Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Friends Arrive

Our friends, Cathy and Ed, arrived today for a week long visit.  It has been so nice to see them again and catch up.  Only 2 more days to go till the Jeep Blessing and we all are furiously working on the Jeeps to be sure everything is in working order.  I can't wait till we get to take them out and trail test them!

This was Ed's retirement present to himself after 24 years in the Navy!  He just got back from his last 7 month cruise and will be "officially" retired in less than 30 days.  He hasn't even put 300 miles on his new toy yet, so the first thing they did was to take a quick ride.  Don't they look neat in their matching helmets, coats and boots?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Revenge on a Tailgater

We took the truck into our favorite shop, Cadillac Truck, this morning and left it for its 6 month DOT inspections.  On the way home, while still maybe 7 miles south of town, a little grey BMW pulls up behind me.  Mind I am driving an Excursion, but I don't drive slow.  Its a diesel too, so hills don't even faze it on cruise control.  It just growls louder and up we go!  I was doing about 6 over the limit and had the cruise set.  I could almost hear the driver behind me gripping the wheel and grinding his teeth.  Tailgaters are a huge pet peace of mine and I am sure there is an especially heinous place in hell, reserved just for them.  Unfortunately for this idiot he decided he just had to get closer the rear of my vehicle.  Like that was going to speed me up.  Not!  Just for him, since I was in a no passing zone for the next 6 miles, I tapped my brake, broke the cruise and slowed down to 5 below the limit!!!!! Na-Na-Na-Na-Na :-P
I could almost see the steam come out of his ears in my rear view mirror O:-D  Randy, who was in the passenger seat wasn't perturbed at all by the irritating tailgater, but almost came unglued by me slowing down.  I guess those tailgaters have to stick together no matter what, huh?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A little R&R

The floors and bookshelves are clean, dishes done, groceries bought and put away... My oh my what am I going to do with all of this spare time.  SPA DAY!!!

I spent 8 hours today at my salon getting polished and tuned up.  It felt absolutely heavenly and I actually feel like a woman again!  After all I have put in my fair share of time in the past 4 months polishing on the truck.  Today it was my turn ! ! !

What you might ask did Randy do all day to unwind.  Well he didn't go to the salon with me.  Instead he went and played with his buddies working on the obstacle course for the upcoming Jeep Blessing next weekend.  They met for an early breakfast at Sparks (absolutely delish local resturant). Then thru rain and wind, worked for 6 hours finishing the obstacles.  Of course they all had to "test" them to be sure they were in proper working order for the eager Jeepers next weekend :-) By the time I got home, he was dry and cozy again. But the smile was still firmly planted on his face as he regailed me with the days follies. 

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bonny - 1 Dust Bunnies - 0

We finally made it home last night. 

The vehicles all started on the first try, no dead batteries.  Amazing after more than 4 months of sitting idle in the barn.  All the locks opened, no ice freezing them solid, and the driveway was clear of snow drifts.  I turned on the hepa filters, swiffered all the floors, dusted all the cabinets and shelves and lugged in all the food from the truck.   The only real problems were a low battery warning on the house alarm system and I had to trash some freezer items that had obviously thawed during a power outage.  Not bad for being absent for so long.

Of course we hit the trails almost immediately with the CJ.  Had to burn the cobwebs out of the engine after all.  After bouncing along for a little over 2 hours we called it a night and headed back to the house.

Back at the house I filled up the jacuzzi tub and we soaked away 4 months of tension.  Man that tub felt great.  Too bad it wont fit in the sleeper!

Serial Farter Attacks

I was in the Book Nook (a used book store I like to frequent) in Cadillac, MI brosing the older cookbooks when I heard it.  It wasn't a soft one either.  It was loud and long. 4 octaves and better than 20 seconds. I glanced toward the noise and to my suprise there was only one person standing there next to me.  A Woman! She didn't even react.  Just stood there, completely dead pan, reading her book like nothing had happened.  It wasn't long after this that the stench drove me from my stack of books.  So I retreated to the cashier to buy my books and leave.  Wouldn't you know it though, she followed me.  Luckily I think the cashier had heard and when this woman asked if she could use the bathroom the cashier gave her directions.  Saying after her as she walked away that this was a private bathroom and not normally open to the public.  Even as I sit here writing this, I still can't believe it.  Randy of course had a laugh spasm when I told him the story.  He promptly dubbed it the Attack of the Serial Farter.  I think it made his week ;-)

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Count Down Begins

HOME.  We are finally going home this weekend.  We have been on the road for 4 months straight!  I can't wait to see my friends and catch up.  But I know there are going to be 4-5 mail totes to deal with too.  Not to mention the deadly dust bunnies that are probably laying in wait under the couch and beds!  Well, let them do their best.  I have a Swiffer!

