Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Week(s) in Review

Author's Note: I get a little bogged down in the following paragraphs. A little venting. If you want to skip it and get to the good bits, just scroll down until you see pictures. Well, they may not be good bits, but they'll be better than this next bit. :-).

Wow, this is going to take a minute. It's kind of neat to think that for the last month I've actually had a bit of a life - so much so that I didn't have time to write anything about it!

Ok, so a bunch of it was just working too hard, but the good parts are what I remember best. :-)

I last left you on June 30th, while sitting on my couch. I actually remember that. It's a lot more comfortable than the (now broken) seat in my truck. Yep, I broke the seat in my truck, but hang on, we're getting ahead of ourselves.

I spent a few nice days at home. I think I only left the house twice in about 4 days. Once to go out to eat, and once to visit next door. It's strange that every day spent at home seems to have a cloud over it... I can never seem to forget that I have to leave soon, and it makes the happy times almost hurt. I guess when I'm out at work I miss home and family, but I'm not reminded every few minutes of what I'm missing. When I'm at home, every minute of happiness reminds me of how many more I'm missing. Not just missing, but sometimes, by my absence, actually causing those good times not to happen.

Well, I recognize the mistakes I've made to get me here (some of them, anyway), and we have a solid plan to have more happiness than most people ever dream of (no, it doesn't have much to do with money, at least, not with having a lot of it), so I can't begrudge these hard times. It's only when I think I'm reaching too high (even though my goals are very modest) that it really scares me. What if I put in all this time and don't get what I was aiming for? Is being away from my children while they grow a risk worth taking? But I believe I need to live up to obligations I made when I was reaching *way* too high, and this is the price. If I thought it was hurting the children, those other concerns wouldn't count for much, but it's not hurting them. At least, not much.

That turned into almost a rant. Please skip those last couple paragraphs and read this instead:

My time at home was nice, but short.


I left home on Wednesday, July 4th, to be in Warren, OH Thursday to pick up 46,000 pounds going to Phoenix, AZ (2 stops). When I got there on Monday, I decided I couldn't bear to miss picking up the kids at camp that Friday, even though, all things considered, I was going to miss a lot of revenue if I chose a load that would get me home in time. I did it anyway, and it has cost a lot of money. But we'll recover and still stay on track for semi-retirement in about two years (semi-retirement means not driving semis anymore :-) ). So it was absolutely worth it. None of the three expected me to be there, and I got to see the surprised happiness in their faces, as well as participate in a full day of camp activities with them. Look for a post about that day, with pictures, probably just above this one.

So, from Phoenix Lisa found me a nice load that picked up at a copper mine in Morenci, AZ, going to Chicago, IL. The rate for this load almost covered the fuel and other expenses to get there. :-). Loading Monday evening in Morenci, AZ, and already being tired, it would have been impossible (for me anyway) to deliver in Chicago (1700 miles) on Wednesday, and delivering on Thursday I didn't dare get a load from there going up into Michigan to deliver on Friday, because if I got held up in the morning and missed picking up the kids, I would have spent all that money, and almost a whole week of work, for nothing. And since picking up the kids took all day Friday, I had no time to pick up a load for delivery on Monday, and ended up spending the weekend at home. That's good, but, that meant a whole week for no money, and when I did come back to work, I still had to pay the truck payment and expenses for the week before, making it even harder to catch up.

Let me explain that a little. With the lease/purchase deal on the truck I'm driving, and some carryover expenses from the last truck, my weekly expenses are roughly $900. That's not much problem when I work a full week, because I can make enough beyond that to profit $1000-$1500, sometimes a little more. But if I take a week off, I then have expenses of $1800 the next week, and only $100-$600 for that week, so going home for one week amounts to me not getting paid for a week and a half's worth of work. A week sounds like a long time off, but I generally only come home about every six weeks, so that week still amounts to about half the days off at a normal job (weekends), and I don't get all that time at home that people get on weeknights either.

Now, that's not a complaint, overall, I'm still very happy with this job, it's just an explanation of how easy it is to get into a tight money position without really expecting it. I mean, we forecast and plan well, but when I decide I can get home, pick up the kids from camp, and scoot right back out, and then it doesn't work that way, it's not like I just lose the profit from a few days, I lose the profit, *and* the expenses. In a regular job it would be like taking a day off and not only not getting paid for that day, but having to *pay* your boss the amount you would have received!

So... The weekend of the 14th was spent at home, having a very good time. We went to see Ratatou... umm... Ratatooweee... ummm... Hang on, I'll Google it........
Ratatouille. WARNING! Slight spoiler: It was a pretty good movie, but unlike the movie Cars, on whose DVD it was advertised, it's not really a movie for a two-year old. Scary parts, and then a payoff that's too, well, intellectual for a two-year old. Aubrey liked it though. :-).

Then from home back to Warren, OH, on Monday, July 16, this time 39,000 pounds to Stockton, CA. From there to Madera, CA for a load of miscellaneous equipment that I guess is going to be a roof gutter system for a new Costco in Omaha, NE. Along the way on this trip my truck decided it was going to start acting like the old truck that it is. A long list of things went wrong, none of which meant I couldn't drive it back to the shop in Springfield, MO, but which did mean that I couldn't idle (and that means no a/c while parked), and couldn't pull any heavy loads on the way there. My wonderful dispatcher found me a light load that would get me to the shop almost as fast as driving straight there and pay enough to make it well worth doing!

One of the other problems was the driver's seat. A weld, or maybe a strangely shaped bolt, broke. It made it so that the seat sat higher on the left than the right. Very annoying, but ok for a day or so, I guess.

