Monthly Archives: April 2011

First Ever Blog Candy Give-Away – TIME IS UP

  • WHO:  You that’s who.
  • WHAT:  A $25 American Express Gift Card valid through 12/2013
  • WHEN:  Monday May 2, 2011 before 10 p.m. Pacific Standard Time
  • WHERE:  In the comment section of this blog post
  • WHY:  Because the Gift Card has been languishing away unused for a couple years.  Someone can make use of it.
  • HOW:  Tell me your most memorable vehicle story.

RULES:  In the comment section of this blog post, NOT THE ABOUT ME comment section, tell me your story about driving or being a passenger.  Car, truck, motorcycle, dump truck, semi truck, whatever vehicle you either drove or were a passenger in.

It can be about the first time you got behind the wheel and drove scaring the fool out of everyone around you.  Maybe how you got lost by taking the wrong exit off an interstate.  Or perhaps you have driven (or rode in) a vehicle that makes strange noises and you were never quite sure if you would safely be transported to your destination.

Everyone has a vehicle story.  I’ve got a few so I’ll get this started.

1970, Driver Training Class at Greeley Central High School.  Way back then, in the Stone Age, schools had classes to teach students how to drive a car after they passed the written test and had a valid Driver’s Permit in their hands.  The students had to be 15 years old and within three months of their 16th birthday to be eligible for the Driver Training Class.

I don’t remember the instructor’s name but he had to have been the most bravest person alive at that time.  Being in a car with three teenage kids, each one taking their turn at the steering wheel and driving around the town of Greeley, Colorado.

The class started off with the obligatory slide show of the working parts of a car engine.  Pistons.  How they worked pumping up and down sucking in gasoline which was then ignited, then pushing up to expel the exhausted gas.  Or something like that.  Hey, I’m a girl and I was more interested in actually driving than the mechanical stuff.  Besides, my foster father was a mechanic and if there was a problem with a vehicle he fixed it.  Not me.

Then came the slide shows of wrecks with the admonishments of “This is what happens when….” .  Although the photos were quite fantastic in their twisted metal depictions of motorized death I hid my eyes behind my laced fingers for most of it because I didn’t want to see blood or body parts.  Peeking through the slits of my fingers over my eyes in an attempt to not see any of the gore.  After all, these photos were taken long after the poor crash victims had been taken to the hospital and the wrecked car was transported to a different area to be photographed later.

Driver training was held at the other High School in our town, Greeley West High School.   We were all transported over by school bus to the area where we would learn how to start the cars, use the brake and gas pedals, shift the automatic transmission, and steer around the course safely out of the range of the general driving public.  You want to talk about “Menace To Society”, we were all that and more.  We had to pull into a driveway then back out, turn corners without going over the imaginary sidewalk.  There were tire carcasses placed at all areas where turns were to be made and intersections.

The am/fm radios in the cars were tuned to a station that only the teachers could broadcast their instructions through as they stood in the tower overlooking the driving course.  These teachers assumed, incorrectly, that I knew what make and model all of the different cars were that I was either in or trying to keep from hitting.  The instructors would say things like, “Buick Impala, you just ran over your brother”, or “Ford Thunderbird, you just crashed into the neighbors house”.

One girl, and I don’t remember her name, was the wild one in our bunch of students.  She tuned the radio to the best radio station ever, 95 FM KIMN, that played all the rock music that every teen listened to.  She was one of the drivers on the course running over her entire family and was unable to listen to the instructors.  She was in her own little world, driving her very own car (loaned by the school of course) and listening to her tunes.  The rest of us got to hear “Ford Thunderbird, pull that car over to the dismount area and get off the course”.  Followed by “Buick Impala, get Ford Thunderbird’s attention and make her tune the radio back to the correct station”.

When the time came for me to actually drive on the streets of town I was put in a car that had a standard transmission.  We didn’t have any of those on the training course!!!!  I was just fine as long as I didn’t have to stop for a traffic light or at an intersection that had a Stop Sign.  Everyone else in the car with me ended up with whiplash and possible brain damage by the time my driving day was done.

Stopped at a light, waiting for the signal to turn green, my instructor would tell me to ease out on the clutch until I could feel the car begin to move forward then push the clutch back in.  That was good, it worked and no one was harmed.  When the light did turn green I let the clutch out way too far and the car lurched forward and immediately died.  Starting the car again, then easing out the clutch, feeling the car start to move forward, I’d let out the clutch too far and it would lurch and die again.  This went on for four cycles of the traffic signal until I finally got it right and was out of the intersection and driving once again.

