I have three separate entries that all deal with dedication. The first: our new I-5 dedicated route. The second: our dedication to finishing our “debt snowball”. The third: dedication to fighting for a good cause. Because I plan to write at a decent length for all three, check back in a couple days for the second and third entries.
Our new I-5 dedicated route: a few months ago, one of our company's fleet managers contacted us to see if we would be interested in running the I-5 throughout Washington, Oregon and California, hauling mostly FedEx loads from the Los Angeles area to Portland and Seattle, and then hauling whatever freight (mostly huge rolls of paper for newsprint) back down south to Los Angeles. That way, it would be easier for dispatch to get us home to Oregon for our scheduled hometime. At the time, however, we were completely turned off to the idea; we enjoy traveling across the country, leaving the option open of visiting with many family members and friends that we have sprinkled throughout the nation. Add to that the idea of driving the same old stretch of highway day in and day out (and at only 55mph through California and Oregon, 60mph though Washington), we were not exactly interested.
Fast forward to the week after Christmas: this week, appropriately the last of the year, I suppose, was comprised of the reign of Murphy. We picked up our load just outside of Cincinnati, headed for Salt Lake City. We stopped by Ben's parent's house in western Indiana (they live right off of the interstate we were traveling on) to pick up a pair of running shoes we had accidentally left after their Christmas get-together. There is a large gravel parking lot near their house that we parked the rig in; however, because of the Christmas snowfall, there were several inches on the ground and while it was hard-packed and a dry snow, leading us to believe we would be fine to get out, you can guess what happened. An hour and a half after realizing we were stuck, we finally freed the truck and were back on our way west.
The rest of our route was uneventful until we reached Wyoming. There was a huge nasty winter storm setting in across Utah and Wyoming, with upwards of 14 inches of snow expected in some areas. To spare you all the details, here are the highlights: the snow was falling, the wind was blowing, and the temperature was falling. Our truck and trailer slid three times on the road (enough to send me into near hysteria—I was terribly upset at the images running through my mind of jack-knifing or turning over in the shoulder/median), so we stopped at the nearest truckstop to chain up our tractor and trailer tires. Three busted chains later, a slow pumping fuel pump and very little sleep, we called it a night. The next day we eventually delivered the load after more careful maneuvering of the winter roads. We were set up on a re-power (i.e. we finished up a load for another driver) and encountered more snow-covered roads while delivering. Our next load brought us from Salt Lake City to Portland, which involved more snow-covered roads, closed sections of the interstate, and more loads of stress.
This lead us to open up the discussion of driving the I-5 dedicated. There is only one section of road in northern California/southern Oregon that gets enough snow to require chains. And, from our experience driving this stretch, the temperatures are very mild, it doesn't snow that often, and when it does, the roads are cleared regularly. Knowing this sparked even more conversation about the possibility.
We also have many favorite places to stop along this 1200 mile stretch between the three states. Our friends AJ and Sarah (more about them in installment three of “Dedicated”) live in the Seattle area, two of the best truckstops in the country are in Portland and Canyonville, Oregon, many of our favorite spots to run outside are in California, and the landscape is very enjoyable to drive through: pine trees and mountain vistas from Redding, CA all the way to Seattle!
This route has very little surprises to it, which, coupled with the predictable dispatch, consistent miles and mild weather throughout, made it an easy decision to make. One phone call back to the I-5 dedicated fleet manager later, and we were set! We've only been on the route for a week so far, and I'm sure we're going to get tired of it eventually, but for right now, it just feels nice to know what's coming and to be in familiar territory all the time!