Hold still Zazu

Driving through the Columbia River Gorge and I am ecstatic. There are tons of baby birds. I mean tons of them. All different kinds. Then I notice a big bird swooping down. OH MY GOD it’s an eagle. I never get to see them and am super excited. Until I notice he is hunting the baby birds. Craig is laughing at me because I am so outraged. Circle of life I know but so sad. I saw 3 more eagles and they all were “eating” something. Still super cool but I am definitely a city girl LOL

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Let’s assume the best of each other….

I have noticed in the past month how many people have absolutely no grace. What happened to common courtesy. What about being nice to your neighbor. Not mocking people. Not making fun of the way someone looks, talks or acts.  Believing in people. It really is sad.

Last week I noticed on Facebook a large woman had fallen out of her wheelchair while shopping. Someone stood behind her and took a picture. Posted it to Facebook. Ridiculing her and walked away. What about common decency? Make sure she wasn’t hurt. Help her up. Make sure she was ok. But no. You take a sensational picture. Post it and walk away.

There are so many examples of this sort of attitude lately. Posting a picture on social media making fun of someone. Whether they are fat, skinny, tall, short. The way they wear there hair or don’t have hair. It doesn’t seem to matter. No one seems to care about being kind. Being generous. Being graceful. It seems to be getting worse. The ugliness in this country makes me sad. You can’t have an opinion without someone ridiculing you for your stand. Don’t even bring up who you voted for. God forbid you are a Trump supporter. It comes at you from every angle. I love this country and am proud to be an American. I was raised to respect Police Officers. I respect the President. I respect my elders. What a concept.

Let’s assume the best of each other. How about we start with that. Assume the best instead of the worst and I bet we will all be pleasantly surprised.

 

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First Time For Everything 

Forgot to post about this. 

Back in November we were running a high value load from Los Angeles to Memphis.  Delivery was scheduled for 8 AM.  We got to the receiver about 1 AM.  The locked gate to the loading docks was off a cul-de-sac on a quiet dead end road in an industrial area.  We parked on the side of the road and went to sleep.  I woke up at 2:30 AM because there was a truck that needed to swing wide to get into a building across the street.  So I started the engine and moved the truck forward about 100 feet and went back to sleep.  Got up at 7 and drove to the gate which was now open.  Parked and went in to get security to cut our bolt seal.  When the two of us walked around the back of the trailer we found the seal gone and the door only partially latched.  Opened the door and a number of the pallets in back had been torn open.   

We had been robbed! 

The only time we had stopped on this run other than for fuel was parking on the road at the receiver.  While we waited for the police Anne and the head of security walked back out to the road and found the seal on the ground where the trailer had been when we first parked.  So we know the break in happened between 1 AM and 2:30 AM. 

Here is where it gets funny though.  Although we were hauling all kinds of computer hardware and software the pallets at the back were  Microsoft Windows 8.1 disks that were scheduled for shredding.   Completely worthless and that is all they got.  About 10 cases worth .

We never heard or felt a thing even though I was the windows cracked open  The police officer said he gets three calls a week for the same thing in the neighborhood.  

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2016 At Least Ended Well

OK, a lot has happened since my last post.  We ran some really cool loads and had some great experiences.  First, we went to “Desert Trip” which was definitely the concert event of the century.  The festival was at the the Polo Grounds in Indio California.  The same place they hold The Coachella Festival.  Hence, Desert Trip was nicknamed “OldChella”. The artists were Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Roger Waters and The Who.  What an amazing three days.  We stayed with Shannon, one of my favorite people on the planet who lives less than a couple of miles from the Polo Grounds.  Our son Tyler also came up to join us on Saturday night and Sunday.

