Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mercury and Cougar's Eastern Seaboard Trip.

____Day 1: Considering that the Cougar has served thirty years in the employment of Revenue Canada; she is taking to life as a trucker's moll as a duck to water. When a fender-bender causes a 15 mile tail-back on the Interstate 94, exiting Minneapolis, Cougar has no hesitation going on the CB and winding-up the stationery traffic by repeating; " Damn, I'm sure glad I ain't westbound." In the style of white trailer park trash with a hint of sarcastic southern belle. We make it as far as Osseo after a mid-morning start.
____As day one begins with a delay in the yard, The Cougar decides to take advantage of stretching out on the bunk in the back, kneading the soft blanket like the feline she is, while Mercury chats with a fellow driver.It’s only day one and Cougar is tired from Mercury rising the night before so into the bunk for some well deserved catch up sleep. It’s an uneventful day as we head south east to our destination.

Flying Eagle Trailer #01 with mural and stainless steel doors and headboard.
 ____Day 2: With two drops of cardboard tubes, weighing only 9,000 lbs, progress is as good as the fuel consumption. It's flat countryside all the way to Spiceland's Flying'J on the east-side of Indianapolis. Second day of 900 kilometres and a Saturday night out.
____ Off to early start through Wisconsin, home to Cranberries and Wisconsin Dells a vacation playground. It’s another enjoyable day chatting with my Mercury as I view the countryside and he works. Burning down I90 through Illinois we come to my first toll road which costs $5.00 American, only a short stretch of road. One thing I’ve noticed about Illinois is there are miles upon miles of cornfields. We have one final rest stop at Farmland to show Mercury just how much I appreciate him and back on the road to Indianapolis.

West Virginia: Wild and Wonderful. Will always remind me of  Cougar.
 ____Day 3: Cougar has brought her laptop with her, loaded with music; so with the computer plugged into the trucks audio system, we have a soundtrack to our journey. Music is always a big part of roadtrips and one tune always becomes associated with a certain trip. This time it is Wave On Wave by Pat Green. First drop is in Manassas Park, near Washington, DC. We park as close as possible.
____It’s out of Spiceland and the cornfields of Indiana to the green hilly terrain of Ohio, my kind of terrain. Listening to soft soul music I’m not quick enough to take a picture of an exit closure with a truck turned over a result of coming around the corner a little too fast. If there is one thing I’ve noticed is I have to give credit to these truck drivers who can manoeuvre these big rigs into the tiniest of places.Pennsylvania much like Ohio with lush rolling hills, I’m totally enjoying this trip as I’m an avid nature lover. It’s a fair enough trade for a nightly workout, Mercury gets to keep his eyes on the road and I get to look at all the beauty around me.
West Virginia is a place I always wanted to see being a history buff, loved reading about the Civil War. It also brings to mind Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River, take me home country roads. A little way up one mountain, on the road going west, are fire trucks at the scene where a vehicle lost control; holding up once again westbound traffic.

Second drop was right next door to Andrews Air Force Base.
 ____Day 4: Both drops are in the Washington region and the trailer is empty by midday. The reload is from Delaware; but not until Tuesday morning. So it's a short day; running up the busy Interstate 95 to Elkton on the Maryland/Delaware border. Flying Eagle doesn't encourage drivers to use toll roads but sometimes it is unavoidable, also sometimes, it is economic. But the Susquehanna River crossing on Interstate 95 is one toll
that I didn't see coming: $30 for a four mile stretch that was so small on the map that I missed it.
____This morning, I got a view of Washington DC, no trucks are allowed in there unless they have business being there. I won’t be able to take a picture of me in front of the White House. Unloaded and the pickup not ready until the next day, we make our way to a truck stop that borders Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania. A few pictures of Washington, Baltimore, the harbour and the US Air force Base where Andrews field is, two toll roads this time $12 and $30. I wonder how come they have so many toll roads in such a short distance.It’s a early end to the day time for a hot shower for two and three shot glasses, one for DC, Maryland and Delaware as well as a well earned rest for my driver. After dinner I buy two DVD’s and we watch one The Family Man with Nicolas Cage, it felt like we were at a drive-in movie which some of the younger generation would say “what is that?”