Shifting the transmission was another hurdle.  I would grind the gears as I tried to advance them which caused all kinds of hopping and lurching action with the car.  How that instructor stayed so calm and collected in the passenger seat is totally beyond me.

SO…Tell me your driving story.  It doesn’t have to be as long as mine and it doesn’t have to be about  your first driving experience.  Your story just has to be about driving.

Good luck everyone.  I look forward to reading your entries.

Remember.  All entries must be posted in the comments section of this post.  They must be posted before 10 p.m. PST on Monday May 2, 2011.

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I Miss My Girls

My Girls

My Girls

My girls, all grown up and living far away.  I miss them all so very much.  We try to see them at least once a year.  We did have a “family reunion” in 2008 and that was fun having everyone from all over the place gathered into one town for four days.

In my posts, I refer to my girls by where they live.  Heidi Jo is my “California Daughter”, Carissa is my “Arizona Daughter”, Loreli and Tiffany are my “Colorado Daughters”.  Carissa and Loreli are the two that conspired to get Joe and I together 21 years ago.

These girls have not been in the same room together since 1992 and there was a lot of catching up for them to do. They talked and laughed so much together it made this Mom’s heart about to burst with all the love I have for them.

Joe and I will call our kids about a week before we will be going through where they live so they can arrange their lives and make time for us to stop by to see them.  Sometime over these next few months I will get to spend time with each of my daughters and catch up on their lives, but mostly have the chance to tell each one that I love them and how very proud I am of them.  We will also be seeing our boys that are scattered around the country and I’ll get the chance to do the same with them.  Tell them I love them and how proud I am.

My girls, loving and playful.  On this day they were getting really sick of all the cameras.  Joe and I were like paparazzi following them everywhere (almost) and taking pictures.  As the girls were gathered on the sofa (or if you prefer couch, or divan) I had to get them all together.  Loreli had an idea.  Everyone wink for the next photo.

Everybody WINK

Everybody WINK

I so love how each of my girls displayed their personalities here.  I laugh each time I see this photo.

Then Loreli said “Everyone do bug eyes”.

Everyone do Bug Eyes

Everyone do Bug Eyes

I miss my girls.  I love my girls.  I want to see my girls.


Fax Follies or Dispatch Limbo

Joe has been in contact, via cell phone, with one of the drive-away companies we use.  They have a trip set up for us but the problem is with our telephone line.

Easter Sunday it rained all day long.  Sometimes it rained pretty hard, mostly it was a steady soaking rain.  Now our phone line is out.  No dial tone at all.  Just a dead silence when we pick up the handset.

The companies we work with have different ways of getting dispatch sent to us.  One has the capabilities of sending the dispatch in an email, fax, or verbal information.  Another gives verbal information only.  This particular company does verbal information and fax only.  Trying to keep straight who does what can spark off some testy responses once in a while.

An innocent question like “Can you email the dispatch to me” asked of the companies without that capability leads to my apologizing for asking.

I called AT&T on Monday to report the dead line problem using their computer operated touch tone system.  An appointment was made for yesterday between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.  Joe and I stayed home all day yesterday to make sure we did not miss a call from the technician who may need driving directions.  No one called nor showed up.

I called AT&T this morning to find out when someone will be here and I was told a technician received the order this morning and will be out sometime today.  UPDATE:  The technician arrived and found the problem in one of their boxes over 100  feet from our home that has a few other homes connected to it.  Phone service has been restored.

I have to go for a drug screen test since it has been so long since I last worked.  The documentation, AND the dispatch arrived this morning via FedEx.  Now I have to wait for the AT&T person to come and fix our phone line.

If there are any “techies” out there, why is it that I have internet but no phone on the same line?  UPDATE:  According to the AT&T technician, there was one wire still connected that allowed for internet while the actual phone line had broke apart due to corrosion.

Sanger, Texas to Blue Mound, Texas

Sanger, Texas to Blue Mound, Texas

My first trip out is fairly close to home.  Sanger, Texas is a little over 100 miles away.  We will be going south on I-35 out of Oklahoma and into Texas.

