Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Driving in hellish traffic all day long today.  I was sent to Columbus, Ohio, a place I haven't been to in decades.  Had to pass through several large cities, got caught in rush hour traffic in one of them. But that, bad as it was, wasn't the worst thing.  My GPS came on and told me that I could "save 36 minutes" by taking an alternate route. 

Well darn if there wasn't a bad crash and I got off the Interstate just in time, so I thought.  I got to a turn in the road that said "trucks turn left, bridge ahead 11"".
Traffic was totally snarled anyway.  I gave up on that, went back to the Interstate and spent two hours - yes, two freaking hours - going the distance of 4 miles.  I mean, 30 minutes of that was sitting on the side of the Interstate - I ran out of hours, I had to take my mandatory 30 minutes break or be in "Hours Of Service" violation, so I did. Just pulled over and parked. By the time I woke up - I was tired, fell right asleep - 25 minutes later, the traffic had completely  cleared. 

Anyway, traffic ate up my drive hours today and I didn't have enough time to get to the drop place.  Or I might have, but I wouldn't have had any time to leave that yard.  No thanks.  I'm not sitting in a yard all night long with no access to a toilet or food.  Yes, I could "improvise", but why bother.  Well, I was fighting the clock just getting here.  I mean, I pulled into this Pilot truckstop with 3 minutes left on the clock!  I stopped, pulled the valves and put myself on "On Duty", taking myself off of "Driving".  Yup, electronic logs.  Pros and cons to it.  Pros are it's much easier than filling out a log book. Con - Once the 14 hour clock starts, you don't get off of it.  You can't just stop, but yourself on "Sleeper Berth" line and take a few hours to sleep if you're tired, losing no on Duty or Driving time. 

Lots of truckers are complaining about that and another road block apparently is being planned, or so I heard on the CB radio today. Ahh, yes, just found it, a Facebook group called Operation Black and Blue, but it's a closed group. Kinda dumb to be a closed group if you're trying to encourage a bunch of truckers to stop dead on the highway for 2 hours and block traffic. I asked to join anyway, just to see if this guy I was hearing on the radio was making accurate statements.

Well anyway, this is a small Pilot truck stop. I guess they are all small, but when I pulled in there, I was aghast.  I am out of hours, I am not going anywhere, even if every single parking space is full.  And they were  -  allllll - filled up.  I drove around to the fuel pumps to act like I was fueling - which I was not, had fueled up earlier since I also pushed that one to the limit and ended up putting 226 gallons of fuel into this thing.  See, if you aren't doing electronic logging, you can just fudge the books if you have to drive down the road to find a place to park.  In this case, you can put yourself off duty, but if you start pulling through the gears, that thing is automatically putting you back on "Driving" status.  So I stated in 3rd gear only.

Well, I pulled through the fueling lanes and much to my surprise, a truck pulled out of it's spot, right there.  And at the same time, another truck had pulled in and was backing into another spot.  I pulled up in front of my intended parking space and waited. And waited some more.  You see, this lot wasn't exactly designed for big trucks to be pulling intricate backing maneuvers into tight spots between 2 trucks already in there. This is a daily dilemma for truckers across the country and have been complaining about it for years - it's only getting worse. 

I can envision an entrepreneur with money simply buying up land, opening up parking only lots and charging a monthly fee for nation wide access.  Yea, I mean something on a big scale.  I mean, if I got out of this truck right now, at 7:00 pm, I can guarantee you there are no empty spaces and this is the only truck stop around.  That I know of anyway or saw coming in.  There are several 50 miles outside of town, but not here.  I was afraid I was going to run into parking problems when I got here.  Anyway, I waved all the fuel lane trucks trying to leave past me. Yup, please go on.  Cause I was going to go down, to the end, flip a U-ey and come back.  NO way I am backing a truck this big and long into a space that small without doing it from the right side. Blind side backing is dangerous even for the most skilled driver with backing skills. You can do it, but you are likely going to have to get out of the truck several times to make sure you aren't about to take out the truck you are backing against.  

I have seen drivers using a spot mirror on a pole so they can see out the passenger side while blind side backing.  It is just highly not recommended if you can avoid it.  If you can't, do what you must. 

