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.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Kansas sunset

Oklahoma sunset

Lucy, when we had no A/C

Oklahoma clouds

They know we're almost home


It took us awhile to drive to our pickup because it is so far back into the boonies. The roads are narrow and winding and seem to go on forever, but we got there and before our appointment time too. When I pulled up to the gate and we both took our creditials inside the guard wanted to know which building we were going to for our pickup. Well no one had given us a building just a person to contact. So we were sent back out of the gate and to the truck lot until we could get someone to give us a building number. It was easy enough, we just called our company and got it right away. I wondered why the small bit of information wasn't with all the other information that we were provided with our dispatch. Oh well, sometimes things just don't make sense. Anyway this time we got right into the gate and was given a map and drove to our pickup. Once at the building where we were picking up we had a stack of paperwork to be completed and that always takes awhile and they won't even load the truck until all of that is done. So once it was then we got our load on and a seal put on the truck and away we went. It would be about 60miles of country roads until we reached an interstate. After driving for about 40 miles we saw that traffic was being stopped up ahead. A man flagged me down, pointed to an even smaller road and told me there was a bad accident ahead and traffic was being detoured. He told me to just follow that road until it came back out onto the highway. That detour chewed up a lot of our time. Once we reached the highway and then the interstate it was smooth sailing for awhile. There did seem to be an awful lot of construction everywhere that did delay us some. Also at one point I saw an accident on the opposite side that slowed our side down because everyone slowed down to be mosey and gawk at the accident. I got to Columbus, Ohio right at rush hour so we did sit there in traffic that was moving very slowly. But once past there we moved along pretty quickly until we were near New Stanton, PA. That is where we came to an absolute standstill for almost two hours! We never did know caused that delay. And then finall we were going again. Shortly after that I went to bed and left the driving to Pops. We were scheduled to be there at 3am but because of all of the delays we didn't get there until 5:30am. But we did arrive and once again had to go through all the necessary military checks and then onto the base. Pops was given a map and good thing too because this base was big and woodsy and deserted looking. So he did find where we were supposed to go and then we were offloaded and left that base. We we're given layover options of Trenton, NJ or Pittsburgh, Pa. We picked Trenton because we didn't want to deadhead clear to Pittsburgh which was 300 miles away. We spent the entire day waiting for a load that would take us closer to home. This is Thursday and our vacation is starting tomorrow. But by evening we pretty much gave up hope of getting a load going closer. We went to bed around 10pm and Pops told me we would head home early in the morning. Well he did mean early because his alarm went off at 2am and he got us moving. I woke up long enough to make him some coffe, but then I went back to sleep. I woke up again when we were in Breezewood, PA. We were almost home so I started packing up what I would take into the house. It felt so good to pull into the driveway and be home. I really like my job, but I love coming home.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Red River Army Depot

