Wednesday, July 28, 2010

From The Book : Roadtrip Ramatuelle.

A Friday Night At The Londra Camp, Istanbul.1984

Izmit was on the eastern side of the Bosphorus, about two hours’ drive from the Londra Camp, but on Friday morning, we could not leave until 10.00 o’clock. This was because of the rush hour restrictions on the Bosphorus bridge, where the toll doubled before 10.00 in the morning. This was not much of a deterrent for a car, but for a four axle truck, it was an extra £90.00. It was good for me that Rob Borgman had arrived a day earlier, as it was normal to loose a day while you went to tell your agent to arrange for Customs’ clearance: as it was Friday, I would not have tipped until the Monday. We were both back at the Londra Camp before dark, after having unloaded the diesel engines at a truck building plant, right beside the main Istanbul-to-Ankara highway. Hamish Jenkins and Chris Wood were still at the Londra Camp when Rob and I returned. They had been to see their agents and would tip on Monday.

“A good job well done: let’s go on the piss,” said Hamish as soon as we got back. This was Hamish’s second most popular saying after the much more often quoted, “The job’s fucked: let’s go on the piss.”

In the restaurant bar at the campsite, Hamish recommended the chicken – it was the only thing he recognised.

“That other stuff probably won’t do you any harm, but if you found out what it was – then you would be ill,” suggested Hamish.

Everybody drank Efes Pilsen, the local strong lager. Rob and I sat with Hamish and Chris at a table in the middle of the dining room, soon to be joined by other British drivers. A new Zealand couple also came to sit with us and listen to Hamish recount some of his road stories. The New Zealanders were studying music and the guy had with him a soprano saxophone. We cajoled him to play something and when his girlfriend brought out a small bongo drum, to beat a steady rhythm, the Kiwi blew an amazing set of ethnic Turkish tunes. A lot of the drivers there that night were Kurds from eastern Turkey, Iran and Iraq; they began chanting, dancing and clapping – they appreciated the New Zealander’s talent even more than we did. A whole stream of Efes bottles were sent over to our table and shared amongst us all.

We sat drinking away into the night and I was just thinking what a great job it was when Hamish came out with a chilling statement that stunned us all:
“We’ve got big trouble. Nobody leave the table. Stay exactly where you are,” he said soberly.

“What on earth do you mean?” we all chorused.

“Don’t look now, but we are surrounded: there’s one Turk at every table; earlier they were all drinking together – now they’re waiting for us,” continued Hamish.

Hamish was right. We were the only table of drinkers left in the room: there were two waiters standing behind the bar, waiting to close up, and the only other people present were the seven Turks, each one seated at a different table.

“What do they want with us?” asked Chris Wood, “nobody has upset them, have they?”

“I don’t think so. The way I see it, they see five men with one women, laughing, joking, having a good time. They reckon those five blokes are going to take turns with that woman and if they can take that woman away from those men – then they can take turns with her,” stated Hamish.
“Oh, thanks a lot, Hamish,” said the New Zealand girl, “that says a lot for me.”

“Well, it’s a different culture out here,” went on Hamish, “you just don’t see Turkish girls out for a drink with the lads. Most Turks only see western women on TV, in films or in magazines. It’s all glamour and sex. They think they’re easy.”

“Are you sure about this, Hamish? What are we going to do?” asked Rob Borgman.

“Not 100% sure, no; but I bet at least half of them are carrying knives. I, for one, am not going to do anything, and I don’t want any of you to do anything either. We’re out numbered and pissed and I don’t fancy a-beating. We’ll sit it out,” suggested Hamish.

“What if they make a move?” I asked, looking round for a suitable weapon.

“No. They won’t start anything in here. It’ll be outside, or in the bogs. If you want a leak, you’ll just have to piss yourselves,” concluded Hamish.

The stand-off lasted till dawn, when the Turks finally gave up and trooped out to their cars. The waiters looked as relieved as we all were. All in all, I thought Hamish had got it right. It was a valuable lesson about getting drunk and dropping your guard in a foreign country. Rob B and I decided to have a rest day on the Saturday, in order to catch up on our sleep, after sitting up all night.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Grain Bins and Ten Pins

Trip XX.