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I mentioned some cool loads.  One was for the CDC (Centers for Disease Control)  It was weird, all hush hush and with very high security.  We picked up at this obscure high security warehouse near Atlanta and drove to Cheyenne WY were we had to rendezvous with the US Marshalls at 6 am.They met us with two SUV’s and four Wyoming State Patrol cars and escorted us to a secure facility (we still did not know what was going on or what we hauling)  We arrive at a fenced in facility with Humvees and armed military on patrol.  We pull up to a blocked gate and hand our ID’s to the guard.  He has the humvee moved out of the way and has the gate opened and we pull in and around the building.  We pass the Homeland Security Command Center and there are police and military everywhere.  They have us back into a loading dock and an Air Force MP finally tells us what is going on.  It is an “Epidemic Event” practice run.  If there was a zombie apocalypse, we were hauling the antidote.  So we drop our trailer and they tell us to come back in couple of days to haul everything back to Atlanta.  We drove down to Fort Collins and spent two days with our youngest son and his wife.  A great time.

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Waiting for the Zombie Apocalypse

Another cool load we had was a load of very high end server racks for a Microsoft Data Center.  Cross-Country load that paid very well but was a little scary due to the value.

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Does this LOOK like Fifteen Million Dollars to you?

And then we had another load that was just shelving systems for the Navy.  What was cool was where we delivered to.  Whidbey Island Naval Air Station….out on the flightline.

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P-3 Orions’ Anti Submarine Patrol Aircraft

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F/A 18 Growler getting ready for flight

We also got to spend a lot of time at home with the kids and grandkids, we also got the chance to see a couple of our favorite humans.  My nephew Evan who just started college at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix and my “neice” (really my best friends daughter…but she is family) Lauren who we stopped to see for breakfast in Abilene TX where she is in college.

Now it was time to actually get some work done.  As we approached Thanksgiving we started to look for something similar to the Amazon Gig we ran last Christmas.  It kept us running and set us up for a slow 1st quarter.  Pickings were pretty slim.  We did get a call from a broker who wanted us to run UPS loads and we agreed to do it. Money was not bad and they were paying tolls.  Basically the down time was killing us, we would run a round trip to Chicago or Philadelphia and then we would sit waiting for them to find us our next load.  Horribly disorganized.  After about two weeks we were losing patience and we got a call from a broker we have worked with before and liked a lot.  They had a number of Postal Service runs out of Tampa Florida that they had to cover right away.  They gave us a couple of options and we chose to do the round trip from Tampa to Austin TX.  It would start in 3 days.  They were getting the paperwork done and called us back, could we head out today to pick up in Tampa tomorrow morning very early to Kansas City.  HECK YEAH!  They paid us to drive the 600 miles empty to Tampa and we got moving.  They also needed more teams so we called all our friends teaming at F2F.  All four teams jumped on it.  We would pick up and deliver about 24 hours later in KC then re-load and head back to Tampa to deliver the next morning, then have about 20 hours off and start the loop again.  Ken and Kathi were doing the Austin run with the same schedule as us so we got to spend some awesome time together on the days off.  Any excuse for beach time in December.

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Then home on the 21st for Christmas with the family.  Even with totaling a truck and all the down time we will remember 2016 as a great year.  Looking forward to what 2017 has in store for us.

 

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Two Months? 

What the heck is wrong with me?  We have been having a great summer.  Been out for about a month and heading home now.  Anne is driving as I write this and we will be switching in a few minutes.   We are currently in Eastern Oklahoma on a run from Los Angeles to Athens TN.   That is about 50 miles from Chattanooga  so we should be home by noon.  

I will actually post a big update tomorrow as I have a ton of pictures to include.   I may break it up into a couple of posts as we have been doing some cool stuff. 

That is professional trucking right there 

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Dog Days of Summer

We have actually been working for the last few weeks.  Lots of play days mixed in of course.  A few weeks ago we had a load to Colorado that just happened to deliver on the same weekend as the Colorado Brewers Festival in Fort Collins.  So my son and I did the festival while the girls got mani/pedis.  Had an awesome time, found some great new beers and ran into Ron Golnick, and old friend and great guy.