As soon as Joe told me “there are 13 trucks ready right now” the only place I could think of with that many trucks is the Wal-Mart Distribution Center near Sanger.  These trucks are going to an auction site in Blue Mound, Texas which is about 40 miles away.

Wal-Mart was in the process of converting all of their International trucks over to Peterbilt.  So I am “assuming” (and you know what that does to a person) that we will be moving International trucks.

Those of you that kept up with my whining last year in late May and mostly all of June will remember the trips Joe and I took from Red Bluff, California to Pomona, California moving Wal-Mart trucks.  That was the time I got bit by something and caused my right eye to swell.  I’ve Been Bit And Shot is one of my “Drama Queen” posts about that excursion.

The plans, right now, are to take it easy with Joe’s having the problem with his rib dislocation problem.  I’m pushing for him to hold to the plan of only taking three trucks at a time.  He’ll do the two-way with our trailer and I’ll take a single, or what is known as a “Bobtail”.

Joe flip flops on loading my boom (which is named Rex) on Martha to allow us to take four trucks at a time.  That would cut delivery in half, but it will also mean that Joe will have even more of a chance to injure himself once again and be stuck in his recliner for another couple of weeks.

If  you want to see Martha in all her glory, check out the Adventures In Drive-Away drop down tab when you hover over Information about Drive-Away at the top of this page, or just click on the link I’ve provided.

By taking only three trucks we only have to do the heavy and strenuous work once with Joe’s trailer.  Delivery of Joe’s trucks is less strenuous and takes less time.  Haven’t figured that out yet.  We do the exact same things only in reverse order.

Once I get all of the trucks inspected and written up at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center then I will be free to take the load off Joe and do quite a bit of the heavy lifting as he’s still healing.  If everything works well we can be loaded and ready to head to Blue Mound in about 1-1/2 hours and unload at the delivery point in 30 to 45 minutes.

Travel time for a 40 mile drive will be about an hour in light traffic.  On up to three hours during rush hour traffic maneuvering through two bottlenecks where other highways meet at I-35. Returning to Sanger the traffic flow will be about the same as coming down to Blue Mound.

If Joe and I were both in regular condition we could get three loads a day done.  I’m going to be a “New Hire” for a couple days trying to remember the hook up and unhook process since I’ve been away from it for several months.

As I indicated earlier 13 trucks are ready now.  I don’t know how many trucks are totally going to be moved from Sanger to Blue Mound.  I’ll know better come Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.  We could be doing this job for most of May if there continues to be a steady flow of trucks being turned in and ready to go to auction.

Countdown corrected.  Five days before the actual whining begins.  Until then….I’m off to my craft room to finish a trip book for Joe.  A trip to Concentra or LabCorp for the drug screen and a trip to the post office to get some long overdue items sent off to other crafters that probably swear that I’ve blown them totally off.


Permanent Vacation Interrupted By Boughts Of Driving

Or so it may seem.  We do get to travel all over the place and sometimes have a day or two to be the typical tourist.

First time I saw an ocean was in 1998 at Gulf Breeze, Florida.  I was not overly fond of the smell, nor the gritty sand that stuck to my feet and legs.  Get in the water?  No way, there was going to be a shark appear any second and I was not taking any chances.  The water that lapped at my feet was nice and warm.  The feel of the hard wet sand at the waters edge was quite a contrast to the drier sand of the beach that I had difficulty walking through to get to the water.  That was an experience for this girl that had never been near a large body of water.

Gulf Breeze, Florida

Gulf Breeze, Florida

This particular photo was taken before he went into Drive-Away.  At the time he was hauling groceries until he could find a better job somewhere else.

Joe had me psyched out so I didn’t know what time of year it was.  The truck had some really cold air conditioning in it.  It was so cold I had to wear a light jacket all the time while inside the truck, copious quantities of Kleenex were used to take care of my nose, and I sometimes had to put gloves on.  I did have the air vents on my side closed off and covered over so I would not totally freeze to death.

When getting out of the truck I had to remove the gloves and jacket since it was summer outside.  The hot air felt so good when I got out of the truck with my teeth chattering.

When we arrived in Florida I had a bit of confusion going on in my brain.  The beach sand near and around Gulf Breeze is white, almost pure white.  With as cold as it was in the truck my brain told me I was seeing snow on the ground.  Snow?!  In June!!!  In Florida?!!

Yaquina, Oregon

Yaquina, Oregon

All the way across the country and way up north in 1999 we had to spend the weekend south of Portland.  Joe could not deliver until Monday so we had time to sight see.  Another beach, this time I was a bit more prepared for what I was going to experience.

