the last chapter…..?

July 31, 2010

A little over two years ago I started an adventure that I hoped would take me around the US, seeing friends I knew, family I didn’t and races in between. I was hoping the trucking industry would be the vehicle to take me there. It turned out the vehicle was allot slower then I thought. However, there is light come from the tunnel and it’s not a train.

I am scheduled for orientation with Mercer Transportation August 9th. If things go as planned I’ll be there. I have quit USX as of Saturday, July 31. After spending most of today writing back and forth on a QualCom, management ‘caved-in’ and approved my dead-head trip to Markham, IL to return the truck per their company policy. They wanted me to take a load somewhere that was better suited to their needs. Yet, I would still have to dead-head somewhere to return the truck. Their policy states I had to return the truck to a Service Center or be charged $500. It states my fleet manager would assist me in choosing the best location to return the equipment. The policy states nothing about being required to take a loaded trailer anywhere. Frankly, a very poorly written policy; not well thought out. . They should have used words like ‘could’, ‘may’, ‘at the judgment of management’, ‘up to and including’. And they should have used the same words for what was to be returned. One sentence states just the truck, another uses the word equipment, while another uses truck and trailer. Fortunately for me, my message on the QualCom states I only have to take back the truck. Nothing is said about hauling a trailer.

I have a one-way moving van (very small) waiting for me in Markham, 1 mile from where I’m to drop off my truck. I’ll stop at U-haul first, empty out my truck into the moving van, then clean up my truck (per policy) and take it to the drop yard. Then I’ll find a cheap motel for the night and drive to North Mankato, MN Sunday morning. Monday morning I’ll pick up my truck and head to Glimer, ND to see my Aunt Ida and Uncle Richard. Then head to Louisville, KY to start the next ‘book’ in the series.

I’ll write more as I get started with Mercer…..


Like most of you, you have a life to manage outside of your daily grind of a job. For some of you this life takes a lot of time. Mine too, takes time. But I do it from a metal box on wheels. It’s hard arranging to do just about anything other then drive this truck. Even shopping for food is a challenge; finding a parking lot large and empty enough so I can park my ‘truck’ in it.

But these last couple of weeks have been really busy finding a truck to buy, and arranging for dyno testing and the bumper to mud flaps inspections that are necessary. The more information I know about the truck, from the testing and inspections, and the more analysis I can have done on the engine, drive train, and electronics, the better the decision I can make. Knowing what’s going on inside the engine is very important. I’ve had two trucks tested, dyno’d and had oil samples taken. Then after I went over those results I had them inspected, ‘head to toe’. The first truck came through the process with a ‘B+’ with no major concerns. The second truck failed; the turbo was leaking and a bearing was probably ready to fail. However, I wasn’t real impressed with the inspection process on the first truck and so in an effort to gather even more information, I had it inspected a second time. Yet, this time it was with a different mechanic who would use a different method. They also changed the oil filter, keeping the old one to cut open and peel the filter apart to see if there was anything in it except oil. It examined clean; no metal pieces were found. This inspection was done just the way I wanted and the results were much clearer.

a little fuzzy but the earth was moving around and around at 65mph….

I’m taking some ‘home time’ in Madison, WI, renting a car and Monday, July 26 I’ll be driving to North Mankato, MN to see and drive the truck. And should that turn out as I believe it will, I’ll make the deal and I’ll be one step closer to running my own trucking business; which, by the way, is called RoadTraveler, LLC. (this is so cool, there are fire-flies lighting up the bushes next to the truck; amazing at the wonder God places in front of us to enjoy).

I’ll keep everyone posted. But don’t be surprised when I come knocking on your door or call you! That was my plan when I started this adventure!

The storm clouds over my head were so cool as I drove through them. Just a thick layer of dark gray clouds, seemingly laying inches off the earth, swirling around, side to side but not really moving. It was raining all over the place with some lighting thrown in just for fun.

The sailboat was having a hard time tacting up wind. I saw they were using the little motor most of the time to get back to the starboard tact. Maybe the guy should have had a few more lessons! But I’d like to have been there fighting the wind with him, it would have been a blast….

