Thursday, January 11, 2018

Bobtail To Tigertown.

Nine Day Trip.
____ The Dakotas, North and South, are good for pheasant shooting. Southbound on Interstate 29 and it's a shiny night; full moon and freshly fallen snow. The classic poacher/ gamekeeper scenario but at minus 28 degrees Centigrade; I would be beside the fire, warm in-doors and cleaning the folding 410. No need for high-beam as I drive late into the night after an afternoon of waiting. The trailer load of peat-moss for Hidalgo never arrived; so at 6 o'clock I was given a load of paper to Laredo. A trailer that had stood in the yard all day. I hate it when that happens.

____ Into Stone's Truckstop at Watertown after mid-night and pulling out ten hours later. Pedal to the metal, aiming for the Cowboy Travel Plaza with just the minimum break; hoping to get the trip back on track. Running past the mid-night hour is certainly easier with electronic logs than it was with the paper logs but there is now no time saving from reduced breaks. A long hard slog gets me to Pearsall at the end of the third shift, less than two hours away from the trailer drop. But then it all goes pear-shaped.

____ Trailer dropped, paperwork signed and a short bobtail across Laredo for a bonded load going to Bolton, Ontario. An hour up the road and the trip is cancelled; take trailer to the Ruby Truck Line drop-yard. Take an empty trailer to Waller and swap for loaded one going to Edmonton, Alberta. Only problem; no empty trailers. Ok, bobtail to Tigertown and pick-up an empty from there. Over 500 miles to the Texas/Oklahoma border before heading for Pasadena and a Monday afternoon collection. About nine hundred miles of messing about after I had been loaded-up and trucking North on Friday before Noon.

____ Now I am sitting in the Flying'J at New Caney, having an unnecessary log-hours re-set before driving the last hour on Monday. I would have blown a fuse but for the fact that it was +20 C in southern Texas and -20 C in Manitoba. After enduring bitter cold from Christmas to New Year, it was good to spend the Sunday in shirt-sleeves with the windows open. Warm weather again on Monday but by the time I reach Big Cabin, it's a frosty start to Tuesday.

____ "Hunter" is the name of the Winter storm heading from the North-West and scheduled to cross my path in North Dakota. Winter Storms only started getting names in 2012, before that it was just Winter weather. Is it any worse when it has a name? I just get on with the driving, thankful for a heavy load of plastic granules as the wind and blowing snow lays up against the trailer. Minus 28 by the time I get back to the yard just before dark.

Versatile, Made in Canada, Tractor.

Coronado with big tank on low-loader.

Work-camp accommodation on trombone four-axle trailers.

10 axle heavy-haul rig with smart blue and black paint.

Heavy-hauler in the Flying'J at New Caney, Texas.

The new Summit Racing Equipment store at Arlington, Texas.

Always a pleasure to swing by Soulman's Bar-B-Que at Van.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Last Trip Of 2017.

Nine Day Trip
____ Huntsville, in Texas, is the peat-moss destination as I leave on a Friday with the hope of just doing a quick up-and-down trip that well get me back in time to do some leisurely Christmas shopping. A leisurely start gets me down to the Coffee Cup Truckstop at Vermillion; followed by night-out number two at the Cowboy Travel Plaza. Warmer weather and one of the quietest nights at an American truckstop that I can remember. An early start gives me time to check-out the new Summit Racing superstore at Arlington, between Dallas and Fort Worth; just off Interstate 20. Some sound insulation pads for the Mack from a place that has everything for the custom-vehicle builder.

____ The Pilot Truckstop is just three miles from the peat-moss delivery; I'm back, waiting for reload instructions within an hour of leaving for the drop. Schulenburg is the word I am waiting for. Two hours across country, a heavy load of guar gum for Calgary and a Friday 09.00 delivery appointment. After the last trip to Calgary had me returning to Steinbach before going West; this is not what I was expecting, although it is typical inconsistency from the office. Out comes the road atlas and Wichita Falls looks like the best I can do after I'm loaded.