Our dog, Princess, traveled with us.  She loved the beach excursions.  And she was the only smart one in our bunch.

Whale Snot?

Whale Snot?

These clear blobs littered the tide dampened beach.  I asked Joe what these were.  I mean, after all, this man knows everything and I depend on him for my education.  His answer?  “I don’t know.  Whale snot I guess.”

Jellyfish

Jellyfish

Upon closer inspection of the next sighting of “Whale Snot” I saw some distinct features in this clear blob on the beach.  Some of these blobs had many trails left in the sand that I investigated without touching.

Documenting the evidence

Documenting the evidence

It occurred to me that these blobs were, in fact, jellyfish that had been washed ashore from the waves and they were stranded on the beach.  The trails I saw in the sand were their tentacles as they were trying to get back into the water.

Point Magu Beach, Ventura, California

Point Magu Beach, Ventura, California

Another beach visit was in Ventura, California at Point Magu Beach.  The waves were powerful here as they smashed and crested over the rocks.  This place was not quiet as Gulf Breeze or Yaquina had been.

Agate Beach in Oregon

Agate Beach in Oregon

While we were in Oregon, with the whale snot, Joe took us further down the coast at the suggestion of the hotel desk clerk where we had been staying.

There are rocks on this beach and they make a hollow sound as I walked on them.  Strange echoing noises as I trod over them.  The rocks are round, perfectly smooth, and look like the beach is littered with old canon balls.  It was easier to walk on these rocks than on the sand at the other beaches I’d been to.

Tide pool at Agate Beach

Tide pool at Agate Beach

I had heard of a “Tide Pool”.  Being a “land lubber” I had no idea what one was.  Now I do, and I have to tell you they are fantastic places to see sea life up close.

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland

Not quite another beach but right on the water at a shipping port.  This was way, way back in early 2000 when a person could wander the port as long as they made sure to stay out of the way of heavy machinery and the workers.

While Joe was making a delivery to the Port of Baltimore, a delightful odor wafted through the air.  The smell of grilled onions cooking.  After his delivery we had to investigate the smell that caused our stomachs to growl in anticipation of food.

Within a shipping container, an enterprising old couple had made themselves a restaurant where burgers, fries, and other sandwiches were made for the hungry port workers.  This little spot of aroma heaven is “Pete’s Diner”.

Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center

Back down to Florida in 2000 we had a very long three day weekend to cool our heels waiting for Monday to deliver.  We went to the Kennedy Space Center and trudged around looking at all the stuff that Joe was totally excited about and I was humoring him.

Do NOT feed the birds

Do NOT feed the birds

While at the Kennedy Space Center, and waiting our turn near the launch site to go up the scaffolding that held other pieces of previous rockets we stopped at the little concession stand for something to eat.  There are signs posted all over saying “Do NOT feed the birds”.

I had purchase a bagel then found that it was old and stale.  I took five rolls of film, 36 shots in each roll, just to get these few photos of the birds landing on Joe’s fingers to be fed that nasty bagel.

Joe's FIRST pair of sandals

Joe's FIRST pair of sandals

Joe used to wear  hard soled leather boots all the time, and occasionally he would wear sneakers (trainers as they are called in the UK).  He had picked up trucks in Houston, Texas and they were going to a port in Florida.  It was HOT in the truck this time and his feet were sweating something fierce.

I finally coaxed him into buying a pair of sandals at a Wal-Mart in Louisiana, not sure where.  He complained and whined that he didn’t wear “Jesus boots” and he never would.  He has a big problem with Athlete’s Foot and it was really acting up, causing his toes to burn like they were on fire.  He limped in the store, grumped about being fine and he would be alright in a little while.  I persisted and he reluctantly followed.

Now, you can’t get him OUT of “Jesus boots”.  Even in the winter with a couple inches of snow on the ground.

Achafalaya Swamp

Achafalaya Swamp

The bridge over the Achafalaya Basin is highly traveled.  This waterway goes on and on and on for miles.  As a passenger I would see many boats on the water with fishermen, once in a while I’d see an alligator swimming and see its wake, mostly I just saw water and tree stumps.

