Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Week of Living Dangerously.

____Day 1: Echoes of the previous week's trip; as I find my trailer full of peat-moss needs two new tyres before I can start my journey to the Mexican border. It was loaded by the city truck; his only excuse is that the Flying Eagle yard is muddy and the worn tread was covered in crud. The delay has me leaving after noon; making it down Interstate 29 as far as Vermillion, South Dakota, before parking-up.
____Day 2: A gale force wind from the north is rocking the cab as I set-off again; more Interstate 29 and with wind assistance. Best-ever fuel consumption figures for the fully-freighted truck on the flat terrain of the Missouri valley. Through Kansas City, on to Joplin and down Highway 69; running down the clock towards a full 11 hours at the wheel. Finishing at the Choctaw Nation Travel Plaza, Stringtown, with it's adjacent casino. I often dine at casino restaurants where prices are subsidised by the gambling. $5.00 for the burger basket, $2.00 for a Bud and an eye-candy waitress that would have found my accent even more attractive if I had been thirty years younger.
Mirror-shot of fine old White, out for a run on Thanksgiving Sunday.
____Day 3: The Sunday after Thanksgiving: busy roads, as most of America returns home from family visits. No cruise control on Interstate 35 southbound as a capacity crowd hustle for the fastest possible journey time. Not even south of San Antonio does the traffic thin out; heavy all the way to Laredo.
____Day 4: There are eight trucks from Manitoba with peat-moss, all delivering to the same warehouse. Some have booking times to unload, some don't: I don't. Due to the holiday weekend, bookings needed to be made on the previous Wednesday! I had telephoned on the Friday and left a message. Two trucks get unloaded on the Monday; I'm given a spot at Noon, Tuesday. A lazy day at the TA, one of three truckstops at Junction 13 on Interstate 35. A day to clean the inside of #31 in the warm sunshine, drink endless cups of coffee with friend and fellow blogger, Dave Caldwell, and listen to Steve Earle's " The week of living dangerously." The story of a guy who jacks in his job, drives down to Laredo, goes over the border to Boystown and finishes up in jail.
Two blogger's trucks and the world's biggest cabover.
____Day 5: Dave Caldwell of Penner International has a 9 o'clock booking and comes back to the truckstop to tell me about the very tight blind-side reversing that's needed to get unloaded; then he's off to Houston for a reload. The driver of the 2-axle, half-cab, yard shunter will back your trailer onto an unloading bay for $5.00. If ever there is a day when I'm unable to put my truck where it is physically possible to put it; I'll eat my license and go and work at something else. It is very, very tight but with the advantages of electric swivel mirrors and  the window in the sleeper; I jack-knife the trailer back onto the door. The rest of the day is spent driving up to Brownwood, for the first of my collections. Through countryside that reminds me of southern Spain. Arid, hilly land that proclaims itself as the "Heart of Texas" and a twisting road that should be called "Whitetail Alley."
____Day 6: The complete front half of a MR2 Toyota is my pick-up from a Brownwood scrap-yard. Then on to Roanoke for 13 pallets of toys that should have been picked-up yesterday; I hope they still get to the North Pole in time for distribution before Christmas. I'm taking them as far as Winnipeg. Final pick is in Ada, Oklahoma, and 146 miles to do before they close at 5 o'clock. I arrive at ten-to with a problem; they want to put 24,000 lbs of steel fabrications in the final 16 foot of the trailer which would make the trailer prone to jack-knifing and also overload the axles. I carefully explain the situation and to my amazement; they are really good about it. They unload 6 pallets of the lightweight plastic toys, load their stuff, and then reload the toys; working well past their going-home time. Good guys: the handling will be better, legal axle weights, I've got everything loaded in one day and up into Kansas for the night.
Peterbilt 379 with nice two-tone paint job that is getting very popular.
____Day 7: With the wind backing me from the south; a day of over a thousand kilometres as I push on for Fargo. Aiming for the Northstar Truckwash and their 24 hour service. Mostly Highway 81, as good as an interstate in places but with a sprinkling of annoying four-way stops in the most out-of-the-way places. Now familiar towns to be negotiated: Concordia, York, Columbus, Norfolk, Yankton from Kansas across Nebraska and into South Dakota.
____Day 8: I promptly parked-up when I came out of the wash and the wet truck promptly froze to the ground in the over-night temperatures of minus 10C. But I break free and finish off the trip with a three and a half hour drive back to the yard. Interrupted only by a 30 second question and answer session with the young lady at the Canadian Customs booth.
____Overall Distance: 5775 km.
Freightiner Argosy, long wheelbased cabover hauling section of wind turbine tower.


  1. Surprised I didn't see either you or Dave on my travels this last week, as I was around the same area.

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