorrow when he does the laundry!

If all that wasn't enough, check out the nice space below.  What an inviting place to stop and spend some time with your laptop.  Maybe while waiting for laundry, dentist, etc.


Additionally, upstairs includes a movie theater (driver requested movies), nice showers, a tv lounge and a chiropractor.  Lots of good stuff!

And the final bit of wonderfullness - the food court.  Most truckstops have 1 fast food spot in addition to the usual roller dogs (hot dogs), coffee and sodas.  One of our favorites is Taco Bell. Our favorite burger brand is Wendy's and it is always sweet when we come upon a Dairy Queen.  Imagine the charge when all 3 are in the same place!!!!!

We also enjoy sitting down to eat it.  Driving and eating is not one of our favorite activities.

As I'm typing this, I realize that I forgot to take photos of the front door and a view of the parking lot.  Can you believe that there are 800 parking spaces for trucks.  When we cruised in late (2:00 a.m.) on Wednesday night (or Thursday morning for you picky types), the lot was mostly full and we ended up waaaaaaayyyyyyy out in the far reaches of the lot.  When the lot cleared out the next morning, we slid up to the front and will be here until we leave.  SWEET!!!


Sunday, December 7, 2008

The WildLife of Humanity

As we slide by in the night, silent on our strip of cement, I like to look into people's windows and lives.  I see the oddest things as I look down into backyards and on to porches.  It is almost as if the people in the houses forget that the interstate is there.  I know that autos make good blinds for watching birds and wildlife, I guess it would follow that Big Rigs make good blinds for watching the WildLife of Humanity.  

I really feel lucky when I see a door opening.   Then, I get to see the inside and the outside at the same time.  When it is dark, open doors and windows are like tiny cubes of intimacy.  Nothing is every clear, especially as I whiz by at 65, but the sense of the people is clear. 

 You can get the feeling of lives lived with juiciness by how much stuff is piled into and around some houses.  You know those folks would all come out onto the porch to wave goodbye if you were visiting them.  Additionally, these are often the yards with the riot of Christmas lights and decorations.   

Very pristine, structured lawns and grounds don't feel as if the people who live there are very "juicy"  Usually their lights are only white and very formal in their presentation.  I bet they wouldn't all come out to wave goodbye either.

I am enchanted by the lights springing up on the landscape.  The trees are bare and I am seeing the most wonderful displays, both private and commercial.  I really really love the neighborhoods that are all in on the project.  Sometimes an entire hillside will be lit up.  And then there is the isolated house that has more Christmas decorations than you can believe.  Where do they store that stuff?

Having spent the bulk of the last 20 Christmas seasons in Terlingua, I am almost overwhelmed by the displays sometimes.  I catch myself driving with my mouth open in wonderment and have to remind myself to focus on the road instead.  It is also surprising to me that the lights are left on all night.  A waste of electricity, but a great bonus for me!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A New Feature

I have added a new feature that might or might not work like I hope it will.  Over to the right, you will see a new thingy that says SUBSCRIBE.   Many of my readers have hinted/asked for me to "just let me know when you post a new blog entry".  Now, if you can just jump through the required hoops, you can subscribe to this blog and you will assumedly be notified when I post something new.

If someone tries this, please either leave a comment or send me an e-mail and let me know if it works.

In the meantime, please send healing thoughts and prayers  out for our dear Janet as she is recovering from double aneurysms, surgery and now a series of strokes.  Last word from Charlotte, who is with Janet in Dallas, is that her condition is improving by the hour.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Our Version of Black Friday


What a wonderful day in Atlanta on Friday.  
We thought that most folks would be shopping since it is Black Friday, but they were all at the Georgia Aquarium and The CocaCola Center instead!  
Tony and I agreed that the  people watching was equally as fun as the paid attractions.
We thought LA was the most diverse place that we had ever been - our day in Atlanta proved that wrong. 
We saw every race and culture that we could think of and in large numbers too.
We saw saris and long flowing jilbab, head scarves of a dozen varieties, cowboy hats, baseball caps and even a yarmulke on a young boy.  
I think even better than the variety was the way that they were mixed up.  
Hardly any multigenerational large family group was "pure". 
The weather was just overcast enough to be cool and spirits were high. 

