Thursday, October 21, 2010

Trip XXX.

____DAY 1: Brandon, Mb to Edmonton, Alberta, only 719 miles but with 170 miles empty from Steinbach; plus tarping equals two days work. The truck carries 7 tarps, two big tarps with end flaps and one big centre tarp which cover high loads such as lumber and insulation products; a smoke tarp that keeps exhaust smuts off the front of high loads; a 17x12 footer for small jobs and two steel tarps for loads such as the metal siding going to Edmonton. But even with carpet protection on the sharp edges, the steel tarps are slowly getting torn to shreds. Onto Regina for the first night of the trip.
____DAY 2: Coming up to the scale at Lloydminster; I start to chant for it to be closed, "Big Word- Big Word- Big Word." But it's Small Word. Open, with more inspectors on duty than I thought the Province of Saskatchewan possessed. I concentrate on thought transfer and change the chant to, "Let the green Kenworth pass unhindered- Let the green Kenworth pass unhindered- Let the green.." and I'm through and away, as per usual.
My first ever chant was in 1985 on a beach near St. Tropez, where I was part of a seated circle of linked pinkies that called for the miraculous repair of the automatic transmission in a "G" reg Mark 2 Ford Cortina. But somehow, after two minutes of "Gear-Box-Gear-Box-Gear-Box" it had changed to "Blow-Job-Blow-Job-Blow-Job" and the chronic fluid leak at the rear oil-seal on the main shaft wasn't cured. However, later that night I did receive oral and have been a fan of chanting ever since.
____DAY 3: The delivery in Edmonton is for a steel fabricators who seem to make anything and everything for the oil industry, from small sections of pipework to the largest of pre-fabricated buildings; for which my siding is for. The reload is for North Dakota, lumber from Drayton Valley; an hour and a half south-west, towards the Rockies. Loaded and back to Saskatoon for the night.
____DAY 4: A shower and a shave at Regina before presenting myself at the US border post of Portal. You shouldn't need to smarten yourself up, but it does help.When I remember my younger days, with a beard and long sun-bleached hair; the trouble I used to have in Eastern Europe, especially the old DDR. Now I try for the distinguished look. A night at the Stamart Oasis, Bismarck and an all you can eat buffet that includes ribs for $10: that'll be all you can eat ribs for $10, excellent.
____DAY 5: After unloading at Mandan, South Dakota; its seems that sewer green Kenworths are a bit thin on the ground in the lower Mid-west. The reload is from Valley, Nebraska, 609 miles away near Omaha. A preloaded trailer of lampposts for Ste Julie, Qc. A full day of empty running but I'm not to reason why. South-east through the Dakotas and Nebraska where the harvesting of maize and soya beans is going ahead in the most glorious weather. All the old farm trucks are out at work; double bottom-dropper bulkers with two axle pups being pulled by GMC Generals, Whites, round headlight Kenworths and old Internationals, the original Cornfield Cadillacs. It's dark by the time I reach Valley where a dozen straps quickly tie  down the  tapered poles.

  ____DAY 6: East on Interstate 80 and Iowa 80, the biggest truckstop in the world; a place I always stop. They deserve the patronage; it's use it or loose it as I see it. Times are difficult with the recession; more and more drivers are self catering in their cabs, leaving truckstops with full parking lots and empty restaurants. Flying'J are suffering in the US, the same as Les Routiers in France where East Europeans, cooking at their trailer boxes, have replaced the hard-drinking tables of Brits; knocking back the Calvados until the early hours. Through to Indiana and the Flying'J at Lake Station.
____DAY 7: Still dark and I'm filling out the log book when the cab sways; someone's up at the window, all I see is eyes and teeth. It's a choky hooker, head to toe in camo gear, wanting to keep me company.
"Sorry luv, just booked on, gotta go. Anyway what time do you call this? You had a busy night, or what?"
Back into Canada at Sarnia's Blue Water Bridge; Toronto is busy as usual but the Petro truckstop at Highway 401, Exit 611, is quiet and empty, just right for a good nights rest after a long day.
____DAY 8 : Four hours driving to Ste.Julie, crossing Montreal at the tail end of rush hour. The second load here this year and at 1340 miles, good earnings over the weekend. The reload is snowmobiles out of Valcourt, but not until Tuesday morning. Three drops ,2452 miles, finishing at Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. I give the job considerable consideration; go for it and get'em off by Friday? Or poodle back to the yard for a log hours reset and be empty Tuesday morning. I choose the latter.
____DAY 9: There are four BFS trucks loading snowmobiles first thing in the morning; Steve in C517 has 3 drops  and 2540 miles to Colorado and Utah which he is very confident will all be delivered by Friday afternoon. We leave together with him thinking I'm hell bent for Saskatoon. Then I peel off at the Vaudreuil Flying'J for a shower , a slice of pizza and a nice cup of tea. Highway 11 as far as New Liskeard, leaving two reasonably easy days to get home.
____DAY 10: Highway 11 and the radio goes off the air, gives you time to think. All the driver talk just lately is about CSA 2010 [ Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 ], an initiative by the US and Canadian Departments of Transport designed to improve safety on the roads. A data base is being set up to record penalty points awarded to truck-drivers for all incidents of violation and non-compliance. As it is in the name of safety, no one can complain about that. But databases can easily be adapted to store other information; is this the thin end of the wedge that will eventually award penalty points for such things as drivers age, blood pressure, weight to height ratio and even shirt collar size? Will the extra stress and worry about incuring points become a safety hazard in itself?
____DAY 11: If the DoTs of the US and Canada want to improve safety and compliance it just needs one new law. Ban companies from having a "Dangling Carrot" pay structure; outlaw "Cents per Mile" and make it law that drivers must be paid by the hour. That way; safety checks would be done properly, log books would be accurate and speed limits would be adhered to. A legal minimum rate would also make a level playing field for all companies. The road transport industry would be in turmoil for months but as it is all in the name of safety, no one can complain about that. Can they?
Back in the yard late Thursday afternoon. Carrying on with this load on Sunday. Birthday Saturday.
____Overall Distance: 8722 kms.


  1. "an companies from having a "Dangling Carrot" pay structure; outlaw "Cents per Mile" and make it law that drivers must be paid by the hour."

    I know they banned those practices in the UK (probably swayed by the antics on the pay per load movie, 'Hell Drivers' LOL) but will it ever happen in North America?
    Maybe with the adaption of electronic logging it will have to.

  2. Great post...and cool article man...thanx for the great post...keep on posting such articles... Kenworth Exhaust