|10 Day Trip.|
____ Watertown is the first night-out; followed by a long day in the saddle. On to the Cowboy Travel Plaza, situated to the east of Interstate 35 in rural Oklahoma. The prospect of a brisket sandwich has kept me going throughout the thousand kay day. The Smokey Pokey restaurant used to be buzzing at the travel plaza but with the down-turn in gas and oil exploration, the truck-park is now rarely full. Just a dozen enjoying the offerings of a great pit barbeque; drivers out-numbered by locals.
____ After a big day, it is disappointing to get up and find you have to do it all again. Another thousand kilometres get me through Fort Worth and down the busy-busy Interstate 35. Waco, Temple, Austin and San Antonio to mile-marker 39 and the small town of Encinal. It is not worth going into Laredo as my destination is a customs bonded compound near the Colombia Solidarity Bridge; twenty-four miles upstream over the Rio Grande. My trailer will be taken into Mexico by a local haulier; there is a loaded Ruby box-van waiting for collection just a couple of miles away in another secure drop-yard.
____ Destination Brampton, Ontario, delivery Thursday pm. A diagonal route with many options, but first night at Hillsboro, just south of Dallas, and a time to plan. Most of the second shift on Interstate 40; across Arkansas under hot, humid and cloudy skies with the threat of thunderstorms. The rain starts as I finish; parked a couple of miles east of the Mississippi River at the small town of Hayti in the Road Ranger Truckstop.
____ The alarm on my I-phone sounded at 04.15; which was puzzling, as I had set it for 06.00. But it was a tornado warning alarm and within thirty seconds; the cab was rocking, rain was pelting down and somebody's shed roof came flying out of no-where at 32 feet per second per second and landed on the hood of the truck with an almighty bang. The wind died away as quickly as it came but torrential rainfall continued for over an hour. When I did venture out of the cab; the parking lot was flooded with a mass of floating debris and dawn was breaking.
____ The tornado hadn't touched down in the truckstop but it was a near-miss. Fall-out from the twister was every where. Most trucks suffered dings and dents with one from the Melton flat-deck operation being hit the hardest. The local fire department was busy else where so no more damage was caused when the drivers rallied round and lifted all the mangled steel and splintered timber off of the trucks. I thought I was lucky to get a way with just some scrapes on the hood. I was out of there by 8 o'clock and up to Napoleon, Ohio, for quiet night after a strong tailwind helped me across Illinois and Indiana.
____ Across the toll-free Ambassador Bridge at Detroit and up to Brampton for a trailer switch. Loaded trailer exchanged for an empty one inside 30 minutes before heading back down Highway 401 to London. The next load is from Bay City, Michigan, booked in for Friday morning and going to Winnipeg. Only problem: running back into the US after doing a week's work with out a log-hours reset. Canada's regulations give an average of an extra 10 hours driving time over the US. But I have just enough time to get loaded and back into Canada, via the International Bridge at Sault Ste Marie; any other route would have me sitting-about.
____ This route does have it's disadvantages, slightly longer, three expensive toll bridges [ Blue Water, Mackinac and the Soo ] plus the undulating terrain of the Canadian Shield. But all the loads of this trip have been light weight [ 22,000 lbs, 25,000 lbs and 18,000 lbs]; the card board packaging doesn't slow the Detroit and it's five hundred horses. Trouble only arrives at the very end of the trip when changing into top gear ratio produces a horrendous grinding noise. A quick inspection reveals nothing wrong so I assume that it is an internal problem. Just fourth and eighth gears are affected; I finish the job running along at 45 mph with a high revving motor. Bobtailing back to Steinbach after dropping the trailer in Winnipeg; doing about the same speed as all the other Sunday drivers.
|Mack 11 axle rig at TA Hillsboro, Tx.|
|Trucking for a Cure Kenworth W900, London, Ontario.|
|Cowboy Travel Plaza just off Interstate 35 in Oklahoma.|
|Ambassador Bridge links the cities of Detroit and Windsor.|
|Four Bridges over Great Lakes waterways. One free and three tolled.|
|Blown-over rig near Hayti, Missouri.|
|Tornado damage at Hayti, Missouri.|
|Ruby Truck Line #94 with a shed draped over the hood.|
|Colombia Solidarity Bridge over the Rio Grande, north of Laredo|