Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tri-State Ahoy

A few uneventful hours in the car and we landed at the Super 8 nearest Tri-State headquarters. Jeez, Northern Ohio is flat. I'd forgotten just how flat it is. We unloaded Paisan and the remainder of our baggage, then drove a dry run up to the Tri-State headquarters, a few miles away. The complex sits on, um, many acres. Luckily, the area has many acres to spare.

Although we had planned to meet our new boss that evening, one of her other teams encountered truck problems, and she had her hands too full to meet with us. Instead, she arranged for us to meet another of her teams, Rob and Mark, who happened to be there waiting for a load. They were very friendly, and eager to share advice and encouragement. Both had nothing but good things to say about working for Mindi, and were happy to frankly discuss The Big Two - character and compensation. Hoss's instincts about her were apparently dead on.

They gave us a quick tour of the driver's lounge - actually a very large building separate from the office building - where orientation is held. The lounge building is very clean and bright, with free showers and laundry facilities, a full kitchen, a large flat screen TV with satellite feed, and lots of comfy sofas and chairs. It wasn't what I'd expected at all.

Afterwards, we drove a couple of exits up the highway to a Meijer's to buy a few things we'd overlooked, and then a nice dinner at Applebee's before heading back to the hotel for some sleep.

Paisan is doing surprisingly well, although I'm sure she'd like to claw my face off for putting her through this.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Toledo Bound

We left mid-afternoon for Buffalo, then dropped Goomba Lou off with Silas, who will no doubt spoil her to pieces from here on. I'm going to miss her, though; she's a sweet cat and quite a character. We picked up Caleb at a friend's house nearby, then went to Buffalo Wild Wings on Transit Road, where Silas works as a server and part-time bartender. His buddy Brett joined us - he's fun to hang with. After a wheelbarrow of extra-super-nuclear-hot wings and a few drinks, we drove back to the hotel for a bit of sleep, then headed toward Toledo and orientation.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


It's official! We start a 3-day orientation at Tri-State in Toledo on Monday, then will be ready to roll from there.

The owner gave us a little detail about the truck we'll be driving, so that helps as we plan what we'll need and what to take. It's a late model Hino, 6-speed, with a 76" sleeper. As she said, it's nothing fancy, but it's sturdy and will serve us well.

I have so many to-do lists, I've had to color code them.

Our neighbors have graciously offered to check on the house now and then, to make sure the sump pump doesn't die and leave the basement awash in flotsam and jetsam. Goomba Lou is going to live with Son #1 in Buffalo; Paisan will come with us on the truck. Therefore, the house will be empty and winterized as much as possible - at least the utility bills will be cheap.

This morning, I realized that in order to take the cat with us across the border, we'll need an updated rabies certificate from the vet. Paisan is overdue at the vet, anyway, so I quickly made a vet appointment for tomorrow morning. It's the little things like that I'm afraid I'll overlook.

Hoss called DMV yesterday and was told our background checks are complete and we both have qualified. Our licenses, however, won't arrive before we leave for Toledo. *groan* So we made a quick trip to DMV today to obtain a temporary document showing the hazmat endorsement. That will do, for now.

Some things just can't be planned ahead. For instance, we know the truck has an inverter and generator, so appliances like a coffee maker and Foreman grill would be useful to have - but how much room is available for storage and / or practical usage? The bunks, I believe, are oddly sized, so what bedding should I plan to take? Dunno. We'll have to see the sleeper and assess what will work and what won't.

I hate that - but learn to roll, I must.

Despite the aggravations involved with getting ready to hit the road, we remain very excited and are looking forward to what my brother calls "road mode". :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Eleven Sixty-Six Oh Six

That's the totaled expenditures to get my CDL B. Considering some spend several thousand to get theirs, I'm very happy with that number.

Here's the breakdown:
  • Truck rentals - $575.52
  • Fuel - $106.59
  • DMV - $483.95
  • Trainer fee - $0
I love that last number best of all. ;)

Thursday, January 7, 2010


It's done. Now all we have to do is wait and watch the mail.

The intake clerk at DMV got an instant headache when we listed all the changes we wanted to accomplish today. In fact, once he'd heard our list, he rolled his eyes and said "Oh, they're reeeeally going to love you."

After a 20 minute wait, we were called to window 4 and were met by a cheery, happy young clerk who processed my enhanced license application - a nightmarish stack of paperwork that requires not only an OCD-driven need for documentation, but a degree in mathematics, as well. She packaged it all in a manilla envelope stamped with a rather stern warning about removing any documents while waiting for the next clerk, then sent us back to the benches to wait.

Another 30 minutes, and we were called to window 9. Although I expected an exercise in total confusion and frustration, our window 9 clerk was quite on the ball. In only 15 minutes, he accurately and efficiently processed all of our paperwork, and even managed to make us smile a few times (the pea soup was AWESOME, Brian, you should have stopped by!).

With HazMat papers in hand, we drove to the NYS Police barracks at the airport, only a few miles away, to be fingerprinted for our HazMat endorsement. Despite a building full of hot troopers, we get called into the back room by a guy with the sex appeal of Barney Fife. ~sigh~ Nonetheless, we were thoroughly fingerprinted and Albany is on the case. We should hear back regarding our background check in just a couple of weeks.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hazmat II

We decided to postpone the written by a day so the 7 day waiting period to upgrade my license would be over and we could get it all done at once.

"All" means take the HazMat written, start the paperwork for the background checks, upgrade my permit to a license, apply for an enhanced license, and renew my soon-to-expire license. And all of these are much more expensive now, of course, because it's a CDL - we're talking several hundred dollars. Good thing I'd robbed a bank the day before. *rolleyes*

The written tests weren't that difficult. Hoss was confident we had studied sufficiently and would pass, but as the worrywart half of the couple, I wasn't so sure. I had already started the test when Hoss breezed into the room, slapped his answers down on the sheet, then turned in his test and sat to wait for the results. I took my time, double and triple checked my answers, sensing just a dight of competition in the air. I finished up just as the DMV clerk called Hoss to the desk with his results: 5 of 30 wrong. He'd passed. She then tallied up my score: 3 of 30 wrong FTW! Slapdown!

We'd forgotten to take the documents needed to apply for the enhanced license, so our plan was to run home, grab what we needed, then go back and finish up the paperwork.

But somewhere between applying for a marriage license in Atlantic City last February and today, my birth certificate has disappeared. Gone. Nowhere to be found. The same original birth certificate I've been carrying from state to state for the last xx years was, apparently, called home to Archive Heaven.


We pulled out drawers and folders and envelopes, but it was all for naught. After a few hours of searching, I gave up and logged on to the Maine vital records website to order a new one. FOR SIXTY BUCKS. With the processing fee and expedited delivery (how's that for irony?), my inability to locate my birth certificate would add $92.50 to an already expensive process.

So now we wait for the new one.

For the money it's costing, it'd better be pretty.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Studying for our HazMat endorsements this weekend. We'll take the written tomorrow. It's the last hurdle!