Saturday, June 5, 2010

Trip XV.

____Prologue: I unloaded the load from Oregon and came back to claim my expenses for the ferry crossings. A four-drop load for Quebec Province is my next assignment and I tarp it whilst waiting for the cheque. It's only Thursday, I'll leave Saturday for a first delivery on Tuesday: 1800 miles through to Riviere Du Loup.
____DAY 1: C596 and I first went out together on November 5th 2007, now thirty-one months later, we celebrate our 500,000 kms ; 181862----682862. I've done half-a-million kilometres for several companies but this is the first time that I've put on so much in one truck; with just a few kms done by the fitters and Lenny from the washbay. At Nipigon, I meet Russell, who announces that he stopped at Ignace and bought a 1972 Ford Cortina from a guy who has five acres of restoration projects for sale. Another project for Russell; to go with the fleet of aging Ford Econoline vans. How come I hardly have time to take the Mustang through the carwash betweeen trips?
____DAY 2: From Nipigon to Val d'Or in Quebec Province. Valley of Gold and quite a few Hard Rock Gold mines still operating along the road east of Kirkland Lake. Once the stomping ground of Sir Harry Oakes, who between 1911 and 1934, amassed a $20 million fortune; when he decamped to the Bahamas to avoid paying income tax. He was shot dead in 1943, nobody was ever convicted of his murder. His old house in Kirkland Lake is now a museum.
____DAY 3: South along Hwy117 into the topside of Montreal by way of the route known to all truck-drivers as "Through the Park". Verendrye National Park, named after the 18th century explorer and map-maker who was responsible for opening up canoe routes west of Lake Superior and into the Prairies. I finish the day, lazing on my bunk in the warm evening sunshine at the Ange-Gardien Truckstop. Then, I have an almighty row with two morons on a quad-bike who did donuts in the dust, right under my open cab window. They soon pack-up and bugger off when the snipe bar comes out to tighten some straps.
____DAY 4: At 36.2 degrees C it was the hottest day in May that had ever been recorded in Quebec. Luckily, I had my first Quonset building delivered at St. Alexandre before 10 o'clock. The next was for another dairy farm, 500 kms away, near Riviere du Loup; much nearer the ocean and a lot cooler. Too far for another tuesday delivery, so I stop at St.Jean-Port-Joli and the Petro-Canada truckstop, small and unremarkable except for the influence of the Bourgault brothers. Talented woodcarvers who started a tradition in the town during the 1960's that still exists today.
____DAY 5: The three Quonset buildings for 3 different farms around Riviere Du Loup are all being erected by the same construction company. They send Jacques and their small crane truck to unload me. I follow him from farm to farm and by the third drop on the banks of the St. Lawrence, we are working well as a team; we finish with a handshake and some vague directions on where to find my peat-moss reload address. Load peat-moss, Riviere Du Loup, Qc, deliver peat-moss, Montreal, Qc. I'm sure its not allowed, if not, there should be a law against it!
____DAY 6: I wake-up at Ste.Julie still waiting to be advised of a delivery appointment time for the peat-moss at Reno Market-Centrale. Eventually I'm told to take it round and see what I can do. Great! Amazingly they a really casual and start unloading straight away, then another truck-load of peat-moss arrives and the driver comes over saying what a hard time he had finding the place. Then it all falls into place; he's the 11 o'clock delivery arriving late, Reno thought I was him. To keep him away from the fork-lift driver, I suggest we go and pull off his straps. I'm signed up and out of there pretty sharpish. From small acorns doth mighty oaks grow. A load of jet-skis from Valcourt all the way to Prince George, BC. 2780 miles. Changing my 48 foot trailer for a 53 footer in the Montreal yard, I meet Lee Atkinson; its great to chat in english again.
____DAY 7: For the fifth morning on the trot, I breakfast in the Province of Quebec. One egg will be OK. Un oeuf is enough. But I'm soon loaded and underway, back into Ontario with hail-stones battering away on the roof of the cab so hard that I fear they may break through the canvas covered crates of my load. I check at North Bay and they're still intact.
____DAY 8: Highway 11 has had characters along it's route over the years; one was Archie Belaney a.k.a. Grey Owl. From Hastings, England, he fought in the First World War and came to Northern Ontario to dig for gold but went native with the local Ojibwa. He learned their ways, becoming one of the world's first conservationists; writing books and going on lecture tours around the globe. Archie, who liked a drink and did a lot of two-timing, burnt himself out and died in 1938, aged 50.
____DAY 9: Rainstorms across the breadth of Canada have left ditches filled and fields flooded. From Ignace, it's a shortish day back to base at Steinbach; there is not enough time for a log -book reset of 36 hours but enough for laundry and a visit to the bank's ATM.

____DAY 10: First drop on this load is Regina, a regular delivery point as the shipper fills up the west-bound trailers with units for this big-selling dealer. He takes four jet-skis and says he has orders for 37. Next drop is in Alberta but I finish at Saskatoon, at the Husky Truckstop, probably the best in the Route Commander chain.
____DAY 11:-West across country to Wetaskiwin, south of Edmonton, then north to St.Albert and the dealer sends me out to his warehouse on a farm. I'd been there before, two years ago and am amazed how the town has grown, with new houses now nearly all the way to the farm. Next, Acheson, 4 units and I'm left with the three for Prince George; they are stacked -up and it would be better if they were all on the deck. But on watching the forklift drivers performance, I decide not to ask him to move them; what if he drops it? Anyhow, it's a tail-wind out to the days end at Hinton, Ab.
____DAY 12:Across the Rocky Mountains by the route known to all truck-drivers as "Through the park". Jasper National Park and the animals are not hunted so are a bit less wary of humans; even so I am amazed that they are all out and about as I pass by with my camera clicking. Elk, then the Big-Horn Sheeep that are always hanging around, Caribou with their huge antler spread, a Moose which is quick, but not quick enough to escape unphotographed. I'm thinking; "All I need now is a bear". When, there he is! A magic hour, seventy kilometres like nothing before. Unloaded at Grand Prairie, the reload comes through on the satellite; Hixon, BC. lumber to Winnipeg, Mb. An hour south on Hwy 97 and an hour to load, back-tracking to Prince George, I end the day at McBride, BC. looking forward to another early morning pass through the Jasper National Park.
____DAY 13: A load of lumber all the way ,1878 miles, from BC to Winnipeg doesn't make sense; don't they have trees in Manitoba? Yes, but not many big enough to cut into size:-12 inches x 2 inches. Twenty foot lengths as well; not many sawmills in North America cater for that market. Rain-storms are still lashing the continent as make I it through to North Battleford in Saskatchewan.
____DAY 14: The last day available before a compulsory break due to log hour regulations; so I need to get home tonight. With 11 hours driving, I make it back. The load is booked in for
unloading on Monday morning; the truck is booked in for a service on Monday midday.
____Overall Distance: 10073 kms.

1 comment:

  1. That's a nice trip Chris. Not one you would want in the winter though!