Good morning boys and girls. I see from the previous entry that it's been a very long time since I put anything in here. I've been a very busy beaver working my ass off and still trying to get out of my financial mess. Didn't think it was going to take this long but I'm definitely on the upswing. Things are going pretty good for me right now. Since my last entry I was working at J-Line and then I quit to go work for a van company in Burlington Called Customized Global Logistics. I did pretty well there at first and they were okay to work for but as usual I didn't make it there a year before things started slowing down and the pay checks were getting alarmingly smaller and smaller. So, as always, I bailed and went to work for a company that specialized in oversized loads. I was coerced by Dan to come and make lots of money doing these oversized loads. Well, right from day one I didn't getting along with the main dispatcher Ed. He was always telling me I didn't know how to fill out a logbook and didn't know how to drive certain distances in the proper amount of time. We had a few tiffs about it all. I was tired of being treated like I was a rookie and talked down to like I was 9 years old. Needless to say, I didn't like him at all.
Then the final straw that broke my back was the long 45 day trip that ended up being my last trip for Precision Specialized Division. I started from Toronto and went down to Houston, TX and then to Laredo, TX. Unloaded then reloaded and headed up to Edmonton, AB. Unloaded and then reloaded in Edmonton and headed for California. From there I was really hoping to head home but no, they send me up to Kamloops, BC and then to Calgary, AB. On the way between Kamloops and Calgary, Ed calls me up and asks me if I want to pick up a load in Edmonton going to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Now I had never been to Alaska and I've always wanted to go up there but never had the opportunity. So I looked it up to see where Prudhoe Bay was. I was blown away as to where I found it. It was right at the very northern tip of Alaska. Deep into the Arctic Circle and right along the Arctic Ocean. Holy shit. So totally oblivious of the road I had to drive to get up there, I quickly agreed to go. I was pretty excited. Of all my friends and family, my trucker friends past and present, I was going to be the first to go to Alaska! Yahhhhh! I get loaded and off I go. Ed said not to rush and to take my time and to take lots of pictures. I did. So I didn't get a day away from Edmonton and things started going wrong. I lost my power steering. Found a Kenworth dealer in Grand Prairie, AB and proceeded to change the filter in the pump first but that didn't fix it. Then they changed the pump and that still didn't fix it. Next was the steering box and then the steering shaft going up to the firewall. AH, that did it. Powering steering fully restored. A full day lost and about $2500 of repairs. Head out again. I had pretty good weather all the way up there and no serious problems to deal with. Finding places to fuel up was an interesting challenge. All I had was a Husky credit card and they dried up at Fort Nelson, BC. So every time I needed to buy fuel I would have to call dispatch so they would give me a Visa number over the phone. Pain in the ass. Anyway, I get up into Yukon and it is very scenic and the traffic is virtually nil. It is very quiet and trouble free. The last 250 km or so before I got to the Alaska border was unbelievably rough. I mean the road was rough. So bad that sometimes you'd be clipping along at 105 kph and you'd see the road all broken up and you'd have to slam on your brakes to hit the bumps at 30 kph. And I had to really pay attention at all times for Caribou and Wood Bison standing in the middle of the road like they owned it. I saw quite a variety of wildlife up there. Along with the aforementioned, I saw Bald Eagles, fox, deer, lynx, moose, owl, squirrels and chipmunks. I think that's it.
So I get into Alaska finally and I'm all full of piss and vinegar. I am like a new rookie driver that just got handed a brand new truck to drive. I was raring to go. But I really didn't know what I was in for. Everyone that I talked to up there said I was going to be driving on the James Dalton Highway. Didn't mean much to me but if I had ever watched the TV show Ice Road Truckers Season 3, I would have never gone up there. Especially in the winter. Hell no. I had to find out the hard way. I get up to the last truck stop in Fox, AK and camp there for the night. I have food, full tank of fuel, lots of water, anti-freeze for the truck, windshield washer, etc. But clearly I didn't have everything needed to tackle this ice road. Like decent tires and proper snow chains for the tires. First thing in the morning I take off early. 5:30 am local time. I head north for about 90 miles on ice and snow covered pavement. That was pretty dicey but I managed okay on that. Then I reach the point where I go by the sign that says JAMES DALTON HIGHWAY. Whoopee. Now the Dalton is a 414 mile stretch of dirt road that is covered in snow and ice. I am there by 7:30 am and there are NO tire tracks on the road. Mistake number 1. I got up there too early. I get exactly 1 mile, that's ONE, UN, UNO, EINS, and I start going up a slight grade. Nothing huge but still a good pull. I get halfway up and I spin out. I hammer on the brakes. Tractor and trailer is locked up. Then the truck starts to slide backwards. I am totally no longer in control. The trailer starts to drift to the left. I try to steer to compensate. No good. I'm going backwards and starting to jack-knife and I can't stop it. I'm getting ready to grab my coat and bail out of there. To hell with it. But after a whole 5 or 6 seconds, I come to a stop with trailer just at the edge of the right side of the road and the tractor against the edge on the left side. My heart rate is going 900 mph and I feel light headed. I almost passed