Years ago I remember the excitement of hitting the open road. Trucking to me was the closest thing I’d been able to find to flying. We worked hard but also had freedom to control our lives out on the road. We (long haul truckers) had a life that may not have been conventional but it wasn't that bad. Then around 2004 some folks got together and decided it would be safer to up the sleeper birth time from eight hours to ten hours.
“That’s not such a bad idea. More sleep has to be safer. Right?"
Well yeah, O.k. except along with the Ten Hour Rule they added the Fourteen Hour Rule. The Fourteen Hour Rule or as I will call it the "FHR" is a stop watch that starts when you begin your day, and doesn't stop ticking for fourteen hours, when the FHR says your done driving, that's it, your done driving. I'm not sure why they invented the FHR but I'm guessing it's designed to make drivers keep their doors closed and the wheels turning. Hey, isn't keeping my wheels turning my job, not the federal governments job to enforce?
I'm going to try to give you an example of my life on the road with the FHR since my company put the new E-logs into my truck so that non drivers out there can have some perspective into what it can be like running under current regulations.
One Day in my Life Trucking:
So I go to bed at ten p.m. and sleep until Two A.m. I get up have a drink of water and go back to bed but, can't sleep. Some drivers (without E-logs in the truck) might just choose to "bend" their log book and try to get some driving done, but since I have an electronic log book in my truck and am such a conscientious follower of weird arbitrary rules designed by Lord knows who, (definitely not a trucker), I just lay there until eight a.m. Then I'm allowed to drive. Woo Hoo!!!! Time for work. Now the FTH is started. You remember the fourteen hour stop watch I told you about? I drive (tired) for two hours, then load for two hours, because car haulers load our own trucks this is on duty time, then drive one more hour, decide I'm too tired and pull into a rest area around one p.m. to catch a nap. Remember, the FTH keeps running even when you're sleeping once your workday has begun. So, I sleep for what seems like twenty minutes and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to roll. Only, holy crud it's five fourty five p.m. But at least I'm not tired, in fact for the first time all day i'm ready to rock and roll!!! I'm also hungry. So, I stop and grab a bite at the flying J. Now it's six fourty five p.m. and I'm rolling. Three hours and fifteen minutes later it's ten p.m., still wide awake and ready to be productive but the FTH says I'm done for the day. I pull into Ernies Truck Stop walk over to Shari's and spend the next four hours when I should be sleeping, wide awake bullshiting with anybody that will talk to me and the vicious cycle (with many different variations) is repeated.
My point is that I'm a human not a robot. I work in a constantly changing environment and in order to be safe and just as important sane, need the freedom to schedule my own life out here on the road. In my opinion, The Fourteen Hour Rule is arbitrary unneeded and can and does hinder me from making safe choices. If I have to sleep ten hours in 24 fine, but let me choose when and give me the right to break up that ten hours if needed without punishing me with the FHR. The fourteen hour stop watch needs to go away.
Am I wrong? Feel free to shoot me an E-mail.
It's the light and the mountains with the dessert. I shot this with one hand while driving. Nevada is like a giant painting nonstop outside your window. Part of the beauty is the emptiness. I decided to pass on breakfast at Denny's in Wells NV after more than hundred miles I arrived at the town of McGill.
There right on the main drag I spotted "Marie's Cafe" The on street parking big enough for my eighty plus feet and fierce grumbling in my belly was all I needed to convincd me to stop. Inside I found a Pirates dream, a menu with a real pirate map and hand made models of three masted schooners to make me fantasize of far off lands and burried treasure. Marie herself does the cooking and it was tasty, artistic and unpretentious all rolled up together.
You can find your mind wandering to distant ports at Maries Cafe in McGill NV.
A cuban sandwich with home made potato nuggets and home made Fry sauce to dip them in.
Dessert was an apple tart hand made with love of course by Marie or you could choose the giant cream puff.
I couldn't make up my mind, and because I knew I may not pass this way again. I chose both. They both were delicious…Apple tart was the best imo, only because I'm not a huge fan of custard...
