|Load 1 - Peat Moss|
____ Load 1: An early Sunday morning departure from the Flying Eagle yard with peat-moss; destined for the Knoxville town of Illinois. A full eleven hours at the wheel; getting down to Center Point in Iowa just as the sun is setting on a dry day of 1100 kilometres. Ten hours later and the Cummins fires again. Interstates 380, 80 and 74 to a small family run plant nursery with a newly installed unloading ramp. Bill of lading signed and off for a reload; just 50 miles west. Across the Mississippi, back into Iowa and the city of Burlington. The Burlington from BNSF.
|Load 2 - Balsa Wood|
____ Load 2: Balsa wood wasn't a big part of my childhood but I can remember making model airplanes with the light-weight sheets of the easily carved wood. I cant remember having carried any balsa in the truck before. The lightest lumber load ever; four pallets of shaped pieces, carefully packed in card board boxes. A dedicated trailer load; no other freight allowed and the shipper pays the full rate for the job. Going to Tillsonburg, Ontario, Siemens Blades Division. But is that razor blades or circular-saw blades? On to Sawyer in Michigan for a night at the Travel-centre of America, better known as the TA.
Crossing back into Canada at the Bluewater Bridge that joins Port Huron with Sarnia. Then on to the delivery for a 2 pm appointment. The shaped balsa wood is used in the manufacture of wind turbine blades, the biggest blades of all; not sure where, why or how. No re-load instructions after unloading, so back to the Flying 'J at London.
|Load 3 - Coffee|
____Load 3: Brampton, Ontario, to Portland, Oregon. But the 2659 mile trek doesn't start off too well. Most shippers of high-value cargo require a driver to give them some sort of coded number; to identify themselves as the genuine carrier of that load. This is known as the pick-up number and my number for the load of one-serving coffee pods means nothing to the warehouse clerks. Ninety minutes later, I get the right number. Then the faxed customs papers go astray and I have to stop and re-fax. Then when I get the all-clear to cross the border; some-one cancels my customs entry. Three hour delay and all the blame goes to the broker: Livingston.
Things can only get better and they do as I reach the TA at Lake Station; minutes before closing time at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. Chicken and biscuits. Tuesday night and I am loaded for a Monday morning delivery, but a long way to go and careful planning is needed. Wednesday morning plans include a two hour visit to the Iowa 80 trucking Museum; then push-on for the rest of the day. Thursday: get a stamp-on. Friday: more of the same. Interstate 80 all the way. All the States that begin with the letter "I" are on this route. East to West: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Idaho, But I finish on Friday night in Utah. Ogden, home of the original Flying'J and my home for 36 hours as I take a log-hours reset. A bit scruffy and run-down, but with the Big Z Restaurant and Tavern just across the road.
Eleven hours driving on the Sunday, at 65 miles per hour, cruise control on Interstate 84, should put me on the doorstep of the coffee supply company; 8 o'clock Monday morning. But that was before I came to the scale-house at Farewell Bend. Oregon, along with New Mexico and Alaska, are the only States that require independant licencing of all trucks that come into their territory. A blanket permit covers all the other 46 States except Hawaii. I knew this fact but didn't know Flying Eagle had not bought a yearly permit for #26 to run in Oregon. It was the first time I had been to Oregon with Flying Eagle and I pleaded ignorance and English. The scale lady let me off with a warning and no fine.
However, Flying Eagle still had to buy a one-trip permit. The State has a 24/7 phone line or it can be done on-line, but the offending truck cannot leave the scale until the permit has been bought and faxed to the scale-house from the DoT Oregon head-office. Flying Eagle wanted to leave it until Monday morning but a short sharp text made it quite plain that I wasn't prepared to sit at an isolated scale-site for 16 hours. Especially as it wasn't my mistake that had brought the job to a halt. Three and three-quarter hours later, I was under way again.
I finished the day at the Arrowhead Truckstop, just outside Pendleton. It was an early morning run along the south bank of the Columbia River but I was never going to make Portland by 8 o'clock. An over-whelming sense of disappointment; after I put so much effort into getting it right. but plenty of free coffee to drink whist I was being unloaded.
|Load 4 - Seeds|
____ Load 4: The Oregon permit system stated that I needed to buy another one-trip permit before I could go off to get my reload. Another delay which cut down the time I needed to race round to a couple of seed-merchants at Silverton and Tangent. I was loaded with minutes to spare before I ran out of time at the Pilot Truckstop at Biggs. Overnight over-looking the mighty Columbia.
