Thursday, July 30, 2015

Worst Flying'J Ever!

____Load 1: Sunday afternoon departure with a load of angle rings: rings of steel made out of angle iron. Not a full load; so the truck goes well, down Interstate 29 to Brookings in South Dakota. Delivery to an industrial fan making company and unloaded in a matter of minutes; followed by a leisurely breakfast as I wait for reload instructions.

____Load 2: It is not often that I get to reload from the same company that I deliver to. This time it is same company but different factory. Twenty miles to the east at Elkton, on the Dakota-Minnesota state line. Six large fans. Picture an action film where the hero is in the ventilation shaft of the villain's headquarters. He crawls through the blades of a fan before it starts to spin. That size of fan for a hospital at Milton  in Ontario.

Old Kenworth Cabover with B-Train Grain Trailers

____Another light load; eastbound on US Highway 14, through sleepy villages amongst endless fields of soya and sweet-corn. Then Interstate 90 for the rest of the day, which is cut short when the trailer brakes start hanging-on. Air leaking from a brake chamber; I make it into the Petro Stopping Centre at Portage, Wisconsin. They have a truck-repair workshop which is open 24/7, they have a new brake chamber, they don't have any other customers so I am straight in and out. $166, parts and labour; the trip is back on track.

____Tuesday is a full day of driving; across the bottom of Chicago, across the border at Detroit and up to the Flying'J at London, an hour or so from the drop. Hospitals and seventy-five foot trucks don't mix, the problem is "cars." Parked everywhere with little regard that there might be more deliveries than just babies. After a lot of shunting, I manage to jack-knife the trailer onto an unloading bay. The six skids are soon dragged off but it takes a while before the building contractors can find the guy who has the pass-card for the exit barrier.

Highway 401 through Toronto. 4 express, 4 collectors : 8 lanes in each direction and busy 24/7.

____Load 3: Back at the Fifth Wheel Truckstop, I wait for reload instructions and wait. I get the truck washed at the next-door Blue Beacon Truckwash and wait some more. Details of a reload could come through at any moment so there is no chance of doing anything else. The Pan-Am Games are on in Toronto and Milton's new velodrome is hosting the cycling events but I can't go. Eventually, details of a job arrive at 4 o'clock on Thursday afternoon; loading Friday for Edmonton, Alberta.

____But before I get my load from Ajax, an eastern suburb of Toronto, I have to load a trailer for another driver. This means four journeys along the busy Highway 401 at peak traffic time. Milton to Ajax, load, across to Mississauga for a trailer change, back to Ajax and finally after loading again; across to the Highway 400 and north, out of the Greater Toronto Area. It is midday before I fuel-up at the Pickering Flying'J and finally get going.

Friday morning in the GTA

____What a dump the Pickering Flying'J is! Mr. Jay Call, the founder of Flying'J would be horrified to see such a miserable place carrying the name of his company. The place calls itself the largest truckstop in the GTA but only has one person manning the fuel desk and cooking breakfasts at the same time. I walked out in disgust and what about all the private cars taking-up parking spots in the truck park? Local drivers reserving a spot for when they return after a days work. Selfish bastards.

____Heavy traffic heading for cottage country slows progress, but once north of Barrie, I make good time and make it to Wawa for the night. It's a light load of cardboard advertising material for a chain of furniture stores; 23 pallets and 3500 lbs at most. Just the type of load that suits the scenic Highway 17, every hill in top gear and only slowed by innumerable amounts of roadworks. A long day but back in the yard at Niverville and my own bed for one night before pushing on to Alberta.

Helicopter Weathervane.

____I am delivering to the furniture company's Alberta distribution centre and getting an unloading appointment proves nearly impossible. All incoming furniture is in trailers and containers that are left on-site for the company to unload at their leisure; great if you are a regular supplier and can swap a loaded trailer for an empty but not much fun if the job is just a one-off. Eventually, they get it into their thick skulls that I am not delivering furniture but by then Monday has come and gone. Empty, Tuesday, 09.00, after 3600 kilometres from loading Friday; so not so shabby.

Scenic Highway 17 with glimpses of Lake Superior.

____Load 4: Highway 2, south to the little town of Innisfail; a load of fibre-glass insulation that has been a regular reload over the past few years. Booked in to load at 3, there by 12 and out by 2, a decent bunch of guys who just get on with the job and no fuss. The heaviest load of the trip at 18000 lbs but after shooting south to Calgary, I get a gale-force tailwind and the fuel consumption figures only get better. Trees are getting blown down, structural damage to buildings, vehicles blown off the road but I'm flying back to Niverville. The city truck can do the delivery in the morning as it's too late for Wednesday afternoon. Eight thousand kilometres in 11 days is not good; two days just lounging around in the cab at Milton is a complete waste of time but some times you win, sometimes you lose.

Blown off the road.

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