Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Any Animal (no birds)

There’s not a lot of large animals prowling the streets of Finchley. Sure, we have foxes but they are largely nocturnal. There’s always the neighbourhood cats but it’s been a bit too warm for them to be out and about this week – they’re probably sunning themselves on someone’s garden decking 😉 If it was football season I’d probably be able to photograph a couple of non-league dogs with their humans but there’s still a couple of weeks to go. So I’m afraid my black & white animals are going to be insects.

Lets start with an insect that has probably caused more screams than Monsters Inc. – The Crane Fly. Along with Harvestmen and spiders it gets a bad rap largely because of that old children’s ditty ‘Ghosties and Ghoulies and Long-legged beasties’…etc. If I had a £1 for every time I’ve had to go into a tent at Scout camp to evict one of these after the occupants have carried out a panic evacuation I’d be quite a few pints of beer better off! This particular one is Tipula vernalis and it’s one of the largest……but like all Crane Flies it’s totally harmless!

Now we’ve got the bad guy out of the way we can look towards some of those we appreciate for their beauty. Here’s a Six spot Burnet moth feeding on Creeping Thistle……there was a colour shot of one of these in my previous post.

And a contra-jour shot of a Comma butterfly resting on Brambles……it hasn’t been savaged by a bird or Dragonfly – it’s wings are supposed to look ragged and are a very helpful identification feature 🙂 A colour version will follow when I get around to doing a Butterflies post.

Catch up with Cee’s B&W Photo Challenge Here.

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Moths

Some moths found on Long Lane Pasture this summer.

Burnet Companion…

Small China-mark…

Cinnabar…

Six-spot Burnet…

Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet…

Trucking Digest

I was somewhat surprised to find it’s Wednesday again – doesn’t time fly! This week it’s all about American Truck Sim as almost all my driving has been in the states. In my current profile I’ve reached the critical point where the garage gets upgraded, a second truck is purchased and a driver is employed. Much of the end of last week was spent grinding to get money for the second truck.

Most of the journeys were routine but I must relay the tale of one particular trip. I picked up a load of Toys in Fresno. The destination was Camp Verde just over 600 miles away. That is tight for time in a standard shift but possible if no traffic issues are encountered and the police don’t call me into every weigh-station on the way. The other issue was fuel – did I have enough? You can’t be entirely sure how many gallons you’ll use on any given run – again it’s down to road conditions and other factors that vary on every trip. Whilst I’m usually a very sensible driver, every now and then I like to take on a challenge 😉

I set off down the I5 to Bakersfield where my route took me through town in the early morning……before picking up Route 58 to Barstow. At Barstow I picked up I40 towards Kingman. The Arizona police at Topock often call me in to the weigh station but on this run they waved me through! With the higher speed limit in AZ I maintained 60mph through Kingman. Just past the Route 93 – Phoenix intersection the low fuel warning light came on. Time to press on regardless! I made it to Ash Fork and turned off I40 onto Route 89. There is a fierce climb on this route and some sharp corners that demand respect then a steep downhill section to pick up Route 169 at a T-junction (SCS mappers being even more liberal than usual with the map here). From here it’s a straight run through to Camp Verdi. I had just made it over the first climb when the engine cut. Decision time – stop or let the truck roll? I let it roll because I know there’s a service station just outside Camp Verde. It gathered speed down the hill towards a junction and I was praying that no one would pull out and force me to brake. It stayed clear and we hit the up slope beyond. Our speed dropped but amazingly we rolled over the top at around 25mph and then we were on the gentle down grade towards Camp Verde. The services came into sight as I rounded the last curve – we’re gonna make it! I had to brake gently to slow the truck and turn into the fuel pumps. We stopped right next to the pump but… It was the wrong pump! Aaagh!!! Now that’s what you call an epic fail 😉 Time to call the recovery people. It’s fun to remember that it is ‘just a game’ once in a while 🙂

By the way – I would have completed within my 11 hour shift! I want to tell you about another run to illustrate how much type of road, weight of load and gradients affect the time a journey will take. I picked up a load of Milk in Yuma which was bound for Las Vegas. Although the tanker is about the same size as a fuel tanker it’s almost twice the weight because of the greater density of milk compared with petroleum. In the real world you’d probably pick up Route 95 straight away but the southern section of that road isn’t on the game map so it’s Interstate 8 west to El Centro and then Route 111 north towards Indio. Around halfway along the 111 there’s a small town which I suspect represents Calipatria. There’s a busy crossroads here that you really have to slow down for and take your turn with the other traffic. Then, at the other end of town you will probably come to a scene like this……The ai vehicles invariably collide at this T-junction because they just don’t seem to see other vehicles. Then they sit there not doing anything. There’s only two ways to deal with this – either squeeze past the accident (ok if you’re travelling south but you’d probably get a wrong-side fine from the police if you try it going north) or quit the game and restart it which will remove the ai traffic. I did the latter on this occasion and even so had to avoid an ai truck turning across me as new traffic spawned! From Indio its I10 across to Blythe where we pick up the 95. That’s a road with steep grades and a level crossing at Vidal that has a 15mph speed limit! Here we are cresting another climb to the north of Vidal……At Needles it was a short run on I40 to Kingman before heading up the 93, climbing to the Hoover Dam and descending into Vegas……where I made delivery with not much of my 11 hour shift left. So a trip of 440 miles took as long as one of just over 600!

After that run it was time to head back to Bakersfield, buy a truck and hire my first employee. It would have been so simple to go down the road of another Peterbilt 579 Duty Cab. But there’s a new kid on the block – The Peterbilt 567. GTM, a group of modders led by SiSL, have created this truck for ATS and made it available through the Steam Workshop. Here’s their video advertising the 567…

…I think PACCAR should employ them in the marketing department don’t you! So I decided to buy one with a 450HP Cummins ISX15 engine and 13speed box. Here’s what she looks like…

I’ve passed the 579 to my new driver Etienne and he’s already making good money for Cal Republic Transport 🙂 I’ve been really enjoying the 567 and sometime soon I’ll be in a position to afford a third truck with a sleeper cabin. Another dilemma – should that be the classic Peterbilt 389 or the aerodynamic 579 or just maybe it could be another 567? I think I’ll wait a while before making that choice. I’ll share some trips in the 567 and hopefully from Europe too in next week’s Trucking Digest 🙂