Sunday, May 29, 2016

Berkeley Week. Six days for just over 3000 kilometres.

Six days for just over 3000 kilometres.
____ I could have left in the early hours of Monday morning; to get to Thunder Bay for a 2 o'clock trailer drop in the afternoon. But the risk of an animal strike in the night and the disruption of my sleep pattern make me decide to leave on the Sunday afternoon before the Bank Holiday. I drop the trailer at ten in the morning and bob-tail to my next job; a pre-loaded trailer to Berkeley, Illinois. Into the States at the Grand Portage border post; followed by the picturesque lake-shore drive alongside Lake Superior, down to Duluth and onto Trego for the night.

____ This job has so much time on it. Wednesday morning delivery on the out-skirts of Chicago. To Rochelle, for the night-before and a meal with fellow Brit and Penner driver, Martyn Parsons.  He is homeward bound and I have expectations of catching him before Steinbach. I have my reload which is just twenty kilometres away at Elk Grove. But after a quick tip things take a turn for the worse. The reload is from a chaotic warehouse chock-full machinery. It takes until six o'clock in a thunder-struck evening to get my stuff and get out into a slow-moving rain-soaked crawl out of town. Just enough time in a fourteen hour spread-over to get back to Rochelle.

____ At last, the Thursday gives me chance to clock-up some miles. A good run up to Fargo, 10 hours on the bunk and a dash to the border and back to Steinbach. The load was for Calgary, but like just about every trip: it is a drop-trailer-in-yard scenario. Most West-bound freight doubles-up to make a turnpike roadtrain these days. It is the Bank Holiday season and work looks thin; so maybe an extra day-off and a visit to a car show.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Trumansburg, New York.

____ A seven day trip with a few more kilometres and one more lake than last weeks excursion. A damn heavy load that came out of the blue; maybe someone with a heavy unit kicked it into touch when they weighed it. Just 200 pounds below the US limit of 80,000. But a strong tail-wind helped fuel consumption and the 2600 kilometre route didn't have any steep hills. A Tuesday morning delivery to a seed distribution warehouse in the rural area of New York State known as the Finger Lakes.

The church at Longlac, so calm that I got it's refection.

____ No reload by noon but instructions to run empty to Mississauga had me back in Canada within three hours. Plenty of Penner trucks, all waiting for loads, at the Esso Truckstop on Dixie but I got away with a pre-loaded trailer by mid-morning. Destined for Edmonton, Alberta, but instructions to take it to Steinbach. Then at North Bay, a brake chamber started leaking air; a broken spring had pierced the rubber diaphragm. Luckily, I was only a stone's throw from Lewis, the International Truck dealer and they had it fixed inside an hour. Not many workshops will take a fitter off of a job to fix a  random rig that just rolls up with a problem so a big "Well done" to Lewis for the fine service.

____ The rest of the trip went smoothly with only 18,000 lbs of cargo and the long days of sunshine in Northern Ontario. Nights-out at Kapuskasing Flying'J and the Husky at Dryden before a Friday morning finish; but not before a random drugs test at the local clinic.

Dangerous Moose, Juvenile. just standing by the Trans-Canada Highway, between Ignace and Dryden. Just waiting to wander out and play with the traffic.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Dryden, Round The Lakes And Back Through Dryden.

Six Days - 4571 Kilometres.

____ At last, a trip that kept moving smoothly and gave good miles everyday. It didn't look too promising at the start, with a Saturday morning departure for a delivery in Wisconsin. But after swapping an empty trailer for a full one at Dryden; it was into the States at International Falls and a Sunday afternoon discharge at Park Falls. One of the advantages of Penner International is that they do have a lot of trailers spotted about in the States and weekend trailer switches keep the wheels rolling. So, straight down to Neenah and a load destined for Burlington, Ontario.

____ A late night finish at the TA at Lake Station means a late start across the busy Interstate 94 towards Detroit. An hour loss to the Time Zone fairy gets me up to Mississauga late in the day but the office keeps me moving by switching trailers. A GTA city truck will take my load to Burlington while I head north to Barrie with an empty trailer. Getting out of Toronto in light evening traffic is an added bonus. But my real stroke of luck comes at the OnRoute Service Area at King City; a super B vacates a parking spot just as I roll in.

6 x 6 Bitsa Crane.

____ Loading at Barrie is a lengthy process with 10 drops of building products spread out across four provinces; starting at Sault Ste Marie in Ontario and finishing at Red Deer in Alberta. I get to do the first three and find the first one is just a couple of hundred yards down the road from the Husky Truckstop at the Soo. Service at the Husky seems to have improved; prompted, no doubt, by the arrival of a brand new Flying 'J at the other-side of town. Drop 1 done and the rest of the day is spent driving Highway 17 across the Canadian Shield; back to Dryden for the night and the completion of a great lake circle.

____ An eight-hour over-night break, an early start as dawn breaks; the end in sight. Drop 2 to Dugald and bit of soft dirt road driving before Drop 3 on the edge of Winnipeg. Drops 4 to 10 go to the Winnipeg yard; where there is an empty trailer to shuttle back to Steinbach for repairs. All done and dusted by 2 o'clock in the afternoon. I have just enough time to switch the tyres on the Mustang. Summer for Winter; but the the forecast is for snow and they are right; flurries outside as I write this.

White Western Star.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


____ Three nights of sub-zero temperatures started this trip as I headed east through Northern Ontario. Nights-out at Ignace, Cochrane and Venkleek Hill before a delivery to the Costco RDC at St. Bruno on the south side of Montreal.Then hacking across the city for a reload of plastic bottles at the suburb of Anjou. As light a load as you could wish for on a Friday afternoon; with a destination of the Penner yard in Mississauga. The busy Highway 401 beckoned but I sat out the worst and showered that the Napanee 'J before rolling in at dusk.

____ Saturday morning and the satellite receiver churps into life with a load offer to Virginia; per-loaded trailer from the yard. A load I did not think I was going to get. I had shuffled through the out-going paper-work when I dropped off my trailer; Dublin, Virginia, was allocated to another driver but know it was mine. I faxed the customs papers, got the all-clear and headed for the border. But the office did not change the driver and truck information and there was a big problem at the Buffalo border crossing. Then just when I was expecting a big delay; the customs officer at the booth says,
" I can fix that for you." and types in my name and truck details. If he can do it, why can't every other US customs official do the same.

Kenworth Aerodyne.

____ I push-on well into the evening, to the Pilot truck stop at Flatwooods in West Virginia; only eight thousand pounds in the trailer and the wooded hill-sides New York and Pennsylvania are easy. Three hours on Sunday get me to the TA at Wytheville, just 30 minutes from the drop. Plenty of time to spring-clean the cab, shower and indulge with some chicken tenders from the on-site Popeyes, Louisiana Kitchen.

____ In the shadow of the Volvo Truck factory, I have my load of foam taken off the trailer at the head-lining supplier. Re-load is three hours north in Ravenswood, Virginia. Another short day, which helps recover the log-book driving hours. Tuesday load is carbon black powder; dirty stuff that soots-up the newish trailer. I glad I'm not delivering it; just back to the Steinbach yard. A full day of driving on Tuesday and Wednesday with just a couple left on Thursday as I get back with temperatures of 34 degrees C. A record for early May.