|Sunset : 21st December 2012. When the World would end but didn't.|
____Prologue: The poor write-up of the last trip was entirely due to self inflicted stress and an over-active brain thinking-up "Good Ideas." Living in a house with two kitchens for the first time, I thought how easy it would be to cook Christmas Dinner when you have two cookers. So I asked a whole lot of people to come round on the 25th and to my amazement they all accepted the invitation. Now I'm worried if I can cook for double-figures and do it right. The last time I attempted to feed fourteen on Christmas Day, at an isolated French farmhouse, the propane gas ran out half way through the morning. A large jam-making copper pot and the wood-burning stove rescued the situation; making the World's biggest camion-stew. A nice little four-day trip to finish the year would be nice; but five drops to Laredo have dropped in my lap. Will concentrating on the trip take my mind off of the forth-coming culinary adventure or will I have a nervous breakdown as it all blows my mind?
____Day 1: Eight o'clock on a Sunday morning and the Flying Eagle yard is busier than usual as half-a-dozen drivers try to get their last trips before Christmas off to the best possible start. I leave in convoy with Neal Trickett; who is working the Texas-Alberta-Manitoba triangle with peat-moss on the first leg down to Walnut Springs. Breakfast together at the Big Sioux Restaurant at Grand Forks before the Freightliner Glider-Kit pulls away with it's 3 mph top-speed advantage. The full eleven hour driving allowance gets me down to Percival, Iowa, for the first night.
____Day 2: Most of Kansas City is in the State of Missouri; but there is a Kansas City, Kansas, and that is the destination of my first window consignment. At a builders merchant occupying part of the old McCormick-International tractor-making plant. Then it's another day of maximising the driving hours. South to Joplin for fuel; then timing my run through Dallas to avoid the worst of the evening traffic. Parking for the night at the customer's Lancaster premises; a much safer option than the close-by Flying'J and TA Truckstops.
____Day 3: Snow was falling as I left Canada and a snow-storm warning is being broadcast for much of the Mid-West; but Texas is sunny. After the drop at Lancaster, Houston is next and by three o'clock in the afternoon the temperature has risen to a very pleasent 30 degrees C. Time to relax in an Interstate 10 Rest Area before an early finish at the San Antonio TA Truckstop.
____Day 4: A day on Interstate 35; south to Laredo, north to Austin and I'm empty. The reload is booked for Thursday morning at Nolanville; half an hour north of Austin, so another early finish and another day-time high of 30 degrees C. Only bad thing about the day: one piece short at the Laredo delivery. The one major drawback of having preloaded trailers: you never know what's on there. The shipper says that the missing piece was loaded and I must have delivered it to the wrong place. The Flying Eagle office checks with all the customers and they don't have it. I checked every delivery and feel sure it was never on the trailer. I always like to do a good job and hate situations like that.
____Day 5: My information tells me that the shipper loads trucks between 08.00 am and noon; which is not a long day for the loaders. However, on arrival, I'm told that it will take from 08.00 to 12.00 to load my trailer with 1296 bales of rock-wool insulation. The loader suggests I drop the trailer and go for breakfast; after which it warms up to another fine sunny day. Homeward bound; the good weather lasts until the snow at Wichita. I'm concerned that a stretch down south won't ever stand the strain.
____Day 6: Icy stretches of Highway 81 slow down the drivers of Nebraska a lot more than they would slow down Canadian traffic. At York, the Petro Truckstop is closed; due to it being jam-packed with trucks escaping from the snow covered highways. I elect to go east on Interstate 80, thinking that it wound get clearance priority, but it's a 15mph crawl in both lanes as cautious drivers with little or no winter driving experience plod along on the snow packed carriageway. At Lincoln, things improve; letting me push on to Fargo and a wash for #31 at the Northstar.
____Day 7: Down to minus 17 degrees C and it's "Welcome back to the Freezer." Back across the border and into the yard before noon. Last trip of the year completed as I take all the bedding home to be washed and take a few days off after Christmas.