With CJ and Ron

With CJ and Ron

We did something we have talked about for five years.  When Ken Griffey Jr retired from baseball I said I wanted to be in Cooperstown NY to watch his Hall of Fame induction.  You are not eligible to be voted in until you have been retired for five years.  Knowing he would be a first ballot inductee made it a little easier to plan.   Kind of funny, with the new truck and bad rates this year, I kept trying to back out of this trip but Anne would not let me.  She kept saying “you have talked about this for years, we are going”  We booked a really good load to Rhode Island and then grabbed a load from there to Buffalo NY to meet up with my Mom, sister and her boys.  There is no truck parking in Buffalo but we found a hotel near Niagara Falls with truck parking.  Let’s just say we were NOT staying at the Ritz.  We grabbed a rental car and headed to the Falls,  I expected to be a bit jaded by Niagara Falls but it was actually pretty awesome.

The Falls

The Falls

Anne is NOT happy with the wind

Anne is NOT happy with the wind

Tim Hortons....liquid crack

Tim Hortons….liquid crack

So Mom and Leigh got into town about 5PM and Leigh’s boys wanted dinner at the Hard Rock.  Not my kinda place, so we picked Mom up and went to dinner at a cool little GastroPub and then met Leigh and the boys back at their hotel.  They were staying right next to the Falls.  So we went walking around and Pokeman hunting with the boys. Mom lost her seat so she ended up making some new friends ….lol

Mom and her new Poke-buddies

Mom and her new Poke-buddies

The next morning (Friday) we headed to Cooperstown.  Checked into the hotel and my brother and his three boys got in so it was time for a pool party.  Saturday was lots of swimming then heading into town for the Parade of Legends.  Cooperstown is pretty freaking amazing.  Sunday was the actual induction and it was HOT.  Parking is a mess with 50,000 people crowding into a little town with 10,000 residents. They have a trolly that brings you into town for outside parking lots and then you get on another bus to take you to the big field where they hold the ceremony.  It really was a once in a lifetime experience to be there.  Watching Ken Griffey Jr’s career from day one was such a privilege and to be there for his HOF induction was pretty special.  My wife rocks for holding firm on this.  Then there was the absolute nightmare of 50,000 people trying to leave the field all at once.  Instead of waiting for a bus, we decided to walk into town to the trolley.  A very hot walk and we got into line for the trolley with about 80 people in front of us in line.  Then the buses started arriving and the line behind us just got stupid.  It took us an hour and forty five minutes to get on a trolley, I have no idea what time the people behind us got out of there.  We stopped at a very cool brewery for dinner that was wonderful.  Just a perfect week and then weekend.

I kinda love this girl

I kinda love this girl

The after the ceremony prize

The after the ceremony prize

So freaking hot, but worth it

So freaking hot, but worth it

Ready for the induction

Ready for the induction

The Kid

The Kid

At the Baseball Hall of Fame

At the Baseball Hall of Fame

We are ready for the big day

We are ready for the big day

Scarlett and Papa getting ready to watch the Mariner game

Scarlett and Papa getting ready to watch the Mariner game

 

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Our New Money Pit

Let’s hope it is nothing like the last truck when it comes to the bottomless hole we threw money into.  But two trips equals two repairs so far.  This one was a little painful, however.  We ran a load to Dallas and then found a team load to Seattle that delivered on early Sunday morning so we had a wonderful 24 hours at my parents home.  I got to see two of my sisters also.  We then found a team load heading to Minnesota.  Thief River Falls MN is a LONG way from anywhere but the drive was very pretty.  We then found a load to Berea KY.  We stopped for fuel after we picked up the load and the headlights were on even though the switch was off.  It turns out our high beams, brake lights, turn signals and upper running lights are not working.  We call the local Volvo Dealer and they cannot get us in for days.  He recommends the local truck so we go there and the mechanics are awesome and check everything they can but it seems to be the light control module which is a Volvo part and can only be replaced by Volvo.  Since we are under a load (and really want to get home) we decide to drive.  Just keeping lots of space around us and driving slow so nobody stays behind us.  We make the delivery and get home, drop the truck at Volvo and hang out with the kids and grand kids in the pool for a couple of days   We had an awesome Fathers Day and Volvo did not order the part in time on Friday so the truck was not fixed until Tuesday.  They found a couple more things wrong and only $2,300 later we are ready to roll.  Picking up a load to Michigan this afternoon and hope to be out for two weeks.  Our son Tyler has been home with us since the wedding and that has been wonderful but he is heading back to California Friday so saying goodbye kinda sucks.  Working on getting him to move to Chattanooga and hoping that is actually going to happen.

