Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The right stuff, Do I have it?

The phrase "the right stuff" is something generally used to describe Naval Aviators. It makes reference to the pilots that fly the combats jets and land them on aircraft carriers. In order to do that job, you must have "the right stuff." In my humble opinion, a long haul truck driver must also have "the right stuff."

I usually save my main point for the end of my blog but today I'm going to come right out and say it in the beginning, I lack the right stuff and quit my job today. As of this writing, I'm held up in Phoenix and will be routed home.

That being said, I'm glad I titled my blog "red's midlife crisis" and not "red's truck driving adventures." And so it seems, that I may really be heading into more of a mid life crisis than I originally bargained for. I do plan on keeping up this blog updated as I think it will only get more and more interesting as time passes. I don't know how else to say it except that I'm scared as hell right now and I don't know what's going to happen next.

That part out of the way, allow me to shift gears and share my latest adventures.........

I was dispatched from Salem Oregon on Friday to go to a mill in Halsey and drop off an empty trailer and then pick up a loaded trailer and take it to Gila Bend, Arizona. I arrived at the mill at around 2 in the afternoon convinced that this would be a way easy trip with time to spare since my load wasn't scheduled to deliver until 1pm on Monday. Once I got rid of my empty, I went to get the loaded and was told that I couldn't pick that up until 11 that night. My original plan was to get about 5 hours down the road Friday. Now, keep in mind that I am middle aged and do like to try and keep a regular sleeping schedule. I knew I would start getting very tired at about 9 or so and was not looking forward to picking up at 11. I went back to a truck stop on I5 and decided to hang out there for a while. Because of a facebook update, my Mom decided to come up and bring my daughter to me to visit with before I hit the road. Bekah (my daughter) was staying with Grandma and Grandpa for spring break and they were only about 40 miles away. This was a well needed moral boost!!!

Later that night, I went back to the mill and picked up my trailer and made it back to I5 and decided to try and head south. I quickly realized I was too tired and stopped at a rest stop just south of Halsey at just after midnight.

Since you have to log 10 hours in the sleeper before you can start driving again, I knew I couldn't start before 10:15 in the morning. My plan was to start driving right at 10:15 and stop no later than 10 that night so I could start at 8 the next morning, stop by 8 that night and start my last day at 6am, giving me 7 hours of leeway before I had to make my appointment. You are only allowed to drive for 11 hours a day but you have 14 hours in which to do it, to account for breaks and such.

I started out at 10:15 on Saturday morning and about mid day I tackled the Syskious, that great mountain divide between Oregon and California. I then made it to Sacramento at about 8 that night and decided to bed down in a truck stop. On Sunday I got back on the South bound 5 and headed for the Grapevine. The Grapevine is the well known mountain pass right before you hit LA. I stopped at a rest stop about an hour from the Grapevine and took a few moments to eat a sandwich and gather my nerve. I also decided that it was a good place to brush my teeth since being a trucker is all about taking advantage of opportunities when they arise. I set out for Grapevine but had no idea that I would not get the chance to stop again until I hit Palm Spring, a 4 1/2 stint. About the time you hit the base of the Grapevine you are also greeted with the worlds worse roads. These poor roads continued all the way over the mountain and East until about SanBernardino. 100 miles and 2 1/2 solid hours of  of having
your kidneys abused and fearing that all the noise you were hearing was the truck crumbling underneath you. I fully expected the truck to disintegrate and I would be left standing in the middle of the freeway holding a steering wheel.

Alas, I Did make it to Palm Springs........and then things got a little interesting.

Well, it's late and I'm going to bed, I'll fill you in when I get the chance.



  1. Oh no, Red...don't leave us hanging here. Come back and finish your blog.

  2. Waiting with abated breath to see what happened next.

  3. Red, don't be discouraged. Sometimes it takes a while to find your way out of a mid-life crisis. There are alternatives and I know with your resourcefulness, you will find one. Hope your back is okay - and your kidneys! Let's hear the rest of that story.

  4. I've driven the Grapevine many many times. The first two I pulled over to check my tiers because I thought I had a flat or something. After that I always remembered the washboard feeling. Must have been rough for a first time in a big truck! Glad you made it.