ON the banks of the mighty Mississippi I find myself wondering what ole’ Huck Finn would be thinking if he saw what I see. Besides very dirty water and lots of trash, he’d see large factories, tug boats pushing around huge barges and beautiful homes overlooking the river. As I was walking along the rocky banks I didn’t see anyone fishing, wading nor even many boats on the water. I’d think it’d be a great place to go boating but apparently not. And they must fish in other locations. But the water is cool, wet, and moves along at a pretty good clip. Actually, it is flows pretty fast. And it’s refreshing; I couldn’t help but get in…it looked so inviting. Yet, laying on my back I had to be sure I was hanging onto a rock or I’d be floating down stream like the many logs and stings.

The drive out of El Paso into Laredo was pretty as I’d not been that way before. It saved about 150miles from the other way I’d been. Good to know as I start to buy my own fuel as I travel on my journey. I hit the corner of the Big Ben National Park. It’s got a fairly large lake in it and a very deep canyon.

The next load took me north to just south of Chicago. I was stopped for the night in a K-Mart parking lot and some bird woke me up! It sounded like a little bird so I just tried to wish it away. But when I got up and noticed it was a hawk, I was surprised to see such a ‘small sound’ came from such a large bird. At first it looked like it was hurt, as it was jumping around on the food it was picking at. But then it flew into the tree, so I guess it wasn’t hurt. Friendly it was however. I moved around under him, taking pictures and he didn’t seem to mind. I hope I got his best side! I walked around where he was picking at whatever he was eating but found nothing. He must have picked it clean.

In Stingtown, OK, I took a walk early and found this very friendly animal. He was gone on the return trip, hope he wasn’t for anyone’s lunch…..Pretty sunrise met me as I walked along this dirt road headed to what turned out to be a fairly large lake. You couldn’t see it from the road but the locals knew it was there, I’m sure. And just for me that morning, a Port-A-Potty had been stationed there. A pretty clean one at that; with paper even! And a dumpster for the campers to use.

Cow – Out house – flowers

I’m just north of St Louis, headed t Mobile with a load of flour. This last week I had one of the trucks I’m looking to buy inspected and put through a dyno machine test. Everything looked pretty good. I’ll have another one this week tested the same way.

Hope everyone is doing Ok and the summer is treating them well.

…what was in that bottle….

NOT that bottle, 5hours energy! I had complained to my brother I was tired all the time. I was so sleepy, I’d have to pull over and nap for 30minutes or so. Lyle suggested I try this little bottle. Well, if you knew my brother, he’s as straight as they come. If it’ll hurt him AT ALL, any chance of it, he won’t touch it. So to have him suggest something, it must work. He really looks into stuff, reads all the small print, checks out the internet, calls the surgeon general and everything! I tried it, just 1oz, as he suggested. And WOW! I had more pick-up in my giddy-up, more sparkle in my eyes,[now that they were open], I was whipping in and out of traffic like Batman! OK, not really like Batman. I’ve been fighting a real bad cold, settled in my throat and I couldn’t even talk and Bob was getting lonely just sitting there staring out the window; he’s usually the quite one! Tuesday, July 6, I stopped 4 times in 100miles to take little naps, just couldn’t stay awake. Then I took this drink and was awake, feeling pretty good the next 150 miles into LA. So, what’s in this little red bottle…..This could become habit-forming.

Another wonderful promise of a perfectly constructed day was seen as I woke up over looking a man-made pond in Ft, Bridger, WY. Some clouds trying to hide the warming sun as it made its way to work. Reaching out its rays of light for all to see and enjoy. Every ray seems the same but very different as it spreads out to all corners for our eyes to see. Just amazing to watch it change in the sky. I find myself wanting to get up in time to take it in but seldom do. Apparently, I’m not in the same time zone! (I couldn’t decide which picture I wanted to use, so I used several. The sun breaking through the storm clouds was an amazing sight.)

What a storm WY put on for me over the holiday weekend. Nature’s fireworks was free for all to see. Lighting with hail! I’ve never see it so thick before; it even made some minor dents on the hood of the truck.

