After a short two week stint running dry van trailers to Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon, with what I thought was a good company I quit and signed on with a long haul high boy company which I nearly quit on my first day.
Many people call high boys, flat decks, but in my experience a flat deck is a truck, not a tractor, having only two or three axels and no fifth wheel, with a flat deck, not a trailer.
What most people call a semi, truck, or rig is actually a highway tractor pulling a semi trailer. Commonly called a tractor trailer unit.
The tractor that I had been assigned was being greased and I started to clean it out. Just after I had removed everything from the sleeper and the jockey boxes and had it spread all over the shop floor they had me take another tractor to get my trailer loaded, in the rain, for Atlanta, Georgia.
When I got back to the shop, soaking wet, my tractor was outside and I had to throw everything back in quick because it was still sitting on the shop floor and the mechanics wanted to lock up and go home. I had hoped to be able to vacuum out the truck and put everything back inside neatly while it was inside. However I had no time to clean anything and had to do everything outside in the rain.
While I was loading my personal stuff, out of my van into the sleeper, they all went home and locked the gate. When I was ready to leave I couldn't get out. I was contemplating throwing my stuff back in my van and pulling down the gate but a passing motorist stopped and I gave him a phone number. The boss came and let me out and then showed me where the night key for the gate was hidden.
I left Abbotsford in late June and I am trying to recall this and write it in mid October. My log book is such a book of lies and I am trying to use it to jog my memory. It shows that I went through Bend, Wash. and Moses lake into Idaho and spent the night at a rest area on I-Ninety.
On the twenty-eighth of June I travelled through Billings, Montana and Sheridan, Wyoming spending the night in Buffalo, Wyoming. I followed I-Ninety through South Dakota to Sioux City where I tuned South on I-Twenty-nine through Iowa and spent the night on the Missouri border.
When I say night I mean the end of my ten hours of driving. If one drives for ten hours taking a fifteen minute break every two and a half hours with the second of the three breaks being a half hour you actually put in an eleven hour day which usually stretches to twelve. Add your eight hour break to that and a twenty-four hour day becomes twenty which means that each work day starts four hours earlier than the day before so that your nights or sleep time often occur in the afternoon or morning.
It takes a while to get used to the idea, never mind the actuality, but it means that in a five day week you actually put in six ten hour driving sessions which means you can pull a load a week across the continent and still have a day off on each coast.
At Kansas City I turned East on I-Seventy. Entering St. Louis, Missouri I saw a sign that said the quickest way to highway I-Sixty-four was to take route Forty. Halfway through the city I saw a sign saying that because of construction Forty didn't go to the bridge and I should choose an alternate route. Like I'm supposed to stop in the middle of a freeway and consult a city map that I don't have? What master mind developed this idea?
As it turned out I had to stop on the freeway anyway. I was cruising through the city wondering which turnoff I should take, If I couldn't cross the river, and I heard a hissing noise. I hadn't heard a pop so I didn't think I had blown a tire. My air gauges weren't dropping so I didn't think I had an air leak. I figured I better stop anyway.
Since there weren't any shoulders I pulled over in the `Y' of an on ramp. Walking around the truck I couldn't find a flat tire or an air leak. Since I was already stopped I took the opportunity to look at a map and decided to go South on I-Fifty-five, then try to get over to I-Twenty-four some how.
As I was driving along I could still hear the hissing sound. It was intermittent and the volume wasn't consistent.
Shortly after I turned South onto I-Fifty- five I came across a weigh scale. I pulled in and gave the rig a more thorough inspection but could still not find a flat or a leak. I shut the truck off and could still hear the noise. I walked away from the truck and could still hear it.
Totally perplexed I rechecked my road map and continued South again until I came to a rest area. When I went to use the rest room I saw a newspaper article on the bulletin board telling about an infestation of locusts that were making a loud buzzing noise. So loud that residents couldn't sleep.
Outside of the rest room I walked under a pine tree and sure enough there were a few of these large cricket type bugs on the branches emanating their mating call. I then walked under an oak tree and the branches were crawling with the critters. In a very rare occurrence of nature two types of locusts had entered their mating season at the same time on the same year.
Proceeding South I noticed that the frequency and the volume of the hissing noise was directly related to my proximity to, and the size of the copse of, oak trees along the roadside. I would hear this noise in these parts of the U. S. A. for the rest of the summer.
I took I-Fifty-five South to I-Fifty-seven then went North East to highway Sixty. This is a very narrow winding road that is a lot of fun after dark and I wish I could have seen the scenery in the daytime.