Philly Stadiums and Skyline.
 ____Day 5: The whole morning is spent loading 38 foot of the trailer; where I am left waiting for one pallet to be ferried round from a nearby production plant. Meanwhile, the office has found another 12 foot of cargo to fill the trailer. The pick-up is in New York state, Wednesday morning, which pleases the Cougar and swells her shot glass collection. Another short day, but cutting across country to Middletown cuts out the tolls of the New Jersey Turnpike.
____A beautiful warm sunny morning sends us on our way for the first pickup in Delaware. A long snooze stretched out in the back bunk while waiting for a reload; of course Mercury was out and about because he was working, you would think one was in Mexico on Mexican time waiting for it. While we wait, I have another thing to smile about; a partial load to fill up this rig means going up to New York State and another shot glass or two. I think aloud that I’ll have to open up a little shooter bar where one can come and have a shot from around the US, might even have some body shots on the bar.On the road through Philadelphia, I get to see the cityscape along with the harbour where I can see some US Navy ships. There are lots of bridges along the way spanning the waterfront of the Delaware River.As we make our way into New Jersey, Mercury takes a little highway North were he’s never been before, number 31, a quaint little two lane highway winding its way up reminding me of driving through the Whiteshell in Eastern Manitoba a lovely way to spend part of our day.Two more toll roads to the tune of $9 and $4.25 and we arrive at our destination for the evening in New York State. Playing some Wisp and Rummy to unwind, dinner and then settling in for a movie entitled " Training Day."

Another day: another cityscape: Chicago.
 ____Day 6: I was suspicious of the reload address and even checked it out in the local telephone directory. A residential area in a small town is not where you expect to find a rubber plant. But the old factory was where the maps said it was; on a steep, narrow, tree lined street; surrounded by old clap-boarded houses. For over a hundred years, wagon drivers must have been cursing this place; it would have been difficult to get a horse-drawn cart on the loading bay. Reversing in 75 foot of truck and trailer, down-hill on the blindside, to within 2 inches of a wall along the nearside: not easy. It took longer to get the trailer on the door than it did to load it; big thanks to the Cougar for her work as a banks man. A full days driving once loaded; getting through Pennsylvania and Ohio, into Indiana.
____The Appalachian mountains; I still feel that old adage of adrenaline rush through me reminding me that I am still afraid of heights even though I’ve jumped out of an airplane and loved it.We made a pit stop in Lamar, PA (Appalachian Mtns) at the Flying J and I hit pay dirt. I’m so excited, I missed stopping at places in Virginia, West Virginia, and New Jersey for my shooter glasses, but there they were like they were waiting for me. My day is now made I have all 10 shot glasses from my travels through states where I’ve never been before (Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, DC, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania).

Toll plazas. At least Dick Turpin wore a mask.
 ____Day 7: Two short days in the trip have left me with plenty of driving hours to finish the trip. So another 1000+ kilometre day, through the heart of Chicago on my secret no-toll paying route. Onto Sauk Centre in Minnesota after catching the Twin Cities after their evening rush-hour.
____We are off again after a night spent at MacDonald’s due to the truck stop in Ft Wayne being full; at least we had Internet with breakfast. I get a happy greeting from the next trucker’s Labrador first thing in the morning; I seem to have a way with truckers, dogs, horses and cats not in any particular order. We did see spectacular lightening and a downpour which made us glad we didn’t have to step out at that full truck stop. Also on the list of sightseeing was an Amish farmer ploughing his fields with 4 strong horses and a Amish carriage coming back from Fort Wayne they must have got caught in the downpour.On to Chicago, where my driver promises me a glimpse up front and centre to its downtown skyline as a reward for giving him such a satisfying workout the night before he fell into deep sleep.  

New Big Freight Livery on a Kenworth 660
 ____Day 8: There is not enough time to get the load delivered in Winnipeg; so it's back to the yard in Niverville to end the trip. Over six thousand kilometres on one tank full of the Diesel Exhaust Fluid for the first time; an indication of good fuel economy. Mainly due to the light weight of the loads and a tailwind courtesy of Hurricane Irene, helping us over the Appalachians.
____After a hearty breakfast we head out on the road, early, for the push to home, for me with one thought in mind what next to pick up at the duty free to fill my shot glasses. As I contemplate that my to mind drifts to the Cougar making her way to her favourite place, short skirt, heels, and dancing the night away. After all it is Friday Night.
____Overall Distance: 6069 km.

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