July 31, 2004. Am ready to go back to driving. I have completed all the paper work and have been re-qualified to go back to North American Van Lines once again! I'll go right back to where I was, in the tradeshow group. I must check into the provided motel on Sunday August 15th and orientation will begin on Monday. Friday I'll pick out a truck. My choices will be a new Freightliner or a almost new 2004 Volvo...I'll go the Volvo for sure.
I called Sprint in Ft. Wayne, where I used to have a phone and Internet aircard, also NAVL's home base, and they will be able to subscribe me again but this time no deposit will be necessary. This makes me rather happy because I own a Sprint phone/pda that I paid $700 for and an aircard that was about $150. I bought those in 2002 the phone/pda is now about $300! OUCH what a difference but at least I can use it again...I was waiting for them to open up some cell sights in my home area...which they say they are gong to do.
By getting the aircard I will be back on the Internet where ever their network is. It used to cover the USA very well but of course not everywhere. As one example, of many, I used to loose the Internet in York, NE until Salt Lake City, over 800 miles! I'll run my ham radio "Automatic Positioning Reporting System" (APRS) via the aircard until I purchase my ham radio equipment again. Then I'll broadcast automatically once every minute my position, speed, direction, and altitude, over the air waves of HF and VHF which is gated onto the Internet. I'll provide a link on the front page of my web site so you will be able to see where I am and where I have been. This link is presently active. I'll also report my itinerary for up to 2 weeks.
July 15, 2004. Still haven't sold the concession trailer but have had several bites and still a few are presently interested.
Well well well! Here I am several months after closing the BBQ business with a cash loss of $20,850.00 plus or minus a dollar or 2! Soooo...the next move is to find a way to make some money again. Thought I would get involved with a friend doing part time logging. Thought about using the money from the concession trailer to develop a firewood business. Thought about developing an automotive machine shop. Been thinking about a lot of things but the bank accounts are all down to 2 digits! Like a just said...well well well ,I guess it is back to "On the Road Again" trucking! I called North American Van Lines (NAVL), where I contracted to last. asked if they would have me back, the answer was yes, asked if I could get back to the trade show fleet, the answer was yes, asked when (I know the auto shows begin in September and run real strong through until April) the answered they'd like me back anytime from today on!
I was told that the company is doing very well and many of the perks are coming back. They pay for all tolls, phone calls, truck washes, and $150 a year for a clothing allowance to be spent in the drivers store. No forced dispatch, dispatched 10-14 days ahead, can request where I want to go, if available, can take off when and how long I want, receive a $500 bonus sign on and another $500 after 6 months. Presently an 8 cent per mile surcharge for fuel which just went up a penny this last Monday. I used to average $1.20 per mile to the truck and would net about 60% of that which was after all expenses such as fuel, oil changes, truck payments, insurance, and even food, etc.!
It is a great company. I had worked for many other trucking companies and NAVL is the only trucking company that treats the driver like they should be treated, like any other employee. This is not an easy company to qualify drivers. There was a recruiting bonus of $500 paid to the recruiting driver if the recruit qualified and completed the 10 day orientation (motel, food, and transportation provided). Then another $500 to the recruiting driver was still employed after 6 months driving. I had recruited over 22 drivers from 1995 to 1999 and not a one qualified!
I am waiting to hear from the truck sales and leasing department to see what lease vehicles are available. I'll sacrifice about between $625 and $665 per month leasing over buying a truck, however, a portion of the payments can be used towards buying that leased truck or another available truck. One nice thing about the lease is they pay for everything such as tires, oil, all repairs, permits, and base tag. All I pay for is fuel.
If I do the lease thing and all is good being back on the road again then I'll probably begin to save to build another custom truck similar to the one I used to have. But this time I think I'll consider a Peterbuilt with what they call "low air ride suspension". It looks like a low rider and with the long frame that I'll order for the over sized sleeper it'll really look low and long! This time I am going to really spec out the truck very carefully. I know I'll go for the biggest cat engine available and really would like to have the automatic transmission. I plan to deck it out with lots of chrome and lights with murals of "Norrona", my last sail boat. Perhaps port holes for windows and a pair of a set of 3 air large yacht deep throated air horns on the cab roof. And of course the in motion satellite TV, surround sound, another gps navigation system, XM radio, etc.! I can figure about $200,000!
The down view of this whole things is having to put up with all these newbie self centered inconsiderate young dangerous drivers and of course being away from home for 4-6 weeks at a time, but I am unmarried so it doesn't really make a difference in that respect!
I'll probably install some ham radio equipment in the truck integrated to my laptop and a gps. About every minute the radio will transmit my position and through a complex HF, VHF, and UHF network will show my position, speed, direction, and altitude on the Internet! When I am again operative I'll post a link to specifically track me on my web site. My movement will be a lot of coast to coast to convention centers and display warehouses that are generally near big cities.
It has yet to decided if I'll go back on the road but it sure looks like I haven't much of a chose until I can accumulate some money.