New things on the horizon…

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Hello my lovelies. I know, I know, I’m an ass for leaving you all in the dark. Look, it’s hard to come up with interesting and sometimes funny content when you’re driving the same 5 highways and are working 15-16 hour days all while trying to grow and foster a new relationship. Trust me, I thought of this blog and many of you often.

Life, however has changed.

Safety gear is mandatory but we aren’t discussing the hair

I’ve decided to go back over the road, starting today. It was a hard decision emotionally but an easy decision financially. I am not adverse to hard work, but I want to be compensated fairly. In intermodal I was working twice as hard for half the pay and after a year, I was done with that noise.

So expect to see more from me in the near future. I have big surprises and some really great things to talk to you all about. I’m excited about the future and really excited to have a little more time to get back to writing.

So, stay tuned. 💋

Where is Tj?

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Hi all. Sorry I’ve been out of touch for a bit. Life working Intermodal is tough. I can honestly say that I haven’t worked this hard since I did drywall work back in the 90’s.

Life is good living in Chicago and I’m pretty happy overall. One of the problems with keeping up this blog is that I kinda do the same thing day in/day out now. While I’m still navagating the concrete seas, there is only so much I can write about the 200 miles of the same highway I travel each day.

Sure, I could wax poetically about the traffic in the greater Chicagoland area and how much it sucks (OMG IT SUCKS SO BAD) but really if you’ve ever driven in Chicago or any major metropolitan area you already know what I’m talking about.

My life now is so much different than it was a year ago. I sleep in my bed (not in my truck) almost every night. I no longer have to wait in line for a shower or wear shower shoes. I can make plans with friends and family members on a regular basis. Overall I kinda have the best of both worlds.

On the downside, I do work 6 days a week and having a 12-14 hour day isn’t an anomaly but rather a regular occurrence. Because I’m pretty much driving the same route day in and day out, it’s pretty boring (again, this is why I haven’t updated).

What I can talk about are personal matters. Things like Carlene! My new snazzy car that I love. With winter in the Midwest, her heated seats and steering wheel make a world of difference.

I will always love Large Marge, but for zooming around the city, this baby is pretty sweet.

I can always tell you about my new tattoos…

I could tell you about my change of hair because I’m no longer Purple but Teal.

Most importantly, I have the closest thing to a home that I’ve had the last few (9ish) years. I have fully reintegrated back into Chicago life and being home is the best feeling in the world.

I’ve had my ups and downs, including spending a few days in the hospital due to a domestic cat bite. Hint, if you’re bitten by a cat and they break the skin, go get on antibiotics. Cat bites can quickly turn into cellulitis or become septic and hearing them discuss posible surgical intervention wasn’t fun.. I’ll spare you from the pictures because they are bloody and rather gross.

As for driving, I drive the same roads almost every day. In Chicago it’s 90/94, 55, 290, and 294, out of the city proper it’s 80. From there I hit 65 and head down to Indiana and then 69. If I’m lucky I head to Ohio and hit 70 then 270. That’s pretty much it. I go to the same 4-6 shipper/receivers. My job has become boring and predictable. Where last year the passing of the seasons seemed to happen over night as I spent several weeks in the south while the north was changing and shedding it’s leaves, this year I’ve been able to slowly watch the progression. Where I used to have to keep both summer and winter clothes available because who knows when I’m going to be in South Florida and then sent up to Calgary in December, now I can safely put up my summer clothes for the next few months.

My life is markedly different and there are trade offs. I don’t make the money I used to being over the road, but I also get to sleep in my own bed almost every night. I still have an over night about once a week, but I’m home relatively early the next day. I don’t get to see different cities and states, or the mountains anymore, but I get to see my friends and family more often.

The biggest change and the thing that makes me happy that my life has changed is having a kitchen again. I’ve been making soups and broths and all of it makes me happy. That’s what I do when I’m stressed or have too much on my mind; I cook. It keeps me from acting out on my feelings. I don’t eat my feelings anymore but I sure as shit cook for them.

Anyway, I just renewed the lease on this blog so I’ll still be around but I’ll really only be sharing things when things happen…and things don’t really seem to be happening all that often.

I am heading to Mexico City in about a week so expect a post on that shortly.

Love you my lovelies.

Witches, Ink, and Lobster…

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I dream a lot while on the road. It’s a hold over from when I was a child, bored in the classroom and staring out the window wishing I was anywhere else. What else are you supposed to do while looking out the window? Anywhooooo…

One of the things I dream about is who I am and who I really see myself as. After years and years of taking care of other people, I’m finally putting myself first and it’s sometimes a strange feeling. If I hadn’t become a mother in 1993, my life would have been so much different. Who is the real me? The person I was on the path to become or the person I ultimately became? Considering I haven’t felt like I was in my real skin for years, I’m beginning to realize the real me is somewhere buried and I’m slowly digging her out.

When I was a child I had a small “to-do” list. Some would call it a bucket list but for me it was things I wanted to do. They were all relatively easy things and I’ve accomplished most if not all of them. Actually, the last one still lingering around is hang gliding. I’m gonna have to do something about that.

The list was this:

Go sky diving

Go hang gliding

Ride/drive a motorcycle

Go surfing

Go scuba diving

Get a tattoo

I don’t know why my 8-10 year old self wanted a tattoo. It’s not like they were a thing in the late 70’s/early 80’s but I always always always wanted one.

My first tattoo was at the age of 25. I had just been faced with a breast cancer scare and found out it was benign. It’s a small piece on my chest that hasn’t aged well. After that first prick of the tattoo needle, I was hooked. Being a single mom for years, I didn’t have a lot of opportunities for more ink, but that never stopped my dreaming. My next tattoo was at the age of 35, or 10 years later. It’s a much larger, geekier, and intricate piece and it did nothing to assuage the desire for more ink. My next piece was at the age of 45 (are we seeing a pattern or what) and it was the first “dealers choice” tattoo. It was by a Chicago artist that I had subtly been stalking. After that, I decided that I had plenty of bare skin and I wanted to cover it with art.

Sometimes I know what I want. Sometimes I let fate guide my hand (as I did in Dublin when I got Lemmy the Octopus on my arm.) There is one artist that I’ve been following for years. Her name is Kelly Doty. I had heard from her from a friend, but many people were introduced to her through Ink Masters where she came in Third place behind the first ever female winner of the competition Ryan Ashley Markley. Her style is considered New Skool and it’s a style that speaks to me on many levels.

After getting Lemmy, which was technically my 7th, I knew I wanted my next tattoo to be from Kelly. I filled out my request on her website and after a bit of back and forth with her assistant I was given a spot to get a delirium tattoo.

Delirium is one of my favorite characters from the Sandman comic by Neil Gaiman. These stories were a lifeline to me in many ways when I was a teenager. Even today, I will reread and visit with my old friends from time to time. Delirium always felt misunderstood, which is exactly how I felt (feel) most of the times. One of my favorite moments that has always stuck with me was this exchange:

“Delirium: “What’s the name of the word for the precise moment when you realize that you’ve actually forgotten how it felt to make love to somebody you really liked a long time ago?”
Dream: “There isn’t one.”
Delirium: “Oh. I thought maybe there was.” 

Delirium was once delight but even delirium has forgotten why she changed.

Once my appointment with Kelly was made, I booked my hotel room and before booking my flight I invited my sister-from-another-mister Tonya to join me. She booked her flight connecting through Chicago and I met her on the plane. It all worked perfectly.

After landing in Boston, we picked up our rental car and headed up the coast to Salem, MA. Instead of taking the interstate, I of course took the scenic route taking us along the beach and through small towns. We of course had to stop and put our feet in the sand as soon as we could.

This last picture would perfectly encapsulate the next few days of our trip. Lots of silliness and laughter.

After we checked into our hotel we decided we needed drinks and seafood for dinner. This would become a theme for us over the next few days.

The next day dawned and I was a bundle of nerves. I didn’t know what my tattoo was going to look like but I knew it would be fabulous. We ate breakfast in the restaurant in our hotel and I opted for the salmon and crab cake benedict which was almost too pretty to eat.

After breakfast we did a bit of walking and stumbled into this resale shop that had these amazing dolls.

I apologize for the glare, but these were just amazing and I tried my best to get clear pictures. These were made by @KatCreepyCreations you can also follow her on facebook at Kat’s Creepy Creations.

After walking around it was finally time to head to the shop.

Helheim Gallery was everything I wanted it to be. Once I walked in I knew it was exactly where I was supposed to be. Meeting Kelly, the artist, was awesome and I really enjoyed her professionalism and her movie selection. Look, anyone who puts on Tank Girl for me while tattooing is going to have a huge piece of my heart forever.

So, after 9 hours and without further ado, I present Delirium.

