Friday, August 28, 2009

Long Trip

So hope you are all sitting comfortable as I have some catching up to do.

I do not have mobile internet yet except on my phone in Canada so im looking for something for the US as when you are driving team, you don’t get to stop at the truck stops and use theirs so any suggestions from you guys already trucking in Canada let me know. Then I will be able to update my blog more.

Ok back to before my test.

Joe my trainer had to go home at short notice so I ended up doing another couple of days in the day cab with Mark. Then Joe came back so we got into 766, an International Eagle with 1.3 million Km’s on it. We went on a trip down to Fredericton then over to Montreal and back covering just under 1000 miles. Then I had a day off before getting into another International Eagle with 1.1 million km’s on it. We only had that for about 16hrs just to do a trip down to Nova Scotia and back. We got back at 0400 the following day. Joe said to me call in about 10am to see what else they have for us. As my test was in four days so I needed to keep on the road for the practice, and that was the last time I seen Joe. He never phoned in to show his availability. it took me some pulling out of bed just to phone in to find out he had not phoned. I never went in another truck till 10mins before my test. I was not happy with the lack of practise, but there was nothing I could do. But as you know, I didn’t need the practice anyway because I passed.
Soon as I passed it was arranged for me to team up with Bernie. Great guy, very knowledgeable on the roads. When it was my turn to drive, he would say wake him at mile marker so and so just so he could direct me through the cities etc. he would also know how long it took to get from point to point.

Our fist trip was to our Brampton depot in Toronto. We set off gone midnight , got there the following afternoon. Our next collection was at 11pm going to Winnipeg so we had time to kill so we went to watch Transformers at the movies and get a bite to eat . We took the scenic route up the 69 along the 17 then on the 11. That is 17 hours of pictures views along the Georgian Bay, North Channel, and Lake Superior. There was 850 miles of just lake after lake after lake, between Toronto and Thunder Bay. There was at least one lake for every mile driven.

Bernie was driving through the night and had to give up early hours in the morning as he had seen too many moose. Had to jam brakes on hard twice to avoid them so he got his head down too till it was light. Me I never noticed a thing. I sleep like a brick. Good thing to be able to do when driving team as you normally sleep while the truck is on the move. 
From Thunder Bay it was still another 8hrs or so to Winnipeg. You know when you are close to Winnipeg as the roads just become flat. no more hills etc. a lot less trees also, just flatter than flat. In the winter, it gets a lot colder for the longest in Winnipeg because of it been flat and open.
Once we dropped our trailer at Winnipeg, we had already got our next trailer going to a small town outside Chicago. I can’t remember the name, {I was asleep when we got there). We drove down through North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin into Illinois. From there again we had our reload in Chicago. One of the really good things about Ayr Motor, is that 9.9 times out of 10, you have your reload before you make the drop you have on. If you like to do the miles. This is the company to work for as the owner is full hands on and does not allow any truck to be empty waiting. The only waiting you have with this company is waiting to unload or collect at a certain time and that’s it. that’s why this company is getting bigger by the day and more and more drivers from out west our coming east to work for us. We are one company that is speeding up and not slowing down like the rest. We can do more miles a week than a company twice our size. A single driver averages 4000 miles a week. We as a team are doing 7000 miles a week. They would like us to do more but with the new law of all trucks been governed to 105km per hour, it limits us now.

Anyway back to the route. The load we collected was going to are Brampton depot in Toronto. So we went up through Michigan to the Detroit/Windsor boarder. If you have been out of Canada for more than 24hrs you get to go to the duty free store. I spent some of my Birthday money in there on aftershave. Then up to Brampton we went. We dropped our trailer and collected another for Stellerton Nova Scotia. Offloaded that, then off to Port Hawkesbury where we dropped that trailer and collected another going to the states but we was taking it to Woodstock as Bernie had booked some days off. So they had arranged for Keith, another guy I had met at the house to team up with me. We got back to Woodstock about 11pm. We had covered 6652km in less than 6 days, so not to bad for my fist week with him having to show me around and a bit of sight seeing on the way etc.

