Sunday, October 31, 2010

Which Is Correct?

We're taking a poll, Mr. Trucker and I. This is the signage we see in Indiana when there are three lanes of traffic

Use Right 2 Lanes
and here's the same sign, more or less, in Illinois

Use 2 Right Lanes
Which do you think is correct? Mr. Trucker and I are voting for the Illinois version. This is the type of thing we spend hours debating and conversing about. Fascinating, isn't it? Don't you wish you could ride along and witness this stimulating conversation?  Yeah, that's what I thought...

It's a been a frustrating couple of days. Friday we delivered to a WalMart distribution center in Pennsylvania. I think I've mentioned before that WalMart thinks their poop doesn't stink and they have really stupid shipping and receiving rules. You had better not be even one minute late arriving for your "scheduled appointment time" (I use this phrase in the loosest possible sense) but even if you arrive on time or early, the "scheduled appointment time", really has no meaning. They'll get you to a door when they feel like it, and then after you're at the door, they'll unload you when they're good and ready. We can usually plan on spending several hours at a WalMart DC, none of which of course are paid, because it's time when your wheels aren't moving, and CAN'T move, because WalMart is busy not respecting your time. 

Another stupid policy WalMart has is that truckers are NOT allowed to take breaks on their property. Our appointments to deliver there are often at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning, so it would certainly be convenient to arrive there the night before and spend the night on the property so as to be on time for our "scheduled appointment time", but WalMart is having none of it. 

Also, in the trucking industry, there are restrictions surrounding your hours of operating. One day soon I'm going to have Mr. Trucker guest post on this blog to explain these complicated "hours", as I simply cannot wrap my head around them. Suffice it to say at this point that you can drive a certain number of hours in a day and when your hours are up, Federal regulations say that you cannot move the wheels another inch, so you need to plan your day so that you when that time comes, you are parked somewhere where you can take  a "sleeper berth break" of 10 hours (or in some cases 8 hours, but I'll let Mr. T explain that later).

Anyway, while we were being ignored at the WalMart in PA on Friday, Mr. Trucker ran out of hours, because THEY detained us for four and a half hours! Even though Mr. Trucker knew that they don't allow trucks to camp out, he decided to push the issue because he legally couldn't move and because we figured it was only for another three and a half hours, till about 12:30 in the morning. So we moved the truck out of the dock into a parking spot and went to sleep. Three times in the space of that three and a half hours WalMart sent someone out to SLAM on the cab of the truck and wake us up and tell us we had to leave, even threatening to call the State Police. Mr. Trucker argued with these individuals to no avail, trying to explain that legally we couldn't move and that it was THEIR fault for running us out of hours. They didn't care, they kept telling us we had to leave. We stalled until we had hours to drive again, but neither of us got any sleep to speak of, and then Mr. Trucker had to drive another four hours to his next pickup location. Poor guy! He went through an entire pack of Mad Croc gum (gum with caffeine in it that he chews to help him stay alert.) 

Then today we got badly misdirected by some night dispatcher from last night and we got up at 3:00 a.m. to drive to a delivery at a warehouse in Illinois that ISN'T OPEN ON SUNDAYS!!!! Isn't that lovely? The sad part is that there are four trucks here from Mr. Trucker's company, all of them apparently misguided into thinking that they could drop off today. Sometimes I get so frustrated at the stupidity in the trucking industry that I just want to knock some heads together. Mr. Trucker sent a Quallcom message to someone in dispatch asking if this was some twisted Psychological experiment to see how each driver would respond...He got a one word answer: "no". 

Sometime after 9:00 a.m. when we realized that no one was coming to work at this warehouse today, I had a hissy fit and insisted Mr. Trucker take me somewhere with a restroom and a shower. In order to get enough credits for a free shower, he knew he would need to buy 50 gallons of fuel and isn't allowed to purchase fuel in Illinois (some tax thing), so we drove an hour to Indiana for the day. Because we really technically weren't supposed to be driving so far out of route, we took a detour around the tolls and ended up in some areas you don't want to be in...

By the tracks

This place had its Grand Opening May 1st and is already
"Going Out For Business"

Harvey, IL
This next sign was at the truck stop where we spent most of today. 

It's a relief to know that the Masseuses double as Notaries

Today's Silly Sounding Place Name:  McAdoo, PA.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tunnels and Trees

I don't know why they call New Jersey "The Garden State". I think it should be called "The Graffiti State". I saw a lot of graffiti there, including this on a makeshift gate at the customer this morning

Fo Shizzle!
and I didn't really see any gardens, just a few mums in pots. I did see some capital views of New York City from Jersey City, though, just before we left there yesterday

The backside of Liberty

Harbor in Jersey City overlooking NYC skyline
For those of you who were worried about our starvation of yesterday, I'll have you know that just before we left Jersey City, we stopped to eat at this fine establishment

Retired police officer's second career
Mr. Trucker had sausage and I had hot dogs on a bun, with spicy mustard, grilled onions, sauerkraut and chili! Yum.

