Nothing to do with Trucking!

This weekend we had an amazing vacation in New Orleans. Not everyone was able to go. Craig, Me, Aleena, Tyler and Scarlett were able to go. My mother was visiting her sister in New Orleans. I was thinking what a great opportunity for her to meet her Great Granddaughter. Shelby was gracious enough to let us take Scarlett which I know wasn’t easy. This was the first time she has spent any time away from her. We drove down in the middle of the night to make it easier on Scarlett. Made it a little rough on us but was worth it. Traveling in a car is so much harder than in the truck.

Let me tell you what a blast we had. Scarlett was a total doll on this trip. We stayed downtown. We got to see a lot of family. Great Grandmother, Great Great Aunt and Uncle, Great Uncle and a bunch of cousins. We ate a lot of great food. We saw a bunch of parades and have a suitcase full of beads and some amazing memories.

One of my college friends and her family were in town and we were lucky enough to spend some time together. We rode the trolley up to some old haunts of ours. Seriously some good food and good drinks.

I love the memories I have of this weekend. How special it was and how much fun we had. I love New Orleans!!!

Jackson Square

Scarlett with a beignets from Cafe du Monde

Scarlett’s First Parade

Chris Owens Easter Parade

Camellia Grill

Pat O’Briens Hurricanes are awesome.

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Ahhh NYC….. You Kill Me

So, we were home and I was working on a new project (more about that in another post) and a load popped up on the board offering $5 a mile to Queens New York. We hate driving in New York and the tolls are crazy expensive but it turns out that for five dollars a mile we will go just about anywhere. It helps that I was shameless and got an additional $300 when I negotiated the load. So that extra would pay the tolls. It was, of course, a team load and they needed the product the next morning at 10am. We crossed the George Washington bridge and dropped down into Queens. About 4 1/2 miles on surface streets to get to the location. I park in the middle of the street and go to the store entrance……LOCKED! There is a sign on the door.

“Closed in observance of Good Friday”

Ok, but Good Friday was last week.

Call the broker and he says he would figure out what we should do and call back. Cut to four hours later. We have been parked in the middle of the street the whole time. Broker, who has obviously never driven a truck OR been to NYC says “just go find someplace to park” HAHAHAHA.

WE have a load picking up before 6pm 100 miles away. At first we thought we had all kinds of time but we are now we are panicking. Sitting in a New Jersey truck stop all weekend is not in the plan. The broker asks how much we would charge to sit and make the delivery on Monday and I tell him. $5000. That is what I am losing if I can’t take my load to Phoenix. It turns out it is Greek Orthodox Good Friday so that mystery is explained. At just before 3pm, we get a message to deliver the load in New Jersey. Back across the GW bridge. Only 25 miles but it takes about 2 hours. Get there and this place does not have a loading dock and the 2700 pound pallets of expensive tile we are carrying are on custom made pallets that a pallet jack cannot lift. They have to get a long chain and drag each one to the back of the trailer.

If you can do basic math you can see we are not making our 6pm pickup. Anne is constantly talking to the next broker and he is talking to the shipper. They agree to stay late on a Friday to get us loaded. We finally get to the next load at 7:15pm and they quickly load us and we are off to Phoenix.

Just outside of Flagstaff the dreaded Stop Engine light goes off. We are losing coolant but can’t find a leak. We top it off And pretty much coast the 180 miles downhill to Phoenix. We made it. I thought I knew what was broken but I was wrong. It was a stupid little custom built, Volvo only hose. If we had found the leak it would have saved us a bunch of time and money later.

We then took a couple of days off to pay with friends and a new baby.

The broken part was this.

A $25 part that we could only get at Volvo. We finally broke down in New Mexico and got towed to El Paso. It took me less than 45 seconds to replace it.

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Crazy Lucky

We had decided not to commit to a dedicated run for Christmas this year because the normal spot market rates had jumped through the roof and the contract rates had not gone up enough.   

That plan lasted a whole week. 

We had made a delivery in Auburn WA and had booked a good paying load from Portland OR to Los Angeles and then a great paying load from LA to Dallas.  We drove 160 miles empty to Portland and got loaded about 1 PM.  When they brought the BOL, they brought TWO BOL’s.  I asked what the extra bill was for and they said “For the second stop”.  Uhhhh nope.  They had loaded the wrong load on us.   They then unloaded the trailer and then said our load would not be ready for at least 5 or 6 hours.   That did not work, we would not be able to make our pick up to Dallas which would ruin our whole weekend.   Anne jumped on the computer to try to find us a replacement load to LA.  She called on a load to Santa Barbara and it turned out to be a contract mail run for Christmas.  It was also a large broker we have worked for a lot and they were excited Anne had called.   The load did not pick up until 3 AM so Anne said “no, that would not help us and you are not paying enough”  This is a very condensed version of how the 20 minute conversation went.