The air con had been getting worse over the last 2 days but by the time we had got to the shop. They only had the night guys on which only do the basic services. So we had to set off without it fixed. We took a trailer to Brampton ON and the air con was none existent by then so they gave us a trailer for Montreal then one back to Woodstock. Again getting there at night so another trailer to Moncton yard switching for a trailer going back to Woodstock so we would arrive in the day. Turned out the core had cracked and leaked all the gas out. Once we was sorted, off to Brampton we went. When we dropped there we had some time to kill as we did not have to deliver the following morning till 8am in Montreal. So off shopping we went. Well Keith spent the money anyways. Then when we got back to the truck we have several messages to ring the office. Another guy was running out of hours and had a 2am delivery on for Monreal so we had to go over and do a swop with our load. Then as we are doing that, we get another phone call. They needed me to be put up in a hotel then I was going to be taking over a truck the following morning at our Brampton depot. As a team was leaving when they got back and like I said Joe does not allow any truck to be sat around. The team finally arrive about 5.30pm in 826 a nice new International Prostar. I like them better the Freightliner Cascadea that I drive with Keith. The condo has more stowage space in a Prostar than the Cascadia.

Anyway, I had to bobtail down to Mississauga ON, collected an empty trailer, then go to Concord to load for Woodstock. At Woodstock I switched for a load going back to Montreal. After the shop checking the truck over, i then went into the truck stop next to the yard, to get my rest ready for the trip to Montreal. I got up and fuelled then set off. I went all the way there stopping once for the bathroom. Switched with another guy who was taking it for delivery, while I took his trailer back to Woodstock without stopping. I just made it back in my 13hr driving time. I was well impressed. Like I said before, its not hard to dive for hours here. The new trucks have satellite radio built in where you get 156 channels or pure music for every taste without the adverts. There is loads of rock channels so I just had that on all the time and you just do not notice the time flying by.

The following day I had to take the truck into the dealer for some warranty work. I was supposed to be then taking a load back to Brampton as the truck driver assigned to the truck run out of there. I was then going to jump back in with Keith. But we was not going to arrive the same day so Keith got runs into the states and someone else took the truck and load back to Brampton. I had covered 2753km in two and half days. I then had a few days off giving me chance to finally find a car the wife wanted, as she was the one that would always drive it. If it was left to me I would have got a monster truck, but she would not drive my American Ford Excursion I owned in the UK. It was wayyyy too big for her, 19 foot long. It took up 4 parking spaces in Tesco car park, So I had to get a girly 4 X 4 instead. Now I had to find a place for us to live as they was arriving in 4 weeks time but I was joining Keith again so I hoped the next time I was off I would find a place straight away or we was stuffed.

