Monday, November 10, 2014

The Travelling Lifestyle

Well, I've been absent from here for too long.  I know that no one has missed me though, because as far as I know, no one pays any attention to this silly little blog.  I guess I do it for my own pleasure. Does that sound narcissistic?  Who knows maybe I should just stop it all together.  I honestly don't know why I do it - I started it as a way to keep my family informed on where I was and what I'm doing, but it hardly seems necessary with the everyday communication of cell phones.  I remember when I thought people were silly for keeping blogs, but once I started doing it I kind of enjoyed it.  I'm getting way off track here with my personal musings on why I do this little exercise in writing.  I intended on talking a little about the travelling lifestyle, it's ups and downs, and show you one of the interesting places I recently came upon.

I'm sitting here in Franklin Tennessee, the area where many of my dear wife's relatives are from, taking a forced 34 hour break.  I would really rather be working, I'm not overly tired, but according to the crazy regulations that some of our brilliant thinkers in Washington D.C. have come up with to supposedly keep our nations highways safe from overly weary truck drivers, I'm forced to lose income while resting unnecessarily.  Not only did those brilliant minds in Washington think that 34 hours would be just the right amount of rest one needs to get back behind the wheel, but somehow they also thought it would be really wise to make sure that break included two time periods between 1am and 5am.  So, if I happened to have already run my clock out by working for 70 hours at 3pm,  then if you do the math you will find that I have to take a 38 hour break to be able to include those two "magical" time periods.  I don't know where these kind of people could ever possibly be successful in the working world other than in D.C.  They sure wouldn't get anywhere in a real job where you need to be productive with measurable results of your efforts.  The head of the transportation bureaucracy (an Obama appointee) refuses to reconsider their rulings despite the continuing problems their decisions have resulted in for the drivers and the truck driving industry as a whole.  Oh, boy I'm getting off track again with a political rant, but I'm telling you these people have got to go!  Our nation can not survive any more of their arrogant presumptions that they are wiser and smarter than the people who put them there.  We may only have the power of the ballot box, but ultimately it will bring us back to the path our founding fathers put us on.

I'm sitting here at the T/A truck stop in Franklin with a nice set of lime green tarps on my load of aluminum extrusions that I picked up in Yankton, South Dakota.  I will be delivering this to a trailer manufacturing plant in Enterprise, Alabama.

So, how do you like those tarps?  I picked them up at the Yankton SAPA plant.  I didn't really want them, but they insisted that they go with the trailer.  I already had some tarps, but these are better, and a little bolder too!  I guess I'll keep them.

Okay, let's see if I can get back to my topic that I titled this rambling post about.  I was recently in Cressona Pennsylvania to pick up a load of aluminum from the SAPA plant there.  SAPA is one of the world's largest suppliers of aluminum extrusions and has factories and plants all across the nation.  I always find it interesting where some of the great industries in our nation are located.  Often times they are found in small towns - I think this is by design.  So many times you will find great factories or industrial operations in these types of towns because there is a good honest hard working labor force there.

Cressona is on old town and has a distinct New England feel to it.  The residential architecture is unique and has a style that is foreign to my surroundings in East Texas.  The homes have a small footprint, yet may have three or four stories to them.  Some of the homes in this town are old store fronts along a long forgotten commercial district that has since dwindled up and faded away.  This photograph is not the greatest at conveying what I'm speaking of but as you can see these residences are all connected to each other along this street, and some of them still have old signs embedded in the masonry work indicating a long forgotten enterprise that was conducted along this street.  There are so many people packed together in some of these communities in the North East that they turn any and all available buildings into residences.

I took a few photos of some of the individual houses that I saw, simply because I like to share with you the things I see.  I often wish my wife were here with me to enjoy the sites I see, but she has other responsibilities right now.  Maybe one day we can do some of this together - it would be my greatest pleasure to have her along with me, even if just for a brief time.  I'm not sure she would enjoy the whole travelling lifestyle, but I think she might enjoy a week or two of it at a time.  Here's a glimpse at some of the residences I found interesting during a brief walk I took while waiting at the factory.

In the heart of this quaint little town lies this huge factory, which I am sure is the major employer in the area.  I've been here before, but it always surprises me as I pass through these old homes and neighborhoods, then suddenly I come upon the entrance to the plant, my destination and reason for being here in the first place.

The following photos really don't capture the size of this place adequately, but I tried to take a panoramic view using three different shots to show you the size of this place.  In the third photo my truck is sitting in the picture along with some others there and maybe that will help give you a reference as to the size of the factory buildings here at this facility.

The fall foliage has already gotten quite impressive up here in this part of the nation.  Here's a few shots of a stream that meanders along beside the plant and through the town, and a few shots of the fall foliage I saw on this trip.

I started off on this little journey pulling one of those nice "Conestoga Wagons", a flat-bed trailer with a vinyl canvas covering that can easily be rolled back while it folds itself up like an accordion bellows.  This company I'm working for has several of them so it's less physical work for me when pulling one of them.  I don't really mind the tarping so much, but it is nice when you don't have to do it.  These Conestogas will really be nice in the bitter winter time.  Here's what they look like.

One more thing about these North East towns that you really have to watch out for when driving an eighteen wheeler, is the dangers of getting yourself in trouble due to your size.  These towns are so old that they were built long before anyone thought much about having vehicles this large.  Therefore most of them don't have roadways, loading docks or bridges that were designed to accommodate such a monstrous vehicle.  Case in point is the main road entering Cressona passes under this treacherously low bridge to get you to the plant.  This bridge is about 150 yards from the entrance to the plant and many unwary truck drivers have taken the top of their trucks off because they didn't pay attention and find the way to route themselves around this low bridge.  The bridge itself is scarred by the many times it has been hit by big trucks.

Well, I hope you've enjoyed visiting Cressona Pennsylvania with me!  One place that I failed to take a picture of was the quaint little restaurant where I had a delicious club sandwich with chips, a side of pickles, and a drink for 4.95 - what a bargain.  It was in a small corner section on the lower floor of a larger building which was turned into apartments, and it was called "Jeans Place".  When I went inside there were only maybe six tables, and one lady (Jean) who did it all.  She took my order, went to her little cooking area behind the counter, prepared it, served it, and took my money with a smile when I was finished.  It was like stepping back in time, in fact the whole town is like that.  If it weren't for the big factory there I never would have gotten to experience this little place.  But somehow the nostalgic feel of a time gone by is still alive in this little town of Cressona.