Sunday, January 30, 2011

Here I Am, Did Ya Miss Me?

Neither Mr. Trucker nor I have had a haircut since Thanksgiving and we’re both getting pretty shaggy. You should see Mr. Trucker! He looks like that kid from “The 70’s Show”. He says his hair looks pretty much like it did when he was in high school, and I can believe it! He has a really nice thick head of hair. I told him many men his age would be envious but he just poo poo’s it. His beard is starting to get longer, too, and he’s inordinately proud of it. He spends hours grooming it, and he strokes it while he’s driving. And they say WOMEN are vain!
You’ve probably all been wondering where I’ve been. We were stuck for nearly three full days in Mondovi, at corporate headquarters, having the truck worked on. They did NOT, alas, give us a new truck. We spent all our time sitting in the lounge watching TV and walking back and forth the few blocks to the only restaurant in town. They did put us up in a motel the one night that the truck wasn’t available to sleep in. The motel wasn’t bad, but the bedsheets were pilly, which I just hate. I can, however, tell you the plot of just about every movie shown on Lifetime Movie Network over that three day period. And do you know what the company paid Mr. Trucker for that “down” time? $75.00. That’s it! That doesn’t even cover our meals for the three days. 
We finally headed out of there on Thursday evening and when Mr. Trucker asked me what I wanted for supper, I said “Chinese”. I had been craving Lo Mein for three days, but there’s no such of a thing as a Chinese restaurant in Mondovi, Wisconsin. There probably aren’t even any Chinese people there to start one. As we headed out of town, we took a wrong turn (rather, Mr. Trucker took a wrong turn, I never would have) and had to go down a country road to turn around and we saw this:

That's right! That's a bald eagle. Perched in a tree right
next to some farmhouse.
Unbelievably, we were able to find a Chinese restaurant in Black River Falls when we stopped to scale the load. Even more unbelievably, there was room to park an 18 wheeler, because it was located in a plaza that used to contain a WalMart. We ended up getting the buffet and I spotted Rice Pudding on it, as I cruised up and down (at least I THOUGHT it was rice pudding). I LOVE rice pudding, so I was pretty excited, and I paced myself to be sure I’d have room. It turns out I was wrong, it wasn’t rice pudding. It was Tapioca pudding! This was a significant turn of events, and I’ll tell you why: when I was a little kid, anytime my Mom served us tapioca pudding, my mean, nasty big brother Steve would tell me that it was fish eyes! I of course believed him, being the impressionable, sweet, young child that I was, and totally adoring and looking up to him.  Even after, years later, when I realized that he was probably wrong, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat tapioca pudding because of this early first impression. I think it was just this past year that I actually could bring myself to try it. Mr. Trucker likes to keep little tapioca puddings in the truck for snacking and dessert. 
So the other night, I texted my big brother telling him that I had eaten fish eye pudding for dessert. And he knew JUST what I was talking about, the weasel! I also texted my baby brother, to see what he remembered, because being only two years younger than myself, I figured he was probably just as traumatized by the whole event as I was. And do you know what he told me? He remembered it as being our Mom who told him it was fish eyes! The poor little kid! What a terrible thing for a parent to do to a child! I wonder which of us remembers it correctly, or if either of us do? I do distinctly remember our Mom serving us eggplant slices, breaded and fried, and telling us that it was fish in order to get us to eat it. Our Mom was a wonderful, sweet lady, and I know that as a parent, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. I used to try to hide diced onion in meatloaf, but my girls were as expert as CSI in identifying miniscule pieces of objectionable vegetables, and they would invariably find me out. “Ewwww, is this onion?” “No, honey, it’s celery!” (yeah right!). It got to the point where I had to grate it on my finest grater setting to hide it in the meatloaf, and that worked so well that I used to grate carrot in there too.  Hee hee. They’re both still alive, so I guess it didn’t kill them.
Big brother Steve emailed me this recipe he found on the internet for Gramma's fish eyes:

We are on our way to the Bronx, and then Brooklyn and of course I’m pretty excited. I really like going there.

Late breaking update: We just spent over an hour-and-a-half in backed-up traffic in a detour off I-80 in Pennsylvania outside of Danville. From what we heard on the CB's, there was an accident involving three semis, one of which was a HazMat truck, so when there's a HazMat spill, they generally shut down the highway for a looooooong time. 

Liars! There was no scene. We never saw a darn thing!

