It sounded like it was going to be a nice trip, heading down to Virginia and starting early enough in the day to get a good distance covered in daylight. Virginia is pretty, I’ve been there in the car. There isn’t an obvious way to get there though, what with the mountains and stuff, so I spent a bit of time mulling over the best possible route while I waited to be loaded.
There was time for plenty of mulling. I’d had to drive an hour west to London with a trailer full of empty bins, the company was going to unload those and then put more stuff on before I could head for the border. Since the best crossing for Virginia is at Buffalo, I would be redriving the hour back to Guelph before making any real progress.
My appointment for unloading was 3.30 in the afternoon. I got there 15 minutes late, owing to some shenanigans around load bars. These things are what you use to stop freight from flying about if for some reason the usual straps won’t suffice. And for this load, they wouldn’t. This was going to be a full 44,000 lb shipment of heavy bins full of clutch plates and they would be loaded half at the front of the trailer and half over the rear axle, to spread the weight legally. Something hefty behind the rearmost bins was required to stop them walking about every time you have to stop. Automatically worried at the 44,000lb bit of the conversation I’d already asked dispatch about the whole horrible bogie-sliding issue…
”These people are pretty good, they get it right, you shouldn’t have a problem.”
One less thing to worry about, good. But there had to be load bars apparently, straps wouldn’t hold these babies down.
“They should be in the trailer from the last trip.”
“I can’t see them, it’s full of bins. Can I assume they’re at the front?”
“They probably are but we shouldn’t take any chances, do you know where we keep them?”
“I’ll meet you outside and show you.”
:Can you show me how they work as well?”
Back to the maps. Culpeper, Virginia lies half way between Interstate 81, which runs between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachians, and Interstate 95, which runs through the Baltimore and Washington conurbation. Given that no-one voluntarily drives round either city, it would be driving some mountains or other but there are two alternatives there too. Highway 15, which follows the path of the Susquehanna River through the top end of the Appalachians, or Interstate 79 through some foothills of the Allegheny mountain range south to Pittsburgh and then the Pennsylvania Turnpike east across the Appalachians. Highway 15 would be bendier, the Turnpike would be uppier and downier, I thought. Possibly.
But plenty of time is finite and after I’d been waiting three hours I began to fret. I had until 3.30 the following afternoon to get to Culpeper, it was going to be a slow drive, I had to fit in a legal sleep break somewhere so I needed to be heading for the border, now. The unloading began. The guy must have been being paid by the hour, as I’ve never seen a trailer empty out so slowly. He found the errant load bars though, which meant I’d not needed to collect up the extras. I fitted them anyway, here and there along the trailer, it seemed more sensible to have them fixed to the walls than flying about loose. I finally drove out of there four and a half hours after arriving. The sun was going down. If there’s one thing that puts me in a grump it’s sitting about watching the daylight fade, knowing that I could have driven in daylight but now I will drive in the dark instead.
This was a tiny rest area. Big scary red ‘no-parking’ signs littered the on-ramp and the legal bays were full. Big scary ‘no parking’ signs littered the off-ramp. There was just about room for one truck between where the signs stopped and the ramp ended. It would have to do. I slept bady.