Saturday, August 30, 2008


Well, if the trucking business has been slow this summer, motorcycling sure hasn't. Here it is, Labor Day weekend already! Where did the summer go?? Seems like only a day or two ago, I was helping kick off the season at KH-D's 40th Birthday Bash and partying half the night away at Coyote Joe's Big Twin Blowout rally back in June. Now the muggy, humid days of early fall are upon us -- the in-between season that my granny used to call "dog days."

Still a lot of riding to be done in the next couple of months, to be sure, but late October gets weird down here. One day it's sunny and up near 90 and a day later, you're shivering, wondering if it will snow before nightfall. Coyote Joe's will end it with another blowout the weekend of Sept. 25th and that will about do it on the local scene. They'll be open all winter, of course, but many bikers, including myself, will cruise over there on 4 wheels, instead of two, when the cold weather sets in. There are almost always some mild days, even in January, when we'll dare to venture out, but not that many and only the hard-core types will get out and around when it drops much below 40 degrees.

Winter will, perhaps, give me a chance to scope out the location of Joe's sister bar, the Chrome Pony Lounge. It's on Alcoa Highway, a dangerous, curve-laden thoroughfare known locally as "I'll Kill Ya Highway," due to the number of wrecks that occur on it each year. Four "suicide lanes," with no median until you get all the way out of the K-Town metro area, and the local Powers That Be have never bothered to build a Jersey barrier in the middle of it. It AIN'T the kinda road you want to go looking for something on, while on two wheels, trust me on that. While you're distracted, looking, it gives somebody in a cage an excuse to nail your ass. I'll scope it out in my 4-wheeler, see just where the place is, then I'll know where I'm going if I ride out there later on. That is a relatively unfamiliar area of town to me, as I've never lived out there, nor run around in that area very much.

I'm thinking now that maybe there's something to this notion many bikers have that "loud pipes save lives." I used to poo-poo that idea, alternatively thinking that "loud pipes draw cops," or "loud pipes  anger the neighbors." Well, they'll surely do both of those latter two things, if one isn't cautious about how frisky he/she gets with the right twist-grip. But, I've seen the light now -- seen, in fact how they can save lives. They just *might* have saved my own last weekend.

I recently got a set of performance pipes I had been saving up for, put them on, then paid the Harley shop to recalibrate the bike's ECU, to compensate for the changes. Now Miss Velvet sounds like a REAL Harley; the way God intended for a Harley to sound! Loud?? Well, they vibrate the whole house when I fire it up in my garage! Sounds like I just pulled off a dragstrip when I'm sitting at a light. WAY cool, let me tell you!! If you're a Harley freak, like me, you love that unique sound, can't get enough of it, and want to hear the thunder when you open it up on the highway. That's part of the Harley mystique and if you have to ask why, then you'll never understand. That's just the way it is:  Birds fly, fish swim, and Harleys roar down the road with authority. Not only that, but the pipes, in conjunction with the low-restriction air cleaner I put on awhile back, allow Miss Velvet to realize the full power of her factory-stock engine -- a gain of about 7-8 horsepower and, more importantly, about 10 lb./ft. of torque. Torque is what puts the power of an engine to the pavement and the more of it you have, the better!

Loud pipes will also teach you handy little things like superior throttle control, especially when you want to take that traditional Sunday morning ride and your neighbors may not be awake yet. You fire it up, and roll on just enough throttle to ease it down the driveway, then let it idle down the alley. Once in the street, you accelerate slowly through the neighborhood until you hit the main road, keeping the rpm's to a minimum. That's how you stay a good neighbor and avoid getting the cops called on you! That's a good practice to use anywhere in town, actually, unless you enjoy paying fines for noise ordinance violations. Want to open her up? Hit the interstate, or a major highway. That's the place to do that.

I learned about "loud pipes save lives" when I was riding over to see my mom. I was motoring down a street when a senior citizen in a cage started to pull smack out in front of me. I laid on the brakes, hit my horn and got a puny "myeeeeep!" for that effort. So much for that. I pulled the clutch lever in and opened the throttle wide. He heard that and slammed on his own brakes, finally stopping halfway out in the street. I downshifted and wobbled a little, balancing Velvet until an oncoming car got by, then swerved smoothly around the  geezer and went on my way.

