Point A-B: Tacoma, WA to Salt Lake City, UT
As discussed in previous posts, I was pulled into Tacoma for some remedial training. Luckily they were very understanding about the whole thing. Once I explained the situation and they witnessed some of my driving first hand, all doubts were put to rest and I was released to go back out on the road. This time though, I was armed with the hard learned lessons of the last 3-4 weeks, along with alot of new information from talking to the trainers and my Fleet Manager, Tracy (who totally rocks). The area I was especially eager to improve in was trip planning. There are so many unexpected things that can (and do) happen on any trip, that having a flexible but very thorough plan is crucial, as is executing that plan. Lots of good questions were met with lots of good answers. In addition to this aresenal of knowledge, I was also armed with what has proved to be one of my most valuable tools yet – a GPS navigation system. Halellujah! Thank you Mom & Nelson for letting me borrow it. My new favorite words are “recalculating route.” This tool allows me to instantly adjust to unexpected situations like closed roads, truck restricted roads, missing an exit or turn, etc. Before, any of those situations quickly became a crisis as I scramble to try to find a place to stop the truck (which is an adventure all its own) figure out where I am and come up with a new route to get me where I need to go. I still use Qualcom (company on-board computer), my Motor Carrier’s Atlas, and Microsoft Steets & Trips to plan my routes, but the GPS unit has improved how I execute them by 100x.
The third advantage I have had over this last leg was the weather. Absolutely beautiful. I was too busy savoring it to even take any pictures.
Point B-C: Salt Lake City, UT to Gallup, NM
On all my previous cross-country trips, I never considered state highways (the little red lines on the map) as viable routes. I always stuck to the interstates. This was the first trip where I had some significant miles to cover on state highways, and it completely changed the way I think about them. If a picture could have captured what I saw on this leg, I would have taken more. Unbelievable. If you are ever passing within 100 miles of this area, take the time to see Canyonlands, UT.
Soooo beautiful. I also made some new friends on this leg. Richard and Scott are a couple kids from Orange County (recently living in Salt Lake City) who were traveling the country with a couple of guitars, some camping gear, and two really big back packs. It was fun and refreshing to meet some like minds on the road.
Point C-D: Gallup, Albequerque, & Santa Fe, NM
Getting back to work, my final delivery on this load was at a construction site. This made things a little tricky as the address didn’t officially exist yet, and the roads into the site were somewhat less than ideal (i.e. unpaved). In addition, there was some disagreement between my company and the person recieving the load as to whether this was to be a “live unload” (they unload the trailer while I wait) or a “dropped trailer” (I unhook the trailer and go). Aparently these guys lost one of our trailers. Anyways, I ended up dropping the trailer and bobtailing (i.e. no trailer) to Albequerque, NM to pick up an empty trailer etc. etc.
Point D-E Santa Fe, NM to Flagstaff, AZ
More beautiful weather. I am also very proud of myself for making good use of my time on this run. The extra knowledge and the GPS unit have really been paying off. I spent the night in Arizona parked next to a Taco Bell off route 66. Watched as the sun set behind silouhetted statues of dinosaurs. Sunsets in Arizona are truly glorious. Picked up a load in Flagstaff. Purina dog food. That concrete tower with the Purina chex logo is hard to miss from I-40.
Point E-F: Flagstaff, AZ to Red Bluff, CA
Easy driving and beautiful weather all the way to California.
I never thought I would love Barstow so much. It is a trucker’s paradise when it comes to fast food within walking distance of your truck. I splurged and got some Panda Express and an ice-cream cone. I gotta reward myself occasionally. Makes keeping a tight budget worth it.
Next day out of Barstow, CA, more beautiful easy driving. Windows down. Stereo cranked. Man. This is why I love this job.
Footnote: there was a little incident in Bakersfield at a fuel stop involving the DOT bumper of my trailer and the front bumper of a Peterbilt truck. Luckily the driver was really nice about it and we joked a little as we both filled out our respective paperwork for the incident. Man. I hope this doesn’t put me back in training.
So there you have it. It’s been a great week, and I can only hope the next few days will go as smoothly!
Point A-B: Tacoma, WA to Salt Lake City, UT