Come along for the Ride!

I am so glad you are here. Stay with us as we travel everywhere. I hope you will enjoy the ride.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nightmare at the Border

Monday morning we woke up still parked in the lot of the church. We decided that we should probably go to the truckstop to get our truck washed and to wait out our layover; which we hoped would be short.
Pops put himself on off duty driving (we are each allowed 45 minutes of driving time that we don’t have to log) to get us to the truckstop and in less than ½ hour we were there looking for a place to park. We found a suitable place at the upper end of the lot.
I cleaned the truck while Pops worked in the back of the box cleaning. Then I took my book and my chair and sat outside in the sun to read. I lasted only about 20 minutes though since it was well over 100 degrees again.  The news said that Texas was now in the 38th day of 100 plus temperatures. Ugh!
We did get the truck washed later and it looked so good.
Our generator kept shutting down. It just wouldn’t run longer than an hour. We thought that maybe it was too hot, but we weren’t sure. So we had to idle the engine of the truck to have power and a/c.
On Tuesday morning our truck owners, Tate and Shirley, came to the truckstop to check out our generator. They were going to try to flush it out and see if that would help but then Tate and Pops thought that maybe our batteries weren’t working properly so the decision was made to get 4 new batteries.
So we followed our owners for several miles to a mall. There was an interstate battery store there. Four brand new batteries were bought and Tate and Pops installed them.
Then we went to lunch with them. We went to Panera Bread. It was very good and we enjoyed spending time with Tate and Shirley.
When Tate and Shirley left us we drove up to the other end of the mall where I had noticed a Christian Book Store. We needed to purchase some communion bread and I wanted to look for a hard copy of the book that several of us were using for Bible Study. The book is called, The 40 Day Bible Adventure. It is written by Christopher D. Hudson. It is “A Fascinating Journey to Understanding God’s Word.” My sister, Amy, noticed it while shopping back home and was telling me about it so we decided to do it together. And then Pops said that he would do it too and then Starla said she thought that her and Bill might enjoy doing it with us and then Kacey, my niece joined in too.
So I found the e-book at Barnes and Noble and downloaded it while Amy went back to the Christian Book Store to purchase the book for Starla and Kacey. And then we all started the adventure. It is an overall quick study of God’s plan for mankind through His Word. We are enjoying this study.
Then Pops and I went over to Walmart to spend the night. Surely we would have a load by morning.
I went into the store just to pass time while Pops tried to sleep just in case we would get a load and he would have to drive through the night. While in there I found several items that caught my attention. I like to eat and I like to try interesting foods so while shopping I noticed that the store carried several kinds of boudin. I first found boudin while traveling through Louisiana and we liked it so I picked some up to take back home for our family to try along with the ostrich, alligator and buffalo that I already have in the freezer. Then I noticed that they also had venison sausage. Umm Umm, I picked up two packages of that, one to take home and one for me and Pops to enjoy.
While I was exiting the store I got a notification on my phone that we were getting a load offer, so I hurried back to the truck to see what it was, just in time for Pops to tell me that we got the load and were picking up in Seguin, TX going to Peoria, IL. It was a caterpillar load. Caterpillar has many locations throughout the US and is big business. We usually like these loads, but there was one place that we absolutely hated. The guard was a butt! And the whole place was a giant aggravation. But this was not that place. So we got our paperwork started and took off for Seguin which was only about 20 miles from where we were.
We got our load and started off for our destination. We would be traveling up through Oklahoma, Missouri, then into Illinois. But it was night so I slept while Pops drove.
I woke up around 5am because the truck was shaking and lost all power. Something was obviously wrong. Our  automatic transmission wouldn’t shift and we were losing our lights. Pops found a place to pull off the road. And we waited until right after daylight to call our owners. They located a road service for us and Pops called them and they agreed to come right out. When they got there they discovered that one of our brand new batteries had shorted out and caused the others to short out. So the truck was running only on the alternator. So the men fixed the problem by by-passing the bad battery and we would have to run on only 3 for now. So in a short time we were once again moving down the highway.  And by late that night we delivered and were on our way to a rest stop.
When I woke up at the rest area on Thursday morning I had an overwhelming feeling of homesickness. I missed my kids so much. I wanted to be with them.
