|Minot: The red dot above Bismarck.|
____Day 1: Generally, I don’t get on well with the workshop staff at companies where I drive. The arrogant know-alls with grubby paws never believe I know what’s wrong with my truck, never fix it straight away and blame every fault on driver abuse. But the lads at Flying Eagle are different; friendly and ready to do what you ask, when you ask. So when #31 is due a service; it’s done first thing Monday morning and I’m away from the yard by 11 o’clock. Getting in a full day of driving; south to Columbus, Nebraska, with a load of peat-moss.
____Day 2: Weatherford, Texas, is the destination; just west of Fort Worth. Another eleven hours at the wheel before I park over-night at the plant nursery, 200 yards from the busy Interstate 20. The droning of passing trucks competes with the whirring of the giant fans that circulate the air in the poly-tunnels.
|Unloading between the poly-tunnels and the flower-pots.|
____Day 3: Away to Tulsa, Oklahoma, after unloading and breakfast. An easy day of 550 kilometres as the reload is not scheduled until the Thursday, 8 am. Arriving at Tulsa’s Flying’J at three in the afternoon; the place is it’s usual crowded chaotic mess. I forsake the chance of some diesel when I spot a vacant parking spot. There are said to be a quarter of a million trucks looking for overnight parking, every night, in the US. There are over 300,000 parking spots available nationwide but not all the trucks are in the right place at the right time. It may seem a bit extreme; diving into a parking stall as if it was last one on earth, but I know Tulsa and I had the satisfaction of soon watching the endless circulating of an endless stream of un-accommodated trucks.
|Strange paint on Kenworth mixer.|
____Day 4: The Arrow Engine Company is a manufacturer and doesn’t have the same urgency as distribution warehouses when it comes to loading trailers. As I had four days in which to cover the 2000 miles to Edmonton, Alberta; I had no urgency either and was content to wander around the factory. Marvelling at the old-fashioned engineering that makes the everlasting donkey engines with their huge fly-wheels. Away just after noon, north to Vermillion, South Dakota.
|Every oil well needs an on-site storage tank.|
____Day 5: A day in the Dakotas; finishing at Minot. My first time in a year, after the devastating flood of 2011. The place is now at the heart of North Dakota’s oil and gas exploration. The Schatz Crossroads Truckstop is now inundated with pneumatic discharge bulk powder tankers on out-of-state plates. Frac-Sand carriers. The sand is used in an oil extracting process where a sand and water mixture is pumped at very high pressure into a very deep oil well. The highly pressurised mix eventually fractures the rock deep in the earth’s crust; releasing oil and gas that can be pumped to the surface. Little is known as to whether widespread “frac-ing” will pollute water supplies, cause earthquakes or trigger volcanic eruptions. The economy is happy to create jobs, the Government is happy with the supply non-Arab oil, the oil companies are happy to generate wealth for their share-holders. Little concern is being shown for the disintegration of the planet.
____Day 6: Back into Canada, through the border at North Portal, Saskatchewan, and more oil and gas exploration based at Estavan. Onto North Battleford for the night, with the skies full of geese; ever changing flying formations battling the strong north wind.
|Tough old steel hauling International cabover.|
____Day 7: The short run to the Flying’J on the east side of Edmonton. The trip started with two days of over 1000 kilometres; the following five have only racked up another 3000, that’s the way it goes.
____Day 8: Breakfast at Tim Horton’s with Mr. Ramsden; who I hadn’t seen since breakfast in Steinbach on the previous Monday. Then to the delivery address and the quaintly named company called “Above and Beyond.” Reload is from the other side of Edmonton; bagged cement for Winnipeg. Homeward bound as far as Chamberlain.
|Tough 6 x 8 Mack Mixer.|
____Day 9: Stopping at the newly re-developed Esso service station at White City; I find the 3 foot x 10 foot “Truckstop” sign has now been replaced with a “No Truck Parking” sign and the threat of a $2,000 fine. The site, just east of Regina, now has a Tim Horton’s franchise but won’t be getting my patronage again. Cement delivered in Winnipeg; I’m back in the yard and on my way home by 4 o’clock.