Unless you count this. This was all we saw.

Wide load in orange and yellow!
By all means, let's just stand around doing nothing!

Oh, now I see. He's waiting for the emergency donuts to arrive!
There was all kinds of emergency personnel standing around on the interstate, doing nothing, but once we got off at the exit and into the 2 mile long line of cars and trucks, there was nary a one to be seen. It took us an hour and a half to go the 2 miles to the traffic light where we had to turn left to get on Hiway 11. It would have been nice if there had been a police officer directing traffic at the light to facilitate movement, but noooooooooooo! At times like these, truckers take matters into their own hands. They set up what's known as a "rolling roadblock" whenever two lanes of traffic are merging down into one, because otherwise the cars (known as four wheelers), which are smaller and zippier and can respond faster to stops and starts, all try to bypass the long line and weasel-whack their way back in right before the point at which it becomes one lane. This cobs things up so bad that the line of people who are patiently waiting where they're supposed to, barely moves. So one trucker takes it upon himself to get into the lane that's going to be ending, and drives slowly next to the other line to keep the "four wheelers" from zooming up around things. It's "technically" illegal, but it happens all the time. Saw this sign while we were waiting:

I wonder if there's a "Dutch Oven" in that "Dutch Kitchen"?

Soon we'll be in Jersey for the night, then up at 3:00 or 3:30 a.m. to drive into "Da Bronx".

Monday, January 24, 2011

Super Bowl Bound

Well, I'll just say it straight out! My Packers are going to the Super Bowl!! They beat "Da Bears" last night to win the NFC championship. It was so sweet! Cuz T was disappointed because I didn't post right after the game, but we had to get up at 3:00 a.m. today, so we went to bed early...didn't even watch the Steelers beat the Jets.

I still remember like it was yesterday when the Packers won the Super Bowl in 1997. I watched it with a friend (Mr. Trucker and I hadn't met yet) and after the win, we took to the streets in my friend's car and it was absolute chaos. We were lucky to escape with our lives! People were all over in the streets, rocking cars (including ours) and generally celebrating. I wonder where we'll be on February 6 to watch. We were actually only about 20 miles from Pittsburgh last night.

We were in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York before getting to Pennsylvania.

This was in Connecticut. Prophetic, no?

Remember Naugahyde? This must be where they made it.

The "Twin Cities" of Pennsylvania.

This morning's load is headed for Wisconsin. We're being sent to Company headquarters for "e-service", which is something they do on the truck every so many miles. Mr. Trucker is worried about why they're sending him to Corporate, instead of to one of the other many terminals out there. I personally think maybe they're going to give us a new truck. They still haven't fixed the body damage from the accident . 

I  guess we'll just have to see...

Today's Silly Sounding Place Name:  Poquonock, Connecticut

Friday, January 21, 2011

Random Thoughts

We're tooling through New York state on our way to Massachusetts. Someone at Mr. Trucker's company must have a sense of humor, sending us to the northeast during a winter snow advisory. So far, though, I must say, we've avoided driving in bad weather. We got six inches of snow during the night in Pennsylvania, but we were all closed up cozy in our little truck cab. I saw this on the front page of USA Today this morning:

Packers vs "Da Bears"
Can't wait for that game on Sunday! Hope we don't have to watch it in Kentucky, though, in another smoke filled trucker's lounge. Our next load will be from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania, then another one from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin. Maybe we'll end up having to watch the game in Chicago. THAT would suck! 

One of my Green Bay readers asked if they had green and gold M&M's in Arkansas? I wonder if that means they have them in Green Bay? 

By the way, see if you can spot Mr. Trucker in this picture:

Mr. T and his new friends

Here he is on Christmas Eve in Daytona Beach, enjoying himself immensely

This is the life!
Okay, now we're in Connecticut. I suppose now I'm going to have to listen to Mr. Trucker P & Moan about the 55 mph drivers. 

My job this morning is to sit on the computer and monitor activity on the Apple home page because they're going to hit 10 billion downloads from the App store sometime this morning, and whoever is the 10 billionth download will win a $10,000 gift card to the app store. They're up to about 9 billion, 980 some million already & he's convinced it's going to hit within the next couple of hours and wants a chance to get in on the action.