The theory goes like this:  If they don't see you coming, then by God, make them HEAR you coming!! On a motorcycle, you have to use everything you have to get the attention of the cagers, 75% of whom are only looking out for cars, and not bikes. Eye contact don't work all the time. I've looked straight at them and still had them pull out, like I wasn't even there at all. You wear bright-colored clothes as much as you can, keep your headlight on high beam during the day, don't be shy about using the horn, and use those pipes if you have to, also. Works for me.

Finally, I've been wondering why Hollywood can't produce a film which shows the biker community like it really is. Most all of the flicks and TV shows portray bikers as the villians, which few of us are at all. The only things I've seen which relect us in a positive light were the old late-60's movie and TV series, Then Came Bronson, which was about the adventures of a biker loner, traveling the highways in search of himself. Easy Rider was another one that, apart from the drug sequences, showed how misunderstood we so often are by society. It had an unforgettable, tragic ending -- the senseless deaths of the two main characters, blown away by two liquored-up rednecks in a pickup truck. As I wrote about in an earlier entry, the 50's flim, The Wild One had the potential to tell the truth, but the film's producer wasn't allowed to, by the film board of that day. He was forced to portray the bikers as villians, even though he knew the true story of the Hollister incident.

All the others I've seen are biker gang movies, showing the gangs terrorizing entire towns and young teen girls. They glamorize the hoodlum image of the so-called 1%ers among us; the biker outlaws. Yeah, they're still around, but they're not out to kill, rape and pillage, as Hollywood leads you to believe. Few, if any, wantthat sort of trouble, or actively seek it out. Most of them, in fact are just social groups for the most part. Yeah, they do some drugs, and they party harder than most others, but the worst they amount to is nuisance level stuff at best.

Hollywood never shows the many good things that bikers do, year around. Things that helpother people. Things like the charity rides and poker runs which are most often organized to help children who need a lifesaving operation and whose parents can't afford it. Things like the local ride that took place a week or so ago, which benefitted a Knoxville police officer who was shot in the line of duty. Or how about the annual Christmas rides for the U.S. Marine Corps' Toys For Tots campaign? I may participate this year, if I'm lucky enough to be here at the right time. Hollywood is silent on biker groups like Rolling Thunder, which is one of the most active groups in the country when it comes to the rights and benefits of our military veterans. And they never show organizations like the Patriot Guard Riders, which I belong to, and which provides security for the families of our fallen heroes, so that protestors can't disrupt the funeral ceremonies. No Hollywood fame ever comes our way, nor is it ever likely to.

If the only image one has of bikers is through Hollywood, then they'll keep getting the wrong impression of us. You see, the truth about the biker community isn't nearly dramatic enough for the Hollywood types. It's also a sort of secret lifestyle, one that you have to LIVE in order to understand. Standing on the outside and looking in won't cut it at all. How would you portray a biker character accurately unless you were a biker filmmaker yourself? You couldn't do it at all. That's why Hollywood will never be able to make a true-to-life film about bikers.

Want to get a real taste of what bikers are all about? Then step out to a biker club some evening. Party with us and talk to us. We won't bite you -- honest!! Attend some of the rallies that are held all over the country all summer. You don't have to ride; you can volunteer to drive your car as a support vehicle on organized rides. We need those, too. You'll see some different-looking people, to be sure, but you'll find out that they're not bad people at all. In addition, you'll likely have a lot of fun for a few hours. Andwhat's wrong with that??

Saturday, August 23, 2008


With no doubt in my mind at all, this is the slowest trucking summer I've ever experienced in all my ten years on the road. Even though fuel prices, including diesel ("truck food"), have eased a bit, the stuff's still hangin' up there in the stratosphere somewhere. The politicians in our wonderful, helpful Congress, who can do something about it, aren't. Instead, they take off on a summer vacation and ignore us regular folks who are suffering through this mess. I hope everyone takes notice of that arrogance and remembers it, come November 4th. I sure will.

Fuel prices have slowed the economy in a decisive manner, added to the usual election year slump that almost always occurs. My occupation, trucking, is tied to the economy hand and foot, like Siamese twins, so truckers are feeling the pinch, bigtime. Owner/operators, who comprise roughly half my industry, have been hit the hardest, but don't think it hasn't affected company drivers as well. Companies are cranking down truck speed limiters as fast as you can whistle "Dixie" these days. My company, once one of the slowest outfits on the highway, hasn't done so (yet), but now we have quite a bit of company at 65 mph and lower speeds.

