Week 3 – Lucky and Unlucky
Week three began with our early morning drop-off in Bakersfield. Quite glad to get rid of our “Highly Flammable” load.
Then we were faced with the dilemma every expediter faces on an almost weekly basis. To paraphrase Shakespeare: To move or not to move. In our business, “moving” or “deadheading” means running empty without a load to either head home, or to move to a location where you would be more likely to get a load. While getting the 2000+ mile loads to the west coast might seem like a great deal on the surface, unfortunately, there’s not a lot of expedited freight coming back east. So you are always running the risk that you may have to come back empty to get back into business.
And that’s what we had decided to do to get out of Bakersfield. We were going to move back to the midwest and try to get something from there. And that’s when the US Military Industrial Complex stepped into our lives. We were heading south out of Bakersfield to go back to I-40 thus again avoiding bad weather in Colorado etc, and had gotten all of about 30 miles when the phone rang. Dispatch verified we were a team and that we were both born in the U.S…which I thought was a little strange…then offered us a load from Edwards, CA to Oklahoma City. We bid the load and got a confirmation call a few minutes later to pick up the next day. Little did we know the pickup was actually at Edwards Air Force base. More on that in a moment.
So we decided to get a cheap room at a Red Roof Inn in Mojave, CA which is about 10 miles or so from Edwards. We pull in late evening and notice as we are walking thru the lot that there was a man standing at a barbecue grill in the parking lot, just a cookin away. He yells to us to come and get some bbq. We proceeded to the office to check in and quizzed the host as to who the guy out in the lot was. All he said was “Oh, that’s Manny. He’s the owner here.”
Manny again offered food as we crossed the lot to our room and got our suitcases. We walked into our room and noticed it had been newly remodeled and was actually a really nice room…worth much more than the $55 we had paid for it. We were impressed. So we went back outside and had a chat with Manny. Turns out he had just bought the place about 6 months earlier and had shut it down for 3 months to do a total renovation. Now that he had the renovation done, he was doing his best to provide for his customers. He said he loved to cook so he would set up his grill in the parking lot and grill chicken and ribs for the guests. The man makes some mean bbq and even gave Michelle and I a beer to wash it down with. Manny was doing it right. If you ever find yourself in the area, stop in and see him.
So the next morning, we roll out early and find out that our pick up is actually at Edwards Air Force Base. And of course, the heavily armed guards at the gate have no idea we were coming.
Turns out, you have to be American-born to get loads out of places like military bases, power plants and nuclear power plants. It took us about and hour and several frantic phone calls and id checks to get that mess straightened out, but we eventually made it onto the base, found Pratt and Whitney and picked up our load of “airplane parts”. The crates were sealed so we’ll never know just which “parts” they were. 🙂
We hit the (literally) dusty trail and we were off to Oklahoma City. We drove all day and all night and were able to deliver about 16 hours early on late Wednesday afternoon. Then our luck went into the toilet.
We set up camp at one of OKC’s finer truck stops and found out that there is virtually no freight moving out of there either. We had decided to camp there for a while to see if a load would show up. But it never did. By Friday we were looking for something to do and found the OKC Festival of the Arts and their “Moink Balls”.
Realizing we were probably stuck in the area for the weekend, we opted for a change of scenery for Saturday night and took up residence at Lake Thunderbird state park. We were able to have a nice little cookout, but couldn’t set up the tent as there were ants EVERYWHERE!
We finished off the week with a quick visit to Norman, Oklahoma and stopped to take a peek a the Oklahoma University campus and took a walk around their football stadium. Capped it off with an off-campus Italian eatery named Victoria’s. Great food, reasonable prices, highly recommend.