Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wintry Wyoming

It is April 30. Earlier this week is was 80+ degrees when we were in Houston, TX. Today, it is 25 degrees west of Laramie, WY.

We hope the weather is better where you are! This past week has just been nuts with nature's fury. We drove on the western-most edge of all of those storm cells that produced the tornadoes in the south, on our way down to Houston. We did get caught in a few storms, experiencing a gust of wind that slammed against the trailer, quarter-sized hail and blinding rain. Thankfully, that was the worst of it. Reading all of the news about those killed by/injured by/affected by the tornados is just heartbreaking. We were in/near several of those cities/towns just days before the winds hit. Our prayers go out them!

Headed to Denver from this winter wonderland; one week from now we'll be on our home-time in Bend!

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Command Central

Here is the view from the driver's seat in our rig (no, we do not drive with the hood up...Ben is changing our wiper blades):

From the left, we have all of our gauges (water temp, oil pressure, rpm, speedometer, air tank pressure, fuel gauge and DEF meter) as well as the steering column.

The small silver thing behind about the 1:00 slice of the wheel is our XM device.

To the upper right of XM is Jack, our Garmin Nuvi 465T GPS.

To the right of Jack is our "rearview mirror", a camera screen displaying images of roadway traffic from cameras mounted on the sides of the truck.

Below the "rearview mirror" is our radio/CD player, for which we have audio cables going to the XM, our Walkman, and iPhone for playing various audio.

Below the radio are many other fun switches, including the engine brake, DPF regeneration switch, mirror heat, dome light and utility lamp, as well as the parking brake knobs for both the tractor and trailer.

Immediately to the right of the radio is the true command central, our satellite communication device that connects us to dispatch and the main headquarters of our company. This is where we receive load information, directions and any other messages from our fleet manager or breakdown departments. There are also training videos, a GPS, calculator and calendar.

Now you know what the view is like behind the wheel in our big rig!

A blessed Triduum to you all!

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hello Baldy!

What's wrong with this picture?

We are headed straight to the shop! You can't tell me that someone inspected this trailer and didn't notice this...perhaps they didn't do their inspection?!

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Saturday, April 16, 2011


No, sadly, it is not yet football season (4.5 months to go, though!). This audible refers to our recent interest in listening to books on tape. Ben and I really like to read (someday I'll write a list of just the books we've read since being on the road), but being able to listen to things over the radio rather than just music is a better way for us to spend our time driving.

A talk radio host (trucker, of course) we like to listen to really encourages taking advantage of all the time you have driving to listen to as much as possible to put yourself in a better way intellectually (and while he doesn't say it, we put it further: spiritually, emotionally and academically). He recommended recently and we're on the prowl to start downloading some books. At the mere cost of $25/month for two books, it seems a great deal as we won't have to go out and buy the book (at likely a higher cost) and spend non-driving time reading it. I admit I like having the book physically in my hands, but we're trying to expand!

If you have any books to recommend, on any topic, let us know and we'll see about putting it on our download list!

In other audible news, what really cemented this idea was a spontaneous purchase of the dramatization of the New Testament, specifically the Truth and Life dramatization (complete with Imprimatur and a forward by the Pope himself!). It contains 18 cds and over 22 hours of audio; we've not even made it through the end of Matthew yet, but we are moved. There is something so different about simply hearing the Word dramatized rather than just reading it. I've read all four Gospels in one sitting (well, four sittings; one for each Gospel), which is pretty intense in itself, but listening to the different character voices and the frequency of Jesus' teachings and healings, makes me want to say, "Behold!" (Matthew says that A LOT). We highly recommend this audio!

We are also beefing up our languages. Years ago, Ben purchased some audio tapes on Spanish and Latin (both of which he studies extensively while in seminary). We spend about an hour a day going through the different lessons and learning correct pronunciations, phrases, etc. I've always wanted to learn Spanish, and Latin is obviously the language of the Church, so it's pretty cool being able to take advantage of these opportunities!

Hasta luego!

Saturday, April 9, 2011


I thought I would spend a blog post updating a few thing that I've mentioned in the past...

Speeding ticket: the total cost ended up being $265. For $395 I could have hired an attorney to go to court for me and whittle the violation down to "coasting", but we decided against it. There was no guarantee the judge would budge, so admitting guilt (of which I had) and paying up seemed the best decision.

Weight loss: our exercising and calorie tracking has come with great rewards so far--in the last month, Ben lost ten pounds and I lost seven. Yay! We can't wait to see what the next month will bring and see what our weigh-in is next time we come home!

Debt snowball: we've paid off two of seven student loans so far, and are eager to knock #3 off the list. Paying taxes is setting us back a bit, but thankfully we are able to fulfill that patriotic duty without hardship this year. We surely should have #3 taken care of by the middle of May.

Sleepwalking: this subject needs no prelude...early Sunday morning last week, I awoke to being the object of Ben's wrestling-matched dream, a dream in which he was losing but had an opportunity to deliver the death blow to win the match. That death blow culminated in full-body force of his elbow to my thigh. Quite a way to wake up at 2:30 in the morning!

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Farewell, Pierre

It was a great relationship, but ended unexpectedly on Saturday afternoon. Pierre took a fall and shattered into pieces as Ben and I prepared to chain up the tractor and trailer to make it over the pass and come home to Bend. Presently, Bodum does not carry any replacement carafes, so we were left to find another suitable French press for our coffee drinking needs.

Replacement: stainless steel from Starbucks. The new Pierre is bigger than we'd prefer for the truck (old Pierre was perfect for 16 oz mugs of coffee), but being stainless steel is a great perk: he certainly won't have the same fate as his predecessor!

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Recruiting Bonuses

Ben and I have been actively recruiting since August of 2010. To date we've successfully brought in four drivers, with many more waiting on the sidelines to come on board. We received quite a treat last time we were home: the recruiter we work with (she does the heavy lifting, with checking out all the info on their applications) emailed us to let us know she had scheduled another team for orientation! I didn't recognize either of the names, so I assumed our strategy of leaving behind our can't-miss-em-neon-green business cards in truck mirrors at truck stops started to do the trick!

Well, I came to find out I was wrong--but that was okay, because we still got another team on board! The reason I didn't recognize the name was because the trucker I made contact with goes by a nickname--his legal name was on the application. He was a driver we met in late November who never returned our follow-up phone calls....but held on to our information, found a co-driver he wanted to stick with, and here we are!

I will say, with this recruiting endeavor, that while we are still active in pursuing CRST trucks at truckstops or places of shipping freight, we have certainly toned it down a little bit. Ben got burned out from the manhunt for a while as it seemed we were putting so much work into it and nothing was happening back for us. We've had success, yes, but no matter how good you advertise the deal, if the people you're advertising to aren't ready or willing to make the step/take the risk, you're spinning your wheels with effort and no return. So, we've backed down on our phone calls but still keep enough contact--especially with the folks who are just waiting for their contracts to expire with CRST so they can make the big move.

By our calculations, those teams that have expressed deep interest in making the switch--and whose contracts expire in the next two months--should total nine teams. Nine teams x $1000 per driver = $18,000. Not bad, when we just have to do a little leg-work, pay for printing costs of applications and business cards, and make follow-up calls every now and then, eh?

Presently we're in Lebec, California, "on top of the Grapevine". After we go for a hike on this gorgeous, breezy, clear and warm day, we'll be picking up a load in the early morning. After delivering tomorrow night, we're then on our way home for some R&R!