A Trucker’s Trip Of Bad Weather
Some days you just know it is going to be a bad day. Today was one of them. Its the end of the year and of course there is all sorts of weather coming. The first thing we get to do is drop this trailer and pickup and empty so we can go get another load.
We finally found one had to look all over the customer’s yard and as usual the empty trailer is parked in a space where it there is lots of water and very deep in mud. Thomas is not a happy person. If you are wondering how I know the trailer is empty it is because the doors are left open after it is unloaded. I can’t find the shuttle people to move this trailer for him so he is going to have to do it himself. I found some lumber and he used it to “walk on water”. From the landing gear/crank handle to the rear of the trailer was all that was under water. The trailer ahead of the landing gear was out of water, the part that rests on your tractor’s 5th wheel. So why could this trailer not be dropped about 3 feet forward and put on dry ground? Who know!!!! So we get all hooked up and leave at 8:00 a.m
It is 2 hrs. To Jacksonville, FL to get our load to bring it back to Gadsden, AL. So now this load we are picking up is a lot lighter, so this means we have a lighter truck and it will be more of a challenge to Thomas driving skills with the wind and weather coming in. We drive in rain and drizzle to the truck stop. From that point on, ice was accumulating and sticking to the signs and other objects, but it was not sticking to the pavement or on the backs of our mirrors. There is still spray from the tires and that is what he is watching for.
Not far from this point are all back roads and it gets really icy. No more spray from the tires. We are now doing 35 mph. Just past Columbus,GA and pulled over. He uses the phone and called one of the drivers who was ahead of me (there are 2 of us on thisassignment) This driver is not too far ahead of me and the report is not good. They are going about 25 mph and having problems. I’m warned to be extra careful, especially in with this truck being so light. A couple of policemen pulled in to the truck stop along with us and some more truckers asked about the conditions up to Gadsden, AL. They confirmed the bad weather report, and no one needs to be out in it. So at this time we decided to stop for the night. Hoping that tomorrow will be better. The whole key to being safe is to drive according to conditions and get off the road when it is just so bad with blowing snow and blizzard-like conditions you normally see in the northern states. We drive from normal wet pavement conditions, to tire track paths, to ice covered roads and a mixture of the three for the rest of the trip. When we finally make it to Gadsden, AL, we stop at the top of the ramp and creep down and around it and thank God we did no sliding. Again the whole key is SPEED, or lack thereof, to stay safe. It is really snowing now and the roads are packed with this mess. Defrosters are on high to keep the windshield clear. Wipers are doing a great job and are not covered with ice/sleet/snow where Thomas would have to stop and clear them off, but I know that is also coming.
About the only vehicles on the road now are us truckers. We went about 2 miles from the ramp and find a 18-wheeler off in the ditch and on its left side, trailer ripped open and its contents scattered. We pulled into the shipper at 9:15 — a 4 1/2 hour drive for this trip and not the normal 2 hour run. We sign in, back into the dock and get this load off rather quickly as this plant is shutting down at 1p.m. due to the weather that is still coming in later in the day. We pull out of the dock, shut the doors and went in for paperwork, and we left’ at noon. Now it’s foggy with sleet and snow. We had to stop 3 times to clean the wipers. This is also very dangerous to clean them when your truck is covered in ice. We are able to drive 35.
The curves and ramps and hills are the “fun” part. We could feel that trailer start to slide. Not much weight in the trailer when you are empty. We ran into a pocket of snow and there was a large stretch ofroad where you saw zero pavement. Was just a guessing game to stay on the road. That’s when you look for signs on the edge of the road and ditch to get your bearings. When we got near the Florida again, Thomas could go almost 50 mph. With all the ice on the truck, some of the pieces would break off and hit the windshield and the wipers, which would then break the ice on the wipers. The trip home was much faster as we got closer to Interstate 75. Thomas had to test his skills for that run with rain, sleet, fog, ice and snow and even sunshine when I got closer to home. Been a long time since we had that much weather in one trip. My nerves are shot not sure about Thomas. Glad to be home.