Pain in the Oilfield…

I decided to come out of “blogging retirement” to make this important post for those of you who are interested in hotshot trucking.

The best I can tell you is this… now is not the time to start a hotshot business, it is not the time to become a hotshot driver.  You can thank the bottom dropping out of oil for this problem.

I’ve been keeping pretty close tabs on the situation since I live in an oil dependent economy, and the businesses I used to haul for on a regular basis are either closed down or have cut back so much that they have only a skeleton crew left working.  It’s horrible, and the people in this area who relied on the industry for their livelihoods have lost their jobs, their standard of living, and are struggling to find work elsewhere.

Those few still working in the industry are worried for their jobs as more cuts seem to be on the horizon.

It’s not good news, but that’s all I know for now.  Maybe things will improve soon, we can all hope they will.

Advertisements

A Little Info…

This collection of blog posts chronicles several years of my ups and downs in starting, operating, and ultimately retiring from an independent hotshotting company.  Believe me when I say I don’t mince words, but just tell it like it is,  or was…

I’ve cleared out all of the non-trucking topics to clean things up for all of you hotshot trucking enthusiasts.  In the event that there is anyone out there with an interest in my non-trucking posts, I’ve consolidated and moved them all to my project blog which can be found at…  https://noidlehandshere.wordpress.com/

Thanks for stopping in, and please feel welcome to make comments or ask questions; I generally stop by at least once a week myself to answer any questions.

 

 

 

Cruisin’ Through the Spring…

Wow, it’s been a while since I posted anything, and apparently I’ve just been cruisin’ right on through the spring without giving how fast time passed a second thought!

Now that I’m out of the “biz” and being a homebody I kind of tend to lose track of time.  Not being on a tight schedule is pretty nice I must admit, and I’m definitely not regretful about cutting myself free from the hotshot roller-coaster… and I feel a lot better inside and out for having made the break!

I’ve been occupying myself lately with a lot of metal detecting and some gardening, and of course, housework and making supper on a more or less regular schedule for good old BB, and can truly say I don’t really miss the road.

Except for one specific event that I’m missing this year, the blooming of the Dogwood trees in southeastern Oklahoma.  I definitely do miss that!

Maybe that means a non-business just-for-fun road trip is in my near future.  But this time I’ll have to “make” BB go along for the ride.  I may even let him drive… it’s easier to enjoy the scenery that-a-way…

Ode to Houston Traffic…

Today started out so nice.  I got out well before the sun even decided to get itself out of bed, and was loaded and headed south when it’s alarm finally went off.

I just had a run to do to Houston, and was rolling right along, ahead of schedule, and that was even after stopping for fuel and a Starbucks about 100 miles south of the hacienda.

Much to my surprise, Ft. Worth traffic wasn’t hideous, it was a little slow on the north side but opened up after a few miles, and the rest of the way to the outskirts of Houston was pretty much stress-free.

And then I got within 30 miles of my delivery location and everything came to a screeching halt.  Well, not quite a halt, more like a slow, bumpy limp.  It ultimately took me two hours just to get that last 30 miles driven and my delivery made.

Now, most places I drive to and through have certain hours when traffic is bad, then it’s pretty much clear sailing.  Some don’t have traffic at all, to speak of anyway, nothing that really slows you down.

But Houston has the oddest traffic and stop light patterns of any city I’ve had the fun to drive in, except perhaps Chicago… but that’s an entirely different type of misery.

I’ve noted after making quite a few trips down here that Houston has fairly heavy traffic all day long.  Not as heavy as their rush hours, but still heavy enough to make crossing town a real time consuming event.  By all rights, when I was 30 miles away at 2:00, I should have been done and going off duty by 2:45 at the very latest.

That is not what happened.

It was 4:18 according to my phone call log when I made the call to my shipper to let them know their delivery was completed.  And it was after 5 when I finally got to my strategically chosen motel that puts me exactly 3 miles away from my morning pickup location.

