Saturday, September 4, 2010

Trip XXV.

____DAY 1: 170 miles empty to Brandon; strap and tarp a load of steel beams for a lumber mill extension in Fort St. John in British Columbia. Onto North Battleford, Sk. for a full days driving; parking at the Gold Eagle Casino. Do I feel lucky? No, I feel tired.
____DAY 2: Another 1000 kilometre plus day to the north-western extremity of the Prairies. Where the wheat and barley still stand waiting to be harvested. Mile zero of the Alaska Highway at Dawson Creek but only northbound for 45 miles to FSJ. Two other BFS trucks are already at the Petro-Canada truckstop; the 10 o'clock and twelve o'clock deliveries waiting for the 8 o'clock to join them. There is then a long debate about time-zones and eventually we all agree that the little piece of BC. that contains Dawson Creek and FSJ is one of the only two places in Canada where the clocks do not change. In summer it aligns with the rest of BC. and in winter it goes with Alberta on Mountain Time. Saskatchewan is the other place that does not "spring forward" or "fall back."
____DAY 3: You would think that delivering to a lumber mill, you would automatically get a reload of lumber. But the loads out of lumber mills are in the hands of brokers and the sawmills have no say who hauls their product. Canfor also sends a lot by rail; so when unloaded, the reload is from High Prairie, 346 Kilometres to the east. Lumber to Regina, Sk. quickly loaded from Buchanan Forest Products. South, back through Edmonton in the early evening and east to Vegreville for the night.
____DAY 4: Three hard days, but now an easy one. Lloydminster for fuel, food and shower. Isn't it annoying when they fit motion activated spray taps on a wash basin where you need to rinse a razor? If they think they are saving water- they are not. The shower is now running twice as long, just to get all the gunk from between those multi-blade heads. A siesta at Saskatoon and onto Regina's Husky Truckstop for an evening of free Wi-fi.
____DAY 5: Lumber delivered, no problem; reload from Chamberlain, an hours drive northwest, to Selkirk, Mb. Bales of scrap metal, ring for directions to the load site. At Chamberlain, I am joined by Stuart Anderson in C 602, also loading scrap. Eventually a guy in a pick-up truck comes to lead us to our loads, 20 miles down a dirt road, to a farm. The place resembles an over grown museum full of rusting automobiles and redundant agricultural machinery. A car-crusher has been set up to clear the site but it doesn't do the job as quick as the one in the Bond movie " Goldfinger." I go for a wander around and find a rarebird amongst the junk; a 1950's Nash Statesman 4-door saloon, complete, with all glass intact. I chat with the farm-owner, a thin gaunt man in his fifties, living proof that you will stay slim if you work each and every day light hour. He is selling up, tired of supplying the world with cheap food. He tells of the fire that burned down the farmhouse, workshop and barn. Nothing was insured. The place has an aura of sadness, like at a funeral. Instead of coffins going into a crematorium's furnace; ancient vehicles are going into the crusher. It is gone 6 o'clock before I have my 16 steel lumps netted and secured with a mixture of chains and straps. I leave Stuart still waiting to load; with not much hope of getting away before nightfall. At Regina, I scale the load and it's 490 kgs overweight on the trailer axles. Do I make the 200 kilometre round trip back to the farm and have the load shifted to a legal position? Do I make a super-human effort to slide the siezed-up axle bogie to a legal position? Or do I drive the back roads so that I dont get weighed?
____DAY 6: From Brandon to the BFS yard in Winnipeg via Oakville. Unchain, unstrap and leave the load for a day-cab city truck to take up to Selkirk. This gets me out of the worst part of the scrap car carrying job; cleaning the trailer once empty: crushed glass, old engine oil all ground into the wooden deck. Bobtail back to Steinbach for the whats left of the long Labour Day weekend.
____Overall Distance:- 4379 kms.

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