I took my coffee and walked up on the hill to a picnic table. I took the dogs so that Pops could sleep a little longer in quietness. Except that Chucky had other ideas. He didn’t want to go up the hill. He wanted to follow other people around the parking lot and would not come to me when I called him. So I angrily walked down the hill and grabbed him up and put him in the truck and then Lucy and I went back up the hill. We sat up there for about 45 minutes soaking up the peacefulness of the morning. Then I went back to the truck.
Pops and I drank some coffee together while watching for a load. By noon we had one that was going into Canada. So we picked in Morton, Il, another Caterpillar load and headed toward Ontario. We were to deliver early in the morning. While we were on our way up to Ontario, we got another dispatch that would pick up in Syracuse, NY and go back up into Quebec, Canada. We accepted that load also.
So on Friday morning after delivering to Caterpillar we were headed past Niagara Falls and into Buffalo, NY and on toward Syracuse. We were picking up a transfer load at Fedex Freight. We hoped that all the Canada paperwork would be completed so that we wouldn’t get held up at the border.
We waited about 15 minutes until the other truck showed up. We both backed up to the docks and in a few minutes Pops came back out and told me that the load was damaged.
None of the product was damaged but the pallets and wrapping were destroyed. The product had shifted and the drivers of the other truck said that they got the load in that condition. Pops called our company to report the damage and they were upset because they hadn’t heard of it before now and not only that, they other trucks had not completed ANY of the Canada paperwork either. Argh!!!
So I worked on getting the paperwork in order while Pops took care of the load transfer. And then we headed to the border. It would take us about 90 minutes to reach the border and we waited to hear from our company if we were clear to cross.
We were about 45 minutes away when we got a call that we couldn’t get cleared just yet and that we would have to delay somewhere until we were cleared. So we found a mall to waste some time. Then we decided to drive a little further to a rest area that is just inside the border so once we cleared we could go in right away. We stopped at the rest area and was only there for about 15 minutes when we got the call that we were clear to cross. So we got moving.
What a beautiful area. We crossed in at an area called 1000 Islands. It was a big high bridge and we could look out over and see such pretty sights everywhere we looked. And then we came to the customs station.
We have been in and out of Canada quite a few times now and usually took 15 minutes or less, but with waiting for our clearances we didn’t know what to expect this time. So the customs officer asked me all the normal questions and then handed me a yellow paper and instructed me to pull over to the docks and wait. We were getting inspected!
I backed the truck into a dock and Pops took our paperwork inside. I had to get out of the truck too and so did the dogs. They completely tore our truck apart and searched the entire thing, every compartment, every cupboard, under our mattresses, into our toolboxes, under the hood, they made us cut our seal and inspected the freight, they searched EVERYTHING!!! And then finally we were told we were clear to leave.
We drove and drove through Canada and once through Montreal we realized that we needed to locate a fuel stop. Well, Canada is all English speaking except for the province of Quebec and that is where we were. They speak French here.  We found a flying J truckstop and pulled in to get fuel. Pops got out to start the fuel pump, but realized that everything was written in French. We pondered how to go about doing what we needed to do when another truck pulled in to the pump next to us. Pops asked him if he spoke English and he said that he did, so he graciously helped Pops with fueling our truck and then I went inside to use the restroom.
There was another lady in there and only one restroom so she was trying to say something to me and I couldn’t understand her. I told her that I spoke English and she sputtered out a few more words, shrugged her shoulders and went “shouting and looking for someone.” I thought she was trying to locate an additional restroom so I went on into the one in front of me and locked the door. When I opened the door she was there and I tried to inform her that there was no paper in the restroom and she made a body gesture that kind of led me to think she was saying, “duh, you moron.” Oh well.
So back to the truck and we got moving again. We got a phone call from our dispatcher telling us that our load would not be delivering until Monday morning so we would be spending the weekend in a Canada city with no English speakers. He called back later and told us that he found us a place to stay through using a translator. He was laughing at the experience that he had trying to find us somewhere to spend the weekend and also at our dilemma with having to stay in a non English speaking area. He told us to have fun. Haha Oh, yeah, we would be paid for the inconvenience of detention. But we had to stay where they told us.
We found our destination town and drove around looking for Walmart. Gypsy took us straight to the center of the town. There was a huge, old church there. It was all lit up and very beautiful. On the front lawn was a statue of a man on a horse, killing a dragon with a spear.