____DAY 1: When I get into work, there is a message that my loading time for the grain bins from Winnipeg has been put back two hours. There are plenty of drivers in the yard waiting to be allocated a job so I can’t complain. Eventually loaded, tarped and away to the border by 3 o’clock. The load is still booked in for eight in the morning but it is only 292 miles to Mohall, North Dakota, so I finish late; on the customer’s doorstep.
____DAY 2: Union Oil, or North Dakota Farmers Union Oil to give them their full name are selling plenty of bins to their members. Another truck load rolls up, just as I leave; heading back into Canada, empty, through the Dunseith / Boissevain customs post. At Brandon, a preloaded trailer of steel siding and roofing is ready to be tarped; four drops, finishing up at Swan River, Mb. Whitewood is the nearest truckstop to the first drop and one of the few places left on the Trans-Canada Highway where you still get a meal and change from a $10 note.
____DAY 3: The first drop at Kipling is the only one of the four where I don’t get drenched. Amazingly it is 123 kilometres between each drop; Kipling- Melville- Preeceville- Swan River. Not far enough to dry out my coveralls and not worth changing just to get more togs wet. There is a reload of lumber out of SPL, Swan River, going to Oak Bluff, so I leave it until after I have it all strapped down, then dry myself completely. Enough time to get to Headingley and wet again; this time in the shower.
____DAY 4: A day to get a “Stamp-On”, a plan has been laid out by the office that sees me unloading in Shelby, Michigan, on Monday morning; push on well today, Thursday, and everything else will fall nicely into place. The lumber is unloaded quickly and a preloaded trailer of grain bins for North Dakota is next; it’s also pre-tarped with the worst tarp job I’ve seen in ages. Maybe it was windy, raining heavy, the driver had conjunctivitis in both eyes or had to rush off to collect someone from the airport; but that is no excuse for jamming the winches with excess strapping; not when you can just tuck it under the tarp. Time is tight, so I go with it flapping wildly; the first delivery is a must-do-today. In the words of the late great Bill MacLaren:
“There will be weeping in the streets of Willow City tonight if he cannah make the drop.”
Union Oil are still open; so onto Grand Forks and I’ve cracked it.
____DAY 5: The Dofner Farm at Buxton, on the North Dakota side of the Red River valley, must be one of the tidiest on the Prairies; no rusting machinery or lines of wrecked vehicles here. Well-trimmed lawns and two huge barns, the size of aircraft hangers, with everything parked under-cover. The farmer’s son is pretty handy on the Bobcat skid-steer; unloaded and I’m soon heading north, back to Steinbach; empty. The Michigan load is waiting, surprisingly, two crates weighing only 505 lbs; taking up less than a quarter of the 48 foot deck. Easiest tarp job I’ve had in ages.
____DAY 6: Former BFS driver Pete Young follows me through the border in his Bison Freightliner, we go into the Gas-Trak, Pembina, for coffee. C598 and Dwayne are already there with a load of bricks and no customs agent. We try and talk him into a positive frame of mind but Dwayne seems resigned to sitting at the border all weekend long. South on Interstate 29, east on Interstate 94 into Minnesota; then,
“See the lightening, hear the thunder; how far off is that I wonder?”
Flash-Bang; right overhead. For the next 5 hours I go along muttering,
“ Push on, we’ll be through this soon.”
All the way to Osseo, Wi, the sky behaves like an out of control speed camera.