Today's Silly Sounding Place Name (this one's for Mims):  

Guelph, Ontario (in Canada, eh?)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

We Amuse Ourselves

For those of you who wonder what we do while we're driving: We Amuse Ourselves. Mr. Trucker, in particular, cracks himself up on a regular basis. He has some new high-tech thingies on his Smart Phone, and a curlicue cord thingy which he plugs into the truck radio. This allows him to find streaming audio (when I first heard it, I thought they were saying "screaming audio") of different radio stations from all over the entire world. Sometimes we listen to Celtic music on an actual Irish radio station in Dublin. The other day, we listened to Frookie (actually FRUK--Folk Radio U.K.). While scrolling through the stations, Mr. T discovered one called "Pagan Pentogram Radio", which we both agreed we wouldn't care to listen to. But it caused us to reflect on other unique, one-of-a-kind radio stations we might create.

That's how we came up with "All Triangle Radio". Our byline would be "All Triangle, All The Time", and it would feature only music played on the triangle. We would interview triangle composers, legendary triangle players, and experts on triangle music and the history of the instrument. We'd air discussions on the various merits of differently sized triangles, using different materials to effect different sounds, and occasionally some obscure triangle types, such as "The Lumberjack Cookhouse Triangle", used to call the men to dinner, etc...

Yesterday we were listening to "Pandora" radio, which if you've never heard of it, is a really cool website where you can choose an artist and create a station based on that artist, and Pandora will play songs by that artist and other similar sounding ones and you can give thumbs up or thumbs down to each selection. So we were listening to the "Jim Croce" station, and Don McLean's "American Pie" came on. Of course I had to sing along, and I'm still amazed that I still know all the words to this 8 minute song after so many years. This then prompted a discussion, between Mr. Trucker and myself, as to the words of the song and what they might mean. Mr. Trucker reminded me that the song was based on the deaths of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper. I then told Mr. Trucker that Carly Simon had written "You're So Vain" about Don McLean, which Mr. Trucker begged to differ with me on, stating that she had written it about Warren Beatty. We then got into a heated argument on the subject, so Mr. Trucker, who is always anxious to prove himself right in any disagreement, got on the internet (we were parked in a truckstop at the time, so don't go getting all worked up about him driving and computing at the same time) to find out the true answer.

First he found information about the words to "American Pie" and that got pretty complex and metaphysical. You can find all sorts of different theories as to the meanings. But apparently I was WRONG about Carly Simon's "You're So Vain", even though I KNOW I had heard or been told repeatedly that it was about Don McLean. There was nothing on the internet to back this theory up. There was, however, plenty of information to back up Mr. Trucker's assertions that it was perhaps Warren Beatty. There was also a lot of conflicting information on the identity of the person or persons Ms. Simon may have had in mind when penning her song, although most of the documentation seems to support the theory that she was actually thinking of three different men. But what REALLY floored us was the fact that allegedly in 2003, Dick Ebersol, an NBC executive, bid $50,000 in a charity auction to win the right to a private performance by Carly Simon, at which she supposedly revealed the name(s) of the person(s) the song was about, as long as Mr. Ebersol signed a confidentiality agreement that he would never publicly disclose the information. Can you even believe it?

Anyway, it just goes to show you that the internet is a wonderful tool for research purposes (and for settling arguments) and also now you know what we do with our time.

Lately we have also been watching movies on our laptop in the evenings. That is because WalMart has that big bin of $5.00 movies in the back of the store (you know the bin I'm talking about: the one where you practically have to dive into the bin head-first to find all the good movies).  Last week we bought "A River Runs Through It", mainly because I remembered vaguely hearing that it was critically acclaimed, or won some awards or something (and because it stars Brad Pitt). We tried to watch it the night we bought it, but it was defective and after running just long enough to pique our interest, it went all Kerplooey on us. We exchanged it a few days later, and watched it night before last. Apparently the whole fly fishing metaphor thing must have a certain appeal to MEN, because I found it incredibly boring. I kept thinking: "okay, this is where he drowns in the river", or "they're going to find a dead body now", or "this must be the part where the train hits them in the tunnel", but none of that stuff ever happened. It was just a kind of nice, slow-moving story about a family and fly fishing (spoiler alert: it did have a tragic ending, but they didn't show anything). It's really kind of a sad reflection on how desensitized we've become to suspense, violence, and excitement in the movies to say that I kept expecting more action.