I would think I was some kind of weirdo traffic masochist for actually liking driving around here if it wasn’t so entertaining.

Where else can you watch a rat fall out of a car and slide across the pavement, or have a car next to you in the left turn lane suddenly shoot out across your bow making an unannounced right turn while running a red light and blazing across 3 lanes of cross-traffic?

Nowhere I can think of.

Yeah, I love putting along in Houston from one stop light to the next, and taking in all the sights… So Houston traffic, here’s to you.

Crossing Paths With an Outlaw…

Well, I got a little peek into the world of outlaw trucking.

I met this nice fellow today.  I won’t give away anything that might put a bright, shining light on his little operation.  I’m a recovering cop, not a practicing one, and anyway, if he ends up getting caught it will be by his own actions and not mine.  Bad Karma, I do not need or want.

And finally, I can’t give up any information on him because I was more interested in why he’s risking running outlaw than in who he is.

So much for my disclaimers…..

At any rate, it’s a short story but gave me food for thought.

This guy runs without benefit of a CDL of any fashion, without any trucking authority, without a log book, and, apparently, with just enough insurance coverage to pay for the price of the manufacture of the particular type of things he hauls.

He runs a nondescript older truck, runs at night, and dodges every scale.  And he does it all blatantly and without any apparent angst or regret for flouting every trucking law that is on the books.  And, according to him, he’s been running that way since about 1980 or thereabouts.

He seemed pretty pleased to tell me that in those many years he’s been pulled over five times.  Only once was he put out of service and written a ticket.  And he said he managed to negotiate that fine down to less than a thousand bucks once it was all said and done.  He’s still steamed over that one ticket, and he’s still out there happily truckin’ away….

Let me just say here that I am no fan of our presently top heavy, ubiquitous, overbearing government.  I’m not exactly pleased as punch that trucking is being regulated to the point that it’s strangling a lot of small trucking operations right out of existence.

I’m also not swooning with pleasure at the thought of the good ole’ government changing and adding new laws or charging us umpteen separate taxes under umpteen separate guises, and I’m totally not thrilled with the thought that if I even inadvertently, accidentally violate any of the multitude of complex rules I can be slapped with a big ole’ fine that could potentially put me out of business…

Having said that, some regulation is probably a good idea.  Some regulation, like testing people to make sure they have the skills to drive and haul big things, or maybe some reasonable roadside inspections if a rig looks like a rolling junk heap.  You know, sensible regulation that is more aimed at true public safety and less at padding the government’s coffers… but I digress….

The fact is that trucking is super-duper regulated, I mean regulations on hormones, and anyone who wants to do trucking on the up and up has to jump through multiple hoops on a daily basis in order to be compliant with all of those rules. It’s just about a full time job just making sure all the t’s are crossed and the i’s are properly dotted.

Now, I don’t necessarily enjoy having to do all that hoop jumping.  Still, I do it because it’s the right thing for me to do given my personal views and my own desire to be legal.

In spite of the fact that I find the majority of the trucking regulations to be purely governmental revenue generating poppycock, I feel it is in my own best interest to abide by those regulations in order to avoid having to deal with the consequences of breaking the rules.

In other words, I behave myself so I don’t lose my business, have to pay big fines and/or go to jail.  And because I respect the law even if I disagree with certain aspects of it.

A Whole Lot O’ Shakin’ Goin’ On…

I’m deviating from my normal blogging topics this morning in honor of the earthquake that hit here in Oklahoma last night.  It’s a fairly rare event to feel one this far away from the Jones, OK area where they get a lot of little shakers.  And the one last night was a doozie.  They had a slightly smaller one at 2 am Saturday morning that I didn’t feel as I was snoozing away, but the 5.6 shaker hit us here at just before 11 pm last night, and I definitely took notice of that one.

