Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sorry I haven't updated in a couple of weeks, things got a little hectic, and internet access has been hard to come by. We weathered the outside edge of Hurricane Gustav at my parent's place two weeks ago. Only had a two foot rise in water, and it didn't even top their little seawall. Ike brought the water up four feet or so, but when they rebuilt after Ivan Dad had the property raised by three feet, so even though the neighbors had water in their yards and carports, my folks were high and dry. Thank goodness for lessons learned.

The photo above is the view from my parent's place before hurricane Gustav. This photo is the view during the storm. The water came up another foot after I took this.

Mike walks on water after Gustav.

So, it rained the entire time we were there, but we were too busy running around a seeing all my many and various relatives to go to the beach anyway. Mike has become very interested in genealogy research (he's got a program called Family Tree Maker and he's determined to find everybody we could even remotely be related to) so we went to visit most of my living relatives, and found the graves of several deceased ones as well. Sometimes I think he goes a little overboard with it, but it keeps him out of bars and casinos so I indulge him. And I have learned some interesting stuff about my family.

I learned that my great-grandfather rode the rails as a hobo during the Great Depression, and that my great-grandmother was one ballsy lady who told him that the next time he went wandering no to bother coming back. And I learned that my great-great grandfather on the other side of the family built a boat in 1901 and named it after his daughter, my great aunt Nellie Meta, and that, after a long and interesting history, and changing hands several times, it was listed as sunk, and a navigation hazard, in 1986 in Galveston Bay, TX. I also learned that my great uncle served on the USS Hornet in WWII - that was the aircraft carrier that the Doolittle Raid was launched from. It was badly damaged in a battle sometime after the Battle of Midway and the crew was ordered to abandon ship. My great uncle and his crew mates spent many hours in the Pacific waiting to be rescued. The ship was scuttled, and, even though badly damaged by bombs, torpedoes and Kamikazes, it took repeated torpedoes and bombs from our own fleet to finally sink it. I never realized that my plain vanilla family had so many interesting stories to tell.

I was sorry to see the week end, but on Saturday we headed for Texarkana, Arkansas and our new job.

Our new employers put us up in a hotel for the week, and every day, from Monday to Thursday, we sat in a classroom re-learning all of the company's procedures and policies, and reacquainting ourselves with the world of trucking. Monday we took our DOT physicals, pre-employment drug tests, and road tests. I was vary nervous about the road test, but I did pretty well, even if I did grind a gear or two. Mike drove like he'd never even been off the road. We got our truck assignment and keys on Wednesday. The truck we were given had been recovered after another driver had quit and abandoned it. The previous occupant had apparently had a cat. Or maybe several of them. The interior was coated with an inch thick shag carpet of shed hair. It was nasty, and it stank. We did a thorough inspection and wrote up all the defects, all the while holding our noses and praying that they would clean disinfect and flea dip the thing before we had to drive it. The guys in the shop assured us it would be cleaned out before we had to move in, but having dealt with trucking company promises before, we weren't holding our breath (except when we had to actually get into the truck).

We did hit a snag in the middle of the week. Because truck driving is such a safety sensitive occupation, in order to hire us the company has to have a paper signed by Mike's doctor certifying that none of his prescriptions would interfere with him safely operating a big rig. He's only on blood pressure and cholesterol meds, so that should have been no problem - but it was. It seems that both of the doctors who could have signed the faxed form had been deployed to the middle east, and since Mike was a little overdue for a check-up anyway, he had to see another doctor before we could get the signature we needed. So, we had to drive all the way back to Junction City just so Mike could have his blood pressure taken by an Army doctor and we could get a single signature. But at least we got to sleep in our own bed for two more nights before we got on the road.

He saw the doc on Friday, and we were back in Texarkana by Saturday night. In fact, we arrived in Texarkana about the same time Ike did. We were in rain from the time we left Kansas, all the way down, with the wind growing harder as we converged on the hurricane. By the time we were in Arkansas the night had grown pretty wild. 60 MPH wind gusts threatened to throw us off the road, and several times we witnessed the searing blue flashes of transformers dieing glorious deaths. We arrived in Texarkana to find that our more pessimistic predictions had been correct. There wasn't a room to be had anywhere, they were full of Ike evacuees. Power was out all over town, and our only option was to head to our company's terminal (hereafter referred to as the SRT yard for simplicity's sake) and hope that they hadn't reassigned our truck and that it had been cleaned as promised.

Lucky for us, they were true to their word, and the truck was still ours, and it had been expertly detailed. There wasn't even any lingering cat odor. There was nothing we could do to get on the road any sooner than Monday because the office staff doesn't work on the weekends, so we would have to spend two nights in the truck there on the yard. We ran back and forth moving our gear from trunk to truck in a mad dash, trying to keep it from getting too wet in the driving downpour.
Sunday was spent making trips to Wal-mart and the local CB shop and truck stop, picking up all the last minute items we needed to set up housekeeping in our new little apartment on wheels.

By lunchtime on Monday all our paperwork had been signed, initialed and properly filed, and we were dispatched out on our first load.

It's now Thursday morning, and we're sitting at the receiver for our second load. We picked up in Arkansas, ran out to Wyoming and swapped loads with another driver, and now we are in Northern Alabama. We've gone 2762 miles in three days. We're already pre-planned for our next load, which will take us into the bayou country south of New Orleans.


About Me

My photo
I'm a 34 year old wife, truck driver, writer, and photographer with a love of adventure and travel. I am a Libertarian, and a total sci-fi geek. I studied archaeology at Auburn University.


Blogs I Read


adventure (8) cajun (1) diet (2) eating (1) first load (1) Gustav (1) health (1) hurricanes (2) Ike (1) intro (1) leaving (1) nervousness (1) new truck (1) orientation (1) packing (1) primal (2) rain (1) recipes (1) storms (1) swamps (1) travel (1) truck stops (1) trucking (9) weight (1)