So from Missouri Valley, IA I carried five small (about 5'x10') trailers, 1 to a Tractor Supply Company Store in Topeka, KS, and four to a hardware and farm store in Independence, KS. Now, those of you who follow the news are probably aware that the area around Independence, KS was recently hit by a flood. I steadfastly avoid the news (when I eat at a truck stop, I carry ear plugs in so I won't have to hear the TV), so I had no idea. But, strangely enough, when I finally found the perfect hotel about 20 miles from the drop I had to make in the morning, I was told that there was no room in the Inn, and they didn't have a stable. But I guess the same guy was looking out for me, because they said I could go ahead and stay parked in their lot, and it cooled off so fast as the sun went down that my two fans kept me plenty cool to get to sleep, and when I woke up I even found that I had pulled a blanket on during the night. A whole night's comfortable sleep, with no noisy idling engines, reefers, jake brakes, lot lizards, diesel fumes, or other parking lot nastiness, and it didn't cost me a dime! Thank you very much to the sweet lady who met me halfway out to my truck to tell me about the situation, and thanks even more for letting me stay there!

Well, I made the delivery with no problems the next morning... and that was *this* morning. Then as I was getting into my truck, without thinking I leaned on the back of the seat, and broke it a lot better than I had broken it before. The seatcushion and seatback were now almost completely severed from the base. A truck seat has a lot of different metal parts under the seatcushion part, so I got it to sit in there ok by jamming it down hard and then putting, and keeping, my not insubstantial weight on it. I just had to be very careful not to wiggle much on the way to the yard. I know I've gotten bigger over the years, but I had no idea I was big enough to break something built to hold a truck driver!!! I guess I'll have to stop eating at McDonald's twice a day.

So after driving to Springfield and getting my truck written up and into the shop with minimal fuss, I'm now sitting in a hotel room in Springfield, MO, writing this blog entry, listening (by random selection from hundreds of songs) to a song by Kid Rock called "What I Learned Out on the Road", and picking black olives off a pizza that has other things on it that I also didn't order.

That's my "Week in Review" for this week.

Here is a selection of pictures from that period, and shortly before:

I don't know what it means, but I bet it's funny.

First of all, it's a *guard* rail, to guard against going over the edge, using force, not persuasion. A guide would be a line on the road. Second of all, if the guard rail is missing, what good is the sign? When we're spinning out of control toward where the guardrail used to be, should we do something different than if it were still there? Like scream louder? This, of course, is Pennsylvania, the land of horrible traffic backups for no reason other than idiotic traffic rules. Strange, too, because Pennsylvania is surrounded by states that at least have a clue, and they stand completely alone with their silly ideas, like yield signs at the ends of high-speed merges, lane closed signs that say "Use both lanes to merge point" (Who should use both lanes, me? Back and forth or straddle the line?), and stupid orange signs every few hundred feet that say "No Guide Rail".

This is just here for my son.

Well, It turns out they're not just the world's slowest, but also the largest. I won't name the place exactly, but I will say that it's the only McDonald's on the Oklahoma Turnpike that has ever been above my truck.

I don't know if you can see it or not, but it looked like a passenger train speeding through the sky to me.

- Trevor.
Springfield, MO
Wednesday, 2007-07-25

Friday, July 20, 2007

Still Going... The last of the catch-ups!

That's Danielle's foot, at a hotel in York, NE. I think it was sometime in summer 2006.
This is from a while ago. Like, Ummm... sometime before now.

This is very likely from May 22, 2006. Kesia holding Aubrey. Oh yeah, and that's me. I almost didn't make it home for the birth, but some things fell into place and I made it. It's a good thing, because Aubrey came kinda fast once she decided to come, and she got to our house 7 minutes before the midwives did. I think it was a little scary for Lisa, but it might have been scarier if I hadn't been there either. Danielle was a very big help, so it probably would have been ok, but I would have hated to have missed it.
Amber Elk Ranch, May, 2006.
The saddest picture. It's very hard to say goodbye so often. Danielle didn't say goodbye to me this time (because she came with me ;-) ).
Our family, at Evergreen Evangelical Covenant Church, July 14, 2007. Thank you Pastor Keith for taking this photo!
Austin didn't understand how a baby toy could be for anyone other than him... I mean, he was the only baby in the family, and I don't think he understood that there was about to be another one. He certainly wanted this rattle. :-)
Here's JJ in front of the TV in the driver's lounge at The International-Navistar Dealer in Springfield, MO. You should have seen her face when she went to change channels and couldn't find any *buttons*!
This reminds us to be careful.
One of the funniest things I've ever seen. If you can't see what's funny, try clicking to make it bigger.
Here's my Hotshot rig on top of a mountain in New Mexico, in May, 2007 (we don't even have snow in Northern Michigan in May!) That little bush in front of the truck? Not a bush, but the top of a very tall tree.

Monday, July 2, 2007


Kesia was born with a birthmark on her cheek that looked just like Mary Poppins. We used to call her "Poppins." Still do, occasionally. I suppose I should go find the picture of her with the birthmark and post it here.


I guess...

Hang on a sec...

Aha, here it is!

When this picture was taken, nobody had recognized Mary Poppins yet. You probably can't see it well without enlarging the picture (click on it). Oh, and you might have to turn your head to the right a little... well, ok, a lot. Just picture her with her umbrella and you should see it.

Here's Poppins eating a McDonald's French Fry at Disneyland. It just doesn't get any better than that! (circa December 2006)

Here are a couple of Austin being cute, and then one of him being a little nervous.


Ummm, Dad? I know it's just a rental, but are we really supposed to be in the Trunk?!?

The license plate is of interest because DJK are the initials of the three oldest girls, in order. Neat, huh?

- Trevor
Branch, MI