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Travels of the Trucker Post #1

October 22, 2011

Me and the truck i drive now

Hello fans of the trucking world. Wives, truckers, friends, family and anyone else connected to the trucking industry. As I sit here, I often think of how trucking affects my family and how trucking affects you. Trucking has certainly changed throughout the years from what it used to be when my dad and my uncle were on the road. Perhaps you often see a truck driving down the road and wondered what it would be like. Maybe you have a fantasy about driving a monster truck down the road. Maybe they scare you because you misunderstand trucks and find them to be awkward to drive beside or try to get around. Hopefully as you read this blog when I get chances to update it you will enjoy and understand the trucking world and come to appreciate the hard work that truckers put in. With long hours, little sleep, short deadlines, precarious weather, and expensive and unhealthy eating habits, with little home time you will appreciate that you are home reading this and that everything you have and own was brought by a trucker.

A short trip turns into a roadtrip!

Last Tuesday I headed out of the house on what was supposed to be a quick trip. I was loading a flat 60 foot, 53,000 pound piece of concrete onto the deck and headed to Creston, BC about 700 kilometers East of Vancouver on Highway 3. I arrived on the job site in Chilliwack shortly around 8:45 am and proceeded to back up towards the crane that was lifting this massive concrete block (which by the way was being used as a bridge support protector to prevent ice from hitting the actual bridge that was being built. I backed under the block as it was being lifted by the crane. Being a longer load than my trailer I had to overhang the concrete block about 2 feet up towards my cab and leave 5 feet of overhang at the back. In case you were unaware truckers don’t just throw the freight on their truck and go. There are rules and regulations governing every load in regards to weight, height and width. For example with this massive concrete block I could have no more than 35% of rear overhang in relation to the center point of my middle axle (I was driving a tri axle trailer).

I am loaded and begin to strap down my load. I use enough belts as per the regulations governing the tie down of equipment. Yes there are rules and guidelines to follow there too. For example I need enough belts to cover the length of the load and enough belts or chains to cover the weight of the load to prevent it from sliding or falling off the deck of the trailer. If you are unfamiliar, belts and chains work on the principal of friction. The belts are designed to keep downward pressure on the object and the straps enclose the object to prevent any shifting of the material. After strapping the massive load, I headed out on the highway and was out on the highway by 9:45 am. Having spent an hour at the shipper. I headed out East on Highway 1 and my route would take me up Highway 3 through the Desert region of Osoyoos and through the Kootenays. My whole day would be spent going up one Mountain and down another. The whole day climbing Mountains and passes was very frustrating. Climbing a mountain doing 25 Kilometers an hour gets very frustrating when you have a goal. My goal was to be there to unload that day although my appointment was scheduled for 8 am the next morning. My unload site was a small Forest Service Road called Mary Creek. Without a topographical map of the area it would be most trying to find it at the best of times. I was provided a topographical map of the area by the shipper along with the phone numbers which of course were useless unless the receiver was in the town of Creston which of course they weren’t, they were out in the bush.

The Hills have Eyes!

I travel along Highway 1 and come to a first mandatory stop. The truck scale at Laidlaw was open so I turn on the signals and depart the highway entering the scale service area.  I approach the scale and slow the truck to 10 kilometers an hour as I cross the weigh platform. My weights are good 5300 kilograms on my steer axles, 16,300 kilograms on my drives and 21,360 kilograms on my rear axles. I am almost maxed out for the trailer I am carrying but the weights are excellent. I don’t get the red light from the scale so I continue on out of the scale and on my merry way. The first hill I reach is just outside of Hope, BC. It is a fairly small hill compared with what will come. I get to the crest of the first hill and this was only one of many that I would face that day. Sunday Summit, Allison Pass, Mine Hill, Kootenay Pass, Bambi Mountain, Salmo-Creston just to name a few. each one was much more longer than the others. Kootenay was 1,700 meters to the top. Bambi was certainly no gentle creature at 1,400 + meters! Every time I hit a mountain the slow drag up the hill would be enough to make me scream and after a full day of them I was certainly mountain-ed out and swore if I saw another mountain at the end of my day I would just go insane.  I was journeying through Osoyoos which by the way is the only desert region in Canada. It was full of luscious grape growing vineyards, dry arid rock and lots of weeds. Of course it was also home to other creatures. I pulled over to the side of the highway and got out of my truck for a relaxing stretch. No sooner had I walked to the front of my truck and I spotted something about 10 feet ahead of my truck. It was a snake!! Surprised I was like WTF! is that? I realized it was a snake basking in the Sun soaking up a nice tan. Like I had the luxury to be out Sun-Tanning and here was this snake . I wasn’t sure what kind of snake it was and to be sure, I did take pictures, but it certainly looked like a rattler and I wasn’t about to stick my hand holding the Blackberry any closer to get a better picture than the ones I took. I left it well enough alone and proceeded on my way avoiding the snake with my trailer. Certainly there was a thought to bag it and take it, but foolishness subsided and I got out of there while my limbs had not been bitten. My thought was these hills certainly have eyes.