The Georgia Aquarium is located smack in the middle of downtown Atlanta and easy to get to.  It is the world's largest fresh water aquarium and was absolutely incredible.  There were a variety of different sections to explore and lots of places to sit and just watch the marine life on display.  We were captivated by the whale sharks (largest fish on earth!).  This aquarium has 4 and at 23', they are only half grown.  One of the coolest things they do at this park is have several places where the fish are swimming over your head - it is really cool to be underneath a giant catfish as it cruises along the bottom of the tank.  Lots of sharks and rays as well as a myriad of unbelievably brilliant tropical fish.
My favorites are always the otters and there were 2 different kinds here.  We were able to stand and watch them as long as we wanted.
  
The CocaCola Center was really interesting too.  Basically, it was a giant advertisement for Coke.  John Pemberton invented CocaCola in Columbia, Georgia and eventually the company moved headquarters to Atlanta.  Inside the center were lots of great Coke memorabilia, CocaCola art, fun facts about this giant beverage company and tastings of Coke products marketed around the world.
This is a beaded bottle that was probably 7' tall. 
The photo doesn't even come close to showing the brilliance of the beads, but you can get the idea.
 There were several of these done in different mediums as the entry piece to the Center.
Our favorite part was the tasting room where we got to try about some of the soda and juices that are marketed in Asia, Europe, Latin America and Africa.  
My favorite was called Kinley Bitter Lemon (much drier than Sprite) and Tony's was Inca Kola which tasted like a banana soda.
  
After these 2 tourist attractions, it was definitely time for adult beverages and food
Several locals pointed us to Luckies.  
We were most assuredly "lucky" on this one!
We started off with some delicious Lump Crab Cakes with Green Apple-Mango Salsa.  and I had a glass of Menage A Trois Rose to go with it.  
Nice enough wine, so I had another!  
For an entree, it was a toss-up between the Fish Tacos (grilled Chilean Sea Bass with Jicama/Roasted Poblano Slaw) and the Crispy 1/2 Duck with Sweet Potato Hash, Medjool dates, and Asparagus.
As you can see, the Duck won.  Well, really. . .  we won cuz it was so good!  Tony thinks he doesn't like duck, but he loved this.  
I asked for the dessert menu and ordered the Berries-n-Cream Napoleon. 
 Mmmmm
The waiter came to tell me that they didn't have any.  
No one ever orders it (third item on the dessert menu and there isn't any?).  
Okay, I'll have the White Chocolate and Strawberry Panna Cotta.
(Second item on the dessert menu)
What?  None of that either ?
I finally ended up with a less than stellar piece of layered cake with strawberries and whipped cream.  
I can't really call it Strawberry Shortcake (even though they did), but it ended the meal on a sweet note

All in all, it was a wonderful day.
Today is a rare treat for us as well, another day spent puttering in the truck and napping.
Ahhhhhhh - what a nice weekend.

 

Friday, November 28, 2008

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

HAPPY THANKSGIVING


(excuse the truck butts please...)

We are parked outside of Birmingham, Alabama. 

WE ARE THANKFUL FOR SO MUCH!




Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Shopping Cart Nightmare

I am learning how to do different things with the blog. 
 Below is my first attempt at embedding a video.
Somehow, I'm not able to center the clip, but I think it will do for now.
  
This quick clip is truly a truck driver nightmare.  
You can bet that I will always double check that the shipper has secured the load before pulling from the dock to close my doors.

That might seem simplistic, but actually, its not.
Often, we back into a dock that has a red/green light visible to the driver in their side mirror.
After the driver backs in and sets the trailer brakes, a mechanical "grabber" reaches out from the dock and basically secures the trailer to the loading dock so that a "brow" can be deployed to bridge the gap between trailer and dock.  At this point, the light will turn RED indicating that the driver cannot move the truck/trailer away from the dock.  The "brow" enables the forklifts to whiz in and out of the trailer either loading or unloading.  
As you can see by the black outline around the opening there at the dock in the video, the trailer has backed up INTO a sleeve that seals the trailer to the loading dock.  
In other words, the driver can't actually see into the dock to either make sure that the load has been secured or communicate with the dock hands.
Ideally, when the loading is finished and the load has been secured, the  "brow" will be  lifted and the light will turn GREEN.  Upon seeing a green light, the driver pulls away from the dock and adjacent trailers to be able to close and lock the doors of the trailer.



