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Week Two Day 1, Day 7 overall

We spent the entire day on the range. Started our pre-trip in the dark. Daylight Savings Time kicked in over the weekend. Did an in-cab and air brake check. Once it was light we could start moving trucks. So Andy (the other PA guy) and I went back to skills – pulling forward to a certain spot, straight backing, 45degree docking. At first I couldn’t get the trailer in the slot for anything. Then the instructor told us to switch to the 48′ trailer we were using last week and that we would be tested on. I had been working with a 53′ trailer. That five feet makes a big difference!

We were joined by two other students from the class ahead of us. They are in their third week, also from PA and ready to test out. They must pass a skills and a driving test with Swift and then with DMV. The instructor manager calls and sets appointments with DMV for each of us. We continued taking turns doing skills until a couple hours later when I’m in the cab lining up and I see smoke coming from under the hood. Right away I stopped, looked at the water temp and it was way up. I shut down the truck and the instructor had one of the third week students do a drop and hook to bring over another tractor. I got a lot of ribbing about my pre-trip check and not seeing this hose that busted. Of course, it wasn’t busted when we did our check and the engine was completely cold. It’s just one of those things. In the real world I would have pulled over and called my Driver Manager for help. They would have sent someone to fix it. And I would go on.

After lunch we were taught drop and hook. Each of us, about 15 in all did the whole thing while the others watched. As we each finished we went back to skills. It is very different driving a bobtail than hauling a trailer.

I was still having trouble with the 45degree dock so tonight I went to Target and got a toy truck, a NASCAR authentic tractor trailer to practice with in my hotel room. Of course I had to get the one with Danica Patrick 🙂

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Day 8

Worked on skills (the 45degree backing, etc.) and went on the road. Had a great time! Did not run over any curbs, hit any hydrants, knock over any signs or stall out. A very good drive. We did not have our two hours in the classroom at the end of the day because the new class was running behind schedule. BTW there are two women in that class, me in this one and one in the class ahead of us. Seems to be an average of 15% women drivers. Cool.

Day 9

I passed off my pre-trip check today with a 100%. Yeehaw! This is wonderful. I am getting this and having a blast while doing it. Spent lots of time working on skills today. Two hours of classroom at end of day was a slide show on shifting and turning.

Day 10

Went on the road again today. The instructor said Andy and I were doing well enough to be tested out by the academy now and we’re only halfway through our scheduled course time. This is great. I have to work on my down shifting but am feeling very confident about my developing skills. Thanks for the advice, Brett. I’m watching the tandems now and things are clicking much better. I actually got the trailer into the slot in one shot this morning. Woo hoo! After that I did it with only one or two pull ups for the rest of the morning. Two hours of classroom at end of day was a slide show on truck controls and routine maintenance.

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“The better you get, the more fun it is” – Brett Aquila of TruckingTruth.com

And it’s a whole lot of fun already! I had one instructor tell me if all his students had my attitude his job would be so much easier. Gotta love it. Brett’s advice has helped me stay focused on the positive. When others complain and some do a lot of that, I remind myself this is temporary. Even when they had me switch rooms to share with another woman student, one of those who tends to complain all the time about everything, I don’t pay any attention to what she says, I don’t get upset and I don’t complain. I’ll be out of here in a week so it doesn’t really matter.

Day 11

We drove on the highway today. Big fun! I didn’t hit anything. I didn’t run over any curbs or knock down any signs. I didn’t put the truck in a ditch. A good drive. I also passed my skills test today. Hooray! I was able to do the 45degree backing in one shot two different times. I’m going to try brake shifting to smooth out my downshifting. See how that goes. You slow the truck down until it almost feels like it’s going to stall and then shift down to the next lower gear without double clutching. I seem to want to shift while before the truck speed is slow enough.

The view from the bunk.

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Driver’s control panel.

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Day 12

All day in classroom. Lots of good information about safety and regulations. Also covered the Qualcomm system and what the different screens mean. Our instructor used to be the safety guy in the Phoenix office and was once a driver manager so he really knows the system. He shared the website for the CSA regulations (Compliance, Safety and Accountability). This lists the points for the various infractions and what the DOT looks for. The Feds have not yet set a cut off level where a company can say a driver is no longer eligible for hire. That is still being determined along with tweaking the regs themselves. It was interesting to see what they can get you for, points and fines. Not just your driving but the condition of the truck itself and your own condition or driver fitness. So cut back on the carbs boys and girls and eat more veggies!

I now have a test date of March 25 to go for my CDL. smile.gif

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Turns out the highs this weeks will be in the 50’s & 60’s. So Big won’t need his neck gaiter to keep warm. Good thing since I”m only about half way done. He leaves for outdoor school tomorrow morning. Maybe I’ll be done by the time he gets back Friday. Now I just have to have Bigger’s done before he flies out to school in a month. Oh well, can always mail it to him.

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Playing Catch-Up

I have loads of pictures and lots of activities to add. I’m going to start with the present and gradually add in the past. Thanks for your patience and please come visit again soon!

We’re leaving on another trip tonight. Driving 200 miles to pick up Big at EFY (Especially For Youth) in Southern Virginia. It’s like Vacation Bible School for teenagers. They come from all over the country to spend a week together. Multiple weeks at multiple locations are available across the country. Housed on a college campus with young adult counselors and older adult leaders. Both my sons have been before and they loved it. Made lots of new friends and learned life lessons in spirituality. I’ll be adding pictures soon.

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