I seriously couldn’t be happier with her. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but after being a lurker of Kelly’s art for a while, I knew she would be spectacular and she truly is. I have several tattoos, but I’ve never been stopped as many times or had so many people comment on this one particular piece of art. I am truly humbled and honored to wear this piece and I truly hope that Kelly enjoyed her time with me and the the finished work.

It’s hard being a living piece of canvass. There are things you want to see, but you also want to be cognizant of an artists vision. While this isn’t simply a piece of art that’s hanging on a wall, but rather one that’s carved into your skin, it’s important to have the safety and space to work in conjunction with your artist to meet both of your needs.

The hardest thing about this tattoo is that it’s on my left arm. The arm that’s exposed to the most sunlight. The arm that is darker than the other and makes me feel like a bit of a freak. I’ve devised a system to ensure it stays awesome. This system is comprised of high SPF and a bandana to cover it in full sun. I love her so much that she’s forcing me to take care of myself. Wild!

After the tattoo, I surprised my lovely travel mate with a trip up the coast for lobsters in Maine. Ok, it wasn’t a complete surprise, but she didn’t really know what to expect.

The best thing about New England is that everything is relatively close to everything else. Coming from the the Midwest, it take HOURS to get to something cool from somewhere else cool. This really isn’t’ the case in New England. After a drive of little more than an hour we reached our next destination.

Our dinner before…

And after…

Despite my objections, Tonya demanded I wear the bib.

The next night, we had plans to take a Witch Walking Tour and while it was interesting, we were really hungry for Lobster Bisque so we left the tour early and headed to Turners Seafood.

Look, I’m not one of those people who gets overly emotional about their food, but I swear their lobster bisque brought me to tears. They of course had oysters and a lovely house gin drink, of which I had to sample. The ambiance was dark so the pictures really don’t do it justice.

If you ever have a chance to visit Salem, I highly recommend the trip. If you’re looking for an amazing piece of art to adorn your skin, give a shout out to any one of the artists at Helheim Gallery. While I have a piece by Kelly, I totally would love art by the other artists as well. These cats have it going on.

Thanks for reading my lovelies. Comment, share, and spread the love. Xoxo

Who said you can’t go home again?

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Ok sorry for the very long hiatus. I was making a whole bunch of changes.

First, I’m still a trucker. No worries there my dears. I really do love what I do even if I really wish I could legally squash most drivers on the road under my tires. Sorry, I know that’s not nice but that’s just the way it is.

Secondly, while still working as a trucker I’m no longer on the long haul. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, I’m now an Intermodal Driver. As an OTR (over the road) trucker I would pick up deliveries from the shippers and take them to the receivers usually in different states. Now I pick up deliveries from the shippers and take them to the rail yard to be put on a train. Once near their final destination, another driver will pick up the trailer and take the product to the receiver.

What this means in the long run is that I get to be home more often. Not my home of Washington, but my forever and always home of Chicago.

By the age of 48 I’ve lived in 9 different states. No matter where my drivers license said I lived, if someone asked me where I was from I always said Chicago. I will always and forever say Chicago. Chicago is where the incarnation that is me was born and it is forever branded on my soul. I will always want Chicago thin crust pizza over anything else. I will always love the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks (sorry Sox suck) even if I don’t consider myself a sports fan. I will always think that Lake Michigan has magic, Sue the dinosaur is just sleeping, and the lions outside the Art Institute will come alive to protect the city if needed.

This is my skyline…ok it’s not the best shot but I don’t drive on water and you’re just gonna have to take what I give you. Oh sorry, I slipped into mom mode there for a moment. You have no idea how happy it makes me to see these buildings everyday. When I moved back to Chicago in 2014, I didn’t really move back on my own terms. I was running away from something and someone and I came back with no plan in mind and no real thought about what I was going to do or even who I was anymore. All I knew was I wanted change. I left in 2016 after being here for 2 years and after a bit of a walkabout I became a trucker. Now, I’m back and man am I back with a vengeance. Ok not a vengeance but…you know what, I am back with a vengeance. Rawr!!!

So what’s different about, as I like to call it, running the rails? Well for starters I seem to be going to the same places time and time agian. This works for my brain beacuas it allows me to make connections with people. Maybe it’s my winning smile. Maybe it’s the purple hair. Maybe it’s my puppy wiggle butt at being able to make friends and get to know people again, but it’s been pretty easy for people to rememeber me. That, is of course, just how I like it.

Many intermodal trailers are these huge box affairs that have to be placed on a chassis. Our trailers are just like normal trailers and don’t require any additional equipment. A giant crane comes by and picks up the trailer to load it onto the train car. It’s all pretty neat if you ask me.

All in all, while the work is the same, it’s also much more physical. Where before I might have the same trailer with me for a week or two, this one involves multiple drop and hooks. I’m constantly out of my truck, winding up/down landing gear, crawling beneath my trailer for pre-trip inspections, and I do this multiple times a day.

That’s been some of my delay on updating you, my lovelies. It’s hard work. Much harder than just driving down the road. The best part of this new gig….NO MORE HAVING TO DEAL WITH ATLANTA DRIVERS!!!!

I have a few things to update you all on, and I will try to get back on a better schedule to keep you all in the loop.

Xoxo

390 days…

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I’m not going to lie, my lovelies, it’s been a rough couple of weeks.

I’m pretty in touch with my emotions and sometimes I can let a tear or three escape unbidden, but rarely do I outright sob. After my apple load, I got a call from my fleet manager which is a rare occurrence. We engaged in a bit of small talk and then the dropped the ultimate bomb…

“Well Tj I have some news. I’m not going to be your fleet manager anymore.”

I didn’t just sob, I ugly cried. I’ve been with Kyle since my last trainer and he was perfect for me. He got my idiosyncrasies and left me alone. I would touch base with him about once a month but other than that I did my job and he gave me the space to do so. He understood (because I told him) that I don’t respond well to micromanagement and he was completely on board with that.

After I got myself under control, I told him I was sad but I wished him well in his new division. We talked about my new fleet manager and he said he had filled him in about me and what I do and how I do it. He also told me to keep his cell number and to call him if I ever got into a bind and needed his help. ❤

We also talked about a few other possibilities for me. Those are what has been occupying my brain for the last couple of weeks. Decisions…Decisions…

More on that in a moment. For now, lets talk about those 390 days…

390 days…That’s how long it has taken me to get to the point where I can say I’ve traveled all of the contiguous United States. Finally! I did it.

The last state I needed to finish the route was Maine. After kicking around in the Midwest for a few days waiting to see if I was going to get a Canada load, I finally told my new fleet manager, who I’m still getting used to, that I needed a high dollar load to round out the week. I wasn’t holding my breath, but lo and behold, he came through. To top it all off, it was a load to Maine. The last state that Large Marge and I have traveled.

The route was mostly familiar, that is until I got to Massachusetts. I luckily haven’t spent a lot of time on the East Coast. For one, every road seems to be a toll road so it can be quite expensive. For another, the traffic just sucks everywhere you go and parking is a nightmare.

Once I got north of Boston everything seemed to calm down, I headed into New Hampshire for a moment and then….

(Please excuse the reflections in my window. )

I can now say that I’ve traveled to every state in the contiguous US. It only took me a smidge over a year but I did it. Yay me!

One of the more amusing signs I saw while in Maine was this one.

Because I was as bit sleep deprived and mostly because I’m silly, all I could think was “Do they use moose as speed bumps?” Alas, no moose were spotted by Large Marge, to which I’m actually pretty happy. I think that’s one critter she would be on the losing end of. I did have to dodge a few flying turkeys but no moose.

After dropping off in Maine, I headed back down to Massachusetts for my next two deliveries. After a wee bit of sleep I headed back towards the Midwest to get set up for a Canada run. I dont mind heading to the North East but I’m super happy to not kick around there for very long. The roads are small and narrow, the places to park are small and too few, and the drivers are right up there with Atlanta drivers for rudeness and dangerous behaviors.

As I was heading out I came across another fiery vehicle in the roadway. This time it was in the southbound lanes while I was in the northbound lanes. I felt sorry for the two miles of backups it caused and I sincerely hope no one was seriously injured.

Now back in the Midwest and loaded with beer (my trailer not me) I’m slowly making my way to Michigan. This may be my last Canada run. With the change of my fleet manager I’ve decided to make a change of my own. In a few months I will no longer be doing long hauls.

I’ve ultimately decided to change divisions and work in the Chicagoland area for our Intermodal Division (if they’ll have me.) This division picks up trailers from the rail yards and delivers them to customers in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Iowa. If for some reason they turn me down, I may be changing companies.

Making a major change is something that’s been on my mind for a while. After Ireland, I knew that I couldn’t keep running the way I was and something needed to give. I’ve been toying with several different options but this will give me what I want the most. Time to be with my family and to have a real life again.

