Sunday, July 1, 2012

Long over due posting!

I can hardly believe it has been over a year since I’ve written for this blog!  So very many things have happened it is hard to know exactly what to start with!  Our lives have changed a great deal since my last post!
My time off the road with Ed extended greatly from what we had initially anticipated.  On Memorial Day weekend my Dad began complaining of some shoulder pain to the extent that he REQUESTED me to take him to the ER (that’s not something that my father would do unless it was really serious).  I loaded Dad in the car and off we went thinking he’d just pulled a muscle in his shoulder.  While we drove he was seemingly fine chatting along with me.  By the time we arrived still not much had changed except he said he was cold.  While I went to check him in I told him to go sit down, by the time I turned from the counter to see if he was ok he was shaking violently. The nurses rushed to him and wrapped him in blankets. He was rushed to a room very quickly and found his temperature was 105 but he was freezing. From that point on things seemed to spiral out of control for what seemed like hours. My sister arrived and finally we were told that he had an infection seeming on X-ray like a pulled muscle but it was in fact a staph infection that was raging out of control.  Dad was admitted into the ICU and after 24 hours of IV antibiotic therapy he had not begun to respond.  He was transferred to Riverside Regional Hospital the following evening.  They told my sister and I that he would need surgery on his shoulder in the clavicle sternum area to remove this infection. We got my mother on the phone with the doctor by our side to give her the news.  Without the surgery he would die, with the surgery they believed he would be fine, she agreed to the surgery and it was scheduled for the following day.  That morning, as my sister and I made our way into the room to see Dad before his scheduled surgery, we found him sitting on the side of his bed eating breakfast.  I thought that was odd after working with a Vet’s office and understanding that you’re not supposed to be able to eat after midnight prior to having any kind of surgery.  I went to the nurses’ station to ask how he could have surgery if he was eating and was told “Oh he can’t have breakfast or any food until after the surgery.” I responded that he had already been given his breakfast and had just finished his tray the nurse seemed taken aback by that tiny bit of info and insisted he could not eat..  The foolishness continued at Riverside the Doctor was furious that my Dad now had to wait until the next day to have his surgery risking his life as the infection raged not to mention his mental condition deteriorated to the point we barely recognized him nor did he recognize us. That night when we prepared to leave we informed the staff that if he got out of hand at all that they should call us and one or both of us would come and stay with him.  They did not contact us, we arrived the next morning to find his room that we’d left him in empty.  Fear turned to anger when we found they’d moved him into a room with a ‘sitter’ (a sitter of maybe 16 years old just to watch him and make sure he didn’t hurt himself).  The details of the ensuing battle with hospital staff are now in the care of the patients’ rights advocate not that it helped. I can say that my dad’s stay in Riverside Regional Medical center on this particular incident was at best the worst show of hospital care and staffing I’ve ever had the misfortune of dealing with!
Finally after 2 more days of delays the doctors decided that surgery was so urgent they would be doing it on Friday evening.  The infectious disease people said that he was slipping fast urgency was impressed on us we agreed to the surgery again.  We’d called our cousin in from DC to be with us, while we waited and the surgery was supposedly being done a surgical tech came to us in the waiting room.  She explained that Dad’s heart rate was dropping fast and that in order to do the surgery they needed us to approve them using only a local like Lidocane!  If they don’t do the procedure to remove the infection he will die, if we do the surgery under just a local he may die still..  Opting for the lesser of the two options we agreed.  The doctor was able to collect all of the infection but Dad’s heart rate was still a big issue.  At last he began to return to somewhat normal still confused and missing large parts of the past week.  He would need IV Antibiotic’s administered daily for 8 weeks.  They wanted to put him in a facility to do this but we refused as my mother’s condition at home was getting worse knowing my parents like I do they certainly would get better faster if they are allowed to be together.  We made a call to Union Baptist Church and Pastor Whitehart.  I have never been witness to so much love and prayer!  The church men rallied to help get Dad to and from his IV appointments daily so that I could stay with Mom who’s health was really going fast.  By the time Dad had finished his injections things seemed like they would calm down.  Mom had become so weak she couldn’t any longer go out and needed someone to stay with her constantly.  The new cancer in her bones was raging, we consulted her doctor and sadly nothing could be done but to keep her comfortable. Hospice was called in we hoped for the best but knew that prayers would be the best for her from this point on.  Grateful and thankful to a loving God who allowed us to keep Mom with us for so long is not enough to say but the best I can manage.   Dad had only been home a few days from yet another round of hospital stays during the summer months of 2011.  Upon his return from the last stay Mom looked at me and said “He’s back he’s going to be just fine now!”  I nodded and told her she would also be fine too.
My sister’s 30 year High School class reunion was scheduled to be held that weekend July 30, 2011 after what seemed to be a debate lasting longer than what should have been necessary she and I decided we would go together.  That evening as my sister and I set about getting ready to go Mom lay in her bed listening to us and watching us.  We’d purchased “tan in a can” (lotion designed to give the appearance of a real tan which ultimately if not applied correctly and allowed to dry will give the appearance of something far from what was originally planned) applied and giggled about what we looked like 30 years ago.  Finally, Mom inspected us and laughed at our antic’s and we were off.  The night was fun and very hot we’d sat around the pool with some great friends for at least an hour talking about old times while we dangled our legs in the pool water.  Not realizing the affect the pool water had on our “canned tans” until the next day when the line at our kneecaps showed our foolishness.
