Professional Paid Tourists

West Memphis, Arkansas

We’re on our way to Decherd, Tennessee. We’re one load away from South Kearny, New Jersey for our four days of Time at Home. We’ve been on the road 21-days.

It’s been quite the ride, literally. I’ve been driving over 400 miles a day, the longest day was 461 miles.

Sitting in one of these trucks is nothing like driving a car for eight hours. The seats are like office chairs with air ride suspension and air adjustments, three for the back including lower, mid and upper back support. The seat absorbs the shock of the bumps in the road rocking forward and backward and side-to-side.

Let me back up a few loads, the one that has up most amused is the toilet paper. We picked up 44,000 pounds of two and four-ply toilet paper in Crossett, Arkansas bound for the Wal-Mart distribution center in Reno, Nevada, 1,942 miles away.

We high-fived each other when the Qualcomm beeped us – the longest yet. We drove across Texas and New Mexico. I love New Mexico, unbelievable blue sky against red rock cliffs. Nevada was like driving a moonscape, just the name Amaragosa Desert sends chills up my spine.

The roads were largely empty, 65 miles an hour – we’re not paying for the diesel. Brilliant blue skies, gusty winds.

We can’t believe that the only way to get toilet paper to Nevada is to truck it from Arkansas. Toilet paper should cost way more than it does. How much toilet paper is a 53-foot trailer full? Enough for all of Nevada for a day, for Reno for a week, a month?

We dropped the load and headed east 80 miles to Lovelock, Nevada, where we picked up 44,000 pounds of Diamataceous earth – had to sign a scary lawyer-release and put on breathing apparatus before we could go into the plant to hook the trailer.

What the heck is diamataceous earth and how do you spell it? When we get some down time I’ll Google it. We pulled that to Laredo and in Laredo picked up 15,000 pounds of empty reusable containers bound for Tennessee.

This week also gave us a taste of what I think we’re going to love about this adventure.

Can’t remember off the top of my head but we also dropped a load of crates in Horicon, Wisconsin – another wide-open, four-lane road with hardly any traffic. While we were bobtailing – tractor, no trailer – to our next load we stopped at this cool restaurant called Tabberts with a big parking lot. The server told us it’s a 20-year-old family business. The restaurant has that worn, rumpus-room look, dark wood paneling in the interior, giant stuffed fish on the wall and 1980s kitchen tables.

We had real food. Fresh bacon, thick slices, French toast made of three-inch thick homemade bread and a piece of to-die-for apple pie. The crust would make Martha jealous.

A few days later, on our way to Laredo, we passed through a little town called Marfa, Texas and parked the rig in an empty lot next to a grocery store.

We had never heard of Marfa, Texas until a few months ago, two of our friends told us that their dream was to leave the hustle of New York City and settle there. We visited Alice’s Cafe for the freshest breakfast burrito, moist, fluffy eggs, I’ve ever had at $3.50 each.

We know we have to get up to 1,000 miles a day pretty quick to make us a productive team in Schneider’s eyes, but I’m sure in the next three months we will get efficient enough with all the parts of truck driving, dropping and hooking trailers and the paper work that we can stop for dinner or lunch when we see cool little places.

We’re also picking up our folding Brompton bikes from home. There were several places in Wisconsin, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada that we could have parked in a truck stop for a few hours and ridden our bikes.

My driving is improving. Three weeks ago, on the Interstate if the vehicle in front of me was doing 55, I did 55. Today I was flying along the Interstate at 65 passing other Big Trucks and cars. I LOVE driving on the Interstate – the view from the second floor is fantastic.

Slow manoeuvring is the most difficult. I had a bad incident with an exit ramp in Fernley, Nevada. No damage, but I didn’t pull the trailer tires over far enough on this tight exit ramp, I looked in the side view mirror and watched the back of the trailer come straight down the grass side of the ramp onto the curb. Eeewww!

When we finished training, they told us that the accidents newbies have in the first three months are knocking over signs, up on curbs, etc. Greg keeps saying that this is a difficult vehicle to drive and it takes time to learn, in the meantime, let’s try and not hit any stuff (shit).

We’re taking it easy, concentrating on being safe. The group business leader, our inside contact person – told me last week that we’re doing an “outstanding job.” Once we get our miles up, I don’t think they will have any problem with us.

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