I’ve enjoyed my time out here and getting to see parts of the country I haven’t before but it’s really starting to take a toll on me both mentally and emotionally. I should have everything in place within the next few months so until then, I’m just going to run hard and fast. I have a major tattoo appointment at the end of May in Salem, MA and then I will need a trip to Washington to settle my affairs there before starting the new gig.

I have a lot of respect for the men and women who can do this job for years, living full time on the road. For me, I need more socialization with my loved ones to keep me sane and healthy. I also need my family to help keep me in check when I start to make stupid impulsive decisions. Hey, I’m a Gemini. Impulsive is my middle name, or it would be if I had a middle name.

Last but not least by any means. This last week I lost someone dear to me. If you are struggling with mental illness, it’s ok. You’re not alone. There are people who care and someone will always be there to listen to you if you need to talk. If talking isn’t your thing there is also help available by text. Here in the US text HOME to 741741 for 24/7 crisis support. I see you. You are not alone.

For those who are not struggling, someone you know may be. Be free with your affection and kindness. One of the things I tend to do when I’m struggling is I reach out to a random person and tell them why they matter to me and that I think they are awesome. Almost every time I’ve done this the recipient has responded with “OMG you have no idea how much I needed that right now.” We all struggle from time to time and life has a way of making us feel isolated and alone even when surrounded by friends and family. Love on one another more. Tell people that matter to you why they matter to you. Perform a random act of kindness. Just be good to yourself and to others.

I love you all. Even those I haven’t met. I’ve got loads of love to give so come get some.

Until next time my lovelies.

Xoxo

Oops!…I did it again.

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Yeah that’s me taking a sly shot of the officer who pulled me over within a mile of leaving my Washington apple pick up. It’s been quite a while since I saw the flashing red and blue klaxons behind me. As I signaled and pulled over I did a quick run through of the last few minutes. I couldn’t come up with anything concrete as to why I was being pulled over so I decided to just be my usual charming self. Yes, I’m shameless.

The officer came to my passenger side and climbed up on the truck and the exchange went something like this.

Officer: Good morning, I just stopped you for a routine Inspection.

Me: Oh good because ::cough-cough-coughing up a lung-cough:: I didn’t think I had done anything wrong. This is the first time I’ve been pulled over for an inspection. ::cough-cough-who needs lungs-cough::

Officer: *Looking concerned* Are you all right miss?

Me: Oh sure. I’m just slowly dying of this horrible cold some evil child gave me in Chicago. Nothing to worry about. *queue another coughing fit*

Officer: Well you might want to get that cough looked at. I’ll be quick so you can get on your way and get some rest.

So he does his thing; runs all my info, runs my truck, runs the trailer, looks at my logs, looks at my bills of lading.

Officer: Everything looks great. I just need to get your paperwork and you can be on your way.

Me: ::coughing uncontrollably:: Nods and waves

Officer: You really should have that looked at.

When he comes back we chat a bit about the weather, his respect for what I do because he could never do it (which I echoed when it came to his job), and general pleasantries. He suggested again that I go have my cough looked at and I thanked him for his council and concern.

Cha-Ching! That was the easiest $100 I’ve ever made, as that’s my bonus every time I pass an inspection.

The rest of my time in Washington was actually really beautiful. It was in the high 40’s, the sun was shining, and the drive was easy and familiar.

I really loved the shadows and reflections of the mountains in the Columbia River.

This load was a two stop pick up. As I wound my way to my second stop I pondered the world and my place in it. Reflections aren’t just for water, you know.

At my second stop, I was still feeling rough. Luckily they had just what the doctor ordered.

An apple a day and all, right?

As I sat there being loaded I started to do some trip planning and opened up my weather app to see what was going on in Wyoming (because that’s what you do this time of year).

Well….shit. None f that looks good. While it could be gone by the time I got down there, I decided to look at alternate routes and decided staying north of I-80 might be in my best interest for this run.

My first stop was back in Post Falls, ID which is always my first stop for fuel when leaving Canada. There is a Mexican restaurant I’ve always wanted to try so after I got parked I walked the block down and was happily surprised.

While I would usually order tacos (because tacos are life) I decided to have the Carne Asada Plate so I would have leftovers in the morning. Also, pictured is my IPad because I was writing my last post and my scurvy preventative drink.

Up the next morning and off to Montana. There I raced a bit with a train and was having a great time looking at the graffiti art along its side.

I love the smoking frog. I know some say this is vandalism but I seriously have a very soft spot for good graffiti art. It’s more than just scratching a name on a window. It’s expressive, colorful, and oftentimes playful. A good artist not only makes his mark he/she also makes a statement.

Currently I’m in South Dakota headed towards Iowa. Not much to report today.

Until next time my lovelies. Xoxo

The curse of the odd numbered year…

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Years ago I realized something; Every bad decision or not so pleasant thing seemed to occur on odd numbered years. It was really more of a joke and a passing thought but as I pondered the idea I realized it was true. Every hardship I had lived through did indeed happen on odd numbered years. Heck, I’m even including my own birth since I hadn’t had a say in that unfortunate event either.

This year, like so many other odd numbered years, is already showing it’s going to take some fortitude to get through. While it started out fine it’s seems to be slowing turning on me.

Take for instance this last Calgary run. It started out easy enough. After my respite with family I headed down to Joliet to pick up some candy headed to Michigan. Super easy run. After that I set up for my Calgary load by dropping my trailer and heading to the store for supplies and medicine. I always forget that kids are walking germ factories and that playing with them during cold and flu season is a risk to my health. I was now feeling the beginnings of a cold and I needed meds to combat it.

After supplies were procured, I settled in for the night for my morning pickup. Things went just as planned and I was off for Canada. As I drove through the outskirts of Chicago and Madison I blew kisses to my family. I don’t know what it was about this trip but the homesickness hit me harder than it has in a while. Actually that’s not true, I know what it was. It was being enveloped by love that did it. That and making new friends.

As I made my first stop for the night in Minneapolis I was in full on agony. This cold came on hard and fast and my chest was feeling constricted and my sinuses were screaming at me. I’ve mentioned it before but I’ll say it again; It really sucks to be sick in a truck. It makes everything just feel worse because work/life balance isn’t really a thing in this job. #truckerslife is just that. We live, eat, breathe, and sleep this life.

My second day was the biggest struggle as I just really wanted to sleep the whole day away. I did stop on my break and take a two hour nap which really helped. Minot, SD was my next stopping point. I had originally planned on heading to the movies to see Captain Marvel but with my nap I was behind schedule and missed the last showing. It was for the best though as I really just wanted and needed more sleep.

Upon waking the next morning,. I felt as if I had a boulder on my chest and all I could think was, well shit. I’ve had issues with colds turning into bronchitis most of my life. I guess we’ll see what Canadian healthcare looks like if this turns bad.

I pushed on to Calgary, feeling horrible but not horrible enough to go to the doctor, made my delivery, slept and headed out for Washington. This is where things took a decided turn for the worst.

When I leave Calgary I’m always empty. Empty trailers are great because they save on fuel consumption and I can easily climb the hills around Crows Nest Pass without too much of a slow down.

As I headed out of Calgary everything was going grand. The sun was shining, I finally was feeling a relief from the pressure of my chest congestion, and one of my best girls was off on an adventure of her own (something that I’m proud of her for undertaking).

About 100 miles outside of Calgary, I was suddenly hit by a blast of wind that coincided with me hitting a hidden ice spot on the road. How I managed to keep my truck from completely leaving the road instead of coming close to a full Jack-Knife yet maintaining control, I’ll never know. I eased off the gas and let myself slowly decrease speed. Ok, this isn’t good.

As I limped along, I white knuckled the steering wheel and watched every gust of wind throw my trailer hard to the right off the road and onto the shoulder. I was now on a stretch of road I knew well and knew there were no truck stops anywhere close by. The best I could hope for was a roadside turnout (which happen to be quite deep and I feel completely safe in).

While it was not snowing, the strength of the wind was blowing the snow on the fields over onto the road, which was warm, but quickly cooling with that nice layer of snow, which also meant that there was a nice layer of ice underneath.

At this point I was doing about 25mph but still felt unsafe. I kept limping along waiting for that turnout, and when I finally saw the sign that announced it was two kilometers ahead I breathed a sigh of relief.

As I came up to it, I signaled that I was getting over and eased over. Just then a gust of wind hit my trailer and I went sliding. Luckily there was a nice snow bank to help stop my sideways momentum. As my truck came to a complete stop I thought, “Well I guess I’m staying here for the night.”

As I sat there I just watched the wind blow more and more snow across the road.

About an hour later a snow plow came by and I realized that in the morning I was going to need a tow. I did try to see if I could move my truck. I got out my chains but even the added traction didn’t seem to help. Since I was still feeling under the weather I climbed into my bunk, said a wee prayer to not tip over in the night, and let the wind rock me and my truck to sleep.