The morning of July 31, 2011 at around 5am I was awakend to the sound of a huge thud and my sister saying that Mom had fallen.  Dad had gone to help Mom to the bathroom as small as she had become he thought he could help her.  She slid through his arms and fell hard.  She’d broken her shoulder or a bone in the shoulder.  The cancer that had been raging in her bones now was spreading through her body rapidly into the blood stream.  We called Hospice to help they had the rescue squad come and help put her back in bed, ordered a hospital bed and told us time was short now.   We decided to make the calls to family and friends and attempt to decide should we call my son home yet.  We should my daughter said as she placed the call.  He would be home within a day or so.  Mom only came back to us briefly that day she was only slightly aware of most of us from that time on but when Dad held her hand she always reacted.
Will got home and was picked up at the airport around 6am Jenn picked him up and arrived back around 9am on August 3, 2011 at 3:15pm my beautiful mother went home to Jesus.  We believe she’d held on until he got there.   A blur of funeral arrangements and plans clouded the next weeks.  Then the blur of figuring out what to do and how to handle house hold issues ensued.  I felt as if I’d never be able to think clearly again for what seemed like weeks.  My Dad is to this day deeply mourning the loss of his wife of 50 years and best friend of more than 54 years.  Our loss of a beautiful mother, wife, sister and best friend has been very difficult but I do take peace in knowing I will see her again!  She’s no longer in pain  no longer weak no longer suffering in anyway she’s gone to be exactly where God wants her to be now.  The sense of loss that we feel is somewhat selfish knowing that she’s no longer here with us but has been granted a place in heaven!
I stayed with Dad for several months after Mom left us and returned to be a ride along with Ed in earnest just after the holidays last year.   Ed, during the time I was involved in helping my parents during the past year, has been very busy! He no longer works for Ready Trucking!  He’s moved on to a bigger company Abilene Motor Express.  Just a few side details here. Nearly 2 years ago Ed and I made the decision to drive OTR (over the road).  We went to school together, me to learn the basics and Ed to get a refresher since he’d not driven for nearly 10 years.  I graduated in January of 2010 Ed got his refresher done  earlier and went to work for Ready Trucking with the promise that in time he’d be able to train me as his team mate.  All of the other companies we’d talked to had given various answers to the request ranging from; “We’ll we will put her in one of our trainer trucks with a trainer of our choosing” to “Oh, sure you can train her after you’ve driven with us for 2 years” and many other offers none of which suited us.  Just before I had begun the extended visit with my parents we’d gone to apply for jobs at Abilene Motor Express. I was a no go not going to happen not ever would they hire a trainee, Ed well he didn’t have 2 years current experience so neither of us where hired.  Just 2 weeks later after a huge shake up at Ready, Ed was told to go back to Abilene and try again for a job for him, and he did and was offered a job on the spot! Thrilled, Ed began working within 2 weeks and not just east coast but all over the country what we’d been looking to do for so long.   Ed and I had prayed about the situation over and over again and decided that when God was ready for me to drive he would indeed open the doors that needed to open.  I do believe that God had me at the place I was in life at just the right time when I was needed the most. I do NOT regret the time I was able to be with my parents at all.  I will always treasure the time we had together before Mom left us.
Other things happened during my time off the road with Ed.  My son and his high school sweetheart finally got married in January 2012! All too soon though, my son would ship off to Afghanistan with his squadron in the Marine Corps.  With that marriage I was finally given the granddaughter, Peyton, I’d been trying to talk my daughter Jenn and her husband into having!  (See God does answer prayers in his own way) Jenn and Zach had become pregnant though rush of excitement!  I’m super pleased and happy and thrilled and all those great adjectives to announce the birth of our third grandchild Zachary Todd Wood Jr. Born June 19th!  He’s absolutely awesome just like his parents and big brother.
As I said earlier I returned to riding along with Ed just after the Christmas Holidays this past year and had been happy to travel the country as a passenger but began getting a tad flustered that I had not been able to use the training I’d gotten to drive!  Again, God answers prayers and knows the plans he has for us!  In late March we got a message on the QUALCOM from Abilene that they would be interested in any drivers willing to be trainers for new hires and new trainees!  We could hardly contain ourselves to get back to the yard and have me apply!  That day we walked in handed in my application and within 10 minutes I was off to get a physical and plan when I could start orientation!  By mid-April I was not only a trainee at Abilene but Ed and I had been given a brand new 2012 Volvo with 256 miles on it!  With a rush of excitement we took our first assignment to Oregon.  I won’t say the first trip out was textbook but I certainly didn’t hit anyone or ding the truck.   When we arrived in Oregon Ed called dispatch to explain that my son who was stationed in California was to be deployed in a few days was it possible for us to get a load south so that we could see him before he deployed.  Within 15 minutes loads had be organized after a quick trip back to Nebraska we headed to southern California.  We got within 100 miles, give or take, to Will called dispatch to find out the next move.  We were shocked to hear them say just go don’t worry about the miles just go call us when you are ready to get another load.  In today’s world of trucking that’s totally unheard of!! That’s how companies build employee loyalty!  We spent the entire day with our son, after driving a huge rig onto a military base; (of course Ed carry’s his military ID and we both have TWIC cards which helped) we toured the base in the tractor and totally enjoyed the time we had with him.
That brings us close to current day we’ve put nearly 60,000 miles on this truck already!  It is very comfortable we’ve decided.  It does everything but kiss us good night (Maybe we haven’t found that button on the control panel yet?) It’s fully automatic right down to temperature controlled cabin cruise control with Jake brake on the column a simple push button and the cruise control engages the jake brake.  No gears to grind fully automatic gears!  We even have massage at the push of a button in both passenger and driver seats.  Even Tara is happy about this truck.
Since I’ve brought us up to our current status I’ll close for today.  I hope to begin writing more frequently now so keep checking back!
God Bless
Pam and Ed

