Wednesday, May 8, 2019

So, I'm stuck at the plant in Portland, Texas.  The rules for unloading here say to call 30 minutes before arriving to ensure that they can unload you.  So I did, before turning on the on-duty clock on my electronic log device.  They said yes, bring it.  So I brought it, called them again from their staging area and told me they had some sort of compliance operation going and it would be quite a while before they could get to me.  I replied that I had just called 30 minutes ago and y'all said it was fine to bring it? Well, he was unaware - referring to the guy I talked to the first time.

I'll get detention pay, fine, but I hate sitting in these parking lots like this.  The real issue is running out my 14 hour clock and not being able to make it back today.  Well how long do you expect to wait?  I don't know.  I've been here and done that before, it could be an hour, it could be 6 hours, it could be longer, who knows? They just keep you in limbo. The fact that they told me to come is what is annoying me. I would have far rather stayed at the Walmart parking lot, I did some shopping but then realized I had forgotten some stuff. I could have gone back in there and got the rest of it.  But oh well, I guess I shouldn't complain too much, making $25 an hour to sit around and wait isn't that bad. 

I'm just ready to go home.  I've been out on the road for a week, the period of time between the last trip and this current trip I didn't go home, it was late after I got into the yard so I just stayed there and then went out on this trip late the next morning/yesterday.  We're busy again, but there is no guarantee anymore that we'll stay that way.  I'll take what I can get when I can get it, but I want to see my doggies and visit with friends and also get some things done that need to be done. 

Meanwhile, yesterday!  I knew I was in trouble before I got into Houston when I pulled out the Houston Transtar app - just Google it, it shows current traffic conditions on all the freeways in the Houston area - and all of it was red.  That means it's stop and go traffic and you probably aren't going over 3 to 5 mph when you are moving.  I looked at the Tollway 99 - which goes wayyyyyyyy around the city, it only had one red area and I thought I would save time taking that route even if it was well out of the way.

I was right, too.  But I wasn't able to get off at that exit. Why?  There must have been one devilish storm that came through there before I got done there because the service roads next to the freeways were completely flooded. When I say flooded, I mean cars submerged in water.  It was raining, lightning and thunder and high winds as it was when I came through there. But, the first wave of traffic came well before I even got into Houston. Somewhere between Humble and Cleveland. 

It was there that I saw a pickup truck with water halfway up the side of it.  It was toast.  A bunch of traffic on that service road stopped with no where to go.  I finally got up to where the highway was flooded with water and hence, everyone slowing down and trying to get over to the left to avoid it.
But I could see the white highway lines under the water, it wasn't that deep so I just drove through it. 

After that, well, everyone was driving slow.  The flooding on the frontage roads must have happened quickly because there were literally hundreds of cars that had driven up the grass embankment, stopping at the trees trying to escape the water and the ultimate damage it would do to their vehicles.  There were hundreds if not thousands of cars stopped on the side of 59 - for what reason I have no idea.  I guess they were afraid to drive.  I finally made it to the Beltway 8 - and lo and behold, for the first 20 miles there was hardly any traffic at all. Again, people panic in weather like that  - which was a bonus to me because I was able to cruise at full cruising speed and get some of the lost time made up a bit.

But that wasn't going to last long.  I caught up to traffic on the Beltway and it slowed down to around 15-20 mph until we got back to the transition back to 59 and then it was stop and go.  I have to take a loop around downtown with hazmat, I can't just drive straight through downtown on 59. It would be a hefty fine if caught doing so.  Once back on 59, same stuff. Cars stopped along the side of the highway and massive amounts of vehicles stuck on the service road, service roads being flooded.  But it got worse.  The service road was 3 lanes wide at some points and it was full of vehicles - not moving at all.  On 59, we were moving along, finally, between 5 and 50 mph. For miles, I saw cars backed up on the service road - there was no where for them to go. There's businesses along there and some cross roads - but those cross roads were flooded and had cars on them stuck as well. 

When I finally got to the end of that mess, I saw why no one was going anywhere.  The service road was a literal lake.  There was a car stuck with it's front end completely submerged in water.  There was literally no where for anyone to go anywhere. I can't imagine how long all of those people had to sit there in their cars? Hours? Maybe still stuck there? I have no idea.  The city of Houston had trailers with boats on them heading to these areas and I saw some boats on the service roads helping people.  That's right, they were boating on the service roads. 

Getting south of Houston - after hours of this nonsense - was no better. Rosenberg area, which is basically a suburb of Houston, or at least that's what it looks like on a map - the highway is under construction.  They are transitioning it into and Interstate highway and they are building bridges over all the cross roads and re-doing everything. It goes on for 21 miles like that.  So, it's down to 2 lanes and at some point, it all stopped again. Slow and go. When I got up to what the stoppage was - the road was flooded.  But again, I could see the pavement underneath, it might have been a foot of water, I just drove through it, but understandably, traffic had slowed way down.  It took another 30 miles to get completely clear of the traffic and be able to get back up to cruising speed again. 

It was raining but nothing that should have slowed anyone down. But slowed down they were. Driving with their flashers on and going 35 to 50 in a 65mph zone, it took awhile to get past all of that.

Anyway, it took hours longer to get down here than it normally does, it was midnight by the time I finally got here, so I decided to go to bed at Walmart parking lot instead of unloading it that late at night.  I was too tired.  I had enough time to unload but it was too late for me.  I don't really regret it now even tho I'm stuck here just because staying up til 2:30-3:00 messes me up the next day. 

Anyway, I put the electronic logging device into off-duty mode. It still counts against my 14 hour clock but it doesn't count against my 70. That way, even if I happen to somehow run out of hours for today's driving, I'll still have enough hours left to make it back tomorrow.  Hoping that they won't leave me out here that long, tho.  I have about 5 to 6 hours I can sit here/get unloaded before I won't have enough hours left to make it back tonight.  It is what it is I guess.  I don't get near as homesick as I used to when I first started this job, but there is a point where it's time to go home, thanks.

At least I got to eat a nice Keto breakfast at the IHOP near the Walmart this morning.  I would have rather gone to Denny's but I didn't feel like walking a mile for breakfast and then have to try and walk back with a full stomach afterwards. 

Unfortunately, I've been out on the road so much that I'm almost out of data for the 30 day period.  I still have 8 more days before it renews......I'm seriously thinking about paying myself out of this contract and switching to a company that gives you unlimited data.  It's just a gamble, tho, as to whether those companies have enough coverage in the areas I go to to be able to get on the internet.  T Mobile has a great deal going, but will I get coverage at least in most places? Verizon is just as expensive as ATT  or even costlier.  It's just a bit outrageous, as far as I"m concerned, the amount of money these companies want. 

Anyway, I'm ending this one.  I want to look at phone plans and continue to look for a boat. 

Interesting day. Up early - 4:00, jolted out of deep sleep by the ridiculous phone alarm - annoying as all get out but that's the inten...