Monday, 29 December 2008

It's at this time of year when people start to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. I was thinking of my past, where I came from and how I got to be where I am now and I would like to share a little of it with you.
Born in Motherwell, Scotland in 1963 in a loving, hard working, christian family to good parents (hi mum & dad) and Grandparents that had to struggle to raise families during the 2nd World War.

I have two younger sisters, Linda and Alison. My childhood was a happy one, although we did fight a lot, with each other and me with other people. We never had much and it was always a struggle for my parents. In the late sixties there were lots of new housing estates getting built, tower blocks and flats, Gowkthrapple, Wishaw was one of these and we moved from our tenement building (not quite like the one below but gives you an idea what I am talking about) with outside toilet to a brand new flat in "Gowkie", luxury.

Got my teenage years out of the way in Gowkie, trying not to get involved too much in the gangs, drugs, and bigotry in a typical housing estate. School was a bit of a blur for me and the time to leave wouldn't come quick enough.
1979 and at the age of 16 I left school and, due to my Dads job, in the August the family made a huge move (well it was to us at the time) to St. Helens, England.
This house seemed like a palace, a 3 bedroom modern semi, even with its own driveway and detached garage.
I went straight to work after a couple of weeks and have only been out of work once since then and that was in the middle of "Maggies Britain" during the Falklands War.
At 23 I was fed up with supervisors and managers looking over my shoulder telling me what to do and when to do it so took my HGV and the day I passed got my first driving job. I drove extensively throughout Europe and Scandinavia for the first few years of my driving career. I soon found myself, thanks to a friend, working for a very large tanker transport company.
I was with that company for a while but times were changing along with managers that were no more than University Graduates that didn't , or have the inclination to, understand the job.
I moved on and drifted from job to job, still mainly on tankers.
Great Britain was becoming a miserable place to live. Overcrowding, racism (the whites being the oppressed most of the time), violence and almost impossible to get around without delays.
We started looking at Emigrating with a number of countries under consideration. When we narrowed it down Canada became our only real option.
Six months after our first visit to Canada I landed here with a work permit and my wife and two sons followed about 7 weeks later after having sold everything. The rest can be read about on here, scroll down.
We are happy here with a life that we never thought we could have. The downside? Leaving the rest of our families behind, it's not easy but no one ever said it would be.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Had a few inches of snow overnight again so that meant more shovelling, this is getting tiresome. No work till Monday, wish the same could be said for the snow, at least it has warmed up a little, -18c (-27c with wind chill). Got to go, its snowed again.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Sue was back at work this evening so I decided to tag along for the ride. I took a few shots of the local streets in Steinbach while we were out.
We had a great night, and a late one, at Chris and Sally's last night. The first time that most of us had been together since the summer. Some very close friends as you can see ;0)

Thursday, 25 December 2008

It's almost over already. Jacey came around to ours at 08.00 this morning to open her presents with us and then they both went to Jacey's house to open their presents that were there. They both had Christmas at their own houses.
This evening we are going to Chris and Sally's house for a get together.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

I had some requests for pictures of inside the truck so there they are. I went on another quickie this week down to Owatonna, Mn about 45 miles south of Minneapolis and got back at 6.00pm Christmas eve. So all thats left for me to say is;

Thursday, 18 December 2008



Thought I would try and compare the last truck I drove in UK with the one I currently drive. The main difference is the length. The tank in the top pic was 35ft long but the one below is 45ft. Only 10ft but there is also a big difference in the chassis length of the tractor unit. It makes manoeuvring in confined space very interesting. As I mentioned in a previous post there are no baffles in the current tank but the one above was baffled and had 3 lids to assist in washouts.
The tank in the UK also had a hydraulic cargo pump fitted but the current one does not and relies on either the customers air or pump. The tractor units are fitted with delivery pumps but are very seldom used, I was talking to a driver that has been there for six months and he has never used the cargo pump or the compressor on the truck to make deliveries.
The tractor unit is fitted with a bunk heater to keep you warm at night without idling and an espar heater to warm the engine prior to starting on those really cold mornings. Personally, once the temperatures drop below -15c/-20c I don't turn the truck off or you risk your diesel freezing which then means you have no way of keeping warm or even warming the engine to try and start it. Most mornings you wake up with ice on the inside of the windows but I have only had my fuel freeze once (up to now) and oh boy was that cold.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Just a quickie this week so far. Left for Regina, Saskatchewan yesterday morning and got back home for lunch today. The rest of today was then spent with Craig while he bought, registered and insured a truck.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

