MONSTER TRUCK RUNS REINDEER LAKE

 

DECEMBER 2006

 

We were bored at Christmas time and decided to drive a 200 kms round trip on a frozen lake, just to say we did it! Ok, we were really bored.  But then again, there is not much else to do in the Great White North, other than playing “Russian Roulette” by driving over a frozen lake “waiting” to find a weak spot! We decided to travel the day after Boxing Day. This way, all Emergency service people would not be working overtime or ruin their holiday celebrations. Just kidding, it just worked out that way.

To get to the biggest lake around here; we must load the Monster Truck on the Linn Tractor Trailer and tow it behind the Screaming Ford semi. It is only 100 kms to Reindeer Lake from the Kingdom. (The “Kingdom” is what we call our property where we live) The fellow who engineered this road was paid by the corner and by the hill! So the 100 km trip is up a hill and down around a corner plus the road is not very wide because that costs more money. Now add a good layer of snow and huge 6 foot high snow banks on the edge and you have the perfect road for driving the Screaming Ford with the 8V-71 Detroit engine. The old timers say that the only way to drive this truck is to get in the truck, slam your hand in the door and drive the truck MAD! This engine is not happy unless it is screaming for mercy and on this road; the longest you go between shifting the transmission is 3 minutes top. So, now you add a cold northern morning, and the “DUAL” stacks are pouring out some nice exhaust fog as you climb the hills up and down. On every corner, you can look back and see the “DUAL” exhaust fog hanging high in the non-moving air of the Great White North.

          To make the trip even more exciting, my buddy Mark is coming on this adventure to see the community of Brochet, Mb where we are headed on Reindeer Lake. He says it is like going to Disney World, you must have been there at some point in your life because everyone will and has been to Disney World. We left the Kingdom bright and early with a routine drive down the main street of Lynn Lake, Mb to wake up the locals who thought they were going to sleep in over the Christmas holidays. The Screaming Ford is known for shaking a few house windows as it travels through town. It might have something to do with the speed limit of 30 mph, which is best achieved by being in 6th gear at 2300 rpm with the “DUAL” exhaust pouring out the “DUAL” exhaust stacks, leaving the signature that the “Screaming Ford” was here. We have a 3.5 hour drive ahead of us over the 100km rally road course of the north. Plus, traction will be a major problem on this road because the snow has not been plowed down to the gravel base. You have a 6” snow base, which is just excellent for skiing, but not for a tandem axle semi to get traction on! Those little foreign cars that race on snow rally roads in Europe would love this road! We are now doing it in the Screaming Ford and trying to get speed on the curves to climb the hills with Monster Truck on the trailer behind. The 2.5 ton weight box that locks into the 5th wheel doesn’t seem to help with the slight traction problem. So, the rally road had to be driven accordingly with one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake. Poor Mark, when we arrived at Kinoosao, Sk after 3.5 hours of rally driving, I swore that he had white knuckles from hanging on!

          We unloaded the Monster Truck and mounted the big tires on the front. We have to mount smaller ones on to make it fit into the shop and onto the trailer. This is not a big job but the floor jack does not like the -25C temperature. One pump down on the floor jack handle equals one minute of waiting at the top of the stroke for the extra cold oil to flow into the chamber. So to jack up the Monster Truck it took Mark 10 minutes, not bad, if you are getting paid by the hour. With the big tires on, we did the customary drive around the small town to wave at the local girls. For some reason none of the girls were out for us to wave at? Might have been the cold temperatures? Or they were hiding in fear of us driving the machine from outer space? We checked in with our local friends to see what the ice was like on Reindeer Lake and they warned us about the narrows heading out of Kinoosao, Sk because the current is wearing the ice thin from underneath.

          This was not a problem if all we had to worry about is 500 feet of ice out of 95 kms. That is not bad! The odds are in our favour as we headed out. We hit the ice and gave the Monster Truck a taste of fresh snow by getting the big tires to spray rooster tails of snow up and over Monster Truck. Good idea, until Mark pointed out that the truck was not equipped with windshield wipers. It was an option when I built the truck from scrap metal five years ago and I thought I would never need them. If I need wipers on Monster Truck then it is because it has sunk in about 5 feet of water on a frozen lake because the ice was too thin. I built the truck for playing on the ice and plowing winter roads, not for in the mud. Wipers are for when it rains and it never rains in the Great White North at these temperatures! So I gave the Monster Truck a little less gas and focused on the narrows with the bad ice because I am driving with one hand because the other hand is holding the door open for an easy escape, I hope? Mark was doing the same thing. The heater was designed this way, so we are quite warm as we drive with the doors open. Only the KING OF OBSOLETE would include this in the design of Monster Truck!

