Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Trip XXII.

____DAY 1: Humidex: a new word for me; the opposite to wind-chill. I strap and smoke-tarp a load of green plastic sewer pipes and am wringing wet with sweat. The temperature is 30 degrees C, with the humidity, the day has a Humidex rating of 40. It's a relief to get out on the road in a refreshing air-conned truck cab. The pipes have come from Langley, BC. I have them for the 1300 miles from Steinbach to Etobicoke, Ontario. Eastbound and into the cool of the night, a long days drive to Marathon, On.
____DAY 2: A misty start to the day; which is good; no wind and with a high load a shade taller than the legal maximum of 13'6'', that's good for the fuel consumption. In the afternoon, the reload instructions arrive: load Thursday at noon, Haileybury, On going to Questa, New Mexico. Nice one, 2098 miles and somewhere different. Plenty of time to get the pipes unloaded on Wednesday, so the Rest Area at Parry Sound with the Tim Hortons seems a good plce to finish for the day.
____DAY 3: I wait till the early morning rush into Toronto has subsided before I run the centre lane of Highway 400 south through Barrie and round to the eastern side of the Lester Pearson Airport. The right lane of the 400 used to be the shoulder and the bridges are a shade lower than 13' 6''. The pipes are off quicker than I can roll up the straps as airliners take off overhead at one a minute. Then along to the BFS drop yard to change a flatdeck for a stepdeck; which is on the western perimeter of Toronto's major airport where now shadows of incoming jets are now shading the truck. North to North Bay and onto New Liskeard for the night; ten minutes from Haileybury.
____DAY 4: The load is mining equipment; a 20 foot container outfitted as a workshop, tools and all, plus some other pieces. Not long to load or secure, it takes longer to get a confirmation out of the fax machine after sending 28 pages of customs invoices to the broker! Down to the border at Sault Ste. Marie; I'll wait until morning before I cross.
____DAY 5: A long line of cross-border traffic waits on the long bridge linking the two Sault Ste. Maries and when I do get to the booth I'm told I have been selected for a search: code-named " Intrusive." I back the truck onto Bay 2 and retire to the lobby wondering if "Intrusive" includes body cavities. There is a three hour wait and all I can think about is the truck-driver who was told by a customs officer that it was normal to have an erection during a body cavity search.

" But I don't have an erection," says the truck-driver.

" No, but I do," replies the customs officer.

Eventually I am told that they have found something and are debating between "seizure" or "IE", which stands for immediate export. In the container is a $10.03 corn broom, labelled "Made in Mexico", on the manifest it is listed as canadian. Having put that much time and effort into the search, they are not going to let it go. Another two hours and it's decided: IE, ie: everything is being sent back to Canada. By then it is too late on Friday afternoon to do anything about it.
____DAY 6: The office sends me to the BFS yard in Mississauga with the trailer; I can leave it there for someone else to take when things are sorted out. Shame. Three step-deck trailers are waiting, topped-up, to go back to Steinbach. Only they arn't there; but I am assured by the office that they are somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area and could I look for them? It's a hot sticky night with little sleep at the Mississauga Husky Truckstop.
____DAY 7: Sunday morning and the Fifth Wheel Truckstop at Milton with it's breakfast buffet and free internet is the destination. If I was asked to top-up trailers in the GTA, I would take them to Milton's Truck Town Terminal; so I'll swing by there on the way. And there they are! Eight straps later and they come with me for breakfast. A bit of surfing on the web and back to the Soo for the night.
____DAY 8: Steel grey clouds loom large over Gitche Gumee as the wind and rain lash down on Highway 17. My head is filled by the lyrics of Gordon Lightfoot's haunting masterpiece "The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald" as I head westwards along Superior's north shore.
"Superior," they said, "never gives up it's dead, when the gales of November come early."
Squalls, all day, all the way to Thunder Bay.
____DAY 9: Back to the yard in Steinbach with the three trailers and the corn broom! At the moment the broom is part of the running equipment of the truck, a tool of the trade. Bizarrely it can now travel, as many times as it likes, in and out of the US without any problem. The next time I'm in the Haileybury area, I'll take it back to the shipper.
____Overall Distance:- 5883 kms.

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