The Ohio river meets the Mississippi river at this point and produces a long narrow isthmus. You leave Missouri on a long narrow bridge, curve through the outskirts of the town of Cairo, at the tip of the isthmus, then enter another long narrow bridge, after having been in Tennessee for all of three miles.
Leaving this second bridge, both of which had taken me over tugs lighting up the water with their bright searchlights while they propelled large barges along the river, I was welcomed by Kentucky troopers, their three cars hidden at the mouth of a laneway.
Luckily my speed was well under the limit and I slowed even more as I entered a construction zone. A while later car headlights appeared in my mirror and with that sixth sense that every trucker has I knew the troopers were behind me.
Along many miles of narrow road I was followed and when ever there was a passing stretch there would be another car coming. Eventually as I made a turn at the intersection in Barlow I was able to pull over to the side and one patrol car got past. When he was in front of me I flipped my headlights to high and quickly to low to let him know he was far enough in front of me to safely return to the right lane. He gave me a couple of twirls of his blues to say thanks.
I always find it strange that police cars in the United States use blue lights on the top of their cars. In B. C. blue lights were used on trucks and graders in the winter to indicate snow removal equipment. Emergency vehicles use red lights.
It was a couple of small towns and many miles of winding road before there was sufficient space for the second trooper to get past and again I got a twirl of the blues.
When finally, after many more miles and a couple more small towns had gone by there was finally a break in the oncoming traffic and the third car got by. No blueberries this time as he was a plain brown wrapper.
The rest of the short journey to I-Twenty-four was so much more relaxing knowing there weren't any bears on my donkey.
I reached Cartersville on the last day of June, just before dark. Cartersville is about two hours North of Atlanta, Georgia. I had half a load of crusher plates for a recycling plant.
Over-judging my instructions, I thought that the fourth light was too far downtown and after turning around went back to the third light. This narrow street led me through a heavy residential district to an intersection that didn't match up with my instructions. With barely room to make the turn I was reluctant to go anywhere.
Getting out of the truck I asked some cars behind me where I should go and got different opinions until I asked an old lady who said she would lead me.
Standing in the intersection I directed traffic until all the vehicles were gone and she was in front of me. Following the kindly lady I almost lost my mirrors on the side of a railway underpass that had to have given me about one inch clearance on either side. Luckily I didn't have a van trailer or high load as my exhaust pipes only cleared by a few inches but we were on the right road and she stopped in the middle of the street to block traffic while I got turned and backed into the plant where I would sleep for the night and unload the next morning.
It wasn't quite dark yet and after thanking the dear lady profusely, and silently promising myself never to curse at old lady drivers again, I did a house cleaning and then caught a taxi to a theatre I had noticed while coming into town.
I don't remember what movie I went to see but I recall totaling the bill for the movie, cost of popcorn and pop, fare for the cab, and converting it into Canadian dollars. The cost was so staggering I decided that it was such a nice night out that I would walk back to my truck.
With my inalienable sense of direction and my philosophy of never travelling the same road a second time I walked towards the center of town where I could see the lights of the business district. Everything was closed but I walked the main street and then cut back through the residential district which turned out to be a predominately black district in more ways than one.
Most of the inhabitants, at least any that I met on the sidewalk, or saw getting in or out of cars, or could barely see on the front porches of their houses enjoying the evening air, were coloured. As well there were no streetlights or moon which made for poor visibility. It seem strange to walk along the sidewalk and hear conversations from unseen persons.
After unloading first thing the next morning I scooted into Atlanta and took the ring road to the East. I missed my turnoff to I-Eighty-five but did find a truck stop and truck wash where I was able to get fuel, directions, and a bath for my filthy rig.
Back on the ring road again I found the turnoff and later the turnoff from I-Eighty-five but got lost in Lawrenceville. I phoned my customer for directions while illegally parked and then, following her directions, found myself on a street that said no trucks allowed but managed to find my customer. I unloaded crusher plates for a mine which was the other half of the load I had picked up in Port Coquitlam, B. C.
From Atlanta I went South on I-Seventy-five to highway one-oh-seven and spent the night beside the railway track North of Fitzgerald.
In the high heat and high humidity of a cloudless Georgia sky I spent a June morning spreading tarps over a load of chipboard that had been made in Virginia and after having been stored in a Georgia warehouse was now bound for Ontario.
I followed small country roads through some lovely country taking notice of many old service stations that had been closed over the years, most of which have been converted to homes.