Princess at Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Princess at Glenwood Springs, Colorado

I will end with this little bit on Princess.  The crazy dog that loves water in all forms.  She was a good dog.  We  had her for 17 years before she had to be put down due to kidney failure.  She loved traveling with us –  most of the time.  She hated day cabs, as do I, because there was no place for her to be comfortable on the floor in the cramped quarters.  Getting her to ride on the seat to see where she was going was not her most favorite place to be.  She liked being on the floor.

5 days left to do crafty stuff.


Drive It Till The Wheels Fall Off

Our travels

Our travels

This 12″ x 12″ scrapbook is about to bust apart everywhere.  It is filled with places we’ve been, things we’ve seen on the highways, and reminders of some head scratching events that have transpired in the years we have been doing Drive-Away.

I’m going to introduce you to one such event that happened to Joe while he was out being a solitary Road Warrior in 1999.  Before I began riding with him.

We have traveled past the spot where this event happened several times and he’s pointed it out to me each time we pass.  One day I took pictures of the spot as we went by.  Later when I made a scrapbook page of these photos I MADE him write out the events of this trip.  Down below in the photo, the area on both pages that is white and has type on it.  (Anything I can do to involve my Scrubby in scrapbooking I’ll do it) 🙂  That is what Joe typed out.   I’m going to share that with you now.  This is Joe’s story and these are his written words.

Scrapping the event

Scrapping the event

————————————————

This is the story of how I came  home with a blown engine in the Red Truck (Old Betsy) and how I put the steer tire from the back truck through a building.

I had been dispatched to go to Miami, Florida to pick up two repo’s and deliver them to Arrow Truck Sales in Kansas City, Missouri.  I drove to Miami on the Florida Turnpike and I-95.  During the trip the engine started using more oil, about a gallon every 100 miles, and sounding really bad.  I finally found the right Freightliner place, it is under the bridge that goes somewhere to the west of I-95 and to get to the Freightliner place you have to know just the correct way or you will just drive by on the upper bridge and see where you want to go and you can’t get there.

The trucks were a runner and non-runner.  I checked them out and hooked them up to the boom that was carried on the pickup.  After using the truck to install the boom and get the back truck off the ground and properly  up in the air, I started to hookup the pickup as the third unit.  That’s how we used to do a two-way.  I got the tow bar hitch hooked to the ball on the front of the back truck and shut off the engine.  I thought I would see how hard it was going to be to restart the engine.  It would not start.  I thought “Oh well, it will after it cools off”.  Little did I know what I was in for.

Now I KNOW to have the lug nuts tightened on the front axle of a truck that  you do not know anything about, but I was just starting out doing this type of work so I just hit the highway and gassed on it for the next stop.  I made good time that day and the next, getting to St. Louis, Missouri before rush hour traffic.  I sailed right through St. Louis traffic and was heading west on I-70 around the 178 mile marker.  I hear an exclamation from the CB radio about “Look at that tire come off that truck”.  It took me about 2 seconds to realize that he was talking about me.  I looked in the left hand mirror and saw the tire bouncing through the median, east bound traffic (I have no idea how the east bound cars missed the tire), across the bar ditch, across the fence, across the east bound service road, another fence and into the farmers field.  I lost sight of the tire and wheel after that.  I had my hands full getting the whole rig off the highway and onto the side of the road without doing more damage to something, me or something else.  The man who said “Look at that tire” was in the truck right behind me.  He stopped and both of us got out to look at the mess.  The axle hub was ground down to the bearings.  I knew that I wasn’t going anywhere like this.  The driver told me that he watched the tire bounce through the field and go into a building on the south side off the highway.

Building the tire went through

Building the tire went through

I called my dispatcher and told him of the problem.  They had to get hold of somebody to make a decision at Arrow.  About an hour later they told me that Arrow was sending a wrecker for the back truck.  This meant that I had to unhook right on the highway shoulder.  That was going to be fun.  I went to start the pickup and the engine was locked up tight.  It had ran for the last time.  This meant that I had to unhook without the aid of my pickup.  I had unhooked the pickup (see In The  Beginning – Or Shortly After to see what Joe is talking about) so I just pulled the two trucks forward enough for me to have plenty of room to work.  I unhooked the two trucks and went back with the front truck to hook up the pickup to the back of the truck.  I pulled the pickup forward in front of the back truck and backed up to the main boom and loaded it on the pickup.  I now had the two trucks separated and was hooked up to the front truck as a single.  I then waited for about 4 more hours for the wrecker to come.