____DAY 7: Good job I checked the internet for my street address; the Rand-McNally road atlas has Shelby, Mi, on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, Google Maps has a Shelby as a northern suburb of Detroit; 200 miles away and that’s the one I want. The last time I dropped a bollock like that was in Spain. Given Santa Suzannah, I went to Santa Suzannah de What’s-her-name when I should have been four hours away at Santa Suzannah de la Dee-bloody-dar. Not wanting to park overnight on the streets of Detroit, I loop round, northwards, to Imlay City; ready for a half-hour drive in the morning.
____DAY 8: Crates unloaded and the reload details arrive; 1850 miles to Edmonton, Ab. from Muskegon, just south of the other Shelby. Two hundred miles across Michigan to the pick-up and when I’m fuelling up at Lansing, half way there, a snotty message arrives on the satellite.
“Where are you? Shipper is looking for you. You went passed Muskegon hours ago. What’s going on?"
The office got there Shelbys in a twist! Now someone has got to phone the shipper explain how they have dropped a bollock. But now the pressure is on me; I’m told the load has to be delivered at 08.00 am. Thursday. 1850 miles and just Tuesday and Wednesday to do it; not possible. Only one thing to do; book off as soon as I’m loaded [14.00], take a 10 hour break and start again at mid-night. By going to night driving I can get in 3 shifts, arriving in Edmonton at the end of the third with a couple of hours left to unload.
____DAY 9: The early hours of Tuesday are certainly a much better time to tackle Chicago than late Monday afternoon. I make good time, getting up to Hasty, Mn at about midday. Only problem; it’s now the hottest time of the day, in the high 80’s. I need my rest; the truck has to idle, that air-conditioning is essential.
____DAY 10: Second night-shift; this time on mostly two-lane highways in North Dakota and Saskatchewan. What I wouldn’t give for 4 big Hella spotlights on the roof of the cab to show me the way? If the Amish farmers are going to get up and go to work when I come past then that’s just too bad. Onto Moose Jaw and the big Cat has to purr for another afternoon.
____DAY 11: The Yellowhead Route to Edmonton and I arrive with 30 minutes to spare after circling the West Edmonton Mall and finding a height barrier free way onto the roof of a multi-storey car-park. So what was this important load that just had to be there by eight o’clock Thursday? A Ten-Pin Bowling Alley, in kit form; everything, the lanes, the pins, the balls, even the rental shoes, plus the big score screens that show everyone just how useless you are. Twenty guys had been hired from an agency to do the unloading and carry the stuff up two flights of stairs; so that’s why it had to be there on time. I hoped I might get a chance to pop round the shops while I was there but the car park started filling up and I feared I might soon get trapped so I go to Acheson for some sleep.
____DAY 12: A quick trailer change and off to Whitecourt for a load of lumber; Millar Western, one of the biggest and busiest sawmills that seem to be riding out the recession better than most. Eleven packs of 6"x 2", fourteen feet long, the maximum weight for Canada and over 50,000 lbs. It needs inch perfect placement on the trailer for legality; too much on the drive axles means I have to return and wait for the forklift to adjust the packs, not one of my favorite pastimes and something that usually precedes the closing of every scale en route. Running back to Saskatoon sets me up for a Steinbach Saturday night.
____DAY 13: Large chunks of tyre tread scattered along Highway 16 reminds me of what problems I may encounter on a hot cloudless day. My trailer is shod with probably the worlds cheapest retreads; I give them a chance to recover with extended breaks at Yorkton and Gladstone. The sun is setting and a full moon rising when I reach Steinbach: in time to say goodbye to Mal and Bev who are forsaking Manitoba for a new start in Nova Scotia. All the best to you both; the ex-pat community is going to miss you enormously.
____Footnote: The lumber will get delivered to South Junction, Mb. on Monday morning then I'm taking a few days off. During which time I will try to prepare the drivers of North America for the return of Mr. Neil Ramsden.
____Overall Distance: 9909 Kms.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Kapitan Andreevo : The Poem.

