|7720 kilometres - 11 days.|
____ One of the best trips for a long time. Out of Steinbach on a Tuesday morning with a pre-loaded trailer full of rubber; destined for Lincoln, Alabama. Plenty of time to do the 2600 kilometres in three days. Nights-out at Albert Lee, Minnesota, Mount Vernon, Illinois and at a very convenient Pilot Truckstop; less than ten minutes from the drop. The re-load was already lined-up from Midfield, a suburb of nearby Birmingham. A heavy load of paper going to two places in Montreal, Quebec; booked-in for delivery on Monday. A Weekend to get back to Canada with the not-to-be-missed chance of a Friday night in Music City-Nashville.
____ Four-thirty is a good time to arrive at the Travel Centre of America's city-centre truckstop in Nashville. Still a few parking spots, no queue for the showers, enough time to stroll up to Broadway and get a seat at the bar at Rippy's before the place gets too crowded. The plan comes together; except that Nashville is more crowded than I have ever seen it before. Just walking along is difficult; the amount of people on the street reminds me of Las Vegas on New Years Eve, St.Tropez harbour on Bastille Day and Wembley on Cup Final day. Two reasons could be Veterans Day, it is 11th November, and the fact that the Green Bay Packers are playing the Tennessee Titans in the NFL. Thousands of Cheeseheads have made the trip from Wisconsin to make it a long weekend before the Sunday afternoon game.
____ Rippy's is bursting at the seams at six o'clock in the evening. I get a bar-stool, a Michelob Ultra and order some ribs; upstairs, where a six piece band are knocking out some rocking country tunes that have the whole bar singing along. Star of the show is the tiny young girl playing the fiddle with a big smile on her face. She absolutely nails the Devil Went Down To Georgia; a quick whip round for $100 to put in the jar and she plays it again as if she could be Charlie Daniels' daughter. The green and gold army are friendly enough but I was hoping to avoid Wisconsin on this trip; but it seems like they come to meet me. After a hand-full of Mich-Ultras; I make the walk back to the truck with the everlasting image of a fiddle-player who's the best I've ever seen.
____ Saturday night is a quiet affair at Lodi in Ohio and Sunday is spent at Lancaster, in Ontario, after crossing back into Canada over the Thousand Island Bridge; always a pleasure to look down on the St. Lawrence River and Seaway. The two deliveries are done by 9 o'clock after battling traffic, roadworks and "No-entry for trucks" signs. The next leg of the journey quickly comes over the satellite receiver; five pick-ups with the first at Drummondville, an hours drive along Autoroute 20 towards Quebec City. Just a couple of pallets before I lock horns again with the Montreal drivers as I cross the city to very near to where I made my first drop of the morning.
____ By Tuesday evening, I have done pick-ups 3,4 and 5. Two in Toronto and the final one in Chatham. The trailer is full but the weight is only about 10,00lbs. There are 40 pages of customs papers to fax, thankfully, the shipper at the last pick-up volunteers to send them all; it would have cost $80 at a truckstop. I thought I had sent the paperwork early enough to have it sorted by Tuesday night but they didn't even look at it until the next day. A long delay and then the customer asks for delivery at the soonest possible. Minneapolis is the destination and there is a pre-loaded trailer waiting across town ready to get me back to Manitoba.
____ I leave the Twin Cities before dawn with the thermometer reading Plus 10 degrees C; but after breakfast at Sauk Centre, it is Minus 1 and snowing. Not an un-expected Winter storm, the first of the season, but no-one told the snow-plough drivers. Tricky conditions, with the Volvo and trailer getting out of line in an alarming fashion. Eventually, everything comes to a halt and we sit for an hour while the trucks struggle up a previously un-noticed up-hill section. Diff-locks engaged and I get over the top with-out holding up the queue when it's my turn. By Fargo the roads are dry and bare. I drop the trailer at a customer in Winnipeg before bob-tailing home on the evening of day 11.
|Probably the last bear I will see this year before they all go into hibernation.|
|Appllo rocket at the Rest Area on the Tennessee/Alabama state line.|
|Side window view from the Thousand Island Bridge.|
|First snow storm of the Winter on Interstate 94 in Minnesota.|
|A new bridge being built across the St. Lawrence River at Montreal.|