Sunday, February 4, 2018

Flin Flon And On and On.

The first part of the trip; up to the first log-hours reset at Oakley, Kansas.

From Oakley, Kansas, to Delta, BC, via Victoria and the second reset of the trip.
____ From Steinbach, early on a Sunday morning; around the Winnipeg ring-road before heading North on Highway 6. Bitterly cold with snow forecast; it arrives at Devil's Lake and the Highway 60, across to The Pas, is on a carpet of un-ploughed and drifting snow. North of The Pas, the road is better but the day-light is finished well before I finish the five hundred miles to Flin Flon. I have a vague address of Hwy 10A and hope to park in the car-park of an un-finished supermarket; which is easily found beside the Walmart Superstore. However, after consulting with a friendly snow-plough driver about overnight parking at Walmart; he informs me that I have the wrong supermarket. Walmart's neighbour with the papered-over windows is the recently closed IGA super-store and the new Co-op is 200 yards down the road. We discuss the absurdity of one super-store closing while another is being built before the absurdity of discussing such things in temperatures of -30C sends us back to our vehicles.

____ Flin Flon was named after Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin who was a character in a book called "The Sunless City." It is a hard-rock mining town that started in the 1920's, but I don't get a chance to explore before I am quickly unloaded and despatched to The Pas. The paper mill has a load going to Laredo; a good find by the office from the load-data boards on the Web. A heavy load with a long way to go, but good traction on the hard-packed snow that extends south of the border and through the Dakotas. Still freezing at Percival, Iowa, the third night-out; but by Oklahoma and into Texas, things are looking up for the Friday morning drop in Laredo.

____ From Laredo, across to Waller for a trailer switch; buoyed by the prospect of a visit to Vancouver Island. Two drops, Calgary, Alberta, and Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. The two extra days at the start of the trip mean that a 36 hour driving-hours break is inevitable. After a lot of checking of maps, temperatures and truckstops; I select Mittens. The Oakley, Kansas, truckstop in the TA Truckstop group; clean, friendly, comfortable and wonderful showers. All these things and now calling itself "The Western Kansas Wildlife Travel Center." The word "Life" is a bit misleading because all the wild animals are dead and stuffed.

____ Out of Oakley northwards, across country with just 20,000 lbs of cargo; up to Ogallala, then US Highway 26, north-west into Wyoming. On to Sheridan, for the night; setting up the long haul into Calgary. But even a Level 2 DoT inspection at Interstate 15 scale doesn't stop me getting to the Calgary Flying'J before dark. The positive temperatures of the evening plummet to -15C by dawn. Half the trailer delivered and into the mountains with snow-flurries and trepidation; a little more weight and a little more tread on the drive tyres would ease the tension in my neck muscles. But after the Continental Divide at the BC/Alberta border, the wind drops, the temperature rises and the filth from the road sprays the truck relentlessly. About 50 mpg for screenwash. By Revelstoke to Kamloops, the road is bare and dry. I push on in the darkness and hope it is the same for the Coquihalla Pass. The summit is down to one lane of ice and slush, grip is not good, I tuck in behind a slow-coach letting the brave fly by. Coming down is no better, but when the flurries turn to rain then my worries turn to finding a parking spot in the Flying'J at Hope. Another long day.

____ Out of Hope with the number 17 on my mind. Turn-off the Trans-Canada Highway onto 17 and it takes you straight to the ferry terminal at Tsawwassen. From Schwartz Bay on Vancouver Island, Highway 17 to the Trans-Canada Highway and the delivery is at the junction of the two. Just a half hour wait before departure on the half-full Coastal Renaissance at 9 o'clock. Ninety minutes of calm water and a bit of jinking about through the Gulf Islands and I'm pulling off the boat after my first ferry crossing in a truck for about eight years. Thirty minutes down to the northern outskirts of Victoria for a quick tip and back at the ferry terminal to line up for the 1 o'clock crossing back to the mainland.

____ Reload is for Regina, Saskatchewan, from Port Coquitlam; load Friday, tip Monday. But after I get there, they discover it is a hazardous load and Ruby Truck Line doesn't have insurance for it. Eventually, I get told what I was fearing; no reload until Monday. By that time, I'm in Chilliwack, consoling myself with all-you-can-eat fish and chips at C-Lovers Seafood Restaurant. On Sunday morning, I run back to Delta, ready for the reload from Annacis Island and with the Super Bowl on the big-screen at the Tidewater Pub.

At Devil's Lake, Manitoba.

Snowed over rear lights again and again.

Tribute Wrap.

First seven days of the trip.

Chimney Rock in Western Nebraska.

Slippery conditions through out the trip.

Double trailer load of round bales in Montana.

Threatening skies above the Banff National Park.

Well-sanded section of the Trans-Canada Highway in the Rocky Mountains.

Waiting at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal.

Passing another of BC Ferries Push-Me-Pull-You boats among the Gulf Islands.

Five pieces of cod to start with at C-Lovers All You Can Eat Plaice at Chilliwack, BC.

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