• October 2010
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  • Visited

    States I have been to

    37 states so far

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On the road again.

Well here I am back in Texas heading to Laredo.  Can’t complain about the weather…about 25C today which is a lot warmer than it is back home…and NO SNOW!!!!  🙂  Started off pretty rough again though.  Had to wait over 4 hours in Winnipeg for the paperwork on this load and then headed south.  Border crossing was weird…barely even asked me anything and passed me through.  Wasn’t busy at all, so he had lots of time, but just rolled me through.

Crossed the scale at Sissketon, South Dakota and got called in.  My trailer axles were overweight by 1200lbs.  They give you 1000lbs to play with, so I got hit with a ticket for the 200lb excess.  They charge 5c per pound…so the ticket was $10.00 but the minimum fine is $170…so the total came out to $180…to be paid on the spot!!!!  No opportunity to defend myself…pay now…complain later!  That is my first fine in almost 1 year of trucking, but it still sucked big time!  Oh well I have put it behind me.  Amazing thing is that I am hauling the same trailer that I have been hauling for about a month, axles set in the same position, load about the same as usual and yet I still got dinged!  In future I am gonna have to pre-weigh to make sure I am legal!!

Driving through Texas today was hell.  On the 35W, which bypasses Dallas but goes right through Fort Worth, I hit a major back up!  Over 50 miles long!!!  Took three hours to drive a section of Interstate that usually takes about an hour.  There was no reason for the backup, just really heavy traffic!  Next weekend there is a NASCAR race in that area so its gonna be much worse…hopefully I am no where near that area when the race is on…unless of course I can stop and see the race!!!

So now I am in Waco, Texas, heading out in the morning to Laredo and hopefully a quick unload on Monday morning.  The place I am going to, however, is really slow and hard to get into so I expect to be there all day!

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Murphy’s Law!

You know the one: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong!” … well I am living proof!  I should have known that this load was doomed from the start, turned around and headed home, but common sense (and my bank account!) got the better of me!  Not long after I started on the load heading south out of Winnipeg, I put my truck to the “fuel test”… just south of Grand Forks, ND, my low fuel light came on with about 60 miles to go before I hit my next fuel stop.  By the time I arrived in Fargo, ND to fuel up, my truck was running on fumes …but I made it!  (Lucky for me, because running out of fuel would be a really bad thing to have to explain to my company!)

The rest of the south-bound trip was pretty uneventful, I arrived on time and got unloaded really quickly.  I also had an immediate reload available and figured things were going well.  By the time I arrived at the reload, I got the news that my first grandchild had been born so I was anxiously looking forward to heading north back to Canada and meeting him!  Alas, that is where my luck and good fortune came to an end.  😦

I left Laredo, TX on Friday evening and began the trek north.  After driving for a couple of hours, I pulled it into a rest area and stopped for the night.  Saturday morning arrived and I hit the road again, did a full days drive and parked for the night in Tucumcari, NM.  For the most part, things were going well.  AND then Sunday arrived!  Once again I hit the road, driving north.  Just north of Monument, CO…I began to feel a slight vibration in my truck.  I slowed down a little, did a quick tire check (in my mirrors) because I thought maybe I had a flat tire, but I didn’t see anything wrong.  Over the next couple of miles, the vibration seemed to come and go, so at first I put it down to poor road conditions.  BUT the vibration returned and gradually got worse, so I figured it was time to stop and check.  As soon as I hit the shoulder and began to slow down, the vibration got really violent and actually shook things off the passenger seat and dash board!  I now KNEW something was seriously wrong, but still felt it was a tire issue.  I got out of the truck on the shoulder, with vehicles passing within inches of me at 65MPH … people PLEASE give a little room.  I checked along the driver’s side and saw all my tires were good, and then did the same on the passenger side.  I couldn’t see anything wrong at all!

As I walked back to the front of the truck, I could smell oil, and figured something was wrong there.  As I got between the truck and the trailer, I noticed FLAMES coming from the bearing where my drive shaft enters my differential!  I quickly grabbed my fire extinguisher and gave it a shot, the flames went out, but immediately burst back to life.  A few more shots of the extinguisher accomplished putting out the fire and minimizing the damage.  I still had lots of extinguisher left (all that fire fighter training did me well!)  🙂  So now here I was, at the side of the Interstate with a completely disabled truck!  A tow truck was dispatched and towed my truck (with trailer attached) back to the Kenworth dealership in Colorado Springs, CO …which unfortunately is not open on Sundays.  So it was time to find a hotel and grab some rest.

Monday morning arrived, and I was at the dealership when it opened, in anticipation of getting the truck fixed and back on the road soon … but of course, that didn’t happen!  The failure of the drive shaft bearing and fire had completely demolished the differential … now remember this is a brand new truck with only about 13,000km (8500 miles) on it!  The dealer had never seen such a catastrophic failure on a new truck before.  From their diagnosis, it seems that there was very little oil in the differential and therefore it was only a matter of time before this failed.  The lack of oil was either from when the truck was produced, or when it was inspected prior to delivery to my company!

Now we had a full diagnosis, it was time to find a replacement.  The closest differential was in Waco, TX which was two days away!  And so it was back to the hotel for another night, while my company attempted to locate a rental truck for me, so that I could continue on with my load.  So Monday was shot!

Tuesday arrived, and just prior to check out time, I was informed by my company that there were no rentals available in the area until later that afternoon, AND the differential for my truck should be delivered on Wednesday morning, so it made sense to just sit and wait until the part was delivered and get my own truck back!  So Tuesday was spent in the hotel.  By this time, however, I had been advised that I would be fully compensated for my time and expenses, so things were looking up!