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Fathers Day was VERY Successful

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Tyler having a hard day

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Grandma and Scarlett

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It is a rough life

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Go Mariners!

scarlett and ed

Scarlett and her guard dog Ed!

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Our New(er) Volvo

OK, so Ed is doing very well.  Now lets talk about replacing our truck.  After all the waiting on the insurance company we finally got the check and I could get serious about buying a damn truck.  I had found a really nice 2013 Volvo 780 in Memphis that I had actually driven and loved but the dealer had crazy financing that I would not accept.  I had a salesperson from a Kenworth Dealer in Gainesville Georgia calling me and emailing me about a number of trucks and although we had not met, I really liked the guy.  They had a 2011 Volvo 780 That had everything I was looking for except the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit, or generator) that was within my mileage target of 400,000 to 550,000 miles and the price was right.  So Anne and I drove down to test drive it.  It was gorgeous and Anne loved it right away.  Our must haves on a new truck were the mileage, price, APU, built in 12 volt refrigerator and an I-Shift (Automatic) transmission.   The reason I really wanted an APU was it drastically reduces idling since it powers sleeper heaters and air conditioning.  I firmly believe that idling in the newer trucks causes a ton of problems with the emission systems.  Although this Volvo did not have an APU on it, everything else about it was right and Hector, the salesman, talked me into the three hour drive.  While inspecting the truck I discovered that the truck used to have an APU and the previous owner had removed it before trading it in.  This pretty much assuaged all of my fears about this truck and the test drive was awesome.  We filled out the financing paperwork and drove home.  All of this pretty much happened in the middle of Anne’s last blog post about Ed so the timing is a little off here.  Early in the week we came to terms on the financing and price and we drove back down and bought the truck.  I got it home and took it to our mechanic for a couple of small things, then it was time to get to Fort Collins.
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I flew back to Colorado for CJ’s Graduation from Colorado State University.  It really sucked that Anne had to stay home with Ed but t was so cool to spend time with my boy and his amazing fiance, Elizabeth.  So excited to see these two get married on June 4th.  They have actually been together a month longer than Anne and I and I really love their relationship, who they are together and who they are apart.  It is a great privileged to witness a relationship like this with your own kids.
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After a great weekend I flew home and after doing all the work to get the title transfered and the paperwork completed with Farm2Fleet I was ready to head off on the maiden voyage with our new truck  on Thursday morning all I was waiting for was the cab card (tax authority for interstate trucking) which I was told I would have this morning.  So I jumped on the computer to book some solo loads since Ed still could not travel.  I had a great couple of hours and booked a load to Pittsburgh PA for that day and that delivered Friday morning, next load from Pittsburgh to Kansas City MO that would run me over the weekend and a load from the caves in Independence MO back to Knoxville TN that delivered on Wednesday.  A good solid week long loop for pretty good money.  Got all of my refer and frozen food packed up and was literally walking out the door when I got an email saying that my title was screwed up and I could not get my cab card.  There was no way to fix this in time as I had 2 1/2 hours to make my first pickup 60 miles away.  Fortunately for everyone involved, we had one of our newer partners at the office here in Chattanooga picking up a new trailer.  He had just gotten back into his truck and was starting to look for a load.  I called him and said “Bob, how would you like a weeks worth of loads?”  The first broker was VERY thankful as he had no time to find another truck for his biggest customer.

