FP Chapter 6: Road Test

The rumble of the truck re ignited Dale’s attention.  It was really happening.  Dale was going to go up the haul road with his new and highly experienced best pal Colt.  As per company rules, the first trip up the road had to beaccompanied by an official safety instructor.  Along with running loads, Colt really enjoyed, for the most part, training up younger drivers every once in a while.

They rolled out of the yard and onto the streets of Fairbanks.

“Sometimes, if you’re not paying attention, this can be an unexpectedly hard part of the trip.  They can all be hard if you don’t pay attention.”  Colt instructed.

“Duely noted.”  Dale said.

“Are you sure?”  Colt inquired.

Dale definitely wasn’t sure.  Those street lights were hanging pretty low compare to where his stacks wanted to be.

“Pull into the scale.”  Colt commanded.  “We must be weighed by the government.”

It was then that he saw her.  Crimson, dedicated employee of the Department of Transportation,  shot Dale a glare that cut through to his very soul.  She never tired of reminding people she was not to be trifled with.  Ignoring him otherwise she greeted Colt.   “Training up another rookie.”  She said.

“You bet.”  Colt replied.

Crimson smirked.  “Enjoy your trip, gentlemen.”

It was early in the morning and getting up to the oil field on the Arctic Ocean took all day on the best of days.  A 500 mile journey.

“Each section of the road has a nick name so that we as truckers can tell where we are at.”  Colt explained.   “This twisty bit is called The Taps.  You really have to watch your speed everywhere!”

Dale let up on the gas a little.  He didn’t want to fail this soon.

“Honking is important so that other trucks know you are around.  It’s a nice day today but these kinds of conditions are not normal.  Sometimes, you just can’t see a thing.”  Colt admitted.

Dale was soaking everything in.  Then they came up on a steep downhill followed by an equally steep uphill.  “This bit is called The Roller Coaster”

Dale laughed.

“Don’t laugh!  People die on every mile of this thing!  If you don’t shift exactly like I tell you, you will too.”

Ice Road Trucking is always serious business.  Dale did as instructed and the duo carried on.

Dale’s favourite hill was called Beaver Slide.  In a weird way, it reminded him of home.

They rolled into a place called Cold Foot.  Colt suggested that they quickly get some lunch and then head out over the pass.

While in the truck stop, they were informed that a storm was brewing over Atigun Pass.  The next place they had to get through.

“We’re going to put on chains.”  Colt instructed.   “You do one side.  I’ll do the other.  Understand that usually you’re going to be doing this on your own though.  In -40 degree temperatures just like this.”

The pair went up and over the pass and things were indeed slippery.  Dale really had to watch his speed coming down the other side of the huge hill.

“Another thing to watch out for here is avalanches.  Fortunately, that was not a problem today.”  Colt said.

After surviving the pass they were confronted with a wide open space that was very windy, stirring up snow into an almost white out condition.

“We are still pressing on.”  Colt said.

“Of course.”  Dale replied.

Finally the lights of the oil field appeared and the two were able to drop off their load of drill pipe to happy customers.

“That’s what it’s all about.  That and not having the pipe fly through the back of your truck and kill you.”

The two hoocked up to another load that was headed back to Fairbanks.  They headed back South in the direction which they had come.

“People won’t be pulling over for you this time because we are going South.  The North bound trucks have the right of way all the time.”  Colt instructed.  “You will get to know this road really well as time passes.  The sooner you know it’s always changing, the better.  For crying out loud!  Watch your speed!”  Colt yelled.

The two trundled off into the wilderness again.  Dale couldn’t wait til he was allowed to drive by himself again.  The way he was used to.  Colt was great, but Dale would definitely do a few things differently if it was left up to him.  It would all come to him in good time.  Right now, he had to focus on getting back to Fairbanks safely.

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