We got up early the next morning and followed our directions to our pickup only our pickup wasn’t where our directions had taken us! So we back tracked and followed the customer directions that came with our dispatch and once again, no luck. So when all else fails, pull over and ask someone. Pops went into a gas station and someone inside gave him good directions and then we drove right there, although it was a “fur piece,” according to the man.
Once we drove onto the base we parked in a parking lot that was already over crowded with trucks and went inside for our paperwork. Each of the bases we’ve been to do these things differently but this place was different than any so far. There were two small offices with three workers in each. There was a very small room in between the two offices. Drivers had to wait in the small center room in line until your turn to go into the paperwork office. This is where your paperwork would be given to you and you find out which building you will then drive to. After this you get back in line and wait to go into the other office which will give you badge clearances to enter the gate. This office also holds any and all prohibited items which aren’t allowed on base, ie: cameras, knives, flammable items, etc. We handed over every knife in our truck (butter, steak, slicers and dicers,) and my camera. This entire procedure took about 2 hours.
After this you then go to the truck inspection site. Since there was so much hooey at the paperwork building, I was expecting the full, complete, every nook and cranny search of our truck but we were waved right through. Man!
So we drove to our place of pickup and waited about 15 minutes before someone showed up to load us. After that we drove back to the paperwork building, waited in line once more and received the rest of our paperwork, picked up our hold items and left the building and the base.
All in all, we were over 3 hours at that pickup. Good grief.
So now we drove out of Texas and through Arkansas. Pops had told me earlier that we would stop in Memphis for fuel so I drove through the state and pulled into West Memphis which is still in Arkansas for fuel.
We got fuel and bought lunch at Taco bell then got moving again. Pops was driving now and he drove us through Memphis, into Nashville and then we went north into Kentucky. We stopped at a rest area that was about 25 miles short of delivery. We stayed there for the night.
The next morning I drove us into the National Guard Base in Frankfort, Ky. It was less of a process this time. We found our building right away and got unloaded in the blink of an eye almost. And then we headed toward Lexington for our layover.
On the way, we stopped at Walmart in Frankfort because I wanted to get a small roast for in the crockpot. Ever since Sunday I can’t stop thinking about the barbeque so I wanted to do a pork roast in the crockpot and then shred it when it’s done and put bbq sauce on it. I know that will be a poor imitation of Texas BBQ, but it’s all I have.
While I was in the store Pops got a load offer and declined it because it is going into Canada and was also a hazmat load and the pay wasn’t what we usually get for that.
When I came out of the store we got another load offer for another military run and at the same got a phone call asking us about the Canada run. Pops accepted the military load on the computer at the same time the dispatcher on the phone agreed to a higher rate for the Canada so suddenly we had two loads. But the military load was already coming onto our C-link computer with the dispatch so that is the load we are on.
I drove us out of Kentucky and into Indiana to within 20 miles of our pickup. We are at a shopping plaza with about 12 different stores so I won’t get bored here.
The roast is starting to smell pretty good and I’ve already visited the tanning salon, Pops and I have finished up with our daily devotionals and now it seems like nap time. Haha
After we deliver this load on Thursday we are hoping for something that will bring us a little closer to home. I am looking forward to our Camp Meeting next week. I can’t wait to see so many people that I care about.

