Yellowknife ice trucking

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by squonker, Sep 18, 2007.

  1. Arctic Orange

    Arctic Orange Been here awhile

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    Squonker,
    Just found this thread, good adventure there. Without the 'nincomepoops' on the TV! Having been a Prudhoe Bay haul road driver, I can relate to the up's & down's. Thanks for the real story, I'll have to stop in more often now.
  2. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    Thanks man, you should indeed stop in more often (I'll be checking :D ). Oh, and I sent you a PM. Cheers.
  3. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    Hmm, just realized a mistake. Think I said that trip #4 was mining roof tiles, but in actual fact it was bolts of steel, and trip #5 was mining roof tiles. That changes everything, doesn't it?!

    Having come back from trip 4, while I was in the quarry getting my next load tied down, the Tli-Cho safety manager came over to say hello. Brian's an ok guy, a little moody perhaps, and he seemed kinda neutral today - not happy but not grumpy either. Perhaps he was trying particularly hard to appear un-affected, because he had some bad news. At the beginning of the season we'd all been told we'd get 23 loads each which I'm sure I've written about at length already. Brian now told me that Tli-Cho had just had a contract cancelled and that we'd all be getting only 15 loads each. This is big news because 15 loads isn't enough to warrant doing the job really. 20 is always considered the magic number, and to be honest if I'd known I was only going to get 15 loads I wouldn't have bothered signing up for this season. And I live in YK, but what about those guys that came out from Nova Scotia and beyond? They were in a really shitty situation. Some of them had turned down work at home for the experience of driving on the ice, but would have been better off having not come out at all had they known. And employers pay for flights for those out of town guys, so suddenly everyone is affected. I was choked and from that moment on my heart was just not into the job. It was as though someone had flicked a switch and I simply didn't care any more. Tli-Cho management seemed to think that we were all trying too hard to get trips in anyway (which, in hindsight, seems to suggest that they knew something was up because usually they're at us to go flat out all the time). And now Brian was saying that because we were only going to be getting 15 loads in there was no need to hurry. Just take your time and do your 15, he suggested, but that too is horseshit because obviously if I were to get my remaining 11 trips in in 3 weeks and then move on to another job I'd be much better off financially than if I took 6 weeks to do the remainder of my trips. I was really unhappy that night and did even consider quitting I admit, but soon remembered the 'code' - once you start you don't stop until it's over. I suggested to Carl that at least we didn't have to bust a gut any more and he said but you should anyway because perhaps they'll get additonal work at Tli-Cho yet and we want to be in a position to take advantage of that. I wasn't convinced, but in the end he was right.

    Shitty pic!
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    So Simon and I ended up leaving town at 5.20 the next morning, just the two of us. It was a beautiful day, I think the first really nice one we'd had all season, and I was in a much better mood than I had been the night before! We arrived at Lockhart at 1.30pm and stayed for an hour, just enough to eat and relax for a few minutes. Simon was always wanting to go go go and I had to push hard for those extra few minutes. I know from experience that there's no need to push it that hard. Plus I was disinterested now, of course.

    It was quiet between Lockhart and Snap Lake and we turned up there at 5.55pm. The day shift on at that time were a joke, ridiculously unorganized compared to the folks on nights that I had dealt with on all my previous trips in there so far this season. But we had a quick turn around nonetheless and were on our way again at 7.35pm. We arrived back at Lockhart at 10pm and set our alarms for 4am. I'm wondering now how I ever persuaded Simon to stay that long, but of course he didn't neccessarily do so. He might well have left sooner and I could have caught a ride with someone else.

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    I wrote that it had been a beautiful sunrise, but that I was still pretty groggy and didn't have an easy drive back to YK.

    Once home, dispatch told me to drop my trailer off at a local exdepiter's yard, and then when I went to hand in my paperwork informed me that there'd be no more loads for at least a couple of hours. They said that there were to be no more loads at all going in to Snap Lake until that mine had had a weigh scale installed and could weigh in every truck that arrived. WTF? Our weights are on all our paperwork, so the weight of every load is already known. Do they not trust us? And who freaking cares what the loads weigh anyway? Snap Lake doesn't benefit at all from knowing that, and anyway they're the ones who ordered whatever we're delivering, so they know full well what the details are. And making us go over a weigh scale and creating extra work just slows the whole process down - you'd have thought they'd want to get us all in and out as soon as possible. Pure crap.

    So when I called in two hours later Tom at dispatch said that because of this there would be no chance of a load until tomorrow morning and to call back at 6.30am. Now, if you were Tli-Cho and you had found out that you weren't to send any loads at all to Snap Lake Mine until further notice, wouldn't you be loading trucks for the other mines like there was no tomorrow? They weren't loading any trucks at all. Sometimes you just have to wonder. And they can't understand why we're pissed off sometimes. :baldy

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  4. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

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    New pictures:clap
  5. Mercenary

    Mercenary Mindless Savage

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    IMO hauling bulk liquid is where its at!:deal Nice pics John Fry.