I am so excited to get home a whole week before the Jeep Blessing.  I will actually have time to recharge the vehicles batteries, clean up the house, do some grocery shopping and get my hair done before our guests arrive.  What a change.  Usually I am getting home hours before our guests land.  I am not sure I will know what to do with all of this extra time.  But I am sure I will fill it up.  I have already started a list of things to do.  Might I actually have a chance to be a normal hostess?  Nah, I have never done a normal thing in my life.  Why start now >:-)  

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friday Night Truck Stop Social

It started out Friday afternoon as an imprompto get together, but continued all weekend.  We drove down to Elkton, MD Friday afternoon for the weekend.  Yes again. When we got there we noticed another custom bunk we knew was in the shop as we headed for a truck wash.  By the time we got thru the wash and to the back of the lot to our usual parking spot, he was out.  He works for a moving company and there were several other moving company trucks already parked next to us.  It turns out we knew one of them and our friend knew the other one.   I could go on, but I am sure you are already confused as it is.  Short of it is we all got together and decided to park together in a way that would block off our section of the parking lot.  Then out came the grills, chairs, dogs and polish rags.  We had such a great time BSing and working on the trucks I forgot until Sunday night after the sun went down to take any pictures.  Of course they didn't turn out good at all.

It was such a nice weekend and couldn't have come on the heels of a worse week.  Of course, after spending so much time relaxing, I could simply couldn't care less.  I am ready for another week.  Bring it on!

Down Time - RV Style

This is a great RV park in Florida we have frequented.  This spot on the lake is great, except you have such great shade trees the satellite can't get a signal.  But with all of this outside, who needs TV?

Down Time - Discovery Cove

All I can say is, WOW!  This place is so awesome.  We went here several years ago while staying in Florida for a few weeks during the winter.

This is the entrance...

I loved these playful dolphins in the entryway.

Randy surprised me with a private cabana reserved just for the two of us!  It came with a professional photographer who took some really great shots of us that day.  Certainly better than we could have taken as distracted as we were by the main attractions.

My first ever dolphin kiss.

He was just like a dog and wanted his belly rubbed all the time.

See what happens when you don't rub his belly fast enough :-D

Randy wasn't so sure about the idea of kissing a fish and had a hard time not laughing!

Hitching a ride...

We happened to go the week of Valentine's and Randy surprised me yet again with a special delivery from one of my dolphins.  He swam up to me with a buoy that said I Love You Oodles and Oodles. Randy.  I was so surprised.  It had to be one the best and most romantic days we have had so far.

Since we don't drink champagne, so I still have this unopened bottle and glasses.  The chocolates Randy polished off in short order and the crystal frame sits on my dresser with a photo of us from that day.  It is such a lovely reminder of the special time we spent together there.

The day started out beautifully, but by late afternoon some clouds had blown in and it cooled off a little.  Randy was able to search out a cup of steamy hot chocolate for me while I pealed off my wet suit.  I can't think of a better way to end such a lovely day!

He was so happy all of his plans had come together without a hitch.  AND he just loved the private cabana!!!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

