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Old 03-04-2011, 09:47 AM   #1441
CruisnGrrl
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Originally Posted by squonker View Post
I was only up there for two weeks this year, but I got a few trips in and snapped a few pics too. I'll get to posting up the stories soon !
YAY!!!!
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Old 03-04-2011, 09:59 AM   #1442
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2011 background

Well....



So the background is that Boss called me a few weeks ago. The guy he'd hired to drive the Peterbilt that I'd driven last year didn't work out, and he was wondering whether I had a case of Ice Road Fever?

Definitely not! But, a couple of weeks (which should work with my various commitments here) didn't seem infeasible....

It's been a cold winter in the NWT and the ice was good, I heard. It is also a busy year - several times busier than last year, and everyone was going great guns. There'd be money to make...

I considered it, and realistically in two weeks I could only be reasonably sure of getting 6 trips in. If you can do three a week on a regular basis you're doing pretty well; 6 seemed quite possible in 2 weeks given that I'd be able to push it quite hard for just a short period of time, so I said yes. And I stipulated a return date, because otherwise I just knew I'd be stuck up there for the rest of the season!

I wasn't in the best frame of mind when I flew up, mainly because I wasn't sure that I was doing the right thing...I'd been quite adamant that I wasn't interested in driving this year.

I landed in Yellowknife at 9.15am on Feb 13th and by 11.00am I was in orientation. When that was over I checked with dispatch about the availability of loads and they said to call back in a couple of hours, so I went to the shop to put all my shit in the truck. Also got Boss to remind me what the unmarked switches on the dash did! Called dispatch back at 4.30pm and they said they had a load for me - come to the yard.

So I did. Because of my uncertainty about being there I didn't keep many notes during the first trip, nor did I take many photos (possibly none at all). It is fair to say that Trip #1 did nothing to improve my mental state, but that's a whole different post......!

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Old 03-05-2011, 09:44 PM   #1443
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So I went to dispatch and was told that there was a tridem flat loaded with 18 tires on it sitting at the airport laydown. The airport laydown is new to TCL this year, and this is the only time I went there.

No pics 'cos I wasn't really in the note/picture taking mood, but the tires were quite hard to strap down. Usually heavy equipment tires are a sinch because they have deep treads for the straps to catch in so that they can't slip. But on this load the top tire on each pile was for underground mining equipment and had no tread.

Got 'er done and did my trailer inspection. No brake lights! Remember last year when I was stopped by the DOT for having no brake lights? The problem turned out to be as simple as a breaker that had popped under the dash, so that's the first place I looked and sure enough that's exactly what the problem was. An easy fix, but also rather worrying. Remember all those electrical problems I had last year with no high beams or trailer lights? I hoped that they weren't starting all over again.

I'd booked a t-time for 03:20 which meant I had to be in the yard for 02:20. Time for a few hours . I was shattered actually, as not only had it been a long, non-stop day but I was also a little on edge, this being my first trip.





Feb 14th 2011


Into the yard at 02:20 to get my paperwork, then off to Nuna dispatch half an hour later as is required. Met the folks I'd be running with - two tanker yankers and another freight hauler called Charles. I'm just going to cut straight to the chase here and say that Charles is a dickhead.

The tankers lead the way, me in 3rd and Charles bringing up the rear. By the time we got to Lockhart at 12:30 I was ready to kill him. That little prick had done fewer trips than I've done seasons, and he was trying to tell me how to do the job the entire way. Telling me how to get to the mine and what to do when I got there. Arsehole. I am not the kind to tell someone to fuck off right to their face, but I was this close. Thankfully, while he was going to Diavik I was heading on up the road to BHP so I got to leave him behind when he made the turn for his mine. Good fucking riddance.



I've said nice things - and I'd imagine only nice things - about BHP before. I was glad when I found out that that was where I was going, and no matter how well I expected things to go while I was there, I was in no way prepared for what happened.