          We make it through the narrows and gave the truck more gas to make good time to Brochet, Mb because we don’t want to arrive in the dark. But I forgot about “tire bounce”, when you have such big tires the truck will want to start bouncing. This is no big wow if you are a rodeo bull-riding champion and not crammed into a small truck cab from the 1940s. Now this is where the underwear of choice comes in to play. Yes, underwear is very important when you play with Monster Truck. I have learned over the years that in the morning when you get up, you must choose the right pair of underwear to wear that day while driving Monster Truck. To drive Monster Truck for 12 hours you need to wear tight fitting brief shorts to keep “The Boys” from bouncing around. If Monster Truck fell through the ice and the RCMP had to recover my body, the autopsy would state that my underwear was equivalent to a “Chip and Dale dancers”. But I forgot to tell Mark which underwear to wear. Of all the days for him to wear silk boxer shorts that he got for Christmas! This meant he was in for some “extra” sliding around on the seat of Monster Truck. Explain that to the wife when you get home and undress and your butt looks like you slid down the waterslide without the water. The next time I take a passenger, underwear will be on the top of the “Are you prepared for this?” list.

          With the speed determined to control the tire bounce we made good time until we came to the first pressure ridge on the ice. This is a good sign because the ice is moving and releasing tension that it is creating as it is turning from water to ice formation. A pressure ridge will make most people nervous seeing chucks of broken ice shoved up. You can stand there and look down into the opening, which gives one the willies! I think pressure ridges are one of nature’s finest works of art. I climbed all over the ice to see how thick it was and what colour the ice was. Yes, a colour-blind guy wanting to know what colour the ice is. There are different colours of ice and even I can tell them apart. Mark thinks I’m nuts and stays as far away as he can from what he calls the “crack in the ice”. I told him if the ice swallows me “whole”, then it would be a great story saying that I was wearing my “Chip and Dale underwear”, where as you had on your Christmas silk boxers with “Ho Ho” printed all over them.  With the pressure ridge determined to be safe we drove Monster Truck across the crack with the doors open and enjoyed the heat from the heater. 

                    We bounced along for about an hour as Mark tried to get the stupid computerized GPS unit to work. Of all days for it to decide that it can’t find a satellite in the sky, the joys of modern computer technology! We would have been better of bringing a dairy cow along on the trip because dairy cows always find their way back to the barn no matter what pasture they are in. Besides, I can walk the speed of a dairy cow and follow along. If the cow could not find its way home, we would be having T-bone steaks for a meal. Then we came to the “end of land” as we called it. Yes, land, that is where you can see land, no matter which way you are facing on the frozen lake. Now we have entered the big water of Reindeer Lake, which is a BIG experience for a couple of prairie boys who could always see land no matter where they stood. We have an axe in the survival equipment on Monster Truck so we can cut a toothpick tree down and burn it for warmth. Mark and I decided that the only thing this axe was good for was using the handle as kindling to start the Monster Truck on fire to keep us warm after it breaks down.  The nearest tree would be a 10 mile walk.

          We continued to bounce along, across the frozen wasteland that never seemed to end. Now I know how the guys on the moon felt with their 4x4 moon vehicle, except our landscape was white, not grey. Then we see the church chapel in Brochet, Mb and this 3.5 hour, bouncy ride will be over soon. But, we have a problem of being snow blind, yes snow blind, we can’t see where the ice road enters land. The locals came out to watch Monster Truck make its first debut in the town that has so much history. It would be rather embarrassing, driving Monster Truck into a big snow bank by missing the only narrow road off the lake. If I did this to Monster Truck and got him really stuck, the local RCMP police would be there on a moments notice to give Mark and I the breathalyzer test. The RCMP would have figured for sure that we had been drinking and driving! Once I spotted the road and put the “pedal to the metal” on Monster Truck to climb the extra slippery hill off the lake with the local kids cheering us on, Mark points out again that a windshield wiper would be very useful to keep the snow from the front tires off the windshield.

          Now we are in Brochet, Mb and where do we find our friends, who we are going to have coffee with and then return down the lake? When you drive Monster Truck, a crowd gathers, to see such a creation, and you just ask for directions. It must be the lack of chrome on Monster Truck that attracts so many people? We lucked out because a lady driving a mini van took us right to the house where we were to meet our friends. After a quick cup of coffee and a meal of tasty caribou, we headed back across the 95 kms of frozen lake, which is now in total darkness. We thought it was FUN coming up over the frozen lake in daylight, going back over the lake in the dark makes it twice as much fun! But this is where the little problems start. The stupid camera quits when I tried to take a picture of Monster Truck leaving Brochet in the darkness. The camera decided to die because the warranty was up 4 days ago. Oh, how I love modern technology some days! I expressed my views to Mark! As we get the Monster Truck up to just below the tire bounce speed the high output heater that has kept us warm and cozy decides to quit. Mark points out that he doesn’t think the computer in the heater quit, the heater was made about 20 years before the first computer was invented. So now, we have a 3.5 hour drive ahead of us with no heater. Now we put more clothes on and push the Monster Truck to just below the tire bounce speed and hold it steady because it is only -23C and getting colder. This is when you wish you had fur underwear on instead of “Chip and Dale underwear” but this is no problem. We are men of the Great White North and this is a “minor problem”. We have our axe, which will keep us warm as we rub it to make fire like our forefathers did.

