I'm a long haul trucker and I usually push pretty hard, trying to put on as many miles as possible. By the end of June 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. When I got home in the early part of July my step-son had already left for the summer. The wife and I spent a week camping on the Sunshine Coast and then I put her on the plane to visit her mother for the summer.
My office is slightly under an hour from my home and I had arranged for them to have my tractor serviced and a trailer preloaded for July tenth.
After seeing Bin off at the airport I had a short nap and drove to the office. With their usual efficiency the company didn't have a load ready for me so I spent the afternoon putting my stuff in the tractor and then bobtailed (highway tractor with no trailer) into Vancouver where I started my summer of leisure with four days off in the Canadian South West.
I took the SkyTrain into town, walked the beaches around Stanley Park and took in a couple of movies. It wasn't until Tuesday that the company finally got me a load, where else, near their office.
I bobtailed back to the shop and picked up a trailer, drove five miles and took on a load of lumber.
Now normally I hate hauling woodpecker fuel (lumber) but this was not just ordinary lumber, it was unplanned two by tens treated with white paint to make it look decorative and was going all the way to a building supply in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the home of the infamous beach parties every year during High School spring break. As I had never been to Florida before I didn't complain that I was hauling lumber.
I loaded from eight AM till two PM. It started to rain just after I finished spreading the tarps. By the time I had them all tied down the lumber was dry but I was soaked.
As per instructions I had weighed the rig (tractor and trailer) before I started loading and then I weighed it again after I was loaded and tarped. I was about ten thousand pounds under what I was allowed to carry so I had lots of room to fuel and that's where I headed, the fuel stop.
I phoned the office and told them that I was under weight and that the customer had specified a full load. Dispatch asked if I had a full load and I said I had ten lifts which is what was on the way bill. Dispatch said, "Have a good trip". I wasn't going to argue, I really didn't feel like opening the tarps to add more woodpecker fuel.
I grabbed a shower and supper and drove the half mile to the border. Crossing the border at Sumas I went South to Seattle, Wash. and then East. At ten PM Wednesday I was about an hour North of Salt Lake City Utah.
I went a bit more South then turned East into Wyoming where I sat in my truck composing this on my new notebook (used) 386 AST Premium Exec. with two meg of ram, (I had ordered four more meg but it hadn't arrived before I left home but I don't think I need it.), forty Meg hard drive, I may try to get a bigger one. Next I have to figure out how to dial long distance with my callcard through a modem (14.4 external US Robotics).
I had to stop in Omaha, Nebraska and get a sensor changed on the transmission. It was sending wrong signals to the computer and my cruise control and speedometer wouldn't work correctly which wasn't a problem but with these new computerized engines it may have included another problem which would cause the motor to shut off and leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere.
The people at the International dealer where very friendly and helpful and had me back on the road within an hour.
I spent Friday night in Illinois and tried to call Bin but ATT said my card wasn't good for China so then they called B. C. Tel and told them someone was mucking with my card. I was able to call Prince George Friday from Illinois but Saturday I couldn't call Florida from Georgia.
I spent a frustrating weekend not being able to call anyone and finally had a fight with B. C. Tel. on Monday and got it straightened out. The problem was that I wasn't using the international number on the bottom of my card. As I have the national number memorized I didn't have the card with me so AT&T thought I had a stolen card.
Other than the small breakdown I had a rather boring trip across the U. S. and reached Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on July twentieth. I had lots of rain during the trip and rain all the way through Florida. I don't know why they call it the sunshine state.
Now that I think about it it was probably best that I couldn't phone ahead to my customer on Saturday. The unloading went smooth and probably wouldn't have otherwise. If I had phoned ahead the office would have been aware I was coming and would have checked the weights and been upset that I was ten thousand pounds light. As it was I simply pulled into the yard and the crew unloaded me without being aware that I could have brought them more.
Along most freeways they build fences back from the road to keep animals off the highway. For miles along the freeway in Florida it is swamp and you can see the top of the posts and one or two strands of the fence wire. I wonder who put the fence posts in the water and how he nailed the fence to them afterwards. Or did they staple the wire to the posts and then drive them down from a boat.
Crazy thoughts go through your head when you have nothing to do but hold a steering wheel straight for hour after hour.
The man in the computer store said to keep turning my computer off and on to totally drain the battery and maybe it would erase its short term memory so hopefully it would hold a charge for longer than 30 minutes. I did that while I was driving. About every five minutes I would reach down and turn it on or off, all day long. After which it wouldn't hold a charge at all.
My last outing, with this company, first trip, I unloaded near Atlanta and then I went South to load. This trip I spent Saturday night South of Atlanta so the trip was very similar.
Before I unloaded in Atlanta I spent the night in Cartersville where I took a taxi to the movie. I saw a place where I could have parked close to the movie and saved the cab fare. After the movie I walked back to my truck. A long walk through a black neighbourhood, no streetlights, as well as most of the residents were coloured. It was a beautiful night and I needed the exercise.
This trip was almost a repeat. In Ft. Lauderdale I took a taxi to the movie, saw a large dirt area where I could have parked my rig. Walked back to my truck after the show, again through a coloured neighbourhood.
After I unloaded I wanted to take a look at the famous strip and I drove through but there was no place to park. I got a seventy-six dollar ticket for turning left on a red light. I turned into a one way street but because of a divider I didn't notice I was on a two way street. So I got out of there and forgot about the swim. It was raining anyway.
Would you believe that when I got home my ticket was waiting for me. I had sent them a form to put the seventy-six dollars on my charge card but they say the officer put the amount incorrectly and they want seventy-eight dollars. Nowhere on the ticket does it say seventy-eight dollars and they went to all the trouble of sending me a letter in a foreign country to collect two dollars. I sent the whole thing back to the Governor of the State of Florida and told him to ask the cop for the extra two dollars he's the one who put the wrong amount on the ticket.
I did get to see part of the beach and a couple of bikinis but there were not many people as it was early in the day and cloudy. I did get to see the Atlantic Ocean as far as the eye can see.
It turned out that not many people were swimming because of an infestation of larger stinging jellyfish this year.
I spent Monday night in a truck stop in the middle of nowhere waiting for dispatch to find me a load somewhere. The Seminole Truck Stop is a small place but is so popular it doesn't have enough parking for all the trucks. It has two parking lots, one paved and one unpavedand trucks also park along the service road but many are turned away.
