Thursday, March 15, 2018

The New Truckstops Trip.

11 Day Trip.
____ Day time temperatures are warmer but it is still pretty cold at night. This leads to early Sunday morning trouble when I find the trailer is frozen to the ground and the drive tyres are spinning on a sheet of ice. With a little fore-thought, I should have put on a couple of snow-chains before backing under the trailer. Luckily another Ruby driver is also leaving at the same time; he pulls the Kenworth out of the puddle of frozen snow-melt. A snow storm is forecast for later in the day but I manage to stay ahead of any bad weather; even with the bad luck of being selected for a DoT vehicle inspection at the Sisseton scale in South Dakota.

____ From the Coffee Cup Travel Plaza at Vermillion to the Choctaw Travel Stop at Thackerville is an uneventful second day; followed by more of the same as I reach Hidalgo on Wednesday morning. A quick cross-docking of the peat-moss onto a Mexican Dub'ya Nine and I am away to Laredo for a trailer switch at the new yard. Stopping for fuel at the new Pilot Truckstop at Falfurrias; mid way between Hidalgo and Laredo. After a few years of stagnation, there seems to be an explosion of new travel plazas at the moment. Love's open a new site every month and Pilot/Flying'J are expanding too. Big investments in what must be considered secondary positions as all the prime Interstate locations have long gone. But good news for truck-drivers as more parking spots and facilities help ease the burden of ELDs.

____ For the third time on the trot, the destination of the triangle's second leg is Calgary, Alberta. Shop fittings of only three and a half tons which helps enormously with the journey; as I am expected to make a Monday morning delivery and get back into Canada in less than 70 hours of driving time. Another brand new Pilot Truckstop is the over-night halt at Lamar in Colorado but not before I have re-fueled at the Rip Griffin Travel Centre, Tulia. Rip Griffin started building truckstops in 1962, sold eleven sites to TA in 2004 but kept nine in the Lubbock area of West Texas. Mr. Griffin died in 2017, aged 87. Old style service and new only a few hours apart.

____ Northbound and onto higher ground, the wind picks-up and leans on the lightly loaded trailer. Interstate 25 in Wyoming is notorious for the gales from the West but I make it through to Sheridan; just keeping out of cruise-control and easing back on the exposed bridge-decks. At the third brand new truckstop of the trip, I wake up to heavy snow on a Saturday morning. Common Cents is the name of the truckstop and common-sense tells me to sit-tight until the weather front blows through. I'm away just after Noon; five hundred miles to the Canadian border and on to Lethbridge, Alberta, with a couple of hours left of my weekly 70 allowance.

____ Sunday is a day of rest and round to the new Calgary supermarket on Monday morning. Unloaded and the re-load is something I have done before; Acheson, near Edmonton, to Niverville, near Steinbach. But it might of helped if I had read the message correctly! I get up to Acheson only to find that I should have been loading at the company's other packing plant at Prince Albert in Saskatchewan. My mistake adds about a hundred miles to the empty dead-head but the wood-chip people give me a load from Acheson to help me on my way. The punishment load is to Fort Saskatchewan; which would have been nice if it was in Saskatchewan but it is only the other side of Edmonton.

____ It is frightening that I can still make such stupid mistakes after being a truck-driver for over forty years. Crack-on; I'm sure the office will have noticed but as they never say anything when I do a good job then I don't think they will much about a faut-pas. Eventually loaded in PA and on to Niverville for a quick unloading before running back to the yard. Eleven days for the trip; the longest of the trio after an 8 and a ten.

Brand new Pilot at Falfurrias, Texas, where the manager said I was the Canadian customer.

The peat-moss went from one Kenworth W900 to another at Hidalgo.

The Rip Griffin name still lives on at West Texas truckstops.

76 different barbed wires on display at Coopers BBQ, Junction, Texas.

Oil-field heavy-haul did well to find a big enough parking spot at the Calgary Flying'J.

List of new Pilot/Flying'J Truckstops with a new one, quite close, at Ste Agathe in Manitoba. 

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