Keith got in the night I picked the car up. so I joined him the following morning. By the time the shop had finished servicing the truck it was midday before we had chance to set off with a load to Montreal.. We switched there for a load going to Winnipeg. At Winnipeg they took off a couple of pallets off then off to Edmonton we went. We had two drops there. Then it was off to Calgary to switch trailers for one going back to Winnipeg. Then we switched trailers again for one going to the states, but we was only taking it to are Winnipeg depot. Our next load was going back to Montreal but had nine hours to relax and do abite of shopping. They gave us that time off as Keith was having a hard time adjusting to teaming as he could not sleep very well, and doing 1000 miles a day between us was taking it out of him. So he managed to recuperate. Then started to sleep better as we went along. When we got to Montreal we then switched trailers for one going to Edison New Jersey. (just outside New York for those of you that don’t want to look it up. So we crossed the border at Champlain, straight down the 87 to New Jersey. On route we called at a petro pass truck stop. Now Keith was still struggling to sleep in less I drove through out the night so it seamed as though I was driving from A-B then at B Keith would take over and go to the customer. I had been looking into getting a GPS so I would be able to find my way around without having to wake Keith back up (if he ever did go to sleep) I had a truck specific one back in the UK and that was excellent. There is only two in Canada that cover both the States and Canada truck routing. The worldnav got real bad write ups the PC Miler did a little, but the software was updated on the 1st July But there was no way off telling if the ones on the shelf was the updated or not. There is two others just come out but they are only truck specific in the States and just normal for Canada. Garman was one and Goodyear was the other. Keith decided to get one at the Petro-Pass thinking it would help him get more sleep. We set a test run as we needed to fuel, (cant use Petro-Pass anymore for some reason). So we set off following this GPS. It totally messed up trying to send us down this residential street, then wanted to turn us up this dirt track to the road we needed when all it had to do is turn us off the Highway and it was there. But we thought we would give it a chance. After fuelling we set it for the address in New Jersey. As soon as we got across the border, the detail of all the map and points of interest just shown every detail. So much better. Could tell it was made in the US. Must have thought, “cant be bothered with Canada, lets just give them the basics”. Anyway It got us straight there. Keith did not like the way it took us though. He is old hat. Does not like change, or computers, but was slowly coming round when it got us there. Then we had a pickup five miles down the road and without going back to the Highway (like Keith would have done) it took me across town, even taking us around an underpass that was too low for the truck. Keith was very impressed by then, but still did not like the way it sent us back to Canada for our drop in Guelth Ontario. So I had to put way points in to go the way he liked plus the border crossing we needed etc. We dropped off in Guelph. Then I set it to take us back to our yard in Brampton 50 miles away to drop our trailer and pick up another going to Kentucky. The day I stayed in the hotel, the taxi driver that took me to the yard to collect 826 put the address in his GPS and that put me outside a house on the other end of the road, so I knew I was going to have fun. So to get around not been at the residential end I put junction with the road at the other end, & what did it do? Still put us right in the residential end again. Find out in the end, that some of the settings was still wrong so it thought it was still routing a car, so we sorted it out. Anyway we set off for Kentucky. Sure enough the maps improved as soon as we crossed the border. I stopped at the flying J states side to grab a shower etc. there they had the same GPS but a lot cheaper, so I thought I better get one myself just in case I ever get sent out on my own. While sat eating my Flying J all you can eat buffet. After the 3rd course, the heavens just opened up. I only had to run 50yrds back to the truck. I got more socked than the time I had to walk to the bank. So I had two showers and two changes of clothes in a space of an hour. Back at the truck Keith set off while I set my new GPS up putting the truck info in etc. at the same time finding things was different with mine to Keith’s. thinking nothing of it I put it in the box as we didn’t need two to get us to Kentucky. Once we was empty our reload was in Batesville Mississippi. Keith’s GPS would not find the road, so I got mine out to see if mine would, and it did. So looked like I had got the updated version which was done in July and Keith had got the old version that came out last year. He was not a happy bunny. Anyway I set off down the road using mine. There was some dust on the road name I was due to join so decided to wipe it of with my finger. Bad mistake. The screen totally froze no matter what I pressed it would not work. So I got Keith to set his up to get me to the area I needed to be. The volume is really bad on them so I plugged my headphones into it. Which was so much better. When I got to the collection. Keith was still awake (he just can’t sleep in the day) so he decided to have a play with the GPS to learn more on how to use it. Next thing, his had no sound out of it, except through the headphones. So now we have two brand new sat nav’s, one with no sound and one that does not work at all. So while we was waiting to load. (5 hours) we set Keith’s up to take us back to London Ontario. But putting in several waypoints in to take us on the roads he said was best. On the way back he stopped at a truck stop to buy a extension speaker so we didn’t have to have the headphones in. then while Keith was playing with it as usual. He messes it up and gave it to me to sort out. At the same time I discovered one of the settings was wrong and that’s why it was sending us ways Keith would not normally go. So sorted that too so we did not have to keep putting in the way points to take us the way we wanted to go. Anyway that night I stopped off at a “J” to take my duff one back. They gave me my money back saying it was not the first to come back with the same problem. So I was thinking of getting the software for the laptop instead so left it for a few days. Keith got his from a Petro-Pass, they was not so good to deal with. They would only exchange it. If he wanted his money back, he had to go back to Winnipeg where he got it from. Fat chance of that anytime soon. With this job you never know till just before you make your drop off as to where you will be going next. That did not stop him going and buying the Brand new Garman for trucks the first chance he got. Now he is like a big kid, will not leave it alone, even when he is driving he can not not touch it for five minutes. We both agree it is the better one of the two, but it only does semi-truck routing in the 48 states and not Canada. In Canada it is just like any other GPS for cars. Where as the PC Miler covers the whole of North America for truck routing. I bought another a few days later after trying them out at a couple of truck stops to find they was the old version like keiths then one night I woke up to find he had stopped at the Flying J where I bought my first one so I went straight in and got another and luckily it was the updated version. Well me and Keith will not be teaming too much longer so I have to make sure I can find my way around. For those of you thinking of getting one of these truck Sat-Nav’s, if you have any questions I will gladly answer them and also tell you how to know if the PC Miler is the old or new version. Anyway enough of all that, back to where we have been and going.
Back at London Ontario we had a collection just down the road going back to Woodstock, which I was really glad about as I had seen an house on the internet the night before I went back on the road, so planned to go and have a look at it while the truck was been serviced. Turned out that there was no-one to show me round on a Saturday. Something about it was going to be too hot. Good customer service I thought but the house was worth it. So I only got chance to look through 3 windows, then shot off to the Ayr Motor House to use the Wi-fi Just to look at the pictures of the house before I made the decision to have it. I did not have time to look for any others as my wife and kids are due to land on the 1st September and my container was already in the country waiting for me to get back to clear it at customs. I did not expect it till the end of the month but the company we used did a fantastic job. From boxing everything up in the UK to cleared at Customs was less than two weeks. I will put their details in a separate post. I knew I was going to be on the road till when I guessed it might arrive, so I accepted the house over the phone.

