Saturday, July 2, 2011

Flying Eagle to Eagle Pass.

The crest of the flood moved from the Dakotas to Missouri State during the trip.
  ____Day 1: El Paso and Laredo are the best known of the Texan border towns leading into Mexico; but there are others and this trip takes me to Eagle Pass, one hundred miles upstream of Laredo on the Rio Grande. As there are only 15,000 lbs of quilted fabric in the trailer; I opt for the direct, two-lane route that takes me to a first night halt at Yankton. Where the state line between South Dakota and Nebraska runs down the centre of the Missouri River.

Old Freightliner on Mexican plates; smarter than most.
 ____Day 2: South on US Highway 81 and the temperature increases throughout the day. Just south of Oklahoma City, I stop at dusk with the thermometer showing 40 degrees C and am thankful for the air-conditioning from the trucks Tri-Pac. Normally I would be in the truckstop, buying a 12 volt, plug-in, electric fan to keep me cool at night. These cheap Chinese-made fans never last more than a couple of nights; so I always made sure I kept the receipt and the packaging: taking it back, first thing in the morning, for a full cash refund.

Directions to the packhouse: Dirt road 234 and look for the big stack of blue pallets.
 ____Day 3: Part three of the 1675 mile crossing of the USA, border to border. The last hundred miles; west from Interstate 35, across a flat landscape of endless head-high bushes, dry and dusty. To the small town of Eagle Pass, that relies on the business created by the transhipping of freight and the customers of a giant casino. Like border towns all over the world, the place puts me on edge.
____Day 4: The 185 rolls of quilting look like they are for making mattresses and it takes three hours to unload the trailer as they are loaded into the mexican trailer on the next dock. The reload is for Winnipeg; from near the town of Floresville, three hours drive to the east. Watermelons and it is no surprise to learn that they will not be ready until tomorrow.
____Day 5: Waiting for hours at a hot and dusty pack-house in Texas reminds me of the umpteen wasted days spent in southern Spain waiting for caps, cues, toms and iceberg. The language is even the same: Spanish.
    ``Carga, aqui, ahorra``---``Load-me, here, now``
    ``Lo seinto, manana.``----``Sorry, Tomorrow``
I hate hauling perishables, especially when I it`s not in a fridge. I open the fresh-air vents and at 5 o`clock in the afternoon, I am  ready to leave with 56 pallet bins of watermelons. Pushing on, north, out of Texas and into the late evening; as far as Calera in Oklahoma. To the Chocktaw Nation Casino, not the biggest casino in the world but the place with the biggest truck-parking of any casino anywhere.
____Day 6: The air-conditioning breaks down soon after I set off; now running a midday to midnight shift, with the windows open. Taking the four-lane route via Joplin and Kansas City. Then due to flooding of the Missouri River; detoured onto two-lane highways via Maryville, Clarinda and Avoca; up into the heart of Iowa.
____Day 7: The start of the big July Holiday week-end and a lot of people on the move. Armed with GPS equipment, many Americans who have never enhanced their driving skills since they passed their test, now venture out on ambitious trips. They have no lane disipline, driving etiquette and never use advanced driving techniques such as turn signals. In fact, many drivers are reluctant to indicate their intentions as they see it as an invasion of their privacy. But I`m the last person to deny someone the chance of a roadtrip. My solution: Integrate the GPS with the direction indicators of the vehicle; have the Sat-Nav work the winkers. It has to be better than nothing! Back into Canada by the end of the day.
____Day 8: The watermelons get dropped off. Not one of my favorite fruit. If I had to eat one; I would make sure I was sitting down in the bathroom. They go through me that fast. Then onto the Peterbilt dealer in Winnipeg for repairs to the air conditioning. Next week; it`s Texas again so it needs to be fixed.
____Overall Distance: 5569 km.

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