Kiamichi Mountains

We got a load not long after arriving in Springfield. It picked up in Tulsa, OK and was going to Dodge City, KS. Pops was sleeping and I accepted the load not quite realizing how much more west this would put us. Oh well, live and learn. I can’t seem to ever get it ALL together at the same time.
Anyway, I began to drive us toward Tulsa, which wasn’t real far away and Pops stayed laying down for awhile. We had to get fuel when we reached Tulsa so Pops woke up and fueled the truck and then stayed awake for awhile.
It was very hot and our generator is not working which means we have no A/C in the sleeper of our truck. All we have is the dash a/c to cool us. So we wilted and melted through Oklahoma. We stopped at a service plaza on the Indian Turnpike so that Pops could check the generator one more time and I took the dogs out. I felt bad for them because I know the pavement is hot and they are so low to the ground that it has to really be scorching for them. They didn’t stay outside long and I was glad.
I went into the McDonalds there and bought us one of the new frozen fruit drinks. I only bought one for us to share because I figured it would too sweet for us to each have one. It was good tasting but one sip and I had brain freeze like I never had before. It wouldn’t quit, it lasted a long long time and the same thing happened when Pops took a sip.
I was half afraid to take another sip and when I did, it happened again only it didn’t last as long this time. So it took awhile but we did finally get it all down. And it cooled us off a little.
Pops started to drive later that evening and I went to sleep. When I woke up we had already delivered and were parked in a parking lot in Wichita, KS.
It was a big parking lot with a lot of restaurants and businesses around. It seemed like a good spot and good thing too because we spent all day and all night here.  I watched movies, I got caught up on my blog, I paid bills, I studied my lessons for Camp Meeting, and I read a whole book. See, I don’t get bored. I can find something to do.  Pops slept and played games with the computer and chatted on Facebook. He is doing much better about not getting bored.
A traffic accident happened at the intersection beside us so that was something to watch for about 2 hours. No one was hurt but one of the cars had to be towed and the firetruck came and traffic had to be directed and it was all very interesting for awhile.
The next morning Pops and I considered leaving here and going to another location in hopes of getting more load offers. We had just settled on a location and was all ready to go when we got a load offer that we accepted. It was picking up in Texarkana, TX on Monday and would deliver in Frankfort, KY on Tuesday. It would get us pretty far east which is the direction we want to go since we are planning to go home.
So since it was only Saturday, we started out and took our time. We drove back to Tulsa, which was on the way and re fueled the truck there. Then for many, many miles on the Indian Nation Turnpike (different from the other day, Oklahoma is mostly Indians), this roadway took us through the mountainous, eastern side of Oklahoma. Yes, I said mountainous. Oklahoma actually has some pretty nice mountains on the eastern side. They are the Kiamichi Mountains. Isn’t that fun to say? Ki-a-mee-chee.  It was a very pretty ride through there.
Then we drove into Texas just before dark.
 We were going to Texarkana, which is half in Texas and half in Arkansas. We were picking up at an Army Depot on the Texas side but the truckstop with a shower was on the Arkansas side. So we headed there.
We had found a church in our directory in Texarkana and I spoke with the preacher earlier. He said he was looking forward to meeting us.
The church is called the Eylau Christian Church. It was listed as having 125 members. The parking lot was big and in the church yard was a big playground. I told Pops not to block the playground with our truck so we parked at the opposite end.
When we went inside there were a handful of men inside the door and they were talking. They all made us feel very welcome and showed us to where the Sunday School was held.
Like most churches, people don’t feel particularly inclined to attend Sunday School. There were maybe only 20-22 people here at this one. That is so sad because this is the training ground where you get deep understanding of God’s word.
A man named Roy taught the lesson today. They were studying “Jubilee.” This is a practice or law that God designed that correct faulty economics in the biblical nations. Every fiftieth year all property would revert to the original owners. It is not a deep subject but an interesting one. But it is not known if or how long Israel obeyed this teaching.  It was a good lesson and well taught.
There was about a 15 break between Sunday School and Worship. The people started coming now. But sat mostly in the back. I figure there must have been about  80-85 there for worship.
The evangelist, Allan Bridges, preached a really good sermon on communion. This is something we do every single Lord’s Day and how many times do we truly examine our thoughts and actions before doing so?
We really liked coming to Eylau Christian Church to worship. Everyone was so nice and friendly and we were spiritually fed and blessed.
After the services, Allan and his wife, Sara and their small daughter invited us to go eat with them. We had already kind of had plans but when they mentioned barbeque I was all in favor. Oh boy, real Texas BBQ, oh yeah!
We had a nice visit and chance to get to know them a little better and I always love being with others who share our faith. It builds me up so much to hear about their faith. And God knows I have been needing some building up. Anyway it was good.
We will return to the Eylau Christian Church if God’s gives us the opportunity.   

