|8437 km-11 days|
____Day 1: The girl-friend is along for the ride. Her office is closed because a new computer system is being installed. We take an empty trailer to Portage La Prairie and once loaded; we wait three hours for the paperwork. Their computer system is down. The g/f has this effect on things. After a 7.00am start; it is getting dark by the time we cross the border, which would have been a one hour drive from home. Pushing-on to the maximum 14 hour spread-over; we make it to Sauk Centre.
____Day 2: The Sunday before Black Friday and it seems that most of Chicago's shoppers are saving their dollars for the big sale day. An easy run through the city and it's sprawling suburbs. The EZ Pass toll-paying tag sure makes it easier than the cash-paying Flying Eagle days. Eleven hours driving gets us to the Elkhart Service Area on the Indiana Toll Road, aka Interstate 80 and 90.
____Day 3: Totally toll road; into Ohio and then the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Then there is an accident at the required exit with horrendous tail-backs. We push on past; stopping for the second night at a toll road service area. It's good to know that some of the toll dollars go to these places. They are always clean and tidy; the one on the south side of Reading has a 24/7 Starbucks.
|For most truckers; Great Dane is a make of trailer. For this guy; it's a cab-mutt|
____Day 4: As soon as I enter the foodstuff warehouse; I smell "Union." This delivery will not be quick. Old men slowly going about their jobs and sure enough; when I do finally get allocated an unloading bay: they go for a break before starting to unload. All off and away at eleven; luckily the reload is at nearby Hanover. The rest of the day; locking horns with the relentless PA traffic, around Harrisburg and up into New York State for a night at Dansville in the TA Travelcentre.
____Day 5: The load is from the US warehouse of a company to their Canadian counterparts in Mississauga. A 10 o'clock delivery appointment means an early start and a dawn crossing of the Peace Bridge, connecting Buffalo, New York, to Fort Erie, Ontario, just upstream from Niagara Falls. No-one at the delivery point knows anything about my arrival and my load; great inter-company communication. But as it looks like everything else in their warehouse; they unload me by noon. The next job is a trailer switch, also in Mississauga, but it won't be ready until mid-night. The g/f has never been to Niagara Falls and it is just an hour away on the Queen Elizabeth Way; but then I wouldn't have the only Canadian girl friend who hadn't seen them. So we play crib in the truck at the shambles that masquerades as the Mississauga Flying'J.
|2006 Volvo with 15lt Cummins ISX, Eaton-Fuller 13 speed and 1.75 million kilometres on the clock.|
____Day 6: An early start is needed if we are to swap trailers and get out of town before the early morning rush; 5 o'clock Eastern, 4 o'clock Central. Plus 8 and drizzle turns to Minus 2 and snow flurries by the time we reach North Bay. Highway 11, west-wards into the weather; New Liskeard onto Cochrane, Kapuskasing to Hearst, darkness falls on the last leg as we make the final push of the day, to Longlac. Hard-packed snow on the desolate two-hundred kays to a freezing parking spot on a service road.
____Day 7: The cold wakes me just after mid-night. I fire up the Cummins and turn on the bunk-heater. Sleep doesn't return and dead on 10 hours rest, we are under way with enough time to get home. Sun-rise at Thunder Bay, clear skies, bare and dry roads. It is all looking good until the engine conks out at Kenora. A bizarre situation with one diesel tank brim full and one tank bone dry. The balance pipe between the two is plugged; probably with frozen diesel. A short walk to a handy chain-saw dealer and I return with 10 feet of five-eighth inch coolant pipe. I stuff one end in each tank and take the blue air-line from the trailer; pushing it in the full tank. Some old rags block up the rest of the filler orifice while the g/f works the brake pedal. In no-time a third of a tank of diesel is blown-over. The big 15 litre Cummins ISX is self-bleeding, we are soon up and running. But our troubles are not over. The diesel pump draws fuel from the empty-ish tank and returns fuel to the full tank. Within 100 kilometres, the engine dies again; luckily within sight of the Coop Cardlock fuel stop at Hadashville. The power-steering goes into arms-strong mode but I make the zig-zag and glide up to the pumps. My sigh of relief sounds like I have set the trailer brakes twice.
____Day 8: The guys in the workshop stayed late and checked out the problem with the tank-link pipe. Apparently Volvos are fitted with a valve between the tanks that stop fuel leakage in the event of a truck roll-over. It could have frozen or may have been activated by filling empty tanks with the engine running. You learn something new everyday in this trade. It is Saturday and driving hours are now short; enough time to get to Moose Jaw and again wonder how Canadian Flying'Js fail to give the same customer satisfaction as their American counterparts.
|Not me Guv! It was already sealed when I picked it up.|
____Day 9: The load must be in Calgary by noon; so the earliest start of the trip is needed for the seven hour stretch across the Prairies. No problem as Saskatchewan has yet to see snow, bare and dry Trans-Canada Highway. It takes four and a half hours for them to hand-ball my load out of the trailer which finishes my work-day with just enough time to catch the final match of this year's Canadian Football League; the Grey Cup.
____Day 10: Homeward bound; changing the empty trailer for loaded one at Medicine Hat. It's due for delivery on Friday in Chicago but my orders are to take it to Steinbach. To Brandon for the night with an endless Dire Straits compilation blasting from the speakers. Ride across the river. Brothers in arms. Telegraph road. Running every red light down memory lane. Stirring ghosts from thirty years ago. Bitter cold Winters on the vast plains of Romania; so similar to the vast empty deep-freeze that is central Canada. We are Sultans, we are the Sultans of Swing.
____Day 11: Another night of broken sleep due to the cold; but not a lot to do, three hours. End of the month and a quick check of pages 1 and 30 on the log-book tells me that the kilometre count is over 22,000. It was 20,055 for October, so it looks like the job is going in the right direction.
A 30 year old photo, taken in a Romanian lay-by just after I had blown-over some cherry red diesel from the trailer's belly-tank and into the running tank. I made a mess then and made a mess on this trip too. Some people never learn.