Friday, March 14, 2008

Another long day, a girl scout and a trained monkey

Believe it or not, there is a connection there.

I left the hotel around sunrise and headed over to Council Bluffs, Iowa to pick up my load. Again. The paperwork I had signed yesterday was still there, and the trailer hadn't budged either. I carefully surveyed my rear suspension just to make sure everything was working properly (and yes, you can stuff that butt joke that came to mind back where it belongs) and hooked up. No problemo.

The guard was congenial and in a few minutes I left to get the load scaled at a nearby truck stop. It turns out, the load put my total weight 400 pounds over the legal limit so I was ordered back to the plant to have some pallets taken off. All I needed to do was move my trailer tandems to the rear but with the weight on them they refused to budge so the dock workers took pity and let me back in with them up. Possibly because they wouldn't enter the trailer proper anyway, considering the pallets they would be removing were right at the back.

Then I drove back to the guard gate, only the paperwork was now in the hands of the shipping department back in the dock area. Turn around, grab paperwork, guard checks it off and I return to the truck stop. I scale again and I'm under on my total weight but I have to move my trailer tandems a bit to make each axle set legal. I prevailed only with the assistance of my hammer and some harsh language.

Finally, more than two hours from when I started the morning, I got underway down the freeway with my first reefer load. The Caterpillar engine is as I remembered, with stronger torque than the Cummins I left behind at Con-Way. I only had to downshift a couple times in the rolling hills north of Kansas City at almost my legal weight limit, whereas my Cummins would have had me shifting quite a bit more.

This company governs its trucks oddly, I think. You can drive up to 66 MPH using the foot pedal, and up to 68 on cruise control. At CFI / Con-Way, it was 67 on cruise and 70 on the pedal, meaning if you came up to someone slower you had some oomph (technical term) to get around them. Now you kind of cruise on by with no oomph. Feels weird.

Anyway, made it without incident to Lamar, Missouri, about 20 miles north of my consignee where I stopped for a Blizzard and to stock up at the local Super Wal-Mart.

I arrived at my destination 90 minutes early, which is fairly standard for me. I checked in with the folks at the guard shack only to find that my new overlords hadn't provided me with the proper appointment number. We sorted that out eventually, and I waited until near my appointment time when I was given instructions to get to my underground loading dock.

Yes, spelunking again.

The caves here in Carthage, Missouri are much more open than the ones I encountered before in Independence, Missouri. I took a variety of pictures that I will upload once I reach someplace with faster internet access. I followed another truck in, hoping to follow him to the right spot but it turns out it was his first time as well. We managed to find our way and stick our rigs in the appropriate doors.

Then the wait began.

My appointment was set at 1700 and I was in place shortly before that time. Hours passed and nothing happened. You shut off your reefer before you enter the underground area and I was starting to get worried that -10 degrees might not have been cold enough with the wait.

Finally, around 2130 the dock lock seized on my trailer and the unloading began. I was done and had escaped by 2230, a total of 5.5 hours to get unloaded. I sent in the codes to HQ informing them I was empty and stating my claim for detention pay, ending with the comment that it could have gone faster with a girl scout and a trained monkey unloading.

See, told you there was a connection between all three.