Wednesday, October 24, 2012

So Little To Solon.

____Day 1: An early Saturday morning start; running Interstate 29 south, then Interstate 94 west to Tomah, Wisconsin. 1000 kilometres exactly from Niverville to the junction of the 94 and Interstate 90. Here, I get a phone call from Mr. Ramsden who is also at the junction of Interstates 90 and 94; but 1600 kilometres to the West, at Billings , Montana.

Smart fully-fendered Cabover Kenworth; nosed into a parking spot as if it was camera shy.

____Day 2: Another thousand kilometres takes me to the customers doorstep at Solon, near Cleveland, Ohio. A half-full trailer of steel cabinets that weigh less than 5000 lbs; so the truck goes well.
____Day 3: Workers start arriving at 06.00; five o'clock my time, still dark and far too early. I'm on the bay by eight [their time] and out the yard by half-past. The reload is the same as last week, the pallet racking for Calgary's newest and biggest warehouse. They are up to load number 34 and 35 is on the truck on the next dock. Retracing my tracks, I get back to the TA at Lake Station, a session in the fitness room, a shower and Popeye's chicken tenders.

Very clean and shiny Flat-top Kenworth with Tipping Trailer.

____Day 4: A late start, missing the worst of the Chicago early morning rush; then a day on the 94. An early evening meal at Wilson delays my arrival at the roadwork ravished Interstate 694 until after the evening rush hour; then it's on to Sauk Centre for the night. It's great when a little forward thinking pays dividends; finally.

Short wheelbase, steel wheels, rare Kenworth Cabover from the Landstar Owner/Operator Fleet.

____Day 5: A ten hour break and back to the yard, where the pallet racking will be re-powered and in Calgary by Friday morning. The truck is due an oil change and service; I get a mid-week log hours reset.
____Overall Distance: 4485 km.

Stone chips on the paint work; but this old KW has been treated to a new bumper.

Triple Crown Train.

____Crossing northern Indiana; this train of dry-freight van trailers stopped me in my tracks this week. Over a hundred trailers and not a tractor unit in sight. You often see van trailers that have been lifted onto railroad wagons but these trailers only have bogies at each end and the trailers are the train.

____The very tight coupling would make for good security but I wonder how tight you could turn. It shows just how strong the chasssis-less construction must be. All the trailers were from the Triple Crown company and they must have needed special attachments, back and front.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


____Day 1: Megan's Moose Meatloaf made me postpone the departure to Pennsylvania until the Saturday morning. Then it was the full 11 hours down to Portage in Wisconsin; driving made easy by a payload of only 20,000 lbs. Breaking the day, halfway, at Sauk Centre with a couple of Searcy drivers.
Searcy Owner-Driver. The one without the White Stripe.

____Day 2: Starting in the darkness brings on black thoughts; horrors of Regional Distribution Centres, for I am heading for a RDC in Nazareth, Pa. Waitrose, Bracknell: gobbing in the general direction of some quality control Hitler; banned. Tesco, Snodland: hurling a bleeper against the wall after waiting five hours for them to count some cut flowers; banned. Asda, Wigan: rowing with some under-manager who promised to get me sacked; luckily I'd booked in under the name of Kray and heard no more. Tesco, Didcot: driving my truck when a fire alarm was sounding; banned. It rains all day, all the way to the TA at Brookville.

Rare Single-Drive Kenworth.
____Day 3: Still 250 miles to go for the 11.00 am appointment, so another early start on another rainy day. The RDC wants $ 120 for unloading 60 pallets but I take the option to do it myself. The electric pallet truck gives up with four pallets still on the trailer but one of their guys finishes the job for nothing. Reload is from North East, Pennsylvania, 300 miles away and in the morning; so it's back to Brooville for another night.

Soya Harvest.
____Day 4: My load of pallet racking is numbered at 23; for a mighty big warehouse at Calgary, Alberta. 30,000 lbs of long steel frames pushed into the trailer. Then it's west on Interstate 90, through Cleveland, Toledo, Chicago, ending at Richmond and 650 miles for the day.

Why use a John Deere when a Peterbilt will do the job.
____Day 5: Rain, everyday this trip, and through to Fargo and the North Star Truckwash. A wash in the early evening and hopes that dry roads will get me back to Niverville with the rig still looking clean.
____Day 6: More rain, but it doesn't mess up things too much. Through customs and back in the yard before noon.
____ Overall Distance: 5373 km.