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Our Fight

I was driving us north from southern Texas. Pops needed some sleep and we agreed that I would drive to the Texas line and then we would switch out.
Driving back up through San Antonio, Austin, and Waco was much smoother coming up then when we were going down. There was a lot less traffic this time. But once we reached the Fort Worth area traffic began to get heavier.
We passed by Texas Motor Speedway and the parking  lots were full and I could see that the stands were full of people. I figured Nascar must be here or something, but it was Saturday evening, so I wasn’t sure.
We stopped for fuel shortly after that and I googled the schedule of the raceway and found out that there was an Indycar event going on. Well, in any case it should soon be over so I wanted to get out of the area before that traffic left out.
So I continued to drive for now and Pops went back to sleep.
I crossed the line and drove into Oklahoma. I passed by the welcome center and did not stop because Pops seemed to be sleeping pretty well right now. I continued to drive for about another hour or so. Then I spotted a rest area and I was tired. Driving distance from Pharr, Tx to Denton, Tx is about 533 miles or about 9 hours.
Once I got parked, I began to do all the routine things I normally do when we switch over. I started the coffee and took the dogs out. I hurriedly got us a bite to eat, filled Pops’ coffee cup and then started the big coffee pot brewing to fill the thermos.
At this point I’m not quite sure what happened but we began to growl at each other. The dogs cowered. And then Pops got angry and pulled out from the rest area before the coffee was done and since it was in mid-brew the basket inside was full of hot water and grounds and it began to run over into the reservoir part of the coffee pot and then spilled out onto the counter.
I grabbed the pot and was yelling at Pops telling him that now he was going to be drinking coffee grounds and I better not hear a word about it. I filled the thermos the best I could while the truck was in motion and when I saw how many coffee grounds was down inside of the wrong side of the coffee pot I got really mad. I turned the coffee pot upside down and was banging it on the counter trying to get the wet grounds to come out and it wasn’t working.
I suddenly got a horrible urge to take the carafe of the coffee pot and whack Pops over the back of the head while he drove down the road. But thank goodness I resisted that temptation. Instead I slammed the coffee pot down to the floor and broke it. Now I double dog dare him to start about me being menopausal or whatever because I will so go crazy right now.
But he was smart enough to keep quiet and I just ignored him and went to bed. I did not want to talk calmly and act like nothing ever happened. What did happen anyway? I honestly don’t know. I don’t know who said what or what provoked this entire episode but oh well.
When I woke up the next morning we were diagonally the entire distance across Oklahoma and was parked at a Dollar General Store. Pops had located a church in the directory and was trying to reach someone for information. But no one was answering. We couldn’t even just show up there because it was a post office address and our wifi internet wasn’t working in this location. Oh well. We drove a little further hoping for better internet but still nothing.
So the only thing to do was keep going to the next town where there was a church listed in the directory but we would have to attend the evening services. I called for parking info and times but no one answered. I left a message on the machine.
We reached Le Mars, Iowa and found a Walmart lot to park. We spent the day here. The preacher from the Le Mars church did return my call and unfortunately they do not have a Sunday evening service.
I was still upset with Pops from the night before but it was his birthday so I gave him his gift that I had bought while we were home last time and had kept hidden until now. Pops loves his phone and facebook. So I got him an Ipad. I was just going to get him an Ipod like mine, but they were having a really good sale on the Ipad2 since the newer version was out, so after questioning several people about the old vs the new, I bought the Ipad2.