The next morning I was up and contacting my road assist. They asked me to send them pictures to see what they were dealing with so they could find the best tow truck. This is what I sent them.

The snow in that last one is about 8-10″ deep, They let me know someone would be out in about three hours. Cool, that was enough time too properly coffee up and have a nice breakfast.

About two hours later my hero Dean arrived.

Ugh I’m so sick but I can still smile. He and his sexy peterbuilt were there to save the day.

If you ever find yourself in a jam in the Calgary area, give Skyline a call.

Faster than I could realize Dean had me hooked up and drug out of the snow. With a smile and a cough (sick…duh) I was off again for the states.

The rest of the drive was uneventful…until I hit Washington. Of course there would be more snow. Didn’t that damned gopher miss his shadow this year? Isn’t spring supposed to be on it’s way?

I’m currently in Idaho on my way to Florida so I’m gonna get me some spring weather if it kills me. Of course with my luck, by the time I get down there it will be more like summer weather which I’m not a fan of either. Hopefully this stupid cold will be gone by then.

Until next time my lovelies. Xoxo

My how time flies…

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One year ago I fell in love. It wasn’t a conventional love but it was hard and true. March 6th was the one year anniversary of seeing and choosing Large Marge.

I remember it as if it was yesterday. The first time I climbed up into her cab. That new vehicle smell of the VOCs tingling my nose. It really was love at first sight. She and I have traversed this country (and Canada too) numerous times and she’s never let me down.

After a small break in Chicago (more on that in a bit) we are sitting in the shop having our yearly inspection done and its a good thing we are. I’m pretty good at checking my truck while I’m on the road, it’s part of my job after all. Even then, sometimes you can’t catch everything. Today this little gem was caught.

This is wear on my steer tire in the front of my truck. That’s a nice bald spot and it’s not usual wear by any means. It seems as if the belt inside has broken apart and that is what’s caused the wear. This is kinda a big deal. Steer tire failures can be fatal especially if you’re traveling at full speed. I’m hoping my Road Assist people will be able to argue defect but it’s up to the field rep for the manufacturer to agree and they rarely do.

Large Marge passed the rest of her inspection with just a few minor things needed like new reflective tape. I want to celebrate by getting her a bath because the girl sorely needs it but I’ve got more winter weather to drive in so it’s almost a waste of money.

This last weekend I took some time off to head home to Chicago to celebrate the 50th birthday of one of my favorite people in the world; My good fried Keith.

He’s not short, I’m just wearing 4″ heels. Something I haven’t done for ages. Also, sometimes I just don’t know where to look in selfies.

Living full time in a truck doesn’t afford many opportunities to get dressed up so when I get a chance I tend to go all out.

Besides seeing some of my favorite people, I got to see one of my favorite local bands Dec8de.

These guys put on a great show and they also played all of my favorite 80’s songs. If you’re in the Chicagoland area and they are playing, do yourself a favor and go see them. Tell them I sent you.

I sang, I danced, I sweat my ass off, I drank all the gin (or tried) and I reveled in being out of my truck and around some of my favorite people. Earlier in the day I had someone who tried to bring me down and argue nonsense, but screw that noise, this night was Keith’s. I was there to have all the fun and I did it all in heels. RAWR!

As the night wore on, I started to feel a bit tired and that’s when the boys in the band gave me the wake up I needed. They played In A Big Country by Big Country, which has kinda become my personal anthem of late. There was no sitting for this song so back on the dance floor I went.

I also got to spend time with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Stef. She and I go all the way back to my freshman year in high school and oh the stories I could tell (but won’t).

She is the jelly to my peanut butter (because she’s sweet and I’m nutty) and one of the people I easily love unconditionally. She understands me and accepts me for exactly who I am and for that she has my undying loyalty.

I also got to spend the weekend with my son and Frobebe.

Tbis kid is an amazing person and I’m lucky to have him in my life.

This weekend was exactly what I needed. The last couple of weeks saw me letting someone treat me poorly and I needed a kick in the ass and a reminder of who I am. I needed my family around me and to have their love and belief in me. It helped to reinforce the fact that I am a very loved person and that I have people in my life who no matter how long between seeing one another we go, we always end up in a loving embrace like no time has ever passed and pick up where we left off. Of course social media helps as well as the occasional phone call, but there is nothing like being able to hug someone you love and tell them how much they mean to you.

This. This is why I do what I do.

Before being a driver, it had been over 10 years since I had seen my t-town girls. Now I see them a couple of times a year. The same goes with friends I have all over the country. This living allows me the time and ability to see all the people who mean so much to me. (Washington peeps, I’ll see you later this year.)

Until next time my lovelies.

A Rude Awakening

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I’ve struggled with sleep most of my life. My sleeping patterns have always (for as long as I can remember) been erratic.

Some nights I can fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow and stay asleep all night long. These are the good nights. The nights where nothing, including my own brain, interrupts my sleep.

Then there are the nights where my brain won’t shut off no matter what I do. These are the high anxiety nights. The nights where my brain is replaying every conversation in detail I’ve had for the last couple of days and twisting and turning over every nuance. These are the nights where I stress over the fact that I’m not sleeping which just puts me in a heightened state of anxiety.

Then there are the nights were I sleep hard and deep but my brain, ever the wonderful playground, decides to relive past trauma. Those nights are actually the worst. Sometimes I’m able to direct the dreams and sometimes I’m just strapped down to a chair watching the worst movie in the world unable to move. These are the mornings where I wake feeling as if I’ve been physically beaten. My mind is fuzzy and my my limbs feel heavy and uncoordinated.

This last one, was how I slept last night. It was hard and unpleasant. There was no directing the dreams and no way out, no way until the banging began.

Yesterday was the first day on the road after a short break in Tulsa to see my girls; my sisters from another mister. I love these women and the love I receive from them is an amazing and precious gift.

We had a great time. Copious amounts of alcohol was consumed, new glasses ordered and shopping was successfully completed for a dress and shoes for an upcoming party. I also took care of a legal matter that has been looming over my head. Most importantly, I was also able to restock on my favorite on the road snacky-snack.

Lets see how long 4lbs lasts me. 🙂

I also got to indulge in some doggy love with Charlie and Lucy.

I love being off the road but I really love the feeling of coming to a place that’s warm and inviting and filled with love.

The first day of driving after a break is always the hardest. It’s getting used to constantly being in motion. It’s the physical stress of hooking and unhooking trailers (which can be made more difficult by rain and cold as it was this day). It’s getting used to cars cutting you off in traffic and you having to think quick and fast to avoid running into them. It’s the entire job and everything that goes with it. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. My career affords me a certain comfort and financial security I’ve never had. It allows me to repay the people who’ve supported me throughout the years. It has given me the freedom to say yes when invited on vacations and to plan and execute travel of my own. This career has allowed me to be more me and that’s the biggest reason why I love what I do, but it can still be stressful.

After leaving Tulsa I headed to Russellville, AR to pick up a new trailer. After a quick washout and refueling of the trailer, I was dispatched to Springdale, AR to pick up my current load. This load is taking me to Southern California and the time to run it is pretty tight. Not like I haven’t done that before.

I set off for California and giggled as I drove through Tulsa on my way to Oklahoma City. I waved in the general direction of my girls and pushed on. Once in Oklahoma City, I refueled and tried to get a parking spot. Late at night it’s not an easy thing so I pushed on knowing there was a weigh station close by. When I finally stopped last night I had 34 minutes left on my clock and after sitting for a bit to wind down, I crawled into bed to have what I hopped would be restful sleep.

It wasn’t.

It was not pretty.

It was painful.

It was rudely interrupted by banging on my window less than 8 hours later.

The banging continued as I struggled to wake up. There were angry muttering and shouts of “Driver get the F up and leave.”

I was confused. I was having trouble understanding what was going on. I tried to move but I struggled to get my limbs to cooperate.

The banging continued, now with a bullhorn.

“Driver get the F up and get out or you will be ticked and arrested.”

My mind fuzzy and disoriented reeled trying to understand what was going on.

I was able to get into my seat and get my shoes on. As I opened my curtain I see this state trooper in a rage. He says, through his bull horn, “Step out of the vehicle.” As I look at him with confusion all I can see are the veins in his head pulsating and I know I’m in a potentially dangerous situation. I open my door and climb down as he starts screaming at me.

Side note, I don’t do well with men screaming at me. I especially don’t do well when they scream at me when I’m feeling tender and disorientated. I am instantly on alert and poised and braced for a physical assault.

As he reads me the riot act, complete with insults, I’m able to pull myself together into a modicum of composure. When he pauses to take a break I simply say “Sir, may I look at my phone for a moment?” and proceed without his approval. I open my truck app and see that I’ve completed at least an 8 hour break but that means I only have 34 minutes of driving time to find a safe haven to completed the other 2 hours of rest I need for a full clock.