So……..it seems Anne and I had another weekend off while the paperwork got fixed.  The Seattle Mariners were playing in Cincinnati and although not really excited about the 5 1/2 hour drive, I was able to convince Anne it was a great idea when she found out is was Ken Griffey Jr dual bobblehead day.   Great America Ballpark was one of the 8 MLB ballparks I had not been to so that number is now down to 7.  We had a wonderful lunch on the waterfront with one of Anne’s best friends from college and her adorable little daughter.  We then walked across the street and watched an awesome Mariners win.  LOOOOOONG drive back home.  We have decided the Mercedes is a wonderful car for up to three hours but you cannot recline the seats.  For this reason, we have decided to take our Sebring convertible to Florida for the wedding next week.

We got home and got a call Tuesday morning that we had a temporary cab card.  I quickly booked a load to Rhode Island that we could deliver on Wednesday which would allow us to work our way back home before the holiday weekend.  Ed was good to go so this was the first time we had all been in the truck since the accident.  It felt really good to be making money again until…………

Well, it would not be a new Team Leonard Truck if it did not break down on the first run.  It was early morning, we were about 700 miles into our trip and I was driving in the hills of Pennsylvania.  All of a sudden the engine started to sputter and lose power.  I pulled over and turned on the flashers.  I shut off the engine and started to try to figure out what was wrong.  I SHOULD have known.  I had been assuming our fuel gauge was broken since it still said full.  I should have stopped and checked.  I got out and checked the 120 gallon tank on the drivers side.  Full to the top.  Knowing what I would find, I checked the tank on the passenger side and it was bone dry.  The crossover line was either clogged or the valve was not working.  We had run out of fuel.  I pulled out my air hose and cut off a fifteen foot section and used it as a siphon hose.  I was pretty proud of my MacGyver skills.  A small diameter hose so after about 90 minutes I had transferred about 12 gallons.
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Tried starting the truck and no luck,  I think we had lost prime in the fuel system. I took off the fuel filter and filled it with diesel and that did not work either.  I finally had to call for road service.  It took them over two hours to get there, he put in another 15 gallons of fuel, then he turned a little cap on the fuel line under the hood and a spring popped out about 4 inches.  It was a priming pump.  I had no idea.  He pumped it about a minute and the truck started right up.  Education is expensive, almost as expensive as ignorance.  $341 to discover I had a priming pump on the engine.  What really sucked is we could no longer make it to the delivery today.  Delivered Thursday morning and all of the loads that got us out of the Northeast delivered the following Tuesday due to Memorial Day.  We HAD to be home for the weekend as we were heading to Florida for the wedding on Tuesday.  So we drove home empty 1000 miles.   Another weekend at home, we are getting way too used to this.  Packing now for Florida and looking forward to an amazing wedding and lots of time with the entire family.

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Brutal and emotional week.

 

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This past week has been one of the worst weeks for Craig and I. Our 3 year old Chihuahua Ed had to have major surgery. He was having issues peeing and we thought he might have a urinary infection. Then he was unable to pee and off to River Emergency vet we went. He had 9 stones in his urethra, a pint of fluid in his abdomen and his bladder was distended. He ended up having a urethrostomy. His surgery was supposed to be 1 to 1.5 hours and ended up being 5 hours. He wasn’t doing well under the anesthesia at the start but got him stable. There was a lot of damage from the stones. The surgery went well but it was the longest day of my life. We went to the vet at 8 am and the surgery didn’t end until close to 9pm. I truly didn’t think Ed was going to make it and wasn’t sure how Craig would take it. Craig did not want another dog. He really was angry at me when I brought Ed home but now Craig is head over heels in love with this dog. He is the querkiest dog I have ever owned but has such a great personality and ADORES Craig.

The surgery was a week ago today and things are improving. Ed had to stay in the hospital until Tuesday. They were having a problem controlling his bleeding and we thought he would need a transfusion. He was heavily sedated. I brought him home on Tuesday. He is improving every day but still has a couple weeks of recovery. Yesterday I took him back to the vet because I was concerned he isn’t drinking and was getting dehydrated.  He wasn’t.  I did find out that Ed could be a guard dog anywhere. When the vet came in and tried to touch Ed he turned into a raving lunatic. My jaw dropped open I was so shocked. The vet was like Yup that is the way he acted while with them. I truly couldn’t believe how he was snarling and growling. Now I know why they wanted him sedated so much. He was crazy dog. At home he is just snuggling in our arms or sleeping in his pen. Craig and I owe a huge debt to River Vet. No pun intended but we are truly grateful for the great care they gave Ed and were incredibly patient with all my phone calls.

