Monday, June 14, 2010

'Truckers' Get Dealt a Blow

Hands clenched, sweat beading up on the back of your neck, knuckles quickly turning white... and that was just my reaction while watching those white-out conditions (or, as Alaskans call it, "a blow") during the second episode of History Channel's excellent Ice Road Truckers this week.  I can't even imagine how the drivers were feeling!  Seriously, the phrase "rely on the delineators" might be my new least favorite saying.  Sister show Deadliest Catch (which I also love) puts me on the edge of my seat, but this show does something to me that no other show can: it transports me to the Dalton and puts me right there in that cab with the drivers whose every decision could be the difference between life and death.  It's that serious and it's that scary.  Just ask the driver who found himself on the very fortunate side of fate this week.

One would think that a 20-year veteran of the Dalton with an accident-free record would be the last driver to find himself wrecked on the side of the road staring at the one thing that kept him from serious injury and death.  But as they say on the Dalton, "Your first wreck could also be your last."  This driver was lucky -- the fifth wheel that attaches the trailer to the cab broke sending the loaded tanker full of diesel into the ditch and keeping the driver and his cab right-side-up and alive.  The driver took his eye off the road for a second, but it was long enough for him to drift over and catch the soft snow causing a chain reaction that landed his tanker in the ditch.  Luckily, he was fine, but the accident did have one driver re-thinking his cowboy approach to the Dalton.  Greg started his return trip in Prudhoe Bay behind his rival Jack, but he was carrying a much lighter load.  He was hell-bent on passing Jack on the road.  But after stopping to make sure his help wasn't needed at the accident site, Greg began to think about his need-for-speed and daredevil approach on the dangerous road.  He decided that he needs to find a balance between speed and safety.

Lisa got about 70 miles up the Dalton and started having brake problems.  The brakes on her trailer were taking a long time to work, so she didn't want to take any chances further along the road.  Unfortunately, this came on the heels of some unflattering radio chatter that she was stuck listening to and then trying to shake off.  She tried to fix the brakes herself, but it was system that she was not familiar with and she decided to play it safe and head back to Fairbanks for help.  Luckily, Ryan (her convoy partner from last week) met her on the haul road and showed her how to work on that braking system.  After a bruised ego, she was back on the road.  Miles up the Dalton, she came upon a driver who needed help getting his rig back on the road.  She was able to tow him out of the snow and get back a little cred in the process.

Lisa wasn't the only driver having mechanical issues this week -- rookie Ray started the episode with an antifreeze leak.  He wasn't able to find it, so he decided to push on.  About 50 miles outside of Prudhoe, the warning lights came on and the air took on a familiar odor indicating an electrical problem.  He tried to fix the problem, and once again revisited the antifreeze leak, but he was unable to see well in the dark and decided to chance it by continuing on to Prudhoe.  He made it safely, but got some bad news at the shop in Deadhorse.  Meanwhile, Hugh "The Polar Bear" Rowland finally made it to Fairbanks from his home in Canada.  After completing his drug test, he picked up his first load and headed north.  In an attempt to make-up some ground on Alex, he neglected to chain up on a incline and wound up stuck.  After holding up traffic, he got his chains on and got the truck moving.  Alex completed his second run of the season, but he had a difficult time in the white-out conditions and took out two delineators creating a potentially hazardous situation for drivers behind him.  And "Dalton Ace" Jack Jesse got a coveted back-haul to Fairbanks: a HUGE oil tank in need of repair -- FAST.  It took him 16 hours, but he made it back to the Carlile lot that night and, I'm sure, earned a nice paycheck.  Ace title still intact.

Fellow Lisa fans, Esquire magazine just named her "The Sexiest Trucker Alive" (radio chatter be dammed)!  You can read her interview and see her glammed up photo at the magazine's site HERE.

Ice Road Truckers airs Sunday nights on History Channel. To catch up on this season, click on over to where you'll also get more information, trucker bios, and an IRT app for your iPhone.


John said...

In casae you are interested I was in Border's tonight and saw a book you might like.

It is "On Thin Ice" by Hugh Rowland (and someone else).

TVFan said...

Thanks for the tip, John. I didn't know Hugh had written a book. I'll have to check that out! Thanks again!