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Life's Challenges...

Well since my last post, loads of things have changed.  I've been off the road with Ed now for three weeks, not out of choice but necessity.  Initially I was home for the Joyce Meyer Conference in Hampton, Virginia and WOW what a wonderful time I had with a great friend! Then of course Easter and a visit with the family.  Then a nephew with a medical issue I felt I needed to be here for support (more his mother's support than the nephew).  As odd as it seems during that same week my son came home for a visit from California and the Marine Corps... let me elaborate a tad on this one day.
May 5, 2011 my sister my nephew and I arrive at MCV hospital in Richmond, VA for some tests for my nephew.  They need to sedate the young 18 year old lad. His mother; anxious, nervous and highly excitable and I wait (I'd say patiently but that was not really the case).  The procedure takes just a bit longer than we had been told but they tell us all is well and they found nothing negative to report. With a great sigh we began trying to wake sleeping boy up. Finally the nursing staff let us in on the idea that they may have given him a tiny bit more sleepy juice because the procedure took a bit longer than anticipated. Meanwhile my son and daughter along with my daughter's fiancĂ© had arrived at the restaurant we'd chosen for lunch.  Try as we may my nephew could not wake up fully.  Finally they decided he was as awake as he was going to be for the day and let us take him.
Off we sped to meet the kids for lunch. When we arrived at the restaurant my nephew looked as if he had been on a week long bender. He was ashen pale and unsteady on his feet. His cousin found the entire thing greatly entertaining, and decided he'd take watch over our drugged charge guiding him to the mens room chuckling along the way as he staggered.  My daughter had news for us tho!  Its always a cinch when I'm greeted with "You'll never guess what we're going to tell you!" that something interesting is going to happen!  I began the guessing game with "Did you go and get married?" the answer shocked me more than I imagined they could shock me. They both said 'almost'. I steadied myself and said what exactly does that mean 'almost'?  It seems they'd purchased the license but the official had made an appointment to do the official marrying later that very afternoon.  I've heard of eloping but never in stages.. but then again anything with my daughter is slightly at its own pace.
My sister, nephew and son and I continued with our lunch while the marriage was completed; because if we had attended and the grooms family hadn't it well could have been a little uneasy to explain. All too quickly lunch ended and the happy couple had gotten married and went off on the honeymoon.  I said good bye again to my son, collected the by now mostly coherent nephew and we were off to pick up my grandson.
When we arrived at the day care to pick up my grandson his questions pelted us like a rain storm.  Where was Mommy, why was CamCam sleepy, is Aunt Chris staying at my house, why are we driving Grammy's race car... and so on all the way home. Later after all the excitement had mellowed Mikey came to me and asked when his Mommy was coming home.  I tried to explain that she and his daddy had gotten married he responded with "well I don't want to marry daddy." I decided I should leave that entire explanation to his mother and suggested we call her right then.  She had no more gotten the phone before he asked how come she married HIS daddy? Kids can be so entertaining.  I'm happy to say that they are all happily married now and its all settled.
Altogether a very interesting day in deed! We are very pleased that they have gotten married by the way!
After all of that excitement I had spent a few days with my parents. My mother is a long time liver cancer survivor nearly 13 years. She is a true living miracle even in the medical field.  They have no explanation as to why or how she's lived and how they've gotten her liver cancer into remission.  Initially on November 16th 1999 my mother entered the hospital at Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News, VA  for simple gall bladder surgery. The surgeon a long time friend and doctor headed into surgery believing nothing more than simple gall bladder issues loomed ahead. He stopped the surgery and sent my mother back to her room. Suddenly cancer was center stage.  Mom had stage 4 liver cancer, tumor's consumed more of her liver than liver tissue. Her prognosis was horribly grim. The first oncologist on the scene came in and very bluntly announced that she would more than likely not live to the end of the year. My sister and I stopped him out in the hall and asked what his coarse of action was going to be. His response was shocking at best, "We will make her as comfortable as possible there is nothing we can do, you need to begin the process of preparing her arrangements now." Not very comforting I must say. Later that day family began arriving. My mother's sisters and sister in law myself and my sister decided to go begin making calls. We went downstairs sobbing stopped in front of the door to the cafeteria to decide who each person was to call when a Nun in full habit came through the doors. She slowed and moved into our group with such a smile I hadn't had time to notice until she began to speak. She looked at each of us with that smile and said "I'm not sure why your all so upset but I want you to know that God can and does still work miracles. I was diagnosed with liver cancer 5 years ago and I'm living proof of what God can do!" At the time the words just sort of hung in the air everything around us seemed fuzzy. We stood and looked at this woman and no one could speak and as suddenly as she appeared she seemed to be gone. I cannot tell you what she looked like today but her words are still etched in my mind.
My mother was released several days later from the hospital on pain management and returned to see the oncologist assigned to her case. After the next visit and several prayers my parents returned to the office and had prepared to tell the receptionist that they'd like to see a different doctor. When my dad approached the desk the receptionist interrupted him as he began and said I'm sorry sir but the doctor you've been seeing has been re-assigned to another office but we do have a doctor that can see your wife today. Well, as time has progressed from that day God has been in control of my mother's treatment.  The new doctor obviously a Christian asked if she wanted to fight the cancer she and dad both had not even been given a choice before, and gladly accepted the challenge to fight. Treatment began immediately - she began 5FU Chemotherapy. The new oncologist had began with,  "If this shows no signs of change we'll do something else until we've exhausted all other avenues". Doctors could not tell us where the cancer originated from as the liver is the last place that cancer generally gets to because the blood is constantly flowing through the liver.  Its difficult for the cancer cells to adhere anywhere else. Cancer cells had to be filtered in the liver and through many tests and pathologists around the world no one had the answer as to where it came from.  My mother's sister was diagnosed with bone cancer just a year after my mother and died 3 short months later. Well 12 years later she not only showed no new tumor's but appears to be in full clinical remission of liver cancer. We joke that she looks really really good to be a dead woman after all these years.  A secondary bone cancer began a few years ago and has been very slow moving and pain controlled by selective radiation.
Our prayer vigil along with the church they belong to and so many others began the day she was diagnosed.  Although my mother has had very painful days, and suffered through chemotherapy weekly and then bi-weekly for 12 years her faith in God's will has never wavered. We believe that God has kept my mother alive these many years to show us all he can and will work miracles in our lives if we only let him but we must always remember that its God's will not our own that we pray for. We have been so blessed by my mother's miracle that God has allowed her to stay with us for so long with so little side affects, and she's gone on to travel extensively and see several countries and be there for the birth of her first great grandson.
Currently my mothers health has been compromised by an infection known as C-Diff.  She has become very weak as a result and has lost weight down to 104lbs as of last Thursday. A bone biopsy done a few weeks ago shows that another form of cancer has begun to spread, Adenocarcinoma.
My father has been steadfast in his care for my mother all these years and I feel the time has come to offer my help since he has medical problems as well.  So due to this new threat and her weakened state I will be staying with my parents for a while.
I will try and keep the blog up to date as time permits. Since Ed is still out there driving the highways I can relay some of his adventures to you since I can't get him to blog for me.
God Bless
Pam and Ed

