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versation. He was headed for New Ipswich to pick up a load of
biomass chips. Willie Tibbets, another White Mountain Lumber
driver headed for Boston, caught up with us from behind and
added his input. By the time we rolled through Concord at 4: 30,
trucks and trailers were thick on the highway with a growing
number of passenger cars added to the mix. New Hampshire
was awake! I, however, was not and was beginning to have some
difficulty keeping my chin from bouncing off my chest.
By 5: 30, we were approaching the city, traffic was picking up,
and the sky was beginning to turn gray. The city skyline was just
visible in the predawn light. Ray laughed as I once again jerked
my head up quickly. He said, “You better wake up. Your naviga-
tional skills will be needed pretty soon!”
We drove into the city following our map and, thankfully,
clear directions. Ray skillfully changed lanes, threaded the big
truck down narrow streets, and easily handled tight corners
and busy intersections. Without mishap, we soon arrived at the
bridge. Before we had time to congratulate ourselves, Ray calmly
announced, “we’re in the wrong lane.” We hadn’t turned off at
the right place and, with traffic behind us and no way to back
up, we were forced to drive across the bridge and past the job-
site. There was no choice but to go around for another try. Using
our map, we did our best to loop through the city, down some
very narrow streets, and eventually we came back to where we
had entered. This time we pulled off at the correct place. After
waiting for nearly an hour, an irritated, foul-mouthed construc-
tion foreman approached and, without so much as a greeting,
informed us that we would be unloaded at the opposite end of
the bridge – the place where we had just mistakenly been.
With some additional maneuvering, we arrived at our new
unloading point and parked in the middle of a busy three-way
intersection, with traffic backed up behind us and pedestrians
and bicyclists swarming around all sides of the truck and trailer.
In the middle of all this, Ray was asked – shouted at – to back
around a corner and down a hill, through a narrow gate, and
around a tree. I would have hesitated to attempt this with my
pick-up truck, but Ray smiled, if not a little grimly, and said, “I’ll
give it a try.” He calmly pulled ahead, up over the curb, and shifted
into reverse. After only a couple tries and with unbelievable
skill, he was able to maneuver into the proper position, put on
his hardhat, chock the wheels, unstrap, and get unloaded.
After leaving the site, which provided its own share of
challenges, we reached the open highway and Ray reached up
and gave several blasts of the air horn to celebrate a successful
delivery and freedom from the city.
Our next stop was to pick up logs for the mill in Stratham,
New Hampshire. This is called a backhaul in trucker parlance;
transporting logs to the mill this way, since Ray is headed back
anyway, is less expensive than traveling empty one way to pick
them up. We pulled into the log landing at a Fort Mountain
Land and Timber harvest, and Ray inserted aluminum stakes
into sockets along the side of the flatbed trailer to convert it
for log-hauling duty. After a short conversation with the loader
operator, Ray backed up and was loaded very quickly with three
tiers of hemlock logs. He strapped down, and we were once again
underway. Arriving back at the mill, the trailer was unloaded,
and Ray removed and stowed the stakes, swept the trailer, and
headed into the office to see his “travel agent” and get his instructions for the next day’s run.
He then loaded his trailer
with lumber, and got ready to
do it all over again.
In my job as a procurement forester, I have the
opportunity to interact with
many loggers and truckers.
I am always impressed with
the dedication of these hard-working individuals – Ray
is no exception. He works
long hours every day, maintains his truck and trailer
impeccably, drives skillfully
and safely, and has a positive
attitude. He is a true trucking
Ross Caron lives in northern New
Hampshire and works as a procurement
forester. He enjoys a variety of outdoor
pursuits, reading, working with wood,
and managing his family’s woodlots.
Out of the city and a quick stop to pick up a load of logs to bring back to the mill.