Before we hooked the wrecker up I told the driver that we had to go to the other side of the highway and get the tire and wheel that came off the truck.  We went over to the other side of the highway, where the driver who saw the whole thing said the building and tire was, and started looking for the right building.  We looked and looked at all the buildings over there and could find no place that was marked by a 175 pound tire and wheel going 50 miles per hour.  No breaking or entering markers anywhere.  The driver had said a building so I assumed  that meant wood construction.  There was the back two thirds of a trailer house but it did not have a mark on it that I could see.  After almost giving up I looked in the window of the trailer and there was the tire, about 10 feet in.  The tire had hit right where two sheets of aluminum siding came together.  The tire had just pushed them aside and went into the trailer house and the siding just came back together like it had never been hit.  I had to climb in through the siding and we held it open while I rolled the tire out.  We loaded it on the wrecker and went to hook up the back truck.

Where "The Wheel Fell Off"

Where "The Wheel Fell Off"

The rest of the trip to Arrow in Kansas City, Missouri was uneventful.  The next morning I delivered my front truck to them.  I had called around to see if there were any singles in Kansas City that I could use to get the red truck home and Dealers had one just 2 blocks from the Arrow lot.  I got it and  hooked up the pickup and headed for Oklahoma City.  It was around the 142 mile marker on I-35 that the Red Truck came loose from the truck and rolled backwards through the median.  I ended up sitting on my butt on the dotted line of the south bound side of I-35.  That’s how I came to build the Mark II trailer, but thats another story for another time.

——————————————————–

In 2002, Joe and I went back to the same Freightliner dealership in Miami, Florida for four trucks.  The back truck I was to tow had been a repo and it was filled with everything the previous driver had left in it.  During the inspection process I have to look under the bottom bunk of the trucks with sleepers to make sure the floor and storage compartment isn’t damaged and that the bed raises and lowers.

I had a real embarrassing surprise waiting for me in that truck.  The storage space was chock full of boxes of “adult toys” and “adult movies”.  Joe was in the shop settling the bill left to be paid when I went in and told him about the contents of the sleeper.  Now, let me tell you, it didn’t take long for the men in the garage part of the dealership to sift through the contents under the bunk and lay claim to whatever they could get.  Within about a minute that space under the bunk was totally empty.

They had no use for a CB radio, a small screen television, clothing in various states of cleanliness, wadded up blankets, shoes, canned food items, and other detritus of the previous driver.

6 days and counting down.


In The Beginning – Or Shortly After Anyway

Old  Betsy

Old Betsy

This is “Old Betsy”, sometimes knows as “Old Red”.  That depended on how in love with her at the time Joe was.

I had to go ask the “Authority” on things mechanical.  Because, well, I’m a girl and I know where the gas or diesel tanks are, how to check the oil and water levels, and how to add oil.  That is the extent of my mechanical knowledge, and frankly, I don’t want to know more because I may be next asked to become a mechanic by my dear husband.  Not really, but it might happen and I’m not taking any chances.

For any guys that have found their way to this blog, here are the answers to your burning questions.

Old Betsy is a 1985 Ford F-250 Super Cab long bed pickup,  with a 6.9 diesel engine, automatic transmission, and 4 wheel drive.  Lock out knobs on the front wheel hubs and a transfer case lever thing on the inside cab floor.

Joe had Old Betsy long before I met him in 1990.  “She” was everything he could have ever hoped or wished for in a vehicle and he loved her.  Most times I thought more than me but not all the time I’m happy to say.

You see the glaringly evident green door on an otherwise red pickup?  I wrecked Old Betsy one winter in Wyoming while Joe was in the passenger seat napping.  The gist of the whole episode is we had been on electric transformer business in Wyoming and were returning home when I hit a patch of ice that was like a bed of marbles.  The 25′ goose neck trailer I was pulling behind swung around in the wreck and was so scared it wanted to get inside and sit on Joe’s lap.

That episode permanently cured me of winter driving.  I don’t do it at all anymore and if I am successful until the day I die, I won’t be doing any winter driving at all.

Thankfully, Joe was not hurt in the wreck.  He didn’t even get any scratches from the glass that shattered and splintered everywhere inside the pickup.  I can tell you that it was a very cold and windy drive until we could get to a truck stop for some trash bags and duck tape.