Now Pennsylvania, on the other hand, is full of gardens, well...farms really. And mountains. And tunnels. And tunnels THROUGH the mountains

Pennsylvania tunnel

Just try saying "Tuscarora". It rolls around in your mouth
so nicely

My morbid nature always causes me to remember that
Princess Diana died in a tunnel like this one.
While we drove today, we finally conquered a task that we have been putting off since September 1st. Mr. Trucker has to get his HazMat endorsement and therefore has to take a test. I had picked up the study materials at the DMV in Green Bay in early September, but we have been procrastinating. Today, however, we decided the time had come and I read some of the materials to Mr. Trucker so that we can get through it in time for him to take his test Thanksgiving week, which will be our first week home since going out September 1st (except for the 3 days when Mr. T. came home to "fetch" me). The HazMat stuff is pretty dry and I have to read so loudly to be heard over the truck's engine that my throat soon became scratchy and I had to take a break. 

While driving through the beautiful Pennsylvania scenery this afternoon, I heard my normally mild-mannered and peace-loving husband on the phone with his company's "Road Service" department, and he was completely losing his cool. I heard him use the phrase "I don't give a Fat Rat's Booty", so I knew he had had enough of this non-working air conditioning compressor issue. We shall see what happens...

God's beautiful handiwork!

"Oh goody", I hear you thinking. "More fall color"!
I started knitting a new hat today, to wear on really bad hair days, which would be about every other day. It will be a beret. I will post pics when it's big enough to see anything. Also, I finished reading about as many Elizabeth Gaskell books as I can handle (on my IPod touch) and am on to "Bleak House" by Charles Dickens. If you ever have a chance to see the BBC DVD series of Bleak House, starring Gillian Anderson (of X-Files fame), please do so! It is awesome! So is "Cranford", as I have mentioned before, starring Dame Judi Dench. By the way, to my children: These two DVD sets are what I want for Christmas.

Here are a couple shots for my widdle bwudder, Ed:

Bedford, PA

Hey Ed, what time's dinner?

And just to wrap up the week, here are photos of unutterable cuteness

The kittens are two weeks old today! That afghan they're laying on
is one that I lovingly crocheted for Sassy when she was living at home!

Donovan and Jasper in their "Candy Corn" costumes.
I clearly didn't make them large enough, but they would no doubt
hate them just as much, even if they fit properly.
Today's Silly Sounding Place Name: Pequannock, NJ.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Big Apple, Sort Of...

Today has been a big day! Mr. Trucker told me yesterday that we would be going to Long Island, NY. Not ever having actually been to New York City area, I did not really realize what that meant. For instance, I did not know that it meant we would be crossing a very high, scary bridge (The Verrazano bridge)

Verrazano Bridge in New York
or that we would be seeing impending signs of New York Cityness, like this:

Stay off the bridge that day, unless you're running...
and  this:

NYC transit
or that we would actually be in Brooklyn, seeing sights like this

Brooklyn, NY street
and this

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

These are apparently what pass
for yards/gardens


Yes, that IS a garbage truck!
It was a really great time of day to be in New York, around 8:00 a.m. There were tons of people on the streets, going to work, walking their kids to school...

Brooklyn street
We began to see even more signs of New York Cityness, clusters of Orthodox Jewish men standing on street corners,

NYC skyline
Everywhere we looked, there were little markets, cafes, bakeries, coffee shops... 

It didn't help that all we'd eaten was an apple and a half can
of V8 apiece at about 4:00 a.m.

Corner market in Brooklyn
We were in Brooklyn to offload only four pallets of butter at a small wholesale grocer located on a street where no semi with a 53 foot trailer had any business trying to navigate. It was very dicey getting in and out of there without knocking over any light poles or flattening any cars. 

On the way back out of Brooklyn en route to our second stop in Jersey City, NJ, I became desperately frantic to score a photo of the Statue of Liberty. So much so, in fact, that I had to settle for this:

Statue of Liberty, much cropped and blown up
Nobody told me that Jersey City is pretty much where the statue is located. We are sitting in the customer's parking lot in Jersey City (and have been sitting here for at least three hours, I might add, and we still have not eaten), looking at the back side of Lady Liberty

Statue of Liberty from Jersey City
So all in all, it has been a very exciting day, one I would not have missed for the world!


This lady had a cart overflowing with cans & bottles

Guy sitting in car directly across street from where we delivered

Busy street

Brooklyn market

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Sweet Ride

Yesterday morning we awoke in New York and then spent most of the day in Pennsylvania. I got some beautiful photos and there was mist in the mountains again

Somewhere in Pennsylvania

Somewhere else in Pennsylvania

We were really kicking ourselves for spending so much time at the Ben & Jerry's factory when we saw the sign for the "Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour and Anthracite Museum".  I mean, who would wanna miss THAT?

