Thursday, September 29, 2011

Banana chili

Now that things are becoming more routine, I decided to try out some more interesting dinner preparations by using our crock pot to cook dinner.  We have the perfect setup for this since we are home once a week.  In theory, I can plan meals and take only what we need for cooking them with us each week.  I started off badly by taking only a quarter pound of cooked ground beef instead of at least a pound, which is what I would need.  So on Tuesday, we stopped at the grocery store in Marion and picked up the pound of ground beef.  This meant cooking it in the crockpot before beginning the chili preparations.  Since it was my shift to drive, I was not able to watch the meat cook and stir it, so I ended up with a large patty of ground beef in the bottom of the crock pot.  Zygote slept peacefully.

I pulled over at a rest stop, already thinking that this chili making business was taking up way too much time.  I chopped up the meat, mixed in the chili fixin's and water, put the lid on the crock pot and settled back in to drive.  I had thought about putting the crock pot on the floor up front with me but the extension cord was not long enough so I left it in the back with the sleeping Zygote.  I drove for 5 more hours.

When I stopped at a rest stop in KY, I was so hungry.  I pulled the curtain back; it was very dark in the back.  I felt around for the crock pot.  Bananas.  Chili. bananas.??

The whole bunch of bananas had jostled down from their perch on top of the coffee pot and fallen into the pot of chili.  They were cooking quite nicely and the lid to the chili sat half in the chili and half out.  No wonder the inside of the cab had fogged up so much!!!  Some chili had spilled out too.  There was chili all over the coffee maker, the cubby and the crock pot. The bananas were a mushy cooked mess! 

With relatively less paper towels than one would imagine I managed to clean up the chili and move the crock pot to the floor in the front.  cooking in truck 101.

The chili was quite yummy anyway.  the bananas were not.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Inside Story

what its like from the bunk
all the controls are on Zygote's side...go figure!!!  Zy's night stand/computer desk
Sleeping harness
driver's console
stackable drawers maximize closet space
the closet
fridge and microwave are strapped to the top bunk
the pantry
the kitchen counter

our dry-erase board hangs above the passenger door for easy visibility to the driver when numbers are needed

Thursday, September 22, 2011

One for the Road

We really don't need the GPS anymore; we run the same route 4 times a week over and over again.  The feature on it that we use the most is the ETA estimate, as we've found that it is fairly accurate. We use the Rand McNally truck GPS.  It does help with alerts for upcoming construction, weigh stations, low bridges, etc.  We found that it was invaluable when we were OTR instead of dedicated and we relied on it more than we did the GPS that comes on our truck computer.  That GPS is not a "truck" GPS and will route you on roads that semi's cannot travel down if you are not watchful.

For the final trip of the week, I drove up and back on my shifts with the GPS turned off.  Until I began driving a truck, I had never used a GPS, and have been, as a rule, quite opposed to them.  In the truck, it's an important tool that I really would not want to be without.  That said, now that we are familiar with our route, I am free to go back to my original "sans satellite" existence.

I found that the very reasons that I had always opposed the use of a GPS have become the very same obsessions  that I have adopted over the past few months.  I've lived in a virtual world pictured on it's colorful screen that replaces the real world to a great degree.  Many of my points of reference exist on it's computer screen instead of in the actual passing of mountains, rivers, towns or intersections.  In turning off the screen and relying on my memory to spot the landmarks brought back the use of a part of my brain that I have missed...the interactive part of our mind that labels and categorizes information based on our surroundings.  I began to see things along the way that I had not actively noticed before and assign them to their proper location in the world based on WHERE I actually was on the planet and not on the computer screen.  It was as if my bubble were suddenly more irridescent.

Much of my driving is in the dark, so forcing myself to pay attention and recognize the "landmarks" in the dark from memory was interesting.  There were times when I suddenly recognized NOTHING and experienced moments of rabbit-hole panic...where the $#* am I?  Most of those moments happened around Indianapolis for some's a strange city to me that simply materializes out of nowhere in the middle of a bunch of GMO corn fields and then disappears again.  There are no other geographic features that really mark Indianapolis and it's not large enough to be the force to reckon with as is Chicago.

In honor of my "Be Here Now" experience, I leave you with two opposite extremes: rush hour on 294 toll road in Chicago from where I sit and an Indiana sunset.

***Reminder: Don't cut in front of trucks.  Leave at least 3-5 car lengths of room between yourself and the cab of the truck before you re-enter the lane when passing.  You are removing the trucker's stopping distance when you cut in too soon and it's YOU that will be crushed if the truck can't be stopped in time.  We typically weigh anywhere from 77,000 to 79,800 pounds on any given trip.***

Wednesday, September 21, 2011



First trip for the week is  complete.  We had dinner at Fatz in Marion again this week. We pull into the Walmart parking lot there and park behind the grocery store building where there is room to turn around.  It's right on our route on Hwy 70.