As he steps forward into my personal space and starts screaming, and I do mean screaming at me, I plaster my face with my best smile look him straight in the eyes and state, “I’m truly sorry officer. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t allowed to park at this weigh station. There were no signs stating no over night parking, nor were there signs stating that breaks were no allowed on these premises. I will happily move my truck. Don’t you fret none. I’ll be on the road in a jiffy. May I do my pretrip inspection before I leave?”

The officer looks me up and down and says “No, get the fuck out of here you piece of trash.”

Ignoring the insult I tilt my head, straighten my shoulders, stand a little taller, and say “Of course and you have a great day.”

Once back in my truck I start the engine as the officer walks away. As I prepare to roll out, my stomach clenches and a wave of nausea overtakes me. I briefly opened my door to retch, reached for my mouthwash to swish and spit, and rolled out.

It was all a combination of the after effects of my dream, coupled with being screamed at for no reason, and the fact that I had to suppress every instinct to go on the attack which set me over the edge. Now, almost two hours later, I’m still shaking and so extremely angry and frustrated.

There was no reason for anyone, let alone an officer of the law, to talk to or treat anyone like that. I understand he has a job to do but so do I. I understand he has laws to uphold, but um…so do I. I don’t know what in his life; I don’t know his story. I only know mine. Unfortunately is it men and women like him who make the average person not respect law enforcement.

Do me a favor my lovelies. Be extra kind to one another today. Kiss your loved ones just because. Tell your best girl or guy that they matter. Respectfully compliment a stranger. Pass a little love and light on to someone who needs it. Embrace joy today and send a bit my way.

Winter Wonderland My A…

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A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water. ~ Carl Reiner

Well, it had to happen sometime. I was bound to have to deal with winter. I had been having a lovely time avoiding it but that has come to an end. Not only did I have to deal with winter, I had to brave the “Polar Vortex” of doom because everything sounds more ominous when you add of doom to it.

If you’ve never had to feel a wind of -40 below, I hope that never changes for you. Fun fact. -40 is the same in both Farenheit and Celsius. Either was it;s really really really cold. Unfortunately, I was going to be in even colder weather. A couple of things I learned. First, don’t touch your lock with your bare hands when it’s this cold outside. It will freeze to your skin. Thankfully I had the presence of mind to not try to rip it off but instead let my hand warm the metal. That was the longest few minutes. Secondly, cold hands make everything harder. From opening my fuel tanks to depressing the pump handle to actually fuel my truck. Two pairs of gloves weren’t enough. Neither were multiple layers of clothing.

After leaving Denver and heading to Michigan, I knew that my life was going to suck for several days. While I only dealt with the tail end of the polar vortex (of doom) the effects were still there. For the first time since having Large Marge, I didn’t turn her off for days. I needed to keep the engine running to ensure my fuel didn’t gel up and leave me stranded. There are additives we use to keep diesel from gelling, but in the temperatures I was in its better to be safe than sorry. Every time I fueled I added more additive as per the instructions from not only other drivers but from our road assist people and idled my truck as I slept.

My first big problem came on Day two of my drive to Calgary as I was headed into a winter storm in North Dakota.

That red dot was my current location and I pretty much needed to drive through that whole thing. No big deal, I thought. It’s dry so it shouldn’t be too bad.

Famous. Last. Words.

Part of my route took me off the interstate and on to a small two lane highway. While the snow was indeed light and dry instead of a thick and wet, what I didn’t take into account was the wind effect. Soon after pulling onto the two lane highway, I realized I was in trouble. Within 30 minutes I couldn’t see the lane so I drove using the feel of the rumble strips on the side of the road to gauge where I was. Another 30 minutes later, I could no longer feel those. As I gripped my steering wheel a bit tighter I realized that I was in real danger. Between the blowing snow and the drifts piling up,. I couldn’t exactly tell where the edges were. This particular road had very little to no shoulder room so one wrong calculation and I would be in a ditch.

A drive that should have taken me 45 minutes took over two hours and I knew I needed to find a safe haven to park for the night. Luckily, at my turn off from one highway to the next I found a place to park.

As I sat there shaking, trying to relive the pressure and the stress of my drive, all I could see was this.

It’s like the universe was telling me it was time to wind down with some gin. The only problem is that would require pants (because that’s always the first to go when I stop) and a long cold walk across a parking lot. My love of gin would just have to wait. There was no way I was getting out of my warm truck.

The next day wasn’t as bad because the plows had been out. I, however, was now behind schedule. The nice thing about doing this Calgary run so often is that I know exactly where my stopping points are and how long it takes me to go from point A to B. I knew I could make up the time but I also knew that it would mean more stress.

The wind was still blowing the snow around, making lovely patterns on the roads, but I could at least make out where the lanes were. This was a huge improvement from the night before.

My last fuel stop was in Minot, ND. I pulled into the station only to find out they were out of fuel. No big deal, there was another station a couple of miles up the road. Unfortunately, they were also out of fuel. While I had enough to last me, getting fuel before heading across the boarder is the cheapest option. The Canadian taxes on fuel are a killer. Alas, this is what I had to do.

Everything was going fine on my drive until the sun went down and the snows started up again. While not as heavy, they posed their own challenge. I tend to drive slower than most trucks on the road. Sometimes it’s due to my governor on my engine that doesn’t allow me to exceed 65mph; sometimes it’s because I just want to take it easy and save on fuel costs. Typically I don’t care when I get passed, but this night it was a horror show. The winds had caused the snow too accumulate in the passing lane, so when another truck passed me it was complete white out. There was more than once I was forced to apply my breaks as I was in a whiteout condition and couldn’t see anything ahead of me. After dealing with this for a couple of hours my nerves were frayed and it was time to stop for the night.

My resting place was just outside of Swift Current in a extremely bright weigh station. Frazzled and exhausted, I wasn’t ready for sleep and chose to sit and watch the snow fall.

After my load was completed I was looking forward to a couple of days off. My fleet manager had other ideas and sent me a load I couldn’t refuse. The bastard really knows how to get me to say yes. So, I’m back in Washington with another apple load heading to Florida. A quick look at the weather and its going to be another few stressful days. Winter here in the states is pretty unpredictable as it is, but add in the stress and uncertainty of road closures and ice covered terrain, well it really adds a whole new spin on it.

Of course, it is awful pretty to look at.

I know I’m nearing the end of my rope. Since returning from Ireland I’ve been on full tilt with nothing more than 24 hours off between loads and it’s really starting to take a toll on me both mentally and physically. Little things are setting me off and my mood swings have been pretty severe. I had planned on working through until the first weekend in March when I head home to celebrate my friend’s 50th birthday, but now I think I really need a couple of days off before that. I’m going to ask to be sent to Tulsa after this load for a bit of R&R with my girls.

Until next time my lovelies. Xoxo

Long Hard Road

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Someday I was dreamin’ that a song that I was singing takes me down the road to where I want to go…

Let’s see, in this edition of where is Tj…I was taking a bit of a break down in Louisiana about 120 miles north of New Orleans but now I’m back on the road. I had considered renting a car and driving down to Nawlins and doing a restaurant review (since I haven’t done one of those in a while) or just walking around the city, but I found myself in a weird place and contemplative and not feeling up to exploring alone.

As I’ve written about before, the miles I drive are a church of sorts. It’s a way for me to safely take out all the hurt bits I carry around with me and look at them objectively and in some cases, let them go. This is what driving has always been for me. A safe place to let down my guard and not be fierce and at the ready all the time.

Watching the miles go by has a way of centering me that nothing else, besides being near the ocean, can do.

Unfortunately that hasn’t been working for me of late. My mind, usually calmed by the road, is more agitated than usual. Part of it is on high alert waiting for the next blow that will rock me off my feet and pull the rug out from under me. Part of it is dizzy with anticipation and feelings of excitement. These two sides are warring for dominance while neither gives an inch. I’m finding it harder to rest and even harder to stay centered. I’m naturally a pessimistic person because I’d rather be pleasantly surprised rather than let down, but dammit that naysaying bitch isn’t getting the upper hand this time.

Look, here’s the deal. I’m a social butterfly. If you’ve met me you know how easy it is to fall into a friendship with me. I fully embrace people at first glance and have told more than one of you that you’re probably going to have to get a restraining order against me if you want to stop being friends (by the way, I wasn’t joking). When you grow up without family, you tend to find your tribe as you go through life. My tribe is vast and far but no matter the distance the connection will always be there.

A chance meeting at a bar where a young woman sat alone and I decided she needed company, we quickly became fast friends. Co-workers who kept me sane while a crazy boss took out their insecurities on me. A guy who asks for directions and instead gets a life long friend. Each and every member of my tribe is special and unique and I love them all fiercely.

