Ok, my apologies for not getting this up sooner but the last six days of our trip was pretty full. I had planned to take a few minutes each night and update our trip status on the website. No excuses, we just found ourselves whipped at the end of each leg and trying to sit down and post the days details was the last thing on my mind. Eat, shower and sleep was all I was thinking at days end. But we've been here for a few days now so I thought I would share some of my mental journal of our trip.
We left Banff on Sunday October 6th at around 6 am and had Swift Current Saskatchewan as our target for the day. After grabbing a quick coffee at Canada's favourite coffee shop we pointed our vehicles East and we were off. The Sun was creeping its way above the horizon to start what ended up as a beautiful sunny day for travelling. As we made Calgary in about an hour we found ourselves cruising past Calgary on highway 1 doing 110 km with no reason to slow down. With plenty of gas in the tank we kept the pedal to the metal and found ourselves cruising right on past Swift Current with Moose Jaw Saskatchewan as our new end game for the day. We pulled into Moose Jaw around 6 pm and was greeted by this guy:
After checking in we walked by this guy on our way to subway. I have to say that the Ramada in Moose Jaw was the best hotel we stayed in during the trip.
We were off early again the next Morning which was now Monday October 7th. Feeling very good about our previous days accomplishments we hit the road full of piss and vinegar ready to take on all comers. We were thinking Winnipeg would be a sizeable bite for us that day. Again we were met with and travelled in nothing but sunshine. In fact there was hardly a cloud in the sky. Can't say the same for the wind. Seems like we were hit with gusts as high as 60 - 70 km. We cruised by Regina and a little while later were met with the "Welcome to Manitoba." We had made Brandon by 2 pm and had our sights set on Winnipeg by 4 or shortly after. We gassed up and thought it would be good to find a hotel on the East side of Winnipeg.
We hit the ring road exit and within a Km or two came to a screeching stop. Construction had us down to a single lane and it took about 45 min to travel the next 3 km.
Once passed the construction zone we found ourselves past Winnipeg staring at a 197 km to Kenora Ontario sign. It was about 5:30 pm and we thought what the hell we can make it...
That was the end of the good part of the trip once we hit Ontario any Joy we had felt about the journey was ripped from our hearts...
It started when we arrived in Kenora, it was just getting to be dusk and and the light was going fast. We followed the voice on our GPS and took the first exit towards what we thought was our hotel. About 10 km after our exit there it was "ROAD CLOSED," "follow Detour 1." It was now pitch black out and the detour ended up being about 30 km long doing speeds from 50 km down to 10 km, still not sure how we made it especially listening to that voice "in 100 meters make a U Turn" she kept trying to take us back to the road closure. We finally made it to the hotel and when we pulled in; it looked light there was an all out rodeo and construction team convention going on. People everywhere, we were lucky to get a room since we missed our check in deadline of 6 pm they only had one room left, thank goodness. Without getting into to many details, let's just say that if you ever have to decide to stay in Winnipeg or Kenora, Winnipeg gets my vote.
Ok a few details, this was the worst hotel we stayed in during the trip. We could hear everything from the surrounding rooms, and I mean everything. The next morning I went to start the truck and passed 3 road crew lads getting ready for their day sharing one of those special, now legal, smokes, there was a another lad, guessing homeless, just climbing into the dumpster and last but not least I was almost knocked over by a young lass, oops my mistake, a young lad dressed as a young lass, barrelling outa the hotel back door. With wig in hand, she, err he was last seen walking hurriedly towards Main Street.
It was Tuesday October 8th
We left Kenora with no misgivings and no desire to ever return.
The fun was just beginning though. 10 min outa Kenora we cruised by a weigh scale with the lights flashing. Now I have moved myself using UHaul from Ontario to Alberta, Alberta to BC and never have I ever stopped at a truck weigh station, why cause I thought they were for, you know, big rigs... As I found out... they're not just for them big rigs. I could see the flashing lights in my mirror and had no idea where they came from, my first thought was it was an ambulance. I started to pull over and slowed and he did too. Hmmmm I thought funny why's he getting in behind me. I slowed to a stop and it hit me, he's pulling me over. What the hell for I thought?? Well I found out those MOT boys get a little pissed when trucks don't pull into their weigh station when there lights are flashing. I explained my situation and he ordered me back to the weigh station were the truck would be inspected. Feeling pretty comfortable with the truck and my weight on the truck I pulled into and on the weigh scale.
There was an operator inside and the lad that pulled me over got out of his truck and disappeared inside and I could see him walk up behind the operator. After a few minutes he came back to the truck and asked me to open the drivers door. He was checking the tag indicating the total weight allowed for the truck. 5001 kg it read. Now I knew that.
Ok Sidebar: When I was checking out moving companies one of the companies estimators asked me to take photo's of my house with all the stuff I was moving and he would estimate the weight. His price would be based on that estimate. He came back with a weight of approx. 6500 lbs. I called bullshit since I wasn't moving a Fridge, Stove, Washer or Dryer I was thinking more along the lines of 3000 lbs.
Boy was I wrong... The Ministry of Transport Officer (MOT) looked at me and said do you know you're 1233 Kilo's overweight? Jeezus I said, you're kidding me... the truck weighs about 4000 lbs empty so I was allowed up to 8000 lbs of furniture and according to my expertise I only loaded 3000 lbs. Tons of wiggle room. Shit I had 6233 kilo's of weight. Over 13,000 lbs so if the truck weighs 4000 empty, it could only mean one thing... my wife shoe collection is a lot bigger than she lets on!