I hope you've enjoyed this little peek into our exciting lives as Mr. and Mrs. Trucker, saving the world from starvation one truckload at a time. We have had to abandon our dream of visiting Portland, Oregon this month, as we appear to be stuck in the south, driving back and forth between Arkansas and Kentucky. By the way, it would appear that Arkansas has a severe shortage of dentists, so if you are wondering what to encourage your kids to be when they grow up...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

We Need A Federal Smoking Ban

Even though we've still been stuck in the northeast, we've had a few great days. Last night culminated with our Packers beating the Atlanta Falcons 48 to 21 in the playoffs! It was absolutely marvelous, especially considering we almost went back out to the truck after the first three plays, we were so certain the Pack was going to go down in flames. The ONLY drawback to the whole evening was that we were in Kentucky, where they do not yet (and maybe never will) have a statewide smoking ban, so we had to sit in the Truckers Lounge at the truckstop, surrounded by people smoking!!!!! I was about ready to puke by the time the game was over. And to make matters worse, some of them were even Atlanta fans!!!!

The night before last we camped out at a WalMart supercenter and they had one of those RedBox DVD rental thingies, so we used that for the first time and watched a movie on our IMac laptop. I'm absolutely flabbergasted by the whole RedBox thing. How do they do it? For only $1.00 a night. How does that big metal box get the communication of which movie you want and how does it select it and get it to you? I decided they have trained monkeys living inside the thing. And they pay them in bananas, so they have low overhead.

Yesterday morning we got a shower, which always makes for a good day, although after sitting in the smoke-filled lounge, frankly, we need another one.

So here's one of the things that sucks about being a trucker: On Friday we picked up a load in Brockport, NY (which is a really cute little town). We got loaded at right about 5:00 p.m. The paperwork said that the weight of the load was 40,000 lbs. This is always a very crucial piece of information for Mr. Trucker because the DOT law says that you are illegal at anything over 80,000 lbs gross. When you factor in the weight of the tractor and the trailer, we almost always run into trouble anytime the weight of the load itself is anything over 43,000 lbs. Mr. Trucker can monkey around with sliding the axles on the trailer, and, depending on HOW the cargo is loaded, this can sometimes change the weight from illegal to legal (don't ask me how that works, I think it's something to do with smoke and mirrors). Then add to that the fact that the trailers are equipped with something called air scales, which is supposed to give you a "general" idea of your weight (again with the smoke and mirrors thing), but the air scales are OFTEN inaccurate. The only way to know for sure exactly whether you are going to exceed the 80,000 legal weight is to scale the load on a CAT (certified) scale at a truck stop. Sometimes the shippers have scales, but that's pretty rare.

Also, many times the shippers falsify (or just plain guess) the load weight on the paperwork. Because they don't care! If a trucker gets dinged at a DOT scale, it's the trucker who pays the fine and gets in trouble. The shipper just wants to get as much product as will fit in the trailer out the door. Mr. Trucker was trained by his company to trust the shipper's paperwork and to trust the air scales. This is all well and good as far as it goes, but when we were coming out of Florida after Christmas, he got dinged on a DOT scale and got a $33.00 fine for being over 80,000 lbs, when the air scales and the shipper's paperwork seemed to indicate he was fine. His company was going to make HIM pay the fine, because they say it is the driver's responsibility to know their weight. It took him five or six phone calls of protest before they would agree to pay it. The problem is that it is often a long way to the nearest CAT scale and sometimes it is in the opposite direction from where you are taking the load. Add to that the fact that you have to make sure there are no DOT scales between the shipper and the CAT scale, because the fact that you haven't had a chance to weight it yet is no excuse in the eyes of the law.

Once you find a CAT scale and drive there and weigh the load, if it IS overweight, you really only have two choices: You can run the load anyway and plan your route to try to avoid all DOT scales, which complicates your route and adds time. We also don't like this choice because it involves running ILLEGAL, which is something you shouldn't do. The other choice is to return to the shipper and have them rework the load (ie: remove some product or rearrange it so that it is distributed differently). This choice sucks because it drastically adds to the time it takes to deliver the load (it often causes it to get there late) and guess what? You don't get paid for the time or the miles involved in driving to the scale and then back to the shipper.