Now, I’m interested in earthquakes for some odd reason.  I sort of like them in a hesitant, cautious way.  This is my third good-sized quake, but I remember feeling little baby shakes in the San Juan Valley of Colorado when I was a kid.  And I was fascinated with those after my Mama told me what they were.  Call me crazy, but I kind of like the idea that the earth shakes itself around a little every now and then.   Not that I want anything torn up or knocked over or anyone hurt, but it’s sort of neat to get an occasional reminder that the planet we perch on isn’t just a dead rock circling the sun.

I guess one of the things about earthquakes that interests me is how sneaky they really are.  The first bigger quake I experienced snuck up on me and my brother one evening while I was visiting him in Colorado.  When it hit, it didn’t shake and roll, it slammed and made a loud crash.  In fact, we thought someone had run into his house with a truck!  We, and all of his neighbors, ran outside and stood looking at one another for a minute until someone said, “Wow! That was an earthquake!”  Indeed it was.

The second quake happened when I delivered a load up in Damascus, Arkansas.  I was actually just drifting off to sleep in a motel room at nearby Greenbrier when a Godawful banging, booming, and crashing literally jolted me out of bed and to my feet.  I stood there trying to figure out who was crashing down the stairway outside when it suddenly stopped, and the little light bulb went on in my brain… Oh, earthquake!  I picked up the phone and called the desk.  The clerk confirmed my theory.  I guess just knowing what it was satisfied my curiosity and I just went back to bed.  Slept pretty well after that too.

The one last night was very different.  First of all, we’re not in a house with a foundation right now.  We’re staying in our RV while we remodel the house.  So when this one hit, we didn’t get jarred sharply, just sort of rolled around.  It actually felt like the trailer was getting blasted by a super-strong wind and was swaying around.  And it was silent here, no booming crashes or groans.  It felt like a long time but only lasted somewhere around twenty seconds or so.  Considering how quiet it was, I didn’t immediately figure out what was going on.  I looked out the window and there wasn’t any wind, and I suppose that’s what made me think of an earthquake.

I suppose I should be afraid of earthquakes.  After all, they kill more people and do more damage than all other natural catastrophes.  But I’d much rather have an earthquake sneak up on me than to sit and watch a super-cell thunderstorm and worry about getting sucked up in a big ole’ twister.  That said, I do hope a really big quake never hits anywhere near me.  I don’t need to get smashed flat by a falling wall or anything either.

At any rate, this quake was another interesting experience that I won’t forget.

 

 

 

Leaving No Stone Unturned…

I’ve been quiet lately as I’ve been busy turning over one stone after another.  And looking under each and every one of those little stones for another way to attract good customers.

Some of my tactics are normal, sending out flyers, making cold calls, knocking on doors.  I also came across some less-used methods, at least in trucking.  I’ve been spending time posting on every free site I can find on the internet, which has actually surprised me by getting me a few phone calls this week.

Unfortunately, most of those calls have been from folks interested in getting stuff moved for next to free, or worse, for free.

Well, after having been pounded by the crummy winter weather, surviving a bad carrier, scrambling to get set up on my own operating authority, and trying like mad to generate some new business, I can at least say I have found three customers who seem interested, and two of those have actually booked loads. Paperwork is pending on the third one which may be the best, volume-wise, of the three.  I’m antsy to get linked up with them and trying to be patient…

The question is, how many customers do I need to stay busy… I’m still working on that one and I’ll let you know when I hit the critical number.

For now, I’m just trying real hard to stay positive and keep moving.  It’s not like doing 0-60 in half a block, but at least it’s a start!

Where the Rubber Hits the Road…

I hinted yesterday at coming changes and today they all came through, amazingly enough!  I had no idea that it would happen so quickly.  Let me explain…

My current carrier has been ticking me off for weeks now but I’ve ignored and suppressed my irritation.  I figured they knew what they were doing and what did I know anyway?  I’m a raw rookie.

So what happened to my love affair with this carrier, you ask?  (Or you would if you were me and wanted to know all the sordid details of an affair gone wrong.)

