Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Rolling into 2016.

____ Day 1: Out of Steinbach on New Years Day, east-bound and empty on the Trans-Canada Highway but straight through Dryden and on to Thunder Bay. The pre-loaded trailer was ready to go but I chose to have the night at Santorelli's truck-stop before venturing into the paper mill.  a cold crisp night, alone among tractor-less logging trailers.

____ Day 2: First-light and my first-time running down to cross the US border at Grand Portage. Into Minnesota with a picturesque lake-side drive. The highway running right beside Lake Superior as fresh-water breakers showered rocks and fir trees with spray that instantly turned to ice. From Duluth, it is Interstate 35, south to Albert Lea and into Iowa for a night at the Williams Flying'J.

____ Day 3: Destination Tulsa and from experience I know there is not going to be any parking at the misshapen Flying'J when I get there. So it is Oologah for the night, just thirty minutes north of Downtown.

____ Day 4: Newsprint to the old-style city-centre Tulsa World newspaper; at 8 o'clock on a Monday morning. I knew it would not be easy and when three other Canadian trucks all arrived at the same time; things got chaotic as we all tried to squeeze into a yard built for horse drawn carts. Thankfully the two clamp-truck drivers shuttled in and out the trailers with commendable speed. A reload instruction soon appeared on the satellite and a good one it was to. Wichita, Kansas, to Port Coquitlam in British Columbia with just 18,000 pounds, Delivery was scheduled for Friday, so it needed a quick loading and a sprint up to Salina for fuel; then to Mittens at Oakley.

Big buffalo silhouette in Wyoming.

____ Day 5: Mittens is a classic truck-stop in the style that is everything good in the American transport industry. On the edge of a small town in the middle of Kansas on Interstate 70, part of the TA group. Clean, friendly with all the services a driver could need, fuel, food, fax the customs papers and push on towards Denver. Pressing-on to Buffalo, where Interstates 25 and 90 become one.

____ Day 6: Two thousand miles is a good distance for a load and the diagonal north-west route needs some driving. Montana takes all day as the first mile-marker reads 554 and counts down. The weather is cold but the roads are dry and bare. It saves on the screen-wash and the light load saves on the fuel as I tackle the hilly terrain that culminates with Lookout Pass and the drop down into Idaho.

Sea-Cans on a Wharf in Vancouver.

____ Day 7: A day of priorities; first, try the new Popeye's Chicken and Biscuits at the TA truckstop at North Bend in Washington State. Petro and TA are installing the Louisiana Kitchens in more and more of their truckstops; chicken tenders all the way to the northern border. Next, the Seattle ring-road; busy but not slow. Then the border called Pacific Highway [ aka Blaine ]; not busy and not slow. Finally the run across the Vancouver sprawl, dodging in and out of early evening traffic to the north-east suburb of Port Coquitlam. The clock on the dash says 6, but I have gained two hours in the time zones; it is 4 o'clock Pacific, the warehouse is still open and they unload me quickly.

British Empire Foods Shop and Cafe.

____ Day 8: Of course, the office did not expect me to be empty so soon and the next job doesn't come until the morning. A trailer switch at Richmond, a complete crossing of the Vancouver area and then back east on the Trans-Canada Highway, heading for Edmonton, Alberta. Fuel and food at Chilliwack; where I face the most daunting decision of the trip. Eleven o'clock on a Friday morning at the British Empire Foods Cafe; do I go for the Full English Breakfast or the cooked-to-order Fish and Chips. Cod and taters, pot of tea, then back round to the adjacent Husky Truckstop for an afternoon of  Highway 5. The Coquihalla, Kamloops and up to Clearwater as I decided to go the Jasper way.

Mount Robson and the Yellowhead Highway.

____ Day 9: The Yellowhead makes a change from the Rogers; an easier drive, if a little longer. A lot less traffic, cleaner road surface and milder terrain. Canada's highest peak, Mount Robson, is in splendid sunshine as is the National Park at Jasper. The really-rocky Rocky Mountains rock. I full days driving and a trailer switch in Edmonton. My light load of furniture swapped for an even lighter load at the Penner Edmonton terminal before I park for the night at the Flying'J; strangely deserted due to extensive roadworks in the Sherwood Park area and an important missing bridge.

Bighorn Sheep on the road through the park at Jasper.

____ Day 10: At last, a chance of a lie-in on a Sunday morning. First drop is only in Regina; an easy day. Bitterly cold now that I am on the eastern side of the Continental Divide and the weather comes straight down from the North Pole. The Volvo has tanks full of good Canadian Winter  diesel but I don't take chances and keep the Cummins humming all night long. You don't need a thermometer when the truck stacks are leaving vapour trails and it hurts to breathe.

Jasper National Park

____ Day 11: First drop is booked in for 8 o'clock, by ten-past, I am on my way to number two in Brandon. I ignore the fact that I am not booked-in until Tuesday morning. There is only slight dissent at my early arrival but as everybody there was sitting around, doing nothing; they didn't have a valid excuse not to empty my trailer so I could go home. Back in the yard by six and the car started at minus 25 after not having the block-heater plugged in for eleven days.

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