....Seven kays from the border,
And I ain’t yet moved today.
....But I’m wide awake and ready,
Just wanna get on my way.
....How I hate this endless waiting,
And the need to stay awake.
....The need to keep the air up,
For the quick release of the brake.
....I ain’t saying that they’ll come past,
But it’s a chance you cannot take.
....Last-time ever through Kapicule,
You gotta learn from your mistake.
....Should have pushed on down through Yugo,
Gone on into Greece.
....Cheaper fuel and better food,
And no hassle from police.
....Could have had a day at Kavala,
Parked up on the beach.
....Lying on the sand in the hot sun,
With a cold beer in easy reach.
....Why’d I have to come through Bulgie,
It’s always the same way.
....Ipsala might be further round,
But in the long run it’ll pay.
Kapitan Andreevo,
....Who the hell were you?
Kapitan Andreevo,
....Four days in this queue.
Kapitan Andreevo,
....When will I get through?
Kapitan Andreevo,
....What did I do?
To deserve this!
This poem was written in 1984 while sitting in a long line of trucks waiting to cross the Kapitan Andreevo / Kapicule border from Bulgaria into Turkey....

Friday, July 9, 2010

Trip XIX.

____DAY 1: Resolute Bay on Cornwallis Island in the Province of Nunavat is having it's own arena. With an average daily high temperature of minus 13 degrees Centigrade, the second most northerly township in Canada; 350 miles from the Magnetic North Pole, is only ice-free and open for deliveries by ship for a few weeks from mid-July. The arena is loaded on five trailers at Brandon, Mb. and needs to be on the dock at Salaberry de Valleyfield, near Montreal, on Tuesday morning. Miss the boat and the air freight costs for BFS will be horrendous; either that or I'm going to be driving a dog-sled. I strap and tarp my load of steel beams with the Province of Manitoba under a severe storm warning. Then eastwards on the Trans-Canada Highway into Ontario and a Saturday night in Dryden.
____DAY 2: Steady progress in steady rain; the only interlude: finding a BFS truck stuck in the ditch just east of Nipigon. The driver had missed the turn-off for Highway 11, gone down a dirt road to turn round and sunk into a very soft shoulder. But my help is not needed as the owner of a nearby excavating company fires up his back-hoe shovel and comes to the rescue. One of many instances of Canadians being more than willing to help people in trouble that I have come across in the short time I've lived here. Sault Ste. Marie looms up as darkness falls, but not before I'm sure I caught sight of a huge wolf lurking at the road side; about to feast on some recent roadkill.
____DAY 3: Southern Ontario scorched over the long Canada Day weekend. In Western Canada, farmers are complaining that they are tired of watching the rain falling. An Ontario farmer comes on the radio and complains how tired he is after bringing in over 1500 bales of hay on each of the last three days. If that lot catches fire it will be his worst year ever! I run late into the evening, trying to get the cab cold enough for sleeping after the sun as gone down; but by then the Flying J Truckstop at Vaudreuil is packed out. The old Esso fuel station, one junction further on, makes a good alternative.
____DAY 4: Nunavat East Arctic Services operate the ships that deliver everything imaginable to the communities scattered around the Arctic coastline. Their wharf on the St.Lawrence Seaway is a hive of industry as five green Kenworths un-tarp, un-strap and quickly get unloaded, that is, all except me; the trailer with the steel beams has to unload in a different area to the trailers with the big wooden crates; the beams have to be banded onto a container base for shipping. It's 3 o'clock in the afternoon before the big fork lift truck that has been shuttling containers over to the ship has time to come and unload me. In that time I've missed a reload of cable reels to Alberta but a load of insulation to Winnipeg replaces it and the factory in Grande Ile is only five minutes away. With a third day of temperatures over 32 degrees C, it is now officially a heatwave in Quebec Province. Sweat pours out of me as I struggle to make a load-leveller out of my tarps for the polystyrene insulation going on the step-deck trailer.
____DAY 5: Leaving Pembroke, On. I notice I've not received the usual load instructions from the office via the satellite, just the offer of the job. After asking what's happened to them; they arrive. Critically, the load is to be fully tarped; I just smoke tarped it as I had done with previous loads from that factory and my tarps are holding up the two stacks of insulation straddling the step! Not that I have any way of getting them on top of a 13 foot high load. I carry on, with the plastic wrapping on the insulation getting in an ever increasing state of disrepair. Longlac puts me within striking distance of Steinbach for the next day.
____DAY 6: Winnipeg to the Montreal area is a good weeks work with a mileage of over 3000 and the choice of either Highway 11 or 17. Many drivers do this run week in week out, same drops, same pick-ups; these are called "dedicated runs", done by "dedicated drivers". Good miles and good home time, just what young family men entering the road transport industry are seaching for. Not that they get it; it goes to loyal, long standing, hard working brown-noses. Back at Steinbach, I have a plan; jack up the insulation, slide in some heavy-duty lumber as a load leveller, pull out the tarps, put them on top and tarp the damn stuff [ for the final 45 kilometres]. Two hours of sweating and many thanks to Frank for the help.
____DAY 7: At the delivery point, I explain that the problem with tarping step-deck loads is that the wind always gets under the tarp at the step and can cause more damage by flapping about than if it wasn't tarped at all. The bill of lading is signed with four sheets damaged; I'd have bitten your hand off if you'd have offered me that the night before.
____Overall Distance:- 5270 kms.