Not having loads for 2 weeks early on, then only a few scattered loads.  Me sitting with little income.  Them refusing to book back-hauls in spite of constant nagging from me.

Pushing me to get back pronto-fast from outgoing loads so I can’t book my own back-hauls because I might “miss a good paying load.”  What a joke!  By the time I ran out and back, I was lucky to be making 75 cents a mile.  Good load my ass.

Now lately they’ve been wanting me to run, run, run, with no down time or resets, and still no back-hauls so instead of making the promised amount per mile, I’m still only making less than half of what they promised.  And they don’t give a good Blankety Blank because I”m the one buying fuel….

And there were other issues, namely, requests that could not legally be met and so forth… suggestions to “dodge” weigh stations, trying constantly to overload me and acting disgusted when I wouldn’t let them, that sort of half-assed bad business practices…

So… (I love those three dots…) Today I put in for a revision on my own authority and much to my delight and extreme surprise, it immediately was approved!  I had no idea that they even did such a thing and figured it would take another 6 weeks of waiting.  But no.  That was a very good thing and the timing couldn’t be more right.

I also got my own insurance lined up, have a handful of paperwork for the government agency here that handles IFTA taxes and such, with whom I shall meet tomorrow, and two load boards ready to go to find my own work.

In other words, I’m getting a D.I.V.O.R.C.E. from my very soon to be former carrier.  They get the official notice in the a.m. when I go in to get my check.  And it better damn well not bounce….  as numerous agencies would be very interested in how they conduct what they call “business.”

You may notice I’m pissed off.  It’s true.  It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, dang, look out!

Well, let’s just say that although they seemed good, there were little nagging warnings I worked real hard to ignore.  Denial is not a river in Egypt as it has been said.  I tried to believe that they were good folks and just being a little dense, but the truth is that they’re a mess.

The proverbial poo hit the fan last week when they told their broker that I had picked up a load 2 days before I actually did so.  Evidently the broker thought I was lost out there somewhere when in reality, I was on two other loads down South.

They did this little lie in order to take a load that they wanted to put on their own truck that broke down.  What they did was went and picked it up, parked it in their yard, then told the broker I had it and was on my way.

Then they called me (I was in AR driving happily along with my own back-haul I booked) and told me that they told the broker I had their load, and when she called me I should just play stupid.

So, being unwilling to lie to the broker or play their childish game,  I simply did not answer my cell phone for the rest of the day.

When I did get back, I picked up the load and headed north the next day as I was out of hours the day I got home.  That was when the broker called me and just about blew a fuse when I told her where I was and when I actually did pick up the load. I gave her my honest ETA for delivery.

I don’t think she liked it much, but to her credit she said bluntly that this wasn’t my fault, which I told her, “nope, it sure isn’t.”  So I suspect that the carrier caught holy hell over lying to her, and I hope she gave it to them good.

She asked very direct questions, just for the record, and I gave her very honest answers, and I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy it just a little.  Ok, I liked it a lot.

After I answered the broker’s questions truthfully and showed them to be complete liars I went on up and delivered the load… 3 days later than they had originally promised it, due to their lies.

That was kinda cool… I was on time and they were late.  The rest of the run was pretty stress-free for me, but I heard that they were sweating it bad at the office.  They deserved the discomfort, IMHO.

At that point I realized that these people are not entirely truthful, (I like understatement) and I decided to find a way out.

Then the last straw came today when they bounced a check to my better half for services he rendered to them a week ago.  When they called tonight to tell me my next load is ready for the a.m., I told them, …. wait for it….  “Nope.  I’m not taking it.”  “Why,” said they?  “Well, there’s this thing about you’all not confirming loads with me, and now you bounced a check to BB,” says I.

“You’re going to do this over one little check??” the lady involved shrieked into my phone.  “Yep.” She went a little bonzo at that point.  Oh well, anyway she yelled and carried on for a while, but finally seemed to understand that I’m not as stupid or accommodating as she was counting on.  Her load is just going to sit there, and it’s her own damn fault.

