T'is September 15th 2016, the night before Harvest Moon and "I'm a rollin' through New York State."
Darkness has fallen but you wouldn't "really" know it. With such a clear sky, the almost full moon casts shadows at every turn along Interstate 81.
Travelling for a moment in solitude, I look in my mirror to see even a shadow of my own rig. It brings back memories of when I used to travel west...
Wyoming in January, with its rolling hills covered in a blanket of snow, (did I say that four-letter word?!) the night incredibly bright and lit up from a full moon, as clumps of pine trees cast their shadows. And hardly a soul around. Not even the antelopes.
The moon's light tricks a bird into thinking it can see well enough to fly; I hear a "thump" on the cab above the windshield... my attention's back from Wyoming.
It is so bright that one doesn't need a flashlight to walk with. But one must leave the city to enjoy it fully!
And with a harvest moon comes the changing colours of fall. From goldenrod to asters, aspens to maples.
These were taken in Joyceville Ontario.
This is one of the enjoyments of driving for a living... seeing creation in all of its beauty.
And with all the craziness of life, in particular on Canada's busiest highway, sometimes one needs to "stop and smell the roses" so to speak.
I was travelling along Hwy 7 towards Peterborough one Sunday morning recently. Catching up to a slow moving pickup hauling a camper, I was glad to know that the Madoc Tim Hortons was just up ahead; I would be able to separate myself from the pack.
As we rolled into Madoc, the camper's signal started blinking. "Oh oh" I thought, "They are also pulling in:-0
I must be quick to make sure I get back out onto the highway before the camper does!"
The camper pulled into the busy parking lot and parked off to the right. I on the other hand went the opposite way and circled the parked cars to face out, parallel to the camper... I like to make sure I don't get blocked in ;-)
I was greeted by a couple in their 70's when I climbed out of my cab.
"How am I suppose to get to the restaurant with your trailer blocking the way?" chided the driver of the camper.
I grinned and pointed to the underside of my trailer and said: "simple, just go underneath it."
Not opting to go that route, the three of us then went around the truck and strolled to the restaurant together. We parted ways upon entry of Tim Hortons to go mark our territories;-)
Meeting them again in the line up, the man motioned for me to go ahead of him. We chatted about where we were from, only to find out we were from the same neck of the woods.
I then ordered my coffee. Along with the coffee I ordered two cookies, which I gave to them, and wished them safe travels.
As I got back to my truck and settled in for my departure, the couple caught up. The lady came over to my truck, waving to me strangely; so I rolled my window down.
She then said that I needed to wait a moment as her husband was getting something out of their truck for me; said they wanted to do a trade for the cookies. And out came a bottle of homemade maple syrup from their farm! Yumm:-D
I thanked them but said two cookies don't compare to such a bottle of syrup...
(I think when I get home I will have to grab a couple of bars of goat milk soaps and go for a drive in the country) :-D
Driving Under the Influence?
Don't Do It!
It was Canada Day long weekend. I was on my way to Montreal with a second load which I had picked up in Ottawa.
The sun was shinning through puffy clouds that Sunday afternoon as people hastily made their way back home.
I had stopped for a quick pit stop at a truck stop, then headed back out on the highway, happy bladder in tow:-)
Building up speed while still on the on-ramp, I signalled my intention to get onto the highway as a group of cars approached in the travel lanes. Most were in the left lane but one remained in the right lane.
As I watched my mirror to see what this driver would do, I became horrified as he decided a lane change was in order. "There's going to be an accident!!!" I thought. "Theres no room in the left lane!"
The driver in the right lane proceeded to move over into the left lane and in turn, crowded the driver next to him off the highway, oblivious of his existence. This other driver, trying to avoid getting hit, took to the gravel shoulder and grass.
This caused him to lose control and swerve across both eastbound lanes (I'm not sure how this happened without anyone else getting involved as there were several cars) and next thing I knew I had a car under my trailer, just ahead of my trailer tires!
I immediately slowed down as best as I could; all the while trying to be careful about it. Watching him in my mirror, I noticed his car was still sticking out in the right travel lane of the highway!
Being concerned that someone would come along and clip his car, I proceeded to drag him a little further to get him off the highway. "Poor people" I thought as I moved onto the shoulder.
Once stopped, we all gathered to get this man out, assess injuries and call 911. Amazingly, he (being the only person in the vehicle) sustained what appeared to be only a small bump on his forehead and chin.