What a Crazy Week

This has been such an insane week.  It started out with a kind of slow drudgery, and I have never quite gotten up to speed.  First off Monday, Randy had to wake me earlier than usual to do a random drug test.  Then of course to top it off yet another rain front was coming thru and I got yet another headache.  Of course I had to drive starting Monday evening around 1700, but it was just a short 350 mile run so we were parked by midnight.  Then when we were sound asleep the delivery decided they wanted to unload us early, 2 hours early.  We rolled with it as usual and got to our next pick up 4 hours early because there was absolutely no parking in the truckstops.  Luckily, we had Live Searched the next pick up and knew the area was mostly opened and gaurded.  So we went ahead in, thinking we would just park and catch up on paperwork and breakfast.  Nope.   As soon as we arrived they were out the door and wanting us in the dock and loaded.  Of course this didn't make dispatch happy, because this was another TVAL load and the SOP on the Qualcomm wasn't set up to start recording on their end for another 4 hours.  We had to sit there, loaded, at the pick up for another 2 hours while they got everything straightened out on their end.  Which included them trying to tell us that our trailer traks wasn't working.  Funny thing was though that they knew exactly when we had turned the reefer on and off all morning, but now they supposedly couldn't get any temp readings off of the satellite.  We knew it was working (the previous load had been TVAL as well) and had to explain to them about 6 times that the problem was on their end.  The just needed to adjust the pickup time in their system so it would start capturing data.  Of course after the 3 try Randy was completely frustrated and tossed the phone at me and told me to "JUST DEAL WITH HER."  It took 2 hours, but she finally got it right.  With TVAL loads the satellite is set up to start capturing temp data from our unit 1 hour in advance of the scheduled appointment.  It is hard wired into the system, as our customers want at least one hour of the unit at temp prior to loading.  Well anyway, once we finally got that out of the way they released us to leave.  We ran the 7 miles to the delivery.  Of course the location was under construction.  These last couple of weeks it couldn't have been any different.  There were probably 30 docks open and wouldn't you know it, they just had to have us back into the one dock that had a huge dumpster/compactor on one side and a large ellevated cement ramp for straight trucks on the other side.  Yup and of course all of the personal vehicles of the companies employees were parked right in front of the dock where we needed to be able to pull up in order to even get turned around, much less back up.  But we did it.  I tell you that $120 we spent on our little Radio Shack handheld CB was the best money spent ever!  Oh and did I mention it was starting to rain. Again. Yup. Yet another headache too.

So then after this lovely morning we deadheaded 550 miles to pick up our next load.  It was to load the following afternoon.  I got lucky as Randy drove this stretch since I hadn't had much sleep since Sunday night.  The next pickup was a usual customer of ours, but we haven't been in there for maybe 6-7 months.  So it was, of course, nice to see them again.  We played the usual musical docks before they finally decided on one.  At least we are used to this dance and just wait it out till they actually all troop outside to access the sitution and point to the dock they REALLY want.  What a hoot it is to watch.  They take it all way to seriously!

So now it is Wednesday evening and I drove 626 miles thru sunshine, sunset, rain and finally fog into the delivery.  I got there early as usual and was unwinding playing online, when the customer came out and banged on the side of the truck's cab wanting to get things started.  I swear this sort of thing is taking years of off my life.  I jumped so high when he banged on the door beside me I almost hit my head on the roof of the cab! If course this caused yet another run around with dispatch (yup another TVAL load).  They take this stuff very seriously.  Though things seemed to flow easier this time around, since it was an early unload.  Then we actually had a second drop on this load. So I ran over to the location next.  I sat there for another 2 1/2 hours so that the clock could catch up with itself. Even though eveyone was there and ready to unload.  Nope, we had to end this one on time.  So we sat till it was our confirmed scheduled appointment time.  By the time I made it to the sleeper it was almost 0900.  I was so tired of course it took me a while to settle in.  But then I was gone.

For all of about 1 hour.  ANOTHER RANDOM DRUG TEST!!!  Of course they don't care if I just collasped and couldn't legally log anytime on duty for another 9 hours.  We had one hour to find the test location and check in.  Which in Allentown, PA it takes every minute.  We ended up having to park at a K-Mart and walking to the clinic.  At least it wasn't far and wonder of wonders it wasn't raining!

But by the time I got out of there it was after 1300 and we were locked down for another customer.  So I didn't want to crash.  Of course as a result here I am like an idiot still up at almost 0500 in the morning.  Going on 40 hours here and feeling every single one.  What is that saying...?  THANK GOD ITS FRIDAY!  Oh yeah.

I just really hope that this customer doesn't want us to do what I think they want.  At least not for another 12 hours.  Because once I fall asleep, I know from many past experiences just like this one.  I will not be waking for at least 10 hours.  I am NOT setting my alarm either...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

106 TDOT Construction Deaths

We were driving East on 40 in Tennessee the other day when I saw the sign at the side of the highway.  At first I was both shocked and appalled at the high number of deaths.  Then I started to remember the countless number of times I have almost hit construction workers in this state.  I don't want to seem callous, but the State of Tennessee has a problem.  I can't tell you how many times I have seen workers step into oncoming traffic as if it wasn't there. Or how many times I have had to jerk my truck off the road or onto the shoulder in order to avoid hitting absent minded and careless workers.  I know all of you have seen the signs at the entrance to construction zones about years in jail and fines you will get for hitting a worker.  What they should be doing is spending money educating these morons about the danger of becoming complacent regarding their environment.  Then again maybe they are going for a Guinness Book World Record for the highest number of Darwin Awards!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Really Long Run...