I laughed until I cried last night when I saw this.

We are Palm Springs, CA hanging out waiting to pick up a load in Blythe, CA and head out with it to Charlotte, NC.  The timing is REALLY loose on this particular run, so we are going to do some exploring along the way.
There is a hot springs in Tonapah, AZ and I would love to figure out how to visit the Aquarium in Atlanta.  We  might even get to check out some real estate in the Smokies of North Carolina as well.

I'll take pictures!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mmmm. . . doughnuts with sprinkles!


I had a craving for doughnuts last night.
We deadheaded (drug an empty trailer) from Albuquerque  down to El Paso.
Once in El Paso, I had some time on my hands,
so I decided to whip up a batch of doughnuts.
I have NEVER allowed myself to have a chocolate doughnut with sprinkles
and I have wanted one all my life.
Why do we deny ourselves things like that?
Anyway . . . now I have one.  
I also wanted one with pink icing . . .  got one of those now too.

We are off to pick up a load here in El Paso and head up to our terminal
in West Memphis, Arkansas with it.
The terminal there is nice and has really soft water.
We especially like to shower and do laundry there.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Our HQ in Joplin

This is the company headquarters for Con-Way Truckload
located in Joplin, MO.
We have our main repair facilities there: tractor, body, tire and trailer.
We can also wash the truck, laundry and ourselves at this terminal.
All company support personnel are here as well as Operations/Dispatch.
We keep our car here and have a mail drop in Joplin.


When we arrive at the terminal, our truck and trailer
have to go through a pretty thorough inspection.
As we pull up to the inspection bay, we are greeted with this sign,
It scrolls too fast to get the whole thing, but basically
welcomes us home by name and tractor number.
Pretty nifty - makes us feel warm and fuzzy!

We just made a drop in Albuquerque and are waiting to see where we go next,
The "not knowing" is one of the more interesting aspects of our job -
we could head out to anywhere in the country or even Canada.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lush Autumn Colors and some Lush Music

Isn't this beautiful?
I'd love to tell you that I snapped this picture 
as we came through the Poconos this morning.  
Actually, I took it when we were in Detroit recently.
You didn't know that there was such loveliness in Detroit these days. . .
did you?

I am amazed every day by the incredible beauty of this country.
I even like it at night.
Except, of course, 
when we are trying to find our way on crowded interstates!

I am going to really try to get more photos up on here - you can't imagine what wonderful things we encounter

And for your listening pleasure. 
I came upon the amazing talent of Victoria Vox recently 
and would encourage to give her a listen .  
Did you smile?
I did.

Friday, November 14, 2008

We stared The Big Apple in the face and WON!

We picked up a load in Columbus, Ohio and headed up to Newark, New Jersey with it.  I wasn't sure just where in New Jersey we were going, but since it wasn't NYC, I wasn't really to worried.   Hah!  How naive.  AND...we weren't just going to Newark, we were actually going to THE PORT OF NEWARK!!!!!!!!!  As in, across a small bit of water is Manhattan.  
 I got out the computer mapping program, the giant atlas and bunches of stickies and sharpies and started in with our routing.  
And, oh yeah, did I mention that we were on a Con-Way load which always allows just barely enough time to make the run. 
 AND to top that off, the trailer that we picked up had a bum blinker and needed to be taken to a truckstop repair shop before hitting the road.  Would be nice if the ETA was extended to accommodate - but alas, not to be! 
 
Let me paint the picture for you - we are coming into Newark at 4:00 pm local time
.  Lots of traffic.  I  was driving and Tony was navigating.  
Did I mention the rain?  Continual heavy drizzle - slick road and sparkly lights coming up off the pavement because everyone had on their headlights.   
Throw in some fog for good measure.   
We were really focused on our way in and did great.  Great looming signs kept telling us how to get to the Port of Newark (and how to avoid the Lincoln Tunnel).  We coasted into what we thought was the right place with a few scant minutes to spare.  
What's this. . . dead end? 
 Where is the Con-Way Terminal?  
Thankfully, we always write the address and phone number of our customers on yet another sticky note.  I dialed while Tony jumped out and ran to the gated guard shack at the end of the dead end.  He came back with directions just as I was connecting with the terminal.  A very helpful and nice man at Con-Way actually talked me through turning around and heading back out the way we had come.  He kept asking me, "tell me what you are looking at."  "Is there a bridge over your head?"  "What does the street sign say?"  This wonderful man stayed on the phone until I turned into the terminal driveway.

