Come along for the Ride!

I am so glad you are here. Stay with us as we travel everywhere. I hope you will enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

So we picked up our load and was making our way to Dallas. It was going to be a long trip but I like these highways and this trip. I was driving when we picked up in Richmond, VA. It was around supper time so I drove west through Virginia and into Tennessee. I guess we switched off somewhere just past Knoxville.
I went to sleep not long after that but I remember waking up through Nashville. That city is pretty at nighttime. Pops got to sleep for awhile too because we weren’t being rushed.
I started driving again around Memphis and drove us the rest of the way into Dallas. We got there right around rush hour and we were going into a pretty nasty part of the city. The warehouse was along a railroad tracks and under a highway bridge. Everyone of the streets that should have taken you to it were blocked off with chain link fence with razor wire. There was only one street that could get you there and there was a traffic accident tying up that intersection and all traffic was being re routed. We just didn’t know what to do. Gypsy would not help us out at all so we just continued to drive around trying to find a way in. We were given strict orders to not be late.
Finally the police got the accident scene all cleared away and we got in and drove to the warehouse. We had 10 minutes to spare. There were some young men that was slinking around hiding behind dumpsters and in backseats of parked cars. We were pretty sure that some illegal activity was going on. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I even felt uncomfortable waiting in the truck by myself while Pops was out getting the back unloaded. We could not get away from there fast enough.
So once unloaded we started the drive north to Colorado. We didn’t have to be there until the next day at noon but it was a 710 mile deadhead so it would take most of the night.
Pops started driving right from that delivery and I stayed awake for awhile. We got a little tangled up around the Fort Worth area. Everything around there was construction and that threw Gypsy off. We ended up getting off an exit where we shouldn’t have and had to find our way back to the highway. But we did and then it was smooth sailing.
When I woke up we were just inside the Colorado line. We were parked alongside of the road and Pops had the dogs outside. I made some coffee and got myself awake and was ready to drive. Right where we were parked was a small herd of antelope and they were jumping and playing with each other all around the water hole. They are so funny to watch. They are very playful animals.
Southern Colorado is very nice. You can’t yet see the mountains and the terrain is very much like northern Texas and parts of Oklahoma. There seems to be a lot of Native Americans there also. It was very rural and I enjoyed the drive so much.
After a few hours I started to see the mountains in the distance. Wow, I am always in awe. They are magnificent.
We came into Colorado Springs where the military base is. We were making a pickup at Fort Carson. The beautiful mountains were standing right in back of the base. It is just grand.
We met some other Fedex drivers while we were there. They do mostly military loads and enjoy them a lot. They are trying to become dedicated drivers for military runs. I think I would like that too. Although I do enjoy getting to go to Canada sometimes too.
Both of our trucks got loaded at the same time so we said our goodbyes after trading phone numbers and emails with them.
I was still driving and in a little while passed an area that had several prairie dog towns. Prairie dogs are so cute. They are about the size of a really fat, giant chipmunk. They are gold in color and their tails are smooth not bushy. They live underground like groundhogs, but they are very social animals and so there are many holes, many holes, which make up a Prairie dog town.
You will see four or five of them standing around one hole just socializing with each other. I could spend hours watching them.
There was now a National Department of Transportation Inspection Blitz taking place for the next 3 days. DOT can inspect you at anytime but during this time they are randomly inspecting trucks along the highway and in rest areas and weigh stations looking for unsafe drivers and vehicles. This always causes even the most efficient and professional drivers to be a little nervous. So of course I was.
I didn’t get pulled into any weigh stations in Colorado and in Kansas I got pulled into one but didn’t get inspected.
Kansas was a great drive. Usually we drive there on the interstate which is quite boring with mile after mile of corn or grain fields, but this time we were off the interstate and on some back country roads so we got to see more of the kind of living that people in Kansas have. The grain fields were all ripe and so golden and beautiful. The breeze was blowing and the fields really did look like they had waves in them.
I drove until we reached a rest area in Nebraska and it was starting to get dark. I had just driven us past a large river area so our windshield had enough bug splatters to hide the chip in it from anyone who might be doing an inspection later. Haha.
Pops started to drive after we left the rest area. I was ready to hit the bed. It had been a long couple of days.
I woke up when I heard talking. We were in a weigh station and I heard the man tell Pops over the loud speaker to pull around back for an inspection. “What time is it?” I asked. He told me that it was 1am. You have got to be kidding me! Who does inspections at 1am? Apparently Nebraska does.
But thank goodness it didn’t take very long and he didn’t notice our windshield chip but he notice something else. Two of our air lines that go to the brakes on the back wheels were touching each other and wearing flat spots on them. They were leaking yet but in time it was inevitable that they would. We did not get any violation or anything but he did recommend that we replace those lines soon. And so we were once again on our way.
Once again at 7am I was awakened by voices from a loud speaker. “Driver, pull around the back yard.” Oh no, I thought, not again. But once Pops took our paperwork inside we were allowed to go on our way.
We drove up the road another few miles to a rest area and I got some coffee and got myself ready to drive. We had a small corner of Minnesota to go through and then a little southwest part of Wisconsin and then we would be at Fort McCoy.
We arrived there by 10am but there were already many trucks of all kinds waiting to be unloaded. So we got in line and waited our turn. After about 3 hours we finally got unloaded.
Pops and I drove the short distance into the nearest town. It is Tomah. There is a Walmart there and some other things that we like to do if we have time so that is what we did. We got to spend a little time before we got another load that picked up in Elkhorn, WI and was going right back down to Texas.