    Keep it comin Ben. Lovin it:lurk
  6. gsd4me

    gsd4me 90% bluff

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    Hmmm, socks and sandals. You`re not a New Zealander by any chance are you?
  7. fatdr

    fatdr dirty dirty boy

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    Socks and sandals are official Canadian winter wear :D
  8. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    Nice work John Fry! I'm jealous that you drive a truck warm enough to be able to wear sandals, though. I know a lot of the guys on the ice wear slippers to drive, but try doing that in the truck I was driving and you'd have frost bite in no time!

    On the news this afternoon - Diavik has announced two seperate 6 week closures for this year, one starting in July and the other in December. A skeleton staff will be kept on during those times, but everyone else is effectively unemployed for those shut downs. The economy is to blame, of course.

    Wondering out loud: is it just a coincidence that the two mines that appear to be staggeringly disorganised are the two that have to shut down? BHP is always a dream to deliver to, and they've announced nothing.

    So...a 6 week closure starting in December will run into January. Ice road opens Feb 1st...other than topping off some fuel tanks and whatever BHP wants, will there even be an ice road season next year?
  9. gsd4me

    gsd4me 90% bluff

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    Yeah it`s a wonder that some places function at all. A lot of the so called managers I`ve had contact with couldn`t organize a piss up in a brewery, yet they complain that they can`t get good staff. A lot of people want the position, but not the job.
  10. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    Well, you have to look on the positive side and these temporary lay-offs are better than permanent ones I suppose. The company has tried to make the down-times coincide with when people usually took their holidays anyway. They say that 500 of the 800 employees will be affected. I feel for those folks - they earn good money but they'll still feel that 25% cut in their salaries this year as much as anyone would.
  11. Mercenary

    Mercenary Mindless Savage

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    Ya drug addled cracksmoker...thats hilarious!:rofl
  12. mchester

    mchester Honda Cult Member

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    At a bit better than the speed of sound, I'd think falling off would be just one of MANY problems you might have... :rofl
    And I'm shocked your socks aren't on fire at that speed... :hair
  13. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    Supertrucker!!!!
  14. gsd4me

    gsd4me 90% bluff

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  15. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    Here we go...

    I had a beer or two with one of the managers from Tli-Cho yesterday and used it as an opportunity to tell him what I thought did and didn't work this past season. It was his first year on the job so he had nothing to compare it to, but he did agree that it was a disaster and even said that he can not himself understand some of the (political) decisions that were made during the season. I also found out a bit of the scoop on next year, and a couple of things he told me I'm guessing he shouldn't have - but I'm pretty good at keeping secrets. It does sounds as though things will be much better next year, but there is one important issue that he was vague on and I think it was more due to his not understanding what I was saying rather than being so deliberately. We'll do it again some time and I'll bring up the same point again and see if I make him see it from the drivers' point of view.

    Actually, now is a good time to bring it up again here. I've mentioned before how the fuel haulers are required to run legally and yet we are expected to go 24hrs a day. It was never a problem before - we're paid by the trip and the road is only open for x number of weeks, so in order to maximise my earnings I need to do as many trips as possible and that means working 20 to 22 hours days every day. We knew that and accepted that, but this year with the RCMP and Highway Patrol pulling people over and checking log books it became a problem. If I were to run legally I'd have Carl and my dispatcher on my arse wondering whether I was on holiday, yet when I go that hard I'm going to be fined if I'm pulled over. The way I dealt with it this year is that I worked as hard as I wanted, and because the fine for lying in your logbook is about ten times the fine for driving over your hours I was completely honest in it and accepted that if I were pulled over it was going to cost me a couple of hundred bucks.
    This manager is saying that next year dispatch is going to check over our log book sheets as we hand them in after every trip, so the obvious question is what are they looking for? They can't give us shit for going over our hours when they themselves ask us to, and if Tli Cho is now going to require us to run legally then two very important things need to happen: One, they need to make that expectation clear in our orientation, and two our bosses have to increase our pay because we'll all get fewer trips in. I wasn't going to take it, but it does now look as though the fuel job I was offered for 2010 is the one I should be accepting.

    Anyway, I had logged on to write up trip #6....:D

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    It's Fri Feb 13th - oh oh! Because of the delay in getting loads I managed to get a proper night's sleep - in bed by 11pm and up at 5.30am. Shortly after 7am I was in the quarry being loaded with cement for Diavik, and Simon and I left town at 12.20pm. We arrived at Diavik at 4am and within an exceptional 40 mins we were both unloaded.

    When the marshall came to escort us back from the unloading area he asked us whether we were going to go, or whether we were going to sleep. We said, "Sleep" and instead of taking us back to the main truck parking lot where the dispatch trailer is, he took us to some back corner of the mine and had us park up on the side of a road along with a handful of other trucks that were already there. I was a bit taken aback because this was bullshit - he had dropped us off where there were no facilities of any sort. The fact that I had planned on cleaning my teeth before I went to bed is minor, but there was no food, no water and no toilet facilities here. Unbelievable. Talk about making it clear in what low regard you hold us. At least if I shut my dog out in the back yard I give it a bowl of water. I just shook my head and determined that if I decided to sleep at the mine again, that when the marshall came to collect me I'd tell him I was leaving, and then when I got back to the main parking lot I'd use the facilities before telling them that I'd changed my mind and was staying after all. Fuckers - I'm still pissed that they'd treat us like that.