Big deep breaths and sighs - we made it.  
Now all we had to do was make it out.  
Piece of cake - we would just get the folks in the terminal office to give us directions.  
We knew we were headed to Hackettstown, New Jersey and from there to Horseheads, New York and then down to Albuquerque, New Mexico - a nice 2k run.

Tony came back from the terminal with the offered directions.  We sat with the atlas and computer and made detailed notes.  We were even able to use the new satellite technology and look at the nasty snarl of roads and bridges and pick our path through it all.  
So, I'm back at the wheel and Tony is again navigating.  
Did I mention that it is now DARK and still RAINING?  
We pull out of the terminal, under the New Jersey Turnpike bridge to turn left where we had come in before.  
But wait. . .  NO LEFT TURN.  
There is even a curb in the way to further thwart us.  
AND, the only way we can go is going to take us up on the bridge and seemingly into NEW YORK CITY.  
OMG OMG OMG OMG.  
We have no choice but to go where the road is taking us.  
So much for those carefully thought out plans and notes.  As we are heading up over this bridge, we can actually see a glittering bridge slightly ahead that must lead to the magical land of NYC.

  I basically slowed to a stop as we tried vainly to make an informed decision.  
Finally, another Big Rig squeezed around us on the right and we decided to go after him.  
The scariest thing of all when driving one of these behemoths is getting onto roads that aren't made for us.  We figured that if he was going there, we could too.  As luck would have it, we saw enough signs with enough remembered words from our prior research that we were able to squiggle around through the maze and work our way out heading in the right direction (basically AWAY from NYC).  
Did I mention that it was still DARK and RAINING?
  
So now, we are parked for the night in Hackettstown, New Jersey and I have Tony's trip all plotted out for him in the morning.  
When I wake up, we will be in the Pocono Mountains and the autumn leaves be lush and moist from the morning dew as I sip my coffee and gaze out serenely from my moving home.
I love this life!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Moving down the road. . .

We left Pasco and picked up a relay trailer in Ellensburg, Washington and then headed out with it to Columbus, Ohio.  Tony was sleeping so I am picked out our route.  We have several choices - I think I will choose to go eastward on I-90 until I run into Lake Michigan and then skirt around it and  finally drop down to Columbus.  This will be a long run - 2300 miles or so.  I hope the weather is nice as we head across the Plains - it was nasty last week.

Do you like the new look?  
I thought the other page format felt squished in the middle.
I'll try this for awhile and see if I like it.

Sitting Idle

We are sitting in Pasco, Washington.  We have been here for 3 days and don't see an out in sight.  I went on the 'net to see if there was something here that we were missing - turns out there isn't anything.  NOTHING to do here - the Wal-Mart Supercenter isn't even one of the big ones.  The craft/sewing department is only 1/2 an aisle in Housewares.
I have begun crocheting.  Well, really, I am working on a couple of projects and buying yarn.  The buying yarn is really fun, except there isn't anywhere to store it.  That puts a real limit on the amount of "stash".  There are gazillions of patterns available free on the internet along with beautiful and enticing pictures.  The main problem there is that we don't have a printer in the truck and never really have access to one.  If you can't print off the beautiful and wonderful patterns, you can't create with them.  So, I sit and think about crochet projects almost as much as I get to actually tie knots with yarn and hook.

I have finished a couple of things:
an eyeglasses case
a case for my iPod nano
2 neck warmers (these are really wonderful)
this fellow
Isn't he cute!  
He is actually larger than most amigurumis.  
I am going to tackle some food items next - maybe a cupcake.