The Office commanded open'er up. Let's see what you have in there. I slinked down outa the cab meandered to the back of the truck. I was shaking so bad I was sure I wouldn't get the key into the lock. I did, flipping the latch and removing the lock I pulled the locking clamp back and slowly eased the door open waiting for something to fall out. I had that truck packed to the gunnels.
What now I thought, head to Thunder Bay rent a U-Haul and offload 1300 kilo's and store it in Thunder Bay complete the journey to Kingston off load my stuff and drive back and grab the stored stuff and head on back to Kingston. That was my best plan in the five seconds I had to think about it as the Officer stepped up onto the bumper and scanned the contents of the truck. It was about then that his partner joined him in scouring the back of the truck. I waited with baited breath for the news. What was it going to be...
"Closed it up the Officer barked..." His partner, looked at me and said call the issuing registrar and get your max weight allowed raised to 7000 kg's and from now on don't drive past weigh scales with their lights flashing. To drive the point home he reminded me that I could have gotten a ticket but today I was getting a break. I acknowledged their generosity and stated my appreciation several times as I stepped up into the cab of the truck brought the engine to life and rolled out of there as a bead of sweat rolled down my cheek. I turned onto the highway, got the truck up to speed and wiped the sweat away and I managed a wry grin knowing how fortunate I was to get outa or there unscathed so to speak.
We trundled down the highway for the next 5 hours keeping an eye on the speedometer and the rear view mirror hoping it was the last of any flashing lights for this trip. We pulled into the hotel in Thunder Bay and I felt that I had been put through the mill. I can tell you that in addition to the encounter with MOT once we hit Ontario we lost our divided highway and that changed the drive significantly. You tend to grip the steering wheel a little harder when passing vehicles coming the other way, especially transports. Not to mention the lack of straight away highways in Ontario. It's BC all over again without the 2000 foot drops.
Wednesday October 9th.
We pulled outa the hotel, stopped for gas and turned onto highway 17 East. It was about 9 am. The Hotel was nice and we decided to take advantage of the continental breakfast plus with the single highway I was hoping to miss any school buses by leaving after they had all dropped their kids off for school. We had planned to drive to Kapuskasing and that was the it for the day... a nice light driving day. About 6 hours.
I could still see the hotel in my rearview mirror on the right side of the truck as the flashing lights caught my attention in the left mirror. Are you "F&%king kidding me I thought. Another MOT officer was pulling me over. Now what... He approached the drivers side I had rolled the window down. He says, "do you know why I pulled you over," I was about to say, "cause I'm over weight," but before I could utter a syllable he continued, "your left brake light's not working." "Should be I replied," to which he then told me to follow him to the Walmart parking lot just up the road. "Sure thing," I replied.
After arriving at the Walmart parking lot he proceeded to go over the truck with a fine tooth comb. He even pulled our a Dolley and went under the truck checking the emergency brake, wiring, tires, muffler, and who knows what else.
The good news was he didn't have access to a scale so it was unlikely that he would know I was grossly overweight. Even though I called BC and left a message with the registrar about my situation anyone who has dealt with ICBC knows they don't move to quick and to be honest I'm not sure they would even understand what I was asking for. That was the good news. The bad news was I had an electrical short causing my left rear lights to malfunction. The officer issued a repair order which prevented me from operating the truck on the road until the light was fixed. After several hours of trouble shooting I managed to get the light working although it seemed like it wasn't going to last. I took it as a sign that it was working good enough for me to get back on the road. It was now after noon and we had lost 3 hours but I wanted to get the hell outa there. So off we went. It was the toughest 6 hours of driving thus far. Not because of weather or road conditions, I spent the entire time looking over my shoulder thinking that every truck or car was an MOT vehicle about to pull me over. Luckily, we made it to Kapuskasing around 7 pm. We checked into the hotel and it was a rough night. I know has a truck that was grossly overweight and a suspect left rear light. Also, anyone that has been driving day after day knows that when you stop driving after six or seven hours straight you feel like your still moving. Anyway, we managed to bunk down for the night and woke early. I went out to reassess the tail light and decided to seek out a. repair shop. Luckily I found a GM dealer 5 min down the road and they had someone look at it right away.
Thursday October 10th,
Some minor rewiring and the light was operating again. I called Pam to confirm we could check out of the hotel and asked her to meet me at the gas station across from the hotel. When I arrived she was already there, I was pleased that he light was working but when I pulled up she noticed that the signal light wasn't working but the running lights and brake lights were. I filled her up and said, okay if we're lucky we can make Pembroke today. We had hoped to get to Sudbury where we had a room booked and I was planning on watching the Giants vs Patriots game with my buddy Jake but the concerns with the truck precluded any additional stops if we could make her sisters place in Pembroke and get off the road for a few days.
The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful as we made it to her Sisters Thursday night, although my fingers started to cramp up about an hour away from Pembroke and we had to stop for awhile while we grabbed a bite and stretched ourselves out. We pulled into her sisters around 8 pm and couldn't have been more happy and relieved that we had made it there and were only 3 hours from our final destination. We spent a couple of nights with her sister and left for her Dad's place just outside of Kingston on Saturday October 10th.
I even managed to get out for a round of Golf on Sunday at Garrison, bumped into Tommy MacKay who was out with his better half.
Since them we have been laying low, getting a few admin things done, checking on our Condo, which is being built in Gananoque. Even managed to run into Sunny McLean who never seems to age.
If you managed to read all of this congrats for hanging in there. Just want to let you all know that I should have some time to get back to managing the website. Although, I don't have internet access out at the father-in-laws I have to go to a Starbucks or Timmies.