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Old 03-17-2009, 02:42 PM   #706
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I drove home through the night last night having been told by the dispatcher at BHP that there were 18 more truck loads of shotcrete to be delivered. Great, I thought - another load for me, hence my busting a gut to get back.

But once I'd handed in my paperwork I was told I am done for the season. It's all over now bar a few trucks leaving today sometime so I managed to stay on until the end, which this season is quite an achievement. And this morning alone I was offered two jobs driving for next year!

So I got 19 loads in - was really hoping for 20, but many people only got 11 to 14 so I am not complaining. I was hoping to sleep for a month or so but I start work again in the morning for Carl's Dad. No rest for the wicked, apparently! My truck is already cleaned out, cleaned up and parked in the snowbank where it will live until January next year. I left the British flag on it (so that if I don't drive next year people will look at it and remember me!) and I also put the big ADV sticker from inverted on the front bumper this morning while it was in the shop.

Must sleep, visit grocery store, post office, barber, bank, friends....will be writing up the whole darn season over the next little while. What was first? Oh yes, sleep.....
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Old 03-17-2009, 08:10 PM   #707
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Dang Ben. Sorry for it to end early but glad you was able to get what you did. I can't wait for the full report. Good luck Bud.
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Old 03-17-2009, 08:35 PM   #708
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drif10
Been running heavy stuff up in Alert before, hard to explain to folks how the cold affects the equipment so much when they haven't lived it.

Case loaders that would normally keep the cabs warm down here in the coldest temps, can't even keep the frost off the inside of the glass up there.

Forget about messing with your hydraulic disconnects unless you've warmed up the unit inside a hanger for 3 or 4 hours.

Snapping the cutting edges off the bucket blades just clipping a chunk of ice, because the bolts are too brittle to handle the shock force.

The list goes on.
I hear ya, brother. In my experience -40c seems to be the point where it becomes cold enough that metal (e.g. grader blades) become brittle enough that you just don't want to use them if you can avoid it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vamartha
Ben - While I hope for your wallet that you get more loads, I am patiently awaiting trip #3! and 4 and 5 and 6 and 7......

I have enjoyed this report far more than two season of the TV show! I've been subscribed since the beginning!

You have a writing style that is truly engaging! I went back and read your ride report too - great job!

Thanks so much for sharing this part of your life with us!
Kind words indeed, and much appreciated! I should be able to get it written up in pretty good time now....

Quote:
Originally Posted by galute
Dang Ben. Sorry for it to end early but glad you was able to get what you did. I can't wait for the full report. Good luck Bud.
Hey bud! Yeah, but considering the season (in terms of economics and local politics) I really didn't do too badly at all. I got in the same number of loads as in 2006 and that was also a shitty season (because of the weather that time) and in general I am just about satisfied. Hey, I took this shot for you the other day (and there are more to come).
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Old 03-17-2009, 09:34 PM   #709
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Trip #3

Here we go....



Sat Feb 7th 2009. A few calls to dispatch eventually got Simon and I (who were trying to stick together and lose Art and Barry) a t-time of 09:20 so I picked Simon up (his car was in the shop) and we go to the yard only to be told that our t-time has now been changed to 10:40. This is the sort of thing where Tli-Cho really fails. We are all driving day and night with no set schedule and we are all very tired all the time. If we had known that we were delayed by 100 minutes we could have spent that much longer asleep or doing something constructive, but now we're left sitting in the yard in our trucks twiddling our thumbs. It occurrred to me that this changing our t-time thing was a little odd because usually they want us gone asap, and I suggested to Simon that they might be making us wait to pair us up with Art and Barry again. I wrote in my notes, "Please no". We had put some effort into losing those two and it would have been a shame to have all that work negated.

But that is just what happened, and as we pulled away from Nuna dispatch I noticed one of the Tli-Cho managers sitting in his pick-up watching us. I'm guessing he wanted to see whether we were using our chock blocks or not, but something was definitely up. I waved at him as I drove past and he didn't even respond. Hmmm.

I had 11 bags of duramet on a tri-axle low boy as this load. Duramet is a kind of abrasive material that helps rub away the kimberlite that diamonds are found in (I think that's what I was told when I asked at the mine), so it is used in the 'extraction' process, if that is the right word.



We were off to Snap lake again and we drove straight through, bar the now compulsory 20 minute stop at Lockhart for northbound traffic. At Snap Lake we got unloaded in good time and ran straight back to Lockhart for some sleep. Lights out at 3am (Sun 8th).

