Thursday, November 19, 2009
We've been having all kinds of problems with our truck lately. The odometer rolled over 200,000 miles, and everything started falling apart. It started with needing new steer tires - seems we ran the rubber right off the old ones.

Then we started having problems with our batteries going dead. We couldn't leave the truck turned off for more than an hour without having to jump start it. Most states have anti-idle laws, so that put us in quite a pickle. We could either leave it running and risk a ticket, or turn it off and have to get a jump start to get moving again.

We took it to a TA in Maryland, but they couldn't find anything wrong with it. Breakdown told us to take it to the Freightliner dealer in Baltimore. On the way there our blower motor quit working - no heat, no AC. They found several other things wrong with it, too, but the biggie was a problem with the alternator. Our company was hot for us to pick up a load and keep moving because they were overbooked for freight in that area - they didn't have enough trucks to pick up all the loads. We ended up being laid over for two days waiting for a new alternator to come in. The company wouldn't let the mechanics there fix all the other problems because they wanted us to get back on the road as soon as possible.

Mike and I used our time to brave the Baltimore public bus system and we went to the Baltimore Museum of Art, right next to Johns Hopkins University. My hubby isn't much of an art guy, but he kind of enjoyed it. They had a special exhibit on the art inspired by Edgar Allen Poe that I really enjoyed.  I think Mike mostly enjoyed learning that big city public transit isn't as scary as he thought it would be - kind of opens up a whole new world of things to do and see when we are laid over in a bigger city. We ate at a cool little place called The Dizz, which was right next door to Charm City Cakes (of Ace of Cakes fame).

Well, when our truck was out of the shop dispatch tried to give us a load going to Oregon, but we said, "No Way, Jose!" No blower motor means no defroster. No way we were going to head into snow with no defroster. So they got us a load back to the yard. A load with 4 pick-ups - Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Surprisingly, it went very smoothly and we were able to get back out of the dreaded North East pretty easily.

We got to the yard on Saturday morning, and our truck went straight in the shop. We got laundry done, and took care of some other stuff on the yard, then we went to see a movie. I'm afraid I can't recommend "The Men Who Stare at Goats". Save your money. I wish we had. Then we spend some time walking around the mall, ate at Outback (mmmm....good...), slept in a hotel (one more might off the truck, very refreshing).
We got moving again Sunday night (fixed blower motor, annual maintenance, and they installed a spare tire rack) and delivered our load in Dallas - 2 delivery stops.

From there we got a load out to Riverside, CA, and from there we reloaded to Mt. Sterling, IL. When we were alomost to Mt. Sterling the truck started making a funny noise. The noise kept getting worse, and we had to nurse the truck and pray the last 20 miles or so. We got the load delivered, unhooked from the trailer while it was in the dock door, and called breakdown, again.

Turns out the alternator they installed in Baltimore had bad bearings. Once it cooled down it froze up completely and we had to be towed to the Freightliner shop in Quincy, IL, about 30 miles away. I got to ride in the truck while it was being towed because there wasn't room for both of us in the cab of the tow truck, which was kind of cool being towed backwards. The tow truck driver had the truck jacked up a little high, and we almost hit a low bridge, but he stopped just in time and had to lower the truck a little.

This was on a Friday, and they couldn't get a new alternator in till Monday, so we got to spend another weekend in a hotel. Luckily the hotel was just a short walk from a movie theater, and we got to see "2012". That one was worth the money. Sweet, juicy eye candy. The plot was a little lacking, and there where physics errors big enough to drive our rig through, but it was fun.

Sunday we rented a car and drove to Hannibal, MO, about 25 miles south of Quincy. We got to tour the Mark Twain cave, which is the cave used as the model for the cave in "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer". I'm going to have to go back and re-read that now that I know what the cave looks like. It was very narrow and twisty, and really does have bats.

After the cave we went to the Mark Twain boyhood home and museum, which was pretty cool. And we ate at the most wonderful little restaurant called the Abby Rose. It was filled with beautiful Victorian decor, the food was excellent, and on Sundays they serve it "home style", which means they bring the food out in bowls and you scoop what you want onto your plate. If you are ever in Hannibal, I highly recommend the place. The prices are reasonable, too.

Monday we got back on the road, and right now we are heading for Houma, LA. The clutch is starting to give us problems, but we are scheduled for time off for Thanksgiving, so we don't want to say anything to breakdown about it cause we don't want to be stuck in another hotel room when we should be home enjoying turkey and trimmings. We're just going to keep our fingers crossed and take care of it after Thanksgiving.
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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.


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