          After about 2 hours of traveling we were getting cold and that is when we realized our reflexes were getting slower. We should have stopped for a warm up over the nice hot engine of the Monster Truck, but we were trying to make good time over the ice road. With the windows all frosted up, I noticed that the front tires were splashing up water. Not a sight you want to see! Mark points out for the hundredth time that if Monster Truck had a windshield wiper it would not be a problem! The only thing I said to Mark was open the door in case we had to escape. I kicked the gas pedal to the floor and made the V-8 engine roar from the Monster Truck. This in turn splashed more water onto the windshield as the tires tried to grab for any traction that they could. This water was not on the ice when we traveled over it less then 8 hours ago. There must be a crack, which has allowed the water to flow on top of the ice. This is not a big problem as long as you keep the vehicle moving! If you don’t keep moving everyone around the world will know what you wore for underwear on your last day on earth! At least, my underwear did not have “HO HO” printed on them. The Monster Truck performed smoothly using the burst of acceleration and got us through that wet bad spot. The only problem is that you are trying to get traction on slippery ice and then you hit dry snow. Well the only thing I can say is that “The Boys” were ok wrapped in the “Chip & Dale underwear” as the Monster Truck did the really, high-speed tire bounce. Mark sure does not like silk boxers after that!

          We are now awake and full of warm sweat from our “little fun incident” on the lake. The last bit of the trip was boring, even when we arrived in Kinoosao, Sk to see the extension cord from the Screaming Ford unplugged, with the cord laying inches from the outlet. If the extension cord was plugged into the outlet, the block heater would have kept the 8V-71 Detroit engine toasty warm for easy starting at cold temperatures.  

Starting the Screaming Ford when it is cold is not a problem for a Detroit engine from the 1970s, just spray more starting fluid into the air cleaner and it will start. The modern computerized engine of today will blow itself up by using starting fluid because they are not made for that. The Screaming Ford comes to life and makes sure the locals are awake too.

Mark and I decided not to load Monster Truck on the trailer until we have made it up past the hill just outside of Kinoosao, Sk because we both agree that the Screaming Ford is just going to spin out on that snow covered hill. So, Mark gets the 2 point lesson on “how to drive” the Monster Truck

#1, that is the gas pedal, do not let fear and common sense hold you back

#2, that is the brake pedal, you do not need to know anything about that.

 

So I head off in the Screaming Ford with Mark following in the Monster Truck with the gear shifter marked PRNDL- L for leave. And I must have as much speed as I can get to make it up over this snow covered hill. The same hill we slid down when we came to town about 12 hour ago. With the Screaming Ford just screaming for mercy I hit the hill with some good speed and stop about ½ way up due to the great loss of traction. The brakes will not hold the truck and getting the drive wheels to spin even speeds up the backward slide. I have never seen this before. It is like being on the bunny hill at Whistler ski resort and all you can do is slide. Jack knifing the truck and trailer is now “a fact of life”. All I can see is the dollar signs flashing in front of my face because of the damage that will be done to the truck and trailer because the government doesn’t plow this rally road on a regular basis.

           The Screaming Ford stops sliding within inches of doing major damage to itself and the trailer. Mark said my tires were spinning forward but sliding backwards which is not good. Once I stopped sliding in the semi, Mark kicked the “pedal to the metal” and made Monster Truck climb through the 6 foot high snow bank on the side of the road. (Which is beside the Screaming Ford.) He kept Monster Truck within inches of the Screaming Ford as he churned up the snow bank. It was unreal to watch the Monster Truck chew past the Screaming Ford as I sat there with my foot on the brake to lock up all the wheels. Of course, this would be make a perfect picture but the stupid camera quit. Never take something along that is computerized and the warranty has expired. I watched Mark skillfully maneuver the Monster Truck past the Screaming Ford. He didn’t do too badly for only having a 5 minute driving lesson. As Mark said just give it gas and kick the 4-barrel carburetor in for more power when needed.

          Once past the Screaming Ford, Mark stopped and hooked up the chain to the semi and then made Monster Truck work. Mark made the tires chew up the hill so the Screaming Ford could get traction. In other words, he was “sanding” the hill so the Screaming Ford could get traction to climb the hill. Once on top of the hill we loaded Monster truck on the trailer and did the 3 hours of rally road race driving back to the KINGDOM. It was another 18 hours of fun in the Great White North, as we tell everybody. I don’t think Mark will be wearing silk “HO HO” boxer shorts for a long time!

 

Thansk

 

THE PICTURES OF THIS ADVENTURE

 

MONSTER TRUCK BEING BUILT

 

MONSTER TRUCK WORKING ON THE ICE

 

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