Gravity Boom

Gravity Boom

My ever resourceful husband, designed and built our first working boom for the Drive-Away business.  This is called a “Gravity Boom” because it basically relies on gravity to do most of the work.

Sorry for the glare on the photo, it is one of many that has had to endure my scrapbook obsession and I took a photo of this photo.

There are two king pins.  One on a shorter metal tubing which is held on the left rear of the pickup.  This piece connected to the 5th wheel of the truck Joe was going to drive.  It rested on the frame of that truck.

The longer piece of the gravity boom is on the right side of the pickup bed.  This, also having a king pin, was connected to the 5th wheel of the truck Joe was going to tow.

Once all of the hoses and electric lines were run, brakes hooked up, axle chains tightened around both rear axles across the frame (one chain per axle), the loading commenced.  The long boom on the towed truck was raised with the aid of a 6 ton hydraulic jack, the lead truck was backed under the boom then carefully backed to allow the boom to ride up the piece on the front truck until they clicked into position.

Once the boom was loaded the rear axles of the towed truck were raised off the ground.  There were many huge pins to be pounded in to keep these two pieces together during the trip to their final destination.

Old Betsy had some problems and she just plum wore out.  Blowing her engine a couple times and we had to eventually replace her with “Gracie”.

Gracie

Gracie

Gracie is a 1986 Ford F-150, with a 302 gas engine, automatic transmission.  She lived her life as a recreational vehicle that towed a travel trailer a few times during her life.  Poor dear, she had no idea what she was in for.  I have to say, this girl worked her heart out and got us to where we are today and I’m forever thankful for Gracie because of her gumption.

She had her problems and I will tell about some of those later, but for now I’ll just tell you about our work.

JB Hunt International Cabovers

JB Hunt International Cabovers

This is what our set up looked like as we traveled the highways.  The lead truck is to the right in this photo, the towed truck with the rear axles off the ground is in the middle, and Gracie brings up the rear.

Gracie attached

Gracie attached

My Joe is the most smartest man in the whole wide world.  He designed and built hitches to hook up first Old Betsy then later Gracie to the front bumper of the towed truck.  He had one hitch he designed for Freightliners, one for Macks, one for Kenworths and Peterbilts, and one with adjustments that could be attached to all manner of trucks.

The hitches were heavy, for me anyway.  Joe would just latch on to one of them with one hand and carry it around like it was nothing.  I’d grunt, groan, moan, and wail as I pulled the proper one from the bed of Gracie or Old Betsy and carry it to the towed truck’s bumper.  Most of the time I had to drop that heavy sucker on the ground to ease the pain in my shoulders and get my breath back.  Once I milked the moment for all it was worth, Joe would come around and check to see if I had the hitch ready to be attached.  Slave driver, I tell you.

Freightliners

Freightliners

This is a set of Freightliners that are attached to Joe’s Gravity Boom with Gracie following behind.

Joe has some stories about Gracie getting loose and wanting desperately to head for home.  Those are some exciting stories and I think I need to get him a bit more interested in writing a blog so he can tell you his side of things.

Gracie hitched up

Gracie hitched up

This is how Gracie was hitched up to the front bumper of the towed truck.  There is an airline, the red one, that goes to a hydraulic cylinder attached under the drivers seat floor board and has an extension arm and pad that attaches to the brake petal.  When Joe would apply the brakes from all the way up in the lead truck the cylinder would depress the brake petal all the way back in Gracie.

When we had some time to sight see, all we had to do was unhook Gracie, hop in the pickup and head out to see the sights.  Once we delivered the trucks and the Gravity Boom was mounted back on Gracie we would drive to the next pick up point and do this all over again.

Rain, snow, sleet, wind, and burning  hot sun.  We spent an hour or two in the elements getting things hooked up, or unhooked whatever the case was, and away we went.  I wasn’t driving then, just riding along.  Being badgered to get my CDL so I could drive singles.  Joe drove in all kinds of weather and I sat in the passenger seat hanging on for dear life on icy roads and imagining all the worst that could happen.  I was forever hanging on until my knuckles were white and fingers cramped into claws.

I’m still psyching myself up to get back out on the road.  Seven days left for me to spend my time in my craft room before I have to leave.


Adventures In Drive-Away

The time is looming for me to get back out on the road.  This is a job that I love and I hate, in equal parts.  One day I love the job the next day I hate it.  Come to think of it, that just about sums up every job I’ve ever held in my entire life.

