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Dixon Dandy 3x; To the Dirty Side; Road Closure

Dixon Dandy 3x; To the Dirty Side; Road Closure

Old Feb 18, 10, 3:32 am
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Dixon Dandy 3x; To the Dirty Side; Road Closure

Tour of Duty 5th to 23rd January 2010

After spending time at home for Christmas and New Year it was time to hit the road again. Company booked me on WN LAX-SMF and I got a ride to the Norwalk Park & Ride and took the Green Line to the Aviation Blvd. Station where I connected to a bus which took me to the lower level of Terminal 1 at LAX.

There was a long queue for check in but it took only 15 minutes or so to check in or check bags then I cleared security after a queue of 30 minutes or so. There was no secondary screening and no hand search.

Southwest #2768 LAX-SMF B-737-700 Boarding Pass A37 Seat 22F Cruising altitude not announced Estimated flying time 1:00, actual 1:01 Scheduled departure 10h40, actual 10h41 out of gate 3 Scheduled arrival 12h00, actual 11h51 into A15

Plane was not full, only 38 passengers so I had an entire row to myself. I used the washroom in the back but the sink did not work. Annoumcement was made it was cloudy and foggy and 43F at SMF. Pushback was 1 minute late followed by taxi of 5 minutes and takeoff to the west. The takeoff was quick with the light load. We went over the ocean and I saw Ballona Creek, Venice, Santa Monica and Malibu and the San Fernando Valley further inland.

We made landfall over Malibu at 0:04. It was a nice clear day so I had an excellent panoramic view of the entire LA area on climb. I saw BUR, Interstates 405, 5 and 210 and California 118 and 14. I saw the Santa Clarita Valley and farther out the Antelope Valley. After flying over the Tehachapi Mountains I saw the Central Valley was almost completely socked in with clouds and possibly fog.

At 0:16 I got cup of soda. At 0:23 seatbelt sign went off. At 0:26 I got the rest of the can of ginger ale plus pretzels. I saw the snow capped Sierra Nevada Mountains to the distance with clouds below over the Central Valley. I felt descent begin at 0:26 and seatbelt sign went on and descent was announced at 0:33 and it was 44F at SMF.

We went into the clouds and made turns and made hard landing north to south on a dry runway. Taxi was 2 minutes and we arrived at gate 9 minutes early. I got bags 16-18 minutes after arrival and took shuttle to Dixon.

Trip: Dixon, CA to Coquitlam, BC 886 paid miles
Routes: Interstate 80 to California 113 to Interstate 5 to Washington 539 to Washington 546 to Washington 9 to British Columbia 11 to British Columbia 1
Highest elevation: 4,310 feet at Siskiyou Summit on Interstate 5 4 miles north of the CA/OR state line
Highest diesel price (USA): $3.059/gallon at Shell Dixon, CA
Lowest diesel price (USA): $2.649/gallon at Jubitz Portland, OR
Diesel Price (Canada): $0.986CAD/litre at Flying J Cardlock Abbotsford, BC
Permits Required: OR fuel permit, WA and BC Trip Permits


I've done this route so much that I've named it the "Dixon Dandy". This was a hydro truck with automatic transmission. This is really not that bad a run especially when it below zero or a blizzard or an ice storm as other parts of the USA have experienced. Going over the same routes over and over can get boring but at least I get to know where to get fuel, food and lodging.

I made the pickup and started north. I had some fog in Willows and Corning to about Red Bluff and I spent the first night in Redding. Next day it started raining around Mt. Shasta City. There was fog over Siskiyou Summit but no snow or ice and there was also fog over Sexton Summit and around Rice Hill and Eugene. There was some clearing north of Eugene and I spent the second night in Salem, OR.

Next day it was dry to around Arlington, WA then rain off and on to where I spent the night in Bellingham, WA. I learned that the Motel 6 was going to jack up their rates for the Olympics.

I got to the border and was not sent to Immigration but had to wait as the broker was out to lunch. It started raining at the border. I made delivery in the rain and got a taxi to YVR and took the Quick Shuttle bus to SEA. I learned that to take the bus in the future I would have to make a reservation at least an hour in advance so I could get cleared. The bus made it a few minutes early to a rainy SEA and I spent night in Seatac, WA.