While making friends is second nature to me, one thing I don’t do is let anyone in fully. There are people who have known me for more than 30 years who would swear they know me and know everything about me but don’t really have a clue to what I hold inside. Some bits are too ugly and harsh and don’t need to be shared. Some have been slowly coming out to a select few. Some, well only one person has ever made me feel safe enough to bear it all, and that’s the crux of my current dilemma. Feeling safe isn’t something I’m used to so it’s thrown my brain into a tizzy and makes me want to bolt for the hills at times. I’ve had a few of those moments over the last few weeks. When you stop letting yourself feel for years and all of a sudden you’re awash with emotion it can be a bit jarring.

Anyway…what does that have to do with driving? Nothing I just needed to get that off my chest. Ok, back to the driving gig.

After my Calgary load, I picked up apples in Washington and headed towards Florida. For three days I was driving in heavy fog, so much so that it put me a bit behind schedule. That’s because I had a huge storm bearing down on me from behind.

Once I dropped down from the north into the south the danger of snow was passed and I was driving in rain for two days. Rain isn’t as scary as snow and ice, but it can still have its dangers,. Especially when people forget that slowing down is in their best interest.

This job has taught me a lot about patience. Sure, I still get frustrated with drivers from time to time, but usually my frustration comes because a car is putting me and my livelihood in jeopardy with their antics and unsafe driving. I get it, I used to be that driver, but now I fully understand the folly and just how much danger they and I are in when someone cuts me off or decides to exit in front of me by blowing across three lanes of traffic to make the exit. On that note, if you do this, please stop. You cant always see what’s coming up beside a trucker. Also, just go to the next exit an turn around. It’s safer for everyone.

While driving on Interstate 26 on my way to 75 and through Atlanta I saw a total of 14 accidents due to people forgetting that roads are slippery when wet. Obviously none of them are Bon Jovi fans.

Yeah, I should probably apologize for that one but I’m not going to so lets just move on.

Once in Florida I made my delivery and had planned to take a break but took a load to Louisiana instead. I was fully enjoying the sunshine while my buddy Jay was dealing with this.

Of course I may have rubbed it in that I was in a t-shirt and skirt and sitting outside. I may have even complained about there being too much sun to Jaz as we spoke on the phone while it was cold and rainy in Ireland. Was I being a bit of a shit? Yeah, I kinda was. Was I going to regret it? Sure ’nuff.

I had planned on taking a 34 hour break in Louisiana but instead was told that there was a load for me heading back to Calgary at the end of next week. I quickly ran some errands to get my nails redone and some groceries.

Ok, girl time now.. I’ve been doing acrylic nails for about a year now and I love them but I wanted to try dip nails and zomg I love them even more. Please excuse my dry cuticles. They aren’t as thick as acrylics but just as strong. Let’s see how they last the next couple of weeks.

I’m currently heading to Denver where I will take a small break to celebrate my daughter graduating from massage school (Yay Morgan!) and do a bit of laundry to get my heavy winter clothes all ready for what’s next.

As I looked at Facebook and saw a post by my bestie, my blood may have run a bit cold.

This is what I’m getting ready to drive into after Denver. -64? I can’t even comprehend temperatures that low and honestly I don’t really want to. I remember how cold -50 was when I lived in Madison and I hoped to never see that again. Well, it just goes to show you that no matter how much you may wish and hope, you can’t always get what you want.

I should be able to survive in my truck but fueling is going to be a nightmare. This is my payback for being a shit. Jay is also laughing all the way to Florida. To be fair, he’s had a rough couple of weeks so I’m happy he’s getting a bit of a reprieve.

Wish me luck because at this point I’m definitely going to need it.

Back on the hamster wheel…

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Disclaimer: this post contains feels. If you are allergic to feels or are uncomfortable with feels, turn away.

One of the reasons I don’t take time off very often is it can be hard to get back into the swing of things. A few days here and there are fine, but a significant amount of time off and I struggle. Add time off with an emotional trip to another county with low lows and high highs. How do you recover from that?

Well, you start by running a fever for 3-4 days, followed closely by one of the most severe bouts of insomnia you’ve had in years and add driving a giant truck around the states and well welcome to my life.

My first load post Ireland was veggies from Florida to Ohio with the knowledge that I was ultimately headed toward Calgary. After hooking to my load and doing my daily drive, I found myself in a rest area in Ohio for the night. As I went to the restroom to brush my teeth and get ready for bed, I saw a couple of guys with a thin piece of twine trying to secure a mattress and box spring to the top of a van. I walked along watching them all I could think was, that’s not going to hold and they are going to kill someone. I veered over to them and said, “hey, I have a couple of tie downs you can have. Follow me and take them to secure that properly.” That was followed by relief and plenty of gratitude which I brushed aside. They asked me if they could pay me and I told them to save their money and have a drink on me instead.

My good deed done for the day, I went to bed so I could make on time delivery the next day and headed to my next pick up. After the veggies I was dispatched to haul kegs of bud light. Ugh, the smell of cheep beer. I’d apologize if I offended you by calling bud light cheap beer, except I spoke the truth so you can just deal. Hey, I’ve had my fair share of cheap beer, but I’d like to think that I’ve grown out of such nonsense.

With the beer delivered I made my way to my Calgary load.

This is my 5th or 6th Calgary load, but my first of 2019. The first time I went to Calgary I was so excited. Everything was shiny and new. Now, well to be honest the drive is pretty boring from start to finish. The best part of this route is I get to make a stop in Madison, WI and spend a wee bit of time with my bestie. On this one I was especially happy because I was able to deliver her Christmas presents from Ireland as well. Huzzah!

While the shine has worn off of Calgary, the load behind Calgary is always the highest paid load I pull. This one will take me all the way back to where I began in Florida. I’m ready for a bit of a warm up at this point. Of course in a few short months I’ll probably be complaining about the heat. I’m never satisfied.

Everything seems off and i’m not exactly sure what to do about it. I feel like an exposed nerve. I’m no longer in sync with my life. Where I used to love the solitude of the road, now it seems oppressive. My routines have changed and where I felt I had a plan for my life, now there is just a big question mark.

Years ago I was too raw and open. I felt too much too deeply and it made me anxious and somewhat angry. I feel the stirrings of that now. All of the walking and exploring I did in Ireland woke me up inside. Now, the sedentary life of a trucker is painful. I’ve been trying to stay active, but when it’s 9 degrees Fahrenheit out, walking outside isn’t that pleasant. It’s also hard to walk without a destination in mind especially considering I live in parking lots. While the road used to be a balm it just feels like I’m on a hamster wheel going nowhere.

I know these feelings will pass, but I’m starting to think I need to actively reign them in and do what I do best: compartmentalization. I don’t feel they are doing me any good at this time and are starting to become a distraction. After this year I have some decisions to make. Do I stay on the road or do I transition to a regional or local route so I can set roots down somewhere[? Do I stay with my current company for another year or do I start moving towards hauling for concerts? Do I throw a wrench into everything and do the impossible and actually take that left turn at Albuquerque?

In the meantime, I’m planning the rest of my travels for the year. I have a trip in April set and one for the fall and I have an idea of where I want to be for Christmas. The only question is, what do I want to do for my birthday in June. Flights to Europe are too expensive for that time of year, so that’s out. I could stay in the states and be pampered at a spa retreat but running away sounds like a solid plan right now. Last year was the first time in 28 years that I worked on my birthday. While my job doesn’t ever feel like work, it still is. I swore that was a one off. I was thinking Iceland but now I’m reconsidering that and thinking a beach somewhere sounds better. I’ve got a bit of time to plan and since it’s just me, there’s no one else to consider.

Sorry for the downer of a post. Not everything is wine and roses all the time and if you’ve been reading since the beginning you know I try to keep things real. Don’t worry, my wacky irreverent self will be back before you know it. I just need to put a few things away.

Day 9: Dublin, Lemmy, and Serindipity until the end

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Rested and packed, I bid farewell to Bodyke and hit the roads to head back to Dublin. Today is going to be a good day because today is also TATTOO DAY!!! Making that appointment was my first step in making this trip all about me and what I wanted to do in Ireland.

I hit the roads and planned to stop at the same service station in Moneygall to fuel. I still giggled as I walked through and saw all of the pictures of Michelle and Barack Obama.

One of the things I had planned to do was to try to talk to one of the truck drivers and see if they would let me sit in the drivers seat of their truck and take a picture of me. If I had time to work my magic you know it would happen (I hear I can be quite persuasive when necessary) but I was a bit behind schedule and I didn’t want to be late for my appointment.

Once in Dublin, I checked into my hotel but was told my room wasn’t ready. They took my bags and put them in storage. I stashed the car in the car park and grabbed a taxi to the shop. My car originally was scheduled to end today but I decided I wanted to do a bit more exploring down to the south and extended it by two days.