I’ve searched Google for other blogs on Drive-Away and can only seem to find the companies that hire.  Maybe I’m just not putting in the right combination of search words.

To be fair this is a job that allows me to travel our beautiful United States and see, first hand, the changing landscapes.  It is a solitary job which leaves a lot of time to think about life, love, and other pursuits.  I am THE one and only bookkeeper in this operation and need to have downtime to do that task.  Winter is when I take off to do that, along with my passion for paper crafting and gift making.

The crux of Drive-Away is it is “Slip Seat”.  Which means you don’t drive the same truck day in and day out.  You will be in one truck for a day or three then be in a totally different truck next.  Being a Drive-Away driver means you have to be flexible.  No, not twist your body into a pretzel flexible.  You have to be able to drive a standard transmission truck with 10 to 13 speeds for a while then be plopped into an automatic transmission the next.

Each truck brand has their own cab design which includes the instrument and switch panels.  This means some trucks have just the minimum of gauges on display, such as only an RPM, speedometer, air, fuel, oil, and battery gauges.  Then there are the trucks that have gauges for primary and secondary air, rear and front  axle temperatures, a pyrometer (which indicates the temperature of heated air leaving the exhaust stack…I think that is what it is anyway), water in fuel, right fuel tank and left fuel tank, turbo pressure, and the standard RPM, fuel, speedometer, and battery gauges.  These multiple gauges are spread out across the dash panel and all need to be monitored and looked at from time to time.

The headlight switch and wiper switches are never in the same place.  Fumbling around for the headlight switch in a different truck is maddening.

Check out the dash on this Kenworth if you want to see the different types of gauges that need to be monitored and you will understand what I’m talking about.

Check out this wrecked Freightliner Century Class instrument panel to see the difference.

Check out these photos of an International 9400i and the instrument panel.

Enough said about the various instrument panels.

The seats in the trucks we drive are, for the most part, air ride.  There is a shock absorber under the seat that helps with the up and down bouncing that happens frequently.  When the shock absorber is old, and in need of replacement, driving becomes a chore.  Each bump in the road is followed by a raising of the seat and a whopping hard slam to the bottom of the cylinder.  This causes backs to ache, muscle strain, and in some cases kidney damage from prolonged exposure to the hard banging the body takes.

With the advent of air ride seats, kidney damage has all but been obliterated.  The truck drivers of long ago that had to spend endless hours in a solid seat had extreme lower back pain, disk compressions, and kidney bruising.  That kind of damage doesn’t happen much in the trucks of today.

Being a Drive-Away driver a person has the opportunity to drive nearly every truck type that travels the interstates.  Singles operators have a more diverse exposure to trucks that range from dump trucks, cement trucks, school buses, U-Haul trucks, cranes, wood chippers, fire trucks, ambulances, and a myriad of other types of equipment.

The Drive-Away industry is just a bit more laid back than the regular trucking industry because we don’t have produce that will spoil within a short time frame, livestock that has a very limited amount of travel time due to the weight factor.  That is every hour livestock is being transported they poop more and weigh less than when they were originally shipped.  Therefore, the less they weigh upon delivery the less the rancher or feedlot gets paid.

The trucks we move across the country are going to a dealership.  Once in a while the trucks are already sold and do have a “HOT” time frame for delivery.  We are under a bit of pressure to get the trucks delivered but not so much that we are behind the wheel in excess of 10 hours a day every day of the year.

We do get to have more time to see the sights than normal truck drivers do.  And we have the bonus of having our personal, or “chase”, vehicle that we can use to go see the sights and not get a ration of trouble because we are taking up lots of parking spaces with a bobtail or tractor/trailer combination.

If we want to have dinner at an Olive Garden or Outback Steakhouse instead of a truck stop we can do that.  Perk of our job.

In short, other than having to work out in the elements, drive a different truck nearly every day, spend half the time trying to find the headlight switch, and the other half figuring out the shifting pattern of the transmission, or grabbing for a non existent gear shift because the truck has an automatic transmission, this job is not that bad to have.  The pay is pretty good, the hours are lousy, the hotel beds are a whole other story with the firmness factor, and the places to stop and relieve a bladder are few and far between.

I’m trying to psyche myself up for my impending return to work.  All I’ve done is make myself want to run into my craft room, shut the door, and when my husband asks “What’s for supper” he will get a muffled “Knock yourself out” as my answer.