We unloaded this morning at 0600 and headed over to our next pickup.  We had to deadhead a whopping 11 miles and the run was 7 miles.  So we ran a total of 18 miles this morning.  But one cool thing was we got to drive thru the tunnels at the airport again.  We do this every so often and I never remember my camera.  This time I did.

I don't know if everyone knows what I am talking about, so I'll take a second to explain.  In large metropolitan cities like Memphis and Atlanta the airports are so large that the runways need to span the roadways.  So they build a bridge and elevate the runways, thereby creating long tunnels for the roadways underneath.  What makes this so cool is when you are lucky enough to come up to the tunnel just as a plane is landing or taking off.

Today we had to go thru 3 of these tunnels in a row.  As we were coming up to them, but were just far enough away so I couldn't get a good shot, we saw several planes land and take off.  With each one I was thinking, oh no, I missed it again and there wont be another one when I get there.  But it was finally my day!  Just as we pulled up to the second tunnel a FedEx plane landed right on top of us!!!  Couldn't have planned it better if we tried to.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Random Drug Test - Yahoo!

Yes I know it is a necessary evil in this industry, but I hate it.  Since I started driving 9 years ago I have been getting tagged with "random" testing, while my husband never gets called.  Interestingly enough I can't even count the number of other teams out here I have talked with who have the same problem.  The wives always get "randomly" choosen, while the husbands don't.  If this is such a fair system and is totally random then why is it that the female half is the one chosen most of the time?

Today when we arrived at the clinic to take the test, there was another straight truck from our company there as well.  While waiting in the lobby the other lady turned to me and told me how great it was that her husband finally had to do one of these and not her.  She has been doing at least 2 a year for the past 3 1/2 years.  While other than the preemployment testing he did, this was his first random!  We all had a good laugh at the system and our circumstances.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fast and Furious 4

What a GREAT movie!!!  We finally got to see this movie.  We didn't want to go opening weekend because we knew the crowds would be huge.  Let me tell you it took a lot of control not to go last weekend.  But we went to see two of the previous ones on opening weekend and the theaters were a madhouse.  Since neither of us like crowds or lines, we prefer to wait and go when no one else will be there.  Like Sunday evening and on Easter Day to boot!  Worked like a charm, except for the fact that we were in Louisville, KY and our phones were on central time.  That is until we walked into the theater.  So we arrived a whole hour early.  At least we weren't late ;-)
So we went ahead and bought our tickets for the Director's Hall.  Let me tell you, they told us that the Director's Hall had big leather reclining seats and you could order drink and food while watching the movie.  We have been to these types of theaters in Kansas CIty before and they were worth the few extra dollars per ticket.  
Since we were early we spent a few dollars in the arcade to amuse ourselves.  I played the usual Mrs Pac-Man and Randy played the driving games.  It was a nice arcade with new machines, so we had a good time.   But finally we decided to go ahead and check into the theater.
Since we had plenty of time we decided to get our food and drinks before going to sit down.  It was a good thing too.  When we got to the theater a girl showed us to our seats.  What a disapointment.  They were leather, but they didn't recline.  The seats were regular theater seats upholstered in leather.  They were comfortable though.  So we sat there eating our snacks and watching comercials.  Yes, comercials.  I hate that you pay to get into a movie and then instead of the neat movie and tv trivia that used to be on before the previews to entertain us, we get comercials.  ANNOYING!  Anywho, the movie finally started.  AND, no waiters ever appeared to take any food or drink orders.  AND, there were no call buttons to call anyone.  Good thing we didn't rely on them, huh?
The movie was great though.  Lots of new nonstop action and it was great to see the original crew back together again.  Each of these movies has focused on a different area of street racing, which is why I have enjoyed them so much.  It hasn't been 4 movies all based on the same thing.  Yet they did manage to keep a single story thread going throughout all.  AND YES, we both are hoping they make a FIFTH...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Down Time - Sewing Projects

Yes I love to sew.  But obviously I don't get a lot of time to pursue this hobby any more.  I do however do a little each time I am home.  So I thought I would share a few recent and current projects.

