August 31st 2018 .
Calgary Ab to Great Falls MT .
If Your’re good at something you don’t even enjoy, imagine how good you would be doing something you Love ?
Moving all your stuff into a truck is a never-ending task and even when I thought I was done, I still had doubts. Not only if I had forgotten an important travel document but even thoughts of whether or not I’m doing the right thing? So with all these thoughts still circling my mind I arrived at a grubby looking yard where my home and source of income was parked .
The truck itself was seemingly in good condition and all fitted out with basic conveniences for life on the road. Microwave, full fridge, high cab with a large bunk and numerous power outlets for mobile phones or computers. Combined with large areas of storage for clothes, food and all other things required for up to 10 days on the move. This is one area where things have improved since my time away from driving. These highway trucks now are fitted out with many modern comforts to make the drivers down time more like a stay in an RV rather than a back of a truck. I was pleasantly surprised. I had driven an older version of the same truck years ago so the changes were immediately noticeable .
After a quick briefing on the new electronic log system that is now controlling commercial drivers working in the US ( Yet to be introduced in Canada only driving – surprise!) I left the yard and headed south to Lethbridge, Alberta, where I would be picking up a full load of frozen fries ( chips to my English friends) . Roughly a 2 1/2 hour drive south of Calgary.
Glad to see certain things don’t change. Despite arriving 30 minutes before my appointment time, I got on a loading bay some 2 hours later and then only after I went into shipping office to inquire why ? A simple case of the morning shift not telling the afternoon shift, who was next to be loaded was the cause of my delay . Time well spent arranging and cleaning the interior of the truck. Mentally noted for future visits. I was pleased that I kept calm and patient, unlike in the past when plenty of blood pressure rising. shouting and yelling would have occurred. Progress? Or just getting older? Either way I left the plant fully loaded 3 hours later than planned, but loaded all the same.
First task? Weigh the load, or to be more exact, weigh each axle to ensure that I am under legal limits for the US. No surprise here, axle weight limits for the US are different to the limits enforced in Canada, so I headed to a nearby weigh scale to ensure I wouldn’t be in trouble at the first government scale I got called into.
First challenge? Sliding the trailer axles allows the driver to distribute the weight, in order to keep each axle legal. Easy? Well used to be. An hour later and testing my newly found calm patient approach, I managed to get my load legal for the US.
Finally on my way, heading south, towards the border. Second challenge ?
Border crossing as a non Canadian citizen means extra paperwork, extra questions and more time. I was surprised however, how quickly this was done, a few simple forms, a ten minute question and answer session and 6 dollars later, I was on my way into the US with my load of frozen fries. Happy Days ? ( I later found out I could have avoided this delay altogether and completed the forms online prior to me getting to the border! What a Muppet!)
As previously explained in my earlier blog, all of these delays at the yard, the shipper and the border was time spent at work, by me, that I don’t get paid for, as I only get paid for the miles traveled . Name me another job that this is the case. Every job has its pros and cons, however I do believe this is one major cause for the driver shortage here.
Still south on interstate 15 into Montana, brings me to my overnight stopping place in Great Falls. The flying J Truck stop, provides clean ( ish) showers, hot food ( we will get to the hardships of eating on the road another time )for the me and fuel, a windscreen clean of the summer roadkill and a place to park for my truck .
I decided to cook in my cab tonight. Something I am conscious of now as part of the aging process, is I have started to watch what I eat on a more regular basis. I am not saying I have turned into a berry eating health freak, but the pounds have slowly been gaining through my 40’s decade and driving a truck all day provides little in the way of exercise to stop this process continuing into the next decade.
So armed with a microwave, toaster and tin opener, I soon settled down to a light British favorite of ” Beans on Toast “. Walked my dog for half an hour before settling down for a sleepless night as I wasn’t yet used to the noise of the fridge motor on my trailer working overtime to keep my load in its preferred frozen state.
Back on the Road . Happy Days? So far yes.