So in the a.m. I’ll go out, collect my pay, and say, “Adios.”

Now let me just say I’ve been very patient with, and encouraging to these folks from the get-go, probably mostly due to my own lack of know-how regarding the trucking biz.  But I’m a quick study and have proven my ability to get my own load booked, loaded, tied down, and delivered without them holding my hand.

Needless to say, I’m still learning and probably will be for a very long time… but, having said that, I have definitely already learned lesson number …

1. Get away from these people ASAP, if not sooner.

By that, I mean run on my own authority without having anyone taking a cut of my earnings aside from the factoring company who will get a small percentage to buy my invoices so I get paid up front and don’t have to sweat it if my shippers either pay late or fail to pay.

And booking jobs I want to do, not taking junk from someone with “big trucks” or their own hot shot truck to fill first.  And not having anyone tell me that I have 24 hours to deliver a load that requires 16 hours of driving.

And not having to explain to anyone why I have to take a 34 hour reset then getting put down for taking what the law requires me to do.

And finally, not having the terrible safety record of another company reflecting on me just because their logo is on my door under “Leased to.”

Oh yeah!  It will be fun taking those decals down and putting my own DOT number on my truck!

So it looks like I’m starting over.  But it’s in a very good way.  What is it they say? Get rid of the dead weight?  Yeah, that’s how I feel, like I just lost 100 lbs of oppressive old fat.

Now you can clearly see that I do have a mean side.  My only redeeming quality in this whole matter is that the company involved shall remain un-named.

As well they should.  As far as I can tell, they do not deserve to call themselves a trucking company.  And I suspect that they won’t be around after their annual audit anyway.  All those shenanigans they pull will eventually catch up with them.

Karma is a wonderful thing.

The only downside is… well, even with the paperwork involved there just isn’t one!  I’m free!!!!!!!

A Pretty Good Run

Now that I’m back home and all safe and snug, I thought I’d write about the better parts of my most recent adventure.

I left here late Friday afternoon with a heavy load (for my rig, anyway) and headed east.  It took me a while to get used to pulling it, so by the time I got to eastern Oklahoma around 9 pm I decided to just get a room and a fresh start on Saturday.

On Saturday I made it as far as Muhlenberg County, Kentucky!  It was a pretty good trip through Arkansas although I complained to BB about the condition of the roads there.  Pretty rough, but good weather and fast travel in spite of the bumps and potholes. Western Kentucky is a whole lot more mountainous than I imagined, and I spent a lot of time going up and down hills.  At about 8pm I finally got to a little town with a motel and BB called for a room for me.

I wouldn’t have had any trouble there, but I made a rookie mistake of pulling in to a motel parking lot before really looking at it closely, and ended up having to jockey my 40′ trailer around quite a bit to even get turned around to get it out.  I had a bad moment there where I thought I might just be stuck in a teeny parking lot!  Lesson learned there!

At any rate, I did get it out, and got to the motel BB reserved for me which did have room for trucks across the street in a muddy lot.  Good enough for my purposes!  And the motel had by far the nicest room I stayed in on the entire trip.  Very comfy and safe atmosphere.

On Sunday I decided to get to Jane Lew no matter what.  I had to as my load was scheduled to be delivered first thing Monday.  So back in the truck I went and drove, and drove, and drove, stopping only for fuel and a couple of times for pit stops.  I covered a whole lot of ground that day and got to Jane Lew late, found a room about half a mile from my delivery, and celebrated with a very long, hot bath.  I needed it!

When I got up Monday morning I headed over to the local truck stop and found our other trucks there.  One of the guys was just heading to the delivery site so I followed him on in.  We got there early, about 7:30, and we were scheduled to be unloaded by 8 am.