Wet Weather : No friend of the Custom Truck Driver.


A Rolling Roadblock Poem

They've been ten miles or more like that,
Side by side along the flat,
Both sixty-five, pedal and cruise,
Neither one wants to lose,

They're lining up to push on thru'
CB air is turning blue.

Wide-open Pete's losing his cool
Thinks hammer lane is playing the fool.
Slow lane know's what he needs to do,
Back it off to sixty-two.
Snowflake in hell's chance of that,
Right foot down, flat to the mat.

"Slower" means a longer day,
A dollar an hour cut in pay.
All too easily predicted,
Now more trucks run restricted.
Companies think they're saving fuel.
The driver's thinking life's a duel.
It'll stay like that till next hill,
Or maybe something slower still.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

First Snows of Winter.

____Day 1: The Madisonville mushroom compost making plant needs more peat-moss; so it's southbound on Interstate 29 all the way to Rockport, Missouri.
____Day 2: Another 11 hours at the wheel; Kansas, Oklahoma, into Texas; after a new route variation. Left turn onto Oklahoma State Highway 88 at Oologah; through to Big Cabin via Claremore on Route 66. Staying the night at Corsicana, after crossing Dallas after dark and after rush-hour.
379 Peterbilt in the mirror : as indicated by the licence plate.

____Day 3: Empty of peat-moss and south on Interstate 45 to Houston. Twenty tons of ceramic powder for the Albertan oil industry; loaded from an old-time, dirty and dusty factory in 90 degree heat as news of Manitoba's snow-fall comes over the phone. Not that I'm going that way; it's a load direct to Alberta. Back north for another night at Corsicana.
Set-back steer axle and still a long wheel-base on this cabover.

____Day 4: There are two ways to do the longer triangle trips; one is to do as many hours as possible as quickly as possible before putting in the required log-hours reset. The other is to limit the working day so that a driver can plod on endlessly without a reset. The magic figure for this is an average 10 hours per day; which will get me home without a 36 hour enforced break. Friday's ten get me from Corsicana to Lamar, Colorado, following one of the United States few diagonal roads: Highway 287.
Cottonfield harvest in Texas.

____Day 5: A sign on the Interstate 70 says that snow-chains are required for travel west of Denver and it's only the first week of October. Mine are in the storage shed at Niverville and not in the storage locker on the truck but luckily I don't need them for northbound Interstate 25. It snows on the way out of Colorado, into Wyoming, at Cheyenne; but the roads are bare and dry by the time I stop for the evening at Casper.
Cloud-making factory working well.

____Day 6: Wyoming becomes Montana as the ups and downs bring me to Billings before trying the cross country short-cut to Great Falls. Finally the Summer road-works have finished and the surface is back to blacktop. To the Town Pump, at Shelby for the night.
Snow on the hillsides of Wyoming.

____Day 7: Thanks-Giving Day in Canada; the turkey basting holiday, one month of the ahead of the US. Just a border crossing and a few hundred kilometres to Blackfalds; an easy day with breaks at Lethbridge and Calgary.
House move by wide-mirrored Argosy.

____Day 8: Reversing, in the dark, onto an eight foot wide ramp, in the rain, across a muddy yard is not easily done before coffee and a face-wash; but the guys at oil-patch construction company were keen so it would be impolite not to oblige. Down at the insulation making factory at Innisfail, the staff were also helpful and ignored my 1500 hours booking time and had the trailer loaded by noon. Then it was the Trans-Canada Highway to Moose Jaw and the prospect of a quick tip in Brandon and home for tea on the following day.
October and the Canola Harvest continues in Alberta.

____Day 9: The building supplies company doesn't have the manpower to start unloading the fibre glass insulation until the afternoon. Then it is a slow, one by one, process of hand-balling of the bales to the back of the trailer. Empty at four o'clock, but it's not "empty back to the yard." Two pick-ups from honey farms, one just outside Brandon, the other at Oak Lake; 40 miles west. The honey farmers work late and I am loaded with 58 drums by 7 o'clock. Just enough time to get home.
____Overall Distance: 7720 Km.

Brewery of Budweiser in northern Colorado.