I knew that Pops was sleepy and needed to sleep so I was going to wait until he woke up to give it to him, but I figured that I needed to start mending our hurt feelings and he had been trying to spark conversation too. So I gave it to him right before I went into the store for a few items. I helped him get it registered and set up and then left him play.
When I came out of the store an hour later he was still on Facebook. I thought he would be curious about some of the other applications but he hadn’t gotten that far yet. Haha. I knew this would be a good gift.
Eventually he did realize that he needed to sleep so I got to play with the Ipad then. Ok, so now I think I would like to have one too. But I already have my laptop, my phone and my Ipod.
When Pops woke up we ate his birthday cake. Remember it was the Three Milk Cake that I had bought from the store in Pharr, TX. Wow, it is so good.
So we stayed here in Le Mars until late evening and then when Pops woke up he drove us to Benson, MN for our delivery. From there we were sent to Minneapolis for our layover.
I was wondering how long we might be here, sometimes we sit here a day or two. I gathered all of our dirty laundry and then cleaned the truck really good. Pops worked around the outside of the truck and the dogs played outside for awhile. Then I went inside the truckstop and done our laundry. I no sooner had the bed remade before we got a load that was picking up in Minneapolis and going to Kalamazoo, MI. So we had to leave right away.
Since Pops had driven all night Saturday and then Sunday after his 10 hour break so that I could get my restart to be legal, I had to do this trip myself.
I drove us to our pickup in Minneapolis and we got loaded then I started our trip. We had to drive through Wisconsin which is very much like our state of Pennsylvania. And then we came into Northern Illinois and down past Chicago and around the bottom curve of Lake Michigan across the top of the state of Indiana and then continued to follow the curve of the lake around and into the state of Michigan. We were going to Kalamazoo which is in the southwestern part of Michigan. It is about 140 miles directly west of Detroit. We reached our delivery point at night but wasn’t scheduled to deliver until 7am. So we parked on the deadend street just outside the gate and slept until morning. After we delivered we went a short distance and found a place to park. It was a dirt lot right across from a Strawberry stand. We sat there most of the morning watching people come and go buying strawberries. Finally right before lunchtime I walked across the road and the dogs went with me and we bought 2 quarts of strawberries. Pops and I ate almost 1 whole quart for lunch.
Then we drove 6 miles to a Walmart parking lot and decided we would stay there until we got a load. There was a place to tan in that plaza so I walked over there. And we ended up spending the night in the Walmart lot.
In the morning we were a load that picked up south of Chicago and was going to El Dorado Springs, MO which is south of Kansas City by about 100 miles or so. We accepted and got the load. We left shortly after lunch so that we could beat the rush hour traffic. I was driving and it took a little over an hour to reach the Michigan/Indiana line. We then drove about 45 miles more until we reached the Illinois state line. It was another 30 miles or so until we reached our place of pickup.
We were picking up from another trucking company. This was a rush shipment and they knew that they couldn’t get it there so that is why we were called. It is our job to expedite shipments.
After picking up I continued to drive for awhile and then Pops took over sometime later while still in Illinois. We were going south but once we reached Missouri we would cross diagonally until we got to our delivery. It would be mostly rural roads instead of interstate highways. I stayed awake for awhile and then I went to sleep. Pops figured that we would get there around 2:30am and our delivery wasn’t until 7:30.
I woke up when I felt him getting into bed and then again awhile later when I felt him getting back out. He moved the truck to the other side of the building but there still wasn’t anyone here to unload us yet. I got up and made some coffee and took the dogs out.
Shortly after that we got unloaded and then I drove us to Springfield, MO for layover. So here we sit waiting for a good load. 