My first trip for Jade Transport went really well. I left Wednesday afternoon, got to Kankakee Illinois Thursday evening, loaded and was back in Winnipeg Saturday morning with a total of 1900 miles. The top pic is the truck I am using just now and the one below shows Gerdi in front of me travelling through Wisconsin.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Orientation was completed just before lunch today. Arrangements were made for me to meet one of the city drivers, who only stay local, and ride along with him tomorrow to complete my training. When I arrived home there was a message to call Rick in dispatch. When I called he asked if I would mind if they changed the plan a little. Instead of staying local I have been given a truck and will take an empty tank to Kankanee, Illinois and swap that for a loaded one and back to Winnipeg. They don't know if I will be keeping that truck but for now I am in truck #155. I will be running with another driver for as long as it takes for me to be comfortable.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Fuel 0.759/litre

Orientation has been going well, although getting bored of it now. I am hoping that Monday will be the last day in class. The other driver on orientation has never worked on tankers before so orientation has been at his pace and I think he is struggling with some of it.
Most of the tanks are around 7500 us gallon capacity but the thing that really surprised me is that they are single compartment and don't have any baffles, prepare for a rough ride! The other main difference from the UK is the fittings, most of them are all cam lock couplings, even for corrosives. The reason for having no baffles is they only have 1 lid so it would make cleaning inside almost impossible if they had baffles fitted. One good thing in North America though is the shipper is responsible for supplying all the diamonds and placards for dangerous goods and the driver is not allowed to carry any spares.
Stopped to fuel the car on the way to Winnipeg yesterday and filled it up for $50, it was 0.759c per litre. That is now less than we were paying when we came on our research trip in January 2007. It was a little warmer back then too, -34c with wind chill last night.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Ok now I am liberty to tell who it is, I have made my decision, well had it made for me actually.
My truck is still off the road and I haven't made a cent since Friday.
Today I was to return for a second interview at 10.00. I arrived a little early to find out that I hadn't been booked in to meet the owner and he was already in a meeting. I left after being asked to return at 11.00. On my return I was met by Ian who conducted the first interview and he led me back to his office. We started completing some paperwork and when he gave me the application form for the benefits package I had to stop him, "Ian, are you able to tell me if I have been successful with the interview?". "Yes, I told you I wanted you here". "So can you tell me when my start date is?". "Yes, it's the 3rd December". "But that's today!". "That's correct, we may as well start orientation while you are here, no point in wasting time is there?". "erm, no".
So that was pretty much the way I started at "Jade Transport"
Little did Ian know that it was Sue's day off work and she was sitting outside in the car waiting to go out for lunch and do a bit of shopping. I had to go for a drugs and alcohol test so that was my chance to drop Sue off at the mall and then pick her up again at 5.00
Got orientation for next 2 days then should get allocated my truck. Then I will spend a couple of days on local work with a senior driver and then it's on the road again.

Monday, 1 December 2008

I am a great believer in the theory that everything happens for a reason. Last night I got a call telling me I wasn't needed in work till 10.00 today. At 09.00 I go a message saying it would be at least noon before I was required. At 10.05 I got an email from a company that I had sent my resume to on 21st and had been trying to contact the recruiter since Friday noon. The email was asking me to contact them to arrange an interview and road test. So, strike while the iron is hot. I called them and arranged the interview for today and the end result is a job offer with a reputable, privately owned tanker company in Winnipeg.
I haven't yet accepted the offer but they do operate some very nice equipment and with around 12 years experience on tankers I think I would be OK with that.
Now what do I do? Discussions are under way!
For those who questioned my decision to change jobs and leave Big Freight in the first place, the recruiter / driver training manager is also ex Big Freight, although not in my time there.

