Travel America (TA) Truck Stop, Interstate 90, exit 35, Harborcreek, PA, April 13, 2017
Every time I come to Upstate New York, I wind up driving my big honkin’ truck down narrow country lanes through small towns to get to a distribution center. In one sense it is logical to put these near small towns to provide local employment. On the other hand, it does tend to attract big honkin’ trucks to rumble through your nice, quiet little village.
One of dozens of small towns traversed daily by Big Honkin’ Trucks
There are other sights to see along the country roads that don’t show up on Interstates:
No doubt there is some reason that this fire plug requires an antenna.
It was one of many such.
I spotted more examples of the Utica Shale. You may recall that this is a geological formation that contains enough oil and natural gas to make New York State rich beyond the dreams of avarice. Seriously, the Utica is just one of three such reservoirs in this area. All of them are shallow and richly endowed with hydrocarbons. (Once again, anyone who tells you that hydrocarbons are “evil” is misinformed or a liar. And, yes – I can back that up with the proof that those people always demand from others but never – repeat never – provide for their own viewpoints.)
The Utica Shale, near Utica
Pennsylvania has a bucket in each hand and is headed for the well. New York has taken a Vow of Poverty, however. Instead of oil and gas operations, they prefer big eyesores called windmills that collectively kill many thousands of large protected birds annually while providing very expensive and unreliably intermittent electrical power.
Windmills that will be functionless, abandoned relics in 20 years, sitting atop Centuries of oil and gas that is being ignored.
Waiting for a Door, Shipper’s Yard, Stratford, Ontario, April 13, 2017
I was seeing Interstate 90 for the fourth time in as many weeks. The Great Adventure was becoming just a bit “routine”. But, before I could get to Joliet, Illinois, a call came. The question is: Would you swap for an empty trailer in Pennsylvania and take it to Ontario for a load to Texas?
Why, yes, that would be OK. (Make it casual…Don’t let them know that you want it.) There are a few forms to fill out, then they tell me to launch immediately toward the shipper. The appointment is for 2200, it was 1100 and only 4 hours of drive time away. I did get inspected at the border. Here is a synopsis of the questions asked:
Q: Are you carrying any drugs or alcohol?
A: No, that is against Company Policy.
Q: Where do you live?
A: Houston, Texas (I think maybe that was a “trigger” 😉)
Q: Do you have handguns on the truck? Maybe pearl-handled revolvers?
A: They are Ivory! Only a New Orleans Pimp would carry pearl handled revolvers!
Okay, okay – he didn’t ask about pearl-handles and I didn’t quote Patton to him.
Actual A: No Sir.
Q: Do you have any at home? (No, really! He asked that!)
A: No sir, no handguns at home.
Q: What about rifles?
I was tempted to tell him “None of your business”, but I refrained. So, I answered candidly and honestly. And he sent my truck to be strip-searched. The inspector asked me where I got the trailer. I don’t think he liked it when I told him I traded a loaded trailer for an empty in Pennsylvania. I waited in the “tank” with 5 other delinquents, while they went over the tractor cab and the interior of the empty trailer. I still managed to get out in only 40 minutes.
The border crossing at Buffalo/Port Erie. Niagara Falls is just another example of Majesty Passed By.
Speed limits are all in kilometers per hour. The road markers are also metric. No problem – been there and done that in South America. I wrote my trailer height in meters (4.140) on the windshield with dry-erase marker. To no avail – they don’t post clearances for the underpasses, anyway.
The crossing is very near Niagra Falls but all I saw was a really fast current under the bridge on the Niagra River. Lake Ontario was visible from the highway for a while.
I saw vineyards, which surprised me. It looks like the vines are pruned back severely this Spring. I reckon that is in response to the freezing Winter and it must be a very short growing season. I’ll predict the demise of viticulture in Canada, as I did for New York. Write it down for twenty years from now so you can tell people, “You know, there is this eccentric old guy who predicted the cold climate we have now. He called it “The end of the Holocene Climate Optimum””.
Ontario Vineyards, before the demise of the Holocene.
Flying J, Highway 402, exit 25 Sarnia, Ontario, April 14, 2017
It began in the cold, still darkness in Ontario, creeping through Stratford and obeying metric speed limits. If you drive in Canada, just remember…drop the zero and multiply by six. It is not exact, but close enough, eh?
