The End of the Road

My trucking adventure has come to an end, and although it will be nice to get a shower and regular bed tonight, it was very sad to see the Celadon truck leaving the truck stop in Houston this morning and I wasn’t riding shotgun anymore. Starting December 26 from Brackettville, TX, going up to Georgia, Tennessee, and New York, then back down to Tennessee and Indiana, then up to Chicago and back down to Indiana and Georgia, my ride ended in Houston, TX. Mike continued on with the load he needs to deliver in Laredo this afternoon. It made sense for me to stop here because it is easier to get back to Albuquerque from Houston than it would have been from Laredo.

In spite of all the hardships, it was an awesome two weeks and I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend this time with Mike and get a better understanding of what the life of a trucker is like. When I’m back to being a passenger or driver of a “four-wheeler” I’m going to be more tolerant of the trucks zooming by on the highway or crowding into the truck stops. Those drivers work hard and it takes a special skill and knowledge to safely maneuver such a huge, powerful machine. In spite, of what Mike says that “anybody can learn to do it”, I certainly could not do all of what he had to accomplish to successfully meet the assignments he was given. It was challenging enough just to be a passenger!

Chattanooga Choo Choo

If you’ve been following along on this trucking adventure you know that yesterday morning we were still stranded at a warehouse in Chicago waiting for someone to message us the correct pickup number required by the warehouse before they would load our trailer.  By noon we still hadn’t heard anything.  I think if the Chattanooga Choo Choo had come by we would have been tempted to use it to get us on our way.

As it turned out, we didn’t need a train, after all, and were in our Celadon truck passing by Chattanooga, TN, this morning on our way to a delivery in Georgia.  We never did get the load at the Chicago warehouse.  Instead, when the orders finally came through Mike was told to drive to a nearby Celadon trailer storage lot, drop off the empty trailer and bobtail back down to Indy where a trailer would be ready for us to haul to Monroe, Georgia.  This was actually the load we had been waiting for Saturday when we were parked at the Celadon terminal.  Crazy shenanigans or what?

Anyway, Mike put in a full 14 hours on his clock, picking up the load in Indy and getting to Manchester, TN, where we parked at a truck stop for the night.  The next morning freezing rain was predicted on the highways we would be traveling in Tennessee and Georgia.  Parts of I-75 had already been shutdown because of weather related accidents.  Mike calculated and recalculated hours and driving time trying to decide on the best time to leave.  If he got to the customer site too early for the scheduled 6 pm unload time it would burn up his 14-hour clock and reduce the amount of driving time left for the next load we are picking up at a Celadon facility on the other side of Atlanta.  If he waited too long to start driving, weather and traffic might slow us down and we would be late for the unloading.

It was nice to see rain for a change but I sure wish it would have been just a few degrees warmer so the threat of icy roads wouldn’t be a concern.  Approaching Chattanooga from the north there is a steep descent down the Cumberland Plateau.  The roads were wet and trees along the roadside were covered in ice, but Mike was careful, as usual, and we made it to Chattanooga without incident.  The rain was heavy at times as we approached Atlanta but we were ahead of rush hour and traffic wasn’t bad.

We’re early for our appointment but it remains to be seen how long the unloading process will take.  I think Mike said we can afford 2 (or was it 3) hours here before it impacts the 14-hour clock.  Will I ever grasp the intricacies of maximizing available driving hours in this business?