Eventually I reached the I- Twenty which I followed through Augusta to the I-Seventy-seven which took me through the Carolina States, the Virginia states, Pennsylvania, and eventually to the I-Ninety.
I crossed the border into Canada at Buffalo, New York which put me just a few miles short of my destination of Niagara Falls, Ontario.
While unloading on June fourth I passed my hand over the deck board, the only piece of wood on which is other wise an aluminum deck, on the edge of my trailer, and got a large sliver in the side of my hand. It curled up around to where I couldn't reach it so after I finished unloading I got directions to the hospital where I spent the rest of the afternoon only a few miles from where I could have reloaded.
When I returned from the hospital, where I thought I would only be a few minutes, the security at the parking lot was ticked off because I was tying up space that was to be used for gamblers. To mollify him I told him I was a gambler and asked him where the casino was.
While I waited for the shuttle to arrive I climbed in the sleeper, had a quick shave, put on my fancy go to Sunday-meeting duds and reappeared as a human being.
As opposed to gambling as I am I had an enjoyable afternoon. I walked through the illegal casino, gambling is against the law in Canada but somehow the Provincial Governments have managed to twist the federal laws to allow them to issue permits for casinos.
When I say through that is what I mean as after having descended two flights of escalators and gaming floors I emerged out the other side of the building, walked down a flight of stairs, crossed the street and stood where I got a most spectacular view of Niagara Falls. Something young brides dream of and many newly wedded couples visit. I was presented with an uninterrupted vista of foaming water.
The setting sun was turning the waters a deep pink and the `Maid of the Mist' was a small dot in the deepening shadows far below.
After getting my fill of something I had only seen in movies I walked back through the casino to the surrounding stores. They have all been refronted in a cheap parody of Vegas. I found a small restaurant that served an excellent Italian cuisine and wine then returned to the casino so that I could at least say I had actually tried.
I bought a roll of nickels and tried several one armed bandits, winning a few, losing a few, until I became bored and tired, the way I usually get after a good meal at the end of a long day. I said to hell with it and just started plugging the nickels into one machine to get rid of them.
One more nickel and I would go back to my truck. Wrong, I had to go and get one of those plastic buckets to hold my winnings.
Like the good gambler I was I returned to various machines trying different winning combinations, again wining a few, losing a few, until I got bored again and decided to cash in.
Of course there was one more nickel machine between me and the cashier so giving one last try I had to go and get another plastic bucket. This time I did cash out and went back to the truck with more folding green in my pocket than I had had two hours earlier.
I drove North towards Toronto and spent the night in the middle of a field of steel pipe in the city of Etobicoke.
The next morning I loaded seven pieces of pipe, two feet in diameter and fifty-three feet in length. On a forty- eight foot trailer that meant I was going to have a five foot over hang. The most I was allowed at the rear is four feet. To be sure I was legal on my donkey I measured eighteen inches at the nose thus leaving three and a half feet for rear projection which would be well within my limit.
However, I measured the first lift of two pipes to be put on the deck and I measured from the pipe closest to me. Unfortunately I was standing on the drivers side of the rig and the pipes were laid on the opposite side which means that I measured the inside of the two pipes. I didn't notice that the outside pipe was actually forward of the inside pipe by about one inch.
Now one inch doesn't sound like much but later after I was loaded and I turned right, from the pipe yard onto the street, the outside pipe took the chain bucket off the back of my bullboard.
The chain bucket is an open box near the bottom of the cab protector, head ache rack, or bullboard, to hold the ends of the chains that are hung in the chain rack at the top of the bullboard.
Other than hanging there all askew and looking terrible it didn't present a great problem but would result in a scare many days later.
For the present I tucked the chains into the remainder of the bucket and let them hang down onto the rear deck. I slid the fifth wheel back a couple of notches so the pipe wouldn't catch again and do more damage.
When I say I was legal with a three and a half foot over hang I am talking about every state in the US except Michigan. Michigan's contention is that as my trailer at forty- eight feet is already over length a projection there from is also illegal and requires a permit.
This didn't pose a great problem as I just phoned ahead to the permit people and they arranged for such paper work except that they routed me through Detroit during rush hour. This I never understood for there is a perfectly good highway that not only bypasses Detroit but bypasses every city between Port Huron and I-Eighty.
Detroit was an experience. I guess there was some kind of football game on or something as I was constantly being passed by vehicles honking their horns and sporting triangular banners from sticks mounted to the their roofs. Although the streets are narrow and winding the traffic was flowing fairly quickly.
