We’re on vacation!

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Hey, look! We're in a regular car! With only 4 wheels to worry about!

Yesterday was a whirlwind. We dropped a load of cantaloupes and muskmelons to a warehouse in Milwaukee, dropped our empty trailer at a cheese place and drove home. We moved all of our things into our Jeep, stopped at the office to drop off our paperwork, swung by the post office, had some wingies for lunch (yum!), checked into our local hotel, dropped off a butt-load of stuff, then head back out and about for some pre-vacation shopping. And more shopping. Then we packed, repacked and well, basically got everything done in one day for a two-week road-trip vacation. Wouldn’t most people be working on this over a few weeks? An errand here, an errand there, pack a few things each night, stop and shop for this or that on weeknights? We didn’t have that option, so it was a busy day. And that’s okay. I think we were finally in bed around midnight, exhausted. But ready to go.

We’re heading to Montana. And we’re driving. Because we’re a little crazy, maybe. We drive for a living, then we choose to drive during our time off. It makes total sense for us, though. Road tripping is an activity we both enjoy. A lot. So off we go.

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Pretty day on the road.

Our goals?

To pick up two dirty, stinky, awesome hikers off the Continental Divide Trail and spoil them rotten (Lighthouse and Fun Size). Take them to the city and feed them (and ourselves). Watch movies and laugh at anything. Relax. Then drive home, slowly. Camp, play, and drive to new places. Maybe even Canada. We don’t know. Then we’ll visit Adam’s family and enjoy the summer with an Aloha-themed weekend. Did someone say pineapple and margaritas? A perfect way to wind down the two weeks.

A few other goals? Drive past open weigh stations and smile. Drive on roads that trucks aren’t allowed on. Get lost and not stress about getting stuck somewhere or running into a low powerline. Not working on a Saturday when the majority of the working world is out on their weekends having fun. We’re going to have fun with them. I’d like to have a drink with them.

One more thing. Run in the mountains. Or hike. Or walk. Smell them, look at them, and soak them in as much as I can. It’s pretty awesome that we get to see them as we drive past so much for our job, but now we get to be up close and personal with them, and that’s even better.

It’s really pretty simple.

Now… We just have to get through our vacation beginner snafu. Our Enterprise rental car was rented to us in need of an oil change. A dashboard warning alerted us, so we were left finding a Firestone that had time to get us in. To be honest we’re kind of disappointed in this whole situation. I mean, we rent so we don’t have to worry about this kind of stuff. And we don’t have to use our time off for it. Sigh… Yet here we sit. Oh well. After a little clothes shopping, a coffee, and getting back on the road it’ll all be behind us.

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Our (sweet?) ride. Yeah, it's a minivan. So what?

Vacation begin now!


Tonight I love… Uh-duh… Vacation!

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Hauling little plants

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Delores gets dirty.

What’s it like hauling 10,000 little plants? Well, to be honest, it’s kind of a pain in the butt.

Sigh… We were assigned a nursery load out of Oregon.

These always kind of suck because they take forever to load – as they load the plants, the guys build crates and things to stabilize the freight inside the trailer. No forklifts or palettes to quickly stack inside. Just a few guys hand-hauling plant after plant into the trailer. 10,000 of them. That’s a lot of plants.

It took just a bit over four hours for them to fully load us. During that time I worked on trip planning and other work stuff – including calling both the broker and the shipper to get an estimated weight on the load. I was told 34,000 – 38,000 pounds. That’s great, because we can usually comfortably haul up to 43,500. The CAT scale for us to weigh the load was a 45-mile drive, including Portland traffic, so it would be super-sucky if we had to drive all the way back to have the load adjusted because we were overweight. Which is why I made the phone calls in the first place. I was assured it couldn’t be over 35,000 pounds. Okay. No problem.

So we got done getting loaded, shut the doors, locked and sealed the load, and got the bills. Then I see the weight listed on the bills – 50,000 pounds. WHAT!? Yeah, that’s not going to work. I make more phone calls and I’m told that the 50,000 is a high estimate and again, we can be sure it won’t be over 38,000 pounds. Ooookay. Off we go.

Along the way there happens to be one weigh station. We are literally TWO miles from the weigh station and we get a call from the shipper. He realized that they watered all 10,000 plants the night before and the weight was probably closer to 42,000 pounds. While this is still under our normal 43,500 max, it’s pretty likely an axle weight could need an adjustment. At this point – two miles from the weigh station – there’s no way to turn around or avoid it. If it’s open and we’re overweight on one of our axles, we’re looking at hefty fines and CSA points. Bad news.

As we approached the scale it was unclear whether or not it was open, so we pulled in anyway. Thankfully it was closed, but the scale was still working so we rolled over it. We were under the 80,000-pound limit for gross, but we were over on our drives by about 500 pounds. Yikes. That would’ve been a violation.

We were able to slide our tandems all the way forward to make it a legal load, which was a sigh of relief. That meant we didn’t have to go back to the shipper to be readjusted. Whew.

We may have had a little bad luck getting assigned this load, waiting for it to get loaded, and not getting a clear answer on our weights, but in trucking, this actually turned out to be a pretty lucky day for us… I guess!

Next time when I call for weights like 8 times, a little accuracy would be great! Crazy how just watering the plants we’re hauling can change so much – and potentially cause such a headache!

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We carefully drove those little plants a couple thousand miles to another nursery in southern Wisconsin and arrived at the wee hours of the morning. Adam parked the truck along their dirt road and came to bed, but a short while later a storm rolled in. I peeked out the window and realized there was a giant puddle forming in front of us from the rain. It was getting really muddy and I feared getting stuck. I pulled forward with our power dividers locked in and drove to the end of the road and waited another hour before the workers started to show up. At 7 am I backed up next to a greenhouse where 15-20 men began to unload these plants the same way they were loaded. By hand. It took three hours.

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Hand unloading.

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Mudddddy!

I should’ve taken a picture of the inside of that trailer afterwards. What a mess of dirt, mud and leaves! No biggie, that’s what trailer washouts are for! We head home with mud flinging off our tires, anxious to begin our short 30ish-hour break.

Then back to California. I’m feeling ready. Cross your fingers that we get to haul back some cheese… Not plants!


Tonight I love our Portland friends. Thanks to those of you that met up with us to hang out a bit! Love you guys!

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Karaoke!! (yep, that's Greenie up on stage!)

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Treekiller, Hops, me, Aloha, Mr. Green. We also met up with friends Ginny, Kris, Rocky, T-rex, Chik Chok, Starfox, and a few others that we met for the first time. Fun, fun, fun!

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)