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Travels of a Trucker Post #10 Onward to Kitimat Part 2

November 13, 2011

Hope BC

It is 6:15am and I have awoken. It is wet and cold as I put on my shoes. I have slept at the scale having crossed it already so I have no worry about anything being wrong with my load at this point. I go out and head over to the Scale. I need a copy of my permit. The Scale guy prints me a copy of my permit with the numbers I have given him. He looks over the permit and questions my height. He cautions me that I should stay to the fast lane of the Coquihalla Tunnel since it is sloped and I may catch the upper part of the tunnel if I stay to the right. I accept his valid advice.

I depart a little early than I should be going since my load is a wide load I am only allowed to travel half an hour before sunrise. As I travel along about an hour and a half later I am coming close to Merrit. I look out my mirror and I see all the tarps from the load trailing 40′ behind me but still clinging on. I am a little bit exasperated at this point since the shipper pre-tarped this load and they used tape on the front of the load. I take a picture and email it to my boss and tell him it’s all coming off. I just don’t want to deal with it anymore. So there on the side of the Highway it all comes off. The example shown below is what was happening to the tarps. They were becoming shredded and the lumber was starting to fall out. This was another load going to the same place I was.  The second picture below is my load after all the tarps came off.

I have now removed all the tarps and the loose lumber pieces and am now continuing on in my journey. The day isn’t too bad. It’s starting to turn out to be a decent day I think to myself and I may make Prince George by nightfall. I approach Kamloops and I have to stop into this scale. Now there is a problem. The shipper sent some boxes with my load. Unfortunately they were behind the tarps and suddenly the load I have with regards to the weight permit is that I have a reducible load in effect to the overweight permit. However, the Kamloops scale says nothing. I go in and get my revised permit since my weight is heavier than the driver preceding me. I ask him if he saw my co worker and he says yes and I can tell you exactly how far he is cause I gave him a “notice and order” as his tarps were flapping out 6 to 8 feet. I am relieved that I have ripped all the remaining tarp off! I go on my way wondering if I will catch him or if I have passed him. I go past Kamloops, through Barriere and onto Little Fort, BC where it begins to Snow. I check on my VHF radio and I find it is snowing from Little Fort to Clearwater, BC and that it is snowing again from Avola, BC to Valemont, BC and then yet again from McBride through to Prince George, BC. It was not going to be an easy day of travel. I approach Clearwater and the hill is very greasy. I pull over to grab lunch at the A & W and find that the shoulder of the highway is very slippery. I almost slide into the truck ahead of me. I continue driving with hamburgers in hand, driving through snow and wet slush. I get over to McBride and it is almost 2pm in the afternoon. I don’t have much further to go to reach Prince George, but it is snowing, my speed is reduced and it is a very curvy drive. A few times I could feel that my steer tires were wanting to go into the ditch with the slush covered shoulder. By 5pm it is dark and I cannot see anything. I see a snow covered road and my headlamps are getting snow covered reducing visibility. I start looking for a place to sleep and find a nice open wide spot across from a rock face about  110km East of Prince George on Highway 16. I am bagged, and I am to be honest a little scared. Damn I wonder to myself, why do I keep getting into this shit!

Morning rolls around and I am eager and anxious to get out of there and get fuel. It isn’t that long until daylight. I leave around 6:15am and sunrise is scheduled for 6:52am. I arrive in Prince George and hunt out my fueling station. I have not touched my fuel since I left Chilliwack. My truck takes 650 liters of fuel. Not bad considering the distance I have driven. I leave Prince George on the last leg of my Journey to Kitimat which lies about another 640 Kilometers away. It is now Thursday and I have to be off the road by 2pm because of the impending long weekend approaching. I am sure I will not make it and I phone my dispatch. Through small towns I travel not stopping since every stop costs time. A few hundred kilometers away I am approaching 2pm and I just want to go a little further. Smithers I pass, then I see the sign that shows my New Hazelton is another 33 kilometers away. so I make a decision to travel to New Hazelton where I see the other driver. I stop and he tells me he isn’t going any further. I know why and I agree. To do so risks a huge fine for being on the highway. So he rents a hotel room for 2 nights. I elect to stay in the truck since my employer would never pay for a hotel room for me. So there I sit in New Hazelton the remainder of Thursday, all day Friday until Saturday morning feeding on the WiFi of my fellow driver’s hotel and leaving my truck on for warmth.

Saturday morning rolls around and I and the other driver are ready to roll at 7am. We depart in the morning darkness under the cover of slush covered road and falling snow. Our goal is less than 120 miles ahead of us. We travel on passing Kitwanga. The roads keep going from bare to slush covered and back to bare. It is bothersome every time we come into slush covered road since it is a little more slippery. As we make our way we have to pass the scale in Terrace and then take Highway 37 South to Kitimat where the huge Alcan Plant is. We are on time and target. We go down the hill and enter a parking lot where we rendezvous with a flagging crew who will pilot us through the City of Kitimat. We have to go through a Bridge staying in the middle since the corners of the bridge are only 4.2 meters tall and we are 4.8+meters. A few short kilometers later we are at the Alcan site where our Pilot Car crew leaves us. They are only one group of flaggers we will see today. We will utilize the services of about 10 other flaggers today. Shutting down roads at the huge Alcan site and other arterial roads on this massive plant site. We are brought roughly 4 kilometers down a paved road and staged at the wharf’s where all the drivers are taken on a brief road tour of our final destination. I am the first to go and hope in my heart I don’t make any stupid or foolish mistakes. I follow the instructions and the road crew who are leading me. Turning left, then turning left again backing up into a landfill site and turning around to cross a narrow bridge structure. Going straight then going around a curve and over a set of railway tracks leading back to another Highway and into that entrance using the opposite side of the entrance. Travelling under sets of massive energy equipment. Everywhere I go is flaggers who have blocked off roads. It is all finely tuned and precisive.  I go through a short tunnel sounding my Air Horn after stopping and then I keep left to swing wide. I back into my unloading destination with the help of flaggers as I have to back beside a massive 270 tonne Crane.

The winds

Everything is set. I am backed up. I am ready to unchain. I have signed off on the JHA sheets (Job Hazard Assessments) and I am eager, but not really so since it is getting late in the day. I only have another 5 hours left on my logbook to travel and won’t get very far. The only problem is the winds. The winds are gusting upwards of 50 to 60 kilometers per hour and the Crane is only set for 28 Kilometers. I see arguments with upper management and lower management staff. There is problems everywhere it seems. However, the final call is the Crane Operator. His alarms are beeping in the cab of wind advisory so he refuses to lift the load. It may sound simple lifting a load so I can drive out, but this load is 56,000 pounds and lifting it with a wind gust catching it could have disastrous effects. It could topple the crane over or fall on someone causing death. It is safer to wait the wind out. However, this day does not end so lucky for me. I sit in Camp waiting for the winds to die down and I can hear the rain being windswept outside the camp room window I am writing this from. I have to say one thing, the food is great! I am stuffed. I have showered and a nice warm bed to sleep in. Tomorrow will bring another day and if the winds do not die down then we will try again on Monday morning.


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One Comment
  1. Tracy permalink

    At least they feed you well at the camp. Interesting read.

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