Once at the shop I showed up just moments before David, the artist, did. He took one look at me and said “You’re appointment isn’t for another hour, you know that right?”

I instantly regretted not putting the appointment in my phone and realized I could have actually gotten that picture in an Irish truck. Sigh, I knew there was a mall across the street so I headed over to kill some time.

One of the things that made me giggle was the pictures in the frames for sale. Instead of seeing some model(s) overly airbrushed, I saw this:

I almost wanted to buy one just for the picture in it.

When I got back to the shop there were two guys sitting in the waiting area. I asked David if he was ready for me and he said he was just finishing up with the changes I requested and I grabbed a contract to fill out. One of the guys went back to get his piece started and I sat down. The other fella was talking to his artist about placement of his tattoo and as he rolled up his sleeve I got a look at some of his art. There were some nice pieces on his arm and of the ones I saw they were kinda skull related.

As the artist left, and because silence bothers me when I’m a bit off kilter, and maybe I really wanted to hear his voice some more (I know, I’m shameless) I asked “So are you getting another skull? You seem to have a collection going.”

He tells me what he’s getting and points to his tattoos saying “They aren’t all skulls. This one is a heart and this one a snake..”

To which I blinked and replied “yeah but they all have skulls.”

He looks at me, looks at his arm, looks at me again, puts down his sleeve and says “So are you here on Holiday?” I explain my story in the self-deprecating way I sometimes do and end with “so yeah I was here for a week over Christmas and don’t know anyone.”

He looks me straight in the eyes and says “Well you do now! What are you doing after your tattoo? Do you wanna get a drink at the pub?”

This was my first real invitation to hang out with someone from Ireland (not counting the drunk dude last time I was in Dublin) and I jumped at the chance with a loud “Yes!” because I am absolutely starved for company other than my own. We shake hands, introduce ourselves, and I shamefully do what I always do which is promptly forget his name.

Look, I’m not too proud to admit that I’m shit when it comes to names. It’s not because he was forgettable (he’s not) but because I absolutely stink at remembering people’s names. It harkens back to being a transient and it’s such a hard trait to change. Well, that and my brain might have been flooding with dopamine at that point and he gave a good handshake and he smelled good…

Whew, I have been on my own waaaay too much. Reign yourself in, girl.

At this point our artists were ready for us and we hit our respective chairs.

I’m not going to go into the whole process other than to say, within a couple of hours a fella was up and gone but not before connecting with me on social media so we could meet up later and so I could remember his name and call him Jaz and not a fella. I also got a nice look at his tattoo.

… four hours later I realize we’re not even close to being done and I should let Jaz know.

We text back and forth. I tell him I’m hungry and he offers to bring food to me.

Wait….Some dude I just met is offering to go and get me food and bring it to the tattoo shop? He can’t be a real person, or is he the first real person I’ve met?

Anyway, I decline the offer of food because I can’t eat while getting a tattoo. I send him a shot of where we are at in the design and he says “Looks deadly with all the pointilism and all but just so you know, my tattoo would eat your tattoo in the wild.”

Ok, I may have laughed a little too hard at that because I was in so much trouble. I have certain weaknesses and witty retorts are definitely high up there. Oh and now I have a stupid grin on my face that won’t seem to go away.

After a few more hours my tattoo was done. I had asked David what his name should be and he immediately said Lemmy. So….here’s Lemmy!

I may totally and completely love Lemmy. He’s my new BFF. My partner in crime (because he doesn’t have a choice.) He was well worth the 8+ hours in the chair. David’s touch was so great I may have to have another piece or three from him,.

If you’re in Dublin or planning a trip to Dublin and you want some work done, go see the boys at Old School Tattoo. They won’t do you wrong.

I had tried to get a picture of David as he worked but getting that perfect shot alluded me. The best I did was this:

Man I have a cheesy smile sometimes. Especially when I’m being silly. Ah well…

Tattoo all finished it was time to meet up with Jaz. He asked me if I wanted to eat first or get a drink and after 8+ hours under the needle it was time for some gin.

(I will apologize in advance for the lack of pictures. I was too busy enjoying the company to even think of my phone)

Our First Stop was Fibber Magees

Within 30 seconds of walking into Fibbers, I felt like I was at home. I love dark gritty bars and that’s pretty much what this was. Fibbers has its history in the metal scene and Jaz was great at painting me a picture of what it was like growing up in Dublin and how Fibbers was a fixture in the scene.

What was amazing was the beer garden. It was a congregation place of not only Fibbers but one or two other bars making it a massive space nestled in behind the buildings. It boasted a large screen for watching games and a few pool tables. It was perfect.

After that we were off to The Gin Palace. I think I died and went to heaven. I was overloaded with choices. After a perusal of their menu, I, of course, chose the one gin they were out of. On to my second choice and after more talking and laughing, I realized I really needed some food.

A walk around the block for a quick bite of shawarma (of which I saw quite a few in scattered around) and then it was time for The Oval with a final stop at The Foggy Dew.

With a light heart and sore cheeks from smiling, we headed to the taxi stand so I could head back to my hotel. As I was reaching for the door Jaz asked “So do you have plans tomorrow?”

I did. I had a few more places I wanted to see. I had extended the car rental so I could head south. I turned to him and said “No, what did you have in mind?” Just like that, all my plans happily tossed out the window, I had a lunch date for the next day.

The next day came and I was awake at 12:30 with plans to meet at one and feeling a wee bit tender. Knowing I needed a bit more time, we pushed back out plans until 2 and I headed for the shower downing a bottle of water on the way.

After meeting up and grabbing a quick lunch (traditional Irish stew for myself and a lamb shank for Jaz) we were off again on Tj’s personal tour of Dublin Pubs.

Our first stop was to Paddle and Peel. While this was a craft brew pub, I was told they had PBR and I just had to see it for myself. As an american we all know PBR is not really good beer. Yes it’s a sponsor of WFTDA and being a part of Roller Derby for years I drank my fair share, but that still doesn’t make it good beer by any means. Unfortunately they were out. What they did have was some interesting brews including (if I remember correctly) a chocolate hazelnut ale called Sumthin for Santa. The can was cute if not a tad bit disturbing as you turn it around and see Santa’s butt crack.

Don’t worry my lovelies, that was what Jaz had. I, of course, stuck with Gin.

We had a couple there and then we were off to Frank Ryans. It had a great vibe and a eccentric design interior.

After Frank Ryans I needed a bit of food and we went for New York Style pizza at DiFontaine’s. We both went for the Pepperoni and Jalapeño and while it’s an unusual topping choice, it was good. They actually did a decent NY Pie.

We then topped off the night with a trip back to Fibbers (where I may or may not have almost started a bar fight). No I’m not going to go into details on the incident except to say it was my fault, I was sassy, aggressive, and stupid. Jaz was a gentleman. No one actually came to blows and got hurt.

After Fibbers it was off to bed and we made plans to spend NYE together with some of his friends.

The morning of NYE I headed back to drop off the rental car and then met up again with Jaz.

This was my last night in Dublin. I hadn’t done anything I had planned to do upon returning but I was having the time of my life.

It was at this moment above, on New Years Eve, that I was grateful for the chance to experience Ireland solo. If not for the unpredictability of storms and nature, my entire experience would have been different and I would have missed something truly unique and special.

We started off the night at a The Kimchi Hophouse for some bulgogi and the start of our drinking.

After that we were off to Thomas House where I met the lovely Shona. (No picture, but she’s great). Thomas house has the same sort of vibe for me that Fibbers did. It is exactly the type of place I would frequent if I lived in Dublin. After a drink we were off again to Fibbers and to ring in the New Year.

For the first time on my trip I felt relaxed and at peace. Between all the conversation of getting to know one another and the laughter and stories we each traded, there was an amazing friendship being built. With everything that happened from the moment I left the states, I would never have guessed that a chance meeting with a fella in a tattoo parlor would be what I was soon coming to understand as a life altering event.

In this world there are people who will float in and out of our lives. For many people, I am that ephemeral friend as I flit and flutter from one place to another; there one moment and gone the next. Always on the move. Always looking for the next thing. Occasionally we will meet someone who just sticks with us and changes us just a bit in that meeting. I’ve met several people like that over the years. From Marc, and our meeting one afternoon on a street in Los Angeles, to Sarah who one day at Bonnaroo plopped down at my picnic table and told me we were going to be friends (to which I’m grateful). Meeting Jaz in that tattoo parlor was one of those instance. It was interesting to see how two people, from different continents, could be so similar.

Where this particular friendship and story goes? Well, that’s a tale for another day. For now, it’s all still being written

As the morning of the new year rolled around, I’m off and gone before first light. My flights went off without a hitch although I do have to chide United on their food selection.

Beans? On a plane? For a 8 hour flight? Did you really think that was a good idea?