Up again at 5:45am for a bowl of cereal and a cup of caffiene before hitting the road. They have a full breakfast every single day at Lockhart and it is very hard to resist when it's free, but I never usually eat a full breakfast at home and thought that if I began to do so now I'd end up gaining a ton of weight and looking like....I dunno, a truck driver or something.

It was windy and blowing snow at Lockhart and further south the conditions became even worse. No mention of Barry in my notes here so I don't know what had happened to him - it was just Art, Simon and myself traveling together at this time. It began to snow heavily and both Simon and I had trouble with our wiper blades becoming repeatedly iced up and not working. Art saved the day here telling us that if we re-directed our heaters to blow anywhere but onto the windshield we wouldn't have that problem, and sure enough the change was immediate. Who'd have thought Art was good for anything?!



This early in the game it was a little ambiguous as to whether some of the hammer lanes on the southern lakes were open or not. There was one on the lake between portages 10 and 9 that was just so, and although I took it on this occasion Simon hadn't. Art wasn't sure what to do - he asked us on the radio whether we'd taken it or not and when he heard one yes and one no he hesitated and ended up skidding into the snowbank somehow. He was behind me so I couldn't see it, but he was stuck and began to curse up a storm on the radio.

Usually when anyone goes on for too long about anything remotely personal, or anything unrelated to the job, on Lad 1 someone comes on and says something like, "This is a business channel, take it to another one would you?" Simon and I had pulled over by this stage and were waiting for a grader which just happened to be working on that same lake to give Art a quick tug. Art was cussing and swearing and I was wondering whether to remind him that he was on Lad 1 when someone else came on and asked him to mind his language on that channel. Art apologized and I said, "Yeah Art - I'm blushing here!" Simon and I went to another channel and Simon asked me what we were going to do. Neither of us wanted to wait long for him and both saw it as an excuse to leave him and hopefully be rid of him again, so I said we'd give it 10 mins and then tell him he was on his own (which is quite acceptable according to the rules. He'd have had to drive to the next portage and wait there for the next southbound group of trucks, but that is fairly common). As it happens he was out again and under way once more in a very short time and the three of us arrived back in Yellowknife at 13:40.



Once there, dispatch told us to drop our trailers off and gave each of us another. Simon and I both were given decks which clearly had not been touched in several weeks. (Mine was a tridem step deck loaded with bolts of steel). They had so much snow on them that you couldn't even see what the load was and it took a good hour each to clear them all off so that we could tie them down. What a crock - there is a yard manager and he should have realized that those loads were going to be moved and had them cleared off. Shit, we even had to dig out the snow from infront of the trailers before we could back under them to hook up!

But what really pissed us off was that Art was given a van. No straps, no chains - you just hook up and drive off. Why should the nut job get the lucky break when our own loads were particularly troublesome? Simon and I both asked Art to help us shovelling to make things a little quicker - he was waiting for us, I guess, and had nothing else to do - but do you know what he did? Nothing. Oh, he lent me his shovel because it was better than mine, but that's it. Simon and I were not impressed. "That's the last time we ever help him", we said. But we were to say that many more times yet....

Once I did finally get my load secured and my trailer hooked up, it was all so frozen that the air suspension wouldn't rise. The mechanic spent a good half hour under it with a porpane torch heating the valves before it was good to go, and I was the lucky one. Simon had a flat on his trailer and because it was Sunday afternoon they told him he wouldn't be able to get it fixed until the morning. What horseshit - a company that size and they don't have a tire guy of their own/won't call out a mobile tire tech? Simon was understandably choked - what was he to do? Usually he could have asked for another load instead, but by now he's got two hours hard labour into this one and if he gives up this load that was all for nothing. And now he has to waste another 18 hrs or so until the tire shop opens in the morning. We had both hoped to be on the road by 10pm that night, but now he would be a good twelve hours behind me.

And there's something else to consider. I had taken what, 2.5 hrs sleep the previous night? I've now driven home, spent two hours shovelling snow that shouldn't have bene there in the first place, and lying on the ground under a trailer in yet more snow and I was bushed yet dispatch expects me to just say, "Get me outta here as soon as you can". From Yellowknife it is 8 hrs drive to Lockhart so I have to be good for that journey before I leave and they seem to either not understand that, or simply not care. I didn't write down what time it was now but likely it was 4 pm or so, so I told dispatch I was going to sleep and would call them later. I decided to sleep until midnight and get up then to make the call.