I was eager to get unloaded and rolling as my back haul was up in Weirton, WV, about 50 miles west of Pittsburgh, PA.  Well, as it turns out, the guy who was supposed to be there to unload us didn’t even show up until about 10:30.  But finally, at about 11:30, I got unloaded.

I knew I had to make some time getting to the pick-up spot as this big old storm was bearing down on us and they were calling for freezing rain.  So I fueled up and headed north.  It was about 2 when I got to my pick-up site, and they were on a break.  I was getting a little worried now and didn’t even get loaded until after 3pm.

On a side note here, I had to back the trailer in to a dock to get loaded.  The bay I had to back it into was dark as heck, like backing into a tunnel.  And I had to get it straight, and about an inch from the side of the dock that ran down the length of the bay I was backing into.  Amazingly, I did get it backed in there with no trouble, just where they said they wanted it.  They must have taught me something at school…

As the load had to be tarped, it took me about 3 hours to get it covered, bunjied and strapped.  It was my first tarped load and even though it took a while, at least I did manage to get that tarp over the load!  Talk about on the job training!

Let me just mention here that it is part of my job to do that stuff, strapping things down, unstrapping them, tarping them, etc… however, every other place I’ve been so far the guys usually jump in and help.  Not so in Weirton!  I guess they’re union there and only do exactly what their job description says.  That said, they weren’t jerks, they were actually very nice.  Nice, but extremely slow.

Two of them who tried to help me were the fork lift guy who hunted me up some corner protectors another driver who gave me some pointers on tarping, which really did help me as I had no clue…

Once that was done, I headed back down to I-70.  I had BB on the phone and he was watching the storm blow in toward me.  My original plan had been to head west, then cut south on I-79 down as far south as I could get before the ice started in, but I ran into rain at Wheeling and ended up heading back to Jane Lew for the night.  Just as I got back to the same motel there that I stayed in the night before, it started slicking up a little.  I just made it!

It was like some kind of weird race against time and weather.  A little stressful, and I was very glad to stop for the night.

When I woke up Tuesday, the weather was rainy but it was warm enough not to be icy.  So I headed south again… then noticed my straps looked funny.  So I pulled into a rest area on the side of a mountain there in West Virginia and re-strapped the whole load.  That ate up at least two hours.  Turns out my straps had shook loose and I had to adjust them over the top of the tarp so I could keep a better eye on them.  Worked out great though, and the load rode just fine the rest of the trip.

While I was re-strapping, a WV trooper pulled a logging truck over and they stopped right next to me in the rest stop.  The trooper did an inspection on that truck on the spot, making me very, very glad that I noticed my straps needed re-done!  I hate to think what kind of fine those straps might have cost me!

After that it was a really nice trip for the rest of the day.  I cut south on highway 19 down into Virginia and hit I-81 into Knoxville, where I spent the night.

The highlight of this part of the trip was on a toll road just before I-81 where they had a huge truck plaza with a Starbucks!  Let me just say that they have the best coffee and brownies around…

And after 4 days of pb&j sandwiches, it was a really good treat!

On Wednesday I started out with the intention to get as close to my delivery site as possible.  So I did another marathon driving day and was making excellent time.  Until I got pulled in at a weigh station in Tennessee for an inspection, that is.

It wasn’t bad, and the trooper was a nice guy.  He just took f.o.r.e.v.e.r. to get me inspected and back on the road.  I got level 1 inspection stickers on both truck and trailer for my trouble though, and passed with flying colors. The other truck pulled in just before me wasn’t so lucky.  The driver had hazmat on board and no paperwork… He may still be sitting there for all I know.  Anyway, they treated me good so I won’t complain!

I lost an hour and a half of daylight there, but still managed to make it almost 650 miles for the day and stopped for the night at Russellville, Arkansas.  I had wanted to make Ft. Smith, but didn’t have enough time left on my clock, so I decided to stop where I knew I could find a motel and not risk running out of time out somewhere between Russellville and Ft. Smith.