The amenities include an outdoor barbecue, tables, two bars, and a big screen TV all under separate thatched roofs with big fans to blow away the mosquitos. The lovely lawn area is complete with a bantam rooster and his harem of hens and a big peacock that comes around and pecks at your leg begging for food.
I sat back and had a lovely meal of alligator tails and wine while we listened to the gators splashing in the swamp and watched the big fire on TV, one of the Caribbean cruise ships was on fire only a few miles East of us.
One of the drivers at our table owns a large ranch in Northern Florida and found a lone calf in the middle of his field. No cattle in that pasture. No mother cow was ever found. They fed it on a bottle and it is healthy. None of his neighbours have that type of cattle.
One of the other drivers was from El Salvador and now lives in Chilliwack, B. C. and drives for a company out of Surrey so we talked about back home.
I had left my computer on charge and when I got back in the truck it was just about melting. The windows were all closed, the air conditioning was off, and the computer and charger were under a pillow. The computer and the power supply were so hot I couldn't put my hand on either one. I unplugged and uncovered everything and opened the windows. Later when I turned it on it worked fine. The overheating may have helped because now it seems to charge good and I get an hour or more out of a charge.
Tuesday morning there were some four thousand empty trucks sitting in Southern Florida looking for a load North. Like most of them I left Florida empty. Going North the freeway was just an endless line of empties going North and an endless stream of loads going South. All the rest areas and truck stops were plugged with rigs.
Southern Florida uses a lot of products from all over North America, especially in the summer because of the tourists and the cruise ships. Florida produces very little for export to other areas.
I told the dispatcher that he should send me to Miami and maybe I could get a load of illegal Cuban immigrants but he said I would have to hide them under my tarps and they would probably smother.
My previous dispatcher had said the same thing when I suggested a load of wet backs to get me home from Nogales. I hate going anywhere empty. I get paid by percentage of the load. If there is no load I am driving for free and, being of Scottish decent, that goes against the grain.
I had a rather boring drive from Florida to Alabama. In the North East corner of the state I wound down a long, narrow road North East of Huntsville to a cedar mill that makes a thin chip board from cedar. It is used for lining clothes closets to keep moths out.
I got there late in the day but persuaded the shipper, who was just heading out the driveway, to load me. It was well after dark by the time I finished tarping.
I went North East through Chattanooga and spent the night at a rest area in Tennessee. I prefer to stop at rest areas rather than truck stops as it takes less time to get in and out. Plus I feel embarrassed to use truck stops if I am not purchasing anything from them.
The next day I phoned Montreal and told them that I couldn't get there early on Friday and they said it was no good to them late Friday, which is what I was hoping they would say so I arranged to unload first thing Monday morning. This meant that I could take two days off.
I made a slight detour to the East and arrived in New Jersey at noon Friday. I Parked the truck in a rest area on the freeway and took the bus from the park and ride to downtown New York.
A lot of guys like to drop their trailers and bob tail but I am too lazy to crank the dollies, (landing gear) the legs that hold a trailer off the ground when there is no tractor under it. Besides when I am on my time off I don't want to be shifting gears and I hate city traffic (that's why I'm a long haul trucker). I like to let a bus driver worry about the streets while I sit back and enjoy the scenery. Besides sometimes you can meet a nice lady on a bus.
I spent a fantastic two days with Daisy whom I, had met in Vancouver several years ago but, hadn't seen in five years. I got off the bus at the famous Port authority building and walked through downtown Manhattan. Through Grand Central Station. Past times square. A construction elevator had bent and bent the scaffolding, about the thirtieth floor on a new fifty storey building. The street was blocked off so no one would get hurt if it fell. I went into the Chrysler Bldg, to ask directions.
Daisy has a one bedroom apartment on the twenty-sixth floor of a fifteen year old building just one block from the Chrysler building (it is one of the many buildings she can see from her front window). She has no balcony but has a view of other older, taller buildings.
Friday evening Daisy and I walked past the U. N. Building then through Central Park. We were amazed at all the fireflies and how bright they were considering it wasn't dark yet.
Central Park in New York is similar to Stanley Park in Vancouver only a lot smaller and doesn't have lakes or a seashore.
It was dark by the time we left the park and we strolled down Second Ave. W. which is much like Denman St. or Yaletown in Vancouver only longer. Old buildings. Lots of restaurants, busy with the night crowd. We had supper with Daisy's agent.
In Vancouver my friend and I used to walk the sea wall around Stanley park and kick ideas around. A lot of the sit com I am working on came from there. At the restaurant Daisy's agent and I sat for a long time, boring Daisy stiff, working out a scene for something he had in mind.
Saturday morning while daisy was sleeping I went walking and found an office service. At Kinko's, I got caught up on my E-mail. Then I walked fifth ave. Park Ave. Golda Meyir Way, Korea Way, and Broadway, went to Macey's, and saw the Empire State building.
In the afternoon Daisy and I caught the 'D' train to Brooklyn where we walked the boardwalk at Coney Island and tried to find a Coney Island Red Hot but had to settle for a hot dog as no one knew what we were talking about when we asked for a 'Red Hot'.
I always remember my father singing a tune, "Coney Island Red Hots, they're hot, they're hot, they're red hot. They'll tickle your teeth, they'll curl your hair, they'll make you feel like a millionaire. Coney Island Red Hots, they're hot, they're hot, they're red hot. A loaf of bread, a pound of meat, and all the mustard you can eat. Coney Island Red Hots". So I guess I have always had in it my mind to try one and then we couldn't find one.
After a short picnic on the beach we had to rush back into town so Daisy could go to work. At midnight after Daisy got off work we went to the movie "Mafia" and then walked Second Ave. and First Ave.
Sunday I took a bus out to Secaucus and then a taxi to my truck which was still in one piece. I kinda wish it had been broken into. Then I could have stayed longer in NY., but maybe next trip.
My overall impression, NY is much like Vancouver. Bigger, older, dirtier. Just another seaport city. Wouldn't want to live there. Daisy's agent says I need to if I want to get an agent and get established as a writer. Once I am in I can move to a small town. Probably too high a price to pay. I'd rather drive truck.
Sunday afternoon I drove to a suburb called Lonquille, South East of Montreal and slept in the truck in front of where I would unload.
I started untarping at three AM. By seven I was in the suburb of Dorian which is on the West side of the city, having made it through before the rush hour really got started. I spent the next two days at a new Flying J truck stop. Flying J is a chain across the US. This is their first one in Canada.