I was doing fine until I came to a long narrow section with a gradual curve and a tall block retainer wall where there should have been a shoulder. In the middle of this wall was an entrance ramp with a very short acceleration lane.
A small car came out of this egress and as he arrived beside my tractor so suddenly I didn't have time to change lanes, or even see if it was safe to do so. The car neither sped up to get in front of me nor slowed down to get behind me but continued to drive beside me until he ran out of acceleration lane.
As the acceleration lane ended a sidewalk began and shortly thereafter there was a car parked on the sidewalk. The car beside me had slowed a bit until he was now beside my trailer but was not stopping and I thought for sure he was going to run into the parked car and I hung tightly to the wheel and gritted my teeth as any moment I expected him to go under my trailer. Somehow he squeezed between me and the parked car and continued to drive along the sidewalk attempting to pass me.
Eventually the car faded back and fell in behind me until such time as he could get up beside me where he drove for some time. After awhile he pulled in front of me and started to drive at a slower rate.
When I got a break in the traffic I pulled into the center lane to go around him but as soon as I did so he sped up and pulled back in front of me and again began to slow down. When I again got a break in the traffic I pulled back into the curb lane and again the car sped up, changed lanes, and again slowed down.
I gave up trying to get around him and continued to maintain my speed and as he slowed down the safety distance between us became non existent. I drove with my right hand on the trailer leaver and my left foot posed over the brake pedal.
I've been in such a position before where some smart alec deliberately slammed on his brakes in front of me to get me in trouble. As a result I completely destroyed a brand new pickup. At the time I was driving a heavy Kenworth with a bush bumper and I suffered no damage. I was also exonerated by the State Troopers when they learned it had been done deliberately.
This time the doorknob in front of me didn't slam on his brakes and eventually pulled away far enough that I could see him through his back window. He was driving with one hand on the wheel and both eyes out his rear window. He had his head turned while he talked on his cellular phone. I assume he was trying to read my license plate while he talked to the police. He sure wouldn't have been able to read my license plate as it was covered by a large, yellow, `Long Load" sign.
It really amazes me how people in little two thousand pound cars will try to compete with professional drivers in eighty thousand pound rigs.
Instead of sitting back and observing the proper way to drive the amateurs will try to tell professionals how to drive. Its sort of like going to a doctor and telling him how to cure you except that in the doctors office if you make a wrong decision the world doesn't come to an end. If an amateur makes a mistake in front of or beside a rig it is like a big dog stepping on a mouse. Squish, and the mouse loses.
I asked a bus driver one day, just after he was cut off by an idiot in a little death trap, how he managed to keep his cool while surrounded by suicidal maniacs. He told me that what those poor souls didn't realize was that it wasn't his bus. He didn't care if they ran into it. It wouldn't be him that paid for the repairs and with the difference in size it wouldn't be him that would be going to the hospital.
Later I was passed by police cars and went through a couple of radar traps but no one stopped me. I am sure the police could tell by the phone conversation that the wannabe driver was some kind of nut.
That evening I stopped for supper and fuel, I also took the time to do laundry, at the truck stop outside of Battle Creek, Michigan and slept late the next morning.
Saturday I awoke well after sunrise to a gorgeous day and looking East I could discern no clouds. I got to thinking about the heat I had experience in Georgia and figured that the cold of spring that I had experience going East was over. So I thought maybe, as the shop would be open in an hour, I would get them to look at my air conditioning.
After breakfast I pulled the truck into the shop and helped the mechanic set up the test lines and pump out the old refrigerant and reload it with new. The consensus being that the reason it didn't work was there was too little of the old refrigerant left in it and the only way we would find the leak was for it to be full.
After disconnecting all the lines the mechanic asked me to start up the engine so we could check the air conditioning. The stupid motor wouldn't start.
The mechanic, I, another truck driver, and two other mechanics worked on that pile of junk for nearly three hours. Finally at noon, as I still had lots of air to release the brakes, they pulled it outside. It was Saturday and the shop closed at twelve.
As it was still too cold at nights to sleep in the truck I spent the next two nights sleeping at the Quality Inn across the freeway.
Monday morning the tow truck pulled me away from the doors and we dollied off the trailer so he could tow me to Kalamazoo where there was an International dealer.
While their mechanics climbed under that rust bucket I walked from the freeway through a street being rebuilt to the center of town and mailed some post cards. Taking a different route back to the shop I strolled through a park and watched children feeding ducks on the river.
