Truckin’ Ain’t For Sissies!

The title of this blog was seen just a few days ago on a guy’s shirt at a Victorville, California truck stop. Boy, have I learned in just the thirteen days I’ve been on the road how true that is! There’s so much to learn and so much to do. I’m being worked to the max right now as I learn the ropes of my new job with my ‘mentor” instructor. It’s been a constant go, go, go with my trainer who pauses to take no casualties. “Keep it moving” is his motto. He makes no money sitting idle!

So far in our travels we’ve spanned nearly 10,000 miles. Hard to believe. I never expected to travel so far in so short a time. It’s pretty much eight to ten hours of driving and then ten hours of sleep only to repeat the process over and over again. One guy drives as the other sleeps. I’ve lost control over my life for the next several weeks, with not much of a social life these days, but it’s worth the temporary sacrifice as my instructor tells me I’m ready to go “solo.” He’s confident I can handle the job alone but the company requires I remain in training for a total of 42 dispatched days. Just 29 more left to go.

It’s been difficult to keep track of time and even to remember where we originated our loads. Was it early this morning, last night or days before? Is it Tuesday or Wednesday? I’ve resorted to keeping a written record of our loads, dates, origins and destinations, least I forget. I’ve been traveling America but in reality seeing only portions of it along the way. I slept as we passed through Council Bluffs and Omaha as just one example. This will change when I get my own truck.

Something I’ve grown to enjoy is the shortest routing which takes us off the regularly travelled Interstates. You know the type — those two lane highways that join the small towns and communities you otherwise would never see. The kinds you see in the movies. It’s just as the song says, “Get your kicks along Route 66.”

In just the last few days we’ve been as far east as St. Paul, Minnesota (for a second time), including Chicago, Indiana and everywhere in-between. Two new states added to my discovery were Nebraska and Iowa. Among the highlights was our travel past Clear Lake, Iowa. I remembered it as the location where in 1959 singers Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Richie Valens performed their last concert. Shortly afterwards their plane, taking off from the local airport, crashed killing all aboard. There are of course no signs along the roadway, that mention it’s notoriety, but apparently there is a monument marking the crash site.

Since last Saturday, in addition to our trip back to Minnesota, we’ve been through towns like Cheyenne, Wyoming, Las Vegas, Des Moines, Iowa, Rialto and Santa Ana, California, as well as Salt Lake City and Seattle earlier today. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Vegas and I was amazed at the beautiful, huge and opulent hotels that have sprung up within feet of Interstate 15. Certainly an escape from the realities of life, to say the least.

Tomorrow we head out to St. Paul once again! The area reminds me a lot of western Washington. Lots of trees! My mentor says that last February it got down to 30 degrees below zero there. Thank the Lord it’s nearly June.

Washington and other nearby states could learn a lot from the Rest Areas in North Dakota and Minnesota. Their settings are noteworthy, their buildings are stone and beautiful, and some of the hand blow-dryers operate at warp speed.

So far we’ve hauled facial tissue, paper towels, 4500 lb rolls of paper as well as empty tin cans out of Owatonna, Minnesota. There were 172,800 of them to be exact weighing nearly 19,000 lbs. In Salt Lake we picked up a 30,700 lb load of various detergent soaps and took it to southern California. Interesting to see a huge warehouse that deals exclusively in soaps, and the smell was aromatic to say the least! Eventually we made our way to Henderson, Nevada (outside Las Vegas) where we picked up our heaviest load to date. Just over 45,000 lbs of Ocean Spray products (Cranberry Juice etc.) bound for Associated Grocers in Seattle.

I’m back in my temporary home of Lewiston, Idaho for just one night, then we’re back on the road tomorrow morning. I decided to treat myself to a motel room for the evening since it’s the first time I’ve slept outside the truck in nearly two weeks. Even made a trip to McDonald’s! It gets a little too cozy over time when you’re sharing small quarters with another guy. But he’s a good cook and has a lot of knowledge and old-fashioned “know-how” to share.

‘Til we “talk” again, thanks as always for stopping by. And the next time you curse that 18-wheeler that stands before you, remember that everything you own got to you via truck.

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2 comments on “Truckin’ Ain’t For Sissies!

  1. Connie says:

    Hi Rick,I’ve been enjoying your blog since I received it just before I left Clear Channel. Your writing style is great and it’s wonderful to hear you’re so excited about your new adventure. I wish you the best and hope to keep reading more from your experiences!!

  2. Karen says:

    Hi Rick, sounds like you are having a great time. I just wanted to stop by and say hello, and see how you are doing. Karen

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