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Been too long

Wow I have been away for a while, been almost a month since I last posted, so I can’t update on everything that has happened in that time, so instead I will give you a run down of the last couple of weeks and the most recent trip I have been on.

I took a few days off from driving and went home, also got to spend some time with my oldest son, his wife and of course my darling grandson! ūüėČ And then it was back to work!

Started out ok, was called into the office for a “meeting” and upon arrival I found out they had made an appointment with the lab for me to go take a “pee test” … it is used to check for drugs in the system, not that I am concerned…I actually found it funny that they had to drag me in by setting up a non-existent meeting. It is pretty tough to get me into the office on any sort of regular basis, so they found a way! Haven’t heard the results yet, but it should be 100% clean, the only drugs I use are Tylenol and Advil, oh yeah and Aleve that is not legal in Canada!

After my drug test it was off to pick up my preloaded trailer. For once I did not have to wait for anything at all and was able to hit the road right away. I thought this was a good omen…oh boy was I wrong on that one! I put in a good days drive and made it to Vermillion, South Dakota about 7 hours south of Winnipeg. On the way, I ran into some really really nasty freezing rain. One minute I was crusing along at 65MPH and then suddenly the cars in front of me started to slow down and hit their 4 way flashers. My windshield was immediately (out of nowhere!) covered in rain and ice! Now you maybe can slow your car down quickly, but 80,000lbs going 65MPH takes a while to slow down, especially when you don’t dare use the brakes, and so I hit the hammer lane (passing lane for those of you who don’t know) and let up on the throttle. I went whizzing past all these cars going slow, along with a couple of other trucks behind me who had take the same option, and let the engine slow me down gradually. When I got in front of the cars and doing a reasonable 30MPH, I pulled back into the granny lane (slow lane for you) and became “leader of the pack!” ¬†We drove for about an hour in this freezing rain and although I was able to keep my front windshield clean (for the most part), my driver’s side window was completely encrusted with ice, so much so that I could NOT see out of it at all and couldn’t open it to scrape the ice off! Also, although I have heated mirrors, the heat could not combat the ice and my mirrors were basically useless! Nothing like driving a big rig down the highway and can’t see anything around you! Eventually, after about an hour of 30MPH driving and freezing rain, it cleared as fast as it started and I was back up to speed, but I was ready to call it a night!

I checked my weather radio, built into my CB radio and a really neat gadget, and heard that there was a severe blizzard warning out for my area. The forecast however, was for the blizzard to only hit as far south as Souix Falls, South Dakota, and since Vermillion is about 50 miles south of there, I figured I was safe! So Vermillion became my stop. I arrived there and it was about 40F outside, a nice refreshing late fall evening with extremely clear skies…I had made a good choice and avoided the bad weather, or so I thought!

At around 4:00am, I awoke and felt my truck rocking in the wind, and figured something was up, but nothing I could do until morning, real morning that is! At about 6:00am I awoke, got dressed, pulled back my cab curtains and saw WHITE! Nothing but white all around and I was sitting in the middle of the blizzard that was supposed to hit 50 miles NORTH of me!!!!!! This is all I could see out of my front window, and no my camera is NOT broken!

Blizzard in Vermillion, SD

This was NOT good. ¬†I now got really dressed, into my winter garb, and headed out to the truck stop building, but first I had to climb over a THREE FOOT DEEP snow drift that had accumulated in front of my truck! ¬†The wind was fierce and extremely cold, and even though it was only about 50 feet to the building, by the time I got there, my face was really cold and I was glad that I didn’t have much further to walk! ¬†When I got inside, there were a bunch of truck drivers standing around drinking coffee and mulling about the weather, and how they heard it was NOT going to be bad in Vermillion! ¬†Guess we were all wrong on that one. ¬†Throughout the day it kept getting worse and worse and we heard of a major accident on the Interstate just a couple of miles from where we were stopped. ¬†The Interstate was closed, but people still kept arriving and by the end of the day, the parking lot was jammed with cars and semi’s parked in every available space, even the fuel islands! ¬†Some people ventured out on the roads, and we never heard back from them, but most just hung tight and waited it out. ¬†I met one guy who had ditched his car about 2 miles from the truck stop and waited FIVE hours for the police to find him! ¬†He is very lucky to be alive!