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. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Allison with her fishing derby fish

Amber fields of grain

Colorado Mts. from Ft. Carson

Amish buggy on the way to the sale

Nashville, TN

Rocket at the Alabama rest area

Haha, the meat store

I love Dallas road systems

Bridge coming into Mobile, Al

Entering tunnel from the bridge

here we go

Look how far down this goes.

I loved this building in Mobile, AL

Lake Ontario from the back of our truck

Drop to the water

Toronto, Ontario

Colorado Mt.

Near Ft McCoy in Wisconsin. This place sells anything you want made of concrete.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Shush, Top Secret

We got a phone call from Fedex asking us to do a load that was picking up in Lancaster, PA and then going to Toronto, Ontario and then eventually going to Charlottesville, VA. It paid a great amount and we would pick it up on Thursday, deliver in Toronto on Friday, Pick it back up on Saturday and then deliver in Virginia on Sunday. There was an enormous amount of time built into this load. When I questioned why I was told that this load was top security and of utmost importance and the extra time was in case we would have mechanical problems we would have time to get it taken care of and still make our delivery times.
The delivery times were absolutely set in stone. We had to be where we were supposed to be at the exact times given us. And it was a “secret load.” We were not told anything except where to be and when. And we weren’t allowed to talk about this load to anyone.
Ok, I’m in. We left the house Wednesday after supper and drove to Lancaster and slept so that we would be at the morning pickup on time. We pulled into the company and it looked as if no one else was here. But we did see a worker eventually and he was the only one in the building and we were told to wait until the big shots got there.
While we waited another Fedex truck like ours pulled in and then another. Now the “big shots” were here and we were loaded with 4 pallets. It was boxes and it was shrink wrapped so there was no guessing what was inside. Once loaded they sealed our truck with 2 different seals. And that was that. That’s all we knew. Except for one of the “big shots” had an emblem on his shirt with initials and so when I got a chance I googled the initials and found out what this load was all about.
Even though some time has passed I still don’t think I should disclose exactly what it was for but I will tell you that what we was hauling was written exams. There was a huge test going on all over the world for this particular subject. It was happening simultaneously all over the world, same time, same day.
So we had to take these exams to Toronto which was one of the exam sites. The other two trucks were going to Montreal and Chicago. As we were leaving two more trucks arrived.
I couldn’t really see that it was such a big major deal but what do I know? Anyway we drove north to Canada. Haha. We reached the border and crossed over without any delays. So now it was early evening and we were only 30 miles from delivery but couldn’t deliver until the next day at 3pm so we found a great place to stay and wait. It was a truckstop right next to Lake Ontario. And since it was still pretty early in the day there weren’t many trucks there so we got a great spot right by the Lake. I mean we were only about 50 yards from the shore, but it was a drop of about 40 feet to the water. But between our truck and the water’s edge was a really nice grassy area that was mowed and well taken care of. So we enjoyed our mini vacation by the lake.  I drank a cup of coffee while watching the lights around the lake. It was great.
We got up the next morning and it was raining so I couldn’t take my coffee outside to watch the water like I planned but Pops and I went inside to the restaurant for breakfast. Time did seem to go a little slower only because we can’t use our phones or internet while in Canada. The costs is just too ridiculous. But we managed to occupy ourselves with dvd movies and games on Gypsy.
When the time came we drove the short distance to our place of delivery. It was a big exhibition hall on another part of Lake Ontario. So we backed in and got unloaded. We were wondering where we would go and spend the evening and night again, but they left us stay right in the docks where we unloaded. Ok this would work for us. We had access to restrooms and we had our own food and movies and games. The dogs weren’t real thrilled about not having a big place to run but they did have grass to pee in and it all worked out.
We enjoyed a quiet evening once again.
When we woke up on Saturday we saw people everywhere. They were mostly young people. We figured they were the ones taking the exam. They kept coming for what seemed like hours. There were so many of them too. But around 8:30am the people traffic slowed to almost none.
I mixed up a meatloaf and baked it. I watched another movie and read some of my book. I don’t get bored usually. I can always find a way to pass the time, but I think Pops was a little bored without his phone and facebook friends. But he played cards with Gypsy.
Finally someone came out and knocked on our doors. They wanted to do our paperwork so that once we were loaded we could take off right away. We had to go inside and it took awhile for the paperwork to get completed correctly.
We found out that over 6000 people was taking the exam in this location today. Wow, that’s a lot of people.
Once the completed exams were boxed up and shrink wrapped they were loaded back onto our truck and the truck was sealed up tight. Now we had to get them back to Virginia by tomorrow morning. There would be no lingering now. We would have to hurry.
So of course we had trouble crossing the border. First off we didn’t get cleared by our company before we reached the border so we pulled into the parking lot there and waited. It took about 45 minutes more before we were told that we were now cleared to go across. So we crossed the bridge and entered the customs booth. We were told by the customs officer that we were not cleared to cross and we had to park the truck and get this straightened out.
It really stinks when you are not allowed to re enter your own country!
We went inside the building and the officer in there told us that our paperwork was not correct and would need to be corrected within 30 minutes or we would have to wait until 9am the next morning. Oh brother!
We called our company right away and they assured us that it would be taken care of immediately. Well, immediately turned out to be about 10 minutes but that was pretty good. I was glad to be cleared and allowed to come into the states.
So then I went to sleep while pops drove us to Virginia.
When we reached our place of delivery there were actually armed guards there that unsealed our truck and watched every move while the tests were taken off our truck. I just could not get over the extraordinary measures being taken with this load. You would have thought we were hauling gold from Fort Knox or alien body parts or something, instead of some tests.  Oh well, it’s out of our hands now.
What a trip! It sure was quite interesting from start to finish. So now we were told to go to Alexandria, VA for layover so we drove up there and sat for the day. We were at a very nice rest area and got to relax for many more hours but at least we had our phones and internet again.
We waited and turned down several loads before one came that was picking up in Richmond, Va and was going to Dallas, TX. Oh yes, we’ll go to Texas.
I was going to Texas and I was happy. I love any opportunity to get to go there. But it was short lived because we barely even had our load picked up before we were immediately predispatched on another load. We wouldn’t be getting to spend any time in Texas, because our next load was a military load picking up in Fort Carson, CO and going to Fort McCoy, WI.