So when we see (like we did Friday night) paperwork which shows the load weight to be EXACTLY 40,000 lbs even, we are always suspicious. Unfortunately, Mr. Trucker ran out of driving hours while he was being loaded and the nearest CAT scale was 45 minutes away. That was the night we camped out at WalMart. He used some of his limited "off duty" driving time to drive the five minutes to WalMart, but then we were forced to take a 10 hour break before he could drive again. We got up at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday and drove the 45 minutes to the CAT scale, only to find out that we were nearly 2,000 lbs overweight. When that happens, Mr. Trucker has to send a message on his Qualcomm and wait for the dispatcher to instruct him what to do. Because it was 4:00 a.m. on a Saturday, he had to contend with weekend dispatchers, who basically just waste the truckers time all weekend long until the regular dispatchers come back in Monday morning. When Mr. T. sent the message that he was overweight, it's the weekend dispatcher's job to ask you stupid questions (after forcing you to wait nearly 30 minutes) like: Are you sure you weighed it correctly? Did you have your brakes set on the scale? How much fuel do you have? (even if you have a lot of fuel, what are you supposed to do? siphon it out all over the parking lot to lighten your weight? And even if you have completely full tanks, that's not going to account for nearly 2000 extra pounds). After nearly an hour of this going back and forth, they said we would have to return to the shipper, but did they call the shipper to make sure they were even open that early on a Saturday? Or call them to let them know we were returning? Of course not!!!

When the dispatcher was done wasting all this time, it was 8:00 a.m. by the time we returned to the shipper. In the meantime, we figured out that what they had done was this: they had loaded 40,000 one pound bags of frozen vegetables, so they just called it 40,000 lbs on the paperwork, without accounting for the weight of the packaging, the shipping crates, or the pallets. Mr. Trucker figured that with all this added in, the load was easily over 44,000 lbs, possibly even as high as 45,000. If he had known this at the loading dock, he would have told them THEN to take some off, because he KNOWS 44,000 is too much. When we got there, the guy in shipping and receiving was irritated (they often are, they just want you to run the load illegally) and tried to argue with Mr. Trucker, then he told us we might have to wait till Monday morning to get reworked. Now here's the part I don't understand: Wouldn't you think that the shipper would have a vested interest in the product getting to the customer ON TIME?? All this overloading and monkeying around nearly always causes us to be late with the delivery. You would think that the shipper would WANT a legal load getting to the receiver on time. The only answer to this question that I've been able to figure out is that once they consign the load to a transportation/logistics company (ie: Mr. Trucker's employer), all the logistical issues now become the responsibility of the transportation company. Therefore, if the load is late, it is now the transportation company's (and ultimately the driver's) fault, regardless of whether the shipper themselves CAUSED it to be late through their shoddy handling. The same goes for detaining trucks at the docks way past their loading appointment times.

Anyway, the bottom line was that they DID remove two pallets Saturday morning, in fairly short order, and we drove back to the CAT scale to be sure it was legal, and then FINALLY, after wasting three hours of precious driving time, were able to head to Arkansas. Only now we are severely limited on breaks, meals and showers on the way there, trying to make it on time.

We saw a lot of pretty (but hazardous) snow in upper New York

Buffalo area, where it is ALWAYS snowing
But now we are in sunny, snowless Tennessee.

It's not looking good for our making it to Portland this month. After we drop off in Arkansas, they have us heading back to Kentucky, which, last time I looked was in the wrong direction. 

Today's Silly Sounding Place Name: Quakake, Pennsylvania

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter Weather Advisory

Gol darn it anyways! We should be in Texas right now, instead of battling snow and slippery roads in the northeast! We saw seven semis in the ditch yesterday, seven! And we've seen two more so far this morning, and it's only 6:15 a.m. and we've barely been on the road for an hour.

Here are pictures of two of them from yesterday.

Ditched semi #1

Ditched semi #1

What do we have here?

Ditched semi #2

Ooh. I'll bet he's having a bad day.

I guess I DID get one shot of the third one, after all. This one
was really bad. The cab was pretty much destroyed. This driver
was either killed or hurt very badly, I'd guess.

Fortunately, Mr. Trucker is a very good, very cautious driver and he is certain that every one of those nine semis was going way too fast for conditions.

On a happier note, we finally broke out of the Denny's rut last night for dinner. We were parked at a truckstop that DID have a Denny's, but it was also within walking distance of several other fine dining establishments, so we chose.....wait for it....Pizza Hut!  Pretty basic, but it made a nice change from the usual.

Today's Silly Sounding Place Name:  Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Even The Best Laid Plans...