Tuesday I went back into Montreal and loaded a large shear for cutting sheet metal. It was going to Los Angeles so I phoned my friend Mickey and told him to line me up some beach bunnies. Mickey is from Vancouver and was spending the summer hanging out at the Burger Shack in Long Beach.
Tuesday night, I, and a couple of other drivers, went to a tittie bar. A tittie bar is where you sit and drink while you watch girls get up on a stage and take their clothes off to show you their wares. (Unlike a peeler bar where the girls undress on stage to entertain you). Later the girls will come around to your table and try to entice you into going into a small booth in the back where they will do a dance just for you at the cost of ten dollars per song.
One of the other drivers from the company I work for took a lady, she looked Filipina but was from the island of St. Julian in the Caribbean, I asked her later, back to a booth for a table dance. Thirteen songs later it cost him one hundred thirty dollars. He was allowed to touch and suck her breasts.
Table dancing is different than lap dancing. In some clubs the girls sit on your lap while they do their dance. This bar only had table dancers although there really isn't a table in the booths, just a chair for the gentleman to sit on and the girl dances in front of or between the mans knees.
Different clubs have different rules and different girls set their own rules as to what will happen besides dancing. Some girls will touch the men and some won't. Some won't allow the men to touch them while others will allow much more.
It was a slow night and I had several girls rubbing against me trying to entice me to take them back. Three of them were black, two from Haiti and one from Martinique. I was getting so much cuddling and conversation from them I didn't have to go in the back and spend money.
Wednesday I left Quebec and drove to Ontario and the Ten Acre truck stop North of Belleville, about an hour North of Toronto. I spent two days looking at the playboy channel while dispatch tried to find more load for me.
I also watched the movie channel. I saw Spy Hard, Pentagon Wars, and Poodle Springs.
Thursday I was bored, got out my notebook and composed a very short chapter for my novel.
Friday afternoon I went to Burlington, about an hour South of Toronto and loaded a large router table for Las Vegas. I slept through rush hour and then crossed the border at Port Huron, Mich. Friday night with the trailer only half full.
As I rolled west Saturday, on the I-80, bikers kept passing me. There was a big rally at Sturgis in the Black Hills.
Sunday night I slept at a truck stop in Denver Colorado where I had a tough time finding a parking spot. All the truck stops were full.
Monday I spent my ten work hours driving through the Colorado Rockies in the sunrise.
At five thirty AM I crossed from Colorado into Utah. The area is rolling desert, much like the Badlands of Alberta. A sign says, "Caution Eagles on Highway". Sort of like the sign in the cut on the highway North of Summerland in the Okanagan Valley that says, "Caution. Deer on Road". In all the times I have been through either I have never see neither.
Last month I went the other direction at sunset. Both times the sun was displaying beautiful colours in the sky which I had to watch in my mirrors. However the angle of the suns rays, on the topography in front of me, added a different perspective to the already beautiful scenery.
When I was in New York, Daisy's Agent had asked me what I would work on if I had the money not to have to have a job. I think I would work on my sitcom. I started on it as a producer last year and lined up a few actors and made overtures to the actors guild and have a line on a couple of camera crews. While driving through the desert I mentally outlined another episode.
One of my E-mails from a friend back home said that she had ought a CD burner. I wonder why anyone would want to burn CDs? When I burn toast I throw it in the garbage and get a new toaster.
When you enter Nevada you go through a small town that consists of two large casinos. One of them has the most spectacular water fountain display I have seen anywhere. I had stopped there on my previous trip going East just to see it.
I made a comment on the CB, "I wonder how they manage to find all that water in the middle of the desert". A reply came over the air waves, Those are tears from all the losers".
Monday afternoon I took my eight hour break at a rest area in the middleof the desert. The rest area, about five hours North of Las Vegas, is powered by a huge solar panel.
As you come through the break in the hills North of Las Vegas the valley spreads out like a carpet of light. Small towers form a cluster of light in the center. As you approach, mile after mile, down a long gradual hill, the lights draw closer and larger until you enter and pass through the center with all the large casinos a couple of blocks to your side.
At a truck stop on the South West side of the city I helped guide a truck into a space across from me after I parked. I went inside to get a permit for my trailer for California. There were no computers at this truck stop so that I could check my E-mail but lots of slot machines. As I went back to my truck I met the trucker I guided into the parking space, he was going for a shower.
I walked across the street and wandered through the Silverton Casino. I then took a taxi to see where I would have to unload in the morning and had him drop me downtown where I walked the strip. At one AM it was one hundred six above and considering it was in the middle of the desert it was surprisingly muggy.
I saw the big casinos. Casino New York New York has a statue of liberty surrounded by water with two fireboats in it, a Brooklyn bridge with water under it and a Chrysler building as well as the Empire State Bldg.
One of the smaller casinos is called the Boardwalk and has a roller coaster on the roof and a merry go round inside. It is done in a Coney Island theme.
Two huge casinos are under construction. One will have an Eiffel Tower and contain seven thousand rooms. The one across the street will have six thousand.
On the corners they have newspaper boxes that are free. The papers are pages of pictures of nude girls with phone numbers. Table dancers in Vegas get $20 per song.
All in all it is not a nice place to wander. The streets are too wide and divided so you can't just cross anywhere. The casinos are too big and take too long to go through or to walk past. Not like the old part of town that has smaller buildings and a more pleasing atmosphere.
Back at the truck stop I fired up the truck and turned on the air conditioning. While I waited for the truck to cool off I went to the casino in the truck stop. The other driver was playing at a poker table. He had a pile of chips in front of him and still hadn't had his shower.
I was watching, trying to figure out how they played the card game but the lady said I couldn't sit thereif I wasn't playing. Fine, I went to bed. I didn't want to give her my money anyway.
Tuesday morning I went into the truck stop for breakfast, the other driver was still at the same table. The pile of chips had disappeared and he was digging money out of his wallet. He still hadn't had his shower.
Tuesday afternoon I unloaded in Los Angeles. It was in the middle of rush hour when I got to the city but all the traffic was locked up heading out of town. I breezed along the freeways laughing at all those frustrated commuters who don't have sense enough to take the bus.