So Close But yet so far 😦 

It was late in the afternoon, the sun was setting and I was racing against the sun. The workers would never unload me in the bush in the dark and I was losing this battle. Having to climb the last mountain out of Salmo to get to Creston, it was a long one at 1,700 Meters. By 6:15pm I was at the top and it was dusk. I would never reach my location in time. I still had to find the turnoff. By 6:30 it was too dark to see the turnoff, I was going downhill and I had another truck following behind me so I couldn’t stop to dilly dally looking for the turnoff. I gave up and continued on into Creston needing food to fuel me. I hadn’t eaten the whole day having survived on coffee and a donut in the morning. I pull over and allow the driver behind me to pass. He gives a flick of the tail lights as a way of saying thanks bud! I continue on into Creston and pull into a truck area across from Tim Horton’s. I walk in and immediately I go about ordering, Large Coffee, Donut, 10 timbits, A Bagel toasted with Butter and Sliced cheese and a bowl of Lasagna. I was certainly famished. I jump back into the truck and head off to the rest area I saw on the way back out of town and when I arrive there is room for me to sleep there. A few meters in front of me is the giant sign.

I pull in there and set about eating my food. Belly full, it’s time to retire for the night. I crawl into the back of my sleeper and drift off to sleep with the alarm set to wake me up at 7:30 the next morning. I of course wake up far earlier than this. Other trucks have also pulled in to sleep for the night so I wasn’t alone in my pullout. I wake up the next morning and depart at 7:15am. I arrive at the site by 8:00 am and the workers are also just arriving. They ask me to wait for a few minutes to ensure no other trucks have gone on in the middle of the night. A few minutes later when as agreed they do not return I set out on the 1 kilometer into the logging road. It is twisty and narrow and of course 2 trucks would not pass easily on this road.  arrive at the site and find it to be a small and narrow work site. The use 2 excavators to lift and manouever the block into place. While they do this, I unhook my trailer since one of the excavators has to turn my trailer around since there is no other way for me to turn around. I am out of the unloading site by 9:30 am and on my way to Creston. I was advised by my dispatcher to go to Radium to pick up a load. Radium is about 280 Kilometers North East of my current position. I get into Creston grab a breakfast to go and continue on. I arrive in Cranbrook and get my fuel and phone into dispatch at 10:18am. My dispatch advises there is a change and I am to drive to Edmonton and be there by 4pm. I guess he must have assumed I had flown to Radium cause he wanted me in Edmonton by 4pm and it was already 11:18 am and I was only in Cranbrook. I advise them this is impossible. Citing that I am 300 kilometers from Banff, 1.5 hours from Calgary and then another 3 hours from Edmonton with another 40 minutes of travel through Edmonton my ETA would be 7pm. They tell me “try”. I take it with a grain of salt and do try. I head up the 93/95 which goes to Radium Hot springs and splits off to either travel the 93 via Radium to Banff or the 95 going to Golden. I choose the Banff route which is the quickest route to take. I enter Kootenay National Park and climb the Kootenay Pass, but I am empty so it doesn’t bother my speed at all.

The walls of the pass at the entrance are massive having been carved out of the mountain itself from early mining explorations.

it’s a twisty windy road, but eventually I reach the boundary of Alberta and British Columbia and start descending into Alberta. From there it is much easier, flatter roads and I can travel at higher speeds legally.

I follow the course eventually intersecting back into Highway 1 and head East on Highway 1. I travel through Banff National Park passing Canmore, Kananaskis and Jumping Pound before taking the Cochrane, Alberta exit of Highway 22 and going North to bypass Calgary. I go through Cochrane and a little further North I take the 567 East towards Airdrie which will put me North of Calgary, Alberta. After a series of turns and a few miles more, I go through Airdrie and jump back on Highway 2 which travels between Edmonton and Calgary. Shortly after getting on the highway I get a phone call from the dispatcher Shannon. She says “well I’m glad your sitting down cause I have some bad news”…she says “how are you”, I say “well I’m trying, but it’s already 4pm here and I have 266 kilometers to go” . She says “well I was hoping to get you sooner, but the customer called and cancelled, but I do have a load from Mica Creek near Revelstoke” I reply “that’s 6 hours back the other way!” So at the nearest exit I turn around and start heading back towards the mountains. Only this time I take the Calgary route 201 By-Pass which rings around Calgary and I get back onto Highway 1. I stay on highway 1 going through the “snakepit” of Golden and through Roger’s Pass. To be continued.

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One Comment
  1. nice, Today with the internet, truck accessories can easily be purchased or ordered online. With such a vast array of online auto accessory stores, you can be sure to find exactly what you are looking for. check out truck tie downs

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