____ Weather reports show I'm headed into snow-storms, they are coming South to meet me. Crack-on driver and get as much done before the inevitable head-on collision of truck and white stuff. Colorado and Wyoming, no problems; but into Montana and the Interstate 90 starts getting dusted at the Little Bighorn Battlefield. By Billings day light is fading, the snowfall is heavy and the town is grid-locked by the treacherous conditions. On the long climb out of town towards the airport, I am grateful for the heavy load and the traction that it provides. Pitch darkness and a white-out from snow thrown-up from a pair of new Peterbilts. The topped-up trucks came past one of last hills before Billings; they were one light change ahead on the crawl through Billings; now they are struggling for grip as we run the two-lane cross-country route in four inches of fresh snow. Slow going until the junction at Harlowton, where I call it a day and nose-in among the earlier arrivals while the Petes push-on, up and over to Eddie's Corner.

____ The engine idled all night at 800 rpm. Snow had stopped by dawn but it was hard-packed and icy all the way to Grand Falls and Interstate 15 to the border. Calgary had snow flurries as I arrived with plenty of time to spare. Getting north of Fort Worth on the first leg of the trip really payed dividends. Delivery done and the reload is from Edmonton on the afternoon of the last workday before Christmas. A load of paper for Mexico is quickly loaded and I have enough time to get to Saskatoon. It's going back to Steinbach but with the whole Christmas Holiday being forecast to have dangerously cold temperatures; I'm tempted to volunteer that I go direct to Laredo. Back in the yard on Saturday evening with just enough time to get to the liquor store and supermarket. This year I gave booze and scratch cards.

Smart heavy-haul Peterbilt.

The danger of LED rear lights; not enough heat to melt the build-up of snow.

Regular light cleaning is needed on snow covered roads.

The rail-road trestle at Lethbridge, Alberta.

Line-up of old trucks beside Interstate 15, near Shelby, Montana.

Low-level load of paper rolls. About 800 kgs per roll.

Stop sign will be removed when trailer is empty at peat-moss yard.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Calgary And Edmonton.

Four Days Work.

____ Bringing back last weeks load to Steinbach in Manitoba when it was due to go to Alberta had me worried about the office staff. Is Ruby Truck Line making so much money that they can afford to do such illogical logistics? Then, when I get told to carry on with the load after a log-hours reset; it makes no sense at all unless they run me directly from Edmonton to Texas. That didn't happen; it was a load from Acheson back to Brandon, Manitoba.

____ A late start on a Saturday afternoon gets me to the Flying'J at Balgonie and that is enough to make sure that I am in Calgary and ready for the Monday morning delivery. Sunday afternoon temperatures at the Flying'J in Calgary are at an amazing +15 C as the jet-stream defies geography and drags Atlanta, Georgia, down to zero degrees. Warm weather too, at Edmonton for the second delivery; then on to Acheson before dragging a heavy load of wood-chips across to Saskatoon for the third and last night-out of the four day run. Twenty minutes of trailer changing at Brandon interrupts the journey back to Steinbach; where normal temperatures resume.
Statue outside the Wildhorse Bar and Grill.

Bulldozer on 10 axle Heavy Haul Rig.

Mammoet Western Star and trailer of many axles.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Six Days To Laredo And Back.

Six days : 5723 kilometres.

3605 miles in 60 hours 5 minutes.

____ I leave on a Saturday morning; just a short break between trips. It's December and I need to get two trips done before Christmas as it doesn't look like there will be anything happening between Christmas and the New Year. Also it's a chance to get some sun on my back in the warmer climate of Southern Texas. Another load of paper to Laredo with the same overnight stops as the last trip; Missouri Valley and Thackerville then into the TA at Laredo.