After unloading I went to a truckers cafe in Long Beach to meet Mickey. He got out of his pickup wearing a T-shirt that I had brought him back from Nogales a few months ago and I got out of my rig wearing a T-shirt from New Zealand that he had given me a few months ago. We looked at each other and asked, "Where did you get the nice T-shirt. We both replied, "From you."
Mic took me up signal hill that is all oil wells, one above the other, all over the side of the hill in the heart of the city. Years ago some scam artist had sold the hill to a bunch of suckers as oil land and then fled the country. The poor buyers pooled their money together, bought one rig, drilled one hole, and became rich.
Mic took me to Dino's house where he had cooked a pot roast supper. Roast potatoes and wine served on the patio. No time to plug in my computer and test the modem, Mic rushed me back down the hill to the Burger Shack to meet Dino and his friends.
Then we made like tourists. He took me to Belmont Pier and all the swimming beaches, but no one was swimming after dark. The air was quite cool compared to the heat in Vegas the night before.
We cruised Ocean Blvd., Long beach Blvd. Drove by the Queen Mary and the off shore oil rigs that have been disguised as apartment buildings because the local residents complained about the eyesore out in the water. Saw streets that you see in the movies, Wilshire Blvd., Mulholland Dr., names so familiar you think you have been there before.
I would have liked to have stayed another day and gone swimming, at least checked out the bikini's, but the office was anxious for me to get back to work.
I left early Wednesday morning for Lodi in Northern California where I spent four hours in the hot sun loading and tarping bags of Onions.
One hundred ten degrees in the shade but no shade. Have you ever tried to walk on a field of onions or baseballs, covered with a tarp so you can't seewhere not to put your feet? I can't tell you how many times I almost fell off the truck. Try climbing up the side of a hill of bagged onions. My legs were aching by the time I was done.
I drove a few miles further North to a truck stop in Sacramento where I spent the night. I went to the movies and saw 'Saving Private Ryan'. It is a very long movie but so action packed you don't notice the time.
In the truck stop, in the cooler, in the prepared food section they had `Coney Island Red Hots'. Just pop em in the micro wave. I didn't bother to try one.
Heading East through the Donner Pass I kept looking for a wide spot to pull over and check my load. I knew those stupid onions were going to shift on me all the way to Montreal. Yup, that's where I was going, right back where I had come from.
Near the top of the pass is a rest stop but before I could get there a trucker passed me and pointed at my load. My front strap had come off and I had to stop and remove it before it went under my tire and ripped the load apart. Good thing it was a fellow trucker and not a cop that saw it.
Out in the desert, in the middle of nowhere, in Northern Nevada are mines that produce mud and put it in bags. I met a trucker from Kamloops, B. C. who goes to get the mud and takes it to the North West Territories to be used in oil wells.
The last gambling town in Nevada, as you go East, is called Well's. As you enter the area you will hear girls on the CB who will give you directions to their ranch and tell you of their hospitality, discreetly of course.
The town only has two truck stops a couple of stores and two ranches. The ranches don't raise cattle. All have slot machines and card tables.
In the center of B. C. there is a small town called Wells. It used to be a mining town but is mostly a ghost town now. There were two main mines that covered the sides of opposing mountains but the buildings have been torn down because some children had gotten inside and gotten hurt.
Although federal laws make gambling illegal in Canada many places have charity casinos and destination casinos which were built by bending laws and twisting regulations.
The town of Wells has always been legally licensed, a proviso left over from the gold rush days. Every now and then the talk springs up that they will build a destination casino there but the location is not advantageous. Though thousands of tourists visit there every year, as the restored gold rush town of Barkerville is only five miles away, it is a long winding drive from Quesnel which is the nearest center.
Going East through Salt Lake city the freeway was under construction and I had to make a detour. Just after I swung South there was an exit ramp and along the side of the road were signs showing the highway numbers that I should be on so I turned into the exit. Once I was off the freeway I realized that this couldn't be the detour so I had to find a place to turn around.
Cutting off irate rush hour traffic I turned into a side street and then another and then again. Swinging wide to make the corner I went under a tree and broke the CB aerial where it mounted to my mirror. Finally back on a freeway I semi circled the city to the South and got back on to the East bound freeway.
On Friday I learned that I would get a load from Montreal to Vancouver, B. C. or Eastern Washington. Our company had contracted for one hundred loads to come out of GE.
Saturday and Sunday as I headed East all the bikers that had passed me when I went West were passing me again. The big rally was over and they were heading home.
I have read where a company called Ballard is making a fuel cell and all the automotive industry is designing electric cars. Even Harley Davidson will introduce an electric hog late in `98. It will create massive unemployment when all cars go electric and service stations close down but bikers won't be able to get gas for their hogs. Ahhhh, peace and quiet.
In the Chicago area the freeway passes under a Burger King that stretches over top with a parking lot on both sides.
Turning North through Flint, Mich. I ran out of hours Sunday evening only a half hour West of Canada. It had been raining before I got there, but I only encountered a small sprinkle, not enough to harm my onions. The air is very muggy so, though I don't usually use it, because I don't really like it, I had the air conditioning on. In spite of that I could still smell the onions.
What had taken so long to tarp the load was that the tarps could not enclose the load or the onions would sweat. I could only tarp the top and about a foot down the sides. This meant I had to open the tarps on top of the load and fold them back under themselves. I had to walk along the side of the trailer clinging to the bags of onions, like a fly on a wall, and put two by fours along the edge so the load straps would hold the load better.
With the sides exposed I had a very colourful load, white in the front, purple in the middle, orange on the back, with a black top. Constantly people were passing me and looking at the colours and when they realized what was in the bags they would smile.
Everywhere I stopped people would want to know if they could have some. For a few, who professed their love for the stinky things, and weren't so greedy as to ask for a full bag, I found a bag with a hole and gave them one, or two if they were good looking.
After my eight hour break and a short drive I did all the paper work at the border and then drove to the Ten Acre truck stop in Belleville where I stopped for fuel. I wasn't sure if I would make it or not. The warning light on the fuel gauge had been flashing orange for over an hour.
I hate to fuel up until after I load in case it is a heavy load and I can't spare the weight to have a full tank so I just put in enough to get me to Montreal and then had a nap.
Monday morning I was up with the sun and started for Montreal. I had no sooner put it in gear and the idiot light came on to tell me to service check my engine. What could be wrong? I had just service checked the motor during my pretrip.