It's that time of year again and Sue made an early start with the decorations, shame about the cards and shopping though.
Had a little more snow at the weekend but still not much compared to last year, although it got a little cold this morning, -20c but feels more like -28c with wind chill.
Had a better week at work this week. Only started Monday afternoon because of the breakdown last week and I was finished for Friday lunch with 2850 miles covered, getting a little better although it will soon be 09.00 Monday and I am still at home waiting for my load assignment.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

22nd November

There are a number of things I need to tell you about in today's posting. First of all I have obviously upset an awful lot of people by my fishing and hunting exploits. I have received abusive comments, threats and just plain insulting comments. So to those nameless, anonymous cowards who won't even sign their name I would like to say;


This blog was first of all set up for family and friends to keep a track of what we are up to and as a diary. If you don't like what you read or what we are doing then the choice is easy, don't read it. Anyone is free to leave comments and it is good to receive these but from now on only signed comments will be posted. All that said I would like to thank the genuine readers and hope you continue to follow this blog.

Gary found out this week that he has lost his job and as from yesterday is unemployed. That really is typical of the construction industry at this time of year. As temperatures reached -16c (-21c with wind chill) this week there isn't a lot of outdoor work. So job hunting starts all over again for him.

Sue really is doing well in her job, what started as part time has turned into more than full time. The last two weeks she has done 96 hours. As she has now proved she is capable they are trusting her more and more, she has even been training new staff this week.

Craig is still working at Safeway, and also getting quite a few hours. He is still dating Jacey, been a few months now.

You may have noticed that I haven't really posted a lot about my job recently. I have also had a number of comments criticising me for changing jobs!!!! Things haven't been going all that well in this one either. The trucks and trailers have proved not to be the most reliable. In the few short weeks I have been there I have had 3 major breakdowns costing me time and causing me to lose money. I have been trying to get him to fit new tires on the trailer for 2 weeks. There is not any preventative maintenance carried out on the vehicles, the trucks get an oil change every 15000 miles and that's it. Last week I lost 2 wheel studs, the rest were loose and he wanted me to drive to the nearest tire shop to get it repaired. I refused and it turned out I needed 2 new wheels and a new hub, they took 3 working days to repair it. This week I have some kind of electrical problem on the truck, the ECU I think. I will be driving down the interstate and the engine will just die, I lose everything, lights, power steering the lot. Then it won't start, leave it a while, keep trying then eventually I get ignition lights and it starts again. I was on my way to Elrosa Mn this week and in a 30 mile stretch it done this 4 times. Had a shop look at it, clean all battery leads and terminals but couldn't find anything. Next morning it done it twice in a 10 mile drive to my delivery so called in again and was told to head to Fergus Falls and see how it goes. It actually went ok till I got to my load point in Fergus Falls, it cut out once while loading and once while scaling out. Was told to start heading home and see how it goes. To cut a long story short I got it back but don't know what happens next week now, I can't risk taking it anywhere, if it cuts out or dies during the night I still have no night heater, that hasn't worked since the second night in the truck so the truck idles 24 hours a day to keep it warm. We will see how this all turns out, winter really isn't a good time to try and find other work.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

16th November 2008

Still haven't had any luck on my hunting trips although Jason got a nice Doe on Friday evening. As we are not allowed to hunt on Sundays in this part of Manitoba I decided a little bit of practice would be good with a new gun. I was getting a nice grouping at 200 yards after small adjustments on my scope, so quite happy with that.
It has been snowing lightly for most of the day here and they are forecasting temperatures of 13c below freezing tonight. Roads could be a little slick in the morning.

Friday, 14 November 2008

14th November 2008

We now have another driver in the family, Gary. He passed his driving test on Wednesday at the first attempt. Now we have a house full of drivers it's getting harder to get the car when I need it, you have to be up early, "first up best dressed" as they say.
The posting about hunting certainly caused some reaction. Some will be pleased to hear that I didn't get anything when I went out on Tuesday but I will be trying again today.
For those interested here is an article taken from "??????" magazine.
Article removed at the request of the editor of the magazine, although I fail to understand why.

Monday, 10 November 2008

10th November 2008

Thought this comment below was worth seeing on the front page rather than hiding in the comments on my blog. To read it as posted please see the comments on 8th November.