Get too many speeding tickets and you'll be finding out where the "door" is located very quickly. Because of that and the cost of fuel, more and more drivers are sticking to the speed limit, forming long "elephant parades" in states that have split speed limits, in lower-speed urban areas, and even in the inactive construction zones that we used to all ignore and fly through like there was no '45' sign there at all. I, too, have slowed somewhat, sticking to 60 a lot now, unless the limit is higher and I have to run hard with a load. Pumping $500 of fuel in your truck and not even quite getting your tanks full will raise anyone's eyebrows.

High fuel costs are highly inflationary, in that they directly affect the price of everything else that you buy. "If you bought it, a truck delivered it." I know that's an ancient slogan, but it's still very true. Trucking companies and O/Os have to put a surcharge on the freight bill, to offset the added costs of hauling the products, middlemen raise their prices in response, followed by the retailers, and that's where the higher price hits your wallet or purse. Normally, it's a more-or-less "trickle down" effect, but when prices are as unstable as they've been this year, it becomes a body slam.

Until a month or so ago, fuel prices were as volatile as the product that goes into your car's tank. But people ran the numbers, finally, and discovered that three, divided into two, just will not go. They stopped much of their excess driving and began to rethink that 2,000 mile vacation trip. Many parked their RVs. The demand dropped, and so did the price, somewhat. Yep, the open market still works in America. Want to bring prices down? Then either lower the demand, or increase the supply. Works every time. But increasing the supply is impossible, as it's being held artifically low by a members of the Organization of Price-Extorting Criminals, better known as OPEC, a bunch of filthy rich oil producers who don't like us very much. They won't produce any more and Congress won't get off their asses and open up the land to oil drillling and exploration where we know there is a huge supply. Right here at home. So, we have a stalemate, at least until after the November election is decided.

Sales are slumping, due to high prices and strain on the public's pocketbooks, so production is down and so is ordering. That means loads for trucks are also down. I've spent almost as much time sitting, waiting to be dispatched this summer as I typically do in the winter months, when the bottom traditionally drops out for a few months. I'm paid by the mile, which means, simply, that if my truck's wheels aren't rolling, I'm not making one penny. Oh, I can draw layover sometimes, but only if I'm stuck somewhere without a load for 24 straight hours. And that's not nearly what I'd make if I were rolling. So, my paychecks are smaller on average this summer; not helpful when you're in debt. I can't complain too loudly, though, because I'm certainly not the only trucker facing this dismal state of affairs. We all are, to some extent or the other. It sucks, but you have to put on your game face and keep on keepin' on. That's all anyone can do. Roll with the punches and ride it out. Weather the storm. [Let's see -- can I come up with another cliche?? Nope. That's it.]

When I look toward the future, am I afraid?? Not at all. I don't do fear anymore. Screw that. Life's too short, to live in a state of fear and dread all the time. I decided that after 9/11, but the seeds of it were in me, lying dormant, before that terrible day. That was just the catalyst that brought it out in me. Que sera, sera -- whatever will be, will be. But I think things will get better in the future. That's my optimism, and history is on my side, because they always have, sooner or later.

History may not exactly repeat itself, but it sure does echo. We Americans have been down many times before, but we've always come back from it, in time. We went through much more severe economic times in the 1930's, during the Great Depression, but we survived and went on to prosper again. When the Japanese bombed half our navy into non-existence, at Pearl Harbor, we were caught with our panties down, completely unprepared for  war. But we got up, brushed off the dust, and went to work. We won that war and prosperity returned when it ended. The doldrums and "stagflation" of the 70's gave way to the economic boom of the 80's. We Americans are tough and resilient. Nothing can keep us down for long. We fought our way back before and we'll do it again.

I am an American. Damned proud to be one. And that's what I'll always believe.


Monday, August 18, 2008


I was sitting in my favorite biker watering hole Saturday, sipping on a beer, listening to the rock music on the juke, chatting with some friends, and watching the usual parade of bikes coming and going. Presently a couple rode in on a Harley bagger (that's one of the big touring bikes, with the fairings and hard saddlebags, for you non-biker readers) who both looked as road-weary as a trucker who got stuck out for six weeks or so. They knew some of the same people I was talking to and sat at the table next to mine.