Halfway across the parking lot the computer shut my motor off so I got out and did another engine check. This time instead of relying on the bubble on the side of the antifreeze reservoir I remove the cap and looked inside. It was nearly empty. The glass in the bubble had become permanently green and when you look at it you assume the reservoir is full.
From the reservoir is a return hose that goes to the front of the engine. It was weeping at the connection. I got out my tool box and loosened the hose clamp. When I pull the line off the antifreeze shot out of the engine, all over me. Quickly I cut the worn end off the hose and stuck it back on the engine.
After tightening up the clamp I bought some more antifreeze, filled the reservoir, had a shower, and headed East. I got to Montreal just at the start of rush hour.
My directions were to take highway forty to exit sixty-eight, take the frontage road to the traffic circle and follow it around to Rue Acadie. I believe Rue is French for street. Anyway there are more rues in Quebec than Roos in Australia.
Being the brain that I am I had looked at a map and instead of taking highway forty into Montreal I took highway twenty East through the suburb of Dorval then went North on 520.
Just before five twenty joins highway forty I kept to the right and followed the service road to the service road along highway forty to exit sixty eight and proceeded as per instructions.
Let me tell you about highway forty through Montreal. It is four to six lanes, rougher than hell, no shoulder, though some parts have a sidewalk that people pull up on if they need to stop, separated by a concrete barrier or a grass median.
It is followed on each side by a service or collector road that is anywhere from one to three lanes wide except that when it gets wide it doesn't have lanes marked, it is just wider though it may have a stop sign on either side for traffic to stop in the unmarked lanes to turn right or left.
Everyone drives at seventy Km/h though the posted speed is fifty Km/h. They weave back and forth and exit onto side streets and every now and then there is a very short ramp to the left which will take you back onto highway forty.
Every now and then highway forty will have a ramp that runs off into the collector. It is a fantastic system. Totally nuts but fun. You just have to remember that whatever intersection you wish to leave the collector at you must leave highway forty one exit earlier.
From the collector I got over to the right to find the traffic circle but I hit a dead end. I had my choice of going right or left. Neither of which is designed for a truck.
By driving over a few curbs I missed the beams of the bridge and got under highway forty, onto the West bound collector, back under forty, back East onto the collector to the sixty-eight exit.
This time instead of staying to my extreme right I took the center of the collector and went up a ramp which I had thought went back onto highway forty but just goes above where I was down below, mainly railway tracks which I couldn't cross down below. Then I was in the traffic circle.
I don't care where you go, every city has traffic circles, and traffic entering the circle must yield to traffic within the circle. Not in Quebec. Traffic within the circle must yield to traffic entering the circle. What a nightmare. You have to yield to traffic that is on your blind side and try to turn to the right through the traffic entering the circle so that you can exit the circle. In rush hour? Only in Quebec.
Finally, out of the circle, one block North, turn right and there is the Central Market.
The Central Market is like the produce area in any big city, acres and acres of warehouses for the purpose of loading fruit and vegetables on and off of trucks.
Where I had to go was a new complex under construction with modern warehouses containing many companies and a guard at the gate that said I had to pay him twenty dollars to go in.
I have heard of toll bridges but a toll warehouse? He wanted me to pay for the privilege of unloading. I have never heard of such a thing. I refused to pay to enter a loading dock. Besides it was raining and I didn't really feel like taking the tarps off in the rain anyway.
The guard said I couldn't go in. There was a line up of trucks behind me, I couldn't back up. I said, "Fine, I'm stopped, just call me parked". The guard made a phone call and then let me go in. My customer had agreed to pay the twenty dollars.
The rest of the old Market area, in the middle, is mostly empty lots and one building that hasn't been torn down yet. The North end of the Market is now Future Shop, Costco, Home Depot, etc. Looks sort of like the Lougheed highway in Coquitlam.
After unloading I parked in the empty center area and after a nap went shopping in the new stores. When rush hour was over I went out to the Flying J truck stop for supper.
I behaved myself that night and didn't go to the tittie bar. I heard that some of the better looking dancers in the tittie bars get moved from bar to bar and eventually to a biker bar in Montreal, then disappear only to reappear months later on street corners in various cities throughout the U.S. Besides the weather had been rainy and miserable so I didn't feel like going anywhere anyway.
It poured so hard while I was having supper I was worried about my computer because I had left the window partially open but it was raining too hard to go and check.
When the rain let up I went to the truck. The wind had blown the rain sideways and the passenger seat was soaked. The computer and power supply lay in a puddle on the floor between the seats. Luckily the puddle was shallow and the lid had been closed, so it was only damp on the outside.
The next morning, while dispatch in Vancouver was still asleep, I was up, had breakfast, did my laundry, and sat in my rig typing on my notebook.
Every time I have a load dispatch never tells me where I will load until I unload. This was the first time they had told me where I was going to load so after I had unloaded and called in they said it wasn't confirmed yet. My dispatch are such clucks.
While walking past the drivers lounge in the truck stop I had seen the news on TV. The highway to B. C. through Ontario was closed because of forest fires. This meant I would have to detour through the U. S.
The Trans Canada Highway through central B. C. was closed for the same reason and I would have to detour through Northern or Southern B. C. I thought I would choose the Southern route as I hadn't been that way for many a year. On the other hand I had a friend I wanted to visit if I went the Northern route. But it would all depend on where I unloaded which of course all depended on where I loaded. As it turned out I would go through Southern B. C.
Shanghai was threatened by major flooding along the Yellow River. Bin was visiting her mother in Pu Dong which is a suburb of Shanghai. Now I was all upset. And people wonder why I don't normally watch the news or read newspapers. My nerves are stretched enough from fighting traffic.
Wednesday night we went to the movie, 'Snake eyes'. It was pretty good.
Thursday morning I dropped my trailer at a metal shop in North East Montreal for them to load with large ducts for the Athabasca Tar Sands. I was to have the day off and then pick up the trailer on Friday. The loads from GE weren't ready yet.
On the South side of Montreal found a place to park at the Zellers shopping center in the suburb of Dorval. In the plaza was a Mac computer store that let me use his computer but I couldn't get my ISP to go to the log in page.
I got on a bus to go uptown but was on the wrong one so the bus driver let me off at the next stop and I got the express to the subway which too me downtown. The subway in Montreal, called the Metro, is similar to those in New York and Boston, much larger and faster than the Sky Train in Vancouver.
