No Brakes, No Groceries – Grumpy!

Fontana, California

We’re at one of THOSE places! We can’t get out of the truck fast enough. Tuesday, the gods willing, we arrive in Seattle to start a two week visit to British Columbia – our spiritual home. To quote some famous person, the home where the people live, who have to take you in when you have nowhere else to go.

However, our road is long and arduous, punctuated by aggravating circumstances. Last night we dropped our load at LAX and I forgot to send in the Trip Complete message, no one phoned to let us know. I discovered it this morning. We decided the gods probably interfered because neither of us really wanted to head out again last night.

The loaded trailer we hooked this afternoon at the LAX terminal headed for Salt Lake City, Utah had been hooked by another driver, who was about to leave the gate when they turned him around, telling him he’d been given the wrong load.

When a trailer leaves a yard, the system assumes the driver has made a pre-trip inspection and approved the trailer condition. We didn’t take his pre-trip as the gold standard we did our own and discovered one brake without lining and two other suspect brakes. The company shop said to stop at the TA truck stop on the way out of Los Angeles to have the brakes checked to see if the trailer could make it to the Columbus terminal, it’s ultimate destination. We didn’t think so, the TA said no.

States, particularly California are broke, they need every penny they can get their hands on. We have no intention of donating to the cause by getting pulled over in a California Weigh Scale and letting a DoT officer do the brake inspection. Truckers are good targets for tickets, they almost never return to fight a ticket, it’s simply too expensive.

We pulled into the TA at 1645 ET. The mechanic says it needs brakes. He told us it would be a few minutes before being pulled into the shop and an hour to do a complete brake job. We were pulled into the shop at 1730. We returned at 1845 and they hadn’t started work. They were waiting for a change of shift. We inquire again and now we’re told a two hour wait to get into the shop, they are backed up since noon, and two hours for the brake job. No one mentioned anything about a backup. “We’ll get you in in a few minutes and get started” is not an indication of a four hour wait.

Did I ever mention that we don’t get paid to fix trailers! We just sit. It’s 1940. They have remove the rear tires.

Our plan, before we inspected the brakes at the terminal, was to fuel in Fontana and be in Hesperia by 1800, stop at the SuperTarget to buy four days of food. We are out of food.

We ate the last scraps on the way to the TA. Leftover tuna salad that I made for Greg’s sandwich yesterday on crackers, plus crackers with a dab of stone ground mustard, a thin slice of low-fat strong cheddar and a half a grape tomato. We have no fruit, no bananas, no applies, only one orange pepper. Our stores are depleted. We get cranky when we start relying on truck stop food.

When we thought it would take an hour to fix the brakes, we headed inside to the TA restaurant, the Fork in the Road. Last winter, February and March, TA and Petro truck stops had a promotion, fuel 1,000 gallons and receive a $50 restaurant gift certificate and fuel 2,000 gallons and get $100 card.

The real trick was to save two copies of every fuel receipt, fill out a special form and mail it in, without forgetting or losing one of the receipts, which Greg did, religiously for two months. Honestly, I wouldn’t have bothered, even for $200 of free meals.

The quality of TA meals are hit and miss. I had a GREAT hamburger at the Southington, Connecticut TA, a toasted sesame bun and real green lettuce, a giant slice of tomatoe and red onion, an excellent salad bar in New Braunfels, Texas and a pile of sweet, fragrant strawberries in Denver, Colorado.

Since we had an hour to kill, hahahaha, we thought we’d use more of the free meal card. TA, which last year was promoting its All You Can Eat blood and starch, meat and potatoes meals, is this year promoting a healthy option – 600 calorie meals. Still it’s a lot of food. We lent our support and ordered two, 600-calorie shrimp stirfrys.

First, we were impressed that the stirfry arrived on wild rice, not white rice – brown is best – I’m happy to see more sushi is turning up on brown rice – the wild rice was fluffy and steamed. Eight, good-sized shrimp were moist and tender not dry and overcooked. The vegetables, broccoli, red peppers and green onions were al dente. The only issue was the sauce – too salty. If I had to pick one evil in American cooking , it is salt. Too much damn salt in everything. I’m still licking my lips furiously as I write this and I had a 16 ounce glass of water with my meal. Our final analysis – pretty good try, cut the salt and we’d say really good try.

It’s almost 2000, we’re 40 minutes from the SuperTarget. If we can get out of here by 2100 and get to Target by 2200, I can drag my sorry ass out of the bunk and inside to rustle up some food, fruit, vegetables, yogurt, smoked salmon. The thought of three more days of truck stop sandwiches is too depressing.

All I can think about while I am driving is what I’m going to eat when I get to Vancouver. Are there any cherries left, the big juicy, bright red Bing cherries? Have the peaches come into season? I can feel the crunch into the smooth flesh and the juice running down my chin. Cherries and peaches are my favorite. How about the apricots? I want blueberries and raspberries. I want cucumbers, crisp and cold. Baby snap peas, will any be left? Green beans. Garlic. I want garlic in EVERYTHING I eat that’s cooked.

I’m dreaming about the Italian fresh pasta place on Granville Island, fresh linguine with their grilled zucchini and roasted red peppers, fresh parmesan cheese. I want halibut. I want a fresh fruit pie from somewhere, homemade crust. I will make a peach crisp.

Crab and black bean sauce, sushi with giant pieces of tuna and salmon and scallop. A piece of Flying Wedge pizza, their Hawaiian on multigrain crust, Canadian back back – ham! – and pineapple.

I’m finally going to Vij’s for dinner – Indian food. I want somosas from Little India. Noodles too! Oh and garlic in EVERYTHING. My mum’s beet relish and sauerkraut, burgundy beans from her garden, fresh perogies with farmer’s cheese made by hand, her hand!

We’ll be rolling back to the truck come August.

One thought on “No Brakes, No Groceries – Grumpy!

  1. Are there any food blogs for Truckers that outline healthy food choices on state roads? I don’t know if your professional peers are the right audience for this blog but I’m sure that info would be sought after. 🙂 Maybe Greg could build you a app that could be downloaded by truckers that offered food reviews on major driving routes- you should use a star rating!!


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