When I got back the truck was sitting outside ready to go. It had only taken them half an hour to find that there were two wires going to the computer from the starter. One of them was rusty where it connected to the starter which is why only one side of the computer had power. On modern motors there is no way to bypass the computer to get the motor to run. Aren't computers wonderful?
Somewhere West of Michigan I was pulled into a weigh scale because I still had my 'LONG LOAD' signs on. They told me to take them off. They said all I needed was the red flags on the two rear corners so I removed the two front ones while rolling up my long load banners.
Further West, at a truck stop, somebody decided they needed one of my rear flags more than I did. Because of the way I had it mounted I know it didn't just fall off.
Go West young Man, go West, and though no longer young, I did. On the I-Eighty through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and into Utah where I had an afternoon nap at the viewpoint on the East side of the Great Salt Lake (a month later I would spend the night at the viewpoint on the opposite side of the freeway) just South of the famed Bonneville Salt Flats. Where the latest speed record for trucks has been set at well over two hundred miles per hour.
I have driven loads of logs across ice bridges at over one hundred miles per hour but I don't think I want to go two hundred, even on salt.
As I left the rest area I was watching the edge of the water and I could see what I thought were ice ridges, ripples, and icicles left by the gently lapping waters as they receded away from the road. I have seen this before in the North but I began to think that as it was the middle of June and the center of Utah it was much to warm for ice. Then it dawned on me. It was salt, crystallizing in the sun as the water of the lake evaporated.
On June eleventh I unloaded at the airport in Southern San Francisco. The pipes would be capped on the ends and driven into the ground, like pilings, to be filled with concrete for supports for the new freeway system around the airport expansion.
I spent that night in a suburb of Fresno and the next morning took on a very colourful load of fire hydrants. Fresh wooden racks held pieces of shiny black pipe. On one end of the pipes were bright red hydrants with silver nuts on top. On the other end of the pipes were bright blue right-angle elbows. The pipes were placed in the racks with the ends alternating so that they wouldn't rub against each other which gave me columns of alternating red and blue. The columns connected into rows with shiny black.
The load received many a curious look and even had its picture taken at one truck stop. A month later, while going East, I would pass a similar load that was slightly more colourful than mine in that the hydrants had sliver chains running from the top nuts to the caps on the sides. Neither load came from the same supplier nor went to the same buyer. My load was going to a distributor on the East side of New Brunswick about as far from the Atlantic Ocean as I was from the Pacific Ocean when I loaded it.
Notice that I said Ocean. Where I unloaded was only a couple of miles from salt water but it was still separated from the Ocean by the Province of Prince Edward Island.
In Eastern Ontario I turned off the freeway to go to a truck stop. As I made the turn off the off ramp onto the overpass I heard a strange metallic noise. I completed the turn and then parked on the side of the road.
Totally mystified, by the familiar sound of chain hitting pavement, knowing that my load was held on by straps and not chains, I began a search of my rig. Lying on the pavement behind me was a chain and a boomer that a passing motorist stopped and brought to me. Lying on my walking deck was another chain and boomer.
On either side of the bullboard, behind the cab of my tractor, was a bar with notches for holding chains. Over the bar is a cover that can be padlocked to prevent theft. Consequently, because the chain bucket was hanging askew, not supporting the weight of the chains, after several thousand miles of bouncing, the hooks on the ends of the chains had chewed their way through the center of the cross bar that held them.
Now I understood why the chain bar on the other side of the headache rack had always been missing its center portion.
At least it had fallen apart when I was going slow and not when I was flying down the freeway, I probably wouldn't have heard the noise and would have been unaware of what was happening. At the least I would have lost chains and boomers, cinches, and at worst one of the chains could have gone under my tires while one end was still on the rack and ripped the entire bull board off. At high speed it could have resulted in a serious accident.
After unloading just outside of Port Elgin, New Brunswick, the receiver took me on a journey through some back roads to a point from which we could see the longest bridge in the world. It spans the Northumberland Strait which separates the two provinces. I could see it curving up over the water and disappearing into the fog on the horizon. What a marvellous feat of engineering.
I spent the night at a truck stop on the border of Nova Scotia and planned to rent a car the next day and tour said coastal province and its capital city of Halifax. However the dispatcher had other plans and sent me scurrying across the province to Juniper to catch the loader before he went home for the weekend.
At midnight I was the last truck to leave the mill with a load of lumber and I was strapping it down in the dark after everyone else had gone home.
As fog was setting in and I didn't want to be trapped in the hills for the night I drove to Hartland where I spent the night.
