Friday, November 18, 2011

Copperhead Road.

____Day 1: The eleventh of November, a public holiday and the biggest line of cars that I have ever seen at the US border. I follow Neal Trickett, in Flying Eagle #24, down the hard shoulder as we go through the deserted commercial vehicle checkpoint. Neal is heading for Georgia; my load is for New Jersey, both for delivery early on Monday morning. I make a comfort stop at Hasty, but I catch up and am right behind Neal's shiny new trailer at the off-ramp to Osseo. At the red light, I see a sticker; "Let Jesus carry your Load." Not a Flying Eagle trailer; lost him.
____Day 2: Few trucks on the road as I cross Chicago with the 20 tons of lentils destined for a cannery on the Eastern Seaboard. Like many truck-drivers who did Commie-bloc and Middle-east trips, I'm a big fan of canned food. Lots of variety, sturdy packaging, no eat-by dates; living out of a tin never did me no harm. Camion Stew Rules. Two-thirds of the trip done by the time I park-up at Upper Sandusky.
The new two-tone green standard issue Big Freight truck.......................only kidding.
____Day 3: Ohio done; three hundred miles of Pennsylvania and a lot more trucks on the road. Chronic bunching on the rolling hills of Interstate 80; an indication that more US fleets are limiting their trucks to 65 mph as diesel soars to well over 4 bucks a gallon. A Sunday afternoon to prove that car drivers go as fast as they want: truck-drivers go as fast as they can. On to Secaumus and a parking spot in the road outside the factory; as recommended by Bryn, pilot of Flying Eagle #18.
____Day 4: Soon unloaded and on my way through the rush-hour, to my first pick-up. Emigsville, 186 miles westwards in Pennsylvania. A collection of 44 computer desks for a school in Gimli, Mb. Then, south-west, across Maryland and into West Virginia. Finishing at an independent truck-stop at the strangely named "Jane Lew."
Now is the time of year that tests a driver's resolve to keep it clean.
____Day 5: Seventy miles to go and all of it through isolated communities in the Appalachian Mountains; some of the poorest places in the US. The twisting, turning Highway 33 following the floor of steep-sided, thickly-wooded valleys, copper-carpeted in fallen leaves. Sporadic meadows with shabby habitats, the smell of wood-smoke in the early morning rain. You can almost taste the moonshine, hear the banjos. Eight stacks of 8'x4' rubber mats from Spencer, going to Winnipeg. Loaded and with Steve Earle on the stereo: orders to head for Chicago as the office searches for two more pallets that will fill the trailer.
____Day 6: A late start from Remington, Indiana, giving the office more time to find some cargo but also letting me miss the Chicago rush-hour. Eventually I get the call to "Bring it home." Pushing on to Hasty as the temperature plummets. Time to get out the Tri-Pac instruction manual and find out how to make it warm the cab; as opposed to it's summertime cooling duties.
____Day 7: The familiar final run; Interstate 94 to Fargo, turn right, Interstate 29 to the border. Now a snow covered flat land. Back to the yard, with the trailer going for deliveries with the city truck. Back home by late afternoon.
____Overall Distance: 5892 km.
Carlsberg don't do headache racks...............................................

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