Monday, December 19, 2011

32 Inches

I received a fine the other day: $25 for 32 inches.

We picked up the HEAVY load in Dallas, TX and grossed out at 79,900 (max is 80,000). Regulations state that we can have no more than 34,000 pounds on the trailer axles and the drive axles, and no more than 12,000 on the steer axle. Being as heavy as we were, we had to make sure each axle weight was appropriate so as not to receive an over-weight fine. We have the option of sliding our fifth wheel or sliding the trailer tandems to change the amount of weight on each axle, but not the weight over all. 79,900 pounds is 79,900 pounds, no matter how you move the freight.

Without having the list in front of me, I would wager to say that most states do not have regulations for length; length in this case being defined as the distance between the kingpin and the center of the rear axle on the trailer. California will slap you with a $100 fine if you measure over 40 feet. California in general will try to slap you with any fine they can, and an over-length violation seems to be common.

Since we weren't going through California, and we weighed out our axles to be accurate though we were "longer" than usual, we didn't bother to check if any other states on our route had over-length fines. Turns out Virginia did.

Their maximum length is 41 feet, and we measured out to be 43'8". Because they had pulled me in for weight, they knew I was close on my axles but still legal, they were able to measure the kingpin to rear axle length. Since I couldn't "scoot" any weight to abide by the length regulation, I got a $25 fine (and $50 processing fee and $10 for taxes, or something like that). They sent me on my way with paperwork proving I was already cited, lest I get pulled into another Virginia weigh station (I didn't).

Thankfully, in cases like this, our company will pay the fine, as we would have been overweight otherwise. And, thankfully, this violation will have no weight on my CSA score (the federal government assigns a point value to any violations received; my speeding ticket earned me 9 points. Once you hit a certain amount of points, they revoke your CDL).

Current location: the Freightliner shop in Salt Lake City, UT
Direction headed: the Northwest!
Mileage total this month: 18,000ish

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Trucker Talk

We recently purchased a CB Radio, partly in response to coming up on the accident east of Ogden in my post, A Safety Reminder. We thought it best to have a way to communicate to other drivers of poor driving conditions, and vice versa. It has certainly been helpful in that regard, and we are very thankful to have it with us as we enter into more inclement weather.

But, I also feel like I'm learning a new language.

And, it seems that every driver talks like Larry the Cable Guy. Do truckers go to school to learn to speak in a way no one can understand?

As far as the language goes, it's not all pretty. I remember when I was a young girl and our family would go on driving vacations to the East Coast, Dad would bring along his CB. And he would often have to turn down the volume because of the foul words. But, as my brother Andy and I had a goal to see how many truckers would honk on their air horn when we passed, Dad often gave them a head's up so they could help our numbers. If I remember, we got up to something like 137 honks in a 10-day period.

One of the first times Ben and I had the CB all hooked up and finally got the right length of antennae, we were parked in a Petro truckstop parking lot in Amarillo, TX. This was the "conversation" we heard:

"F! F you you f'n f'er! Get the f out of here! I don't give an f what you think!"

Needless to say, I was not impressed.

We also heard another conversation going from a guy saying something about "chicken feed". As it is not uncommon for non-truckers to peruse truckstops looking to sell some drugs, I thought that "chicken feed" was in reference to that. But, then we found a website that decodes CB chatter, and I'm led to believe it was something police related. Who knows for sure?

Many drivers are quite helpful with information, some are air hogs that won't let anyone in on the conversation, a few are arrogant bullies and a handful are just plain disgusting. We were at a Flying J a week or so ago where I'm pretty sure I saw my first bona fide "lot lizard" (read: prostitute). Lady, nobody walks around a truckstop parking lot in knee high boots, a Britney Spears-inspired-too-short-plaid-skirt, hair and makeup all done up and expects us to think you're legitimately a driver. And then we hear the conversation on the CB that is unbelievably vulgar and offensive and disgusting. I presume it was in reference to the LL, or it was her instigating it.

Aside from the nastiness that can make your ears bleed, the CB has been a great purchase and investment for our time on the road.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

'Tis the Season!

Freight always picks up in the last quarter of the year, but especially during December, when online shopping and shipping packages hits a year-long high. We've been doing many loads in the past few weeks hauling such items, so much so that we're only getting just a few hours in between loads for a decent bite to eat and a shower. Things, they are a movin'!

If you're curious, here's a profile of our destinations since we returned to the road after Thanksgiving:

Bend to Boise
Boise to Kansas City
Kansas City to Portland
Portland to Indianapolis
Indianapolis to Chicago
Chicago to Syracuse
Syracuse to Dallas
Dallas to Harrisburg
Harrisburg to Phoenix
Phoenix to Harrisburg
Harrisburg to Toledo

If you're counting, that adds up to over 14,500 miles. In 18 days.

Santa's got nothing on us!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Quarterback Sneak

Ben's most recent sleepwalking story, for your entertainment (I was unaware this happened until he shared the experience):

He dreamt he was quarterback in a football game and the play the team decided on was a quarterback sneak to get the first down. In his sleep, he lunged forward in the bed and smacked his head against the wall. In the game, they wanted to repeat the play, but Ben had enough wherewithal in his sleepiness to decline, so as to not hurt himself again.

Go team go!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, December 2, 2011

Negative Eleven

I’m happy to report that I still hold the all-time record as of now, for the lowest temperature driven through while on the road (-34 in Moorhead, MN). This winter’s lead, however, goes to Ben, who captured -11 in eastern Wyoming this morning. I was hopeful that my -2 would be low enough to keep in first place, but switching over on our shifts before midnight allowed him to seize the cooler digits.

Present Location: Lincoln, NE to use the free wifi and laundry at the terminal!
Miles this week: 5100