My problems were exaggerated by a broken down pickup across the other side and a parked semi over there behind it. I could not get the full access to pull up as the "designers" intended. Fortunately for me, a man decided he was going to help me back into that spot, and I was very much grateful for the help.  He was quite adept at giving hand signals, obviously been helping drivers get their trucks into spaces long enough to have gotten good at it. But, at the same time, the driver has to have the sense enough to get that thing angled right and get the truck banking around just right.  You take a tractor that long and a trailer that long and get it off even a little, you are pulling up and trying again. I had to do 2 pullups just because of the obstructions in front of me, but the 3rd time was the charm.

Thank you!  To the man that took his own time out to help me. 
So, I am stuck here for another 12 hours.  Yup.  I could get the load delivered after 10 hours - meaning 2am - but I can't get the next load on until 8am and it's only 13 miles away.  So, I have some free time! And, I am going to decide what movie I want to watch and go on Putlocker and watch it.  I have so much gigs every month on my phone, I can do a lot of streaming before I even come close to running out.  And, the phone works very well at supplying the computer it's needed input to pump out a movie. I watched Unstoppable last night - runaway train movie with Denzel Washington, trying to decide what I want to watch tonight.  Anyway, that's enough for one entry. 

As expected, getting up at 11:45 pm for work and starting driving at around 12:15 am was a total disaster. For me anyway. I am definitely not a night driver.  I only got 3 hours of sleep to start with and keeping myself awake all night long until I arrived at 7 am was ridiculous. I climbed into the sleeper after I got backed up to the dock and told them to come knock on the door when they're done, cause' I'm wiped out.

I was sleeping soundly, too, when that knock came on the door.  Well that much driving ate up a bunch of my allowable driving hours to the tune of over 7, leaving 3 hours and 45 minutes drive time left.  I was given instructions to head northwest to a company that we do a lot of business with, get loaded and the head out.  I didn't look at where I was heading out to, just the loading information.

I was a bit shocked when I went to do a map route for it to see I am going to Columbus, Ohio.  I can't remember the last time I was there, at least 2 decades.  I decided the miles outweighed the home time.  They couldn't have gotten me home today anyway, not enough driving hours left to get there.  So, I put on almost 700 miles today, which is a pretty good feat in a truck the is governed at 70 mph.  You get 11 hours of driving allowed in a 14 hour time period.  The extra work hours are for loading and unloading, fueling, whatever.  I'm a driving fool when i want to be, I can go on and on and on without stopping for anything at all.  Keep a nicely stocked truck and you don't need to stop.  And yes, I bought a variety of low calorie/fat snacks - several boxes worth this time.

The last time I just bought one huge box of granola bars, and tho they were tasty, very much a big mistake.  Must have a variety in the offerings.  So now I have 4 different types, plus some crunchy things that Rene gave to me (tenant) and another case of water.  Welp, the load itself was difficult because it is very near 80,000 pounds, meaning trying to get the steer axle, drive axles and tandem axles all below the maximum amount allowed.  For whatever reason, this company doesn't want drivers fooling with the placement of the Fifth Wheel.  Meaning I can't slide it back or forth.  The only thing you can do is slide the tandems - that's the axles and wheels on the trailer.

Well, when I looked into the trailer I picked up, I knew right away it was a heavy load, so I just went ahead and slid them suckers on up.  It wasn't enough, tho, my first round through the scales at that place I was over on the drive axles by 1,200 pounds.  You don't go through weigh stations like that.  They will give you a hard time at best, most likely issue you a fine at worst.  So, I slid them even further forward and it came out very nice.  I've been through 2 weigh stations since then so I know it's good lol.  \

The things that I have forgotten about trucking.  It's all coming back to me now.  I despise heavy loads that are near full amount of legal weight because it can take several tries to get the axles set to where the truck is no more than 34,000 on the tandems, 34,000 on the drive axles and 12,000 on the front/steering axle.  You can't just be below 80,000 and call it good, you have to be good on all 3 of those things as well.

Short trip, got that over with. I no more than got back to the yard and left for home when I got a text from yet the newest version of a di...