Next morning I rang the company and got flight information. I took the shuttle to SEA, checked in and checked my bags and paid $40 in checked bag fees. Then I cleared security after a short queue and my briefcase was inspected rather thoroughly.

Alaska #362 SEA-SMF B-737-400 Seat 19F Cruising altitude 33,000 feet Estimated flying time 1:30, actual 1:29 Scheduled departure 10h30, actual
10h31 out of N7 Scheduled arrival 12h16, actual 12h13 into gate 26


Plane was mostly but not totally full. Pushback was 1 minute late followed by taxi/hold of 9 minutes and takeoff to the south. At 0:13 I saw the snow covered crater of Mt. St. Helens. At 0:16 cruise was announced and seatbelt sign went off and it was announced it was 48F and fog was breaking up at SMF. I saw solid cloud cover from that point on.

At 0:33 there was a drink run and I got cup of soda plus Crunchy Snack Mix. I also purchased a Hearty Picnic Snack for $3.50USD. At 0:42 I fent bumps and seatbelt sign went on and off again at 0:59. At 1:00 it was announced it was 48F, overcast and mist at SMF.

I thought I felt descent begin at 1:04 and seatbelt sign went on at 1:10. At 1:17 I saw the Sutter Buttes sticking up from the low cloud cover and it appeared that all of the Sacramento Valley was socked in. Gear went down at 1:25 while still above the low cloud layer. We went into the clouds at 1:27 and landed north to south. Taxi was 3 minutes and we arrived at gate 3 minutes early. I got my bags 14-15 minutes after arrival and got shuttle to Dixon.

Trip: Dixon, CA to Coquitlam, BC 886 paid miles
Routes: Interstate 80 to California 113 to Interstate 5 to Washington 539 to Washington 546 to Washington 9 to British Columbia 11 to British Columbia 1
Highest elevation: 4,310 feet at Siskiyou Summit on Interstate 5 4 miles north of the CA/OR state line
Highest diesel price (USA): $2.999/gallon at Flying J in Corning, CA
Lowest diesel price (USA): $2.719/gallon at Pilot Central Point, OR
Diesel price (Canada): $0.986CAD/litre at Flying J Cardlock Abbotsford, BC
Permits required: OR fuel permit; WA and BC Trip Permits


I made an after hours pickup of this truck on a Saturday afternoon and proceeded north. I spent the first night in Redding, CA. Next morning was Sunday so I attended morning service at Shasta Baptist Church in Redding, CA. The sermon was on Proverbs 4:23 "Heart" referring to the seat of your being not the organ. I made it over Siskiyou Summit while it was dry and got some light rain around Medford. I spent the night in Coburg, OR.

Monday started off dry but rain started in Toledo, WA and it rained off and on to where I spent the night in Everett, WA. Tuesday there was a break in the rain until after the border crossing and it rained to the delivery point. I delivered the truck and hired a taxi to the Campbell River Store in Surrey, BC just above the border where I caught the Quick Shuttle bus to SEA. The bus was delayed some as one passenger was bounced at the border. As we approached SEA I saw the B-787 parked at Boeing Field. I spent the night in Seatac, WA.

To the Dirty Side

Next morning I got flight information. I was flying WN from SEA to RDU with a connection at MDW. I was told my next trip would be Creedmoor, NC to Milton, ON. For those of you who wonder what I mean by "the dirty side" that is a term truck drivers use to refer to that portion of the USA that is east of the Mississippi River. I caught the shuttle to SEA and checked in and checked bags. There was no queue. I cleared security and there was no secondary screening and no hand search of carry on bags though my boot bag was run through the x-ray a second time.

Southwest #173 SEA-MDW B-737-300 Boarding Pass B59 Seat 22F Cruising altitude 35,000 feet Estimated flying time 4:00, actual 3:49 Scheduled departure 13h55, actual 14h02 out of B10 Scheduled arrival
20h00, actual20h08 into B5


Plane was almost but not totally full with 121 passengers. It was raining when I boarded. Pushback was 7 minutes late and taxi/hold was 13 minutes followed by takeoff to the south. I saw Puget Sound and Tacoma to the distance then Interstate 5 and Washington 167 then a turn to the east and I saw Washington 18 around Auburn then we went into the clouds at 0:03.