They were returning from a trip out to the rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, which I talked about in my entry last week and they had tried to set a personal record on the return trip home. They had attempted to try for the elusive Iron Butt Award which some biker club hands out every year. This is an endurance contest which is legendary in biker circles. They had attempted to run approximately 1,800 miles, from Sturgis to Knoxville in two days, or 48 hours, or less. My eyes went wide at the thought of that feat and I was chuckling. Folks, that is territory where even long-haul truckers like myself rarely, if ever, venture. And on a motorcycle, to boot!! Ambitious? Absolutely. Crazy?? Positively. Still, some hardy souls will attempt such things. The lady of the couple held up the pin they'd won for their efforts.

I couldn't keep quiet. "Was it worth it?" I asked them both. They both grinned wearily and she rolled her eyes back in her head. He laughed. "Well, I wouldn't ever do it again, I'll tell you that," he said. "I heard that," I agreed. "How many times did you come close to crashing?" "Too many," he admitted. "We had some good scares a few times," she added. "Well, I'm glad you made it back in one piece," I told them. I looked up toward the sky. "Somebody up there was lookng out for you."

I can visualize the fatigue they must have gone through, and what that can do to you I know all too well, from ten years of over-the-road experience. There have been times in my truck, especially in the wee morning hours, when I began nodding out at the wheel, fighting tooth and nail to stay awake and alert, in order to avoid killing myself and/or somebody else who shared the road with me. On a motorcycle you have to be even more alert at all times, only  in that case, it's to keep somebody in a truck or car from killing you!  I make my living driving and dealing with fatigue is part of the job at times; there is at least some justification for it, even though I know that one should never drive in a fatigued condition. It's just unavoidable in some circumstances; the nature of the beast. In the case of that couple, the whole thing was voluntary; they didn't have to do such a thing at all. I try to never judge others, but that's sure not something that I would ever attempt, under any circumstances. I want to enjoy myself riding my bike and they sure didn't look like they'd had much fun at all on that trip. To me, that defeats the purpose of the whole thing.

A short time later, Ol' Charley (as I'll call him) rode up and came in to have a beer. He sat down at my table. Charley owns two Honda Goldwing touring machines, both painted in the same shade of green. They're both older bikes, dating back to the early 80's. Charley is a regular at Coyote Joe's and Saturday he came in on the newer of his bikes, one that had been parked for six months and that he felt needed to be ridden again.

"Lost my fender today," he told me, pointing to his bike, which indeed was missing its front fender. I could see the end of it, sticking up out of the right-hand saddlebag. I laughed. "Now that's sure not your usual biking experience," I told him. "Just how the hell did that happen?" He went on to tell me that he had trashed the original fender awhile back and had taken the one off his older bike and stuck it on the newer one. "I just started the bolts in it. Never tightened them all the way up, then I didn't ride it for six months and. . ." "And you forgot all about it," I finished. "Yep," he confirmed. "Sure did."

He told me that he'd gotten as far as the entrance ramp to I-640 before the bolts had worked loose and the fender had come flying off, right in the middle of the ramp. "It landed right on the white line at the outside of the ramp," he added. "Oh, no!!" I groaned. Several listeners around the table laughed. "Cars and 18-wheelers were swerving around it and me, trying to avoid running over it, but one truck did hit it. Squashed one end of it. I waited for what seemed like ten minutes before there was a break in traffic,then  I ran out there, to grab it real quick, but I fell, right in the middle of the ramp!"

I laughed until my stomach hurt, getting a mental picture of what that scene must have looked like. "They were blowing their horns at me and I could just reach out and grab the fender, so I did. Then I rolled -- two or three barrel rolls on my belly, back across the ramp to the shoulder where I'd parked. They were cheering me from the cars, yelling, 'Way to go!' and the like. I got up and stuck the fender in my saddlebag."

We went out to his bike and looked at the fender he pulled out of his saddlebag. The back end of it was flattened. Useless and too light to use as a boat anchor. "'82 model," he said. "I'll never find another one for it now." Several guys suggested he try looking around at swap meets in the area. "You never know," I told him. "Look in some of the biker magazines. They have dealers who specialize in vintage parts for older bikes. Somebody might come up with one." I told him some of the mags I had seen those ads in and he said he'd look for them and check it out. I told him I'd poke around online and let him know if I came up with anything.