out. Well, it sort of felt like it. Never in my 26 years of truck driving have I ever felt that scared. It was a major TEN on the pucker factor! Now I'm across the road and thinking that if someone comes down the hill, they would most definitely smash into my truck. I quickly jump out in the -15c cold and start dragging my tire chains out and install them. Halfway through, this guy comes running up the hill and offered to help. He told me that he had called the south bound traffic on the CB and stopped them since I had the highway shut down. Then I didn't have the proper tool to tighten the cams on the chains. The guy says he had a few extra ones and he runs back down the hill to his truck and gets me one. He gives it to me and says I could keep it. Super nice guy!! I get all the chains on and my hands are half frozen and my left hand is cut up really bad and bleeding all the place. I jump in the truck and put it gear. I start to move but still spinning. I spin to the top and start to build up speed. Whoohoo! I'm gettin’ ‘er done! That is until I got to the 2 ½ mile hill. Fully chained and trying to build up enough speed, I got ¾ of the way up and I started spinning. I had all my chains on. What the hell! Now I'm blocking the frickin’ highway again and I can't go forward. My only option was I had to very slowly back all the way down the hill about ½ a mile. More nerve wracking drama! I managed to do it without wiping out or jack-knifing. I stop at the bottom and try to calm down before my old ticker gives out. I let traffic go by and another truck stops to help me out. I ask him, Les was his name, what my options were. He looks at my load, which was loaded too far back, looks at my dry-pavement-highway-tires, and my single tire chains. Les tells me I’ll never make up there to Prudhoe Bay with what I got. Especially with those useless chains I had. I needed “off road” chains that covered both tires together and had little nipples sticking out for maximum traction. My single chains were digging into the ice and gravel until the inside tire was sitting flush on the ice and thus causing the chained outside tires to spin raised off the ground. We call that NFG. No F$@#ing Good. So Les suggested that I drop the trailer and he would go and drop his at the bottom. Then he would come back up and hook to mine and take it up the hill, get turned around and bring it down to me at the bottom. At this point he was optimistic about me getting some proper chains and moving the load forward and getting me up to Prudhoe Bay. He was even willing to babysit me all the way up there since he was turning around and going back up that night. BUT, I was done. My nerves were completely shot. I was like a person that drowned, revived, and then asked to go back in the water right after. Um, NOOOO. I told Les that I was heading back to Fairbanks and calling ED and telling him that he was getting someone else to pull the trailer up there because it wasn`t going to be me. We even got into a fight over the phone because he insisted that I had the proper chains and tires and that I should take a deep breath and try again in the morning. I told him he was full of shit and that I didn`t have the proper chains. I was dead certain, especially after that conversation, that Ed was insane and he should be locked up immediately. So I failed miserably at making it up the James Dalton Highway AND I had missed making it into the Arctic Circle by about 56 miles. CRAP. I had also made up my mind that when I got home I was done with this company. I started talking to some friends about going back to CGL or J-Line. I got the ball rolling. So Precision found another local trucking company to haul my trailer up there and, I never told them this but, they used my trailer to haul a load back from Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks. Fuck `em. So I parked for a day and a half waiting for my trailer to come back. Once it did, I headed all the way down to Boise, Idaho. 2700 miles empty. Picked up 3 train cabs 10` 6`` wide. Ran home with Dan. Unloaded in London, Ont and then headed to the yard. Once I got there, Ed took me down to the shop to give me shit about our little tiff we had on the phone. And then proceeded to lie to me about how I cost the company SO much money when they had to get someone to haul the load up to Prudhoe Bay for me and that it was my fault I didn`t make it yada yada yada. Little did they know that I knew exactly how much they made for me to go up there and then I also knew how much they had to pay the other company. That with running down 2700 miles empty to Boise confirms to me that they still made good money on the entire trip. Asshole. So we yelled and bitched, well I did most of the yelling. I was majorly pissed at him. I couldn't`t believe that they were blaming me for the whole fiasco. After keeping me on the road for 45 days and sending me up to Alaska without the proper equipment and more importantly, the proper knowledge. So I told him I was going to take 3 or 4 days off and he said fine. The following week I sat without so much as a phone call so I had made up my mind 100% that I was quitting. I was done. I made some more phone calls and within 2 days I was hired back on with J-Line Transport. I`ve been there for 2 ½ months now and they are awesome. They are keeping me very busy and the pay checks are very good. Then about 2 weeks ago, I get notified that I am to be getting a brand new 2011 Mack Pinnacle Rawhide Special Edition! Holy cow. Junior guy on the totem pole and here they are giving me a new truck ahead of everyone else. Pretty cool. Here is a crappy picture of it. They just got it in and they haven`t even plated it yet so I`ll have to wait til next week before I get my hands on it.
So there you have it. I am all caught up. I can rest easy now that all my fans can read this short novel and also rest easy. So excuse me. I have to go out now and BBQ some chicken for supper. C YA!