Heading north out of Spokane toward Colville on hwy 395 right next to the scales a farmer decided to plant acres of sunflowers. It is one of the most beautiful sites you will see, so stunning I had to pull my 18 wheeler over and snap a shot.
Bacon, Sausage, Potatoes and Kale are just some of the ingredients of Broadway Flying J Ellensberg's light and refreshing, Homade Tuscan style soup.
Click the photo below and it will get larger.
I've allways liked Flying J's but since they've been bought by Pilot they have gone with corporate chain style restaurants instead of the excellent home style restaurants with buffet restaurants they used to have, like the buffet at the Flying J in Great Falls Montana comes to mind. However, the Broadway Flying J's are still independent and have their own excellent restaurants. I was amazed by the soup at the Broadway Flying J in Ellensberg. If you are missing the good old days when truckstops had their own little "diner" style restaurant then you owe it to yourself to check out the excellent cooking at the Flying J's in Ellensberg or Spokane. You'll be glad you did.
Every day out here on the road I try to find some way of treating myself to something special. This morning as I pulled into Missoula I remembered this awesome tomato soup that the 4 B's restaurant chain used to have on the menu. I'm not sure the restaurant at the Crossroads truck stop is still called the 4 B's or what the story is with the 4 B's restaurant chain that used to be just about everywhere in Montana, but it still had the tomato soup and it tasted just as good as I remembered it.
I took up Taxi Cab Driving during my Hiatus from trucking. Not so much because I needed the job but more because I like to feel productive as well as not dip to deep into the nest egg that I’ve been able to build up trucking. So It was that I was working on Thursday night...aka Thanksgiving or as some would say, the night before Black Friday. I found myself quite busy, for the most part picking up retail workers on their way to the various shopping malls and retailers that were opening up early for Black Friday. My night was uneventful until I picked up one particular fellow on his way to work at an electronic appliance store that I’ll call “Shop Right Electric.” Bob, was a temporary hire he said. He was hoping to get on full time. I dropped Bob off noticing that at 8:45 on a thanksgiving night there was a line of people stretched the entire length of the block from the entrance of Shop Right Electric. This was the case every where the entire mall area was as busy as it would have beeen on a Saturday afternoon.
On a night when even most bars were closed, the entire shopping district was packed. I’d just parked at Sam's one of the few bars that was open, to wait for my next fare, when I got a call from my dispatcher.
“Two eighty two, that last guy you dropped off left his drink in your car and I told him you’d bring it back.”
“Copy” says I getting out and searching the back seat for a drink. Sure enough he’d left his Starbucks Frapuccino in the back seat. I headed back to Shop Right store with his drink. I made my way through the maze of people that jammed the parking lot and parked along the curb out front. The doors were locked as it was still five minutes to nine. I walked to the front of the line to the locked glass doors and tapped the Frappuccino on the store front trying to get the attention of one of the workers milling about to come open the door.
“Hey Mister, theres a line.” came a female voice with what I guessed was an indian accent.
“I know, I drive a taxi and I’m just trying to return my last fares ‘Frappuccino” I explained to the five foot tall female.
“I’ve been here since five this afternoon!” she exclaimed sounding out of breath like someone that was in line for a rock concert, not a retail store in the middle of the night on a Thanksgiving in a strip mall. Then she turned and shrieked “Hey, you guys go to the back of the line.”
“don’t worry about it.” came the reply from another female standing off in the darkness.
“Yeah theres a line you idiots.” this time a male voice. Then grumbling under his breath but loud enough to be heard by anyone in proximity. “bastards think they gonna cut.”
“I brough pepper spray,” another female voice.
It was now three minutes after nine and the crowd was starting to press and low like a herd of cattle.
“Look, I just need to get Bob his Frappuccino.”
“What a nice guy.” came a sneering male voice.