This morning, we dealt with paperwork and mumbling phone clerks and supposedly got the clearance to leave Canada with this load. I faxed stuff to the “Broker” and called the mumbler to confirm. I would repeat what I thought he said and ask if he actually said that. He would them mumble something else.
I think I am waiting for a satellite message that all is well. Everybody I have spoken to at Purgatory either has to ask someone else for the answer or speaks in acronyms like this, “Is that a PARS or a PACE?”.
I sent the canned message for Canada exit again in hopes that would stir up something. Now, I cannot get a human being to answer a phone in Purgatory. It is Good Friday and I reckon they are all Good Catholics today. I have been at this truck stop for most of two hours waiting for something – I’m not sure what. In a little while, it will be 0800 in Purgatory and I’ll call in the vague hope that someone will actually answer a phone in person. After that fails, I will leave anyway and take my chances at the border.
Love Truck Stop Interstate 69, exit 264, Marion, Indiana, April 15, 2017
This will be another Mad Rush make the appointment. No spare moments for the next 27 hours.
I was stopped at the border and sent off to have my truck X-Rayed. The paperwork did not arrive, probably because I was crossing in Port Huron and the papers said Detroit because that’s what they told me. Note: don’t believe what “they” tell you.
“See that Barn?”, Says the Agent who bitched about me setting my airbrakes.
“Yes Sir.”, Says the driver who did not want his truck to roll away.
“Drive over there and get your truck X-rayed”
Did that, parked and got out to walk to the barn, since no one was visible.
Suddenly visible Agent in body armor says, “Where do you think you’re going?”
“To that barn, as instructed, Sir”
“Drive to the stop sign over there and wait.”
This is frequently how it goes at border crossings, but I lost my fear of them long ago. I just answer questions and do what they say – even when it’s vague or wrong.
The X-Ray is a truck with a big boom that hold a Source aimed at a receiver. I drive between the two and it makes a scan of the trailer. They look at the results and they wave me on to park and go inside to pay $13.05 while others hunt down the paperwork.
Port Huron – it is not Detroit
There is a bridge before that where I hope I got a few pictures of Lake Huron. This completes my list of Great Lakes I have gazed upon. It all started with Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota in 1972. That was an Explorer Scout trip to spend a week canoeing in the Lake country at the Northern extreme of the country and into Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park. That same trip found us later in Chicago where I saw Lake Michigan for the first time.
The last three have all been in the past three weeks. Erie on the run from Avon, New York to Boone, Iowa, as I was passing through Cleveland. Then Ontario and Huron on this trip to Stratford. Pictures:
Lake Erie, near Cleveland
Lake Ontario in…Ontario
Lake Huron, approaching the bridge to Port Huron border crossing. None of the photos were great. This one is the best of the bunch.
Loves Truck Stop, Interstate 35, exit 473, Denton, Texas
I came here because it is near the receiver for the Canada load of truck springs. I have like no time left on my eight day clock which means I am stranded here until midnight. I was happy to find a Loves because I have shower credits for same.
It turns out that this particular Loves has no showers.
Over the course of a typical day, a medley of roadside tableaus present themselves so rapidly and so briefly that I have little chance of capturing their images. On the way back from Ontario, passing through Missouri I spotted two early-model (1962?) Chevrolet Corvair Monzas sitting by the roadside in Missouri on Interstate 44, near mile marker 208. Despite being “out in the weather” they looked in fair condition. I take it they were not abandoned, but they did not have “for sale” signs, either. Collectors would kill for these.
File photo of a 1962 Corvair – The ones I saw were not so pristine, but still in reasonable condition.
Just down the road (mile 203) is a field with South American llamas. They were far away, but did not seem to be alpacas and definitely not vicunas or guanacos. What’s the difference?
The difference. The llamas I saw in Missouri were pure white and not as “fluffy” as alpacas.
I saw many alpacas and llamas in South America. In Bolivia they wear colorful “earrings” instead of brandings. So do the cattle. We used to make fun of the “sissy bulls” – from a safe distance, of course.
I understand that sheep ranchers use llamas as guards. Apparently, llamas will kick the “daylights” out of wolves.
Over The Road,