Just when we figure the fall colors are way past their peak, we get to another area where they are too beautiful for words

Lovely, no?
We were carrying a load of chocolate chips from St. Albans, VT to none other than Hershey, PA.  Now mind you, I've never been to Hershey. I didn't realize it was such a big deal. They even have an amusement park.


Welcome to Hershey. Spelled out with white chocolate chips,
I presume.
Everything in town seems to be chocolate themed

Coca Diner in Hershey, PA
We were told they even pipe the smell of chocolate through the streets. After picking up a load of (you guessed it) candy, we were on to Fredericksburg, Virginia.

This necessitated driving through the Washington, D.C. area, a feat not to be attempted by the faint of heart. The traffic was like nothing I had ever seen, and apparently we missed rush hour! We heard a trucker on the CB say "it can't be any worse than Chicago", but Mr. Trucker would beg to differ. Chicago traffic is bad at certain times, but in DC, it's bad ALL the time! 

When we arrived in Fredericksburg, we were able to meet up with Jimbo, Mr. Trucker's brother-in-law who lives 20 minutes away in Stafford, VA. Jimbo took us out to dinner and it was such a treat to ride in a real car! 

Just a little note of explanation on the choosing of the "Silly Sounding Place Name" of the day. As we see names that strike our fancy on highway signs, I write them down. Then when I write my post, I choose one of them. Some days it's difficult to come up with a name that's suitably silly sounding, but other days, it's difficult choosing just one. There does seem to be a pattern to the name, as noted by Mr. Trucker. The more syllables it has, the better, and the "P" and "K" sounds seem to contribute to the silliness. Mr. Trucker claims that he heard about these attributes of silliness on Seinfeld, or maybe he is just making that up...

Heading off into the mists
Today's Silly Sounding Place Name:  Lake Wallenpaupack, PA.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Tummy Hurts...I Wonder Why?

Just inside the Vermont border last night, we stopped at a rest area so that I could use the lady's room before we arrived at the customer (cuz you never know for sure if they're going to have facilities, and we were going to spend the night on their property).  I was absolutely captivated! Even though it was dark, I could see that the rest area building was constructed to look like a two-story barn. I could smell the pine in the air as I walked inside, and there were handcrafted wooden benches outside for resting, along with pots of beautiful fall flowers. Inside the building were several glass floor-to-ceiling display cases, showcasing Vermont products and merchandise. And the brochures...!  By the time I returned to the truck, Mr. Trucker was just locking it up to come look for me. He was pretty worried because I was gone so long and had left my phone in the truck ("don't ever do that again, I thought you fell down and hit your head!").

After this morning's delivery, which was in Brattleboro, just barely inside the southern border of Vermont, we were to drive north to St. Alban's, almost as far north as you can go in Vermont before you reach Canada. To say that the scenery is breathtaking is a gross understatement.

Somewhere in Vermont

Somewhere Else in Vermont

Misty Mountaintop

We didn't see any of these...


But we DID see these...

On the way north, we stopped at another rest area. I'm tellin' ya, Vermont's gotta win the prize for outstanding rest areas. 

This is only the greenhouse connected to the main building
This particular structure has a Living Wastewater Treatment Facility which they apparently use to recycle all the water in the toilets, AND to sustain this beautiful Greenhouse

You can't see it, but there are goldfish in this tank
There were free full-sized cups of Green Mountain Coffee (donations accepted) or hot tea, with all the stir-ins, and a lovely sitting area featuring rocking chairs handcrafted somewhere in Vermont

Really Comfy Rockers
As at last night's rest area, this one also contained a display case of local wares. These are from the Vermont Country Store

Pickled Fiddlehead Ferns!
I asked one local young lady why more people don't move to Vermont, as it is so gorgeous, and
she told me "there's nothing to do here, also no jobs".  I guess that sums it up pretty nicely, although really I've noticed that young people always think there's "nothing to do", no matter where they live.

Our schedule allowed for some extra time for an outing or excursion of some sort, so we chose this...

Duh! No brainer, really!
We had to park in back, because of the truck, and therefore got to see something most of the tour-goers probably don't...

Ben & Jerry's Factory
Waterbury, VT
The tour wrapped up with a tasting of a new flavor, "Milk & Cookies". Here's Mr. Trucker hamming it up in the tasting room

"Any questions from the floor?"
After the tour, we continued on to St. Albans and while we were getting loaded there, we ate lunch in the truck

More Ben & Jerry's
after which we headed south out of Vermont and into New York on our way to our destination in Pennsylvania.

Some observations about Vermont: It is gorgeous and we love it but there are no jobs and nothing to do..and if you are going to live there, you have to drive a Subaru!

Way more than half the cars on this Vermont
highway were Subarus! The bumper sticker says
"Trees Are Cool"

Today's silly sounding place name: Winooski, VT.