Tuesday and a big driving day; Washington State and Idaho with the newly by-passed Sandpoint. Into British Columbia at Eastgate, then the Crowsnest Pass into Alberta with all the scales open. Finishing at Nanton; just a couple of hours short of Crossfield on the top side of Calgary. Next morning it doesn't take long to unload the various grass-seeds as I wield the pallet jack in the trailer as an Australian fork-lift driver puts them away.
|Load 5 - Guar Gum|
____Load 5: Tell any truck-driver that he will be delivering a dry-freight van load to Montana and the first thing he will say is,
"What are you going to get as a re-load?"
Was the reply by my despatcher, the first time I had ever heard her use the F-word. The place is a notorious black-hole for van-loads going to Canada. But the load-planner had taken on the job and I had to load 20 ton of guar gum in Calgary and take it to Miles City. Big ton bags of an organic powder used in the oil industry to make a slippery paste when mixed with water. They had eleven loads going to Midland, Texas, but I had one of the two going to Montana. So back south of the border in the late afternoon, through Sweetgrass and down to Great Falls on the Missouri River for the night. Across Montana on deserted two-lane highways surrounded by wide-open grassland and even some hill-tops with-out wind-turbines. Quick and easy un-load before holding my breath for the reload.
|Load 6 - Bentonite|
____Load 6: Drivers have been known to sit and wait for days as their office staff frantically search for a load out of Montana; usually they have to bite the bullet and run an empty truck hundreds of miles. But the Flying Eagle office does come up with a load; quickly and with a reasonable dead-head. Good miles for me too; Lovell in Wyoming to Burlington, the one in Ontario. On to Billings for the night before going up to the Bentonite mine in the foot-hills on the Bighorn Mountains.
There are plenty of trucks waiting to load; which gives me chance to plan a route eastwards. Three choices, Interstates 94, 90 or 80. But before I get to the four-lane highways, there are the mountains and three choices of mountain pass: Bald Mountain, 10,042 feet, Granite Pass, 9033 feet or Powder River Pass, 9,666 feet. Sod that! It's 5 degees C and raining at the mine; it will be snowing on the mountain tops. I opt for the slightly longer southerly route that follows the Bighorn River and am rewarded with the stunning scenery of the gorge between Thermopolis and Shoshoni. It takes the rest of the day just to get out of Wyoming, picking up Intertsate 25 at Casper before turning east along the 80 at Cheyenne.
There might just be a slight difference between their driving hours regulations; but the US regs force me to have another re-set before I can get back into Canada. This time I aim for the Worlds Largest Truckstop at Walcott, Iowa, and another look-round the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum. It's Mothering Sunday or Mother's Day or as it's known in Iowa: "Take Your Mother To A Truckstop Day." I give the restaurant a swerve, do some laundry and wander about amongst the old trucks; something that didn't appear to be on any mum's bucket list.
Away early Monday morning but with still more than a day's driving to do. The wet weather that started in the mountains has followed, everthing from downpours to drizzle. Across the border at Bluewater again and to Cambridge, Ontario, where I know if I get out the cab I will get soaked to the skin just going for a shower. Burlington, Tuesday morning discharge with the Bentonite, the same stuff that comes out of Cowboy Mining Company pit down in Texas.
|Load 7 - Wire and Plastic Bags|
|The whole trip. Click on any map or picture for a wide-screen enlargement.|
|Amish in Ontario; five horse power.|
|New Argosy looks better with a painted grill and less chrome.|
|Mostly flat -beds loading Bentonite at Lovell in Wyoming.|
|Smart big-sleeper Kenworth; typical of the custom trucks that frequent Iowa 80 Truckstop.|
|Interstate 84 East-bound beside the Columbia River in the evening.|
|Cowboy and the Cross; Montana.|
|Oregon troubles started here, by the Snake River.|
|Michigan grain hauler; I bet he gets a Christmas card from the Michelin Man.|
|US Highway 20; the Bighorn River Gorge.|
|The scenic Highway 20 between Thermopolis and Shoshoni in Wyoming.|
|Statue beside Interstate 80 in Wyoming; Abe Lincoln.|
|Longlac Church survives another winter, good to see it hanging-on.|
|13th May 2015; Flying Eagle #26 went round the clock; 24 kilometres before Hearst on Hwy 11, eastbound, in Ontario.|
|Brampton, Ontario, to Portland, Oregon, with a load of coffee and didn't change down for a single hill.|
|First re-set of the trip at the first-ever Flying'J at Ogden, Utah.|
|Red loco-yellow loco-red loco-yellow loco.|
|Random red tanker.|
|Still dazzling - the trucking super-store at Iowa 80.|
|Spot the moose?|
|Stern-wheeler on the Columbia in the early morning light.|
|System of Spokane pole hauling : What no over-hang?|
|Good looking Western Star at the World's Largest Truckstop.|
|Off to sow: air-seeder going down an Interstate.|