Now the motel in Russellville wasn’t anything to write home about.  But it had great truck parking!  It was one of those 50s style motels with a big courtyard and pool, and the truck parking was right in the front under the street lights.  Looked good to me!

The lady at the desk was a little eastern Indian gal and she was really funny.  The conversation while I was getting the room went something like this…

“I need a room, smoking if you have one.”

“Yes, yes, we do.  Your earrings are beautiful!”

“Thank you, my brother made them for me, how much is the room?”

“Thirty eight dollars, your I.D. please… You must be very smart to be able to drive truck, I never see woman driving truck before…”

“No maam, it’s really very easy… but thank you…”

Looking at my I.D.  “Miss you must have been beautiful when you were younger!”

Me, now trying not to fall laughing on the floor… “Thank you, very nice of you to say so…”

At any rate, she was a hoot, and got me all set up with the room.  Now this was about the oldest, crummiest motel around, but it was surprisingly a lot cleaner than I expected, (still not clean, by any standards) but as tired as I was, it worked.  And yes, I checked for signs of bed bugs, it was all clear… Thank God!  Just sort of dirty generally speaking.

On Thursday I got over to Highway 2 and headed off of dry interstate up to my delivery.  I got there about noon after dealing with the snow/ice packed highways going in and the unplowed city streets in Muskogee.  When I found the place, there was only one guy there and he was plowing snow around their lot.

He said they had been shut down since the blizzard hit on Monday and they weren’t open, but he was a really great guy and called in 2 other men to get me unloaded anyway!  The two who came in wouldn’t even let me do the un-strapping or un-tarping.  They just sort of took over and even folded up my tarp and rolled some of my straps up.  They were great!

It was about 4pm when I got finished there and headed back to I-40, where I hit really terrible road conditions and everything turning to black ice at about 5 pm.  So I poked my way very cautiously to Henryetta where I ended up staying Thursday and Friday nights as the snow just kept coming down and piling up.

On Saturday morning the sun was out and I decided to get my little old self home if it was humanly possible.  So I set out on I-40 again and white-knuckled it as far as Okema where I had to grab some fuel.  As I was leaving the truck stop there with a full tank of diesel, I noticed that the highway heading south out of Okema was like a nice, black ribbon, just calling my name.

I abandoned I-40 there and headed south on highway 27.  It was plowed.  It was melted off.  For the first time since I left I-40 on Thursday I actually got the truck up to highway speed!

Now remember, I-40 had been hit hard by blizzarding and blowing and black ice, and had drifted over and frozen hard as a rock, and was slick as … well… it was damned slippery and hazardous.  Made for some seriously interesting and very slow driving.  And there was nary a snow plow in sight on I-40 the entire time I was up there.  So when I saw that black pavement, it was great.  I had the urge to stop, get out of the truck, get down on my knees and kiss the bare, dry pavement!  (I didn’t do it, but I did consider it strongly.)

Just a side note, God bless those county plow drivers!  They saved me several intense hours of poking along on the ice-way called I-40 by having their own highways cleared!

From there it was a little rough on highway 9 for a ways, but not horrible.  Just snowpacked in spots, so I kept going.  It was slow going though.  But by the time I got east of Seminole, the roads had been cleared very well and at Norman I finally hit dry pavement.

It took just short of 4 hours to get to from Henryetta to Norman, and about an hour and a half (normal time) to make it the rest of the way back home.

So overall, it was a good run.  A few scary moments on the icy roads, but not hideous.  And I actually got a pretty good sense of accomplishment from getting both loads to where they were going safely and on time!

This week I’m sitting it out.  Getting my new door on the truck, changing the oil, doing some general maintenance stuff, and generally staying home and off the highways while these next couple of storms they’re predicting pass on through.

The best parts?  I got to see a lot of the country, got paid to do it, and the back-haul paid for my expenses both ways.  Oh, and I’m Home!

Pics of my First Load!