Sunday, January 22, 2017

San Antonio Triangle.

11 day - 12 State - 4 Province.
____ Forty degrees below is the magic number when Centigrade equals Fahrenheit and  for two bitterly cold nights; number 94 has stood out in the open. Both my former employers, Flying Eagle and JTI, kept the trucks inside on Winter nights. The freezing temperatures have caused gelling in the fuel filter; so a quick trip into the workshop is called for. A new filter, two bottles of fuel treatment and I'm off to Texas. Just two and a half days to get the peat-moss delivered before Friday lunchtime; so down to Percival, encountering slippery sections of Interstate on the high ground of South Dakota.

____ Winter storm warnings are being broadcast for the lower Mid-West; in Kansas, anti-icing fluid is being spread on the turnpikes. As I approach Fort Worth; convoys of electricity company repair vehicles are making their way north into Oklahoma. Good to see pro-active thinking from the utilities as the Wichita Lineman's prophecy seems about to come true. "...and if it snows, that stretch down South won't ever take the strain."

Car museum at Russell's Truckstop.

____ From Hillsboro, it is five hours down to the plant nursery on the south-west outskirts of San Antonio. A place I had been before and the first time to relax in three days, warm, sunny, as i waited for the reload instructions. East to Waller for a trailer change; then to British Columbia for two drops around Vancouver. Just a winter storm, the Rocky Mountains and 2376 miles to tackle before the Canadian border and 40 hours of driving time to do it before I will need a log-hours reset. On the positive side is the fact that the load only weighs 16000 lbs and cutting across into New Mexico helps avoid worst of the freezing rain in the Ice Storm.

____ Saturday night is spent at Russell's Truckstop on the Texas- New Mexico stateline. Interstate 40 that is also Route 66 from Amarillo to Albuquerque. The west bound trucks are coming-in with an inch-thick layer of cling-film plastered on their front-ends. I spend an hour in Russell's in-house car museum; a welcome break from thoughts of the weather conditions and my new obsession of "Weather App" checking. A variety of cars from the Fifties surrounded by displays of automobile memorabilia together with loads of stuff about Marilyn, Elvis, the Coca Cola Company and the Mother Road.

Bare and dry roads but snow-covered hills.

____ Heavy snowfall on the high ground between Tucumcari and Alberquerque looks like it would slow progress but the New Mexico snow plough drivers don't often get a chance of a long double-time Sunday shift and are out in force. Lashings of course red sandstone every where. Spreading more grit in a morning than a Saskatchewan snow-plough pilot would spread in a month. The constant worry of more bad weather is big in my thoughts as I start to tackle the rising ground towards the Four Corners of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona; but I reach Greeen River, Utah, with little trouble.

____ Another day, another thousand kay. Utah, Idaho and Oregon before day-light fades at La Grande's Flying J. The parking lot is a sheet of thick rutted ice with no visible snow-clearing; strong winds blow in more snow overnight and I wake up with a three foot drift across the front of the truck. But the roads are passable; the long drag down Interstate 90 to the coast is tricky. Some chain-up, some slide down lightly feathering brakes, like me, and some park-up; like those over-flowing out of the TA Truckstop at North Bend. I had promised myself some Popeyes chicken tenders, my last chance of the trip. I have them too; even though it is a long walk to the restaurant from the on-ramp shoulder in the falling sleet

Rocky outcrop in Utah; destined to be carved into a bust of Donald Trump.

____ The 70 hour weekly working limit is getting very close as I run up to the border from Donna's truckstop in Washington State. A quick tip in Abbotsford, followed by more of the same in Burnaby. The next leg of the journey is a load from nearby Richmond, back to Winnipeg; but not ready until the next day. The Greater Vancouver district has a distinct lack of truckstops; running out to Chilliwack is an option but I settle for one of the six spots at the Delta Petro-Pass Cardlock. Virtually non-stop rain since coming down to the lowlands. Loaded and away, east on the Trans-Canada Highway, to Hope and when it is raining in Hope in January; then it is probably snowing on the Coquihalla.

____ But I'm in luck; just more rain, and more of same to the night-halt at Sicamous. The first time with Number 94 in the mountains with a heavy load, but the Detroit Diesel pulls well if you keep it revving. Dirty roads of slush and sand, the perfect conditions that screen-wash manufacturers pray for. Then after the Great Divide; Alberta is clear skies with bare and dry roads. Cruise control for the first time in several days and relaxation for the right foot. The last day is a run from Swift Current to Winnipeg; drop trailer and bob-tail to Steinbach. Temperatures are hovering around zero but still the weather influences the driving, as on nearly every day this trip. This time it is thick fog but enough day-light hours to get home.
Rain on the Coquihalla in January gives Jamie enough to send out to Subway for lunch.

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