Memorial Day Weekend

Well we made it home and it sure did feel good to be here. I was excited because we were planning on some fun relaxing stuff and we didn’t have anything that we HAD to do this time. It seems like we never get to come home for a quiet time there is always some reason that we come and things have to be done. So I was happy about this weekend.
Although Starla and I did need to shop for groceries for our picnic that we were having on Monday. I was glad because originally I thought it was going to be just a little gathering of us but it turns out that there should be around 15 or so.
I put a load of laundry in to wash and sorted through our heap of accumulated mail. Then we went to the store for food.
Bill’s kids were coming Friday evening, well at least Hunter and Allison were, so we decided to do steaks on the grill. Since Bill P. is the Grillmaster I bought six 1 inch think giant porterhouse steaks! They were huge. 
But it turned out that he had to work late on Friday so we saved the steaks until Saturday evening.
Starla and I picked the kids up on Friday evening. They were talkative and lively and it was great to be with them.
We got back to the house and just hung out that evening.
Saturday morning, Pops, Bill and Hunter went to the woods to hunt turkeys. Pops and Hunter had had this day planned for a long time.
The turkeys all were safe this time though. After hunting in the morning, Hunter and Allison decided to try their luck at fishing. Hunter had better luck at fishing than hunting. He brought several large trout home to eat.
The next morning we went to church. I didn’t get to go to the First Place meeting because of Starla’s recent surgery she was riding with us because it was easier for her to get into my car and with Pops no longer attending the early meeting we just waited until 9 am to go.
It was so good to see all the people that we know and love. I miss them all so much. They are so very much a great family to me. It will be nice when we retire to be able to be there all the time and get involved again.
After church we went back to the house for a relaxing day. The kids were going to the fishing derby and they were very excited. It looked like it might rain though.
Starla and Bill went with the kids to the creek this time and Pops and I hung out at the house. It did start to rain and not just rain, it stormed hard. Starla and Bill came home but the kids stuck it out.
Allison was rewarded for her efforts. She caught 4 big brook trout. Hunter got skunked today though. Oh well.
The kids were going home shortly after that. I had hoped that they would stay until tomorrow. Pops was going to take Hunter back to the woods for turkeys but he wanted to go home to ride dirt bikes with his friends the next day.
I was sad to see them go. I don’t get to see them often and was hoping they could stay the whole weekend but I understand. That was the first we’d seen Allison since Christmas time.
We went back to church on Sunday evening, but something seemed not quite right. The service was okay but instead of hanging out afterward and visiting with friends, everyone seemed in a big hurry to go home. I missed seeing my friend, Jeff, he couldn’t come this evening because he wasn’t feeling well. He and Jane are usually the ones we hang out with after Sunday evening service.
Monday morning was a busy one. Something was wrong in the basement. We were getting water on the floor. So we called a plumber and waited for him to come. He told us that the septic tank was full and needed to be cleaned out and that we had a blocked drain line. He couldn’t fix the drain line until the septic was cleaned out. Oh boy! It is always something.
So we went about with our picnic. Tom and Drew and Bullet came. My sister, Amy and her husband, Scott and my niece, Kacey came. Then Levi, my nephew, and his girlfriend, Kayla and Kayla’s son came too. Wow, a nice bunch.
The Grillmaster cooked all the burgers and hotdogs to perfection. And all the food was so good and we all had a really good time.
It was really a great time at home except for the basement deal.
Pops dug up the septic tank and the next morning it got cleaned out and the drain was opened. Pops covered the septic tank back up with dirt and that was that. Almost $300 later it was done.
Now it was time to look for a load and get back to work.