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This weekend Craig Jr is graduating from Colorado State University and Elizabeth’s bridal party. Unfortunately we had to make the decision what to do with Ed. He is a lot of work so we decided that Craig would fly out to Denver and I would stay home with Ed. Totally bummed I am missing the festivities but being as I will see them in a couple weeks at their wedding. The decision was easier. Congratulations Craig and Elizabeth. You will be in my thoughts.

Tomorrow Ed goes in for his check up with his surgeon and hoping for a smooth recovery. They won’t remove the staples for another week and then he is supposed to stay quiet for an additional week. I can’t wait until Ed is back to being Ed. He is so sad to watch but grateful he is on the mend.

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Saying Goodbye Is Hard

Well, the insurance company totaled our truck.  The damage to the sleeper is really expensive to fix and it pushed the bill over the edge.  So I had to get to Denver to pick up our trailer and empty all of our stuff out of the truck.  I was not really sure how this was going to happen since it would take us a couple of weeks to get the insurance payout, buy a replacement truck and get it ready to haul loads. Then a friend of mine, who also is leased on to Farm2Fleet, made a joke on Facebook about trying to get me to fly to Seattle and pick up a day cab truck for him that he had bought in an auction and drive it back to Chattanooga.  So I said, heck yeah, I’ll do it.

I flew out to Seattle last Friday, arriving at 11 Am and took a cab to the truck,  everything seemed fine until I put the key in the ignition and found out the batteries were stone cold dead.  Somebody had opened the door a couple of weeks ago and left it open draining the batteries.  After hours of trying to jump start the truck it was determined the batteries needed to be replaced.  Doing this with mobile service is just stupidly expensive and I felt so sorry for Derek (the trucks owner) as the service call ended up costing $1,200 for 4 batteries.  With the new batteries the truck fired right up and I drove up to my parents house to spend the evening and Saturday with them.  My daughters hope chest has also been at my parents for a number of years and this allowed me to strap it to the back of the truck and haul it home.  After a great 36 hours I headed out bobtailing (no trailer) to Denver.  With a day cab, I have no sleeper so I have to stay in hotels each night.  The truck needs some work, there is an exhaust leak that makes it VERY loud, the A/C does not work and just outside of Missoula Montana, the tail lights fell off.   (luckily still attached by the wires) so I got to Missoula just before dark and put the magic duck tape to work.

The Hope Chest strapped on

The Hope Chest strapped on

Duct tape to the rescue

Duct tape to the rescue

I got to Denver on Tuesday morning and met my Son at the repair shop to empty out the truck.  It took us about two hours and we got everything loaded into the trailer.  So thankful for this boy.  It was pretty tough saying goodbye to the truck,  We really like this money pit but saying goodbye to my son was pretty easy because I will see him in a couple of weeks for his college graduation from Colorado State.  I headed out through Kansas and decided to go home through Memphis to look at a truck.  We have decided to buy another Volvo 780 as we love the ride, the room and how it drives.  The Volvo dealer in Memphis had two that matched our requirements.  We want 550,000 miles or less, a built in 12 volt refrigerator, I-shift (automatic) transmission and an APU (generator).  I got to Memphis Thursday morning and found what I think is our truck.  It is awesome.  Still working on putting a deal together so I will update soon.  Then I drove the final 300 miles home.  I cannot believe how slowly those 300 miles rolled by.  Got home on Thursday evening and Anne left Thursday Morning for Chicago and a girls weekend in Lake Geneva Wisconsin.  When she gets home on Monday it will have been the longest we have ever been apart.  I am not sure if I or the dogs are having a harder time with her being gone.

My ears should stop ringing from the loud exhaust by Sunday

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