Four Salmon, Six Shocks and Socks

Auburn, Washington

Two days ago I was sipping a homemade latte, enjoying the downtown Vancouver skyline. Today I’m looking at a water filled ditch.

We returned to Seattle Monday night after a week tour through British Columbia to visit family and friends.

We were treated to home cooked, hot meals served on real plates with real cutlery at every stop. We enjoyed the best treat BC has to offer.

My mother, a minimalist cook, no sauces or condiments, only a sprinkling of sea salt and fresh ground pepper, she lets the food speak for itself, dug deep into her freezer and landed a whole sockeye salmon, vegetables fresh/frozen from her garden and sauerkraut made the old fashioned way, in a crock, fermented over six weeks with salt. In Vernon we enjoyed another whole salmon, baked with sundried tomato, linguini and a mesclun green salad with balsamic dressing. Into Metro Vancouver for baked salmon topped with orange ginger sauce, lightly sauteed snow peas and quinoa. A final salmon dinner, soy ginger steaks with mushroom ravioli. All fabulous. All much appreciated. There’s no wild BC-caught salmon on the truck stop menus and no baking in my truck, not yet, not until we get a big house.

We saw a little Canadian winter when we drove the Coquihalla, the worst weather conditions we’ve seen in three years – darn trucks were slipping and sliding south of Merritt, blocking up the mountain pass when they were forced to stop and throw chains. We slipped between a flatbed loaded with lumber and a tour bus after sitting for a half hour on the highway, the snow piling up before our eyes.

Now in Seattle – I just realized that I don’t have a clue what day it is, maybe it’s Wednesday, but looking at the calendar doesn’t even help – been here since Monday night at 2000 ET. Okay, it’s Wednesday we’ve been here two nights.

Our load to LA was cancelled three hours after it was assigned. While we were happy to sit two nights – we watched a movie, enjoyed meals warmed in the microwave, I’m done. I’m prepared to eat cold sandwiches. I want money. Let’s go. South is good, but we are equipped to go anywhere.

We took advantage of yesterday’s down time – we had to or we wouldn’t have been able to open the fridge door – we had new shocks installed, not the $160-an-axle-shock-and-installation-combined TA package. Nooooooooo, not for my MacGyver. Ordered from California, our six-shocks-for-$1,748 variety of shocks arrived while we were in BC. RoadKing! The box weighed 62 pounds. They are silver and teal blue, a fashion statement, they sort of look like the fancy titanium legs that we’re seeing. Thick cylinder and a metal stick.

While I make a joke about the shocks, I resisted little when Greg settled on these shocks. We believe in good tools. We realize that not every “tool” needs to be top of the line, but we sleep in a moving truck. The roads, despite the amount of resurfacing in the past two years are still terrible, it is an investment. They also have a lifetime use because the shocks are rebuilt when the absorption wears off.

Turns out our shocks were bad, well not bad, but seriously used up. We’re at the 400,000 mile mark on the engine. The old shocks look like those kaleidoscope tubes, or bike pump tubes. One tube inside another tube. The shock that came off the driver side of the steer axle – the same place where the steer axle airbag popped a few weeks ago in Dallas, probably because the shock was virtually gone – had no spring. Greg pumped the two cylinders like they were cardboard.

Five shocks two hours, last shock two hours. Of course, it never fails, Murphy’s law 837. When the price tag is $98 an hour at the shop and when everything moves very quickly the last step will be hell. Vince, the mechanic, was forced to cut the shock off of the truck, it took an hour, sparks flying.

If degree of installation difficulty is a criteria for shocks – and we were warned by other owner operators – these are number 1. The mechanic told us he wasn’t strong enough to install the shocks, he needed another set of muscles. The two mechanics rigged a pulley-like system with a rope. The shocks have to be compressed to be installed. Vince is under the truck, pulling down on the rope and the second mechanic is standing over him pushing down on the the shock to get enough pressure for compression. Four hundred and thirty-six dollars including tax.

Next stop, Robblee’s for the AutoSock. Sometimes I wonder about America. Is this really a Capitalist nation? Are people really interested in making money?

We ordered AutoSocks in August – trying to be on top of things, since I-70 through Colorado requires big trucks carry chains from September 1 to May 31 – we’re still waiting.  

We’re expecting huge snow this winter. We expect to hang irons, except we don’t want to hang irons, we want something easier (Greg’s ultimate easier solution is to install automatic chains, which operate at a flick of the switch in the cab, but that’s $5,000 so it’s still under discussion).

The Norwegians came up with the AutoSock – apparently inspired by Henry Ford’s wife and is machine washable – which looks like a fabric hairnet. Wrap it over the drive tires and we’re good to go. I can do it.

Colorado, the Snow King state, tested it two years ago and gave the AutoSock the thumbs up. Each pair costs $175. We bought two pair, which means we will only have to cable up the remaining four tires and Calfornia requires a drag chain on a rear trailer tire. If confronted with a full-California chain up, I think we might just park.

We checked in September and were told the AutoSock would be shipped in November. We checked in November and were told December.

While the shocks were being installed Greg called the company to check again on the shipping date. He asked if he could buy them elsewhere, maybe Seattle? He was told that there are only two retail locations in the US in Denver, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah.

My research expert thought that ridiculous. Tapping in Google, he found a Tukwila, Washington location within minutes, 15 miles away.

They look pretty cool. They are easy to handle. Fold the hairnet over the top half of the drive tires, move the truck forward a couple of inches and fold it over the remaining tire.

We’re ready, but I’m not dying to test them.

 

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