What a few weeks. Finally got my truck out of the shop and headed to central CA. Then to Denver, back to San Fran, back to Denver, now back to SoCal with a load of empty Coors cans for the Labor day drink-a-tong. Stay OFF the highways. Coming out of Las Vegas yesterday, there was a semi accident, east bound into Vegas, just outside Prim, NV(the state line) that had traffic backed up 10miles. What a mess. The good ting was it was after the holiday weekend and was headed to Vegas. Image the mess it would have made of plans if it happened 24 hours earlier in that direction!

It’s cloudy here in LA, a little cool with fog laying over the mountains. But it’ll get hotter and the fog will burn off. Till later, enjoy your summer, stay safe and keep praying for those fighting to protect our freedoms!

It’s Sunday, I’m in Laredo, TX, Spain just won the World Cup, Mark Webber won the F1 race and I just found 6 trucks to choose from. I had 48hours at Mom’s, busy but good to visit with her. It went bye way too fast….had to get some medical and tax things worked out. Plus I started the process for my LLC. I need that in place before I actually buy a truck. There are some things we can not do over the phone or through the internet. But soon I’ll figure out how to do that stuff over the road. Don’t have a name yet for the trucking company but working on it. Should any of you have suggestions, I’m all ears! My time at ‘home’ seems all too rushed, just getting stuff done. One of these days I’ll figure out how to just relax when I’m ‘home’, wherever that happens to be. Maybe next time I’ll have my own truck and the time will be better spent. Till later, enjoy your life and the freedoms someone died to provide.

A pretty sunset, somewhere in America….

It’s nice to see we have an open border policy for those flying in from the north. And to see them helping to clean up the spills we create. They are a valuable addition to our work force! And I bet their baby was born here…so maybe their not visitors at all but ….CITIZENS. They are sooooooo cute.

I finally got my truck out of the shop. It was in for about 10 days. I got it out a couple of times, drove it back to the terminal and it stopped working. Back to the shop it went! Hopefully, I’ll get some breakdown pay out of it. But I’m back on the road. As I’m headed out of LA, I presume the sky is a pretty blue with just a whiff of billowing clouds and a lite breeze coming east off the ocean. Other then that it’s a lite grey/brown mix and the over head freeway signs ask us to carpool to reduce the smog levels. Gotta love CA!

I turned the truck towards the bay area, with a load of grease for Chevron in Richmond, CA. I’d think they could make their won grease….but who knows. The late afternoon traffic running through downtown LA is actually much lighter then I thought it would be. Starting at 5pm, I made it to Grapevine in less then 2 hours. I’m still going to run out of hours for the day, which will make me delivery late but that’s OK on this run.

Fortunately I picked up my next load going to Loveland, CO. Grease in 55gal drums going to Sam’s club. And no it wasn’t the same grease…..

I took a state road out of Laramie, WY down into Ft Collins then into Loveland I haven’t taken before. Very nice road, pretty mountain scenes and a few deer and something light brown with little horns and large white spots grazing behind the fence. They must be protected to be so unafraid of the traffic whizzing by. Some very interesting mountain formations, showing the upper movement of the earth at some time. I love the different colors and textures. So vastly different from one another; I wonder why so?

A lot of windmills call WY home. Here are but a few. I was amazed the Rockies still have some a lot of snow.

This bug isn’t as cool as the big ones in Costa Rica but it wasn’t invited for to dinner either! It was already dead when I saw it. Must have blown-in through the window….

I asked these guys if they were from Spain but they said they were from Chile, very south of the border. Spoke no English, but were very friendly and understood I wanted to take pictures. That was OK, with one guy very willing to ‘ham’ it up for me. They were tending to herds of sheep. They had 2 horses that were grazing near-by and saw only 1 saddle. I was thinking they were Basque but the word didn’t mean anything to them. I saw a similarity in their work and how they lived with what I do and how I live. Very simple, making do with what they can carry with them in their ‘home’. I found them very interesting and wish we could have communicated better, I would have visited with them for awhile.

I’m in Loveland, 5100feet and it’s about 89degrees. Pretty hot up here in the thin air, but cooler then Phx!

More to come, stand by….well, you don’t have to actually stand but it’ll come soon….OK pretty soon but maybe be later then sooner…and image my kids had to put with me!