I thought I was embarrassed when I dumped Velvet on the parking lot of the Harley shop while I was on vacation a couple of weeks ago, but Charley's experience tops my own by a mile. I'm gonna collect these incidents and compile a book someday. Something with a title like, 1001 Ways To Embarrass Yourself On A Motorcycle. Wonder if that would make the best-seller list??


Saturday, August 9, 2008


You MUST CLICK for the song to play.


This has most certainly already proven to be a quite historic presidential election cycle this year. We've seen the first serious female contender for the Democratic nomination, in Senator Hillary Clinton, the first partly African-American nominee-apparent, in Senator Barack Obama, and in Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee-to-be, we have the oldest candidate ever to seek the White House, at age 72.

And speaking of the Arizona senator, he made history of another kind this past week, at least as far as the biker community is concerned. Of all the places a candidate has ever spoken, McCain is the first one of all to show up and give a speech during the annual biker rally in Sturgis, South Dakota.

Well, why shouldn't he? The timing was perfect for a war hero, ex-POW patriot, and lover of America like McCain. It's custom-made for someone like him and he must have known that he'd find an enthusiastic audience there. Bikers, after all, are all about freedom. We love the freedom of the open road and the freedom to congregate in large numbers and party it up for 4-5 days. And we vote. McCain can speak the language that bikers like to hear and although I missed hearing his speech, he evidently wowed everyone there at the event, because it was reported that he had to pause so many times for the wild applause from the crowd that it took him twice as long to deliver it as he'd originally planned. All-in-all, it was a huge success, in a most unusual setting for a political campaign stopover.

Sturgis, of course, is not your typical biker rally, to be sure. Set amidst the natural beauty and grandeur of the Black Hills, less than an hour's ride away from Mount Rushmore, the rally is the oldest one in America and maybe the world, beginning in the 1930's, smack in the middle of the Great Depression. Few could afford to attend, in those lean economic years, but what few did had a good time and got the pressures and worries of that era off their minds for a few days. From there,  over the years until today, Sturgis has grown into The Event for the motorcycling community, and now is the largest such event in the world, setting new attendance records almost every year. And it seems like somebody on a bike is headed there all year long, even when no rally is going on. Sturgis and the surrounding communities have become Motorcycle City, U.S.A., and it's the destination most bikers dream of getting to someday. Will this writer ever ride out there? I don't know, but I'd sure love to go someday, God willling. Talk about some fantastic entries!!!!

Would one of the Democratic contenders have wowed that crowd as well as McCain?? Very doubtful, at least this year, when that party's leadership in Congress is holding America's natural oil resources hostage. Doing so even in the face of a very angry public, the vast majority of whom want those resources opened up to domestic oil production, in order to bring and keep the price down to a reasonable level and end our dependence on imported oil for good. All because of their political indebtitude to several groups of environmental extremists. You reap what you sow, says the Bible, and we'll just have to see what effect that party's stubborness has at the polls on Nov. 4th.

Bikers are fed up, too, like everyone else. Sure, our tanks hold less than a car's tank, and we go considerably further on a gallon of gas (if you use a lighter hand on that right twist-grip), but most higher-powered bikes, like Miss Velvet, also have expensive tastes -- as in premium fuel. And on a longer run, like, say, Knoxville to Sturgis, you're gonna shell out some major shekels for the go-juice. That leaves that much less to spend at the rally, and you've gotta save enough money to get back home, to boot. So, it's expensive for everyone right now, not just cagers and truckers. And the Dems, seemingly, are so out of touch with the average American that they just don't get it at all.

McCain does get it, and I think he'll do everything in his power to do what needs to be done, should he make it to the White House. Does that give y'all any idea of whom this Dawg is gonna vote for?? Hmmm??


Sunday, August 3, 2008


Back home again, briefly, after a week on the road, following my knee trouble and final week of vacation for the year. Happy to report that the knee is fine now, just a little sore from exercising it Friday, when I was forced to help unload my trailer -- something I'm NOT supposed to be doing at all. I have a doctor's note to that effect in the company computer, but someone either didn't notice, or didn't know that I'd be asked to help with it. The knee held up, and it was my weak left shoulder that was aching afterward. I reminded them about my physical restriction and took the measly twenty bucks (slave wages) that they pay for driver assist in unloading. What the hell? I did do the work and even though a lumper would laugh at that pay, I ain't no fool. It's twenty bucks more than I did have. I'll take it any way I can get it, even if it's just petty cash to the company.

