Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Nice Day To Start Again.

____ There's nothing sure in this World. So let's sink another drink; cos it'll give me time to think. Nothing left to lose and nothing left to prove. I'm all out of hope; one more battle brave could bring about a fall. Hanging out by the State Line; such a human waste. I've been away for so long. When I'm far from home don't call me on the phone to tell me you are all alone.

____ Leaving late; it's dark at the border and Fargo is all I do. Third trip in a row that doesn't go to Texas. Oklahoma and the town called Prague; over thirty years since I was in the Czech representative. Memories of trams, cobbles and the fear of low bridges on a big seven hundred mile day; tail-wind friendly. Overnight in Iola, traversing Tulsa at dawn. Mid-morning drop with a young guy making his debut on the pallet-truck; it's like pushing a bit of string, you don't want to be pushing string, pull it. Then OK City, a Blue Beacon truck wash, early finish and wait for the morning reload.

____ More tail-wind, north-bound and heavy. Gypsum for Saskatoon. Brisket sandwich at Cowboy's and a long punch up to Cubby Bear's at Norfolk. Saturday and the wind changes; Nebraska and the Dakotas into a cold northerly. Start in the dark; finish in the dark; now and for ever. To Schatz Crossroads at Minot; leaving a lesser chunk to the 'Toon. Plaster gone and homeward bound, picking up seeds at Richardson, south of Regina. A load for the 'Peg, dropped in the morning and bobtail back to the yard.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Four Day Week.

____It is not often that I do just forty hours in for days and then have three days off. If this was a regular run then i could quite understand how a Canadian truck driver would have no qualms about electronic logs. A dedicated run to Edmonton and Calgary, then back to Steinbach is about as stress-free week of work that one could wish for. Very little traffic on the four-lane Trans-Canada Highway, plenty of driving hours to do 2200 miles. But not enough earnings to be a well paid job and as boring a piece of landscape that can be imagined. Endless Saskatchewan every week is just not for me.

____ The living skies are full of geese as I make my way to Saskatoon with tractor parts in a brand-new Vanguard trailer. After unloading the dry-van goes to Trailer Wizards at Edmonton. Bobtail, I head for Calgary as snow falls on the busy Highway 2; not an easy drive but easy to find a parking spot at the busy Roadking Truckstop with just the unit. Thursday morning dawns with confusion and plans that are quickly changed. Eventually, I'm headed North, back along Highway 2 with a rental trailer from Maxim, trying to get to the wood-chip baling plant at Acheson before they close.

____ Arriving late has the advantages of the product being ready for loading and the fork-lift driver is eager to get the trailer loaded and go home. It is a late finish by the time I get back to Saskatoon; five hours across the Prairies where the last of the wheat fields are being harvested. Possibly the same combines that were working down in Texas at the start of June. Friday is a late start with the route through Regina being chosen for the return journey, it was the Yellowhead and Yorkton on the way up. Back to the yard after dark with the load going to La Broquerie with a local day-cab on Monday.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Cresson, Texas.

Six Days Work.
____ The luxury of knowing where I am going; the day before I leave. So away from the yard, bright and early on a Tuesday morning; making it to Cubby Bear's Truckstop at Norfolk, Nebraska. Second night-out is at the Flying'J at Ardmore; giving me the chance of a free breakfast buffet at the Winstar Casino on Thursday morning. The early traffic queues of the Interstate 35 in Fort Worth can dissipate while I eat. I am unloaded at the peat-moss bagging plant before midday; gaining a full day on a Laredo trip.

____ Then it is on to Waller for one of Ruby Truckline's regular trailer switches. A load for Burnaby in British Columbia but with instructions to bring the load back to Steinbach. A long time ago, I gave up trying to work out the logic in logistics; I don't even ask office workers to justify their decisions any more. Just get on with the job and realize why truck driving is so poorly paid. I'm back up to Hillsboro by the end of the day but with the knowledge that I am just short of getting home in two shifts of driving. Friday night at the Sac and Fox Casino at Powhattan, Kansas, and Saturday at Fargo. Home before Noon and out again on the Tuesday. Cutting back on the rest days and  getting some good miles done before the onset of Winter. I always reckon September, October and November are the best months for driving a truck. Plenty of loads on the run-up to Christmas, less tourist traffic on the roads and the roadworks finishing before the weather turns nasty in the North. There certainly seems to be fewer trucks sitting in the truckstops during the day.