I have been in a state of despondency ever since our run to Texas fell through! We had a lovely Sunday in Minnesota. Sassy drove down to spend part of the day with us

Sassy and me
The three of us had a lovely time together. We had lunch, made a WalMart run, finished watching True Grit (the John Wayne version) in the truckers lounge, before Sassy headed back to St. Paul. Then Mr. Trucker & I got to watch our Green Bay Packers beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs before we had to jump in the truck, go get loaded and drive to southwestern Minnesota in the snow.

The next morning is when everything started to go south (figuratively, not literally). The load we were supposed to go pick up to take to Texas basically dried up and disappeared...instead we were instructed to head back east to Rochester, MN, and on the way we ran into a mechanical issue and ended up sitting at a truck stop for most of Monday waiting for a someone to show up and fix us. Then because it was late and the roads were bad, we just stayed there for the night. Yesterday we made it to Rochester (home of the Mayo clinic, by the way) to pick up our load. And just guess where it's going...yup, you got it! Pennsylvania! 

I feel like I'm in that movie, "Groundhog Day" with Bill Murray. We just can't seem to break out of this rut of driving I-80 either east towards Pennsylvania or New Jersey, or I-80 west back to Illinois. I almost cried when I saw this:

No please! Anything but that! Once we cross back over,
we'll never make it back again!

In case you've ever wondered, the mighty Mississipp
does ice over

There are, however, open areas as well
It's as if we're destined never to make it west. Our dispatcher has promised (as much as dispatchers' promises can ever be relied on) to get us out to Portland, Oregon like we requested. It just may take a little longer. In the meantime, I'll try to think up some new material to breathe new life into old territory. Sigh.

Today's Silly Sounding Place Name:  Guckeen, Minnesota.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The No-Drive Zone

Well, we finally did it! We broke through the no-drive zone and crossed the Mississippi River this morning from Illinois into Missouri. We've been in four states today: Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, and now Minnesota.

I think Mr. Trucker has a sadistic streak in him! He has a little digital thermometer on his side-view mirror and for the past couple of hours he has been gleefully reporting to me every time the temperature drops another degree. We're currently at negative six! We have been fortunate up to this point to escape the major snow storms and cold temps that other people in the midwest and east have been experiencing, but I guess it's time to pay our dues. We'll be spending a couple of days in frigid Minnesota. But's back to the tropics!

Tonight we'll be in Northfield, MN, about 40 minutes south of the Twin Cities. Sassy's going to drive down from St. Paul tomorrow to spend part of the day with us before our 8:00 p.m. delivery appointment. Monday we drive to southwestern Minnesota to pick up a load that we'll be driving 1400 miles (finally, some decent miles), all the way to the Mexico border. It sounds like quite an interesting process. Mr. Trucker's company has a terminal in Laredo, TX, right ON the border basically. We'll be handing the trailer off to someone else to drive into Mexico.

From there, we hope to stay in the western U.S. and finally get to see some uncharted (for us) territory, right up until our home time in Portland, Oregon in about 10 days. In February, we'll be going home to Wabeno for the annual Trump Lake Ice Fisheree (see: That's my Father-in-law's webcam). Then in March, we've decided to take our home time in Bakersfield, California and visit some friends of ours who live there. They just built a new house with a swimming pool, but this fact has NOTHING to do with our decision to visit them, neither does the fact that the temperatures should be in the 70's there in March.

On a side note, I'm really getting sick of the menu at Denny's. All the Flying J truckstops now have Denny's restaurants, so we eat there A LOT. At first we were really excited about the change in restaurants (because they all used to have these really awful buffets), but now...not so much.

On another side note, I've decided that no woman should have to witness her husband urinating into a plastic water bottle. I'm just saying, is all.

Ooh, late breaking bulletin. It's now 8 below, according to my own personal meteorologist!

Today's Silly Sounding Place Name:  Keokuk, Iowa.

Friday, January 7, 2011


We picked up a load in Hershey, Pennsylvania yesterday. That sure is an interesting place. Here are my photos:

The streetlights look like Hershey's Kisses!

This was on the wall outside at the original factory.

This tower was across the parking lot and behind a building


Straight on shot.
Remember my rant from the other day about the amusement park(s)? Well, I promise not to go off on you today, but there IS an amusement park in Hershey. The only thing I really noted about it is THIS particular roller coaster, which is completely constructed out of wood:

Wooden roller coaster.