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mulch, Manners and Mayhem

Wednesday afternoon we were dispatched to Waverly, VA to pick up a load of mulch destined to Pennsylvania. For the second time they over loaded us and needed to take a pallet off.  Even with that weight issue we still needed to slide tandems and the fifth wheel on the tractor.  The fifth wheel is the big round plate with a U shaped area cut out on the tractor.  On the trailer a king pin comes down and must be aligned to met up with the fifth wheel.  If done correctly (and yes I can do this very well now) the sound that you hear is a big thunk of sorts.  Once you hear that you put the truck  back in first gear and with the brakes off try and pull the trailer - this is also called a tug test.  You're checking to make sure the fifth wheel and the king pin are locked.  Rarely the fifth wheel needs to be moved.  On those occasions you pull a lever and pull forward or back as needed.  All this is done to help get your weight even throughout the truck.   We needed to do this Wednesday since no amount of moving the tandems would help.  After sliding the fifth wheel we scaled and Ed was very pleased with himself. 
We headed out to Pennsylvania from Waverly with the ever popular fuel stop at the terminal. It was a quiet ride back up to PA from this point. 
We arrived at a service plaza just outside of Allentown, PA around midnight had a short 7 hour rest and made our way to our appointment.  Home Depot, we'd never delivered here before our first retail store delivery! Well it didn't get off to a great start they had several trucks to unload and since they don't have signs up as to where trucks come in from you just take your  best guess. That being said the space you have to pass each other is extremely small.  With some fancy wiggling from Eddie we got through with mere breaths between trucks.  Meeting other drivers with the same confused look is as always a wonderful way to find comfort, I'm guessing the trucks following us met the same looks. 
What I can not seem to understand is the inability to reason with men when it comes to asking questions. Directional questions must be the worse questions in the world to men. Okay, so sometimes girl questions are dumb but occasionally we have a realistic question too!  Sometimes the question we ask, when answered correctly, can provide much needed information that could help.  Take for instance this morning while we waited for a trucker to get his load tied down Ed noticed he was having trouble getting one of his straps to stay hooked to his trailer bed.  I suggested Ed go help him, I got a glance of indignant disbelief. Eddie said "I didn't sign up for flat beds he did; and why should I go make him feel bad just because we're in a hurry?"  I have no idea how offering to help is going to make the guy feel bad but 'ok'.  
Once we got backed into our door at Home Depot they began unloading us as shocking as that is the normal wait can go from 10 minutes to 4 hours. We listen and can feel the fork lift on our trailer when they unload us, Ed noticed a lack of heavy movement on the trailer and walked into the building to get our paper work and found one of the pallets of mulch on our trailer had toppled over.  Ed helped the forklift driver stack the bags of mulch back on a pallet and away we went!
Next stop Nestle' for more water. The south must be parched again. When we got our paper work from the office they gave us a directions sheet to a new truck stop!  This means we don't need to go to New Jersey for scales!  Trexler Plaza in Allentown, PA newly opened and has scales, decent parking and within walking distance to a real drug store.  We got the weight for the truck and went inside.  A nice enough place clean food well they will improve with time I'm sure.  Ed went back to the truck for a nap before heading on our way back to Virginia. I decided to stroll over to the drug store and 'shop' a bit.  I found Mikey a baseball bat and wandered back to the truck. After Ed's nap we went back to the truck stop for food, like I said hopefully this aspect will get better with time or the next time we visit.  The young lady working the food area seemed really nice but when I inquired about a sandwich from one of her co-workers the manners stopped. Rude people should not work in or with the public, the results can be financially painful in the long run. After telling Ed that I no longer wanted anything, due to the rude young lady, he asked why I told him what she'd said and that I would wait for him in the truck.  Sadly the young girl waiting on Ed had only to say "Well she's got a lot on her mind right now."  She was calculating and  making sandwiches to refill the sandwich case... ok still no sale, I will be hoping they will have less on their minds the next time we visit.    