SLIDESHOW:- More Dollies-More Lollies

Thursday, July 8, 2010

From The Book : Roadtrip Ramatuelle

First Trip to Romania-1984

Romania was my next destination, with 54 drums of insecticide used for spraying fruit trees. Fred Archer had another load of the same drums going to another town nearby, so he instructed the driver to show me the way. I met up with Jock Gardner on the quay at Felixstowe, as we waited to drive onto the Sunday afternoon ferry to Zeebrugge. Jock was in his late 40s, with about ten years; experience of Middle-Eastern and Commie-bloc work. He knew just about all there was to know about the job and had worked for nearly every East Anglian company doing continental haulage. However, Jock made it clear that it was my responsibility to keep up with him. If I was at the borders with him, then he would show me what to do – otherwise I was on my own.

I got little encouragement from Jock’s attitude, as he was driving a brand new Scania 112 and I was still with an old Mercedes. It turned out that keeping up with Jock was not a problem as he was not in a hurry and his main priority was to make sure he found somewhere to have a drink in the evening. Jock knew every truck stop on the route; he even stopped to buy supplies at a village shop in Bavaria. Jock encouraged me to buy something, saying that I never knew when I might want to shop there again.

The next morning, when we crossed into Czechoslovakia, I found out about Jock’s other great passion, besides drink: women. It seemed that Jock’s ideal trip was to get drunk every night and have a woman in each country, on the way through. Jock knew every watering hole in every country, but I do not think Fred wanted him to stop at them all, when he asked the Scotsman to show me the way. We went from the Motorest at Pilzen, to the Motel Rokycany, and then to the services at Brno. At each place Jock showed me how to change Deutsche Marks on the black market, how to buy diesel fuel for Marks and where to find the best looking women.

After Prague, the motorway to Bratislava made our journey easier and we were soon in Hungary. Once again, we stopped at the places traditionally frequented by British drivers. These included the Hotel Wein in Budapest and the Windmill, a restaurant in the countryside, south of the capital. The old Mill had been converted into a smart eatery: it was not only popular for its good food, but also for the shower block built in the truck park. Jock thought there was a better class of girl at the Windmill, too. He recommended Erica, who he reckoned was every British driver’s favourite Commie-block whore. Sadly, she was having a night off when we were there.

First thing next morning we crossed into Romania, where Jock certainly knew all about the paperwork. It took half a day, but Jock managed to clear Customs, get the TIR carnets stamped and buy our visas with 200 Marlboro, a jar of Nescafe and some Wrigley’s chewing gum - it was the normal procedure when delivering in Romania, which allowed us to go straight to our destinations without dealing with further bureaucracy.

It was also Jock’s birthday, and to celebrate it, he wanted a woman. When we left the border, it soon became clear how he was going to get one: Jock stopped at every bus stop, in every town and village, to ask any waiting females if they wanted a ride. As he did not seem to be having much luck, I soon got fed up pulling up behind him every few minutes. Eventually, I pulled round him and made steady progress on my own. But on leaving the next town, there was a girl hitchhiker. This was the very thing Jock was looking for, so I stopped to pick her up. She was tall and slim with long black hair to go with her olive-brown complexion. If it were not for her brown teeth, you would have said she was a ‘ten’. The teenage Romanian was bubbly and full of life. As we went along, she tried on my sunglasses and went through my cassette collection, pleading with me to let her keep one of my Dire Straits’ tapes.