Giving him some wet wipes and water to drink, we all waited for OPP to arrive.
It was a kaotic affair, trying to gather info and watch for crazy traffic going by!
Several times I was instructed to go back to my truck and wait inside as passer-bys' drove "through" the scene of the accident. Yes I said through it!
Finally, in one last attempt to get out and gather names and info, I was informed that the OPP took the driver in for DUI.
A police report was made and after that, we were entertained with the removal of this car from under my trailer, which had to be lifted to pull the car out.
"What an interesting job" I thought. Just like on TV!
That last half a beer or wine chugged down before leaving may be just enough to tip the scale.
It cost this man a nice car, high insurance premiums and who knows, a job and maybe even a relationship. Not worth it in my opinion:-(
How I love the north!
Every time I head up there, a strong "call of the wild" causes me to want to get out of my truck, walk into the bush and go live off the land. It beckons me to no end!
But back to reality, I hook onto my load in Mississauga and head out of the city, leaving most of the traffic behind, once north of the Muskokas.
I have a tendency to run up and around Highway 11 as opposed to 17 when I head west. I have fond memories of my father's moose hunting stories on the Pagwachuan river, located east of Longlac. Between that and the rice pudding at the Husky in Hearst, I'm sold:-)
The last time I went to Winnipeg, it was winter. I have travelled this highway many times in the past but this trip would prove to be an exceptionally spectacular one!
It started just north of Orillia. Lupines were blooming along the road side. Pink, purple and cream-coloured blooms, in full display for all to enjoy!
This spectacular sight went on all the way to Dryden! I don't ever recall seeing so many blooms on previous trips. Did someone plant these flowers while I was taking a break from long haul? Or have I been driving all these years with my eyes closed?!
These were taken near Pass Lake.
There were many other flowers along the way too, dotting the landscape of the north with a plethora of colour.
My bladder was dictating to me once again that I needed to stop soon, so I wheeled into a parking area alongside the highway. After "marking my territory," something my little dog taught me to do years ago;-D, I noticed more flowers in bloom. What I thought was red clover turned out to be chives of all things! There were even wild roses nearby.
A trip north would not be complete without moose sightings, (although it would make for a peaceful one) and I saw two moose this trip. They seemed to be guarding the town of Hearst; one was spotted beside the highway on the way into town, and the other on the way out of town the next morning.
Or... was it the same moose? Hmm... Well, as long as they stayed off the highway!!
Life was good that morning. The weather was nice and the roads were devoid of traffic. The sun was out but hidden behind thin clouds. Breakfast was now behind me as I travelled my favorite section of highway.
Then, about 45 minutes into my trip, I thought life was going to end! A truck heading eastbound drifted off the highway and onto the gravel shoulder.
Swerving to get himself back up onto the road, his truck aimed at mine for what I thought was going to be a head-on!
He somehow managed to keep it all on his side of the yellow line as we met, and after I regained my composure, I wondered: Is this how one gathers grey hairs?!
The rest of the day proved to be more peaceful though, with the ongoing entertainment of more lupines!
Later that day, as I entered the Kenora district, big ominous clouds filled the horizon. I soon caught up to this "monsoon weather" which unleashed endless amounts of rain.
I was amused at every rock-cut I passed, as waterfalls spewed over the sides of the rocks like outdoor showers.
And after a while, all the entertainment of the day subsided; the land grew flatter and the trees more scarse.
And the sign read:
Welcome to Manitoba.
Where does one begin?
Well it's a sunny, spring day here in Pennsylvania as I await to get off-loaded at a customer. I take a sip of my morning cup of coffee in the truck, and reminisce about "the most precious cargo" I have ever hauled. A warm smile crosses my face.
Having spent most of my career life behind the wheel of a big rig, it was a bit of a blow to my ego to land a job driving a small 18 passenger bus. But a local job is what I needed at the time and so, I took the job. Little did I know what awaited me!
This special cargo that I hauled everyday lifted my spirits, melted my heart and gave me hope. You see they were seniors from a retirement home.
From the grumpy ones to the happy-go-lucky ones, they all held a special place in my heart as I drove them around to various places.
And so, when I think of them as I often do while on the road, my heart melts and a smile crosses my face.
And I think of how privileged I was to have been able to haul "a most special and precious cargo."