Had a miserable loading experience in Salinas. I had been given the wrong loading time and had to be shoehorned into the rotation. It took more than seven hours(!) and the personnel were a$$#@!@$. As an added bonus, my reefer unit was acting up. So as soon as I was loaded I drove half a mile to the Thermo King dealership.
Because I had traveled such a short distance at a speed of less than 25 miles an hour, even though I had driven a couple of miles, my QualComm had not registered any actual driving time. Plus, I went to “Off Duty – Break” status shortly after arriving at the dock, I was only a short tfew hours from having my 10 hour break completed and my 11 hour driving clock reset. So, after the TK technician replaced the alternator on my reefer, I just pulled out into the parking area in front of their building and crawled into the sleeper. It was 10:30 p.m.
After a few hours of sleep I woke up, scaled my load and got a coffee refill at the Pilot down the street and set out for Cedar Falls, Iowa. Since it was still quite dark, I was able to slip by San Francisco without experiencing any traffic problems. I was taken aback by the toll for the Congressman George Miller Benicia Martinez Memorial Bridge over the Carquinez Strait north of Oakland – TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS! But hey, wasn’t coming out of my pocket.
I passed through Sacramento with the predawn glow brightening in the east. The climb up into the Sierra Nevadas was a bit taxing on my Kenworth, but gloriously beautiful. I stopped at a rest area just short of Donner Pass to take a bio-break. The smell of the mountain forest was almost intoxicating. It took me back to the first time I visited the Black Hills – dry, fresh, piney goodness. Rejuvenated, I continued through Reno and fueled up at Loves in Fernley. I had swapped a load there in my second week with Dudley, my first trainer.
Towards the eastern side of Nevada I saw low grade mountains with snow near the top. I had already seen plenty of snow through Donner Pass and that was much higher. But this snow was shrouded in clouds.
Passing by the last of the casinos in Nevada I entered Utah at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Aptly named because IT. IS. FLAT.
The road across the salt flats is painfully straight. Evidently a lot of drivers fall asleep and run off the road (and sometimes die!) because there are signs every couple of miles warning you not to drive fatigued. I was too late to get a shot of it, but around one of these signs there were ruts running off the road into the muck just in front of the sign mirrored by ruts of the same vehicle (I would assume) that had been towed out of the muck on the other side of the sign. This driver was evidently too tired to read the sign.
I love driving through Wyoming. W I D E O P E N S P A C E S. I saw several herds of antelope. I got as far as Rawlins, Wyoming, before I ran out of hours.
The next day I continued on through Cheyenne, where I hit the literal high point of my trip – 8,200 feet. The skies were threatening as I entered Nebraska. Curiously, the most common animal I saw was turkey. Bet I saw a dozen flocks pecking in the broad ditches alongside the freeway. By the way, did you know that Benjamin Franklin lobbied to have the Turkey named the national bird instead of the Bald Eagle? He thought the eagle was as beautiful creature but was a scavenger as much as anything. He thought the turkey better represented the clever, effective, strong character of America.
About midway through my turkey spotting, traffic slowed and I noted that there were dozens of cars and trucks pulled off to the side of the road. Hmmm. No sign of a chain-reaction accident. A half mile down the road I saw the reason – hail. Evidently just short of the hail, which ranged to quarter- sized, these drivers experienced rain so torrential, they pulled over and stopped. I heard my trucker brethren on my CB cussing the wussy four-wheelers for slowing things down.
I made it as far as the Petro in York before I stopped for the night. A Super Walmart walking distance away and prime rib at the truck stop restaurant buffet made it a better than average stop. I always get a to-go box at these buffets. They charge anywhere from $4.50 to $6.00 per pound. Since I already had leftover veggies, I just got a small container of prime rib. It only cost $1.96! And the dude who was carving the meat cut it up for me!! Jackpot!!!
End cut. It was delicious.
I was able to sleep in the next morning since my drop in Cedar Falls wasn’t scheduled until 4:30 p.m. I almost slept in too long. My OptiStop (fuel stop) directed me to a Sapp Brothers station on the west side of Omaha. They were doing some construction at the station and while they had three lanes open, one was blocked by a truck that was sticking out of a service bay. It took more than 10 minutes to even get to a pump. Then, because Sapp Brothers is retro, I had to go inside to prepare to pump since they didn’t have that capability at the pump. So far, so mediocre. I ran into the real delay when I went back in to settle up. They couldn’t get my card to work. I wasted another 20 minutes waiting. Since I was going to grab a shower I suggested to the clerk that I do that while they sorted things out. No. They might need more information from me. Sigh.
I got them paid. Took a quick shower (below average). And put the pedal as close to the metal as I could. I got to the Target Distribution Center with barely a minute to spare. A short three and a half hours later I was unloaded and trying to beat the storms to a truck stop. This was the same day that Oklahoma City, rather Moore, got hammered with that Class 5 tornado. I knew weather was coming.
Knowing I wouldn’t get another load assignment until morning and knowing there was space available at a Flying J in Waterloo a dozen miles to the east, I hit the road. A mile down US 20 I got a message. I pulled over and retrieved the load assignment that would take me to a Swift Meat plant in Marshalltown for a load that would take me to Atlanta. The pickup was in the opposite direction so I made a cloverleaf U-turn and headed back to the west. I knew of a truck stop about 12 miles back.
The darkening skies were continually lit up with streaks of lightening. The wind gusted with increasing velocity. By the time I pulled into the truck stop, the rain was blowing horizontal. Anything that wasn’t lashed down at the station was blowing across the lot. This included signs and trash receptacles. There were no regular parking slots left so I pulled up to a curb and made a call to the shipper. He indicated the storm was just hitting them an hour to the south so we agreed that I would not make that drive until morning. Good thing. Two-lane roads most of the way. It would NOT have been fun drive.
The wind rocked me to sleep. It was a pretty full day.