I had lunch in China town. It is hard to find a good Chow Mien. After growing up in the Okanagan and learning to eat Chinese food in the China Town in Vernon, restaurants that serve authentic Chinese food are disappointing. Only in Vernon and Prince George have I been able to find Chow Mien served the way I like it.
I strolled through China Town, much smaller than China town in Vancouver, similar to China Town in Boston.
San Francisco, where most of the Chinese live in China Town, has a very large China Town. The China Town in Vancouver is smaller yet the Chinese population is larger as the majority of Chinese don't live in China Town. Chinese were the first permanent residents in the Province of B. C. and the first residents in the Vancouver area. Currently over fifty percent of the population of Vancouver is Oriental with the majority being Chinese.
I walked to central Montreal and finally found an internet cafe but I had no time. I had phoned dispatch and they said my trailer was loaded and I had to run so of course nothing went right.
At the Internet cafe they used a French style keyboard and I had trouble logging in and then I couldn't upload from my disk. The French keyboard has more than one back slash and because I was in a hurry I couldn't figure out which one and the clerk was too busy to help.
I rushed back to the subway and back to the bus. On the bus I met a student from the University. A young lady from a big city on a big island South of the main island in Japan. She had been in Montreal for three years learning to teach English at the Concordia University.
She had been in Vancouver and thinks it is kind of like Japan but doesn't want to live in Canada or Japan. She wants to live and teach English in some other country but doesn't know which one.
She had just got back from visiting her family in Japan and showed me some pictures. I thought she had been in Holland. The pictures were of windmills and dykes. She said that at one time that part of Japan had been occupied by the Dutch so much of the area still lives under Dutch style conditions.
I bobtailed back through Montreal fighting rush hour traffic and made it to the metal shop just before they closed. Flying down the center lane of the six forty highway I was doing one hundred nineteen Km/h, the fastest my truck would go. I had cars and trucks passing me on both sides though the speed limit was only one hundred. In the middle of the freeway was a police radar but he didn't seem to think that any of us were speeding.
After strapping down the load and puling it out of the yard so everyone could go home I had supper. I left Montreal Wednesday night at the end of rush hour, went North for several hours and found a rest area to sleep in. I eventually curved West across Quebec into Ontario.
A strange place North America, in the U. S. they speak the same language as Canada but they use weird currency. In Quebec they use the same currency as Canada but they speak a strange language. Makes it difficult to shop in either place.
Shortly after entering Ontario and turning North I saw a sign that said, `Water Shed Divide. All waters from this point North run into the Arctic ocean.'
I recall many years ago hiking up the mountain above Lake Louise in Alberta where I saw a little trickle of water that hit a small pebble. Some of the Water went West and some went East and a sign said, `Great Divide'.
Two little trickles, one that meanderers, East, down the mountains into the prairies and eventually through the Hudson's Bay, into the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. The other loops West, through B. C. then South, into Washington, then West again to form the Northern boundary of Oregon before discharging into the Pacific Ocean. Along the way it produces electricity at places such as Mica Dam, and the Grand Coulee damn.
As much as I hate trucking I feel sorry for people who live all their lives in cities and never see such wonders.
In Utah I met a trucker from Kamloops who has owned his own company for the last thirty-two years. He said, "I can't imagine why anyone would want to do anything else."
Daydreaming again I drive down a slight dip and through a slight turn to the left. To the right I see a side road with a rest area. A couple of miles later I see a sign that says, `Highway one oh one South'. I wonder what happened to the signs that said, `Highway eleven North.' I pulled over and checked my road map, turned around and went back. I should have turned at the rest area.
Going through Cochrane, Ontario, the scale was full of cops but they waved me through and I was so busy concentrating on them that I turned into town and then saw the signs that the highway was behind me so I had to go into town and find a place to turn around.
From Cochrane to Geralton I saw more cop cars in six hours than I have seen in the last six weeks.
One came out of nowhere before Geralton and latched onto my donkey. I was doing one hundred nineteen in a ninety zone and thought about slowing down but said to hell with it. By the time I knew he was behind me he had already had time to clock me.
He followed me for a long time past places where he could have passed or pulled me over but all of a sudden he was no longer in my mirror. I don't know where he went. Immediately there was another one coming towards me. They must have had something more important brewing than a speeding trucker.
Thursday night, at the end of my twelve hour day, in Canada we can drive twelve hours a day if our trip does not start or end in the US, I stopped at a little truck stop East of Jellico, Ontario.
Two hitchhikers were on the side of the road looking for a ride East. A pickup stopped but went in the ditch while backing up for them.
I dialed 911 but it didn't work. I dialed zero and it seemed to take forever to get the operator and then she didn't want to give me a free call to the police. Now where were all the police cars I had been seeing all day?
It turned out we didn't need emergency anyway. No one was hurt and the mechanic at the truck stop used his skidder to push the pickup back on the road.
As I walked out of the restaurant it was starting to sprinkle. I went to bed with rain beating on the roof, lightning blazing through my windshield, and thunder shaking the truck.
In the wee hours of Friday morning all was calm. I started the truck and it stopped, the idiot light said, `service check engine'. I had just done my pretrip and checked everything. I went back under the hood. The antifreeze level was down. Was it dÈj‡ vue or what?
Below the sensor on the end of the reservoir the return line had a slight leak. The other end of the line I had fixed the other day. I preformed the same operation as previously except minus the shower of antifreeze because this end of the line is above the water level in the motor. I Loosened and remove the hose clamp, removed and trimmed the hose end, replace the hose, replaced and tightened the hose clamp, put in my spare gallon of water, which I always carry for such purposes, and I was back on the road.
As the sun was coming up and the sky was getting light I was cruising beside a lake. It sounded like large drops of rain hitting the roof thought the sky was clear. It was large bugs hitting the windshield.
They say that the number of birds has decreased because of man spraying for insects, reducing their food supply and causing them to starve to death. I sometimes wonder if it is so much the sprays as the number of windshields travelling at high speeds. Have you ever thought about how many bugs you kill, the splats all over your windshield. Double that number when you include your bumper, mirrors, aerials, fenders, etc. Then multiply that by how many other vehicles are on the road.
Watch in a truck stop when the rigs pull in off the highway. See the number of sparrows that attack the front of the trucks, particularly the grill. I guess sparrows like their bugs grilled.
I stopped for breakfast in Thunder Bay, Ont. and supper in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Friday night I slept in the truck on a frontage road near Brandon, Man.
