Distance Traveled 3,600 kilometres
Fuel Consumed 424 Litres
Fuel purchased $ 495
Average fuel consumed 11.7 L per 100 kms
Food purchased $ 59
Active Driving Hours 40
Most common weather: rain
Total hawks spotted Red Deer to Alberta/Saskatchewan border: 28
I didn’t really do a lot of reflective thinking during my drive to Ontario. I tend to be one of those drivers that when I have somewhere to be I am focused on achieving that goal and very little else. I did mark the point east at which I felt “good” about the trip and my plans for the immediate future – Highway 16/365 Plunkett turnoff in Saskatchewan.
I found that in Alberta going east a lot of drivers were from Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In Saskatchewan, the most speeders were from Saskatchewan and the most common vehicles to pass me were from Manitoba. In eastern Manitoba, many drivers were from Ontario and they were usually speeding.
Manitoba was the most “driver friendly” province with several posted rest areas that were accessible and several included facilities. I drove from Red Deer, Alberta with the intent to reach Headingley, Manitoba, about 1,200 kilometres, but decided to stop at the Anton’s Lake Rest Area for the night. I think that there were three other cars there and you could tell they had people sleeping in them. I totally support Rest Areas that allow short term stays to give drivers a chance to sleep so they aren’t driving while tired.
Saskatchewan was barren of any real features and like the Manitoba drivers I couldn’t wait to get out of that province. It seems that everyone just wants to get home. In Saskatchewan, it appeared to be the worst, but people frequently passed me because I locked cruise control on or just around the speed limit for the entire trip. The most hazards on the road appeared to be from farm vehicles randomly entering and leaving the highways, though this time through I noticed there were less.
In my travel, east of Headingley, Manitoba into Ontario most of the traffic was going west-bound and at times it was many kilometres before I encountered vehicles in my lane behind or in front of me. Ontario seemed to be concerned with tried drivers, posting several signs that read “Fatigue kills Take a Rest”.
The problem is they provided no designated areas for drivers to rest. Until I reached Thunder Bay the only pull over places were “snow-plow turn around area – no parking” even though at night many semis would park in these turnabouts and cars did during the day, like me, to grab something or text or whatever. But these were not official rest areas and in the winter, you’d be fined for parking in them. And, they were not marked ahead of time so you didn’t see them until it was too late. I remember once stretch, where I wanted to pull off and stop, I passed by six turnabouts in the west bound side and only two on the east bound side. I managed to catch the second just as I got up to it and swerved into it. But I must ask the Ontario Ministry of Transportation ‘how does a “tired” driver rest if there’s nowhere to stop’? It can be several hundred kilometres between communities that I would even dare stop in. I’m sorry but when you pass through a hamlet where all of the homes are either run down or abandoned I would rather take my chances out on the open road with only trees and wildlife nearby.
After Thunder Bay, I came across several more road-side parks and lookouts, but they were about two-thirds still closed and filled with snow and ice. I remember around Agawa Lake there were a couple that were open and you could stop, but they were hard enough to see during the day.
The worst speeders were semi-truck drivers, but only when it started to get dark. In Ontario, they had a sign stating that “Large trucks must use speed limiters” as soon as you crossed into the province but they must all be set at 160kmh because semi’s frequently drove between 110 to 140 in a 90 zone. The law does not appear to penalize drivers until they are going 115kmh, 3 points and $95, according to the signs posted frequently along the highways. The law seemed equally concerned with drivers going 50kmh over the speed limit and warned of vehicle seizure and hefty fines. Just like cars they will take dangerous risks at night to pass other drivers.
I noticed that during the day the semi truck drivers are far more responsible, in Ontario at least, this is probably because it was the only time the OPP would stop them. In 3,600 kilometres of travel I saw the police at two traffic stops. The first was in Red Deer, the second was in Northern Ontario where they had pulled over a truck pulling a flat bed trailer with a load on it. I drove through two communities in Northern Ontario where the cops sat at the entry and exit or mid way and edge of the towns.
Two semi drivers were annoying during my trip, well three. But two tail-gated me for a marked ten kilometres as I drove one hundred kilometres an hour. One ended up passing me on a solid line after about seven kilometres while the other tried to pass in the appropriate zone but didn’t have the balls to really floor it. I had to cancel my cruise control and slow down to almost seventy just for him to get by.
Semi and car drivers don’t seem to grasp that when you have cruise control on it will respond to a hill in a very specific way. First it hits the bottom of the hill, say at ninety, and the drag will slow you down to about eighty. As you climb the hill it changes gears and the vehicle accelerates to about five or so over the setting. This is the same as it would be if you pushed your foot on the gas.
The problem is, you get these butthead drivers who just spent the last ten kilometres tailgating you then seem to be offended by the fact you just sped up. I’m not sorry but that is simply how a vehicle on cruise control responds to a hill. I despise drivers who are so eager to pass and then don’t have the balls to do it when the opportunities are there. In this case, it was on a hill, but if you can’t pass when you want to then you shouldn’t try speeding either. The irony is the highway engineers put passing lanes on hills so that cars can pass slower semis, but in Ontario the semis were speeding and would pass slower car drivers up the hills.
The third semi driver was dangerous. I caught him on video and I will be posting it later. I will point out this next incident is a reason you should never text and drive and why your attention should always be focused on the conditions around you. This happened on April 30, 2017 on Highway 17 I think it is at that point. It was between Thunder Bay and Silver Lake Road. It was a gold cab, similar in colour to a Bison one but not a Bison one, with a white trailer with the name Ocean on it in small black letters in the top left corner of the side panel.
