The Great Smokie Mountains. 

We picked up our trucks in Concord, North Carolina yesterday and this morning. These poor old trucks have been rode hard.  A couple of them have one million miles on the odometers. 

   
 
We went through the Great Smokey Mountains today. I-26 and I-40 in North Carolina and I-40 through a bit of Tennessee. Beautiful country. 

  
They are called the Smokies because of the cloud cover and ground fog that tends to happen in these densely forested areas with high humidity. Similar to our recent travels through West Virginia yesterday morning.  These photos are from West Virginia. 

   
 
In North Carolina and Tennessee the twisting and winding roads scare the bejeebers out of me the first time I drove them. 

  
My mouth so dry the mucus membrane of my cheeks stuck to my teeth. Breathing through my mouth for 70 minutes on a ride through hell dried the roof of my mouth, my tongue, and my esophagus.  So dry I could not even work a tiny bit of spittle to get my cheeks off my teeth. 

My hands clenched so tightly to the steering wheel I did not dare let loose even for a refreshing sip of water.

Joe, calling to me over the CB radios we used to use, checking on my progress through the nightmare eventually brought this kind and sweet soul out from the depths of my carefully controlled emotions. 

  
Had to borrow that one from Facebook. 

Several more trips through that beautiful country I have grown accustomed to the turns and steep grades. Enough so I could take a few pictures.  

If you are thinking of a trip this summer with your family, consider the Great Smokey Mountains. 

Leslie


Hills of Kentucky and West Virginia. 

We picked up my trucks in Pikeville, Kentucky this morning. 

  
Pikeville is in the north eastern part of Kentucky. Less than 30 miles from West Virginia and about 2 hours from Charleston. 

The trees and hills in Kentucky and West Virginia are everywhere. This is coal mining country. Many of the towns are in “hollows”, or as the old time country singers call them – “hollers”.   This is Williamson at the border. 

  
Driving the twisting roads, chugging up the hills slowly and speeding down the other side, thick forest is the main scenery. 

   
 
After we were in West Virginia, smoke billowed out from an area.  The smell of burning wood took me back to my youth at camp around a wood fire. I love that smell. 

  
We are staying in Charleston, West Virginia tonight. Next to a river, I don’t know the name of. A river that still is a major thoroughfare of goods shipped. Coal in barges is a big commodity here. 

Outside our hotel sit barges docked and loaded, ready for their trip up or down stream. Pilot boats are at rest this evening. Waiting to push the barges to their destinations. 

   
 
A beached log is home to a growth of some type of mushroom. I don’t know if this is one variety that is edible or if it is the kind to take someone crazy enough to try off on a halucinigenic trip or a quick ambulance ride to the hospital. 

  
There is always something to marvel at as I drive these roads. It doesn’t take much to entertain me. LOL

Leslie


Through the bug splats

Today I am on a road I have not been on before. The Brent T. Combs Mountain Parkway in Kentucky. We are going 400 miles out of route for Joe’s delivery in New Jersey to get my trucks in Pikesville, Kentucky. 

The scenery is beautiful. Forest of trees fills my vision. 

  
Some of the trees are bright with Spring blooms. 

  
A busy two lane road requires all of Joe’s attention while I explore the passing fields, streams, and occasional derelict buildings. 

   
   
A road widening project is being done near the end of the Mountain Parkway. Heavy machinery moves along the steep hills of this area. Moving rock and dirt to clear the way for eventual road construction. 

   
   
In my travels I have often seen the drill marks left on a rock face and wondered how that was done. 

  
Today, I saw the machine and operator that does the drilling through the ground and rock.  I find it fascinating, a machine that is the size of a road grader can puncture the hard earth.  Creating stress points in the rock to be broken off then later cleared away. Leaving nothing but long veryical lines in the rock. 

  

Our never ceasing need to expand, outgrow, and populate areas begin with machines. 

I hope you enjoy your day. We are a few short miles away from where I will pick up my trucks going to New Jersey with Joe. 

Leslie


Indiana Toll Road on Interstate 80 is leased to foreign investors. 

When I first started driving in 2001 the toll booths on Interstate 80 in Indiana were manned by actual people. 

  
A person to hand you a ticket upon entering the road at entry points, and someone to take the money and give change at the exit points. 

  
All that changed. The Indiana I-80 Toll Road is now owned by foreign investors from Spain and Australia. You can read the July 11,2011 article in Transport Topics here

The 14 toll plazas on I-80 in Indiana, each having at least 10 booths for east and west traffic, were manned 24/7.  The people that manned the booths had families to feed, bills to pay, and earned a decent income. 

The Governor of Indiana saw an opportunity to put 3.8 BILLION dollars in the state funds for a 75 year lease of the interstate out of Indiana’s hands. 