I drove to the pickup location and we got loaded with machine parts going to the Caterpillar plant in Seguin, Texas. Pops tried to sleep while I started our drive. He hasn’t been sleeping well lately so I hoped that he would get some now.
Just before leaving the state of Wisconsin I got a red light at the weigh station and had to go in. Pops was sleeping on the bed and Lucy was sitting on the passenger seat. I had both windows down so when we stopped on the scales she hung her head out the window to see what was going on. Suddenly her and I both heard a loud bark coming over the loud speaker. She jumped a mile in the air. I looked into the windows of the building and a young police officer was standing in there laughing. He told me to go on. It was funny.
And with that our experience with the 3 day DOT blitz was done. I wish we hadn’t had that air line issue then we would’ve gotten a sticker for our windshield but I feel like we did pretty well for a truck with over a million miles on it.
I drove us a lot longer than I normally do, but Pops was sleeping and I didn’t want to wake him up. I drove us south through the remainder of Wisconsin then the entire north/south length of Illinois.
Pops woke up and we switched over right before St. Louis, MO. So I got to see the arch right before climbing into bed.
I woke up around 10am and we stopped to take the dogs out and get some food and coffee. We were in Oklahoma and just about to go into Texas. So I began the drive and Pops stayed awake for a little while.
I drove into the Plano/ Dallas area right around 3pm and traffic was horrible. And coming from this direction we were going right through the downtown. Eventually I made it past there but Temple, Waco and Austin were just as bad. Oh my, where were all these people going?
We turned off the major highway and onto rural roads just before San Antonio so I was spared the traffic there. Now it wasn’t long at all before we reached the big Caterpillar plant at Seguin. We have been here many times so we were waved right past the guard shack and into the facility.
Within a few minutes we were unloaded and ready to go. I had hoped that I could spend some time with Shirley since we were this close and it was Friday. I really wanted to stay the weekend. And she had a whole list of things to do to occupy us. Most importantly, we were going to hit up the flea market.
But, Fedex had other plans for us. They offered us a really good load that paid really well. Reluctantly we accepted it. Any other time we probably would have turned it down and relaxed for the weekend but we are taking a week off at the end of the month and the extra money now was too big to pass up. So the flea markets will have to wait, but I was one disappointed girl for a while not to mention Lucy, who was already told that she was going to Shirley’s to run and hunt. Tate also told Pops the next day that Shirley was pretty disappointed too.
So we were going to Pharr, TX which is at the most southern point of Texas; any further and you would be in Mexico. We were picking up tractor parts that were going to Case/New Holland in Benson, Minnesota.
I like the drive to Pharr. It is rugged and wild. It is very sandy with short, brushy trees. There aren’t too many businesses or homes. Every once in while you drive through a small little town that is gone in the blink of an eye. You will always see deer and Mexican eagles and if you’re lucky you will see a wild pig. Pops got to see three pigs this trip. I usually see several roadrunners too, although Pops has never seen any of those.
Most of the people that we see in this part of Texas is of Mexican descent. The towns also have a lot of Mexican food restaurants and Mexican crafts and gifts are everywhere. And there is a lot of fresh grown produce, mostly fruit. Many people refer to this region as the valley because a lot of fruits and vegetables come from this area.
While in Pharr we stopped at a grocery store to restock our supplies. This store had a lot of Mexican items so I bought some Mexican cheese. It was white and was a small round disc. It was very good. Pops and I both liked it. It was the consistency of pressed compacted cottage cheese and tasted a lot like salty provolone cheese. I wish that I had bought some more.
I also good a big supply of tamales. Pops learned to like these awhile back while passing through Oklahoma. But I think these ones are the best we’ve had so far.
I also bought a small cake because Pops birthday was the next day. It looked like yellow cake with white frosting and had fresh peach and strawberry slices on top. Well the next day when I got it out to serve I noticed the label. Tres leches cake, it said. Hmmmmm. Now what is that. So I googled it and found out that it meant three milk cake.
Now let me tell you, it was so good. It was very moist but not soggy. It did have milk on the bottom. I just cannot explain correctly to you how this tasted, you will have to trust me on it, but it was so good, I wanted to eat Pops’ piece, but it was his birthday after all so I didn’t.
I looked up the recipe on the internet and found one. Sure enough this cake has 3 milks; evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream. I will attach the recipe that I found so you can try this at home if you want to. I know I am going to.
Now to get to Minnesota.
Tres Leche Cake
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2007
Prep Time:
45 min
Inactive Prep Time:
8 hr 0 min
Cook Time:
25 min
1 (13 by 9-inch) cake
For the cake:
  • Vegetable oil
  • 6 3/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces sugar
  • 5 whole eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the glaze:
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
For the topping:
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 ounces sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour a 13 by 9-inch metal pan and set aside.
Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar over 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches and mix just until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. This will appear to be a very small amount of batter. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.
Remove the cake pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or fork. Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.
For the glaze:
Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the half-and-half in a 1-quart measuring cup. Once combined, pour the glaze over the cake. Refrigerate the cake overnight.
Place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk together on low until stiff peaks are formed. Change to medium speed and whisk until thick. Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

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