Anyway we did manage to find the Walmart and parked in the side lot with about 8 big campers. It was not a 24 hour Walmart.
When I woke up Saturday morning, I took the dogs out for a walk and noticed that most of the campers had already left and that the store was open and already busy. I read my book for a  while and then went into the store.
Well that was an interesting experience. No one was speaking English. All of the products were labeled in French. All the prices reflected Canadian money and I felt like I was in a “foreign country.”hahaha
I picked up a 4 liter jug of water and dish liquid. I had a Canadian 10 dollar bill and a 2 dollar coin and a 1 dollar coin and a few other coins. When I got to the checkout I waited while the cashier checked out a man and woman in front of me. They spoke a little chit chat in French and when the transaction was complete she said, “thank you, have a nice day.” In english.
So when it was my turn I said, “good morning.” She just smiled and when she finished ringing up my charges she told me the amount in french. It showed 2.97$. So I handed her the 2 dollar and 1 dollar coins and she handed me back a canadian nickel. Cool! I now felt so cultured. Lol
I came back to the truck and washed some dishes and swept the floors. Pops was awake now so we drank some coffee and talked for awhile. Then I decided to do some cooking.
I peeled potatoes and diced an onion and made some potato soup using the package of venison sausage that I bought in Texas. I also cooked some frozen ravioli and sauce and mixed the two together and put all into the refrigerator for later in the week. After cleaning up, I took my book and set up my chair and soaked up some sun while reading. The dogs liked being out of the truck too. We had a nice grassy area next to our truck.
While I was reading Pops was working around the truck. He was sweeping the back and working on the ratchet straps and just doing some regular upkeep. I continued to read and watch the dogs.
Then I heard Pops talking to someone. I strained to listen to see who was talking to, but I couldn’t hear another voice, only his. I was hoping that he wasn’t using his phone. We found out that the charges for using your phone while in Canada are out of sight so we agreed not to use our phones while here. That alone was almost torture. Anyway, I hoped he wasn’t using his phone for all this time.
And then after about another 10 minutes he walked around the front of the truck and came around to my side of the truck. There was a man with him. The man was introduced as Laurent. He stopped by to see our truck. And they walked back around the other side and continued talking.
I read some more and then when Pops came back over Laurent was not with him. He had gone.
Pops said that he came over because he liked our truck. He is 75 years old and was born in Canada. His wife is from the US and refuses to speak or learn French. They have lived in NYC and Florida. They continue to go to Florida every year to visit.
He was a business man and is now retired. They live about 15 miles from here. He liked our dogs and was telling us that he had one big dog and two horses that he is training to pull a buggy. He had invited us to his home for the weekend. He felt badly because we had to stay here and didn’t know the language. He said that he understood what a barrier that could be for us.
After Pops explained that we live in our truck and that it is very sufficient for our needs he was okay to leave us. But he did tell us that we were welcome to come there and take a shower. He also gave us his phone number and told us that if we run into circumstances where we might need a translator or just assistance to call him. What a nice man. His name was Laurent Jacques. He said that was Mr. Jack in English. I wish we could’ve gone to his home and met his wife, but Fedex is paying us to stay here for the weekend.
Later, I watched a movie and then went for a walk. Pops played cards with Gypsy. The day went by pretty quickly.
Sunday morning we woke up and did our devotions together and had church. Then we had communion.
After “church” we went into the store together. We shopped for some things we needed and just walked around looking at things and listening to the French and watching the people. They looked different in a way I can’t explain. You could see a “foreignness” about them and they spoke so fast.
We picked up several items and went to the checkout. The cute young girl tried immediately to speak with us and I told her that we were English. “Oh,” she said and that was that. She took my debit card and charged me 33$ for 10 items. I can’t wait to see what that equals in American money.
I finished one book this afternoon and started another. Pops again played cards with Gypsy and also looked up routes on the map.
We went for walks with dogs and watched the people some more. It was not boring. But then it rained, and it rained hard, so we took a nap.
Now we are enjoying the late evening and preparing to start our work week tomorrow. We will be going back to Portsmouth, NH for our layover after we deliver here at 7:30am. It should take us about 5 hours to get there from here (if we aren’t detained at the border) and it is through the very beautiful area of Vermont and New Hampshire that we traveled down through on the fourth of July. I am excited and again hoping that we get a chance to see a moose. I really want to see a moose.

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