STRANDED: Bison Transport driver, Norman Monkman, opted to rent a room rather than keep his truck idling for days at a time.
GOLDEN, B.C. – Several hundred truckers took a forced three-day vacation in a small ski resort town in B.C. last month, when snow, rain and avalanches caused the closure of Hwy. 1.
The highway both east and west out of Golden, a town of 4,000, was closed for almost three days, trapping approximately 500 drivers.
“It’s stupid, really,” said Glenn Moggy, a 41-year trucking veteran from Ontario stuck in Golden for almost three days. “I’ve never been held up like this before. Maybe for four or five hours, only. This is the worst.”
Moggy, who was carrying a load of steel for Laidlaw Carriers, was due in Winnipeg, but the closures forced him to sit still Jan. 18 – 20.
Trucks crammed the Golden Husky Truck Stop parking lot, forcing others to park along the side of the highway or downtown streets.
“There’s got to be at least 100 truckers here,” said truck stop manager Amy Briard, motioning to a crowd of truckers standing inside the small convenience store and restaurant. “They’re everywhere.”
Coffee and cigarettes were the big sellers for Briard, as well as anything with entertainment value for the marooned drivers.
“The newspaper’s all sold out. That never happens,” she said. “The truckers don’t care that the papers are old, they buy them anyway.”
Norman Monkman, who left Calgary in his truck carrying washers and dryers for Bison Transport, opted to spend the week at Packer’s Place Inn and Pub in town, rather than leave his truck idling overnight for warmth.
“The guys are sleeping in their trucks overnight. A lot of them just sit in their trucks, watching TV,” he explained, adding many of the drivers spend their day at the truck stop drinking coffee. “Talking shop of course.”
Although many rigs were equipped with a fridge, microwave, bunk beds and occasionally, even a couch, Monkman preferred the comfort of a rented room. “That way I get a shower and a bath. I don’t have that in my truck yet,” he said.
Trucker Josh Stevens took a hotel room at the Prestige Inn on Hwy. 1. Stevens, who works for Hulcher Professional Services out of Pasco, Wash., was heading to Revelstoke with a track loader to help with a train derailment in that town.
“This is as far as I made it,” he said. “I’ve never seen so many trucks in one town.”
There wasn’t much to do but wait, Stevens said. “I’ve been hanging out in the motel and that’s about it. Just walking back and forth to my truck. These roads are crazy. If I could get around the ice without breaking my neck, I’d be great.”
Stevens and his wife were scheduled to move into their first house on Tuesday, Jan. 25, but he said it looked like his wife would be packing solo.
Some trucks carrying livestock or perishables left town when Hwy. 95 south through Cranbrook opened on Jan. 20, but most decided to wait. Greg Swanson, owner of Packer’s Place Inn and Pub, had no complaints. “I guess we probably got most of the truckers that were parked downtown,” he said of the rooms he rented that week. “And the bar was good and busy in the afternoons.”