Friday, May 19, 2017

Long Distance Hidalgo.

10 Day Trip.
____ Hidalgo, the movie; a mustang and long-distance rider go to the Middle-East for a 3000 mile horse race in the 1890's. An enjoyable film that had me wondering about the horse's name: Hidalgo. It is Spanish for "Nobility." There is a Hidalgo state in Mexico and the town on the Rio Grande in Texas. My route, due South from the border at Pembina is 1700 miles to Hidalgo; the longest North/South run in the US.

____ The first time for a while that I'm south of the border before noon, needing three days to get the peat-moss to it's destination. To Cubby Bear's in Norfolk, then the Winstar at Thackerville and third night-out at the Flying'J at Edinburg, on the edge of the urban sprawl that covers both banks of the Rio Grande where it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Unloaded at a trans-ship warehouse before heading up to Waller for a pre-loaded trailer. Booked in to unload at Edmonton, Alberta, on the following Wednesday; so over four days to cover 3500 kilometres.  Familiar roads north for two days; then a cross-country, two-lane highway route across Nebraska and the Dakotas. Heading for a border-crossing at North Portal on roads I haven't run in years.

____ Virtually no big rigs from the major fleets, just a few farm trucks moving grain and a whole stream of bull-racks, hammer-down with their King of the Road attitude. Then a cutting crew; two matching Peterbilts, combines on low-loaders with their grain trailers tacked on the back. Another Pete with a huge tractor and trailer on a double-drop, doubled-up with the headers on a step-deck. Bringing up the rear; a service truck towing a big travel-trailer. South-bound to Texas where the fields of barley are already turning into fields of gold. In Saskatchewan, the air-seeders are still sowing; desperately trying to avoid the wet patches.

____ Delivered on time at Edmonton and across town for the re-load; getting away just after lunch. Wood-chips for a firm of hog-haulers at La Broquerie, just a few miles from Steinbach. I take it back to the yard; finishing late on Day 10. But just in time to have a word with the guys in the workshop; an intermittent speedometer fault. Sometimes it's fine, then it goes hay-wire, then back to normal. I haven't a clue what's wrong and I don't think they know either.

Dust Devil in South Dakota.

Twenty axles of a side-dump double.

Fort Randall Dam across the Missouri River

Open-air horse trailer with the nags saddled-up and ready.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Kiss Of Death : Madisonville.

Seven Day Trip.

____ Six months at Ruby Truck Line and a trip with plenty of time to reflect on the job. Low pay and old equipment with weak links in the chain. I like the outward leg of the trips to Texas and the Mexican border; the big triangles to British Columbia or Ontario also satisfies. But the company struggles to complete the loop. Trips are taking too long and with the advent of e-logs it will only get worse. This trip to Madisonville would have been five days at Flying Eagle. For the exact same cents-per-mile from six years ago; now it takes seven days. The same peat-moss to the Monterrey Mushroom farm that Flying Eagle delivered every Tuesday and Thursday. After the demise of Flying Eagle; Schroeder Freight took on the work, now they too are no-more. It is a poor paying load and most Manitoba hauliers just take the work to get their trucks south of the border, where they have good paying freight waiting to come back to Canada. Nobody makes money taking dirt to Texas.

____ First night-out at Watertown, followed by Chanute, then just north of Madisonville before unloading in the morning where the same petite Hispanic lady signs for the load without ever checking; same as she ever did. The re-load is from Pasadena, the regular plastic granule pick-up, but not until Friday morning. A whole day wasted and expensive too; if you are not earning then you are spending. A visit to Northern Tool and Equipment yields some much needed plumbing stuff for the Mack motor-home at the cost of two days' pay. Frustration is compounded when the load is not ready; it is 2 o'clock before I am north-bound amongst heavy weekend getaway traffic on Interstate 45.

____ Away from Thackerville, on the Texas/Oklahoma border with two full days driving to get home. Saturday's highlight was a rendezvous with Neil Ramsden, a fellow Ruby Truck Line driver, at the Emporia Travel Plaza on the Kansas Turnpike. Always nice to meet a mate on the road; we eat McFlurries, discuss Sunderland's relegation, Ipswich's failure to reach the play-offs; then he heads off to Hidalgo and I push on to Sioux City, Iowa. There is no Sunday highlight; just seven hours of 105 kph cruise-control on Interstate 29 with it's new batch of road-works. Back in the yard by five.

Farmer's Oil Kenworth W900

Line of Six Cabover Peterbilts at Wilkins, Tonkawa, Oklahoma.