Early Saturday morning I crossed the border at Houlton Maine and then stopped to do some shopping in the mall. It was a beautiful sunny day and I didn't have to unload until Monday morning so I took my time and late Saturday night, fighting fog and tourists because I took the wrong turn off the freeway and got on a coastal road I arrived at Kittery where I spent the night.
The next day I went into Boston, Massachusetts. Had I known that Boston was only a short train trip from New York I would have arrived earlier and spent the weekend in New York but as it worked out I would be able to do that on my next trip, besides I had a lovely day in Boston.
Where I had to unload was in Cambridge, a suburb of Boston. Unwillingly, by taking the wrong road, I ended up driving through the edge of Boston.
Near Harvard University I saw a police officer talking to an officer in a patrol car so I pulled up behind them. Between the two of them they managed to tell me where I had to go, within blocks of my destination.
Following their directions I turned left at the next intersection which put me on a very narrow street that had a sign saying `No Trucks'. Hoping that I wouldn't get stopped by police and have to explain that I was following directions given by a police officer I continued up the short hill and with great difficulty made the turn at the tight intersection.
In some states fifty-three foot trailers are illegal. I don't understand why they ever permitted forty-eight footers. Now some idiots are advocating sixty footers but nobody takes the time to enlarge the intersection for these behemoths.
Most of the streets in Boston are very narrow and by following the officer's directions and keeping tight between the parked cars and the center line I was able to get to Cambridge where I began to doubt my location. I saw a patrol car stopped in a driveway and stopping in the middle of the street I ran across to him and got directions that took me through three more intersections to the street I needed to find.
At the lumber yard I was able to park in the back out of traffic and out of sight. After a short nap and a change of clothes I walked up to the street where I found a mall with a theatre and after checking to see what shows were on that night I found a bus that took me to the subway terminal at Harvard Square.
Getting off the subway at the Boston Common I explored the inner city. I walked to China town, through the Boston Common, which is a small park split in two by a street, and the water front. Learning that there was an Internet cafe at Harvard Square I took the subway back.
Near Harvard Square I had supper in a Chinese cafe across the street from the internet cafe where I got on line and caught up on my E-mail. To my disappointment I also found out that while walking the Common I had only been steps away from the `Bull `n' Finch' pub made famous by the TV series `Cheers'.
After supper I went for a long walk through the University and after getting totally disoriented, notice I didn't say lost, I flagged a taxi and had him take me back to the mall where I caught a movie.
After the movie, while walking back to my truck, I stopped at a pay phone and realized that I had lost my drivers license and my American Express Card. I phoned Amex and cancelled my card and after frantic moments found the name of the Internet Cafe and phoning them discovered that someone had found my cards and turned them in. I made arrangements to pick them up the next morning and then phoned Amex but it was too late, my card had been cancelled and I would have to live without it until I returned home where my new one would be waiting for me.
The next morning after unloading I parked across the street from the lumber yard and after changing out of my work clothes caught the bus back to Harvard Square where I retrieved my drivers license and my now defunct Amex card.
As dispatch still didn't have a load for me I took the subway back into Boston and walked around until it was time for lunch and then stood in line waiting for Cheers to open. Not exactly as seen on TV, the cameras were never actually inside the pub in Boston, though they did film the outside entrance as the opening scene for the TV series.
I walked through the two bars and souvenir shops and had an enjoyable lunch with two lovely Chinese ladies from Atlanta, Georgia.
After lunch I walked back through the Common and spent some time enjoying the sunshine and downtown Boston. I noticed that at all the construction sites they used police officers to direct traffic. Back home all the construction sites hire private flag persons.
I stopped to talk to one of the police officers who to my amazement was familiar with Vancouver. It seems our city has an international reputation of being a hot bed of crime. And our city police force has a reputation of being totally lazy and unproductive.
When dispatch finally arranged for a load I took the subway back to Harvard square and visited the Internet Cafe again where I sent some more letters and then wandered Harvard Square, just watching all the people, until I phoned dispatch and found that my load had been confirmed. I caught the bus back to my truck.
From the truck stop on Highway One I took, what looked like a good road on the map, but was actually a narrow winding road through miles and miles of heavy residential area. It was a very beautiful drive, under over hanging branches, past lovely houses, but I would have enjoyed it even more if I hadn't had to keep looking in my mirrors worrying that the police might stop me for being off the truck route.
Finally on I-Ninety-three I went North to new Hampshire where I turned onto I-Eighty-nine and went North West to Vermont and a town called Graniteville where I loaded, what else, granite.