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    So when we got up at 9am we called for a marshall to take us back to dispatch, collected our paperwork and headed out. We left Diavik with a tanker driver I recognised from previous years, and stopped at Lockhart on the way back for lunch. I noted that the ice in the hammer lanes seemed rougher than usual for this early on in the season, but that it was a beautiful sunny afternoon.

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    At the Meadows we stopped as always to clean off our lights before hitting the Ingraham Trail, and I noticed that I had no air suspension on my tractor. Must have happened literally as we were pulling in to the Meadows because it is very noticeable from the diver's seat. I didn't know whether it was ok to drive back to town like that and neither did Simon or Arnie so I used the satellite phone at Meadows Security to call Carl and ask him what he wanted me to do. He said take it real slow, but bring 'er in - and so I did. I drove in at around 40 km/h to 50 km/h and got back to town at 8.30 pm. I dropped my trailer off and called Carl, who was waiting for me in the shop. As I backed up towards the doors he opened them for me, then hit the button to close them behind me and walked around to the back of the truck to guide me in to where he wanted me to park it. By the time he'd given me the signal to stop and I had shut the truck off and jumped out, Carl had fixed the problem! There's a linkage system behind the fifth wheel which was hidden by the trailer, but he had seen it and put it back together by hand by the time I'd even stopped the truck rolling! A little embarassing, but he didn't seem to mind, and I'd know if it happened again...

    I think I was trying to take a shot of the moon here.
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    When I had been in the quarry to drop off my trailer I'd checked my cell phone messages and there was one from Pierre, who was my boss when I'd been in Eureka in the fall. He was in town for a night on his way back up north but by the time I'd parked the truck up (Carl said that as I'd been told there'd be no loads until the morning I should leave it in the shop overnight) it was too late for him to go out (he was still on Toronto time), so I went and had a beer with the girl I was seeing instead. It was Valentine's Day after all, and although I refuse point blank to treat that day any differently I know she was glad that she got to see me. I had told her before hand that I'd get her no card and no present, but she gave me two cards and honestly didn't care that I had nothing for her. Pretty cool! But better yet, I had already decided that even if I was going to meet Pierre for a beer I had better bring her along because I didn't think she'd find it very funny if I called her the next morning and said, "Oh, I've been in town all night, even went for a beer and everything!", but when I told her I'd thought about it she just said, "Well, pretty much like any other guy would have done, I suppose" and really appeared not to care. Note to self: this is one cool chick!

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    Oh, one thing the Tli-Cho manager I had beers with told me - I'd mentioned that I'd seen Hugh Rowland in town and apparently he and Alex are doing to another series, but this time in Alaska. I had heard rumours about their trying to do a show on the Haul Road to Prudhoe Bay so perhaps that has been arranged. Anyway, it'll be interesting if for no other reason than that there's no love lost between Hugh and Alex.
  16. YZman

    YZman Bouncing off Trees

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    Still lovin the updates Squonker. You have one hell of a job :D
  17. hardwaregrrl

    hardwaregrrl ignore list

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    Hey Ben, I went thrifting all day but no luck finding the "Cola Cowboys". Then I get home to find a new trip report!!! Thanks!!
  18. tommo2

    tommo2 Michiganee

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  19. GP640

    GP640 Long timer

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    I've been following this thread for some time now. It's good to read about the road from an intelligent perspective as opposed to a tv oriented one.

    Ice Roads Truckers is being shown for the first time here and I can't believe the stupidity. Watching those jackasses makes my blood boil. There are so many things shown that are just plain wrong never mind illegal. If I'm not mistaken, one jackass even took shots at another truck with a pistol. It looked like a .22 but even with a pellet gun I'd have had that moron off the ice for life.

    Few people realise that truck drivers are not all cut from the same dirty sack as those guys.
  20. tommo2

    tommo2 Michiganee

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    "I've been following this thread for some time now. It's good to read about the road from an intelligent perspective as opposed to a tv oriented one."

    At the extreme end of this there is alleged sociopathology as reported by the LA Times recently when they discovered that a unit of the FBI is investigating thousands of murders they suspect have been perpetrated by truckers upon prostitutes. And, some people believe this is a world-wide phenomenon.

    This outlawry emphasis is a concern I had about the IceRoadTruckers show. As indicated in the above example, albeit an extreme one, there are some very serious issues of criminal behavior in and around the trucking industry. And, this is nothing new. Many of us have had to police this situation as much as possible by promoting good, safe decision making by members of our trucking community both on the highway and off. I applaud and enjoy this thread by Squonker on ADV. It's a pleasure to read.
    :clap