When I started up Saturday morning I added another gallon of antifreeze to the radiator. I mixed it half and half with the local water. When the motor warmed up the overflow ran down the outside of the firewall which made the truck smell like rotten eggs from the minerals in the water.
Minerals in the water, one of the many reasons that I don't live in the prairies. Another and the main reason I don't live in the prairies is the wind. While I wrote this the wind was rocking my truck.
Saturday morning I stopped in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. The ex husband of a friend of mine in Vancouver brought me her sewing machine and a couple of boxes of household goods which I found room for under the bed in my sleeper.
I turned North to Saskatoon, Sask. and somewhere along the way I found a bank machine and pulled some money out. The company had put my paycheck in my account which was good because I was down to twenty dollars.
In North Battleford, Sask. I had a little nap then carried on West.
The road from N. Battleford to Lloydminster, though a major artery, is only one lane in each direction. It has a few hills and a few curves and goes through a few small towns but is other wise a typical prairie road, straight, flat, and boring.
Just a few miles East of Lloydminster, after having followed a tanker for many miles I decided to pass him. I saw what looked like a long straight stretch with cars approaching many miles away.
When I got beside the tanker I realized that he was a super B train, I suppose I had assumed he was a five axel. As I was pulling up beside him I ran out of acceleration. I was probably driving faster than I thought I had been but now I was at top speed and barely gaining on him and the approaching vehicles were getting closer than I liked.
I continued to edge forward but it was clear that I wouldn't be past him before the cars reached us. Why I didn't step on the brakes and fall back in behind him I don't know but I kept slugging away. The tanker did not slow down to allow me to get ahead of him and eventually he was forced into pulling over onto the shoulder to allow me to drive down the center of the road.
By now I was mostly in front of him and the oncoming vehicles were not slowing down either but eventually moved over onto the shoulder.
In front of the tanker was a tourist with a large travel trailer and there wasn't room for me between the tanker and the tourist so I had to pass the tourist as well. He too moved over onto the shoulder.
It is common practice in the prairies for people to drive on the shoulders to let other traffic pass but I usually don't pass people when they do that. It is against the law to drive on the shoulder of a road for the simple reason that it is very dangerous. I have attended more than one accident that was a result of someone driving on the shoulder and now here I was in the middle of such a situation, one that I had created.
I can't remember how many vehicles I met going in the opposite direction and I won't try to apologize to them or the trucker and the tourist that I passed. Apologies will not make up for the stupidity of the situation that could have been avoided had I only stayed behind the tanker for another few short minutes that would have taken us into town where I was going to stop for fuel anyway.
There are many who don't believe in a God. There are many more who do but can't decide whether he is called Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, or God. The fact that several vehicles met head on with no one getting hurt, let alone killed, makes me wonder if there wasn't someone looking after us that day.
In Lloydminster I stopped for fuel and to rest my nerves and then I phoned Cindy to get directions to her place. I was going to turn North and cut across country to Ft. McMurray and I would not be very far from her farm near Bonnyville. As it was Saturday afternoon and I didn't have to unload until Monday morning I had time to stop for a visit.
It had been fifteen years since I was in the area as a carnie. The carnival went into Cold Lake, Bonnyville, and Fort McMurray after dark and left the same way so I never got to see the country. It is all rolling hills and farms spaced between forests and lakes.
Crystal blue waters shattered by silver as boats pulled skiers in the evening sun. The weather had turned chilly early this year and fog drifted across the machines trying to get in the hay and wheat.
I met Cindy several years ago when her and I were doing security in Vancouver. She ran away and joined the air force and after training got stationed in Cold Lake. She bought a farm nearby and then left the service, went driving truck for awhile, and is now running a bob cat service.
Saturday night, after a barbecued chicken dinner served on the balcony in the evening air, I tried in vain to get my credit card number into the phone but finally got caught up on my E-mail by dialing direct. Almost got the thing to work but the operator would come on and say "thank you for using.." and the communication program would interpret that as a busy signal and disconnect.
Over the past few weeks I had witnessed a lot of sunrises and sunsets, mostly through a windshield and often in my mirrors. Sunday morning, through patio doors, I watched the early sun evaporate wisps of fog that gently moved around fresh bales of hay in the neighbour's fields.
A young dog romped across the lawn towards the barn and kittens played with my toes as I wrote.
I wonder what my wife would say if I told her we were going to move there?
Sunday I enjoyed a beautiful, what I would have called a fall day years ago for mid August is much too early in the year but the weather is the same, clear and bright but cool, and chilly at night.
We walked to the lake on the Neighbours place, Cindy only has ten acres, mostly cleared. We went through the woods, watching cranes circling overhead, with the dog tagging along. Somewhere in the trees she lost her ball, thank god, I was getting tired of throwing it. We circled around through the freshly hayed field and watched a hawk catch mice, then back to the porch and sat in the sun.
After lunch we watched a video, 'Ritchie Rich' and then they took me back to my truck which I had left down the road at her friend John's as her yard doesn't have room to turn around since she built her 2,000 sq. ft. shed that has become a collector for all her toys, except for her 4 x 4 which sits out in a back field where the starter quit and she hasn't fixed yet. Sort of like her bobcat that broke down at John's but hasn't been repaired yet, though it is mostly disassembled.
A leisurely drive along back country paved roads through a beautiful sunny afternoon brought me early to Ft. McMurray where I was unable to find any postcards but I did enjoy the movie, 'The Avengers'. Sean Connery is such an excellent actor. Then a short drive to Suncor, North of town where I slept at the gates amidst the pops and poops.
Bip, pop, boom, bang, ban, poop, pop, pop. All night long. Microscopic bubbles of gas, thousands of feet below the surface, slowly, ever so slowly expanding, over thousands of years, as they worm their way upward through the primordial ooze to reach the surface of the earth's crust and explode in the atmosphere.
No, air cannons, to frighten the birds away from the settling ponds. Floating on the settling ponds are barrels atop which are perched scarecrows made from florescent overalls and hard hats. If birds were to land on these 'waters' they would die.
After a half hour safety video and a one page written exam Monday morning I sat at the gates to Suncor waiting for an escort into the Athabasca tar sands project at Ft. McMurray, Alta.
On the way North I talked to a trucker who gets lumber out of Southern Alberta and takes it to Ft. McMurray. Then he loads lumber at the mill in Ft. McMurray and takes it to Southern Alberta just passed a big sawmill. Does two trips a week and makes good money.
