Turn and Burn

Fuel is in the news and chomping on our pocketbooks. Freight rates from common carriers have become just too high. In addition, the extra strain on the trucking network makes even getting a hauler difficult and thus forced my hand. I am the truck driver this week.

Winter in Bend Oregon has been very mild with several days reaching the high 60s and low 70s. However, schedule a road trip with a trailer over the mountains and I can guarantee snow. On Sunday, the forecast was for 8 to 10 inches of snow up there but snow level was right at road level so there was a chance of smooth sailing. I kept my eye on Oregon’s road cam site tripcheck.com and was able to shove off by 2 o’clock on Sunday. Bare pavement prevailed. I drove over Santiam pass through the still very visible remains of the massive fire from two years ago.

All of the recent precipitation had the Santiam River and creeks gushing strong but snow pack was low for this time of the year and I fear more fires are coming.  As I dropped down toward Detroit lakes and surrounding communities, entire mountainsides were strewn with fallen trees and chard landscapes. On the bright side, much cleanup work has been accomplished and already several new homes are standing where tragedy once occurred. Another reminder of the resiliency of us humans.  I thought about the tragedy in Kiev and what the process of rebuilding that will look like assuming and hoping that this atrocity ends soon. Thinking of the messed up mind of Putin who has more than he could ever use and a nation under his thumb still needing more.

Once down on interstate 5 in Salem the roads were dry and I was making good progress until about 20 miles later I ran into an hour and a half stopped traffic on I5. I learned later that evening that  a semi truck carrying cattle had flipped over while crossing the Willamette river and spilled cattle onto the freeway. I slowly move through that traffic and drive on to Portland in the evening hours of Sunday and made it halfway to Tacoma before I slept behind a fuel station. Small little truck and trailer amongst to sea of truckers.

My new truck has greatly improved the experience on the road. No small price tag of course but I am enjoying crystal clear calls in the cab and a much smoother ride on the roads. I don't think I realized how much work on the body and stress on the mind an older truck had upon me. Counting my blessings with the new Chevy.

I woke the following morning and the rain continued. I made it to the port of Tacoma at 7 AM right when the facility opened up. For the entire 3 miles off the interstate containers were stacked six high. I sent a video to my eight-year-old who is a Lego fanatic and he quickly commented how it looked like two by eights stacked up. It’s always interesting to me to be part of the inner receiving zone of our country. It’s not a pretty sight. There is just no way to make moving that many goods across the globe look clean.  I put 20 SUPs into my trailer and turned back south by 7:45 AM. It is a good feeling to be loaded up only bested by unloading everything and returning home.

I drove through Portland right around 9:30 AM and took these photos of the interstate. Such a complicated and national challenge. No matter which side of the camp you find yourself on, there’s no way to see that this situation here is humane. I believe we are going to have to nationalize shelters and have a vision for this in my head that it will be like fighting a major war to dedicate the amount of infrastructure and services that are required. It is clear to me that the opiate pandemic caused so much of this and my understanding is that much of the latest supply is coming from abroad. It seems to me to be an active war against the people of our country. Enemies of our people getting paid to poison us. 

I made deliveries to Next Adventure and caught up with the crew. Most of the retail stores I visit this spring are fully stocked so we are now finally coming out of the stores having supply side constraints. However, my conversations with vendors is nothing like that. They were able to work diligently all winter to help the stores stock up. Reduced winter demand helped this some. However, that manufactures are seeing price increases and very volatile supply chains and I suspect that once this first batch of inventory sells, there will be shortages again. Nobody really knows what April May June will look like. Will demand resemble the last couple years or will we settle back into a perhaps slightly increased demand pandemic levels? Conversations around these questions pretty much fill each one of my visits. Was nice to see some sought after Eddylines, Aquabound/Branches paddles and PFDs finally back at Next Adventure.

I finish that delivery at around 11 AM and then drove through the entire state of Oregon over I5's highest point of Siskiyou pass. Then down into Redding California to meet with Headwaters Adventure Company around dinner time. We unloaded boards for them and talked shop a bit. I visited some potential new rental sites that they are considering. It’s always surprising to me when I visit Redding that the riverfront has not been developed like so many other communities. A nonprofit has had a long term lease on most of the properties and so there’s not really an investment motivator for them. That seems to be changing some and one look at the river shows me that there is just so much potential for integrating the lifeblood of California into this growing city.

Mt Shasta from I5

We had some killer tacos for dinner and I drove on that evening until 11 PM. Finding a safe campsite on the interstate is becoming more and more difficult. I used to just to pull behind any truckstop but now there’s just so much activity that my Spidey senses were going crazy with some of the nefarious activites going on outside of most stops. I’m seeing more and more squalor, pain and illness. I used to be very comfortable just sleeping in my truck but last night I did not. I don’t have a camper on anymore so I feel bit more exposed with sleeping in the back of my truck. Something I'm going to have to remedy.

Deliveries in Sacramento went smooth and I turned and burned at noon. Home at 9pm. Not bad for 48 hours of work!


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