Getting ready to go home

I am so far behind on this blog, I am sorry. I am going to try to get caught up now.
We were on a load that was going to a Military base on the Florida panhandle. It was to deliver early in the morning just after I woke up. It was hot and humid already.
I took the dogs out and then we drove onto the base. Security wasn’t too bad here. They did the usual truck inspection and check of our credentials then they told us a password that we would need at the next gate. Haha, none had ever done that before.
Anyway we made it across the base and to the building where we were to unload. We were met there and got unloaded and back out of the base in no time.
It was an air force base so there were all kinds of old planes and helicopters around. It was pretty awesome to see them on pedestals that made them look like they were in flight.
We were given a layover in Mobile, AL, so we headed that direction. Since Memorial Day was coming up and we wanted to go home for the weekend we sure was hoping for a load that direction.
We drove toward Mobile, which is a port city in the southern part of Alabama on the Gulf of Mexico. We had to drive across a very long bridge and then the bridge went down into a tunnel under the water and then back up onto a bridge above water and then onto land. We saw a huge gray battleship sitting in the harbor at Mobile. I was really busy looking around trying to see everything. I had never been through here while awake before. It was mostly loading docks for ships. But I sure did enjoy seeing all of it.
Then we turned north toward a truckstop. Pops needed rest and I had some stuff to do also. So we got parked and he tried to sleep. We weren’t parked too long though before we got a load offer that picked up at a Military base in Anniston, AL and was going to Dover AFB. We thought we better take that load because we would be in Dover, DE on Thursday and then we could go home.
So we drove toward Anniston which is in the Northeastern part of Alabama. We didn’t pick up until the next day but wanted to get closer. We stopped in Talladega to spend the night. It was almost dark when we got there and until we got something to eat and took the dogs out it was pretty much time to go to sleep.
When we got up the next morning we got a shower and got on our way. It was around lunch time when we reached the base at Anniston. Security was a big, major deal here. We had to go through a lot of checks and then be escorted to our place of pickup.
Once we were shown where we would pickup our escort left us. I backed the truck into the dock and we waited for someone to come to load us. While we were waiting, a siren went off and kept going off. An announcement came over loud speakers throughout the base, but we couldn’t understand what they were saying. We tried to listen but couldn’t make it out. We looked around but didn’t see anyone. Oh great, I thought, we are in danger and don’t know what to do. Finally down the block at another loading dock I saw a driver outside his truck and someone on a forklift loading his truck. They didn’t seem to be worried about the danger. Then I noticed another truck also being loaded with no apparent worries. Ok, I guess it was just a drill or something. Surely someone (our escort) would have left us know if we were in real danger.
Shortly after that two men showed up to load our truck. It didn’t take long we only had 5 pallets. So after getting them onto the truck we waited while they called for our escort to lead us to the office building so we could get our paperwork.
Once we got the paperwork and every T was crossed and every I was dotted, we were led by the escort back to the main gate. And then started our drive to Dover, DE. This pickup seemed like it took an incredible amount of our time. Oh well, you take the good with the bad, not that it was bad, just sometimes we go right in and right out.
I drove until after dark and then slept while Pops drove through the night. We reached Dover early in the morning. We have been here several times and these soldiers know us by now. We still have to go through the checks and inspections but it is a lot less stress and hassle when they get to know you.
After the inspections we drove to the building where firearms are unloaded and here, too, these soldiers remember us. So we joke with them and Pops talks about fishing while we are getting unloaded. Soon we are ready to be on our way.
Now we are headed home. I can’t wait. I miss my kids. I miss my home. I miss Wills Mountain Church. I am ready to be home.