All those workers have been placed elsewhere in state jobs or have been terminated. Replaced by automated ticket machines and credit card or cash machines to pay the tolls. 

  
  
Road construction is in full swing now that winter is over. The toll booths are manned once again. 

  
Our wonderful politicians – at every rabbit hole – think it is okay for America to be sold to the highest bidder. Infuriates the HE Double Hockey Sticks out of me. 

I think it may be time to bring the guillotines from the French Revolution back. Congressmen saying $174,000 a year is not enough money to live on and demand raises. I say “Off with their heads”!

Leslie


The little things no one tells you. 

In Drive-Away most of the tools, equipment, and supplies are listed – or discussed – when you sign on. You are told the common tools necessary to keep on hand. Other contract drivers will tell you something else you need to make your job easier. 

Frankly all of that stuff is, and can be, quite expensive. Let me give you a simple and cheap tool to keep on hand. It can be found in grocery stores. Pick up a box of plastic sandwich bags. Not the zip top bags, get the bags with the cuff and flap.  You will need one, on occasion, for a sticky gear shift knob. 

  
Why?  You may ask. 

Because of this. 

  
The shifting diagram piece must have came off. The previous driver decided to stick that piece on with whatever they had at the time. 

Hope you have a great weekend. 

Leslie


What happens if I leave something in a truck?

Buddy…..you are seriously screwed. 

In Drive-Away, once a truck is delivered and signed for you never see that truck again. 

A harsh lesson is learned by everyone, at one time or another, when an important tool of your trade is left behind.

If a replacement item can be purchased elsewhere you are out the time it takes to locate the proper business and the unplanned expense to pay for that lost item. 

Document holders are a whole other can of worms. Leave your legals behind, along with the transporter tags you get to call the company and let them know of your lapse in judgement. This, often times, includes a settlement deduction for replacement of legals and tags plus shipping. Think about the range of $100 to $150 you just lost. 

I’ve left things behind before and it is no picnic having to admit being an idiot. 

Joe is in the process of getting his handheld radio returned to him after leaving his in Tunica, Mississippi. He figured out his problem 5 hours later. He beat himself up pretty bad last night. 

I think he saw my little radio on the pickup visor, then remembered his mistake. 

  
This little problem is not the end of our world. He has worked with the Tunica personnel to have the radio FedExed to Elizabeth, New Jersey where we will be next week. The shipping charges can be as high as $110. Gulp. 

Until then we will have to rely on our cell phones to contact each other. 

Be mindful of your belongings. 

Leslie


A gratitude post. 

Joe and I were sent from Buna, Texas to New Orleans, Louisiana on Friday. Calling ahead to the next pick up point we find our trucks aren’t ready until two guys come back from vacation on Tuesday. 

Friday night was Rayne, Louisiana. Saturday and Sunday were in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There I was able to get a bit of card making done and even a YouTube video made with a tutorial. 

Leaving Baton Rouge on Monday morning, the 83 mile trek was overcast and cool. Arriving at the pick up point we found our trucks were not ready. Another Coldiron contract driver was there waiting for his trucks to be ready. Joe and I got to know the young man during the five hours we all waited.  

These trucks we are waiting on will be sold at a Taylor/Martin auction in Tunica, Mississippi next week. Pressure is being put on us by dispatch to get the trucks. The company selling the trucks is having to pull men away from their regular jobs to get us out of their. It is a lose-lose situation all the way around. 

The man we talked with was able to get down the road last night while Joe’s trucks were being moved into our staging area. We got a start on hooking Joe up. My driving truck came a bit later.  Joe put my boom on that one. 

This morning we woke to drizzly rain. At the pick up location we had to wait while Joe’s truck needed to be jump started. 

  
Waiting for my second truck took all morning long. Rain pelted us as we waited. From sprinkling to a downpour with lightening streaking the sky then back to sprinkles. By late morning the rain stopped. Early afternoon the last truck arrived and we finished our work. 

Leaving New Orleans on I-10 we headed back west to catch I-55 north to Mississippi. 

Louisiana is full of lakes, bayous, and rivers. Bridges are what makes traveling through Louisiana easy. 

   
 
There are people that live beneath the bridges in houseboats. Their little spot on the water. Interstate noise probably mutes the songs of frogs and other insects. I would imagine it beats apartment dwelling. 

   
   
I even saw a partially capsized boat under one of the bridges. Someone got their feet a little wet I’d say. 

  
I have much to be thankful for. Tonight is spent in Jackson, Mississippi.  Tomorrow will be unloading under a cloud laden sky with cool temperatures. No rain predicted for tomorrow. Can’t beat that. 

Leslie


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