How is it that people seem to miss seeing a big truck baring down on them? (Blind spot?) Why is it that people in cars think they are getting so much further ahead by constantly switching lanes? (They can't see the lane they just had to get into stopped completely 10 cars ahead of them) Is it really that much closer to your destination by cutting in front of a big truck? (Not if said big truck plows into the side of your car, it could take a life time to get where your going.) Is there a school for merging? (Please make it mandatory  for EVERYONE! making special effort to teach; this scenario  the lane ends and a truck is in front of you, this does not mean its a great idea to wait for the truck to merge then rush in front of the truck after the lane ends to break into traffic.) Also when a big truck needs to merge its really not a question of "Can I please?" its more or less "Move I'm, coming over no more of your shenanigans." By the way merging means to allow people to enter or leave the roadway.  Its really not a request or 'at your leisure' situation people. I need to include this too just to set the record straight on the whole stopping ability of trucks; truck brakes work very well. We can stop these monsters yes indeed we can.  If you read your DMV handbook you'll see that it takes a considerable distance to stop your cars in say rain or snow.  Just because we have more wheels does not mean we can stop faster. At 65 mph the stopping distance for an automobile is 162 feet in dry conditions. At 65 mph the stopping distance for a semi tractor trailer is 420 feet in dry conditions. Think about that the next time you think you should pull out in front of or cut off a truck.  You may get lucky and that truck may be empty or just hauling a light load or you may die because that truck is heavy hauling its maximum weight of 80,000 lbs.  
I so wish I could have a way to let people know that the roads are not just for cars, trucks are people working hard to bring everything you use to you the consumer.  Consider your life without the things trucks bring literally 99.8% of everything you use has been on a truck at some point.  
We've had a beautiful day on our return to Virginia.  Traffic only clogged up in Pennsylvania in the work zones for 6 miles.  We've gotten wise enough to stay away from I95 and the beltway due to traffic we're traveling the more scenic routes and only adding 15-30 minutes to our trip (without consideration of the traffic delays in DC which have run up to 4 hours).  Just as I wrote that traffic came to a stop at the Potomac River Bridge, ugh, we're actually in the toll booth and traffic stopped. Of course Eddie takes these opportunities to have me fix him a cup of noodles from Maruchan.  
Have a Blessed Good Friday as we remember the sacrifice Christ made for us. 
Pam and Ed

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April Showers bring May Flowers (chorus)

Well here we are back in Pennsylvania again. I'm trying to smile.. New state welcome sign for PA should read, Welcome to Pennsylvania We Are STILL Under Construction, Pardon Our Mess.  Yes that indeed should be the proposed slogan for this state.  In all the years I've traveled to and through this state I can honestly say not once have I visited that I didn't spend at least part of the trip in a construction zone.  For those of you who are not fully aware of the "Road Rules" in this state I'll help.  You may see the sign upon entering the great state of Independence that simply says "Fines Doubled in Work Zones" or "Targeted Enforcement Zone."  These  are just blanket notices that the state will be taking great joy in holding up traffic throughout your travels while in Pennsylvania. Furthermore if you don't adhere strictly to the speed limit while your traveling you'll have the distinct honor of paying for said road 'improvements'. I, at one point thought that they have lots of money to spend on road improvements here, but the roads are always in horrible shape. How could that be you ask? Well to put it simply they don't actually repair the roads they just put the signs up that say they are 'Gonna do it soon as we catch enough people speeding through the work zones to pay for the repairs.'  So far this trips chuckle for the knuckle heads  "End Fines Doubled Zone" just a few hundred yards from that sign... "Begin Road Work next 10 miles" yes that's right fines doubled in the work zone.  This idea may have spread over to New Jersey because they have loads of repair work with very little obvious progress to date.
I'm currently very interested in the detour signs all over the state that have a color coded route on them.  Oddly enough I have not seen the first explanation of what the color codes are. So if you follow a sign that says detour with a red arrow on it and then come upon a sign that has a green arrow on it what do you do? Or worse still what if your color blind?  Wikipedia has this to say about the detour signs:


Pennsylvania has a system of "color detour signs" in which any detour follows signs with a specific color.[9][10][11] The detours are meant to be used if a limited-access highway has to be closed for an emergency situation such as a flood or car accident, directing motorists along local roads near the limited-access highway to the next exit. They are generally color-coded according to direction, with blue meaning north, red meaning south, green meaning east, and orange meaning west. However, other colors, such as black and brown, are sometimes used when detour routes overlap with one another.[10][12]
SO.. that made everything clear to Pennsylvania I'm sure, the rest of us are going to need a bit more information.

Just a weather update in the off chance you thought the weather changed here.. ITS RAINING! As if that's a new status.  I'm supposed to be happy that the April showers will be bringing May flowers, I'm trying to keep that in mind along the way.  I am thankful that the rain is keeping the pollen washed out a bit more breathing is easier for some of us anyway.23223

With Easter approaching quickly I feel I should share this quick story.  Sunday night after watching Megamind with our grandson Mikey I had gone in to kiss him good night and remind him that Poppy and Grammy would be gone tomorrow when he got up possibly. He seemed fine after the same questions of why? how come? all had been answered.  I said to him that Poppy and I would be back before the Easter Bunny hopped by.  He said he didn't like the Easter Bunny, I asked why he said he didn't know but when I told Mikey that he brought candy he changed his mind.  He then asked me, WHY does the Easter Bunny bring candy? "Hmm.. Well", I said "because the Easter Bunny works for the American Dental Association.  He brings kids candy so they get cavities and then Mommies take kids to the Dentist and spend a ton of money to fix the cavities."   Our daughter Jenn has already warned me that I should expect calls from the Day Care Mikey attends because she is leaving our phone number with them.

So while we're getting our current load shifted by this company the rain continues, if and when they finish we'll be on our way again. The shippers, if they load your trailer, are responsible to make sure the load is positioned on the trailer so that weights are acceptable by the DOT.  If after being loaded the shipper has a scale and you find your weights not correct the shipper will reload for you, to get your weight correct. We are at the second door for this load now getting reloaded. We've been here since 10am its now 4pm.  That being said.. hopefully will  be back in Virginia this evening sometime.
People wonder why things cost so much on the store shelves this is one of those costs. A truck, trailer and driver sitting ALL day to get one load of product ready to move. Amazing!
Well its now 5pm and we're finally getting on the road.  Rain and rush hour!
God Bless!
Pam and Ed

Monday, April 18, 2011

Its Monday again!

After making our way through the storms and feeling like we had been spared on Saturday we arrived at home, rescued our fearful pets from the storms and watched in awe the damage unfold in my home town of Gloucester County.  So thankful that these storms arrived on a Saturday rather than a school day when the school would have had nearly 600 students inside.  Its an odd feeling seeing a school that I actually attended once upon a time destroyed in such a manor. (I went to Page Middle School when it was Gloucester Intermediate School.)  Our prayers are reaching out for those injured and lost as well as those whose homes have been lost as a result of these storms.  Hearing of the out pouring of support from the community in Gloucester is nothing new as they have always been a very supportive community living and working together.
Ed and I had the rest of the weekend off, all 38 hours of it.  Laundry being the urgent need of the moment.  We went to New Song on Sunday morning and had a lovely lunch with some wonderful friends. Thanks go out to Ed and Pat for being so patient with us girls for chatting so long.

We've already gotten to our first delivery and now we're again in wait mode for our next shipment orders. As I had promised I'm going to include some photo's of our living conditions since this blog is ultimately about how life is for a Trucker.  I'm having a terrible time today with the design elements on this page so I will be posting these pictures at the end of today's blog.

While trying to edit these photo's and prepare to upload we got our first load assignment of the week.  North Carolina then Pennsylvania will be our first run of the week.  Enjoy the photo's!
God Bless!
Pam and Ed
View behind the drivers seat, below is a fridge!
Our couch/bed yes it converts to a full size bed!

Microwave, TV and storage behind the passenger seat. 

Eddie waiting...
Co-pilot Pink!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Its Saturday!

