Monthly Archives: May 2014

You are going to run out of blinker fluid!

My husband, Joe, is a very patient man. Especially when he has to deal with me and my Bossy Knicker self.

When I’m not driving and in control of the vehicle…..I guess I have to be in control of something. Come to think of it I still can’t help myself even when I am driving.

Here is a list of things I say.

Number 1 – Turn your blinker off.
When passing a vehicle Joe does use his turn signals. To indicate his changing lanes to begin the pass and also for the return after passing. He seems unable to hear the continuous ticking noise once the passing maneuver is completed. Maybe he just waits to see how long it will be before I blurt out “Turn your blinker off”.

As I follow along, behind Joe, in our Drive-Away job his lightbar is what I see.

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These trucks don’t have self canceling turn signals. What that means is the signal doesn’t go off by itself as we complete a turn.

One of these two outside lights will continue to blink after a turn, or after entering or exiting a highway.

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I have three standard smart a$$ remarks.

1-It is getting slick back here. You are losing blinker fluid.

2-Are you really going into the ditch (or the median)?

3-Do we have enough money for more blinker fluid?

Hey – if he didn’t want me to drive him crazy from behind he should not have given me a hand held radio to talk to him. Am I right? 😀

Number 2 – Take this exit. Crap it was the next exit.
I don’t think this one requires further edification. I can, and do, get us lost from time to time.

Number 3 – Will you slow down?
There are times he has a lead foot. He will be in front of me for about 10 miles at an average speed of 62. Then he is no longer there. I see him about a mile and a half way up in front.

Number 4 – The pedal is on the right! Gas on it!
I know when Joe is on the cell phone. He will going along at about 62 mph and I’m watching traffic or looking at the landscape. Thinking about photos for my next blog post. I notice Joe is getting closer and closer. I have to slow down. Our speed has dropped to 50 mph. At some point Joe has disengaged the cruise control and has forgotten to turn it back on during his yak fest.

I have two smart a$$ remarks for this instance.

1-Beep. Beep.

2-The pedal is on the right. Use it.

Jim has been forced to listen to me as he is trapped in our pickup during the deadhead back up to Tracy. I wonder if he thinks such things as “Boy, will I be glad to get in a truck by myself where I don’t have to hear her”.

The end is in sight. 16 of the 44 trucks remain and we are hoping to be finished a week from this coming Sunday.

I have a topic for a future blog post – if I remember to bring my phone. It will deal with hooking up to a trailer and that process. I thought those of you not familiar with the trucking industry might like to know how a truck and trailer get connected.

Here’s hoping you all enjoy the upcoming weekend. The weather is great for swimming pools, beaches, backyard cookouts, or hiking in the wilderness. However you spend your weekend I hope you enjoy it.

Leslie

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California’s Third Lane law for semi truck traffic.

To my knowledge, California is the only state that enforces the law of no tractor trailer vehicles being in the far left lane of a multi lane highway.

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Most truck traffic is in the far right lane except for passing. There are signs hung from overhead structures indicating an additional lane for truck traffic.

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These signs are posted before a confluence of other highway interchanges. Where a driver can exit from one highway then merge onto a different one to continue the designated route.

In the greater Los Angeles area the highways can have as many as eight travel lanes in each direction. Exits to streets, state roads, and interstate highways are well marked. Generally, the three far left lanes are for thru traffic not exiting. The third lane law is still in effect, even on the roads with way too many lanes to keep track of.

Okay, this has been my attempt at keeping this blog entertaining and informative. I need a nap…..or two.

I can’t believe it is already Thursday. Have a wonderful day today, dear readers.

Leslie


The two old codgers and I are getting tired.

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These trips from Tracy, California to Las Vegas, Nevada are a little over 500 miles each.

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The deadhead back to Tracy is the same. Daytime temperatures are steadily rising into the triple digits. Working in the hot sun for three hours is not fun at all. In our haste to get unloaded and delivered we often forget to purchase water. We end up getting dehydrated and headaches. Even so far as to get nauseous at times.

This will be our fifth trip and will have delivered 25 trucks and three trailers later this afternoon. We have started working smarter instead of harder. Let me tell you, it has taken a few temper tantrums on my part. I’ve almost resorted to flinging myself to the dusty ground to kick and wail as any good three year old can do.

There is a two hour time difference between our home time in Oklahoma and Arkansas and the California – Nevada time. We take advantage of that time difference by leaving the hotel long before the crap of dawn.