If you think lumber goes around in circles here's an interesting tale. The quarry in Graniteville is over two hundred years old yet only has a saw that can cut through rock one slice at a time. To make thin slabs of rock takes many cuts. Consequently they shipped some ninety large boulders of granite that they blasted out of their quarry.
Some trucks had two or three pieces. I had one huge, nearly square, block sitting in the middle of my trailer.
From Graniteville I got back on I-Eighty-nine which took me through Burlington to the Canadian border, into La Belle Province to Trois Riviers.
At Three Rivers, Quebec the granite was loaded onto a freighter that would take the blocks to Spain. In Spain the quarries have multiple wire saws that are capable of cutting rock into several thin slices with one pass, much like a bakery slices bread. The granite would be returned to the US via freighter where the slices would be trimmed to shape and have holes drilled in them. From Boston they would be shipped, via truck, to Salt Lake City, Utah where they would adorn the outside of a new skyscraper.
After unloading in Trois Riviers I went South across the river, back onto highway Twenty and West to Montreal where I caught Highway Fifteen South. I crossed into New York at Champlain and took I-Eighty-seven to Clifton, New Jersey which is basically a suburb of New York City.
I phoned my friend in New York and made arrangements to visit but by the time I finished loading and tarping and then helping a second truck tarp it was nearly dark and my friend had to be at work for night shift so I missed her again this trip. I would, however, get to see her and New York City next trip.
We left `Joisy' with stainless steel pipe, which for some reason had to be tarped, on I-Eighty. I stopped to sleep in Pennsylvania but the other truck still had some hours left so carried on. I wouldn't see him again until we unloaded.
The next morning was sunny and bright and I gave the truck a bath but water got into the load. My two tarps hadn't been long enough to cover the two piles and meet in the middle. I had a small plastic tarp and had put it over the top but it didn't come to the bottom on either side.
I went back over to the truck stop and, after buying another piece of plastic tarp, reopened my load. Moving my first piece of plastic down so it would cover one side I put the other piece down the other side, positioning it so it would cover the holes that had already ripped in the first piece. Then I had to rerun my front tarp over top of the plastic.
It was rather fortunate that I did this as the sunny day soon turned to clouds and it wasn't too many miles down the road that I went through a severe lighting storm.
Through Ohio and Indiana to Chicago my tarps continued to take a beating against the rough edges on the ends of the pipe.
At one point I opened the tarps and positioned a load strap over the edges of the pipes and then retarped. In another town I bought another piece of tarp and tied it over the worst of the holes.
I went through thunder storm after thunder storm for the rest of the trip.
I stopped at a truck stop and was kidding a state trooper about the cow catcher he had on the front of his patrol car. He was telling me that he needed it to push cars out of the middle of the freeway.
Apparently amateur drivers, who can't tell by the sound of their car that something is wrong, will, instead of putting on their signal light, kicking it into neutral, and coasting over to the wide shoulder on the right, will allow their car to stall and come to a stop in the middle of the freeway or on the narrow shoulder on the left.
Other amateur drivers who are not used to stopping on their way to work, as there are no signal lights in the middle of a freeway, will run into the stalled car because they are busy doing their makeup in the rear view mirror or reading the morning sports page instead of paying attention to what they are supposed to be doing which is controlling a two thousand pound missile of potential death.
I told him that where I come from there is a law requiring drivers to keep both hands on the wheel and if they are talking on a telephone or other wise not paying attention they can be given a ticket. He said that unfortunately his state did not have such a law.
North through Wisconsin and West through Minnesota is lake country and as it was the weekend I was continually trapped in holiday traffic. The end of June and school was out and so were the terrorists, tourists. Boats and travel trailers, four by fours and motor homes heading from city to lake.
This is definitely the area for it. I passed hundreds of beautiful lakes, and crossed hundreds of beautiful rivers, teaming with water skiers and swimmers and lined with myriads of lovely summer cabins.
Through the rolling farmlands around Minot, North Dakota I came over a hill and saw one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen. Spread out below me was green pasture turning purple in the setting sun which was still peeking between the horizon and bright mauve clouds. The colours were reflected from an azure lake at the bottom of the valley. Of course I didn't' have a camera with me.
In pouring rain I crossed into Canada at North Portal, Saskatchewan, passed through the largest oil fields in the world, around Estavan, and continued past the training grounds for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in Regina.
The weather cleared before I reached Saskatoon and the sun shone until I reached Edmonton, Alberta. I parked where I was supposed to unload and then caught a taxi to White Ave. I walked the street looking for a restaurant and a theatre and marvelling at all the changes to the stores.
