Sweaty In Oregon

Morning Drive alongside the Columbia River

Following my perfect nights rest in my own ” Park for a Night” location in Nelson BC, I took breakfast by the creek, made a pot of coffee and headed for my reload of Lumber ( wood for you Brit readers )in Creston BC.

With a little reluctance, I pulled out of my perfect spot and headed South on the 3A. Back towards the picture perfect town of Nelson . I don”t think there are many better drives to take in the morning , than the highway from Nelson to Creston . Stunning, no other words for it .

The perfect drive ended with me pulling into the Lumber yard where my load was waiting for me as I had already called ahead , to let them know my arrival time .

Unlike the last time I loaded Lumber ( see Nelson blog) this fork lift operator really knew his onions and he loaded my trailer quickly and perfectly balanced on the axle weights. Despite it being first thing in the morning, throwing straps and pulling curtains proved to by quite thirsty work, I even broke into a sweat at one point! So once the paperwork was received, I decided to make a brew and the second cup of tea was soon in hand .

As this load was going south of the border, I had to wait for my load details to be sent to the US crossing that I was going to use, to get customs clearance . I was only half an hours drive to the US border, so I had time to enjoy the hot cuppa and a well earned snack

The ” good to go ” was received and off to the the border we went . After a short delay, caused in main by the line of loaded cattle trucks , shipping Canada”s finest four legged, soon to be burgers, exports.I crossed the line with no issues .

Soon after arriving in the country, it was time to fill with cheap American diesel. Despite the poor value of the Canadian Dollar, thanks in in main to the idiot failed high school drama teacher running the country, or at least pretending to and the collapse in world oil prices, it is still cheaper for trucks to fill up with fuel in the US.

Fueled up , dog walked, snacks handy , we set off for the 7 hour drive that afternoon . The seven hours would not get me to my destination but this was all the time I had left on my “Elog”, which dictates how long I can drive, work and sleep in any given 24 hour period . The spy in the cab controls my day and makes sure I stay in line with regulations controlling driving hours.

My route takes me through rural Idaho, heading due south through the towns of Bonners Ferry, Naples and the Bronx, before highway 95 crosses the Pend Oreille River at the town of Sandpoint.

The State of Idaho is very similar Western Canada , dense forest, logging trucks and cool looking old vehicles for sale at the side of the road . Progress was steady and despite been fully loaded and a few steep gradients to deal with, it was not long before I left Idaho and entered the state of Washington via Interstate 90 East of Spokane .

The scenery from Spokane heading West really takes a turn for the worst . Forrest and rivers give way to boring looking hills covered in knee high grass and no interesting items for sale at the side of the road, At times like this , I listen to audio books while driving . This afternoon, I learnt about the capture and subsequent demise of the then world”s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden,over in Pakistan in 2011.

I have never been a fan of fiction , always preferring facts, but also never a fan of reading books. I don”t have the patience , or as my wife would say, “I have an attention dis-order”. So the audio books are perfect for me and this afternoon I learnt that time really does go by quicker the older you get. Was it really 2011 that the American Seals eventually caught up with the weird looking guy , who had eluded them for so long ?

During the time I learn”t about these events, I had reached the Columbia River that borders the States of Washington and Oregon . Here I had a choice of staying on an interstate, enter Oregon and head west on the southern edge of the mighty river ,or stay in Washington and head west on the much smaller single lane highway 14 . As most people took the first choice, it was a “No brainer ” for me, I took the second option

The road follows the rivers northern bank and from its elevated position, gives you fantastic views of the area .So I sat back and enjoyed the next 80 miles or so.

With the introduction of compulsory electronic logs for all commercial vehicles operating in the US and the ever increasing amount of goods being moved by road, parking is now a real problem faced by truck drivers .

Under the old paper log system, most drivers , if their honest, would “manipulate” their written entries to remain legal and still work extended hours above and beyond the law . Therefore, if they wanted to drive on for a few hours, because they wanted to get to a certain point and had the energy to do so, they could. Then it was a simple task of making the log match your location.

Now the electronic log , automatically recording the trucks movements and location via GPS, “cheating” the system has become more of a challenge . My daily driving and that of all other commercial drivers is now restricted to 11 hours per day. My total working day cannot exceed 14 hours . Drivers do more than just drive you see. This covers all the other bits i.e loading, unloading, fuel etc. I must then have a compulsory 10 hours break at the end of the day .There are a few other rules, but as we have already established, I have an attention issue and this is getting really boring for me to write, let alone for you to read, so we will leave it at that for now.

So back to the problem of Parking. Now most drivers are starting and finishing their days at the same time. So all parking areas are full by late afternoon or early evening when the machine in your cab gives you the warning that you are running out of time. This was not an issue before , because some drivers worked as they say ” bankers hours” and others drank more coffee and smoked more to extended their day above and beyond its legal limits.

So , now we have established all the bloody rules I have to deal with, my dilemma of where to park for the evening was beginning to ruin my afternoon drive . My machine was telling me I still had over 2 hours of driving time left, but I knew that would put me in an area where there was no parking available .Therefore , if I wanted a safe place to park with suitable services available ,I would have to stop an hour before and literally waste a whole hour of my working day . Luckily I am not paid by the mile like a lot of drivers are, so it did not impact my earnings for the day .

Crossing the Columbia River, I entered Oregon at the town of Biggs , where there is a couple of truck stops, restaurants and the all important washing facilities.

Most of the day I had been driving with the AC full on, so when I opened my drivers door, I was greeted with a hair drier blast of hot air , and the cab was soon transformed into a “hot box”.

I had parked away from other trucks. Opposite a small tire store, I was hoping to get a peaceful evenings rest , without the sound of running diesel engines next me .After all, the previous evening I had my own spot in a park ,next to a river.So I was disappointed to learn that I would have to in fact run my own truck in order to stop me sweating like a Turkey in the run up to Thanks Giving.Although it was now pat 6 pm the temperature was still above 32 degrees Celsius or 90 degrees Fahrenheit,

Oh well, the environment will just have to suffer for the evening as I need my nights sleep, got a busy day tomorrow dealing with the traffic around the Portland area . But that is another story .

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