Finally around 9:00pm, the snow began to let up and the cleanup began.  The plows attempted to clear the parking lot, but had a hard time due to the large amount of snow and the number of vehicles parked everywhere!  More people headed back out on the road, but a state trooper arrived at the truckstop to warn us that anyone caught on the road and/or causing an accident or hitting the ditch, would be fined $10,000!!!!  That was more than enough to convince me to bed down for the night!  Sunday morning arrived, and the sky was clear, and the parking lot was mostly clear!  At around 10:30am they finally (officially) reopened the Interstate and it was time to head out.  When I got to the scene of the accident, it was like a wrecking yard.  There were trucks and cars all over the place in various states of destruction!  The rumour was that one person was injured, no one killed thankfully, but looking at the vehicles made me think there were some very lucky people out there!  About an hour down the road, the snow was gone, and therefore if I had driven just a little further on Friday night, I would have avoided it all and made it ontime to my delivery in Laredo!

After that mess, the remainder of my southbound trip was pretty uneventful, except for a nagging orange warning light on my dashboard, and the fact that at the last part of my southward trip, I had very little power in my engine. ¬†Since I had already lost one day, I ignored the light and continued on. ¬†I arrived in Laredo, late Monday night and now had an early Tuesday morning unload. ¬†On Tuesday I arrived at my unload at 7:00am and began the wait! ¬†I had also arranged to have my truck looked at as soon as I was empty. ¬†Well, I guess I should have known things wouldn’t get better, and after waiting all day at my unload, I was finally told at 6:00pm that I would not be able to unload today and to come back tomorrow! ¬†I figured, maybe I could get my truck looked at, but as luck would have it, the shop was closing and would not be able to look at it until tomorrow (Wednesday) after I had unloaded!

Wednesday arrived and I was back to my unload spot at 7:00am and as luck would have it, I got unloaded pretty darn quick!  It was then off to the shop to get my truck fixed (or so I thought!)  I sat all day Wednesday at the repair shop, only to be told at about 5:00pm that they were going to take a quick look at my truck, but would not be able to fix anything that day.  I convinced them to let me take the truck back, once they had looked at it, so I had someplace to sleep.  They told me to bring it back first thing in the morning, Thursday, and they would fix it then!

Thursday arrived, and back to the shop I went. ¬†I sat there all day long, again watching multiple episodes of CSI:New York on the TV. ¬†Around 6:00pm they told me that they couldn’t narrow down the problem. ¬†My company told me to find a hotel room, and I took one that was recommended by the repair shop. ¬†THIS was the only thing they got right! ¬†The hotel that I stayed in was pretty cheap ($60/night) and had a happy hour from 6pm to 8pm (happy HOUR?????) where you got free hotdogs and BEER!!!! ¬†Too bad I couldn’t stay longer!

When I headed back to the shop on Friday, I was told my truck would possibly be ready later that day, but that my company was arranging a rental truck so that I could head off to pick up my reload, return to the shop and be ready to head to Calgary and get home in time for Christmas. ¬†The truck that was rented was an International day cab (no sleeper) with a 10 speed gearbox. ¬†Now I have never driven a 10 speed before and it is certainly different from my 13 speed that I am used to! ¬†Takes a lot of getting used to and downshifting is really difficult, but I got through it. ¬†Now as luck would have it, by the time I got my rental, drove the three hours to my reload spot and picked up my first of two loads, the second place was closed. ¬†I only had a day cab and therefore it was hotel time again, albeit one without happy hour! ¬†ūüė¶

The next morning at 6:00am, I headed over to pick up the second part of my load. ¬†Obviously I misunderstood my instructions on the phone, because I thought they opened at 7:00am, but they didn’t open until 9:30am! ¬†I could have slept for a couple more hours!!!!! ¬†I also found out at this time, that my truck was seriously broken and I wouldn’t be getting it back, instead I was to return to the rental spot, and exchange my day cab for a sleeper truck! ¬†I thought I was stepping up … but oh no! ¬†Again, when I exchanged it, I got another International truck with a 10 speed gearbox, and therefore I have to drive all the way to Calgary and then to Winnipeg and then probably back to Laredo with this damn thing! ¬†Also it has an airleak somewhere, so every few seconds, the compressor kicks in and then lets out a “pissssssst!” ¬†It does this all the time, when I am driving and when I am parked, and I have to leave the thing running to keep the heat on…so sleeping is NOT easy!

The one bonus is that the truck travels at 73MPH instead of my usual 65MPH, so I can really add on miles, and very few trucks were passing me today! ¬†ūüôā

All I can hope is that my problems are passed me for this trip and I can make it to Calgary and then home in time for Christmas!

I hope you enjoy my ponderings, and wish all of you a MERRY CHRISTMAS (no political correctness here) and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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