I drove on for a few miles, before stopping in a rest area for coffee and to wait for Jock. Minutes later, he swung into the car park and pulled up with his driver’s door next to mine.

“Where the fuck did you get her from?” raged Jock, as he peered across at my passenger.

“Two towns back. Had any luck?” I asked, although I could see he was alone.

“No, I haven’t. You jammy git,” replied Jock.

“She’s yours then – my birthday present to you. Take her,” I offered.

“No. No, you found her. You can have her,” shouted Jock, as he slammed the Scania into gear and roared out onto the road, showering everywhere with gravel.

We made love on the bottom bunk of the Mercedes, as the afternoon sunshine shone warmly through the gaps in the hurriedly drawn curtains. I soon saw what a perfect body my passenger had, once she had taken off the shapeless nylon tracksuit that all Romanians seemed to wear. My good looking lover was also good between the sheets, where she took control in an unexpected performance that belied her youthful appearance. Afterwards, she told me her name was Paula and she gave me her address in Arad, telling me in sign language to call on my way back.. I dropped Paula off in the next town, but not before she climbed across the cab for one last kiss.

“Marks, you give me marks?” asked Paula, as she ran her hands across my pockets, feeling for my wallet.

“Ten out of ten, very good,” I could not resist saying, but Paula did not understand why I was laughing – although she was well pleased with the ten Mark note that I gave her.

By this time, the daylight was fading; also, I had no idea where Jock planned to stop for the night. It was not that I needed his expertise anymore, I just wanted to be sociable. Jock had warned me of the dangers of night driving in Romania, with the common hazard of unlit horse and carts, so I took it slowly, driving defensively. I avoided the horses with their dozing drivers, while keeping half an eye out for Jock’s Scania. I found him – parked in a big rest area on the outskirts of Carensebes. Jock had not found a woman to share his birthday celebrations, so he had drowned his sorrows by drinking his bottle of duty free Johnnie Walker. When I arrived, he was asleep at the wheel, with the whisky bottle lying smashed beside the cab.

I was woken at 5 o'clock in the morning by shouting and banging on the cab; amazingly it was Jock.

"Come on, get up, we're going."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kamloops Lake and The Fraser River.


