Monday, June 14, 2010

Trip XVI.

____DAY 1: With the BC lumber delivered, the truck goes in for a service at the right moment; just before 10,000 DOT vehicle inspectors and qualified police officers embark on three days of non-stop checking of the North American transport industries trucks. The main reason for this is so the inspectorate can rack up huge amounts of overtime that will appear in their pay packets just in time for their summer vacations. After washing the truck, I select a good trailer from the fleet; ready to load lumber at Kenora in the morning; going to Murrysville, a few miles east of Pittsburg, Pa.
____DAY 2: All weigh scales are likely to be open and the one at the Manitoba/Ontario border nearly always is. The West Hawk scale sits on the Trans-Canada Highway at a point where the TCH is the only road linking east and west Canada; all trucks pass this way. A terrorist bomb in the scale house would paralize the country's road network at a stroke. In fact, the site had a near miss several years ago when a meteorite caused a 300 foot deep crater that is now the West Hawk Lake. The inspectors are busy with other trucks when I pass. Loaded, I cross into the US and onto Nemadji in Wisconsin without any problems.
____DAY 3: Today is the day with the biggest risk of being checked and Risk is the name of the department at BFS that deals with drivers' fines, violations, accidents and issues of non-compliance. You get a $25 reward for a "clean" inspection notice, but still no driver wants anything to do with Risk. Shit happens; but they tend to rub your nose in it. Although I don't believe the story of there being a big box of voodoo dolls with truck numbers stamped on their foreheads. All the scales that I pass have trucks pulled over for checks; I'm fortunate to get to La Porte, Indiana trouble-free.
____DAY 4: Toll-roads all the way to the delivery point, which have the advantage of being free from weigh-scales. There is a chance of encountering a roaming check-point but I'm more relaxed today. My main concern is the reload; details have arrived; West Virginia to Winnipeg, loading Friday. It's another 200 miles further east, I really need to get this lumber unloaded today and make tracks to WV; I'll try the nonchalant approach. Roll-up mid-afternoon, wander over to the office, tell them I'm tomorrows 08.00 booking and casually ask about overnight parking in the road outside: they will volunteer to unload me and the jobs a good'un.
The plan fails and I'm left sitting outside with five more hours of hot sun beating into a sweltering cab. Only one thing left to do: go down the pub. Even if it means enduring endless hours of televised baseball games.
____DAY 5: The early shift quickly dump off all my lumber, saying they will sort it out later: why aren't all forklift operators like that? Off to Falling Waters, WV on a busy Interstate 70 with numerous areas of roadworks. It's the same load of smelly resin that I did a couple of months back, so no trouble finding the place and the load is ready. Tarped and away to the nearby Pilot Truckstop to scale and shower by 2 o'clock. Thinking I could be home by Sunday night, I push on back into Ohio and a Turnpike service area on the west-side of Cleveland.
____DAY 6: The World Cup in South Africa has started so all trips now have to be planned with that in mind. Chicago shopping traffic stops me getting to South Beloit,Il. before England's fourth minute goal but there are plenty of empty chairs in drivers lounge at the Flying J Truckstop; where I find myself as the only one watching who has English as a their first language. England-USA :1-1, so no need to go round and plug the shitters with loo-roll.
____DAY 7: Getting to Black River Falls in Wisconsin leaves a Manitoba-bound driver with a good day of driving to get home. An overcast but dry Sunday with light traffic, Interstates 94 and 29, a stop-off at Fargo, ND for some of my favorite chicken tenders and potato wedges with dipping sauce. I'm back in the yard before dark; well ahead of schedule, the load's not booked in to unload until Tuesday morning, so an hours reset on Monday then away we go again.
____Footnote: No inspections this year during the blitz. The DOT inspectors could rake in some handy pressie money by having a three day blitz just before Christmas. But then it would be cold and damp, who wants to go crawling around under mucky trucks in the dark?
____Overall Distance: 4846 kms.

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