Broker: “what if I paid you $3 a mile” 

Anne: “then I would be stuck in SB”

B: “what if I made it round trip”

A: “then we would be stuck in Portland”

B: “what if I just kept you going round trip”

A: “now we are interested”

The problem is that we were quite a ways above the contact market rate and so they were looking to replace us and we knew it.   We made three runs and they did not have us on a fourth and said they were looking for a load for us.  A couple of hours later with no response other than that they would understand if we found something else, we started calling on other loads.  We found another broker with mail loads from Portland to Anaheim.  The rate was not quite as good but still great and very steady.  1004 miles each way picking up at 4AM and delivering at 3AM with no break and no dead head.  The only downside was a trip a day over Siskiyou Pass on the Oregon-California border.  The weather can get very nasty over that pass.  

This is where the “crazy lucky” part happened.  We have made 16 trips over the pass with clear weather for the most part and a little rain a couple of nights.  Here is a picture from a couple of nights ago. 

This morning in the warm sunshine, on our last trip South before we head home for Christmas, we get this notice….

We deliver in Anaheim tonight and pick up a mail run to Cincinnati and then home by noon on the 21st.  I have tickets to see the new Star Wars movie that afternoon at 4.  Then a hot buttered rum and Christmas music while we decorate the tree and play with the grandkids.  Looking forward to lots of family and 5 weeks off.

Merry Christmas everyone. 

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The Grind

Holy crap are we tired.   We are running Christmas loads for the postal service. Round trip from Portland OR to Anaheim CA. and it is getting old.  On our last round trip before we head East from Los Angeles to go home for Christmas and a month off.  Kinda funny because we are not actually working any harder than we did as company drivers back in the day but we are not used to it anymore.  We keep looking at each other saying “screw it, let’s just go home” but the money is just too good to pass up.   

We will be home on the 21st about noon and I have tickets to see Star Wars that afternoon at 4pm.  We did take a day off last week to drive up to Snohomish Washington to see my parents.  Awesome visit but we took 24 hours off and had to drive for 7 hours of it.  

Thanks to Amazon, all the Christmas shopping is done and we put up the Christmas decorations before we left.  Just going to put on some Christmas music, make a couple of hot buttered rums and trim the tree.   

Oh, and hang out with all the grandkids.   Life is pretty wonderful.   

Speaking of “It’s a Wonderful Life” I also need to watch “Die Hard” because it is not Christmas until Hans Gruber falls off Nakatomi Plaza.

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We were blessed to have most of the children in town and all the grandchildren. We got to spend quality time with all and took some amazing photos. Ty in the Sky took some beautiful photos on the walking bridge with his drone. Pretty perfect weekend. Great food and lots of football. Perfect weather and now its time to head back to work.

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Running old school

I have to say I am exhausted. Craig and I have been running old school after a $$$$$$ repair on our truck. The good news is the truck is running well and we have been moving constantly. I forgot how hard trucking can be. When we were company drivers we would go out for weeks and weeks. Never really thought about it but being an owner operator you are spoiled. You run where and when you want. We have been blessed because we have been doing round trip loads out of Chattanooga. Run a few days and then home for a couple days. But running old school we are following the high paying loads and being a team definitely helps.

I say we run constantly but even saying that we have stopped and had lunch with my mother and Craig’s father.  Tonight we are spending the night with Craig’s parents since we had to drop our trailer and it won’t be ready till tomorrow.  Today we arrived at the parents house and they weren’t home yet. We did laundry and took showers. Then we both passed out for a few hours.  I couldn’t keep my eyes open. The good news is we are going home next week for a long weekend. I am going to enjoy our time off for sure.

Rates have been amazing the past couple weeks so I’m enjoying booking our loads since we can be picky about where we go and how much we will accept for a load. I’ve had brokers say I was asking for too much and then had them call me back to see if my truck was still available. We know what we are worth and won’t accept cheap loads.

We did have a first this week. We have never have had a driver assist. What that means is the driver assists with loading or unloading the trailer. We picked up a load of dry ice heading to Amazon. When we got there they told us they were unable to enter our trailer and we would have to unload it onto the dock. Have no idea why. We had 17 bins that weighed 2200 lbs a piece. I was sitting in the truck when Craig called me and wasn’t sure he was able to do it alone. He had done 6 by himself with a pallet jack. NOT FUN. I went in to help and we were able to get them all off. The trailer slanted slightly uphill which was why it was so brutal. It was a good work out and way easier with two people.

We have driven 13,500 miles since we have come out. No wonder I am so tired LOL

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Starry Starry Night… 

Taking along your own professional photographer does have its perks. Our son Tyler (TyInTheSky.com) rode with us to visit family in Washington and took this picture a couple of nights ago on the Montana – Wyoming state line. Pretty damn cool. 

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