Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's True

I was passed by an empty cattle trailer that hadn't been cleaned in a while (if you know what I mean).

The license plate: "Cow Cab"

Bumper sticker #1: "BEEF--it's what's for dinner."

Bumper sticker #2: "Shit happens."

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Our company has a terminal in Lincoln, Nebraska that Ben and I like to frequent for many reasons: it is hardly used by any other drivers, there is a workout room and showers, free wifi and laundry, a courtesy van is available for checkout for 1-2 hour increments, and Lincoln seems like a fun, laid-back city. A lot of our loads have us traveling on I-80, so stopping in for a break here works out really well.

Last time we were in Lincoln, we were working on a 34-hour restart (one of these days I'll write a blog on all the ins and outs of trucker laws and regulations) and had the opportunity to attend daily Mass. We found the "old" cathedral and participated in the 8am liturgy with the Catholic elementary school students. This prompted me to contact our Bishop in Oregon, who hails from Lincoln. He gave me directions to the new cathedral, as well as his former parish; we plan to attend the vigil Mass there this evening!

Using the courtesy van is great too--we've enjoyed a few great meals in this city, and this afternoon was no exception. I had noticed the last time we were here that there was a "Buzzard Billy's Armadillo Bar and Flying Carp Cafe" somewhere near the university district. That restaurant has a personal tie; when my dad used to travel throughout the country working for Tigereye, he would try to find fun places to visit or eat at off the clock. A trip to LaCrosse, WI provided him the opportunity to visit Buzzard Billy's Flying Carp Cafe. When he came home, I remember him telling us about his meal--the Jamaican Jerk Rub seasoning was so spicy he got a nosebleed!

I made special requests that he pick up fun t-shirts at his various travel locations (Idaho Six-Pack, Forrest Gump, G.R.I.T.S., and others made the cut), so he obliged in bringing home a t-shirt from this restaurant. After he passed away, I thought it would be neat to visit some of those places he had been; LaCrosse, WI unfortunately is not often a stopping point. When I saw that Lincoln had this restaurant, I knew we had to go!

We enjoyed a wonderful meal of shrimp, gumbo, hushpuppies, red beans and rice, armadillo eggs and bread pudding, all while watching college football. It's definitely a stop we will be making again!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Record

Some time in September I broke the standing high-mileage record: 709.3 miles in one 11-hour driving shift. Now that we're on eLogs, this record will likely never be broken (more on eLogs later). Now Ben can only beat me in the low temperature category!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Income Opportunities

There are no shortage of opportunities at this company to earn a little extra income here and there. Ben and I are working on two at this time: the health incentive and driver recruiting.
The health incentive deals with health, obviously. Specifically, if a driver logs his/her diet and caloric intake for the day, an exercise log of working out at least three times a week, or turns in doctors annual exams or proof of preventative care, points are earned. One hundred points are awarded for each three months of logging; once 600 points are earned, you can redeem them for a sport bottle, gym bag, exercise clothing or $400 cash. Can you guess which one we're going for?
As detailed in our “Exercise Endeavor” post, we are working hard at keeping active throughout the week getting exercise. This health incentive is the extra motivation needed to keep up our routine! At present, we are only logging our workouts, but may add the other options at a later date. It's kind of nice to earn $400 a year for just exercising!
The driver recruiting incentive is where the big bucks come in; for every experienced driver we successfully recruit from another company (i.e. they become employed by our company and are dispatched on their first load), we earn $1000. We could potentially earn more income recruiting drivers than we could in driving! For every $1000/driver recruiting bonus we earn, that is 3 days less we need to be on the road. If we get even just 10 drivers/bonuses, that is one month less we need to be on the road!
We are targeting drivers of our former company, CRST, because we know how poorly run they are and how awful the drivers are treated. If you remember my post about the differences between the old and new companies, you could see how we want to convert, if you will, drivers from CRST to our present company. To date, we have contacted over two dozen CRST drivers; though we have yet to see the bonus. Some of them found other companies to switch over to, and some—no matter how much we tell them “It's better on this side”—are just reluctant to change. This company even offers a $5000 sign-on bonus for teams and 48 cents per mile if the drivers have their HazMat certification. To further give incentive to our recruits, we are offering them $100 of our own money if they get signed on with the company; a 10% investment from our $1000 bonus is worth it to guarantee they apply and are hopefully employed! (Once we receive the bonus on our payroll, we send out the $100)
When we found out about the program, we got decals put on both sides of our truck as well as a stack of promo packs including applications for new drivers. On our last hometime, we made up business cards advertising the $5000 bonus and our phone number; anytime we see a CRST truck we either talk to the drivers directly or leave our card in their window. Once we gather their basic information, we forward that on to our recruiter, Rhonda. She then makes contact to sell them on all the other great aspects of the company. It has been a little bit of a comfort zone breaker, walking up to complete strangers and trying to deliver a pitch successfully. What drives us is the bonus, obviously, but we also really believe in what we're selling: a professional company to work for, and one that treats you as such as well.
If you don't mind, keep this endeavor in your prayers! Like I mentioned—the more recruits we get employed into the company, the less time we need to be on the road!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Mixed Blessing

Bend has a Bed Bath & Beyond store that Ben and I like to frequent, partly because they send out promo 20% off coupons in the mail, as well as other good deals. Presently we're using them to beef up our cast iron collection of cookware. Last time we were home was no exception—we were set to get a cast iron bacon press to use with our newly seasoned 9” cast iron skillet.

So, Ben had several errands to run one day—BB&B being one of them—and as he pulled into the parking lot, an elderly woman was backing out of her parking space and backed straight into the side panel of our Dodge Ram. To make a long story short, the accident was ruled 50/50 by both ours and her insurance, and an claims adjuster/appraiser came to assess the damage on our truck.

---Ben and I bought this truck about a month before our wedding for a smoking hot price of $2950. It has some miles on it, a few rust spots on the underside, and paint fades here and there, but it's a great 4WD manual truck that got us through 6 months of renovation and a move across the country hauling a U-haul trailer. Prior to our cross-country move, we put about $1000 worth of work into the engine to make sure everything was sound, as well as new all-terrain tires. Add it all up, and our total investment to date has been little more than $4000, all paid for.---

Back to the insurance claim: the damage caused was deemed a total loss for the vehicle. No big deal—we'll get a check in the mail from her insurance company for settlement on the truck, the truck's title will have to branded, and we of course have the huge dent. But—here's the great blessing from this unfortunate incident: the appraiser valued the vehicle at $4600 and adjusted a bit off of that price due to the high mileage, rust and faded spots. The grand settlement total then comes to $3964.21. Not bad for a paid-for truck that we get to keep, huh?

The truck still runs fine—it's getting older, though, and now with the dent, it has gained “beater” status. We plan to continue using it, dent and all. And the check? I bet you can guess where that money is going—straight towards the debt!

Monday, October 11, 2010


As I've become accustomed to driving down the road, Ben awoke from his slumber in the back and peeled open the velcro curtain.

"Hey hun! How ya doin?" I ask.

"Oh, never mind. I thought there were a bunch of sheep back here but there aren't any. I'm going back to bed." He responds.