Friday, March 2, 2018

Elrose Rounder

10 Day Trip.
4881 Miles.
____ After the Bank Holiday Monday, the truck was in the workshop on Tuesday morning for an oil change and service. Away just after Midday with peat-moss for Laredo; getting down to Vermillion, where the weather wasn't any warmer than Manitoba. Winter still gripping the Prairies with cold winds across Kansas and freezing rain in Oklahoma. The big TV screens in the restaurant at the Cowboy Travel Plaza show chaos on Interstate 35 as I eat my brisket sandwich. The weather is the news and I decide to stay-put even though I have driving hours and day-light hours left.

____ The ice rain has stopped by early morning but every surface that has not been sanded is covered with sheet ice. A couple of gritters swing by the travel plaza for coffee and two bull-haulers take advantage of the sanding to pull-out. I follow. The Interstate is driveable but the shoulder is littered with big-rigs, all the way to the Texas stateline. The shut-down of the previous evening left many truck-drivers with no driving hours to move on when things got better. One of the consequences of the new electronic logs that would never have been seen before.

____ San Antonio is as far as I get on Day Three and again an item from the Severe Weather Menu has something in store for me. A thunderstorm at 03.00 hours is still circling at six o'clock; drenching drivers as they go for coffee and aqua-planing muscle-cars into water-filled ditches before dawn. By Laredo, the roads are dry. Into Ruby Truck Line's new trailer yard for a quick switch; a load of fruit drinks for Calgary. Highway 83 to Sweetwater, 84 to Amarillo, 87 to Raton, New Mexico. The same trip as the week before, so to change the scenery, I choose the volcanic black-rock Grande Sierra. But this gives problems at the end of the day; not many truck-stops on the Interstate 25, south of Denver. I reject the tatty Tomahawk; the Love's destination turns out to be "Cars and RV's only." The only Rest Area is closed and I am left with the prospect of a night on an on-ramp. Luckily, the Castle Rock Park and Ride is at my last exit as the clock ticks down to less than 10 minutes.

____ A quiet night with four other trucks and a few visitors for which Park and Ride has a completely different meaning on a Saturday night. North and into colder weather; the liquid cargo is liable to freeze and break the glass bottles. An icy blast greets me in Wyoming and reminds me to start the "Hot Box," a diesel-engined heater that sits at the front of the trailer. Set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it cuts in and out for the rest of the journey to Calgary.

____ Drinks delivered and unlike the last trip, there is a reload to go back to Winnipeg. Lentils from a farm, deep in the heart of Saskatchewan. An early morning appointment, seven miles East of Elrose, where the the lentils are augered from a grain bin, into the bagging shed, along the conveyor belt and into the trailer. All 680 of them and it takes all morning. A heavy load with not enough time to deliver into Winnipeg before morning. Luckily, it's a trailer-drop and I can bob-tail back to the yard.

Ruby trailer line-up in the new yard at Laredo, Texas.

Thermo-King Hot Box and control box on the front of a dry-freight box-van.

The bob-tail Western Star seemed to have been abandoned.

Lentil loading system at a farm near Elrose in Saskatchewan.

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