At 0:06 there was some turbulence while in the clouds and climbing and I saw sun at 0:10. We were abouve the clouds by 0:14. At 0:25 drink orders were taken and at 0:28 snacks were offered: Ritz Chips, Crackers or Cookies. I chose Ritz Crackers with Cheese. Cruise was announced and seatbelt sign went off at 0:29.

Announcement was made it was clear at MDW with winds out of the southwest and temperature of 34F. At 0:41 I got cup of soda. There was slight break in the clouds at 1:12 and I saw snowcapped mountains. At 1:45 I saw a lovely sunset around the WY/SD border and I took some snapshots and was glad other passengers did not freak out when the flash went off. The time of sunset was 16h00 PST. At 1:52 I saw what looked to be Sturgis, SD with the lights of Rapid City farther to the distance and then at 1:59 I saw what appeared to be Wall, SD and Interstate 90 in the gathering darkness.

At 2:07 there was some chop and the seatbelt sign went on and it was announced we were just east of Rapid City. At 2:37 water was offered. Seatbelt sign went off at 2:45 and I saw lights of either Sioux City or Des Moines to the distance. I thought I felt descent begin at 2:58. Descent was announced and seatbelt sign went on at 3:05. Announcement was made it was windy and clear with gusts to 20mph and 30F at MDW. We made turns and I saw downtown Chicago and snow on the ground during approach.

Approach was rough due to the winds and we landed northeast to southwest and there was aggressive reverse thrust upon landing. Taxi was 3 minutes and we arrived at gate 8 minutes late. I was concerned because the connection was scheduled for only 35 minutes.

Southwest #1232 MDW-RDU B-737-700 Boarding Pass A53 Seat 21A Cruising altitude 41,000 feet Estimated flying time 1:30, actual 1:26 Scheduled departure 20h35, actual 20h42 out of B14 Scheduled arrival
23h30, actual 23h25 into A27


I was relieved this flight was leaving out of the same concourse the previous flight came into due to the tight connection. Unfortunately that meant not enough time to go to Potbelly's to get a sandwich or two. Plane was not very full with only 57 passengers. Pushback was 7 minutes late followed by takeoff to the southwest and turn to the southeast. I saw lights of the Chicago metro area, downtown and Lake Michigan.

At 0:20 we flew over what looked to be the Indianapolis area. Cruise was announced and seatbelt sign went off at 0:23 over IND. Seatbelt sign went back on at 0:28 due to bumps. At 0:29 I got bag of pretzels and at 0:32 I saw the lights of the Cincinnati area. I got cup of soda at
0:34.

I thought I felt descent at 0:54 and announcement was made at 1:16 but I was unable to understand what was said. I saw downtown Raleigh to the distance on approach and landed from the north or northeast. taxi was 4 minutes and we arrived at gate 5 minutes early. I got my bags 12-13 minutes after arrival and got a shuttle to a motel. I spent the night in Morrisville, NC.

Trip: Creedmoor, NC to Milton, ON 699 paid miles
Route: Interstate 85 to Interstate 95 to US17 to US29 to Interstate 66 to Interstate 81 to Interstate 70 to Interstate 76 to Interstate 79 to Interstate 90 to Interstate 190 to Peace Bridge to QEW to Ontario 25
Maximum elevation: unknown but likely over 2,000 feet at some points on the PA Turnpike. I was over 1,000 feet for sure.
Highest diesel price (USA): $3.059/gallon at Pilot Portersville, PA
Lowest diesel price (USA): $2.739/gallon at Simmons Bracey, VA
Diesel price (Canada): $0.959CAD/litre at Fifth Wheel Milton, ON
Permits required: PA Trip Permit


I made the pickup and this was the first time the pickup at this location was not after hours. I found a few minor things wrong with the truck (nothing mechanical but cosmetic) and was told to go to one of the bay doors and things were fixed but that caused some delay.

I had an excellent dinner of Ribeye Steak and Flounder at Mayflower Seafood in Bracey, VA. I was impressed with the quality of the food and the service and the price was fairly reasonable as well. I spent the first night in Richmond, VA.