This week has been a wild ride!  We started the week off heading to Pennsylvania with Maruchan noodles and have ended the week with a run back to PA with those noodles again. I'm sure the shortage of Ramen noodles will keep our paycheck rolling in for sometime at this rate. Could it be the Amish have found a use for them?  These extremely resourceful people have the ability to find a use for just about everything they come across.  Although they don't conform to many of the technological ways of the world they seem so happy living without all these 'new fangled' things that complicate our lives.  I wonder how long the rest of the world could stand being without the laptops, cell phones cars and electricity.
We're ending our week with a truck load of Air Filters. No water apparently the recent rains in the south have quenched the thirst for now so we're bringing the air filters to clear out some of that pollen?!  Yesterday we woke up early in Virginia at the truck yard, jetted off to pick up our first load at Maruchan to deliver to Disputanta, VA (coincidently I love that name!).  After delivery we were back off to Maruchan to pick up our next load of noodles headed to Denver, PA.  We are on a roll we thought, and we thought we'd make another appointment just up to when we found traffic backed up in Maryland around Baltimore and Frederick.  Pushing on we made it to our appointment in Denver just an hour and forty five minutes later than we'd hoped.  Ed talked really nice to the check in people and got us a door almost immediately. That didn't translate over to the lumper's as well.. they had a massive back up at the docks and wouldn't be able to unload us for nearly 2.5 hours.  Then the check-in process another 45 minutes. It seemed we'd be out of luck to pick up our load coming back to Virginia!  Ed kept the shipper up to date on the progress but the voice on the phone seemed to indicate the longer it took us to depart from Denver the less likely it would be we'd be loaded tonight.
Hoping against the odds we'd get a break we made our way over to Elizabethtown, PA found our shipper we are amazed at the sight of this kind gentleman standing at the dock door with our paperwork ready to load us! Praise the Lord!  Of course it was 10:30pm when we left Elizabethtown and headed back up to the Wilco/Hess Truck plaza.
Truck stops are generally filling by around 8pm and by 11pm its nearly impossible to get a parking spot.  Even with Ed's handicapped placard hanging in the window we have a difficult time finding parking.  Finally we found a spot just about the same place we'd stayed just the day before next to a Perkins Restaurant (I strongly recommend the Ruben sandwich btw!).  Exhausted but needing to use the facilities we wandered into the building. We hadn't eaten a real meal all day so we decided to grab a light meal. Ya, well at least I did!  I had a half ham and cheese sandwich and a cup of fruit and Eddiekins decided that he NEEDED the country fried steak and mashed potatoes.  Its 11:30pm and he's eating like that?  We finished our meal and  just before heading back over to go to sleep I decided I should use the facilities.  I know a shocker here.. but who smokes pot in the bathrooms anymore? At a truck stop even? In the bathroom?  Just so everyone knows this truck stop with its Perkins is used by the rest of the world too... I can't without a doubt say it was not a trucker but as I walked in and saw 2 young girls giggling the pungent smell hit me in the face.  I tried to consider it was something else but as I walked by it got stronger.  I closed the stall door and over heard one of the giggling ladies say "Think she knows what that is?" Yes I'm old by a teen standards but I'm not that old.. I do indeed know what that smell is.  I heard another woman come into the restroom just then and as she closed her stall door she began coughing and the young girls left quickly.  As I washed my hands it occured to me that the other woman may actually have thought I was the one smoking pot so I hurriedly left the room.  Ed was paying our bill when I got back to him so I decided I'd tell the cashier the restroom needed attention.  I glanced over my shoulder and still giggling the two young ladies stood right behind me. The cashier said she'd tell Wilco and they'd take care of it.
Ed and I walked into Wilco, he likes to look at the gadgets and such each truck stop has.  As we were leaving the cashier was returning from the offending restroom with a red face.  I couldn't help but laugh and ask if it was a new ploy by them to give drivers "the munchies" so they could make more money?  Her simple response was 'Hmm no but...'
The adventures at the truck stops can be so entertaining sometimes!
A few weeks ago we'd stopped at the TA (Travel centers of America) across the street from the Wilco/Hess and had our first knock at the door from a 'Lot Lizard'.  While I am sure most people would be furious at the very idea... This experience was absolutely hysterical!  Ed and I had gotten up and were drinking our coffee and doing our morning devotionals quietly and we still had the black out curtain up that completely encloses the cab of our truck.  Then the knock on the door, Ed glanced over at me with a questioning look I shrugged my shoulders and he opened the door.  A middle aged appearing woman looked up at him and said "Would you like some company?"  Ed's swift reply of "Uh I'll ask my wife..." was probably just as shocking to her as it was to me!  She apologized and disappeared.  Leave it to Ed to send a chuckle out for the day!
We're finally on our way back to Virginia!  We got up to rain and wind this morning, had our coffee and ventured out of our cozy little nest.  A quick bite at the McDonalds and we would be on our way.  As usual nothing is quite what it seems.  A group or gaggle, I'm not sure which I should call them, of young cheer leaders descended just as we walked in.  All of them needing to attend to make up and hair at the same time. I couldn't help but  notice one young girl dressed in just the quarter of a shirt, and a tenth of the skirt, I'm sure it shrunk in the wash bless her heart.  Here she stood attempting to tuck a cell phone in to her micro sized skirt apparently oblivious to the 41 degree temperatures gusting winds and heavy rain she'd just walked in from, all of her little friends had jackets and sweat pants on all matching her shrunken clothes. I noticed the three cheer mom's escorting these ladies and well I wondered why they had not offered the poor thing a jacket.
Then the memories of motherhood to a teenager came flooding back.  We as mothers notice these things with concern, but while I'm sure that the escorting mothers had asked her to put on clothes you can't make someone else's child do what they don't want to do.  I can remember discussions with the Princess in our house and the frustration in these situations, a wave of sympathy went over me for those poor cheer mothers! Just a bit of insider information for any young girls or young mothers out there when you dress this way then appear in public specifically in truck stops don't be alarmed or surprised at the comments made by the public. Be thankful you can't hear the CB's!
We hope to be back in Virginia later this afternoon and will be home for a few hours!  In the mean time stay healthy and safe!
God Bless
Pam and Ed

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gorgeous morning in York, PA!