____ A warm night followed by one of those calm still mornings with a clear sky and the Sun low in the sky. Reminiscent of the Mediterranean coast of Spain during a Winter getaway from the UK where I would sit and soak up the atmosphere and do nothing all day. But not today; paper tipped and re-load instructions received before 10 o'clock. A trailer switch at Waller, 334 miles to the North-East and they need the empty trailer as soon as possible. Back up to San Antonio on Interstate 35, then Interstate 10 after a quick visit to Popeyes in the San Antonio TA.

____ Just 15 minutes to swap the trailers and check-over the new one while the guy in the gatehouse sends all the paper work to the Ruby Truck Line office and the customs broker. Drivers used to go into the gatehouse but now everything is done through a small slot in a glass window with a speaker and a microphone for communication. I hate things like that as it reminds me of visiting a prisoner in jail but when there is no messing about and things get done quickly by people who know what they are doing, then I can over-look the demeaning and distrust of their system. I have enough time to crack-on up to Hillsboro and the possibility of getting home in two shifts.

____ The road works on the Interstate 35 West at Fort Worth aren't going to finish any time soon and it seems whatever time and what ever direction, there are always some hold-ups and that's without any fender-benders which can ruin any decent traffic flow for hours. Over-night closure of the complete interstate is common, along with a multitude of random lane closures during the middle of the day. So I tried coming through at rush-hour when at least two lanes are open in each direction. Guess what? Two hours ten minutes from Hillsboro to Thackerville, which is about the same as at any other time. I celebrated with a free breakfast buffet at the Winstar Casino. [Weds and Thurs for Over 55, Players Club members.]

____ I knew I had to get to Percival in Iowa to have any chance of getting back to Steinbach in one hit. A long day into a bitterly cold wind from the North and a night under two blankets; just two days after a night on top of the quilt. Then it is all Interstate 29, north through Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Sioux Falls and Fargo. Back across the border before dark with one eye on the fuel filter gauge. But the diesel from the southern states is OK this time; warm air has come into Manitoba from some where and it is a lot warmer than when I left, six days ago.
About as low as a low-loader can go.

Fed-Ex Triple.

Jordan has started running blades.

Two halves of a house.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Picture Diary Of A Trip To Laredo.

12 Day Trip
A cold day to leave so the trailer air lines needed some alcohol.

A heavy load of paper destined for Monterrey in Mexico. Just 200kgs below maximum.

Saturday morning at the border with just a 15 minute delay.

At Northern Tool and Equipment, Fargo, collecting an inverter.

First night-out at the Petromart, Missouri Valley, Iowa.

Brisket sandwich for Sunday lunch at the Cowboy Travel Plaza, Oklahoma.

A neighbour from home is also my neighbour at the Choctaw Truckstop on the Oklahoma/Texas state line.

Another new Loves under construction: this one is at Temple, Texas.

Washing the unit after dropping the trailer in Laredo.

Gate to the drop yard is blocked by a bob-tail while security go for lunch.

Old Mexican bobtail in Laredo.

Stables at the US Customs checkpoint on Highway 83, 30 miles north of Laredo.

Cottonfield above ground: oilfield below.

Route 66 Travel Centre on Interstate 40, west of Albuquerque.

Amazing rocky outcrop on Navajo Nation lands, north of Gallup, New Mexico.

The Four Corners Monument. The only place in the USA where four states all meet at the same place.

The Wilson Arch. 

Look carefully and you can see the haul-road that took the wind turbines to the top of the ridge. 

Dusk at a scenic viewpoint at the top of Emigrant Hill in Oregon.

Snow chains needed for the Coquihalla Pass on the way home from Vancouver, BC.

Fueling-up at the town of Golden and the Kenworth suddenly gets a Black Crow hood ornament.

The only snow in Calgary is the man-made white stuff at the Winter Olympic Park.

Even less snow in Saskatchewan, but the lakes are frozen.
Back in the yard, in the dark and in the snow.