"Hi Dave, I have followed your blog since you left Lewis Tankers way back when. You have had a great adventure which is ongoing and I wish you and your family the best for the future. I have to say how disappointed I am in you with your wish to go Deer Hunting. I did not ever think from all your writings that you would kill for killings sake or for the fun of it? Fishing is one thing as they can be thrown back but a Deer? When you get bored what next Dave? Moose, Bear endangered species?You are working at your third job since arriving in Canada and I am of the opinion you did Big Freight as much of an injustice as they did you and the same seems to be of HyTek. I wondered if those accounts would be on your cv for prospective employers of the future?I have read other accounts of drivers working and living in Canada and yours was one of the best....I now have to have a rethink or give your blog a miss if your gun exploits and photos are included. I guess others may be of the same thoughts and feelings as myself."
09 November 2008 15:22

Thank you for your comments Anonymous, yes I call you that because you happened to forget to sign your posting. My family would also like to thank you for your best wishes, now that is out of the way I would like to respond to your comments and I will deal with them one at a time.

1. You know absolutely nothing about me or my family or even our situation here in Canada apart from what you read here so how can you claim to know the reason for me deciding to go hunting. As for killing for killing sake or for pleasure, wrong again, it will put food on our table and that of many other people.

2."Get bored of it", if I do get bored of it then I will find another way of enjoying the great outdoors. "Moose, bear, endangered species" Well the first two are hunted legally but not the last one, sorry to disappoint you. Yes I may well hunt those two named species.

3. Please explain what my employment history has to do with you disagreeing to my hunting and more to the point what has it got to do with you at all. Just for the record, if I am unhappy at work or treated unfairly then I will move on and yes they will all be on my cv I have nothing to hide. The sad, unhappy ones are the ones that stick at jobs they don't like and why? What for?
I won't so get over it.

All you have done here is prove how narrow minded some people can be. Do you ever, or have, eaten meat? Man has been killing animals for different reasons since the beginning of time. In case you may be the slightest bit interested they actually call it harvesting here in North America, ask yourself why.
I am not going to waste my time checking out statistics but if you care so much do it for yourself but check out how much damage is caused every year by these animals, to crops, houses, land, property, vehicles. I would even go so far to suggest that there are as many insurance claims for vehicle damage due to wild animals than by other drivers.
So sorry that you will be giving my blog a miss but my blog is here for those that are interested in us as a family, who we are, what we are up to and where we are going.
Have a good week and I am going hunting tomorrow. I will let you know how I get on.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

8th November 2008

Just last week I was saying that winter is approaching fast. It arrived this week and it obviously came as a bit of surprise to some. It also gave me a strong reminder of how easy it is to find yourself in the same situation as in the pics above. First came the freezing rain then it snowed on top, very slippy. This time of year and then again at the end of winter makes for some of the most dangerous driving. In a few weeks it will be so cold that there is no moisture in the air, it doesn't rain and there is nothing to freeze. Right now we can't even see out our front windows at home, it has rained overnight and is currently -6 Centigrade.
Got my gun licence in the post this week so going to Cabellas and Wholesale Sports to spend some more money.
Leaving on Sunday this week to go to Minnesota, Tuesday is a holiday here, remembrance day, and I am taking Friday off to go deer hunting.
Think my next job will be at Timmys!!!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

2nd November 2008

Winter is approaching fast and I wanted to be able to get both cars in the garage overnight so we needed somewhere else to store all the gardening equipment, bikes, boat stuff, bbq, lawn chairs and just all the general junk we have collected already. So now there isn't enough room in the house for us all to sleep I needed to find somewhere else, hence the shed!!!
I broke down in the truck on Tuesday and had to get towed to Winnipeg where it would take all day Wednesday to repair so I spent the day doing a couple of odd jobs that needed doing and then the afternoon putting up the shed and moving in. It's quite cosy really, when the sun is out, and doesn't leak.
Due to the breakdown this week I have eventually been separated from Neil and tomorrow morning I am taking a load of potash that I loaded in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan on Friday down to Jeffers, Minnesota and then will reload in Volga South Dakota to deliver to Steinbach, Manitoba on Tuesday, a cool 1620 miles round trip to start my week.