Wow! What a difference a few hours makes in miles and weather. I attempted to take a few photo's on the way to PA yesterday to show the difference just a few hundred miles can make on the scenery.  I also had the experience to see on one side of the George Washington Memorial Bridge that crosses over the Potomac. It was like a perfect spring day, beautiful sunshine, a few scattered white clouds.  In all appearance it was a beautiful day but just as perfect as it seemed on the right side of the bridge - on the left it seemed to be a cloudy turbulent day with the possible thunderstorm any second.  The following pictures taken on the bridge itself the first one taken looking to the right heading north into Maryland, SUNSHINE the next taken looking to the left of the bridge heading north into Maryland, STORMY... interesting how the camera captured two totally different things from the same position? How many times have we encountered that quandary in life two totally different views of the same thing!

I also found the foliage along the way to change rather dramatically in Virginia. The leaves are folding out from the winter already becoming a brilliant green. In Pennsylvania however they're only beginning to bud and push through. I'm still amazed at how the scenery develops a slow and gradual change as you travel north or south.Truly God's design is a brilliant display.

After spending the night at a rest area just south of York, PA we woke up to find a beautiful sunny morning.  As usual my curiosity always keeps me scanning the horizon from the view of this truck, I witness an accident between a big rig and a cowboy Cadillac (one of those truck Escalade's).  I'm just going to put my personal opinion out there for this incident.  Objectionably speaking the parking area for the trucks at this particular rest area is insane.  The white lines showing the spaces shows without question that the length given to a 53' Trailer and a 15-20' Tractor is not even close to enough length. The white line beginning at the bumper of a tractor and ending before the first set of tandems on the trailer is simply not long enough for these big guys. This leaves only these two options, tractor out in the way so no one can pass or trailer hanging back in the traveled lane by cars.  (fyi: Its so much easier for a car to weave in and out than one of these huge tractor trailers its nearly impossible.) A truck pulls in, gets his truck and trailer straight in his parking space being sure not to leave his rig out in the truck travel lane...the trailer with no place else to be hanging out in the car travel lane. The Cadillac backs out from his space without notice of a 65' - 70' truck having just parked behind him (I know he must have been in the blind spot right? We see that all too often on the roads...), he backs right into the trailer. Who gets the insurance hit for this incident you wonder?  I wonder too, but after watching so many suicidal people drive on the roads I'm going to go with the guy driving the tractor trailer. When in doubt blame the trucker, he/she is the professional driver after all.  Reality would say that the guy who backed into a parked truck/trailer would be at fault we will probably never know but the police didn't respond to a call and the DOT didn't show up so both parties may have come to a mutual agreement in the matter. Awesome!

As I write this entry we're backed to a door at a huge grocery facility nestled in another of those very unlikely places in PA. YES for all of you out there that never knew how that product always seems to get on the shelf in the store, it came via truck! The 'How' and 'why' are my constant questions regarding the placement of these facilities. Normally followed by 'Wonder what they could have been thinking with this idea?'  Again Ed, with the nerves of steel, steadies himself and this mammoth rig through sub divisions, horse trails, and blind curves that wind down hills with houses clinging to the roadside like defiant lines in the sand.  Suddenly out of the corner of the windshield we see in the distance a large facility sprouting out just beyond a pair of schools!  Entry is much like entering a military facility.  We're given a road  map of the facility and told which two buildings we need to park between until the 'Yard dogs' come and tell us what door to back into.   While we're sitting and waiting like soldiers against a wall the traveling vendor shows up. She visits all the areas that the truckers are being held waiting to be unloaded or loaded. She serves the newly arrived guys and hustles away to the next holding area. I think that is what entrepreneurship is all about! Flexibility!  

Watching the yard dogs is like cutting the top off of a honey comb to expose all the bees moving about in precise movements consistently making each movement deliver the maximum affect. They move with such ease between the road trucks backing trailers in and out. You may wonder what a yard dog is I suppose at this point.  A yard dog or yard jockey is a very small version of a tractor like the big rigs you see on the road. its size allows it to turn on a dime!  They can back under a trailer and without leaving the tractor hook air lines up and simply push a button to lift the trailers landing gear off the ground and take off like a shot.  The same process for a regular road tractor takes on average including inspection about 15-25 minutes.  

I've taken this picture to give you a small glimpse into what I'm trying to describe. 

If only the lumper's would work as speedily as these yard dogs we'd be off and on our way to our next load. We've been backed into this door now for nearly 1.5 hours still haven't felt the forklifts moving about the trailer!  
I'm going to take the time to see whats on TV in this neck of the woods!
Wishing you all a blessed day!!
Pam and Ed