OTR companies get away with paying those slave wages because non-hourly waged drivers, like most of us, are not covered under the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act.) They can, theoretically, require us to do the work for free, but they know that drivers would then refuse to do it at all, so they toss us some pocket change for doing work that a lumper would demand $200 for doing. Sounds like they get a bargain, huh??? Some drivers don't mind that sort of thing at all; do it with a smile. Of course, those are the ones who can just barely read and write (at least as far as I've seen), so go figure!

That load was an appliance load that delivered, of all places, at a construction site!! An apartment complex was still under construction -- part occupied, part vacant -- and I drove my monster truck right in there, around all those twisty, narrow little residential streets, unloaded at two different buildings, watched the workers until I got dispatched again, then headed to South Carolina, to get my go-home load, sore shoulder and all.

The load in South Carolina came from a paper mill in Florence, a regular customer, where I've been many times over the years. Knowing that the load typically has a 24-hour window on it, and can be picked up anytime, night or day, and that God only knew when it would be ready, I decided to take my break, then go over to the mill around midnight, get loaded and head home. That way, I'd be there early Saturday morning, have all that day and all day Sunday to do my thing before I had to leave back out for the delivery in Chicagoland Monday evening. But things, as usual, didn't work out that way at all. Of course. This is a Dawg's Life, after all, and if anything ever went my way, I'd faint!!

My company again put one of its best talents on display. Not for the first time and most assuredly it won't be the last. Star is very, very good at getting pickup numbers totally screwed-up on the load information message that they send us drivers when they dispatch us. Early Saturday morning, they struck again. I backed into the dock, swept out my trailer, pulled a few nails from the wooden floorboards (this time with no knee problems), and went to the shipping office to give the clerk my number and get the loading process started. Wrong pickup number, he told me. Gotta have the right one before we can load you. Why wasn't I surprised? Perhaps because that had happened at this mill before? Yep. So, back out to the truck I went, sent a Qaulcomm message to dispatch, informing the zombies on duty there that the pickup number was garbage. Fix it. Waited fifteen minutes for somebody on 3rd shift dispatch to wake up, read my message, and reply to it. Dum-dee-dum-dum-diddle-dee-dum. Twiddle fingers. Play idly with dashboard buttons. Hum-dee-hum-hum. Beep!

"That only # we have here. Hav 2 wait til morning and see if they put rong # in." 

Okaaaaaay. Third shift does not have access to the Customer Service Department, which is closed at night, and is where all the pickup numbers, etc., for the loads originate. "That means wait till 1st shift comes on, I suppose??" I asked, just to be annoying, since I already knew the answer."Yes."  Look at clock. 1:12 A.M., CDT. First shift comes on at 0700. Almost a six-hour wait. Then fuel, grab some breakfast, and make a six-hour drive from Florence to Knoxville. Wouldn't arrive till late afternoon. Crap!!! There goes half my weekend!!! GRRRRRRRRRR!!! I went back inside, to make good and sure nobody was on, in, or around my trailer, went back out and compared notes with one of our newbie drivers, who was in the same situation I was.Suggested we leave the dock and park on the mill entrance road until morning, then left, with him following  me. We both pulled off the road, turned out our headlights, and I crawled in the bunk, for a nap.

Dawn and 7A.M. came. Rubbed my eyes, threw on my clothes, went up front and sent another message in to 1st shift, informing them about my dilemma. Waited some more, while I read a biker magazine I'd bought somewhere. The newbie went back into the mill. Well, they'd gotten him straightened out at least. I had to be next, as we were the only two there from our company. I waited, watching log and chip trucks come and go. Another OTR truck came in, promptly drove in the wrong entrance, finally came back out and went in the right way this time. Beep! AT LAST!!!! Looked at the number they sent. Same number, with an extra digit added to it this time. Growled some more about missing numbers and all-night waits, while I jammed it in gear and headed for the guardshack. Backed into the dock again and went to shipping office. Trailer was already clean, so I could skip that step in the procedure. He printed out my load sheets, verifying that the number was right, this time. Hooray!!!

I finally got home a litte after four, eastern time, yesterday afternoon, just as I'd predicted I would. Too tired to do much last night, so I ate supper and went to bed early. Gonna exercise Velvet a little this morning, do laundry, and get ready to leave back out, early tomorrow morning.

Maybe they'll get the numbers right next week and I'll get a little more time at home. I can only hope so.