Just then the rattle of keys in the latch and the stress glazed face of a Shop Right Electric employee. I managed to thrust the Frappuccino into his hand. “this is Bob’s,” then found myself shoved aside by a mighty swirling maelstrom of bodies that seemed to lift the Shop Right employee up like a leaf on a tidal wave, carrying him away into the store.
I’m a large man, I’ve been to many tough places like the bering sea in Alaska, and the slums of Mexico City I’ve even worked as a bouncer at a Bad Religion concert before, but this group of people was as rude, dangerous, and hard bitten a crew as any I have met. There just isn’t anything more nasty than Black Friday shoppers on a Thursday night. Back in my cab I turned the radio on to a station that was playing christmas carols and gave a sigh of relief.
When a Trucker Passes another Trucker quite often you will notice that the truck being passed will turn off his lights briefly after the passing truck has cleared his Tractor sufficiently to move over. This ” flash in” also another trucker slang word, is an act of courtesy and at night or in fog can be a help to the passing truck to know that he has cleared the other drivers vehicle. Afterwords as a way of saying thank you for the flash in, the truck that has just passed will flick the interupt switch on his dash this will cause his running lights to flick off then back on, some drivers hit their High Beams instead of turning off their headlights this is sometimes o.k such as during the day time, but at night usually not appreciated very much as it can blind the driver looking into his rear view mirror to make sure he is clear to come back over.
I recently took a load from Seattle to Las Vegas. What an amazing Trip! The route I took was I-90E to Ellensberg, then you catch I-82E through Yakima to oregon where you catch the I-84E by hermiston heading to Twin Falls Idaho where you catch highway 93 south. This entire trip is quite beautiful. Oregon,washington and Idaho are on my regular path so they are no big deal to me. It was night when I pulled into Wells Nevada. A pleasant female voice came across the c.b. radio welcoming me and all drivers to wells and to “come on over for some all you can eat spaghetti and female company with no strings attached” I opted to stop at the truck stop instead next to the Casino. Where I went inside and ordered the Spaghetti dinner. About that time my cellphone rang and it was my Sweety “Tweet” She asked where I was and I told her. There was silence on the other end of the line and then she said. “they have Brothels there you know” I said “I know they where advertising on the c.b. as I rolled into town for all you can eat spaghetti” ”So I decided to order some spaghetti.” ”at the truckstop” I added quickly. Tweet laughed and I told her I had twenty bux that I intended to gamble with when I finished my Supper. I was pleasantly surprised my 20 bux lasted over an hour before I finally lost it and headed to bed. I hit the road and headed out the following morning about 0900 and this was where in my opinion the most beautiful part of the drive is. You are in the high dessert most of the way and in mid april it was just a bit cool still,(high 50′s low 60′s I would say) the mountains on either side of highway 93 are snowcapped and look like something out of a spaghetti Western, or a Frank Frazetta Poster, the entire drive is just surrealistic it is so Beautiful. I tried to get a photo of the mountains and the highway but it just doesnt do the scenery justice. Part of the beauty of this place is how vast and empty it is and it was beyond my skill to impart that onto my little nikon d-40 though i did post a photo just for the heck of it. There are a few small towns on the way to Vegas and they all had plenty of places to pull off of the road and park right on the highway. The people I met along the way where pleasant and they seem to like Truckers! even on the road when people would pass me on the rare occasion with the exception of a couple vehicles (california license plates) they would almost always use their turn signal when they passed. Well Im looking forward to the next time I get to go this way and heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a really amazing drive!
Ingredients:potatoes,carrots, walla walla sweet onions, red and green bell peppers, broccoli, “you can put in whatever you want basically” says darrell, Hy-Top Onion soup Dip Mix, a couple cups of water,bring to boil add veggies boil for two minutes then add fish or shrimp. Darrell added Salmon, put in the fish let boil for about 3 to 4 minutes depending on how you like your veggies. Now Drum roll please the secret ingredient….Mr Yoshida’s marinade and Cooking Sauce “from Costco” says darrell, Then you feed to your famished Highway Bro….who thought it was about the best soup ive had in a very long time. Thx Darrell.