When you get right to the mine you take a left off the haul road, and immediately there is a stop sign. You go straight through and the winter road truck parking area is a hundred metres or so further on the right. But when I turned left off the haul road there was a pick-up sitting at the stop sign. I've mentioned before how important it is to come to a complete stop at all stop signs at the mines, but if no one was watching I'd have only done a Hollywood stop in this case. Now that the pick-up is there I start gearing down, preparing for a full stop, and a voice comes over the radio.
"Hey, truck with the tires. Follow me. Don't worry about the sign." He does a u-turn so instead of going through the stop sign I now turn right. I knew this was going to be good so I looked at my watch. 20:40.

They lead me straight to the offload area, and when I had stopped moving they immediately knocked on my door and asked me where my snipe bar was. I told them, and said I'd just get my gear on and jump right out to help them. With one guy on the loader to push the piles of tires off the trailer and two guys plus me on the ground to undo, collect, wind and put away my straps we were a machine! By 20:57 - that's only 17 mins - I was being escorted to the dispatch shack to collect my paperwork so that I could be on my way. Seventeen minutes, folks! Because I had a straight trailer I asked whether I'd be getting a backhaul.
"Nope, too cold to load backhauls" they replied. Good job too, it was well below -50c with the wind chill that night.

I went inside to eat, clean my teeth etc and then hit the bunk. Set my alarm for 02:00 to get up and wait for a ride south.


Feb 15th 2011



Left at 03:00 with a great group of guys. So good that despite the fact that I'd planned at stopping at Lockhart for breakfast, they said they were going to turn and burn and go all the way back to Yellowknife so I said I'd carry on with them into town. But dispatch at Lockhart told us that the road was closed to the south, although they wouldn't say why. We were to pull into camp. The parking lot was very busy.

We were there for just over an hour. I can't remember what the reason for the closure was now, but it was pretty minor - a spin out or some such. At Lockhart I ran into a bunch of familiar faces, Lex, Brennan, D'Arcy, The Hippie.

Made it back to Yellowknife at 15:10.
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Old 03-07-2011, 07:30 AM   #1444
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Must be springtime- daffodils and crocus are in bloom, there's pre-season baseball on the tube... and Squonker's back with stories and pics.

Thanks again

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Old 03-07-2011, 06:33 PM   #1445
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sounds like once you lost that tosser that was telling how to do your job things picked up.
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Old 03-07-2011, 08:35 PM   #1446
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That 10 km/h max would drive me nuts. No wonder it takes so long to make the trip. What do you do, put it in low 2nd and let it idle?
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Old 03-07-2011, 11:22 PM   #1447
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Originally Posted by CruisnGrrl View Post
sounds like once you lost that tosser that was telling how to do your job things picked up.
Yes. Very much so!
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Old 03-07-2011, 11:39 PM   #1448
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That 10 km/h max would drive me nuts. No wonder it takes so long to make the trip. What do you do, put it in low 2nd and let it idle?
I only do the idle thing when I'm standing on the porch ! 10 km/h is low 2nd at +/- 1500 rpm, or low 3rd at +/- 1100 and it is best to keep some heat going into the engine.


I might as well say now that I had some serious doubts about going up this year. It was only because I knew it'd be just two weeks that I agreed, and by the time I came home from that first trip I was sure that I'd made a mistake.

But what turned it all around for me by the time I left - and I'd have been happy to stay on by then - was the people. There are some genuinely good people that I only ever get to see once a year up there, and I thoroughly enjoy catching up with them again.

It is funny how I seem to enjoy the guys more when I'm having a good season. Often people will know me and I'll have no idea who they are. They'll tell me that we ran together a couple of times and I'll have no recollection of them - that's something to do with how happy I am at the time. In 2010 at Diavik I ran into a guy called Merv who treated me like an old friend. He told me that the previous year we'd done several trips from Diavik to town together, sharing stories all along the way and generally getting along extremely well. I have no recollection of this at all and it is because the year that happened, 2009, I wasn't having a very good season. (2009 was the first year I drove since the TV show and the first year that they started making serious changes in reaction to it). On the other hand there are friends like Charlie that I ran with in '05 and '06 with whom I can remember specific details about trips, loads and conversations we had.

Sometimes it is only once every several years that I get to see someone. As I was approaching Lockhart northbound I recognized Charlie's truck. I mentioned Charlie a lot at the beginning of this thread. My first year was his first too and we were both hauling for Northwest Transport. He is a great guy and we'd kept in touch on and off since 2006, which was the last year we were both up there together, but I had no idea he was going to be there this year and it was a very pleasant surprise.

