Thursday, May 14, 2009

My mentor/training trip with H&R transport

When I first got to H&R transport, I was still a little green so before I was cut loose I needed to go onto a training run. We'll call him Chuck, so Chuck picks me up in Lethbridge with our loaded trailer behind him and tells me we're off to Dallas with a load of meat. Yipee! as this will be my first meat load, and I get to see in person how the paperwork and meat inspection goes down. He has me drive across the border and present the paperwork and inward cargo manifest (yes, one of them, its february of 2003) and run 'er up the hill to the I-264. I find out first hand that these guys are grumps and I'll find out in the months to come that the I-47 is a much friendlier place. Anyways, the load is a skip and I take 'er to Great Falls where I'm instructed to take the 10th Ave. exit and follow hwy MT3 into Billings, he wakes up to show me how to get to the I-90 via airport road on top of the hill and I pull her into the J to fuel and to switch up.

He drives to the Rip Griffin in Limon,CO and has me take over, and I cant believe its 75F outside! I had hardly any sleep as this sleeping while moving thing was new to me. I start driving down the US 287 and I feel tired already, but the sun is out so I keep rolling, I get into Springfield,CO and it starts to snow right thru Oklahoma and as far as Dumas,TX. By now it's getting dark and my eyes are very heavy. I pull 'er thru into Amarillo, fuel up and switch.

Yah! I'm able to sleep! We're in Dallas before I can say huh? and we wait until morning to unload. He has me back it up into the dock, so tight that I had to scissor it in back and forth about 30 times, after 4o minutes I'm finally in! He makes me feel better saying it would have taken him the same amount of time, but I think he was just being nice. We pay the lumpers 200 bucks and it's unloaded in 1 hour. And then it started to snow, hard! We take it towards Austin but the highway gets shut down as we pull into Waco, luckily we find a spot in the J and we go in for a bite to eat. 7 hrs later and 2 feet of snow, the highway is re-opened and Chuck calls the shipper only to find out that they have shut down the plant until monday morning because of the snow, it is saturday now :(. They'd rather have it melt then pay someone to take it away. Anyways so it was a boring weekend, We get into Austin, drop our trailer, pick up our loaded one and are told by dispatch that we have 44 hours to get it into Calgary. No prob! He starts and gets it all the way into Lamar,CO and switches. Its about 9 at night but I'm actually feeling awake.

I pull it into Casper,WY where the temp is nice and there is no wind! surprising for Wyoming! He wakes up and takes it into Great Falls where I proceed into Calgary, breeze at the border.

Dispatch wants me to be trained on two more runs, the Rockys and a produce run, so Chuck and I head off to Vancouver with some empty milk crates destined for Abbotsford. Run there is fine, he takes it to Sicamous and I deliver in Abbotsford. He then has me drive to the Delta yard, showing me the back road way (along the sky-train) and we pick up or new trailer destined for Medicine Hat. He takes the controls and heads out a different way back to Hwy.1. It starts to rain as we're leaving Chilliwack as we head for the tollway. The flashing chain-up signs are not on so he continues on the snow packed Coquihalla until he gets to the snow shed. He passes a slow car by getting into the fast lane and starts slipping as soon as he hits the snow again. The car passes us and he starts to signal back into the slow lane, by this time hes doing about 20k an hour and he stops dead! Blocking all 3 lanes of traffic! Hes fuming, and tells me not to get out of the truck, as the chains are underneath my steps, I try to get out the drivers door to observe how to chain-up and he yells for me to get back inside! Okedoke... So he gets the chains on and trys to pull forward to get the tires over and finish chaining up... no luck. By this time a snow plow has made it and him and Chuck are talking outside, all of a sudden the whole trailer is being ripped over to the shoulder! "What the?" I scream! Seems the snow plow operator had hooked up a chain and tugged the trailer towards the shoulder to open up the highway again, coulda warned me! So about 5 minutes later, here I am sitting, waiting when the whole truck starts sliding! sideways! I pull the trailer brake but Its still sliding! I jump into the drivers seat and slam on the brakes and she finally stops, I yell out the window for Chuck to hurry up his BS session and lets back this up into the shed so we can chain and go! An hour later we're chained and heading towards Kamloops, he informs me that while chained you should'nt go any faster than 50 k/ph, as he is going about 80, I keep my mouth shut... 10km before the first brake check we hear a BOOM! I look out my window and a trailer crossmember is falling off the trailer, seems that one of the chains broke and whipped two of the crossmembers off the trailer! WOW, thats force! We pull into the brake check and observe the damage, we're missing one double (chain), two crossmembers, and our fuel line for the reefer has been severed! We remove the rest of the chains and pull 'er into Kamloops Petro-Can aand find a place to get repaired.