From Woodstock, we had a load going to Columbus, Ohio. As soon as we unloaded, we went straight up to Dayton, Ohio. For a load going back to Ontario. It took too long to load so we was going to be too late for unloading so we dropped the trailer in our yard in Brampton, Toronto. Hooked onto another took it down the road to be loaded and off to Dunmore, Pennsylvania. Once we off loaded we went straight to Hanover, Pennsylvania, for our reload back to our Brampton yard again. We then Bobtailed over to Weston , Ontario to collect our reload going to Halifax Nova Scotia, but we was dropping it at Woodstock, which was great for me as I could collect the keys for the new house while the truck was been serviced again. I even managed to have a very quick look before shooting off back to the truck to set off with our load going to Spartanburg, South Carolina. Its all go go go here…….

We dropped in Spartanburg , then noticed we was not suppose to be picking up till 3pm the following day. So as we was making plans to kill time dispatch told us to go straight down to load, which we was happy about because we only get paid when the truck is moving. So we get down there only to be told go away till 3pm tomorrow. I was asleep at that time as the plan was for me to start driving about 3am. It took Keith 2hr’s of driving to find a place to park that night, and that was not in a truck stop. Anyway the following day we managed to get loaded 3hr early and off we popped back up to Toronto, dropped the trailer at the customer then bobtailed to our yard in Brampton Toronto to collect our next trailer going to just outside Dallas Texas. I got there at 1am our time 11pm local time. It was still 25 degrees outside. The security guard said just back onto one of the bays and they will unload us at 6am. As I walked to the back of the trailer the chock the wheels all these great big bugs was hopping around. They was massive. Glad I don’t live down there. Once off loaded we went straight for our collection closer to downtown Dallas. That took so long to load my driving and working hours ran out so Keith had to drive out of Dallas. Now Keith is an Hillbilly, counrty bum. He can not stan been near any city. He would rather drive 100 miles out of his way to avoid a city so I said just follow the GPS and it will get you out safely. So whats he do, as soon as he seen a road name he did not like he totally ignored it, and guess what, we was heading straight into downtown . His face was a picture, panic set in I could not stop laughing calling him an hillbilly. It was so funny. Anyway I sat with him and directed him out using the map to keep him calm, and by the time I had got him back to the outer loop road, he had started to get colour back in his cheeks. How he has managed to keep away from the big cities in his 15 years driving I don’t know, but then again he said no loads normally go to inner cities so I guess that’s how. The is only Toronto but we go there all the time so I guess he is used to it but does not stop him complaining about how busy it is though. Anyway our collection was going to Toronto but we was going to be 12 hours early for delivery so we got to drop it in the Brampton yard for them to take it for delivery, while we switch for a trailer going to Montreal. Once unloaded we went to our drop yard there and switch for another going back to Dallas again. But I needed to be back in Woodstock in two days to clear my container and move into our new home before my wife and kids land on the 1st, so we just took that trailer to our Brampton yard where they had to unload it so we had an empty. 455 trailers on the fleet and not one empty to collect our load down the road going to Moncton New Brunswick, but we was just taking it to Woodstock where someone else would take it from there, so we could go and have a week off after been on the road for so long. Thats where i am now so will update you soon.

This is how they transport New Trucks

Long roads
Canada US Border near Winnipeg

Some of the lakes

Down Town Dallas

One of the tunnels through a mountain

Meet 766 International Eagle

854's Dash

My new cup which took place of the 2lt Bottles

Meet 826

Meet 854 Freightliner Cascadia

Not small hay

Where my 2lt Bottles go in the Freightliner Cascadia's

old fire engine

this town is wayyyyy behind the times
More of the Lakes

Indians are in town

If you think my truck is long at 73 Feetthis is 125 Feet long
houses in Quebec
Houses in Toronto

trains in Toronto

Holiday season

I guess these had too much luggage their car in there really

Montreal 1230am, do they ever go to bed?

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