And I mentioned Lex in my write up of the first trip. I've talked about him before, too - he's the guy that found a copy of 'Cola Cowboys' at his local library on my recommendation. Lex is an old time Yukoner, easily old enough to be my Dad and he is a righteous dude, I always look forward to talking to him. This year, after a particular incident which I'll write about in due course, I actually made a point of telling him how highly I thought of him, and I don't find it easy to tell people things like that.

I don't want to spoil anything, but the first two pics that I posted from this year hint at something that happened, and during that event I got to spend a great deal of time catching up with all sorts of old friends, as well as to make some new ones. It was good. I'm glad I went.
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Old 03-08-2011, 01:45 AM   #1449
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Often people will know me and I'll have no idea who they are.

That`s because you`re famous.
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:02 AM   #1450
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That`s because you`re famous.
I think the TV stars have that one covered! I just try to fly under the radar when I'm up there. (I'm only an attention whore on here!!)
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Old 03-08-2011, 05:37 PM   #1451
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A funny story from trip #1

One for you, galute - grader opening up Gordon Lake after a storm....

Grader on Gordon Lake from Squonker on Vimeo.





So on trip #1 we were heading north from Lockhart, between there and Mackay Lake when the guy leading the convoy in front of the one I was in (he's been mentioned in this thread before but I'll save him the embarrassment!) said,

"This is my second year up here and I've yet to see a wolverine, but there is one up here beside the Nuna water truck. That's so cool, I'm really glad that I finally got to see one."

And a second voice said.

"This is the water truck. Errr...that's a fox."



That's kinda funny, you know! Even if you have no idea what a wolverine looks like you likely have some recognition of a fox! There was a pause of a couple of seconds, and then someone in a group behind me said,

"Wow, that's embarrassing".

Yep!
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:36 AM   #1452
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Hello squonker ;
This is my first post but I thank you for sharing your experiences with everyone about your travels on the Tibbitt to Contwoyto . I was up there in '07, '08,and '09 but for family and health reasons I haven't been back.
Certainly enjoy the pictures and video and trust me there are times that I sure miss the road up there . This gentleman named Lex was he driving for Siduo from Whitehorse ? If he is he certainly is a real nice fellow and a pretty good poet at that ! Keep it up and travel safe !
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Old 03-09-2011, 09:16 AM   #1453
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Hello squonker ;
This is my first post but I thank you for sharing your experiences with everyone about your travels on the Tibbitt to Contwoyto . I was up there in '07, '08,and '09 but for family and health reasons I haven't been back.
Certainly enjoy the pictures and video and trust me there are times that I sure miss the road up there . This gentleman named Lex was he driving for Siduo from Whitehorse ? If he is he certainly is a real nice fellow and a pretty good poet at that ! Keep it up and travel safe !
Hello tmk! I wonder if we've met - I took '07 and '08 off, but we could have run into other in '09 (perhaps literally!!). Anyway, please don't tell everyone how I've made up everything in this thread and that it's no more realistic than the TV show

Yes you have the right Lex, although he doesn't drive for Siddhu but another Whitehorse company. His poetry is great and I'm going to be writing more about that later. I'm also going to ask him whether I can print a couple of his poems here, because there are two or three that perfectly capture the road. I've never been lucky enough to capture one of his recitals at Lockhart - would love to see that one day.

Cheers - thanks for posting!
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Old 03-09-2011, 09:40 AM   #1454
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I was leased on with Ventures West maimly hauled from Hay River = Snap Lake/ Diavik . We had a dispatcher named Michelle who had posted some stuff from camp in '08 and had Lex reciting some of his poetry which I felt was pretty cool .
I don't believe that we have met but you had posted a picture of my truck at Lockhart , tarpped in Mack on page 65 . That was nice to see !
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Old 03-09-2011, 09:44 AM   #1455
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Sorry, I didn't mention Michelle had posted stuff on you tube but has since dissappeared . And yes folks, our bud Squonker is posting the real deal ! History Channel hang your head in SHAME ......
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