This week seemed to be dominated by wind turbine towers and their blades. Every where on Interstates 29 and 35.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The ELD Makes Me Drive Faster.

4727 km in Fifty-eight and a half hours work.
____ I have been using the electronic logging device for a few months now; alongside the paper ones. The office sent a message to say all was good and I could discontinue with the book; but I need something for my income tax returns and for my Canadian residency, so I'll continue writing it out until the end of the year at least. So how has it been? It hasn't been a problem; but my trips are very much the same and I have a good idea where I will be going and what I will encounter. So it should be easier than a driver who is new to trucking or one who does different trips every time.

____ One thing I have noticed is that I am driving faster. There is a big clock on my right that is ticking down and a speedometer on my left that is clicking up. Everything now seems like a race to get as much mileage done before the driving hours disappear. Early in the day; I go faster compensate for time I might lose later. Later in the day; I have the pedal to the metal, trying to make up for lost time. On paper logs; any time lost to delays was clawed back by cutting short the rest breaks by five minutes or so. Now every second counts on the rush back to Canada from the US. So far I haven't run out of time at a critical moment and put the timely delivery of the jeopardy.

____ But if the authorities think that Electronic Logs will make trucking safer then they have made a mistake. Driving faster cannot be safe. The heightened levels of stress cannot be safe as drivers strive to cope with unforgiving parameters. If I am noticing difficulties with an easy job then rookie drivers and those with more demanding jobs, such as flat-deck and heavy-haul, will be tearing their hair out. The answer to the problem has to be the end of Cents-per-mile as a pay structure. The dangling-carrot that makes drivers go faster and cut corners has to be replaced by hourly pay. There is now no excuse why trucking companies cannot pay drivers by the hour. The electronic logs will make sure drivers do not cheat the system and it is about time drivers were paid for all the hours they are on-duty.

____ But haulage rates are so low that companies cannot afford to pay drivers for when they are waiting to be loaded/unloaded or broken-down or waiting for the office to find their next job. But who's fault is that? No wonder that the industry is in such a bad state with a chronic driver shortage and so much disillusionment among those who have seen things go from bad to worse through bad company management and over-regulation by mis-guided governments. No wonder the youngsters of today do not consider truck-driving as a possible career.

____ Rant over. My cell-phone went full-cycle in the front-loading automatic washing-machine and died. Phones can do so much these days but why the hell aren't they water proof? It took most of Monday morning to replace my trusty old projectile-vomit-green I-phone with a nice new black and silver model. I lost all my contacts and a load of photos, so rolled into work without knowing what they had planned for me. Something different from South Texas; bobtail to Monon, Indiana, and collect a brand new trailer from Vanguard Industries.

____ Across the border at Warrord, into Minnesota and then Wisconsin for the first time in a long time. To Osseo for the night before crossing Chicago and down to Monon for the shiny-new tandem-axle dry-freight 53 foot box van. Sadly not a new addition to the Ruby Truckline fleet, but for a trailer rental company at Milton in Ontario. A load of cable for Brampton has been organised from the nearby town of Lebanon; loading Wednesday afternoon and delivering Thursday morning. A fast moving trip grinds to a halt once I have delivered the trailer to its new owners. Only mid-morning but the reload for my recently collected Ruby trailer is not until Friday. It all makes sense when I see that the customer is Ruby's next door neighbour in Steinbach.

____ But it does make for a difficult drive across the Greater Toronto Area and north to North Bay; pushing on to Kapuskasing but knowing I needed to get to Hearst if I was to complete the trip in just one more shift. Saturday is Kap to Dryden is long enough and par for the course; half a dozen trucks from the Flying'J at Kapuskasing are parked with me at Dryden after a day of constant leap-frog. Sunday is just a three and a half hour sprint back to the yard.

Weeks work

Bobtail miles per gallon.
Autumn colours starting to come through.
Armoured Humvees