Working over the road

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A Montana valley along I-90.

I find it interesting that on the days we do the most “work,” meaning the days we deliver and pick up, we get paid the least money. We get paid by the mile, so on the days we’re just cruising along to get where we need to go, we’re making the most money. It all evens out in the end, but it’s kind of a backwards way of thinking about work.

A while back we had this one perfect run. The only thing that would’ve made it better was more miles. But the whole thing went so perfect. We picked up coils of metal from the Fox Valley, drove it to Utah, backed up to an outdoor portable dock, they unloaded us, then immediately reloaded us with empty coils, and we hauled those back to the same place we originally picked up in the Fox Valley. So simple. One drop.

We sure get some variety. Compare that to our last run. We picked up some paper in Neenah, WI and hauled it to California and stopped six different places outside of San Francisco. Six! That was a busy day! It went pretty well, but I got behind at one place because they wouldn’t take me early (I arrived 45 minutes early), and everything they were doing seemed to me to be a snail’s pace. I couldn’t really say anything, so I stood there and practiced my patience, and failed with constant fidgeting and quiet sighs. I was going to be late for my next appointment.

When I arrived at the next drop (late), I got a dock right away and a list of rules, which included staying in our cab until a dock worker came out and took our keys (some places require you to surrender your keys for safety – I suppose so nobody can drive off while there’s a guy in the trailer with a forklift). Not only were we required to stay in the cab, we couldn’t idle the truck. Normally it wouldnt matter, but we waited for over an hour and the California temperature blessed us with triple digits. No idling means no air conditioning. I felt sorry for myself and pathetically compared myself to an abandoned dog. I was admittedly being a little dramatic. At least we were able to have the windows down!

Our last two drops were in new locations. The first was a tight little parking lot full of cars giving me an ultimate challenge. Could I pull off a 90-degree back here? I tried! I got into the dock straight, but about a foot to the side. Just far enough over that they couldn’t lower the dock plate into the trailer. The front of the truck was inches from parked cars so I had no room to pull up and shimmy over. The worker said I could pull to the left and he could unload us in the parking lot. Well… that’s good to know! I still felt bummed out and defeated. I wanted that back so bad, and I was sooo close! Our last drop was a similar situation, but we just parked on the street the wrong way with our four ways on and got unloaded right there, similar to the last one.

From the busy day with six drops we were going to miss our appointment for our pickup, so our awesome driver manager rescheduled it for us. She’s seriously awesome. Turns out our pickup location closed at 3pm, so we were rescheduled for the next morning.

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A trucker's sunset. Looking back at our truck stop during our walk.

With a whole night to relax (which we really needed at this point), we decided to park at a truck stop and walk a couple of miles to treat ourselves to pizza. It was a beautiful night for a walk, and I even found some grapes growing along the side of the road. They made a delicious pre-dinner appetizer. The were small, sweet and the kind of crispy where they sort of pop in your mouth. I wanted to collect more but feared they belonged to someone, and I didn’t want to push my luck.

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Mmm, grapes!

So not much happens while we’re making miles. Most of our busy work when stuff happens, exciting or not, is delivery days. But during my morning shift driving, I do get fantastic sunrises, and before that pretty moons and falling stars, which I’ve witnessed a couple of times. There’s critters – I’ve seen deer, antelope and elk, and had a tiny bunny rabbit sit in the middle of the road, forcing me to center him between my tires so I wouldn’t smush him. As long as he didn’t move, and as long as he didn’t have a heart attack, he most likely survived.

I haven’t witnessed any accidents yet, and that’s okay. I haven’t many strange habits of car drivers besides the typical nose-picking and texting while driving. I’m starting to watch more, though, hoping to catch something fun and worth sharing. People are being way too normal out here! What the heck!?

There was the guy at a rest stop that pulled up next to me, looked around, saw me sitting there in the driver’s seat of my truck, ignored me, turned around, unzipped and relieved himself behind his truck right in front of me (but thankfully with his back facing me). I just laughed. And this, my friends, is why you don’t do burpees in truck stop or rest area parking lots. Unless you wear gloves.

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This guy...

For the rest of my time out here, I’m enjoying the heck out of the scenery while listening to podcasts, xm radio, and audio books, daily hugs from Adam, and driving. Yup, I still love spending all this time with Adam, and all the driving. It’s a good life so far.

If there’s ever anything you’re curious about with trucking or the lifestyle, ask me in the comments or email me at robin.grapa@gmail.com. I’ve got a few things I found interesting that I plan to share, but I just gotta put it together. Oh, and I’m going to do a 30-days of trucking kind of thing, too. I’ll post a photo and tid bits from the day. That’ll be fun!


Tonight I love the California heat. Bring it.

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The dude who was pulled waaay past the stop line, making our left turn impossible. We waited through a green light so he'd be out of our way.

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Tunnel through a buggy windshield.

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Speaking of bugs... this is the grill on our truck. We really need a wash!

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A CAT truck at the scale. Oy. Not a good sign.

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Navigating the concrete jungle known as Oakland.

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OH! Total highlight! A stop at the Donner Pass rest area on I-80 in California, where the PCT crosses - we met a 2014 thru hiker! Mr. Cup! So freakin' cool!

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Look what Adam found under our trailer during pre trip! It was empty, whew!

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Cutest trucker ever!

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

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2 thoughts on “Working over the road

  1. Awesome! I had lunch with Mr. Cup at Robin Bird Spring at around mile-600 on the PCT during my 130-mile SoBo section hike about a month and a half ago! Good to see his progress. :-)

    -GoalTech

  2. Woot! So for the last weeks I have read a bunch of Your blog. All Your pct-posts and those after you got back. Just wanted to say how much I’ve enjoyed it and keep doing what you’re doing! :) Totally inspired me to do a thru-hike in the US one day(I live in Norway)
    Thanks! :)

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