Next day I progressed and saw some snow on the ground in northern Virginia though there was no precipitation. I had lunch at Sheetz in Opal, VA and I like the way you order the food there using a touch screen so you can specify exactly what you want on your sandwich or burger and how much (if anything) cheese and extra toppings will cost. There was some construction that slowed me down on the PA Turnpike in western PA and I spent the night in Mars (Cranberry), PA.

Next day (Saturday) I was told to take it easy as there were no trucks at the yard in Burlington, ON available and I was to deliver the truck in Milton, ON Monday morning. So I stopped to fuel in Portersville, PA and had a brief visit with some relatives while fueling. I encountered some fog and spent the night in Erie, PA.

Sunday morning I attended Grace of Calvary Baptist Church in Erie, PA. The sermon was on what it would be like without Christ. It was "Soulwinning Sunday" at that church. There was no precipitation. I crossed the border and was not sent to Immigration but I was asked about immigration problems at the booth. I was ultimately cleared and stopped for dinner then headed into Burlington, ON where I spent the night.

Monday I delivered the truck in Milton, ON then I hired a taxi to YYZ. I had some confusion getting to Terminal 3 as I was dropped at Terminal 1.
I did not know what airline I was on when I arrived at YYZ but found out I was to take Continental. So I got to Terminal 3 and checked in and paid $63CAD to check two bags. Fees were waived for items that I normally were allowed to be carried on but were forced to be checked. This was a time when no carry ons with extremely narrow exceptions was the rule on Canada to USA flights so I boxed up my boot bag and I had to check that though I was able to carry on my camera with case and wear my jacket. I selected my seats and on the IAH-SMF segment only middle seats were available but I was able to choose a non-reclining exit row middle seat.

I precleared US Customs after a queue of 15-20 minutes then I put my bags on a belt. The box containing my boot bag and my briefcase went on the oversize belt and I was asked about the contents. Then I cleared security and there was a manual inspection of my camera and case. I walked toward the gate and saw the way was blocked by barriers and I saw tables and agents. I was let through and had to empty ALL pockets and was patted down. Then and only then was I allowed to proceed toward the gate. This process from check in to gate took well under an hour. Weather at YYZ was overcast with light fog and no precip.

Continental Express #2377 YYZ-IAH ERJ-145 Seat 5A Cruise 35,000 feet Estimated flying time 3:20, actual 3:07 Scheduled departure 17h35, actual 17h30 out of B7 Scheduled arrival 20h17, actual 19h57 into B73

We boarded via stairs. Plane was mostly but not totally full. It was announced it was 21C/70F and cloudy at IAH. Configuration on this regional jet was 1-2 and I had a seat on the "1" side. This was the longest regional jet flight I've taken to date.

Pushback was 5 minutes early followed by taxi/hold of 11 minutes and takeoff to the west. I saw the 401 and westbound was jammed and eastbound traffic was moving well. We went into the clouds at 49 seconds after liftoff and above the clouds at 1 minute 42 seconds after liftoff.

At 0:09 I received a small snack tray consisting of salami, Cranberry Crunch, Snack Fruits, Kit Kat Bar, Crackers and Peppercorn Parmesan Spread. At 0:18 there was a drink run and I got can of ginger ale. Seatbelt sign went off at 0:28 upon reaching cruise near CLE.

At about 2:10 I was asked how I was doing and got a can of Coca Cola. I thought I felt descent at 2:40. Descent was announced at 2:48 and it was 66F at IAH. Seatbelt sign went on at 2:55. It got bumpy when we entered clouds. There was partial cloud cover but I saw some lights and
I saw US59 on approach. We landed east to west and taxi was 7 minutes and we arrived at gate 20 minutes early. The connection was scheduled at 33 minutes so I was glad for the early arrival and took the train to Terminal E. I grabbed two BBQ sandwiches to take on the next flight.

Continental #1644 IAH-SMF B-737-800 Seat 12E (was able to move to 12D) Cruising altitude 36,000 feet Estimated flying time 3:45, actual 3:46 Scheduled departure 20h50, actual 20h55 out of E23 Scheduled arrival 23h04, actual 23h09 into B23

I was stuck in the middle seat but before departure the person in the aisle seat moved so I moved over to the aisle and had more room. Pushback was 5 minutes late and taxi/hold was 22 minutes followed by takeoff to the south and then turns. I saw lights of the Houston area. Seatbelt sign went off at 0:24 upon reaching cruise.

