Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tug Of War.

5004 kilometres - 6 days.
____ The trip started like so many have done since I started at Penners; an empty trailer from the Steinbach yard to the paper mill at Dryden. Snow flurries had died out before the Manitoba/Ontario border and temperatures were above freezing for the next five days in a mid-December warm spell. Into the States at International Falls with a heavy load going to Appleton, Wisconsin. Not a long-distance load; but when the re-load is a trailer switch at nearby Neenah going to Mississauga, then things start looking good.

The Inuksuk at Vermilion Bay, Ontario.

____ The company doesn't pay a driver anything to switch trailers but it never takes more than half an hour and the truck is back out on the road; earning cents per mile. How things have changed from when I was at Big Freight! Every load needed strapping down and usually tarping. At Flying Eagle, things got easier with just the opening and closing of the van doors. Now at Penners; at least half the loads are ready to go before I arrive. Another switch at Mississauga and I am heading back down Highway 401 towards Detroit on Saturday afternoon. Sunday is just a short drive to Carol Stream, a western suburb of Chicago.

The Dragon Wrecker.

____ But as with most trips, there is always a hiccup. Monday morning and the clamp truck at Carol Stream springs an hydraulic leak. It is the only thing in the factory that can unload my huge rolls of cardboard and it's 4 o'clock before it is working again. The office has a re-load organised from Brook, Indiana, luckily they work until ten in the evening so I do get loaded but it was a slow run through the Chicago evening rush-hour. Then in the morning I had a slow run through the morning rush-hour, going back in the other direction.

Early morning snow at the Big Chief Travel Plaza, Home of the Bison Burger.

____ The re-load was for Steinbach; so I put in the full 11 hours driving. Making it as far as Fergus Falls as the temperature dropped and the light rain started freezing on the windshield. Miler-marker 86 and things got tricky. The Big Chief Travel Plaza at MM 61 took a long time coming. The rain turned to snow as I slept and it kept snowing all the way home. The wipers on the Volvo didn't handle the conditions very well; I soon had great lumps of ice swishing across the screen. The only way to clear them was to stop, get out, climb up and bang the blades on the screen until the ice dropped off.  "Twenty centimetres of white stuff"; they said on the radio and from the look of the patio table on the deck; they were right.

What a time and place for a tug of war! Actually the little white bus was winching the big yellow bus out of the ditch.