Feb 22nd 2011
Left town at midnight with another Super-B load of cement for Diavik. Mmmm, Super-B
It was a hard run to Lockhart, and for the last couple of hours it was all I could do to stay awake. We arrived there at 08:13 and I'd love to have pressed on, but common sense said to grab some shut eye first...Mackay Lake was only 2 hrs away! I hit the bunk for two hours and immediately felt like a different person. Nice.
Many of the cracks in Mackay Lake had been filled in by snow which did make things a little better, but I still managed to find a couple of doozies! The weather began to close in the further north I went, so already I was making plans to get all the way back to Lockhart having been unloaded. If by any chance I had managed to make it to the mine without snoozing at Lockhart, I most certainly wouldn't have been able to make it back any further than P.49 so I was doubly glad for the chance I'd taken to dream some more about Lena Heady
I arrived at Diavik at 18:20, greeted by a bitter wind (I even underlined 'bitter' in my notes!) and the usual clusterfuck. Actually there'd been a crew change that day and the new crew wasn't bad, but the woman marshaling me to the unload zone did manage to pull a classic...
..At the mines, every vehicle has both 4-ways and rotating beacons on as long as the vehicle is being used, 24/7, and that would include the time the marshal's pick-up is sat outside the dispatch office, for instance. We are told at orientation that we are to have either
beacons. Some highway trucks only have a $20 magnetic beacon slapped on the roof and those guys might use both. Other trucks, like mine, have what are known as 'fancy beacons' 'cos they're...well, fancy!
So as I'm heading down the hill out of the parking lot following the marshal, with my fancy beacons on (as per the rules) which believe me you'd have to be completely blind to miss (and it's dark by now too), the marshal comes on the radio and says, "755, can you turn your 4-ways on?". I nearly choked. I wanted to say, "Have you looked at my fucking roof?" but thought it might just go down a teeny bit better if I simply did what she'd asked.
Here is how ridiculous this is. If a truck is coming towards you in the dark with low beam headlights on, and its 4-ways, the 4-ways are so much dimmer than the low beams that you have to be literally about 23.256 ft from that truck before you can even tell that it has its 4-ways on. The fancy beacons on my roof you can see from over a kilometer away, and she is worried about my fucking 4-ways? I shared a laugh about it with many people over the next few days and the most common reaction was, "Yep, they're different at Diavik"
I should also add that when I first drove this truck last year Boss pointed out the fancy beacons and told me that other truckers would even comment on them, and they do. Can I turn my 4-ways on? Gimme a break! Look - big fucking fancy beacons!!
Anyway, now that I've calmed down....!
I shot this video (on a different trip) while being escorted around the mine. It's cool!
Haul trucks from Squonker on Vimeo.
I left at 21:15 with Mark from Valley, who was driving a newer version of my truck. Nice. (But not as nice!) The wind was worse down south and Lockhart was full so we pulled over on P.44. We'd already discussed our plans and I was only planning on being there a while, Mark for longer. I parked making sure I could get out again, Mark found a spot on the inside somewhere.
Feb 23rd 2011
Up at 06:15 to head to Lockhart, alone. Well, maybe not. Literally 30 seconds before me, another truck that had been parked there pulled out. Cool. Until he went down the hammer lane at 40 km/h.
Made a note not to be behind him when I left Lockhart....
I saw Paul at Lockhart. Paul had driven for Carl with me in '09 and I hadn't seen him since then - likely because he hadn't been back since then. There is a photo of him somewhere back in this thread. Hooked up with Dale and Jim to head south, leaving at 07:50 having satisfied my growling stomach.
Got back to Yellowknife at 13:45 and was told to drop my trains. Oh, that isn't good news. Trains pay better, and don't get backhauls (much). They tell me that they have something pre-loaded, but if it's on a straight trailer I likely will get a backhaul...that means a long wait at the mine, and that in turn means I likely won't get a 7th trip in. Hmmm. So the backhaul, if I get one, will actually end up costing me big $$. But, I must stress here that dispatch was only trying to help me out and I appreciate that. Their thinking is that a pre-loaded trailer saves time over one that has to be loaded, and that makes sense, just not in this case! If it had been night time and Kevin was in dispatch I'd have asked him for a re-load on my trains, but I don't know Steve on days well enough to ask him. Oh well, it's another trip, at least, might as well go and find out what it is....
Down Charlie's Hill from Squonker on Vimeo.