Monday, June 8, 2015

Colorado Fountain.

A trip that gives the out-line of something from Ghost-Busters.

____Load 1: Peat-Moss: Diagonal roads are few and far between in North America and the ones that are there probably don't join up the required dots. Winnipeg to Colorado Springs offers an endless variety of vertical and horizontal but no diagonal routes. So South on Interstate 29 and Highway 81 with a bit of Highway30 and the end of day 1 is at Grand Island, Nebraska. That leaves it easy; easy like on Sunday morning; through to the Tomahawk Truckstop, just one junction past the delivery point at Fountain.

Crop-dusters are always a lot closer than they look in photographs.

____Third in line for unloading in the cool morning light; but no hurry, no reload. There is not much coming out of Colorado for dry freight vans looking for a load to Canada; so back to the Tomahawk for breakfast at Biscuits. The on-site restaurant is a friendly place with a young chef who takes a lot of pride in his food preparation; great French toast. Mid-day and the reload info arrives: a 350 mile dead-head run to Borger in Texas. South on Interstate 25 through the wide open landscape of Colorado before climbing the Raton Pass into New Mexico. Storms still raging in the flooded state of Texas as I park overnight at the pick-up point.

Lightning Strike from a Storm across New Mexico.

____Load 2: Carbon Black: When I first started truck-driving; nothing used to strike more fear into the hearts of lorry drivers more than the mention of the words: Carbon Black. Hand-balling a load, roping and sheeting a load, left a driver covered in the fine black powder as well as covering the truck, sheets and ropes, everything sooty. I never had to carry the stuff but did plenty of the second-awful-load-ever; meat and bone meal. That finely ground bagged powder got in everywhere and left you smelling like an Oxo cube.

Carbon Black Factory at Borger, Texas.

____Things haven't changed much. The Sid Richardson Carbon Black factory sits on a hilltop where everything is black; coated with a fine powder that brings to mind images of the Industrial Revolution. The last time I saw such a factory was in Bulgaria. Luckily, a driver does not have to get out off his cab once inside the factory; all door opening, loading, closing and sealing done by guys who looked like coal-miners minus the lanterns on their hard-hats. I left Borger humming "Dirty Old Town."

Ambassador Bridge joining Detroit to Windsor.

____ The load was destined for Sherbrooke in Quebec, 3000 kilometres away to the North-east. Delivery was scheduled for Monday, but with a quick phone call it was re-arranged for Friday and I had three days of hard driving in front of me. After 100 miles of two-lane it was all four-lane highway. Tolls to pay from Oklahoma City to Joplin, Missouri, but a free bridge crossing at the Ambassador that joins Detroit to Windsor in Ontario. A full days drive in Canada; to the Ange-Gardien Truckstop on Thursday night. A quick tip, the next morning, left me with an ugly inside of the trailer. Black marks on the walls and a black floor. Spreading a bag of sawdust and then sweeping it out cleared most of the loose powder but unless someone goes in with a pressure washer; black footprints will be coming out of that trailer forever.

Imported from Sweden: Spotted in Quebec: Volvo FH 460.

____Load 3: Angle Guards: The office did a good job with the reload. From Granby, just an hour and a half away from Sherbrooke, on the road to Montreal, to Vermilion Bay, three hours east of Winnipeg. This time it was three days to do 2000 kilometres. Angle guards aka corner protectors, cardboard strips stacked on pallets and weighing 17,000 lbs. To Pembroke, to White River on Highway 17 and then to Dryden but hardly a dry spot along the whole route. Everywhere along the north shore of Lake Superior was like an out of season tourist town in the rain; but at least I wasn't riding a Harley.

Nelson Granite, Vermilion Bay, Ontario. Spot the angle guards on those pallets?

____Nelson Granite was the destination for the angle protectors. A place I have passed a hundred times, with their offer of return loads to Georgia and Quebec. Pink granite outcrops are frequent among the beaver-dammed lakes and pine tree stands along the Trans-Canada Highway. Business seems to be flourishing if they need a trailer load of corner guards and the whole place is a lot bigger than it looks from the road. Unloaded and back to the yard, but first, pop into the peat-moss plant at Richer and pick-up a load for Colorado, Full circle.

Fully laden for two of the three loads.

Raton Pass, Colorado/New Mexico Border: 7748 feet. Highest point in Great Britain: Ben Nevis: 4409 feet.

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