My office figured I would come out of McMurray empty so I phoned the sawmill and got a load of lumber. Screwed myself. I saw all the lumber coming out was plastic wrapped and I figured I wouldn't have to tarp it. I got unwrapped lumber and had to tarp it. Later I would find that I screwed myself twice.
I spent the night in Edmonton. Frost already. Leaving town Tuesday morning I saw a truck dropping bundles of newspapers for the paper boys. The early morning sun was lighting up steam coming off the papers in the cold air. Is that where they get the expression, `hot off the presses'?
I went South from Edmonton on highway two and then turned off onto highway twenty-seven to Olds and then South again on highway twenty-two. It was a beautiful fall day drive through South Western Alberta, lovely green, rolling, hills, to highway three which took me into B. C.
Through the sheer, rugged, Rockies, over the boulders that were the side of a mountain and are now the blanket for the former town of Frank I wound my way through the forests, through Creston, to the town of Salmo in the South East Corner of the province.
When I had phoned ahead the girl in the office told me I wouldn't be able to unload until the next morning but I arrived at the mill at midnight and the forklift operator unloaded me.
Does that sound strange, I took lumber from a sawmill and unloaded it at a sawmill? Happens all the time. I had brought them poor grade lumber with lots of faults and they will recut it. Slice it in half, plane it smooth, cut it into shorter pieces so there are no faults in it, repackage it, and ship it somewhere else.
I once picked up a load of lumber in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Have you ever seen trees within a thousand miles of Albuquerque? They had gotten the lumber from Ontario, Canada and after they planed it I took it to Alberta. To avoid damage to the finished product the lumber was bundled in old two by fours that they had bought from B. C.
After unloading I went back into Salmo and closed the bar but was up early as I hadn't turned the heater on and the night had turned chilly. After all I was deep in the mountains.
I stood in a phone booth Wednesday morning enjoying the climbing sun while I went through the yellow pages trying to find a load home. My dispatch said come home but that is twelve hours and I don't get paid for empty miles. I would have been better to have gone empty out of Ft. McMurray and gotten a load home from Edmonton. I would have only had four hours empty.
It was a nice fall day in the middle of August. The leaves were starting to change colour already, air is crisp.
The company came up with a plan to load me in Sparwood for Utah. They had three loads to go to Vancouver. I thought this might take too long. I checked my map and thought it could work. If everything went right I could be home by Tuesday. God, why do I keep calling the hell hole known as Vancouver, home? I really need to get a home and a life in a real town.
I called back to dispatch and said I would take it but they said they had already given it to someone else, but I didn't believe it.
They said they had something else for me. A load of lumber out of Slocan, just North of where I am, for Spokane, Wash. But what did they have for me out of Spokane? Nothing yet but it is easier to get something to Vancouver out of there. Don't eat it Henry it's Horseshit. They have no idea how to get me home from Spokane. Probably want to send me empty to Utah to get one of the three loads.
I was already bitching about driving twelve hours empty from Salmo to Vancouver why would I drive fourteen empty hours from Spokane to Ogden. Then dispatch told me it was a tarp load. Tarp a load for a ten hour trip. No way. I refused. I told him to get me something else and hung up on him.
After I got over my fume I plotted where I could get fuel. Nelson was my nearest spot and I just might make it and it is on the way to Slocan.
It was a beautiful fall day and I enjoyed a leisurely drive through beautiful mountains. I would phone for a load after I got fuel and if they didn't have anything for me I would have enough fuel to come home even if they cut off my fuel card.
My fuel book has a little map showing where to get fuel. I drove around and around the quaint little town of Nelson, perched on the shores of an aqua blue lake, with its narrow hilly streets, sharp corners, and plague of tourists and could not find the streets. Finally I found the fuel stop on the streets in the map but they are not the same name as on the map. Then I was really hostile.
I was going to phone the office and tell them to stuff it but, no phone. I wound back through the streets and out of town. Twenty minutes later I passed the turn off to Slocan. I decided to phone from Castlegar.
The highway interchange is a quick by pass around Castlegar and no phone. At the top of the hill I was stopped for an hour while we waited for a pilot car to lead us through construction.
Finally at three PM I got to Christina Lake and found a phone. I called the office and told them I was not taking the load, I was going to sleep and then home. I hung up on them before they could reply.
The scenery and the weather was too beautiful to sleep, as tired as I was I wanted to see this part of the country where I hadn't been since I was about nine years old and I wanted to stop in Osoyoos and visit friends before it was too late in the day.
Christina Lake is gorgeous blue with streaks of silver as boats pull skiers across the sun kissed waters. What a gorgeous day.
I crest the hill above Osoyoos and look down on summer and two lakes as beautiful as the last two I have mentioned. West of the mountain is Okanagan valley and summer, East of the mountain is Fall.
Why would anyone want to live in Vancouver. I don't want to go back there. I stopped in Osoyoos for supper and my friends came to join me.
Ten thirty Wednesday night I roll into Abbotsford and unload my sleeper into my van. Back to Hellcouver and sure as hell there is someone parked in my space. I clean out my van and park down the street.
Thursday morning I started to work on this story and I couldn't find my notebook. Frantically I ran out to the street, no broken windows. Thieves are a little slower near Metrotown than near Gastown. If I had still been living in my old apartment the van windows would have been broken, the notebook would have been gone, and there would probably have been some hooker using the bed in the back.
Anyway, I'm home and I won't be answering the phone for the next two days as I am sure the company will be phoning. I left the rig parked in front of their door so they can't miss the fact that I have returned empty.
I guess I don't work there anymore. Oh, well, I was looking for a job when I found that one. And I was looking for one with better pay.
Thursday August twenty, great big, cold, lonely, queen size, bed. I should have stayed in the truck one more night.
Great big cold damp lonely apartment. I should have stayed on the road one more week. My original plan was to come home on the twenty sixth, go to the dentist on the twenty-seventh, and meet the plane on the twenty-eight.
However, the best laid plans, etc.
In thirty-seven days I drove for two hundred sixty-eight hours and put on sixteen thousand six hundred nineteen miles.
I had promised myself that I would take it easier this trip and though it was frustrating at times, and I put on a lot of miles, I saw a lot of new places and visited a lot of friends. Without even trying it turned into a paid vacation.
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