Route was announced: Across Houston, Brenham, TX, Austin, Midland/Odessa, Albuquerque, Farmington, NM, Four Corners, northern Utah, northern Nevada, Reno/Tahoe to SMF. At 0:38 I got 2 bags of Pretzel Sticks. At 0:50 there was a drink run and I got can of ginger ale. A movie was shown but I elected not to purchase headset.

Seatbelt sign went back on at 1:08 just after attendants came through asking if I wanted anything else. I declined at that time as I was still working on my first soda. At 2:24 water was offered. There were bumps at times during the flight. I noticed a lot of passengers flouted the seatbelt sign.

At 3:18 it was announced it was 52F, cloudy and winds were out of the southeast at 25mph at SMF. Initial descent was announced at 3:20 and I saw what looked to be the Reno area at 3:23. I felt bumps during the descent and saw the lights of the Sacramento area on bumpy approach. There was a turn and we landed north to south on a dry runway. Taxi was 4 minutes and we arrived at gate 5 minutes late. I got my bags 22-28 minutes after arrival. During the time I got my bags there was a rain shower but the rain quit by the time I got the Super Shuttle. I spent the night in Davis, CA.

Trip: Dixon, CA to Coquitlam, BC 886 paid miles
Route: Interstate 80 to Interstate 5 to Washington 539 to Washington 546 to Washington 9 to British Columbia 11 to British Columbia 1
Maximum elevation: 4,310 feet at Siskiyou Summit on Interstate 5 4 miles north of the CA/OR state line
Highest diesel price (USA): $3.059/gallon at ARCO Woodland, CA
Lowest diesel price (USA): $2.599/gallon at Pilot Central Point, OR
Diesel price (Canada): $0.938CAD/litre at Flying J Cardlock Abbotsford, BC
Permits required: OR fuel permit; WA and BC Trip Permits


Next day it was pouring in the morning but the rain eased by the time the taxi arrived and I saw some blue sky when I picked the truck up. The company told me they overnighted a package to me in care of the shipper with the new IFTA sticker as the old sticker was expired. The package was not there when I talked to the receptionist and it did not arrive at all that day. Consequently I spent the night in Dixon and the next morning it poured again. I contacted the company and found out that FedEx failed to deliver the package to the shipper because the driver thought (wrongfully) that the place was closed. I was given an address in Sacramento where to go to get the package so I went and finally picked up the package. Then I proceeded north on Interstate 5.

A heavy rain shower was moving in and I saw lightning to the distance so I took an exit on the north side of Woodland and parked at an ARCO filling station that was elevated some from the road. I saw the road flood in the heavy rain. A person who was recently laid off at the shipper saw the truck and told me that some towns to the north including the place where I intended to fuel lost power due to the storm so I took on some fuel before proceeding. There were strong winds gusting to 52mph at SMF. I monitored road conditions and found out that first Interstate 5 north of Redding had chain requirements in place then it was shut down to trucks. I got chains in Corning, CA and shut down in Red Bluff, CA for the night.

Next morning Interstate 5 still had restrictions but conditions were improving so I got ready and checked out and stopped in Redding to have lunch and then found out that restrictions were lifted so I proceeded. I saw snow on the ground at Wonderland right at the 1,000 foot level and the snowpack increased as I crossed Shasta Lake. Rain changed to snow in Dunsmuir and there was snow through Mt. Shasta City. I exited at Weed to make a pit stop and it took awhile to get to the truckstop because of snow and ice on the streets and then it was a big deal to walk into the truckstop after I parked due to deep snow. Just north of Weed the snowpack suddenly diminished as if someone flipped a switch. I had no problem going over Siskiyou as it was overcast and the road was wet with bare pavement. Sexton, Smith Hill, Stage Road and Canyon Creek Summits had no problems. I spent the night in Coburg, OR.

Next day there was light rain which increased to moderate rain north of Halsey. There was rain in the Portland area and it diminished north of Kelso, WA and all but quit by Chehalis. I spent the night in Everett, WA.

Next day the company booked me an air ticket home on QX and AS. It started raining as I entered Sumas, WA. The border crossing went smoothly and it quit raining by the time I was cleared. I delivered the truck and hired a taxi to YVR.

