Back on August 5th I gave a vaguely dystopian view of my gaming world but, in some ways, it was an accurate view – the game takes precedence over other things including normal life. But there is a wholesome side. The joy of taking part, of supporting your fellow gamers and enjoying the challenge. And, if something bad is happening IRL, then obviously, that would take precedence!

I hit the ground running on that first Friday morning and I knocked out 8 of the required deliveries in my first day. On the Saturday I completed the last 4 to meet the requirement for the personal goal in the community event. All of this work was done by Motown Dog, my Mack R…

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…That came at an unexpected price – Motown Dog, being underpowered and having a manual gearbox, requires a lot of work and all that double-declutching caused me to suffer swelling and a lot of pain in my left foot. It only became apparent after the damage was done as I walked out for a family meal on the Sunday. It meant I had to withdraw from doing the Wingate & Finchley team photo the following Thursday too as I was still in pain when walking. It’s still tweaky even now! That’s an eSports injury right there 😟👍

To progress with the driving I had to buy a new truck – a modern one that has an automatic gearbox and a retarder to make driving less foot heavy. If you recall, this is still a new profile so some options were out of my available choices due to my game level. I would probably have liked to have gone down the Mack road with an Anthem but I hadn’t found a Mack dealer to buy one (Motown Dog is effectively second hand and bought via the mod dealer). I looked around a number of other options – International (We already have an LT in service with the company at our Ontario base), Kenworth, Western Star and Freightliner. It wasn’t easy making a choice as there are so many trucks by those manufacturers that I can like. Having said that though, I was looking at something that would fit with our company profile of hauling Plant and Supplies for farming and industry. Motown Dog has great all round visibility and being able to look over your shoulder while reverse parking is a big benefit. What she doesn’t have is somewhere to sleep. That hasn’t been a big problem as I have tailored my rest stops to places in town or with hotels. Most of these trucks lose the rear view when you add sleeping accommodation!

Step up the Kenworth W990. I was surprised to find this truck had a 40″ sleeper option. It has been created as a ‘classic’ design on a modern chassis and that small sleeper is a throwback to the days of 36″ ‘coffins’. An additional benefit is the fact that the sleeper has windows in the back! For the sort of loads that we intend to carry normally, that is a huge bonus – seeing where the rear end of a lowboy trailer is ranks high on the desirable list! The only real issue was the provenance – the truck is based on the Kenworth T680. I dislike the T680 mainly because of its appearance. When I have driven one it has been an ok modern truck that performs similarly to the Peterbilt 579. I looked long and hard because, my intention this time around is to do stints of 100,000 miles in each truck before changing to another. We’re going to be companions for a long time!

I decided that this truck (another mod by Harven) was the way for me to go. I selected the mid-length chassis with the 260 gallon tanks. Initially that felt a bit of a mistake because the turning circle was huge compared to Motown Dog, but it is the right one. I opted for the 455HP Paccar engine and their 12 speed automatic box. There was an issue with the available choices of paint scheme. I now remember that this was an issue when I first tried this mod. This time around I tried out our White with the Orange and some Red lining…

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…I wasn’t totally happy but we headed out to do our first job. Note that in keeping with tradition, new truck = rain! 😅 Since then I have tracked down another mod that provides a good modern paint scheme option and using our Company Red and White, I think I now have a very good looking truck…

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…And she now has a name – ‘Miss Lola’. A play on words from the Missoula garage where she is based. Inside, she is equipped in the manner of one of the classic big rigs like the Kenworth W900 or the Peterbilt 389. Lots of gauges and some nice wood and leather trim…

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…The second shot was taken as I went to the bank 😎 A fellow driver recommended popping into Uncle Viktor’s down the block for lunch – Excellent Blini’s apparently 😅 There’s always a bit of good natured banter to go around in our trucking community, even if it is virtual!

A lot of work has been done over the last week. We’ve helped the community towards the 100 million miles total for the Cruising Montana event – there are only around 4 million miles outstanding as I write this post and we’ll be done tomorrow! I’ve also cleared off 4 of the 5 new achievements in the week – several of those rely on random generation of the required cargo so many have had to be done as hire jobs rather than company work – but we’ve had to keep the clock ticking over and Miss Lola already has 15000mi on the odometer!

I will try to share some scenery shots from Montana in the future but, for now, here’s Miss Lola enjoying the flowers at a garden centre!..

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…And here’s what she looks like when she’s ‘Comin’ at You’…

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…very ZZ Top 😂

Last time, we joined Motown Dog on a night trip from Santa Fe to Kingman. Today we’re going to join Azyet as she takes a load of Stone Wool from Esbjerg in Denmark to Le Mans in France. It’s quite a long trip and we’ll need a rest stop around the halfway point. Lets do a quick introduction. Azyet is a DAF XF 105 equipped with a 460HP engine and a 12 speed automatic gearbox. In addition to the engine brake, she also has a retarder to help with slowing down. She’s hauling one of our company’s curtainside trailers.

We collected our load from the harbour and set off with a view of the docks…

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Not far along the E20 heading east, we found someone who was not having a good day…

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…A reminder of the importance of securing the load correctly before setting out. At Kolding, we picked up the E45 heading south to make our way into Germany. At the border near Flensberg, the road becomes Autobahn 7 and we continue over the Kiel Canal…

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…It’s quite a climb over that bridge and despite having a relatively light load, we lost some speed. But the guy who was overtaking us lost a lot more and had to try again on the down hill after the apex! I don’t know what his problem is – I’m cruising at the truck speed limit of 80kmh and the retarder is holding my speed to a little over that. He’s risking a fine if the Polizei spot him 🙄 On these roads Azyet is very happy cruising at 80 in top gear and she will put in a pretty economical performance over distance.