Yes, indeed folks, I did say the “Crap” of dawn. You know, like, “Oh Crap! It’s dawn”.

Rising out of bed at 4:30 each morning (2:30 local time) this part of the world is still sound asleep. We get our trucks moving on the highway by 6:30 (4:30 local time) and we get a good hour of pre dawn driving done. The air is chilly and the roads are mostly populated by other truck drivers getting a head start on the day.

Our route take us on several two lane roads that are heavily traveled. CA 46 to CA 99 is two lane then some of CA 58 from east of Boron to Barstow is two lane. Once we get on I-15 in Barstow we have several altitude changes passing through Baker and beyond. The elevation rises from sea level at Barstow to 4000 feet just before the 16 mile downgrade leading into Nevada.

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We have been arriving in Las Vegas, Nevada around 5:30 in the evening (3:30) local time. Just as the temperatures are making their way upward to the daily high of 102.

The blinding sun and merciless heat make us get our butts in gear to get the work done. The three of us are working as a team now and can get the delivery time down to 1-1/2 hours.

The early morning hours in Tracy are when we get the hooking up done. We are getting better. It took us 2 hours and 20 minutes yesterday morning to be ready to roll. The longest it has taken has been 4 hours.

After delivering the trucks we head to a hotel in Las Vegas or at the Nevada/California border town of Primm. 4:30 in the morning once again we are up and leaving by 6:30. We arrive in Santa Nella, California that same afternoon and fall down in the air conditioned rooms.

Next morning it is off to Tracy, about 54 miles from Santa Nella to begin work. Once that is finished we drive back to Santa Nella to the Love’s Travel Center for lug nut torquing then back to the hotel room to recuperate from the demanding schedule we have.

About 45 trucks and six trailers have to be delivered in Las Vegas for the June 12th auction. We have to be done by June 8th – as many as we can possibly move. So far we are doing pretty well the line of trucks is dwindling. We took five more yesterday from this string.

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We reward ourselves with eclairs and fruit tarts on the trip back. A sugar buzz is just as good a motivator to us old farts as it is to the young kids 😀

Hope your work week is going well.

Leslie


Harris Ranch – Coalinga, California

On Interstate 5, south of Sacramento, California the rolling hills are brown from the dried up grasses on one side of the highway while the other is lush green orchards.

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Nearly 200 miles south of Tracy, California sits an oasis at the junction of I-5 and CA 198. Harris Ranch is that oasis. For travelers in need of cold drinks or coffee to continue their travels the convenience store has all that. Fill your gas tank while there, as well. There are diesel pumps for the big trucks and ample parking for tractor trailers.

To the east of the convenience store is a massive building that is worth exploring. A huge dining area is on one end, next to that is a very masculine sports bar serving adult beverages of beer, wine, and mixed drinks. The sports bar also serves from the dining menu.

Next comes the general store, which you see first upon entering the tall and heavy doors. Home decor and collectible items abound as you stroll around. A cold case is filled with the famous Harris Ranch aged beef. Giant rib eyes, t-bones, sirloins, and roasting meats are there for you to choose. The price per pound will set you back several dollars but Harris Ranch has quite a number of loyal and satisfied customers.

Check out the Yelp app for Harris Ranch near Coalinga, CA to see the reviews and photos. I would link it here but I am having difficulty figuring it out using my phone on this blog entry :/

As a special treat we took Jim there for lunch. This is a place where the prices are a bit over budget on the menu items but so well worth the splurge. You might have to budget your time as well. Who knew out in the middle of NOWHERE wait times for a table can be as much as 30 minutes?!

After lunch we went into the general store and stood in line at the bakery counter waiting our turn. At $4.00 US fresh fruit tarts beckon you. A chocolate covered eclair called out Jim’s name while these two hollered at me.

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If you want to learn more about Harris Ranch you can check out their website. Harris Ranch also has lodging if you need a place to stay for the night or weekend. I don’t know what their room rates are but I imagine they are well out of a truck driver’s budget.

I hope you all have enjoyed your long Memorial weekend. I wish to leave this post with a big THANK YOU for our military men and women – active or retired – for volunteering to put themselves in harms way as they serve our country and keep our homeland free and safe.

Leslie


Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner – Yermo, California

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This summer, are you planning a trip to Disneyland with your children? Will you be traveling the I-15 route through Nevada?

You will, most likely, need a place to get a cold drink, walk the kinks out, use the facilities, and get something to eat. Peggy Sue’s has an added bonus. Photo ops!