We are now on our way back to Marion from Chicago on our second trip for the week.  Zygote was driving; I was asleep.  He said that we lost one of our mudflaps on the road.  I guess it got caught up in the tire.  We've stopped at Pilot in Shelbyville, IN to replace it.  Here are pics.  He's so cute.

Friday, September 16, 2011

When things go right

We've had a good week so far.  In now, picking up our last load for the week. The trailer is an older one and has some quirks, one of which was stuck tandems.  Thanks to Zygote crawling around under the trailer in the dust with a can of WD40  and banging on them with the tire thumper we were able then to rock them loose.

This trailer also had no permit with it.  The permit box was completely missing from the side of the trailer.  I called our FM and he faxed it to us at the truck stop where we weigh out when we leave the shipper.  All is good.  Thank goodness for our awesome FM who actually is available whenever we need him.

Now we are on our way again.  We're stopping in Marion for lunch in a restaurant.  On schedule.   Cool nights.  Rain yesterday in KY.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


We are back on the road this week. Our engine light went away moments after Willow took over driving. I am thinking it was a Zygote is Driving warning, though it did not come back today when I drove.  Things seems to be getting easier for us; we got some needed rest on our week off, and we are settling in to the routine of our dedicated run.

We took vacations separately last week. I went to Reno, NV and when I was not playing poker I  visited Yosemite and Lake Tahoe. Here a few images from the trip.

View down Virginia Street in Reno

A great restaurant in downtown  Reno, Try the lamb burger

Sierra's from the Sands Hotel

High Sierras north of Yosemite

Tufta formations at Mono Lake, CA

Lake off of Tioga Road in Yosemite

Mountain off of Tioga Road in Yosemite

Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite

Yosemite Valley
Giant Sequoia in Mariposa Grove, Yosemite Np

Falls before East Entrance to Yosemite NP

The Hot Air Balloon Race in Reno on my last day

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Engine Light

1. something that makes things visible or affords illumination

We are stopped in Corbin, KY with an engine light showing on the dash and two fault codes displayed.  Called the FM and breakdown.  Zygote and breakdown decided that we would keep rolling and take it into the shop in Lexington, NC after delivering this load.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Back on the Road

Our week finished well, and we made it back in time to catch our flights out of Asheville Sunday morning.
Zygote and I vacationed separately so that we could make the most of our time outside of the truck.  After being together 24/7 for the past 2 months, we were more than happy to spend a week apart pursuing our own separate activities.

Zygote went to Reno. He has beautiful pictures of the desert and mountains.  Hopefully he will share stories of his trip and post some of his pics.

I went to Massachusettes to visit Kripalu, a yoga retreat center. I've wanted to go there since I first heard about it back in the 80's.  At that time it was an ashram.  Now the ashram has disbanded and Kripalu has become a very well known yoga center.  I did not take pictures while I was there, but another retreat visitor took some really great photos of the grounds, etc and has offered to share them with my blog readers.   Kathie Thaw - yoga retreat blog

I was there from Sunday afternoon through Thursday afternoon.  I got back home around midnight on Thursday night.  Friday, Saturday and Sunday was spent cleaning out the truck, doing laundry and grocery shopping for the truck.  I cooked a big meal for Zygote's return on Sunday  and picked him up at the airport that afternoon. 

All of a sudden, the time off was over.  Now we are back in the truck and back on the road.  This morning came early.  We were up at 3am and out by 4am.  When we arrived at the shipper, they were running behind and did not have our load ready.  According to the grouchy man behind the counter, they would not have it ready until 715am.  It was only 5am at the time.  What a disappointing start.  We heasded back down the road to the McDonald's and had breakfast.   Then, I climbed into the bunk and attempted to sleep again while Zy used his computer.

As usual, once the morning bustle gets going, I can seldom sleep unless we are way out on the highway with nothing but road in front of us.  I am wide awake with only 3 hours of sleep behind me. Hopefully now that the fuel stop is over with I will be able to go back to sleep.  This is how the challenges start.  No sleep, weird hours, then long long hours of driving.  Then no sleep, often no food, then more long long hours of driving.  Then exhausted sleep which lends enough sanity for me to prepare a little food, then a slow recovery between long long hours of driving. The thought that kept going through my head at the yoga retreat was of the simplicity of relaxation and meditation in the best of circumstances, like an amazing yoga retreat center complete with great food and beautiful surroundings compared to real life and how to maintain in the face of unrelenting challenges.