DEFIANCE, Ohio — Rather than take a direct route toward a Canada-US border crossing, The General has been getting off the big US highways to check out towns like Napoleon, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and this pleasant but bullishly named burgh.
The main reason is a lack of space under some of the overpasses on Michigan’s Interstate routes. The bronze sculpture of Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock, as strapped to a flatbed trailer, reaches a total of 14 feet 2 inches from the ground. That’s too tall to get under some older highway spans. Generally speaking (no pun intended), anything over 13 feet 6 inches tall starts getting into tricky territory.
So The General’s chauffeur, Ken Henry, has been taking his transport truck up and down a host of secondary roads in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan that do not have any dangerously low overheads. It makes for quite the zig-zag route, and makes the journey take longer, but at least The General will reach his destination intact.
Ken, an even-keeled guy who lives near Los Angeles when he’s not roaming North America, is a veteran driver. He logs 100,000 miles a year and has hauled loads through all 48 of the lower states, plus nine provinces.
But the former US Navy engineer admits this trip has had its challenges, and not just the extra height. Taking a statue thousands of kilometres on an open trailer isn’t easy to begin with; the irregular shape and protruding arms, head etc make it difficult to wrap, strap and tarp in a way that keeps out the wind and weathers the elements.
Fortunately the elements haven’t been a problem, as The General has enjoyed an almost totally dry trip across the continent. But as we know, the tarp was ripped to pieces by the wind (and as a result The General has a better view of those towns he’s visiting).
Shortly after daybreak on Sunday, Ken will pull out of the Walmart parking lot in Napoleon and resume his game of cat-and-mouse with the pesky bridges. His patience will be worth it, because The General will reach Brock University in time for Monday’s 11 a.m. welcoming party.
To everyone at the University: The General will have travelled more than 4,000 kilometres from Joseph, Oregon to come and be part of the Niagara community. Please wear something red on Monday to show him a Brock University welcome.