Staying on the ‘7’ and we dive under the Elbe River at Hamburg, surfacing in the docks area of the city…

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…Just south of Hamburg we leave Autobahn 7 and take Autobahn 1…

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… which will take us south west past Bremen. There’s some nice rolling countryside around here and we’re enjoying the ride…

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…the ‘1’ will take us most of the way to the Belgian border so we can relax and enjoy the drive. Can’t relax too much though as there are always things going on including other trucks joining the autobahn at slower speeds. This was near Osnabrück…

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…a Bring truck pulling out. With a string of traffic in the fast lane I had no choice but to slow and then grind my way up the hill at his speed.

As we pass the Kamener Kreuz junction we can admire a sculpture by Alex Gockel featuring 8 angels carrying a helicopter painted in the colours of the ADAC – Germany’s rescue helicopter service…

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…Popularly known as the ‘Gelbe Engel’ – Yellow Angels

Not far to go on my first shift now, At Westhofen we diverge onto the 45 and see the first signs indicating Liège…

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…the 45 will connect us to autobahn 4 to pass south of Köln. You can see the famous railway bridge and cathedral in the distance as we cross the Rodenkirchener bridge…

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We’re fast approaching the Belgian Border, but I plan to pull in at the last German services to refuel (it’s cheaper in Germany), and park up for the night. I planned the stop at the start of my journey and here we are on time with a few minutes to spare on our driving hours…

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The fuel cost €766 and early next morning we were off and driving across the border into Belgium. Initially on the E40, we picked up the E42 as we passed Liège and continued past the airport…

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…This is an older un-rebuilt section of the #ETS2 map and some of the bends along the route are unrealistic. I always slow to 70kmh for the section past the junctions to Luxembourg and Reims. Some time ago SCS introduced random events which placed roadworks and accidents at different locations on the road. But on the older maps some roadworks were permanent structures, like this one near Namur…

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…There have been some changes over the years as if the work is gradually nearing completion and I assume this fixed roadworks will disappear when the mapping is rebuilt in this area.

We picked up the E19 near Mons and crossed the border into France…

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…where the E19 becomes France’s A2 autoroute. We’re now into the Peage system and during the rest of the trip we will pay €151 in tolls 😟 The plan is to head west towards Le Havre so we picked up the A29. We cruised along this road maintaining a steady 80kmh. Although the limit for trucks on much of the Autoroute network is 90kmh, it’s more economical to drive at a slightly slower pace. We only drive to the full 90kmh when we’re tight for time.

Not long before we reach Le Havre I spot the name Paluel on the road signs…

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…I’m going to turn off there and take a short cross-country drive to pick up the A28. Coming off the autoroute means we have to pay the first of two tolls on this run…

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…They have security guys at every peage – probably there to deter acts of vandalism.- Nous Français détester donner de l’argent au gouvernement 😅

The short trip on the D490 has its benefits because we get to cross the River Seine via the Pont de Brotonne…

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…and nothing says ‘Bienvenue en France’ better than a field of Tournesol…

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…Sunflowers 😎👍

Off the D490 we picked up the A28 heading southwest. There are some lovely forested areas here…

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…and long open viaducts carrying us far above deep valleys…

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…That speedo is still sitting resolutely on 80kmh😅 Then, almost before we know it, we’re there…

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We dropped off our load at Wilnet…

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…watched leaving by the security guard. Then it was off to get Azyet maintained (another €494) and find a hotel for the night. Another job completed and 1452 more kilometres on the odometer. Fuel consumption worked out at 24.2l/100km or 11.67mpg in UK measures. 👍

Here’s the in-game map of where we’ve been. Northern section – Esbjerg to near Dortmund…

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…and the southwestern section from near Dortmund to Le Mans…

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I hope you have enjoyed our trip 😎👍

Middle of the month and time to join in with Clare’s Share Your Desktop Challenge. Same format for me as last month’s entry – two desktops.

On my Gaming PC I have a desktop that ties in nicely with Clare’s, since Space is involved. This is a screenshot from a game called X4…

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It’s a view of my ship, a small fighter, docked at station. The ship is an Elite Vanguard and is the first ship you are given when you start the game. It’s an interceptor rather than a dogfighter. As I’ve only recently started playing this game, I can’t really tell a lot more about it and certainly no plot details. I’m not even sure it has one in the starting option I chose – more of a sandbox where you make your own way in the galaxy😅

On my Photography PC things are a lot simpler. Here’s a photo taken on Brompton Road…

Robinsons PE56 YXS on Brompton Road

Centrepiece of the image is a Volvo FH12 belonging to Robinson’s Haulage of Sandy. Fitted with a 520HP engine, the tractor unit has a 6×2 Tag-lift chassis – note that the centre axle is the driven one. This configuration is a little unusual in London as it is commonly favoured by companies that work on untarmacked roads. There is also a crane fitted behind the cab to assist with loading flatbed trailers. The truck conforms to the ‘You can never have too many lights’ rule-of-thumb and has a nice set of air-horns too😅 If you look in the centre of the windscreen you can see an Angry Duck – the hood ornament from Rubber Duck’s Mack truck in the 1978 film Convoy. There are a lot of other ‘Volvo’ details added to the vehicle which tells me that the driver loves his truck! Finally, for those that haven’t recognised the large building in the background – it’s Harrods 😎