Some of the stores I remembered from when I was seven years old but most were changed. The railway tracks still cross the Avenue but the grain elevators are gone where the switch engines used to work. After school I would climb aboard the locomotives and the fireman would let me shovel coal. My mother would give me what-for for getting my school clothes all black.
The area as well as the merchants have changed since then. The ambience is now for a younger crowd that frequent the area.
A sudden shower decided me to jump on a bus and go uptown to Jasper Ave. When I was little I used to spend a lot of time just riding around on the buses. I knew the city and every bus line. Now I have no idea which bus goes where.
Down the hill to the Low Level bridge, that used to be shared with cars, trains, and streetcars, past Mill Creek where I used to live. The creek is still there and you can still see a couple of houses sticking up through the trees but not ours as it burn down may years ago.
Jasper Ave. and the downtown core has changed with new and ugly buildings. There is little traffic in the evening and few businesses. It is very cold and gives one a feeling of not being welcome.
I did find a Spaghetti Factory with a streetcar in the dining area, a twin of the one in Vancouver, and a theatre.
After the movie I walked back to the MacDonald Hotel, where my mother used to work, which I have never been in, and caught a bus back to my truck.
The next morning while waiting for a decision to be made as to where we were to unload another truck showed up from another company. He had a few pieces of pipe to unload in Edmonton but the rest had to go to Calgary and he didn't want to go that far with only half a load. It turned out that our other driver had the same dilemma.
My load and the half of our other truck had to go to Sherwood Park to be unloaded. I suggested that if the other truck followed us out the crane could just swing the pipe from our truck to his and he would have a full load to go to Calgary and both our trucks would be empty making it easier to find loads to Vancouver.
However when we got to Sherwood Park the lady there wouldn't allow her crane to do unauthorized work. It turned out that she didn't like the lady at the other plant and thought it was her idea to send the trucks over without phoning, and asking, first.
By the time I found this out and explained to the lady that it was my idea her mind was too set to be changed. It never fails, give a female a position of authority and the power goes to their head. They become more stubborn than a mule.
Consequently I got unloaded and our other truck had to go back to Edmonton to unload and the other truck had to go to Calgary with only half a load. While unloading I threw my three pieces of plastic tarp in the garbage and rolled up my good tarps to take to the tarp shop when I got home. All were full of holes.
I spent another night in Edmonton. The other driver and I caught a taxi from the truck stop and made a round of a few night clubs. An off duty bar maid who stopped in for her paycheque took my partner dancing and I went back to my truck.
The next morning I was sent to Edson to load lumber and the other driver went home empty. At Entwhistle I stopped to phone a friend and meet him for coffee but he was out for the day and my other friend who had just bought a farm in the area didn't have her phone hooked up yet so I couldn't call her.
Other than that I had an uneventful trip through the Rocky Mountains. In Abbotsford, B. C. I parked the truck in the yard, making sure I got in after closing time so they wouldn't ask me to unload it.
I got home too late for Canada's birthday celebrations, July 1, and soon enough to pack and get out of town before the US started celebrating my birthday.
I had been away from home thirty-five days. I had crossed the continent from East to West four times putting on some seventeen thousand miles.
I promised myself that when I went out next time I was going to take it easier and find some time for myself. And there was no time like the present to get started.
My step-son had already left for the summer so the wife and I packed up the van the next day and went for a camping trip on the Sunshine Coast. Though it was cloudy and drizzling for most of the trip we had a lovely adventure.
Taking the ferry out of Horseshoe bay we crossed the mouth of Howe Sound where they had filmed the `Free Willy' movies. Just after leaving the ferry we drove through the little, steep shore side, town of Gibsons which, for twenty years, had been the on site location for the `Beachcomber' series.
We spent the night in a campground near Roberts Creek. The next day we meandered West through Sechelt and took all the side roads along the water until we caught the ferry to Saltry Bay.
After spending an afternoon shopping and getting my notebook computer repaired in Powell River we drove to Lund and found a campsite.
On the edge of a secluded arm of Toba Inlet a camp ground had just been built atop a pile of shells. For thousands of years the local natives had gathered at this location to collect clams, oysters, and mussels. The shells cover more than an acre and are many feet deep.
Back in Vancouver I put my wife on the plane to visit her mother for the summer. I called the company to let them know I was ready to go back to work.
Waiting for them to decide where to send me proved to be only an extension of my summer holiday which started with my camping trip and would continue for the next month.
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