This is a quilt I am making for my husband.  When he was in the Navy he bought t-shirts at every port his ship hit around the world.  You could say they were his souvenirs.  Only problem is that he was 2 sizes smaller when he bought them.  I know there are other wives out there with similar issues.  My husband was a skinny teenager, but has grown up to be a well muscled large man.  So the question was always what to do about these t-shirts.  I couldn't throw them away, since they represented a lot of memories for him.  Yet I didn't want to see him wearing them either.  For a while the solution was just to pack them in a vacuum bag.  Then I saw a sitcom on TV one night that was the perfect solution.  She took all of her husband's "favorite" shirts and had them made into a memory quilt.  What a great idea!  I have always wanted to make a quilt so this was a double winner in my book.  
I ran the idea past Randy and he wasn't to sure, but was willing to have me show him the idea.  So I dug out all of t-shirts and folded them to show the graphics I wanted to use.  Then I laid them out on the floor, along with some brown ultra-suede to use for the border.  Randy is a very literal guy and has to actually see stuff like this to be able to "imagine" how it will look.  He loved it and even wanted to help in the designing process.  So we have been working on this for a little over a year now a little bit each time we have been home.
So far we have chosen all the panels, cut them out and ironed on interfacing to give a little more body to the flimsy cotton t-shirt material.  Now I need to either buy an embroidery machine or have someone embroider the front border I want to do.  We decided we are going to put things like the name of his ship, years in the navy, ports of call and medals he received along the outside edge of the quilt.  It should look really neat when all done.  Now all we have to do is get it finished.

Yes, you are seeing yellow rubber duckies.  I get cold easily and so I love footy pajamas.  But they are hard to find in adult sizes.  So I went to the fabric store looking for some nice warm material.  Randy was with me, so when I decided on blanket fleece and was sorting thru the stacks looking for just the right design, he chose this.  He pulled the roll out and said with a big smile, you should get this one. At first I thought he was joking, but then after discussing it for a minute I agreed that they would be really cute.
I ripped apart one of my old pairs and used it as a pattern.  I took care to lay out the pattern so all the little duckies swim across the front and around in a right to left pattern.  I found nonskid on ebay for the feet and an extra long zipper at Wal-Mart. They couldn't have turned out better.  These are the warmest, most comfortable things I have every owned!
We even went back last fall and bought more fleece.  Enough for a another pair for me and even one for Randy.  Not rubber duckies this time though.  I got Randy a dark red fleece with black moose walking across it and mine is a brightly colored geometric jester like pattern.  
NO, I am not going to model them for you...

This is my 6 bone hoop skirt.  I have bought the material for the dress, but haven't started it yet.
  It is going to be a beautiful purple shear over a lavender, mauve color with a huge sweep of somewhere around 200+ inches.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Down Time - Fall Trail Riding

This is the highest point in the county and has a great view.  Very few in the area can get up here to enjoy it though as the trail up is really made for dirt bikes.  But a lot of horse power, 4 wheel drive and white knuckles will do it.

This was another adventure in the Bowl by Randy's buddy, Ed.  He was climbing this run he had climbed several times before that day, when his engine suddenly started over revving and smoking!  He had to shut it down just before he made it to the top of the run.
This picture kinda gives you a little perspective on how steep a climb this really is and in sand too.  LOTS OF FUN!

Finally the guys gave up and rolled it down the hill. 

The theory that flat ground might make a difference didn't hold up. So we hooked a strap to it and towed it  home. It turned out just to be the throttle cable.  From the heavy beating it was taking climbing that hill it had bounced up and back and gotten hooked onto something behind the carb.  This effectively shortened the cable enough so that the throttle was full on all the time.  That is till they found the problem and unhooked it!  Such a simple thing, but they just couldn't see it till they put a trouble light under the hood.

Down Time - Jeep Upgrades

Here we are installing new 7" fender flares to cover the wider tires.  Randy is cutting out the rear wheel wells to allow for more tire travel.  That is Cathy (Ed's girl) holding the trouble light so Randy can see what he is cutting OK. (I am taking the pictures and was using the buffer you can see in the picture to clean up some parts for painting for the soft-top hardware)

Amazingly enough the massive 7" flares just barely cover these tires on our widetrak axles.  But they do and keep a lot of mud off of us compared to the little 3" flares that we did have on this Jeep.

Now its time to add the winch mounting plate and winch.  Here we have removed the Hi-Lift Jack, but still need to take off the old plate.

Got the new mounting plate installed and are test fitting the winch.

Violla! Installed and wired in just about 2 hours.  Not bad considering we had to take it all apart once just as we thought we were done, because we had forgot to put the lock washers on the mounting plate bolts.  Oooops.  Well it could have been worse and this little baby has come in handy so many times since.  We have used it to pull trees out of the trail, get over piles of debris, up hills and pull many others out, up and over stuff too.  Neither of us can figure how we ever lived without it!