Six Days In Our Life

Kansas City, Missouri

The truck from Los Angeles is late. This is good news. Greg will get another hour asleep in the bunk.

We have been running hard. Maybe a new personal best for loads in one week  – eight. We drove 5,907 miles in 104 hours. Our next load is to Atlanta, Georgia.

There are a couple of games truck drivers play – where will I wake up tomorrow, will this load really go and what hole is that trailer in, which I will save for another day.

You’ll remember we started Turkey Week with 1,278 miles in the paid column, Columbus, Ohio to Denver, Colorado. We took a 34-hour restart at the Waldorf Astoria, the TA truck stop about two miles from the terminal near Northfield Mall, enjoying luxurious showers and FREE meals – paid for with points racked up as Platinum One TA customers. Hilton points, TA points, what can I say, we’re equal opportunity deal seekers.

During our restart dispatch first asked if we’d take a load to Miami, 2,027 miles away. Absolutment, downhill, warm temperatures, excellent money-saving fuel mileage. By Monday at 6PM (our restart ended Tuesday morning at 0500), the Miami load had disappeared. We were instead dispatched to Los Angeles, over, as I predicted, the dreaded Eisenhower and Vail passes. Snow was falling, the chain law was in effect. I went to sleep worried we’d be hanging the irons.

Dispatch called about 0300 – two hours before we could move the truck – load canceled. “That’s okay with me,” I told Greg when he woke me up an hour later. Instead, were told to pull an empty trailer, downhill, wind at our backs, 616 miles to Kansas City, Missouri and find a load there. The three hour drive through ice fog did not dampen my enthusiasm for this trip. No irons and I could stop at the Petro in Colby, Kansas, exit 53 on I-70 to indulge my holiday guilty pleasure, a Starbucks Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. I asked for half whipped cream, like that would save calories down.

Morning one, I woke up in Denver.

En route, dispatch asked if we’d take a load to Portland, 2,184 miles. Yes sir. Love those miles, a little worried about all the snow, but game. Two hours later, he called back to ask if “I’d rather have a load to Dallas.” Hell no. Why would he think that I would take a 513 mile load down one of the bumpiest roads in America, US 75 through Oklahoma and Texas over 2,184 miles to Oregon, even though we’d have to crawl down the treacherous Cabbage hill. “I need help on this one,” he said.  He promised not to forget me – they all say that – I said okay. (As it turned out the weather was worse than terrible, avoiding the Pacific Northwest was a lucky move.)

Morning two, I woke up in Dallas.

“We’re going to Atlanta,” Greg told me when I woke up just in time to hook the trailer and depart at 0500, an 807 mile load. Across Interstate 20, I saw the first mega accident of the trip. Westbound at Terrell, Texas a Volvo tractor and it’s 53-foot trailer in the median, in the ditch, in a V-shape, traffic, all lanes at a standstill.

Morning three, Thanksgiving Day, I woke up in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Greg had dropped the last load in Atlanta about 8 PM the night before, sat long enough to have a little dinner and at 11:30 took a load to 254 miles to Charlotte where another was loaded trailer was waiting bound for Dallas, 1,039 miles. He’d had some rain on the way up from Atlanta but the iPad showed cloudy and mostly dry weather on the westbound leg.

Driving to Dallas, I was waiting to hear about a load to Denver. We wanted to keep moving and dispatch said there was a rumor of one leftover load at the warehouse.

“If it exists, do you want it,” he said. Hell, yes. We want the miles, add 784 to this week. Before Greg arrived in Dallas, the load out was confirmed.

Morning four, I woke up in Chilicothe, Texas on US 287.

Except for two short, but torrential downpours in Mississippi we had missed all the Thanksgiving weather. The day dawned in Amarillo a brilliant orange against the black plains. The cotton had been picked since the last time we were through this route, the bales like giant dog houses sat in the fields.

We dropped the load in Denver at 4 PM Friday afternoon, expecting a load to Los Angeles, which again was canceled.

We parked at the Waldorf and headed in for showers, our first since Monday – in the winter, we seem to keep a little better. We headed over the Bar Louie at the mall for my salad on a pizza, surprisingly good vegetarian pizza with steamed broccoli that’s kept its crunch.

Morning five, I woke up in nine miles east of Colby, Kansas.

Once more, we were headed downhill to Kansas City, but too early for the Starbucks.

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