These next two shots are of Hotel Hershey, which looks more like an insane asylum than a hotel.

Hotel Hershey

Ditto. I wonder if they put chocolates on your pillow?
Someday maybe we'll even have time for a tour! We are now taking the load of frozen chicken wings which we picked up in Hershey (I'm pulling your leg) to Edwardsville, IL, which is just across the state line from St. Louis, MO. Our next dispatch takes us to Minnesota, just outside the Twin Cities, so we're hopeful that once we break through that invisible barrier in the middle of the Mississippi River, we'll just keep on heading west! We also hope to be able to watch the Packers in the Playoffs on Sunday afternoon with Sassy, who has now settled in St. Paul, MN.

Today's Silly Sounding Place Name:  Kinmundy, Illinois.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Kind of Town

I want to correct some misinformation from my last post: The first two pictures I posted, the one of the sign that said "Bumpass", and the one of the three goobers on the bench were mistakenly identified by me as being in Alabama. They were actually in Virginia. This was brought to my attention when one of my readers commented on another silly sounding name on the signpost in the first picture:  Spotsylvania. I realized upon reading Mims' comment, that Spotsylvania is in Virginia, not Alabama, which caused me to go back over that day in my mind and...well, that's what happens when you drive through three or four states in one day, you forget where you are at any given time.

We had a pickup on Tuesday in Colonial Williamsburg, and this is all that I saw of the place:

Busch Gardens in Colonial Williamsburg
Oh those goofy Colonists! They must have been more fond of thrills than any of us realized. It was nice of them to build those roller coasters so sturdy to last for generations of us to enjoy!  Actually, I DO know that there is also some history in Colonial Williamsburg. I remember my parents taking us there when I was young and I distinctly remember some authentic living history village with people in costume performing colonial types of activities. It's really kind of a shame how so many tourist places feel that they have to modernize and add technology and thrills and chills in order to attract people. I remember the first time I went to Wisconsin Dells with my first husband and Sissy and Sassy when they were little. I was so excited to go. I had this vision in my head of nature in all its glory, with beautiful bluffs and rivers. Man, was I surprised when we got there. It was like the Las Vegas of the north! Neon signs and bungie jumping, and helicopter rides and theme parks...

Anyway, enough of my rant. As we headed through Virginia, with our load destined for Brooklyn, NY, we saw this frightening sight:

Holy crap! What the heck is that?

Is it a rocket? A missile?...
Actually, it's the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico. I've seen it several times now and wouldn't mind stopping there someday.

Because we were heading for Brooklyn, we decided we better start preparing. We practiced talking like Joe Pesci and other gangster types and we decided to stop in South Jersey and find some Italian food for dinner. We chose the town of Runnemede, NJ, and a restaurant called Antonietta's. Walking to the restaurant, I snapped a shot of this sign:

Think they have some Italians in this town?
We had a very good meal with a yummy pasta dish. We spent the night at the last rest area in New Jersey and got up at 5:00 a.m. yesterday for our approach to Brooklyn over the Verrazano bridge. Navigating through Long Island was much easier this time around, because we had been there once already, but it is still very exciting.

NYC skyline at dawn

Traffic into the city

Something tells me this isn't unusual

More skyline with the harbor

typical sight
I particularly love the variety of ethnic markets and delis and wish we weren't encumbered with such a huge vehicle so that we could park and try some of them out.

I wanted to go in here

Mr. Trucker wanted to go in this one.
I had heard a rumor that they are having snow removal and garbage problems in New York City, but I am happy to report that they appeared to have everything under control...

Actually this was pretty minor. I did see stacks of garbage
about 10 times bigger than this, but not in time to get any
A few more pictures of some signage, just to prove that we were there:

The Bronx

Manhattan. We didn't cross the George Washington bridge,
but we crossed several others.

Isn't that where the Mets play?

Today we are driving through Pennsylvania, which as you already know, is my very favorite of all the states we've been in. We'll be going to Hershey, PA this afternoon (which ALSO has an amusement park), then on to Illinois. Mr. Trucker has requested some home time in Portland, Oregon, because he has family there, we have never been there, and because he figures that's the only way we're going to get any loads west of the Mississippi. I'm glad because I'll finally get to report on some new territory and scenery. 

Today's Silly Sounding Place Name: Nyack, New York.