____DAY 1: With only a five hour drive to the delivery point, I could have got up at 2 o'clock Monday morning and been there by eight. But one of my reasons for coming to Canada was to get away from that regime. So after lunch on Sunday I set off with my steel frame for Whitewood, Saskatchewan; stopping at Brandon for a cup of tea and a donut.
____DAY 2: The agricultural machinery company have been waiting since Febuary for the arrival of my load; a combine harvester is waiting to be rebuilt in time for the forthcoming season. Soon unloaded; I'm heading back to Brandon for a trailer change over. Grain bins going to Yorkton, Sk. Not a long run , only 179 miles, to be tarped as usual. It's a hot and sticky, overcast day; after a welcome shower, I cruise up to Yorkton to finish just before dusk.
____DAY 3: During the night I'm awoken by a thunderstorm, which leaves the nearby grain bin builders yard as a sea of mud. The tarps never touch the ground as I bundle them up as the bins are unloaded; with a smoke tarp strapped over them, I hope for dryer ground back at Brandon. There are still storm clouds at the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border, where a railroad crossing is being repaired leading to an escorted detour along dirt roads; a highway worker has all the safety gear on, hard hat, steel toe boots, hi-viz waterproofs but I wonder how that will protect him from a lightening strike. You wouldn't get me out there in the open waving a 7 foot metal lollipop. Another trailer change for another tarp load, this time 1379 miles, Brandon to Williams Lake, BC. Through to Moose Jaw Sk.for the night.
____DAY 4: Six weeks of storms across the Prairies have left there mark, but no-where more so than at Maple Creek and Irvine. The Sk/Ab border towns suffered most and the Trans-Canada Highway failed to re-open after flooding, so I was forced to go north to Rosetown and then east to Calgary. Crossing the Rockies by the route known to all truck-drivers as "Golden"; not so much named after the town but because of the nearby site of the government scale, notorious for sniffing out over-heating brake pads. I stop overnight at the rebuilt Husky Truckstop, handily placed above the scale.
____DAY 5: From Golden, over the Rogers Pass, through Revelstoke, Sicamous and turning off the major east-west route at Kamloops, heading for Cache Creek. Then Highway 97, the Cariboo Gold Rush Trail, northwards to Williams Lake. Probably the least scenic part of British Columbia but still picture postcard stuff compared to Saskatchewan, if a bit boring with endless woodland on a flat high plateau.
____DAY 6: My steel building is going to be yet another self- storage enterprise, sitting high above the river, overlooking the town and it's sawmills, a building plot to "die for" in some countries will be a row of steel roller shutters. But a good man on a zoom-boom soon has me unloaded. Northern BC should be good for a load of lumber to just about anywhere so I'm not worried about getting reloaded, even if it is Friday. However, other people have other ideas: 2340 miles; collecting a pre-loaded trailer from North Bend, Washington. delivering in British Columbia and Alberta. A days driving empty; running the "Canyon", the route beside the Thompson and Fraser Rivers, a spectacular road swooping and climbing whilst the waters churn and crash endlessly alongside. A new border crossing into the US at Sumas, just 2 miles off the TCH, south of Abbotsford. Across to Interstate 5 and down to Donna's Truckstop, to end the day on the topside of Seattle.
____DAY 7: Thoughtfully all the custom formalities were done by the office on Friday, so it is just a case of chaining down the three aerial access towers and heading back north. Crossing on the Pacific Highway, east to Hope and then again into the Canyon; running upstream and fully loaded. With not a great deal of mileage until the first drop at Prince George on Monday morning ; I park overnight at Cache Creek.
____DAY 8: There is a World Cup match on in the morning, but as I didn't see the last match and England won, I decide not to watch this time in case I jinx it for them. Anyhow I save myself 90 minutes of anguish. Once more into the Cariboo, Williams Lake and northwards to Prince George.
____DAY 9: The medium sized machine is the first off, no problem, and I continue along Hwy 97 heading for Fort St. John. At about the Continental Divide, road improvement work stops all traffic for nearly an hour while rock-blasting takes place. After that it is slow progress as all the traffic is now bunched in a convoy with every shape and size of RV. The management at Fort St. John tell me that for insurance purposes it is my job to unload the biggest of my Genie access platforms. Never haven driven one before, I need their yard man to start it up; but after that, by following his instructions, it drives off quite nicely. Earlier I had received reload instructions that needed me to pick up empty snowmobile and ATV crates; starting with the dealer at Fort St. John. So with one access tower left to deliver, I load 30 crates behind it and head to the next pick-up , down the Alaska Highway at "Mile Zero": Dawson Creek. Minutes too late to load.
____DAY 10: The dealer is opposite Wal-Mart and it's a good job he has room for me to park over night.Wal-Mart's parking lot is full of RVs; 75 year old american couples in $300,000 motor homes towing town cars. It's great to see them doing the Alaska Highway roadtrip, even if their children's inheritance depreciates at every mile marker. Twenty-two crates from Dawson Creek, next Spruce Grove, 600 kilomtres away in Alberta. Twenty-six crates, but time has run out on getting the last delivery done. Blast those highway workers; their Monday morning explosions have cost me big time.
____DAY 11: Everything delivered and everything collected; time to head home. Edmonton is more than one days drive from Steinbach, so it's not worth pushing on regardless, a nice little siesta at Saskatoon, finishing at Yorkton to complete a big circle.
____DAY 12: Just under six hours driving back to base and the storm clouds havn't gone away whilst I have been away. Thunder and lightening ruining many peoples Canada Day holiday. July 1st in Canada, July 4th in the US; a long holiday weekend in North America.
____Overall Distance:- 7456 kms.

Slideshow: Pictures from Northern British Columbia