The Patricks Low Cost Housing Adventures travel blog

A Ford Cabover.....ours wasn't nearly as pretty, but you get the idea!...

By now, you are getting the idea of how this trucking life style works. I am finding it harder to take the time to keep up with continuous trip recording………when there is extra time, it is used up catching up on sleep. And now with Facebook, I can quickly post where I am and what I am doing. As far as the mapping of routes go, you can see it’s all over………up and down , coast to coast……there is only one small section of Interstate we have not been on. So, I will take a break from my constant Trip Journal postings. Occasionally, I will check in to talk about an extra ordinary experience or reminisce about a crazy times.

We left home, actually looking forward to returning to work. We got out of Maine with a local Walmart delivery, 2 drops; then DH to Boston for a load of seafood with 2 drops going to South Carolina for the next day. Total miles 1071, total pay $1504. After that was a pickup in Gaffney, SC…….frozen mac and cheese dinners and stuff like that……..with 2 drops going to Alabama. Total miles 458, total pay $910. No time to stop……off to Guin, Alabama….165 mile DH to pick up 3M products going to Cottage Grove, Minnesota. That became interesting, as when we got there, the 3M plant we delivered to told us the workers had gone home for the night!!! We were already pre-planned on a VERY good paying load just 30 miles away that had to be picked up in 2 hours!!! They were kind enough to find someone to unload us. Some wires must have been crossed regarding our delivery time. We just made it out of there and to our next pick up with 15 minutes to spare! Then from Eden Prarie, MN it was off to Chalfont, PA for the following day. 1158 loaded miles in 24 hrs…..and we really needed a shower! Not much extra time. That load payed about $2.46 a mile. Now we are sitting here in Kennett Square, PA picking up mushrooms going to Jacksonville, FL. A normal nights sleep last night felt might good after the last few days!

Our total regular costs equal about half the pay. On top of that there is repairs. Plus we are self-employed so we have our own Social Security to take care of. That’s a big chunk at the end of the fiscal year. Most people don’t realize this when they come work for a company that sub-contracts. Like many professions, pay is a constant thing to complain about. Most jobs do not pay what they used too. But trucking used to pay much, much more back when it was run by the government. Lanes had to be bought. When de-regulation occurred in the 70’s, more competition was available and the prices came down. Many of the old timers mourn the days of “the big bucks”. Most have quit by now or retired. Many quit when fuel got over $1 a gallon! But the industry evolved and changed. Those who refused to evolve with it, have left it. It is demanding lifestyle on health. Being constantly away from home makes for difficult marriages. Often the trucking profession lures the “loner”…..people who don’t care to be around many people. Or retired military, who are used to being away from home. And like many professions, the individual is just that……..Individual. Not all truckers are alike……a fact I like to acknowledge when someone says “ You sure don’t look like a truck driver!”. If local driving pays for example $500 a week, then regional driving pay $1000 a week and OTR driving pays $1500 a week. You get more when your job demands being away from home. But records show the average OTR driver loses 10-12 years off their life span due to stress, interrupted sleep style and eating. And workmans comp is equal to that of a policeman due to the danger of life factor. If done right, a young couple can lease a truck thru Prime for 3 or 4 years. Don’t bother paying rent somewhere, or having a car payment. Just commit that time to driving truck, seeing the country and making money. By the time the lease is done, and you’ve saved money rather than blown it at casino’s or timeshares, you can BUY a house for cash. Even with the lease payment and a truck that has a warrantee with 750k miles you can do very well. This is what bothers me with all the people who are complaining about no jobs. Unless you are extremely overweight, or have a horrible driving record, you can drive truck OTR and make at least $60k a year. Teams about twice that. We often recruit and tell people the facts……it’s hard work, you’re not home much, and you need to have a basic knowledge of mechanics of the truck, but you can make a lot of money.

Now I want to reminisce! While driving thru Wisconsin, I went to my regular stop that includes getting garlic and dill cheese curds and beef sticks at the T/A near Madison! It was a beautiful day. But back when we owned our very first truck, a 1978 Ford Cabover and came to Wisconsin, I NEVER wanted to return to this state again. We had only been trucking a few years. After returning to Maine from living in Georgia for 3 years, Jim thought it a good idea to get our own truck. This was around 1995, so the old Ford was OLD!!!!! But cheap, and we thought we could make a go of it. Well, it was a year I don’t want to recall very often. One weird thing about the Cabover was the interior design.

You basically “sat” on the engine, and when repairs needed to be done, the cab of the truck tilted forward at a horrible angle to get at the motor. Everything would fall forward on to the windshield! Once inside the truck (at least 3 big steps) there was a area between the seat called “the dog house” which is like a padded table between the two seats. You have to literally crawl up and over the doghouse to get to the bed in the back. No area at all to stand up in.

We signed on with a tiny company in Maine who had a few trucks. After doing some local stuff we decided to stretch our legs a bit. We took the kids (who were about 7 & 9) and went to Wisconsin in the dead of winter. For some odd reason, we couldn’t understand why the heat blow into the cab of the truck very well. We replaced the fan motor, nothing seemed plugged, we could even feel the hot air again the wall by the back of the bunk, but it didn’t really make it INTO the cab??? Search as he may, Jim could not figure it out. So we just wore really warm socks and bundled up. Now, remember, this was back when we were green horns in trucking. There wasn’t the information highway there is now. We headed straight into a blizzard in Wisconsin, with temperatures of -20 with the windchill. We delivered our load and managed to get to a truckstop for the night. The roads were deadly and the truckstop was packed. The nearby motel had no rooms left and we were cold!!!! While we all piled into the back bunk to sleep (about the size of the old double beds) Jim set up a propane torch on the doghouse. We kept the truck running to keep the engine from freezing up and maybe get some heat from it. Looking back , it was an extremely deadly thing to do but our only source of heat. Our angels watched over us that night as we slept. It was a LONG TIME before we ever returned to Wisconsin. That seems like a lifetime ago. Now, I love returning to the beautiful state that reminds me of Maine. But……maybe not in the winter. J

So far since we have returned we have stayed east of the Rocky Mountains. I kind of like that. Our fuel mileage is better, but not as much spare time. And it’s still quite HOT out there. And these loads seems to pay better. Maybe we should ask our dispatcher to keep it up. Sometimes it worthwhile running coast to coast and sometimes not. Depends of the season. Right now this is suiting me pretty good.

This time out we are also sticking to a stricter diet and exercise program. Well, Jim is trying, but he’s an awful influence sometimes!!! I’m doing pretty good at it. But he’s doing way more pushups than me. The weather has been more friendly to evening walks. I’m working on shrinking my stomach. Regular stops for coffee and a turnover at Arby’s are no more. Neither are French fries or hash browns. I’m doing 100 crunches a day, albeit not at one time, and pumping iron, even when driving, with my little 8 lb weights. Feeling better but it’s going to take a while to get the inches off the mid section! Josh is keeping me motivated! Jim is driving me nuts.

Proverbs 6:6-11 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer and gather food in the winter. But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest--then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.

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