Sunday, January 15, 2012

Texas Triangle

____Day 1: No Customs and Border Protection Officer wants to be responsible for letting the next murdering terrorist into the USA and that justifies their intimidating, no-nonsense approach to the job. But also in their code of conduct; they are required to be helpful and give assistance when asked. I have a load of fabric that has to be bonded for transit through the US, from Canada to Mexico. I know that I need three copies of the manifest; signed and dated, but it hasn’t happened. It takes a series of polite questions from me to ascertain that I need to sign the papers first! Then they will sign and I good to go; dodging the inevitable bullet that would have come my way if I had arrived at Eagle Pass with useless customs clearance papers.

____Day 2: It was nearly mid-night when I reached Sioux Falls due to some trailer repairs causing a late start on the Friday. But this whole trip has been pre-planned and needs to get back on track with a full days driving; south to Oklahoma City’s Flying’J along the familiar Highway 81 and Interstates 135 and 35.

____Day 3: Sunday morning breakfast at McDonald’s and some guy is hitting on me for a hand-out. He is through my defences; which makes me think that he could be genuine. He has to get back to Wichita and needs money for gas [petrol]; he has slept in the car with his wife and child. The car is on Kansas plates and he is not the normal type to be begging; otherwise I would have seen him coming. I give him $20 and he gives me a place in his prayers. I can afford it and I owe it to all the people who have shown me kindness, over the years; but I do hate being conned. Back to work; all Interstate 35, until Exit 111 and the two-lane highway, westwards, to Eagle Pass on the banks of the Rio Grande.

Transhipping at the border.
What's Spanish for "Don't forget the legs."..?????

____Day 4: Backed onto an unloading bay overnight, it’s lunchtime before I am empty and heading for a reload at Alpine, Texas. Running alongside the border and past the Amistad Dam, where the Rio Grande becomes Lake Amistad. Through endless scrubland with occasional groves of pecan trees. Then, despite the near-desert landscape, it starts to snow; which is probably why it’s called Alpine. The pick-up is 60 miles south of the town, so with supplies for an evening meal and breakfast, I push on down to the Cowboy Mining Company.

At the Cowboy Mining Company, Texas.
____Day 5: It was here that Pete Young loaded Bentonite in May 2009, hours before being arrested as an illegal alien at a border checkpoint as he headed back to Canada. I have no such problems, but do have trouble with the weight of the load. After sliding the axles as far forward as possible; it takes a borrowed pallet-truck, from the TA workshop at Santa Rosa, and a lot of effort to move 3 one-ton bags to the back of the trailer. Not much weight allowance left for diesel and no chance of dodging the scales as I head for Calgary, Alberta. So far, so good at the day’s end; Thaxton Rest Area on Interstate 25.

Re-weigh ticket : not what I  wanted to see.
____Day 6: “Port of Entry” is another name for a glorified scale-house and is found at the border of all the states I cross on my way north. It will be a cold day in Hell when these places are closed and don’t call a Canadian truck into the office for a document inspection. I plan my fuel-stops after the scales in Colorado and Wyoming, but running through a blizzard, south of Denver, plasters the rig with ice, snow and more weight. I get a “Watch your weight” warning at the Cheyenne scale but no ticket. Wyoming’s Interstate 25 is a mixture of shiny hard-packed snow and sheets of ice; four and a half hours of ups and downs which leaves me with severe aching in my neck and shoulder muscles. Caused by the tension of letting 80,000 lbs of machinery roll down-hill at 75 mph on a thin white sheet of glass.

Wyoming Winter.
____Day 7: Out of Buffalo and into Montana at dawn where the roads are bare and dry. Fuel at Billings and the final push for the border at Sweetgrass; taking the two-lane short-cut across to Grand Falls. With an early Thursday morning appointment booked; I need another 1000Km day which gets me to the Petro-Canada truckstop at Okotoks.

____Day 8: Bentonite gives flexibility to plastics and a north Calgary plastics factory soon has me unloaded. Then it’s part three of my planned tour: south to Lethbridge for a load of flour; destined for Winnipeg. Another heavy load, but with Canada’s liberal axle weights, the extra 6000 lbs is legal. The country’s liberal driving-hours laws also work in my favour; in the US, I would need a re-set but in Canada I can push on to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and within reach of home.

The mill at Lethbridge.
____Day 9: Snow flurries greet my return to Manitoba, but the mildest Winter in decades has continued while I was away. Back to the yard at Niverville by mid-afternoon; completing the triangle.

____Overall Distance: 7878 km.

Rocky Mountain Sunset.
Longline Coronado.

1 comment:

  1. Dunno if it's just me, but your pictures are overlaping the side bar. I tried it in chrome and IE and they are both the same.

    75mph downhill on ice has got to be safer than trying to brake it down the hill, at least that's what I tell the missus!