Wednesday arrived, and I checked out of the hotel in anticipation of an early differential delivery, and therefore an early return to driving!  Oh but of course, Murphy’s Law says “no way!”  The replacement differential was finally delivered at about 4:00pm and it would take about 2 1/2 hours to get it installed!  FINALLY it was installed and once again I hit the road.  I passed the point on the road where my truck had broken down, even noticed the marks on the shoulder where I had used my fire extinguisher 3 days earlier!  All seemed to be going well.

Thursday arrived and my miles were flying by, and I felt like I actually would make my delivery, get reloaded back towards home and finally meet my grandson!  But then it turned into Friday.  I got an early morning call from my dispatch, that sounded troubling, but really wasn’t saying too much.  Just wanted to know where I was, but something about the call did not seem Kosher!  I continued along my way, trying to keep on schedule, but as the hours passed with no word from Dispatch, I had this nagging feeling inside that something was not quite right.

During this time, however, I had bigger fish to fry, as once again, my low fuel light came on.  I had planned on a fuel stop about 90 miles away, but now realized that since I was climbing the mountains of Montana and Idaho, I should really look a little closer.  I found a fuel stop that was only 30 miles away, and relaxed a little.  As I approached the exit for that fuel stop, however, things went bad again!  The place was closed up, deserted and abandoned!  My fuel gauge was seriously in the “E” range, red light blaring in my face, and I had about 60 miles to go!  😦  Time to go into fuel conservation mode and lessen the impact.  So I slowed down and did very soft and subtle speed and gear changes.  BUT Northern Idaho is NOT a place to conserve fuel, as I had a number of major climbs to do, all the while watching my fuel gauge drop lower and lower.  Now I knew from my experience in North Dakota, that even when the fuel gauge actually hit “E”, there was still quite a bit of fuel left, but how low does my “pick up” line go?  Also, all that ascending and descending causes the fuel to move to the front or back of the tank, which could possibly affect how much fuel is available.  North Dakota is pretty flat, whereas Idaho is far from flat!  I sweated my way through the miles, counting down the mile-posts and unbelievably, I made it to my fuel stop …. maybe things were finally going my way!

Once I was full of fuel, I parked my truck and went inside for a bite to eat, prior to hitting the road again, along to my ultimate destination of Vancouver, BC!  At this point, I thought it was probably a good idea to contact my dispatch for any updates, and boy did they have an update!  It seems that the company that I was delivering to in Vancouver, had canceled this shipment in JULY!!!! Nobody seems to have notified the shipper or the trucking company however!  So now they were refusing delivery.  They do, however, have a subsidiary in Vancouver, Washington, which is willing to take the shipment off our hands!  The problem is, though, that as a Canadian carrier, it is illegal for me to pick up a shipment in the USA and deliver it within the USA … I MUST deliver it to Canada!  If I was to deliver it within the USA, I could lose my access card that allows me to enter the USA and my company could lose its’ running rights within the USA…so therefore we cannot deliver the load to Vancouver, Washington, even though they are willing to accept it!

So here I sit in Northwestern Idaho, waiting for Monday to arrive.  On Monday I will take the shipment across the border to an unaffiliated warehouse in Vancouver, BC.  They will break the seal on the trailer and sign for the load.  Then we will reseal the trailer, prepare a completely new shipment and take the load BACK into the USA for delivery to Vancouver, Washington!  Hopefully sometime Monday morning I will see the end of this load, get reloaded and begin to head home to meet my grandson!

Now I have one request for all of you…WHOEVER has the voodoo doll of me (or my truck)….PLEASE pull out the pins and leave me alone!  Somewhere along the way, if I did you wrong, I am sure you have got even with me by now!!!!!  😉

Not always easy on the road.

Been a while since I updated, so here is the scoop. The last load started with car and a quad in Kingsman, AZ and then we added some oil and air filters in Salt Lake City, UT and then drove across country to add some trailer axles in Orange City, IA and then headed north back to Canada. We spent SIX HOURS at the border trying to get the load cleared, and luckily for me the US Border Agent was in a good mood, because the quad had not been properly pre-cleared for exit from the USA, but she pulled a few strings and got it cleared for me. Then we off-loaded the axles in Winkler, MB and dropped the remainder of the trailer in our yard in Steinbach, MB. The car and quad survived the trip, which was a good things since they were for the owner of the company!!! 🙂

From there I took a few days off to visit my parents. They knew that I was coming, but what they didn’t know was that my brother was flying in from Vancouver Island to help celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary! My kids also joined in and we had a great weekend and dinner at The Keg.

Then it was back to work and I headed down to Hidalgo, TX with another load of pork headed to Mexico. Then over to Laredo, TX for a reload headed to Langley, BC and that is where I am headed now.

While I was getting loaded in Laredo, I got a message from my oldest son that my first grandchild was born, Wyatt Robert Croft joined us on October 8th 2010 at 3:48pm. Unfortunately, for me, I don’t get to see him for a while and that is not easy.

So far since I began trucking last November, I have missed two funerals of very special people, and now the birth of my first grandchild. So, while I get the glory of seeing North America, and visiting locations that I had only dreamed of seeing, I also miss out on some important things. Being on the road is great, and I love my job, but there are other things in life too. I am looking forward to seeing Wyatt when I get back to Manitoba, but for now all I can do is wait and get updates from the family.