An unbelievable bad-weather day

Updated Mar 26, 2012

I learned today that one of the people we talk to regularly at Landstar is a HAZMAT expert. Learned when he told Diane when she called the office.

Diane and I drove overnight on a two-stop run. We picked up two pieces in Austin, Texas yesterday and drove toward Reno, Nev., where the first delivery will be made. The phone call to the office was about a routine matter. It was in the friendly chatter that followed in which we learned of the man’s HAZMAT credentials.

I’ve said it before. We are new at Landstar and get newer every day. Previously unknown aspects of this company continue to unfold before our eyes.

Knowing of this HAZMAT resource is a good thing but in another way it does not matter. Landstar expects more of its HAZMAT-qualified BCO’s (contractors) than our former carrier did. Knowing more now than we knew before, it probably won’t be necessary to call this man about HAZMAT.

• Now … about today’s weather.


Today was without question the strangest weather day we have had on the road since we started driving a truck in 2003.

As I said above, we picked up the freight in Austin, Texas, on Saturday and headed toward Reno, Nev. Saturday’s drive was OK except for a strong headwind that killed our fuel economy.

My turn came to drive again early Sunday morning in Van Horn, Texas. The sun had not risen and the winds were calm. The truck dashboard shows what the cumulative and present fuel economy is. It was nice to watch the cumulative number climb as I drove in calm conditions.

New Mexico was uneventful. Our weather adventure started in Arizona. The winds grew strong, gusting to 50 mph. That blew the dust into the air, reducing visibility and increasing apprehension. Visibility was not reduced so much that we had to reduce our speed but it was evident that we were in conditions that could easily get worse.

What do you do if you are driving at highway speeds and your visibility is suddenly reduced to zero? Road signs told us what to do and we kept those actions in mind as we drove. A good part of the day was spent with such thoughts on our minds and a firm, two-handed grip on the steering wheel to keep the truck on the road as the wind jostled it around.

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We also drank a lot of water to rinse the dust out of our throats. We had the truck HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) set to recirculate the inside air instead of drawing outside air in. That helped but dust still got in.

Then came the heavy rain, and then the snow, and then the hail, and then the lightening and then the endless stream of oncoming traffic on a two-lane highway (people by the thousands returning to Phoenix from a weekend in Las Vegas, we gathered). Around sunset we saw some of the strangest and most spectacular cloud formations ever.

I could go into detail on all of this but in the interest of brevity I won’t. Just know that it was an intense weather day for us. One that will stand out as we look back on our life and times on the road.

We learned from the news that we were on the edge of a big winter storm that hit Arizona and closed parts of some freeways. While the weather presented a difficult driving day to us, it did not stop us in our tracks like it did some people.

• Before I close today’s blog entry, I also learned today what it is like to drive the new U.S. 93 truck route by Hoover Dam. Learned when Diane told me.

I was in the sleeper then. It was just after sunset so if there was something to see, Diane did not see it. The new road is more significant then the view. After 911, trucks were prohibited from driving over the Hoover Dam. We had to take a different route that was less fun. A new bridge was built for truck and the going is easier now. This was our first time across that bridge.