I'm working on a bed jacket/shawl thingy to put
 on when I wake up and want something on my shoulders and arms.  I have one side of it done and will probably get the other side finished today if we end up hanging around Pasco much longer.
Well,  Pasco did redeem itself.  We found the good grocery store.  This one is REALLY good.  Might even rival the mecca of grocery stores in North Bend, Washington.  All I needed was yogurt (I am smitten with Rachel's yogurt...more on that later), but I managed to find my favorite snacks there as well.  I guess I could do some photos of my favorite foods for the road.

Anyway, we are all set and happy and waiting for the next adventure!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Oh yea - I forgot . . .  go check out MOCHEEF - I have to say I'm biased, but  I think it is good.  What do you think?

Going to Canada

We are making our second trip into Canada.  Snuck the first one by ya . . . huh?  Actually, we went in for the first time just a week or so ago.  That time, we went in from Seattle and made a delivery in Vancouver, BC.  The streets were more narrow than we are used to and Tony had a very difficult dock to maneuver into for the unload.  (I was really really glad it was his shift - that place was NOT made for our large truck!).  We were back out that afternoon and on our merry way.

This time, we will be going into Canada from Detroit and making a delivery 250'ish miles away in a suburb of Toronto.  When we make that delivery, we will go on the board there in Canada and could end up coming back out through Detroit or going the shorter route out through Buffalo, New York.  I'm hoping for Buffalo, no real reason, just like that part of the world.  I'd love to stop and see Niagara Falls, but have no idea whether we'll have the time or not.

The leaves are changing as we drive around the country.  What a beautiful sight.  I have a wonderful picture of the perfectly colored autumn tree, but the camera is in the truck and Tony is sleeping.  I'll post it next time.

We did get the chains out and sorted and re-bagged for the coming Winter.  I, of course, was busy doing other things and totally forgot to take pictures.  It is pretty cool to see them all laid out.  If you are lucky (and we are not), I'll take some photos the first time we have to put them on the truck.

I am spending some time in the Taylor, Michigan terminal.  Here is a list of the things I can do while loitering in a terminal:
shower (as opposed to my normal hit/miss in public bathrooms)
laundry (even washed Leo's bed, carseat cover and harness)
downloaded some podcasts (we have become fans of a number of audio and video podcasts)
re-synched our iPods with the above podcasts
cleaned out several months of e-mail inbox clutter
caught up on all the Brad/Angelina gossip as well as weird plastic surgery pictures
mapped out our route to the border and on into Ontario (I DO actually work sometimes!)
re-arranged my playlists on iTunes.  Currently I have Jana's Groove Mix and Jana's Drive Mix on my iPod.  I'm waiting until the middle of November before succumbing to my All Christmas All the Time playlist

I also walk around the lot - it is wonderfully brisk tonight and I'll make several more turns around it on my way back to the truck.

So, there it is...my life at the moment

Sunday, October 19, 2008

OMG. . . winter is coming!

We passed snow on the roadside yesterday in Wyoming and it is getting COLD at night.  The weather is wonderful though and we are practicing some things for our winter driving.  Our total allowable weight (Gross Vehicle Weight) is 80,000 pounds.  We are currently weighing out at 79,020 pounds!  This is the heaviest we have ever been - we actually had to think about how much fuel to put in and decided on 120 gallons which weighed in at 1,000 pounds.  I did get to pull this weight up Cabbage Hill (my nemesis from last winter) and did great.  Getting to pull that much weight up the hill in clear sunny weather was a breeze compared to slogging up it in the snow and ice last year.   The weather in Oregon, Idaho and Utah can change in the blink of an eye and it is good to start thinking about these things early.  I say early, but read that a Con-Way driver has already had to chain up this year...ICK.

We are headed into Joplin for some winterizing on the truck and ourselves.  One of the most important things we will do is take all the chains out of the chainbox and lay them out and inspect them.  Then we will practice putting them on again (just to remind us of how bad we hate doing it!).  I'll take pictures and post them.

We are winterizing ourselves as well.  Taking most of the summer clothes off the truck and brining the warm woolies on.  I have ordered snow boots for Tony and I and we will pick those up as well.  Leo already has snow boots, but refused to wear them last year - we will work on that this year again!
Break time is over - got to get back on the road!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A better look. . .


After I posted the last piece and put the picture over to the right in our profile, it was obvious that you couldn't really see Leo.  Here is a better shot: