Truck Stop Tuesday

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After being passed by the Oscar Meyer Weiner, I figured it was time to find a truck stop for the day.

I take a number of things into consideration when deciding where to stop. Distance to my delivery or pick up, services provided, facilities available, and of course whether or not they are party of our fuel network. All are important factors in my selection process. One factor that is less important these days, is a restaurant. Since I have been doing most of my own cooking on the truck, availability of restaurants, just isn’t nearly as important any longer. Not to mention the fact that it’s been saving me a lot of money.

I find it interesting that the larger the city, the smaller the truck stop. Now this isn’t a set in stone rule, but it does seem to be pretty much the prevailing circumstance. I find it pretty aggravating, because the optimum use of space means smaller and tighter parking. Let me tell you, trying to back into some of these tight spaces with the sparse maneuvering room given, is a challenge sometimes. Especially late at night after a ten hour drive shift and your tired as all get out.

Tonight I’m at the Petro in San Antonio, Tx. mainly because it’s only three miles from my delivery which is scheduled for 01:00. they also have a large number of parking spaces, 250, which will be completely filled by around 20:00 tonight. They aren’t part of our fuel network, but I can still get fuel there, it just costs me a little more. Just across the interstate is s Pilot, which is part of the network, but they only have about 15 spaces and poorly layed out. Petro also has a Blue Beacon truck wash that, for some crazy reason is incredibly busy today. I like the Petro  because it’s clean and I think a little more secure. They do have a good restaurant.

Last night, I stopped at a Flying J in Fort Stockton, Tx. Mainly because it had laundry facilities, which I desperately needed. All the other truck stops along my route, and within my hours of service time constraints didn’t. I was pleased with the cleanliness, and newness of their machines. The shower facilities were also very new, and had an unending supply of hot water with good pressure. I like when I come across newly built facilities. Pilot, Flying J, and Love’s seem to have been on a building spree lately.

Cleanliness is nice. I have stayed at many truck stops that don’t seem to care that their lot is covered in trash. Some are even big name places like TA and Petro, Pilot or Flying J, Especially some Love’s. I just don’t understand why they can’t make an effort to keep things cleaned up.

Bright and Sunny Monday Morning

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The sunrise was spectacular this morning. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but still beautiful. There were some great clouds, I had hoped for some really vibrant color. I got a very bright, radiant sun instead.

Because my perch was higher than the horizon, I think the colors were missing. In not sure, but that is the only thing I can think of. the rest area I was parked at was 5,013 feet above sea level. The surrounding areas were all much lower. The place where they put the rest area is called a dessert island. There are five of them in the Colorado National Forest, within both Arizona and Colorado.

It was a cool morning, but not cold enough to require a jacket or coat. The sky was a fabulous deep blue, streaked with white clouds. Darker clouds hung higher in the sky, seeming to keep their distance from the fiery color of the sun.

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Once I stared driving, the sun shone down through those dark clouds, highlighting the range of mountains. It made them look as if they were an old rough cut saw, slicing a ragged edge along the darkened horizon. They faded of to a distant oblique infinity. Shadows defining valleys and crevasses, accentuating them stark contrast.

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I do find intriguing beauty in many parts of Arizona.

Slow Day in Many Ways

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Today I delivered to Fry’s Food Service Distribution Center in Phoenix, Az. I was highly disappointed, they took forever to get me unloaded, burning up nearly six hours of my fourteen hour clock. It only left me with a few hours to drive. It’s a good thing my reload wasn’t very tight, time wise.

I decided to stop for the night at the rest area among the boulders on I-10, just east of Texas Canyon in Arizona. I stopped here simply because I hope to catch an awesome sunrise. I still had three and a half hours to drive, but my delivery appointment isn’t until Wednesday at 01:00. No big rush, and I prefer to drive early morning and day time. Besides, there was plenty of parking here, and in three hours, parking will be at a premium. Parking is always a consideration in my decision making process.

Is That Pac Man at Your Elbow

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Black ice is a peril all drivers are familiar with. Probably one of the most dangerous and deceptive of all roadway hazards. Seldom recognized in time to react properly, read “slow down”. It is that misleading smooth surface that is so insidiously deceiving, that has been the bane of my frustration for the last week.

Twas not I that suffered directly from this culprit of the cold country, but my lovely lady Jennifer. While walking out to the car at a friends house, she slipped on a piece of sidewalk covered with this dastardly insidious substance. As her feet flung out from under her, she landed hard on her elbow.

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Which resulted in a serious break of the ulna. Of course it also caused a severe swelling due to the bursting of the fluid sac around the joint.

Why, you ask, is this such a bane on my conscious? Simply because I am clear across the country, and unable to be there to support her and hold her hand before and after surgery. It is one of the hardest difficulties that come with my chosen profession. All I am able to do is comfort her on the phone, which feels extremely substandard to me. Between the hours of service regulations, and simple finances, it is impossible for me to get home to Jennifer.

Of course, Jennifer is such a trooper, that she says it’s no problem. I know though, it would be a considerable relief to her to have me home, helping with the simple things in life. Everything from bathing to opening a can of food or a pain killer bottle. I know she can handle it, but I am also aware that I could provide much needed help. Yet I’m stuck out here, working to be able to make it back for my next scheduled home time.

This does weigh heavy on me. Jennifer assures me that it’s okay, but I still have trouble with it.

Trapped By Hours of Service

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On Sunday, I delivered my load to a cross loading facility in Oakland, Ca. Cross loading facilities take the load off one truck, and usually load it into a container to be sent overseas by ship. The process took them over six hours, and therefore left me with no hours to drive anywhere else for my break. Of course, being a shipping company, they would not allow me to park on site. I had to move out onto the street, and find a place to park in an area that seemed overpopulated with NO PARKING signs. Not to mention the questionable characteristics of the area I was in.

This is one of the problems with hours of service that has never been addressed in any meaningful way. If we must be governed by the hours of service regulations, there has to be a way to require shippers and receivers to allow for secure and safe parking on their property. Things like basic facilities, even a Porta John, would be nice. As it was, I had to stay aware of my surroundings, along with the questionable pedestrian traffic in the area.

Luckily, I have plenty of food, along with the means to cook it. This is not prevalent in all trucks. I have expended the money to equip my truck with such means as a microwave, crock pot, coffee maker, hot plate along with some pots and pans. I feel sorry for the drivers who have no way to prepare food. It is very nice to have my Tri-Pac, which provides me with household electricity and air conditioning. Even so, I didn’t really get all that much rest, because of where I had to park. At least I ate well.

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