Sing and dance with the Blues Brothers. Or just stand there.

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Do the “Jail House Rock” with Elvis Presley.

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Check out the website for Peggy Sue’s to learn about the history of the little diner.

This diner, located off I-15 at Ghost Town Road exit in Yermo, California will immediately let you know what generation you are from. For every six people pointing and saying “Who is that?” there will be at least two people who know the personalities photos covering the walls of the diner.

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All of the memorabilia throughout the diner belong to Peggy Sue and her husband, Champ.

Hope you all have had a great weekend. Joe, Jim and I are on the way back to Tracy, California to continue moving trucks and trailers. 20 trucks and two trailers are delivered now. Maybe we will see you at Peggy Sue’s sometime.

Leslie


Trip #3 of Tracy, California to Las Vegas, Nevada.

When this trip ends we will have delivered 15 trucks to the auction lot. For all the work, sweat, and miles of bumpy roads we have only just put a dent in the line up of trucks to be moved.

This trip I am moving a flatbed trailer along with a truck. It has been many – many – years since I backed under a trailer. All I can say for myself is I did a pretty lousy job of it. Missed the entire 5th wheel with the king pin at first. It took me several tries to get it right.

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Driving on the highway and looking at my mirrors is an unusual sight for me to see the trailer back there.

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We all three stopped at the Love’s Travel Center in Santa Nella, California to get the lug nuts torqued. Some tires had been replaced on these trucks and had not had the lug nuts checked after the recommended 50 mile drive.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with truck wheels I will give you a small dissertation on the way of truck wheels. Pictured below is a rear axle wheel. You will see a small round area in the center of the wheel which has nuts. That is the axle hub. The lug nuts are behind that along the rear wall of the tire rim.

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The tire specialist had a tool that is nearly as long as an average person is tall. That is the “torque wrench”.

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A socket and extension bar is placed on the nut. The long handle has a break midway up the shaft that applies 475 foot pounds of pressure on the nut to tighten it up to specifications. Both of my front wheels had a couple nuts that were fairly loose and required some extra pumping action to get the proper torque.

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Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to have a set of wheels come loose. I was following Joe a few years back when I watched a set of his rear wheels take off along the shoulder of the road. A few bounces and the tires and wheels separated. One wheel went hurtling through the ditch and up the other side on the right rolling down a side road then launch itself over a fence and get list amid a bunch of pipe. The other wheel took off to the left, after separating from the other wheel. That one went barreling through the median, up onto the busy highway just missing an oncoming tractor trailer, then off over a fence and lost to the trees and weeds.

Let’s just say it is one memory that has been burned in my brain.

Hope you will be enjoying your day today. I need a shower and something to eat.

Leslie


Tractor trailer stuck in the sand on California 58 near Barstow.

Do you have a really embarrassing event in your life, witnessed by co-workers or friends, that you will never be allowed to live down? I have a few of them that is for sure.

Joe, Jim, and I were nearing the end of California 58 which intersects with I-15 near Barstow, California yesterday. We were well passed the half way point between Santa Nella, California and Las Vegas, Nevada. Three hours more of driving and our journey to deliver would be finished.

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The road ahead was blocked. Blocked by a truck driver that attempted to make a U-Turn on a heavily traveled two-lane road.

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A steady stream of cars, pickups and tractor trailers came toward us as they drove behind the trailer of the stuck truck.

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Looking at my watch, which indicated 1:30 in the afternoon (11:30 in the morning local time), I figured our deliver time of 4:30 (2:30 local time) was going to be seriously delayed.

My attention to the steady stream of oncoming traffic was momentarily diverted by two men inspecting the entrenched rear axles of the stuck truck. There was a show going on. Arms raised and waving in the air by one man in frustration. The other man’s arms outstretched, palms up, in a supplicant manner. I could tell by the two men’s gestures the way of that conversation. One accusatory, the other pleading.

I’ve been in that situation more than once in my life and driving career. Not to say I’ve blocked an entire road but I’ve done my share of stupid things.

Joe found an opening in the traffic flow and took advantage of it. Jim and I followed.

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Several 9-1-1 calls were made to report the mishap and request traffic control at the scene. A wrecker would be needed to pull the deeply entrenched truck out of the sand.

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Feelings were the only serious damage in this event. At least at the point where I left the two men to their task of trying to correct the problem.

Our delivery was delayed by only 10 minutes and it was someone else in the hot seat instead of me this time.

I bet you have a story or two of something you have done that will be told and retold until the end of time.

Leslie