It was a relief to get back on the road yesterday morning after our 3-day delay. We left Syracuse early for our noon appointment at the Anheuser-Busch plant in Baldwinsville, NY, hoping they might be able to work us in early. No such luck.
Six hours after our arrival the load was finally ready for us to start hauling to the destination in Tennessee.
The Qualcomm route plan wanted us to head west on the Thruway all the way across New York to Erie, PA, before turning south. That would have us driving right through the center of the winter storm we could already see was causing major traffic backups. Mike reprogrammed the route to head back down Interstate 81, the route that we had taken last week to get up to New York. That would add about 100 miles to our trip, but turned out to be a wise decision given the news this morning about how bad the situation was last night on the Thruway.
Getting such a late start from Baldwinsville meant that Mike could only drive for 7 1/2 hours before he would have to shut down for 8 hours. Truckers are held to a confusing daily 14-hour “on duty” clock that limits the amount of time they can drive if they have spent too much time sitting and waiting at a customer site. I was a math major in college but I still haven’t figured out how available driving time works and how the driver “gets back” hours if he spends at least 8 hours parked somewhere.
For us, and countless other truckers, the requirement to be parked somewhere for a number of hours can be a major hassle. The clock was ticking towards midnight and Mike was checking the app on his phone that showed available truck parking close to where his time would run out. We thought we could find something at a Flying J near Winchester but when we got there the lot was jammed with trucks in every available spot and in spots I wouldn’t have considered available. We circled the lot several times, choosing finally to back into one space that looked like it might be big enough. It wasn’t. Meanwhile, Mike’s clock ran out.
Our only option was a rest area 5 miles further down the highway. When we got there the situation was no better than at the Flying J. Every spot had a truck parked in it. We ended up jammed in a line of other desperate trucks parked on the shoulder of the rest area on-ramp. Not exactly legal parking and not exactly legal that we hadn’t shut down when the 14-hour clock expired. But there was no other choice. Consumers want their goods on time but don’t realize that having so many trucks on our highways means there will have to be places where they can stop. There are simply not enough truck parking areas along major highways. And, actually not enough truck parking in other places either.