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Old 03-17-2009, 11:56 PM   #710
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Nice writing up, sitting on the fence here

Great story, unprepared people for extreme conditions, need to depend only on yourself, taking care of the loads, personal exaustion, cooperating with your friend, keeping the company happy, binding by the rules etc. Hard work squonker.
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Old 03-18-2009, 08:56 AM   #711
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Heh. I've had the same problems with dispatch too. Sometimes it feels like they expect us to run 26.5 hrs a day and sleep only during long straight stretches on the highway
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Old 03-18-2009, 06:38 PM   #712
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Jesus, and I thought my job sucked and my boss was an asshole...oh wait, I work for myself. Never mind... Keep it up Ben. I dream of hammer lanes and ravens flying next to me everytime I read a new bit. Thanks again!!!
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Old 03-18-2009, 08:12 PM   #713
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I'm so frustrated tonight! Last night, being the day I was done on the ice, I wanted to go for a beer until I realized that it was St. Paddy's day and the bars would be chock-a-block full of people getting drunk on green beer. I wanted a quiet beer with friends, not a big night out (I had been up all the night before, too) so I arranged to meet a friend this evening for wings and beer instead. Wing night at Surly Bob's Sports Bar is something I try to do as often as possible. I told Elaine I'd call when I finished work and then had to put in a ten hour day driving a 1981 piece of shit dump truck hauling snow. Beginning to wonder whether I'm going to regret telling Al I'd work for him for a while (although the $$ will be nice). Actually, scratch that - I should be grateful to have any work at all right now, and I wish everyone else was as lucky.

Anyway, at the end of a ten hour day I'm now prepared to kill for a beer and wings so I call Elaine and she's not answering her phone. Not to be outdone I thought I'd head to Surly's alone and sit at the bar chatting to Keith, who is a friend of mine from when we used to work at the CBC together. But I poked my head in the door and there wasn't room for a single other person in the place so once again I am home cooking for myself and drinking tea. Not a big deal, only I figured I deserved a meal out and I don't like to drink beer at home alone (although if I had any I'd be well into it by now, I have to say!)

Ok, bitch session over. Thanks for listening!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gefr
Great story, unprepared people for extreme conditions, need to depend only on yourself, taking care of the loads, personal exaustion, cooperating with your friend, keeping the company happy, binding by the rules etc. Hard work squonker.
I'll write more about it later, but I spent the majority of this season telling everyone that I wouldn't be back next year. It just was no fun this year for several reasons, but I later revised my scpheel to say that the only way I 'd be back was to haul fuel (rather than freight). About a fortnight before the end of the season a friend who owns half a dozen fuel trucks offered me a job for next season and I was still sort of so-so about it, which tells me (and likely you) a lot about how much I wasn't enjoying myself. Then yesterday morning, within ten minutes of having been let go my friend Peter offers me a job driving a second truck he's about to buy (says he's been after it for a few years and it's finally for sale). Then within 5 mins of that one of the managers at Tli-Cho takes me aside and says he likes the way I work and that if they put any of their own trucks on the road next year he'd be happy to see me drive one. Now I'm all bolstered by everyone's flattery and the fact that the last ten days were actually as fun as it used to be all season, so I have fond memories to end it all off on, and I'm second guessing myself.
Hauling fuel on that road is an easy gig, and pays better than hauling freight. Better still, all the fuel companies expect you to run legally. Although a freight company would never outright ask you to run illegally it is clear that they expect and want you to. (That never used to be a problem until this year and I'll explain why it changed later on, but get this...)

Hauling freight: lots of physical work strapping and chaining (then unstrapping etc) your load. No matter what the temp, you're out there doing it. Dispatchers that want you to go now now now. $abc.de per load.
Hauling fuel: no physical work at all. Dispatchers won't let you go if you're not legal. $abc.de + $200 per load.