I was traveling down a two-lane twinned highway. A wine-red cab semi truck approached me from behind, we were in the outside lane, and he safely changed into the left inside lane. His intention was to proceed about 1km further then turn left off the highway, no problem there.
We got up to the turn off the highway and he slowed to a stop to turn left. I was approaching him from the right outside lane and everything was fine. The wine-red semi paused as a second gold-tone semi approached from the left from another cross-road. The second gold-tone semi crossed the other two west-bound lanes went through the median lane at about 60kmh and was going too fast to get into the left inside lane east so he jerk-swerved into my right outside lane. The same lane I was doing 95kmh in. He then couldn’t build up the speed plus I’m sure the truck was vibrating from his unsafe maneuver and since I had less that a hundred metres warning I braked and swerved into the left inside lane to avoid him. I looked back in my rear-view mirror when I got back into the right outside lane and could see him jerk the wheel once again like he was avoiding something on the road that wasn’t there. Thinking back now it might have been either he thought something was there or the load shifted a bit and he felt it in the cab.
He had not only taken the on-ramp too fast for a semi but he also cut off the left turning semi and then cut me off. I drove ahead for a while, then after about thirty kilometres I pulled over to check my camera and discovered I had caught the incident. He passed by, while I was parked alongside the road, and I got a couple more details off his trailer. I doubt I can identify him but I’ll share it because it shows the importance of having a dash camera in your vehicle.
Now, it is a lot complaining, but I offer two solutions.
The first thing I will say is, the solution to the speeding semis is simple. Slow the hell down! I think it’s complete BS that the rules state the trucks must have limiters when it is clear they don’t or they are set far too high. When the speed limit at most in Ontario is 110 kilometres an hour how is it that a semi can drive 145. And the police clearly do nothing to stop them. I think that the police know, at night, semis are hauling goods across the country and I guess figure if they crash and die it’s not as serious as during the day when there are more cars on the roads.
I’m a little bitter of both semi drivers after my vacation back in 2015. I’ll explain. I recall the first time I drove through Northern Ontario at night. It was insane. The semis were driving between 110 and 140 kilometres an hour and tailgating me. I wasn’t driving the speed limit, let’s just leave it at that. I recall stopping at a gas station and hearing two drivers complaining about a van they had encountered on the highway. I kept my mouth shut but my guess is the van was going the speed limit and they were trying to go much faster. I’ve told everyone, and continue to, don’t drive in Northern Ontario at night unless you want to get run down by semi-drivers. It is a no-holds-barred run on the highways and unless you are a good driver and don’t mind risk breaking the speed limits or having semis tailgating you, you will not enjoy it.
At night, I drove through one community with two police cruisers in it, Ignace, Ontario. The first cop was in the main part of town near the fuel stops and I think was checking for speeding. A nice straight clear visible stretch of road. The second cop was on the edge of town, all his lights off (maybe he was asleep) tucked off the side of the road in the dark. I think that was one of only two speed traps I saw the entire trip. I did have a cop tail me at one point along the highway but my cruise control was set at about eight-seven and he quickly left me alone. So yeah, my solution is that semi-truck drivers, at night, need to slow down.
My other solution, to the lack of rest areas is, that I will endorse is one chain of fueling stations. The most awesome Husky Travel Centres. T hose of you who know me know that I very rarely endorse any product or service. I guess I’m a real stickler for quality and affordability and not often do I find things that meet my higher standards.
They are built for drivers. During my trip, I stopped at Travel Centres in Headingley, Manitoba; Thunder Bay, Ontario; Dryden, Ontario; Nipigon, Ontario; and Sudbury, Ontario. I think every city should have one plus any large community built on a main highway that sees a lot of semi traffic.
If I won the lottery when I was living in west country that is what I would have built in Nordegg. The Travel Centres offer gas, diesel and propane for cars and semis. They have a convenience store, public washrooms, member showers and a restaurant.
The parking lot is, usually, clearly marked where the cars and semis should park and they are well lit at night. It is posted “maximum 8 hours stay” and for “customers only” but really all you need to do to be a customer is buy a coffee or a snack or fuel. I never stay at a hotel when I’m driving to and from Ontario. I can sleep in my SUV and save $75-125 a night and not have to worry about what was taking place in that bed before I got there. I saw people parked, to sleep, in everything from a Honda Civic to a thirty-foot long RV, most appear to have more than enough parking for a few dozen vehicles.
The food at a Husky Travel Centre is what I would call “highway burgers” but when you are traveling long distances it’s decent enough to fill you up. I don’t think it’s in every province yet but in one I remember every fresh product and the restaurant menu stated how many calories were in the item. I ate once at the restaurant, hamburger steak with fries and mixed veggies (corn, peas, carrots) and a coffee it came to about $23 with tip.
You can get a Husky card, and use it on everything to accumulate points and save on gas, food, showers, et cetera. When I first traveled out west I stopped at Husky only and got enough points for a few free showers and a couple discounts on fuel – not bad.
I won’t always praise the cleanliness of a couple of these, in fact one I know of had its showers condemned due to black mould, but I will, overall, endorse their convenience and services. I’m sure they exist but I can’t say I’ve met a bad employee at a Husky Travel Centre. In fact, the one I bought a couple snacks and it came up to $13 something. The employee caught his mistake and stopped me before I paid, adjusting it down to $9 something. He said to me, “at least I caught it before you paid” and I told him “at least you told me you’d made the mistake” as some less honest clerks might not have bothered.
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