Once repaired he has me take it the rest of the way to Calgary where we drop it in the yard. PHEW! Good bye Chuck! I then grab a ride with a random driver off to Lethbridge to meet my new trainer, I'll call him Larry. He has our trailer ready to go, and we're off to Nogales,AZ for furtherance into Mexico. Larry and I don't get along right off the get-go. He's a brand new trainer and hes trying to force me to cheat on my logbooks (I at this point am still new and think that I'll never do that...HA little I know) Anyways he drives to the border, no meat inspection as it's mexican bound. He continues to Shelby were we have supper at the Town Pump, I order bacon and eggs, and he cannot stop talking about how I am having breakfast, he is baffled by it! Anyone who knows me knows that I eat breakfast anytime of the day. For the next day, he tells two H&R drivers about it, trying to make fun of me, both of them agreed with me! HAHA! anyways...
I take it from Shelby down to Plymouth,UT and wait 20 minutes for the subway to open, grab a sandwich then Larry takes over.
Larry catches a mini white out in Ogden where it dissipates around North Salt Lake, this is where I go off to bed and fall right asleep! He wakes me up to show me the fun State hwy UT 20 that takes you from the I-15 (exit 95) to the US 89. It was up and down and very twisty, and I headed back to bed. Seems like no sooner then that he is in a Safeway parking lot in Flagstaff waking me up to switch and go shopping. He turns me on to rice pudding and I`ve liked it ever since!
I`m surprised to see snow in Flagstaff as I thought all of Arizona was a desert, but I was mistaken! Snow is quickly gone though as I head towards Phoenix on the I-17, Larry stays up to make sure i don`t loose control down the hill, which I don`t and he heads off to bed telling me which way to follow to Nogales and to stop in Casa Grande. Just north of Phoenix I`m awed by the cacti on the mountain sides, beautiful! I experience my first real big city traffic slowdown in downtown, but only crawl for about 20 minutes (later in life, I find out this aint much to worry about!) I stop in Casa Grande and we shower and do laundry, he then takes it the rest of the way into Nogales.
Every border town is different, in Laredo, for example, you go to the warehouse and a custom officer will come there. In Nogales, you go to customs and then the warehouse. Only one person per vehicle so I sat outside the gate while Larry brought it inside and got his paperwork and seal taken care of. He then came back out, and were off to the receiver. A mexican trailer is already waiting for us so we get unloaded quickly and we then head north to the Pilot. We head into the truckstop, grab a bite to eat, go back to the truck where we have a message for a load assignment for a pick in Yuma, El Centro and Brawley. Yah, finally get to go to California! (find out later in life that its pretty much my least favorite state to visit!) Anyways I make good time to Yuma, wait 7 hrs to get loaded (6 skids), and he takes it in for the last two picks which go down easily. He heads north on state hwy CA 78 and is running out of fuel, so he has to cross into Arizona to fuel at the blythe Flying J, luckily fruit inspection in Arizona is beyond that exit, so we don't waste our time with that! He heads back into California and pulls over at the first Casino on US 93/95 just before the I-515 begins near Las Vegas. We head inside, I spend 20 bucks on a slot machine, loose it and freshen up in the washroom. I then proceed to take it up to Tremonton,UT where I back up into another drivers chrome bumper, whoops! I go inside and ask the front desk to page the driver, he was upset but easy to deal with, we exchange info, and Larry and him try their best to bend the bumper back into a decent place, it looked ok.
After that Larry decided just to call it a night and he took off erly in the morning.
I was up for most of the drive because of the sleep that night, uneventful drive up to Coutts,AB where i took over into Calgary.

Larry passed me and I had a truck waiting for me in the yard that I took and hooked up to my first solo load, bulk potatoes headed to Hermiston,OR. Where I got to learn by backing up skills...

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