And of all the offers I got for next year (presumably driving for Carl again is also an option) I'm thinking that the one driving Peter's second truck is the most appealing. What's wrong with me?!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mercenary
Heh. I've had the same problems with dispatch too. Sometimes it feels like they expect us to run 26.5 hrs a day and sleep only during long straight stretches on the highway
That's a very good way of putting it - I like that! They must be aware of what sort of hours we're putting in, yet they make you feel bad if you say you have to sleep before you go out again. The way around it is to do all your sleeping at Lockhart, I suppose, and come home rested. But I have a pad here in YK and I would rather sleep there, obviously. Plus, you could rest up and get home with enough go in you to grab another load and head right back out, only to find that there are no loads and you're stuck in town for 12 to 15 hours with no sleep to catch up on. No biggie for me, of course, but for the guys that literally live in their trucks for these two months it must be miserable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hardwaregrrl
Jesus, and I thought my job sucked and my boss was an asshole...oh wait, I work for myself. Never mind... Keep it up Ben. I dream of hammer lanes and ravens flying next to me everytime I read a new bit. Thanks again!!!
Thanks Jenna! More to come soon....glad you're enjoying!
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Old 03-19-2009, 04:00 PM   #714
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This is a great report,
your stories and photos are Amazing!
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Old 03-20-2009, 05:20 AM   #715
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Sounds like it`s no contest between general freight and fuel, plus I`m guessing you`d be working right up `till the death knock on the ice roads.
Would the fuel job carry over to the off season (on regular roads) as well?
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Old 03-20-2009, 07:52 AM   #716
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Good stuff Ben. Sorry it has taken so long for me to chime in here. I did a year with Schneider, but never had the extremes you went through, and never had a flat bed load.
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Old 03-20-2009, 06:28 PM   #717
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GSD4ME
Sounds like it`s no contest between general freight and fuel, plus I`m guessing you`d be working right up `till the death knock on the ice roads.
Would the fuel job carry over to the off season (on regular roads) as well?
Hi David,
Yeah so sounds like a no-brainer but for some reason I am thinking I'd more likely haul freight again...it all depends mostly on what next year is like. If the economy picks up and the mines want a lot of supplies then freight would be the way to go. The fuel guys usually finish earlier because once the fuel tanks are full, the job is done. A fuel job wouldn't carry over onto the off season but that's a good thing - two months a year behind the wheel is enough for me. What I have in mind is to accept Peter's offer of driving his second truck, but to ask him to put it on with a different company other than Tli-Cho. If it's a shitty year then likely no other companies will be hiring in outside trucks, though, so we'll see what happens nearer the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by motomac
Good stuff Ben. Sorry it has taken so long for me to chime in here. I did a year with Schneider, but never had the extremes you went through, and never had a flat bed load.
Hey Mac! Good to see you back here, bud. I'm so jealous of the riding you've already done this year.



I forgot to mention it yesterday, but I could have sworn I saw Hugh Roland, and today I confirmed it. A pick-up truck with his company name and BC plates was parked outside City Hall, and as I was passing Hugh was getting in. Hugh used to work for Carl - did for 2 or 3 years apparently - and Carl says that he has a sister who lives here so he's probably visiting. In the shop, Terry wondered whether he'd been kicked out of Kelowna too! (My understanding is that it is official, by the way, Hugh and Rick have been awarded a lifetime ban from the winter road for their antics.)
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Old 03-22-2009, 04:42 PM   #718
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The emu and the Aussie trucker

I was just emailed this joke today. Some of you who live down under may have heard it already, but it was a new one on me.

An Aussie truckie walks into an outback cafe' with a full-grown emu behind him. The waitress asks them for their orders.

The truckie says, 'A hamburger, chips and a coke,' and turns to the emu, 'What's yours?' 'I'll have the same,' says the emu.

A short time later the waitress returns with the order 'That will be $9.40 please,' and he reaches into his pocket and pulls out the exact change for payment.

The next day, the man and the emu come again and he says, 'A hamburger, chips and a coke.' The emu says, 'I'll have the same.'

Again the truckie reaches into his pocket and pays with exact change.

This becomes routine until the two enter again. 'The usual?' asks the waitress.

'No, it's Friday night, so I'll have a steak, baked potato and a salad,' says the man. 'Same,' says the emu.

Shortly the waitress brings the order and says, 'That will be $32.62.'

Once again the man pulls the exact change out of his pocket and places it on the table.

The waitress cannot hold back her curiosity any longer. 'Excuse me, mate, how do you manage to always come up with the exact change in your pocket every time?'

'Well,love' says the truckie, 'a few years ago, I was cleaning out the back shed, and found an old lamp. When I rubbed it, a Genie appeared and offered me two wishes. My first wish was that if I ever had to pay for anything, I would just put my hand in my pocket and the right amount of money would always be there.'

'That's brilliant!' says the waitress. 'Most people would ask for a million dollars or something, but you'll always be as rich as you want for as long as you live!'

'That's right. Whether it's a gallon of milk or a Rolls Royce, the exact money is always there,' says the man.
The waitress asks, 'What's with the bloody emu?'
The truckie sighs, pauses, and answers, 'My second wish was for a tall chick with a big arse and long legs, who agrees with everything I say.'





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Old 03-22-2009, 04:55 PM   #719
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Old 03-22-2009, 04:57 PM   #720
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Klay
Now we know where your avatar came from.....
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