I checked in and checked bags. Now one carry on was allowed (not 1 + 1). I dropped the bags and cleared security. At security I had to take EVERYTHING out of my pockets including my money and wallet. I was patted down and my boot bag was searched. Then I precleared US Customs with no queue. I had a Fish and Chips meal while waiting.

Horizon Air #2435 YVR-PDX Dash 8-400 Seat 20B changed to 20A Cruising altitude not announced Estimated flying time 0:50, actual 0:49 Scheduled departure 18h15, actual 18h15 out of E96 Scheduled arrival
19h35, actual 19h24 into A1


Plane was not very full. Passengers were told not to sit up front due to weight and balance issues. Pushback was on time. Taxi/hold was 16 minutes followed by takeoff to the east. I saw YVR and the lights of downtown and the metro area then into the clouds at 1 minute and 4 seconds after liftoff.

At 0:15 I got bag of "Nibbles" and at 0:17 I got cup of Vernors. I saw the lights of Bellingham, Everett and Seattle metro areas, Interstate 5 and Washington 520 and then Interstate 90 and Lake Washington. At 0:24 I got refill of soda. I felt descent begin at 0:30. On approach I saw junction of Interstate 5 and 205 near Vancouver, WA. We made approach over Columbia River and landed west to east. Taxi was 4 minutes and we arrived at gate 11 minutes early.

Alaska #570 PDX-LAX B-737-800 Seat 7A Cruising altitude 39,000 feet Estimated flying time 1:45, actual 1:46 Scheduled departure 20h35, actual 20h34 out of C5 Scheduled arrival 22h41, actual 22h35 into gate 32

Pushback was 4 minutes late followed by taxi/hold of 8 minutes and takeoff to the east. I saw the Columbia River and Interstate 205 immediately after takeoff then into clouds 2 minutes 12 seconds after liftoff. A turn was made to the south and there were some bumps during climb. At 0:17 cruise was announced and ETA was 10 minutes early. Seatbelt sign went off at 0:18.

At 0:27 there was a drink run and I got cup of Jones Root Beer and bag of Crunch Snack Mix. At 0:51 there were bumps and seatbelt sign went on and I saw lights of what may have been the Reno area a little to the distance. At 1:06 seatbelt sign went off and at 1:08 I saw lights of what appeared to be cities on the CA99 corridor but I was unsure of exactly what cities.

Seatbelt sign went on at 1:21 as descent began. At 1:31 I saw lights of Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys. We flew over Simi Valley and turned east over Malibu at 1:35 and I saw the San Fernando Valley while flying east and saw CA90/Interstate 405 at 1:39 followed by an excellent view of downtown Los Angeles with Staples Center and City Hall then turn to the south at 1:42 and I saw railyard then turn to west and saw the lights of the metro area spread out like a carpet.

We landed east to west. Taxi was 6 minutes and we arrived at gate 6 minutes early. I got bags 37-41 minutes after arrival. The delay was mainly caused due to the main conveyor belt malfunctioning so the bags were delivered on a another belt by Baggage Service. An agent gave me a certificate entitling me to $25 off the next flight or 2,500 miles for my trouble. I got a shuttle home and this latest tour of duty came to a close.

Last edited by Loose Cannon; Feb 18, 10 at 5:38 am
Loose Cannon is offline  
Old Feb 18, 10, 7:43 am
  #2  
 
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I always look forward to your trip reports, they way you write is quite unique and very engaging.

Your flight from IAH to SMF caught my eye -- whilst I live in the UK, I often visit friends in Sacramento and fondly and vividly recall my first ever op-up: from Coach to First on an AA MD80 on the evening flight from DFW to SMF. The clear night sky afforded amazing views throughout the trip as the plane wound its way across the US, coming in over Reno before landing in SMF.

Safe and happy travels !!
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Old Feb 18, 10, 5:04 pm
  #3  
 
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Great report as always. I do not recall if I asked before, but why so many trips to Canada?
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Old Feb 18, 10, 7:52 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by Paint Horse View Post
Great report as always. I do not recall if I asked before, but why so many trips to Canada?
The company I do the vast majority of my trips for is headquartered in Canada. The transborder stuff is what has saved me; the economy in the USA is still not good.
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