Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Trip I

____DAY 1: A big thank-you to Russell Coombes for the phonecall from the border, saying that the snow storm sweeping up from Texas had closed the interstate route into North Dakota. Time to sit back and relax with a relaxing rye and coke, after all it was Christmas Day.
____DAY 2: I dig out the Mustang and drive into work, sideways. I dig out the truck and hook-up the trailer ready to go. But on checking the road conditions south of the border on the internet; all the roads are marked as closed or travel not advised. Mal Rubery's 50th birthday party has an extra guest that night.
____DAY 3: Finally under way. The border crossing at Pembina,ND is busy after being closed for two days, but it's mostly cars and the truck lanes are as quick as they usually are. South of Grand Forks, towards Fargo, the snow is piled up a lot higher and the road still has icy patches but once heading east into Minnesota along the Interstate 94, conditions ease. Skirting round the Twin Cities, I push on into Wisconsin and park for the night at Black River Falls, the normal "one day away" halt from Steinbach.
____DAY 4: Supposedly, delivery day. I call the customer and rebook for wednesday morning. It's only lumber so it's not like it's going to go "off". Chicago's traffic is much lighter than normal but there are far more drivers unfamiliar with there surroundings, going on shopping trips, visiting freinds, dithering about in the wrong lane; most unlike the normal get up and go commuting driver. I stop for the night at Toledo, Ohio, neatly cutting the trip into three equal sections.
____DAY 5: The flat landscape that has been with me since Manitoba finishes as I reach Pennsylvania, endless leafless tree covered hills, together with the snow and an overcast sky make for a landscape devoid of any colour. Three hundred miles with only the neon truckstop signs brightening the day and Lamar, the brightest of them all. At Easton,I leave the four lane to find a small truckstop at my exit, there's an empty BFS truck parked there. The driver delivered his load to the same place I am going to. He has sat all day waiting for a reload with no luck.
____DAY 6: The tarps have been on this load for seven days, you don't mind tarping if it's going to stay on that long. With only 7 packs of lumber, it's a quick tip and I'm soon back at the little truckstop; parked next to the other green Kenworth. Chances of a reload seem grim as we go for breakfast, but on returning to his cab, Frank,the other driver finds a message on his satellite receiver. A reload in Lewistown,Pa going to Winnipeg,Mb. Shame Frank lives in Ontario, he'll be away for New Years and bit more. I contemplate what to do for New Years Eve, catch the train up to New York City and celebrate in Times Square or drop the trailer and bobtail down to Atlantic City and its casinos. Then BEEP, a job, profile racks to Calgary,Ab from Ambridge, no not the everyday story of country folk Ambridge, the one near Pittsburg,Pa. Two thousand miles, 6 inches, nice. I park on the doorstep,ready to be loaded first thing New Years Eve.
____DAY 7: Four inches of snow silently alighted on the cab roof during the night, so parking in the shippers yard was a cool move. The load is freshly painted racks and in a cold, open sided shed next to the Ohio river I'm worried the paint might not be dry, but I'm loaded quickly and put carpet under the straps to show i care, even if they don't. There's still time for a full days driving, so I push on back through Chicago and up to the Illinois/ Wisconsin border at South Beloit; meeting Frank and his load of railcar axles on the way. Start of a new decade: Flying J, South Beliot, Illinois, USA.
____DAY 8: A day of good progress on bare and dry roads, clear skys and light winds. But as darkness falls so does the temperature. By the time I reach Fargo,ND it is --32 degrees C. I put in a double dose of fuel conditioner, fill up with #1 diesel and keep the CAT purring all night long. Sure, I know I have a huge carbon footprint, and it does concern me. But i'm no green hero who wants to freeze to death in the dark.

____DAY 9: At --25, the exhaust stacks of diesel engined trucks leave vapour trails in the air, a sure sign that it's best to keep 'em running. I trailled vapour all the way to the canadian border, only then did it warm up briefly before the mercury fell back down at dusk. I parked at the Main Track, Weyburn,Sk, an unusual little restaurant and bar with a unique greek influenced menu. If you order the sovlaki make sure you're hungry enough, it's massive.
____DAY 10: Weyburn to Calgary,Ab, a day of endless prairie, flat, snow covered and the only remarkable event was C596 clocking up it's 600,000th kilometer. At Calgary's Flying J , I wandered over to the Deerfoot Casino, there is a nice bar called the Wildhorse , the statue at the entrance is spectacular.
____DAY 11: The racks were soon unloaded and soon after breakfast I was on the way to High River,Ab to collect insulation for a jobsite in Regina,Sk. 469 miles and booked in for 7o'clock tuesday morning. C526 was there too. Loaded and tarped inside, showered and nourished at Okotoks, we made it to Moose Jaw,Sk before time ran out.
____DAY 12: Why we were booked in for 07.00am I do not know, nobody arrived before eight and it didn't get light until eight-thirty. It was snowing and blowing, it's at such times you are glad there are two of you, even so it was still a struggle to fold and roll the tarps. We went off to fill up with diesel, not really worried if there was a reload or not. When the reload came through at two-thirty i had recovered enough to deal with it, empty to Saskatoon, then scrap metal bales to Selkirk, just north of Winnipeg. Then one hour up the road, BEEP, load cancelled, very strange, because I had phoned the customer earlier and booked the truck in for eight o'clock, no problem. Finally I was told to return empty to Steinbach, but it was still snowing and snowing the snow that Kenworth wiper blades cannot cope with. I crawled back to Regina with blocks of ice swishing across the windscreen and called it a day.
____DAY 13: Plenty of blowing snow on the TransCanada Highway, but apart from getting dusted by the overtaking trucks in the fast lane, an easy day to finish the trip.
____Overall distance covered:- 8004 kms

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