After my layover in Newark (this time without the fancy Polaris lounge but just the average ho-hum lounge) and my quick flight to Tampa, I was finally reunited with my truck and more than ready to get back on the road.

I’ve needed this last week to fully process everything and write this particular Chapter of my story, mostly because now it’s really and truly over. I definitely came back from Ireland a different person. Part of it was my personal journey. Part of it was their culture of what I can only describe as kindness. Part of it was their food. (America, we really do eat shit, especially those of us who live on the road full time.) What had the biggest impact on me were the lovely people I met who touched my life in profound ways. We have facebook and social media for now, but I will see them again soon.

If you have that place you’ve always wanted to visit, make it happen. Get out of the states and get some perspective on the world. It just may be the thing you need.

Thanks for reading as always.

Cheers!

The real Day 7…

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So, I realized after I uploaded the last post that I had completely skipped a day (which is weird because it was my favorite day). I started to go back and edit it and rework the post but I decided to let my error stand and roll with it. I mean, I never claimed to be a perfectionist (as you can tell by the errors you’ve read). Instead I will ask for your forgiveness. I came back with a bit of a cold and being back to work has been a bit of a challenge for more than one reason. While I’m excited to introduce Lemmy, you’re just going to have to wait one more post.

Ok…the real Day 7.

One of the things I knew I wanted to do in going to Ireland was to visit Giants Causeway and the Carrick-a-Reed rope bridge (please do yourself a favor and click on the hyperlinks and read more on these beautiful places). Both of these are located on the coast in Northern Ireland. I knew I had a 5 hour drive each way and I needed to start early if I wanted to get there in time to do both, so I set my alarm for an ungodly hour of the morning (because even in Ireland I’m not a morning person) and set off before the sun rose.

The route I took to get there was the blue route which took me through Belfast. While I really wanted to stop and explore Belfast, I was on a time crunch so I just did a drive by. Also, and I should have realized this before but I would be traveling to another country since Northern Ireland is part of the UK. I had completely forgotten until I got the text message from my cell carrier that said “welcome to the UK, this is what this is going to cost you!” Lol

It was mostly motorway driving with two lane roads the last quarter of the trip. All of it beautiful and scenic with plenty of opportunities to yell out to them, because I really am eternally 5 when it comes to some things and the sun had risen and given me a bit of life.

Once there I parked, bought my ticket, and decided to be a bit lazy and take the bus to the bottom. Man, I am so glad I made that choice.

Once there, my inner 5 year old came out again and I just wanted to climb everything. It’s hard to describe the basalt stone and the pure natural geometry in it. Even the pictures does not do it justice.

Of course, before you could get to the relatively flat and easy to traverse landscape above you had to cross the tumble of death.

As I made my way across it I really wanted to know the number of broken bones they see each year.

I loved hopping and jumping from stone to stone as I got closer and closer to the edge where the waves were crashing. Ok, I kinda wanted to get a bit wet. Hello….5!

It was about this point that I spotted a really cool tide pool with something inside that i really wanted to check out. This was also the point where the life guards noticed how close to the edge I was getting and started hollering at me. I pretended to not hear them but I tend to be a very honest person and in the end I turned back. This was the best I could do for a picture of the tide pool from afar.

Thwarted in my attempts at being dangerous, I just hopped and jumped around the rocks trying to get higher and higher.

It was at this point that I just sat down and watched the people around me. Children skipping over the stones with fleet feet like mountain goats, whole families helping each other to that perfect spot for their family portrait. A wizened woman smiling on as her grandson tries to coax her up the stones. It was a beautiful setting, a truly lovely day, and not for the first time this trip I felt so utterly and completely alone.

That’s the thing about being in my profession, while you get used to seeing the world and not being able to share it, when it comes to the truly magical moments, that is when loneliness can hit you like a punch to the chest and make you ache for days. This is how I felt. I knew I could share the story and the pictures but I can’t share the sounds, smells, and the feel of the place. That kind of sharing can only be experienced with someone else, and when its someone special to you, that just increases the magic.

Ah well at this point in my life, sitting on theses rocks looking at this amazingly wonderful place, I know I can at least share this magic with my kids one day and that will be enough for me.

When my thighs were starting to burn with the strain of all the climbing, and my balance got a bit wobbly, I knew I was done. I made it safely back to the bus stop, rode back to the top, and headed for my next destination.

A short 7km away from Giants Causeway is Carrick-a-Reed Rope Bridge. While a small attraction, how can I not cross the ocean on a rope bridge? I mean, it’s me.

Once there I parked and paid my admission and set off on the 1km hike down to the bridge. The view from the path was just lovely.

Once there, you go down a set of stairs and then make you way one at a time over the bridge. They ask you not to stop to take a picture on the bridge until your return trip.

I loved watching how each person crossed the bridge because everyone was different. It’s neat to watch people overcome their fears to do something which takes them out of their comfort zone.

Once it was my turn, I crossed as slowly as I could and just looked down into the water and rocks below and just marveled at the feeling of being suspended by a bunch of rope and some boards. I mean, it’s sturdy enough obviously but still, it’s brilliant.

Much of the island was closed due to rains and other reasons (which I’ve since forgotten) so I couldn’t explore much.

I could however sit there for hours and just enjoy the day if it was a bit warmer. That day it was 9 Celsius or about 48 Fahrenheit with a decent wind off the ocean.

When it was time to cross back, I totally took my time and took pictures.

I even tried a selfie but to be honest it’s not that great because I was a bit paranoid about dropping my phone and it falling into the ocean. That would have been the worst.

Side note, this is the first day I wore my winter jacket. I had just worn a hoodie up until this point but this day required the extra warmth.

A short hike back up the hill to the car and I was back on the road. I decided I wanted to take a different route home since I had a choice so I took the coastal route back. I didn’t get to see a lot since the sun sets pretty early in Ireland in winter but they were still roads I had never traveled and that’s the point of an adventure.

I made it back to the golf village around Midnight, feeling a bit peckish as I didn’t really eat since breakfast. I made a quick dinner and headed to bed with the plan to rest the next day and clean and do laundry before heading back to Dublin.

Now we’re really caught up, all the days are straight, and more importantly you get to meet Lemmy tomorrow. I love Lemmy.

Cheers!

Day 6 with an quick overview of my brain

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So I realized after posting my last update that it encompassed more than one day, which is fine but ultimately messed up my tidy day by day walkthrough of Ireland.

In other words, welcome to my brain. It’s messy, noisy, and non-sequential but it’s really rather glorious if you like weird twists and turns and non-sequiturs. Hey, you’re still reading so you must!

So, to recap and catch everyone (including myself up)

Landed 12/21

Bodyke 12/22

Galway/Ennis 12/23

Ennis 12/24

Bodyke Christmas drunken extravaganza 12/25

Now Day 6

Whew! Glad that’s all cleared up.

Let’s see I promised Cliffs, Crows, and Customs

On the 26th in Ireland they celebrate St Stephens day. Being that I’m not catholic and have no idea who St Stephen is or how/why he became a Saint, I’ll let you use whatever your favorite search engine/information stream is for more information. All I know is that in America we know it as the day our vacation ends and we have to go back to work.

On this day, since I was still on vacation, I decided to head to the Cliffs of Moher.

If I had come earlier in the year, I could have gone to Doolin and taken a boat ride under them and to the Aran Islands. Oh gee, I guess I need to plan another trip.

One thing that was plentiful were the number of ravens (ok I lied, no crows just ravens) who had little to no fear from us silly humans. Most likely hoping for a handout or two.

There were lovely walking trails along the tops of the cliffs. While this was my plan I made it as far as O’Brien’s Tower

Two things about visiting Moher on St Stephens day. First, no need to pay an admission fee since no one was working, yay! Second, no toilets were open because no one was working, boooo! As I started to walk past O’Briens tower and head towards the path, I saw it was a muddy mess with plenty of traffic and I really needed to use the toilet, which there were none open because it was St Stephens day. Did I really want to chance a walk and an embarrassment? No, besides I might have been feeling a bit tender from my personal Christmas celebration.

Back in the car I took my time and just enjoyed the scenery and wondered about St Stephens day. Being the heathen that I am, I know little about Saints except that Patrick is used as a way for gaggles of ‘that guy’ having an excuse to get black out drunk and piss and fight their way all over Wrigleyville or the fact that Chicago dyes the Chicago river, which is already a shade of green, into a nightmare of atomic proportions.

I did ask a fella about it and he told me of the other term of the 26th of December being Wren Day.

Look up Wren Day and search images or give a quick listen to a song by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. I highly recommend the song but I’m also a sucker for Irish music.

Day 7, my last day in Bodyke was spent in contemplation and laundry. The cottage had a washer/dryer combo which was pretty typical from what I saw of flats, but I couldn’t figure out how to get the dryer to work which meant I had to hang everything. No big deal since this is how I like to roll when home, but yeah I just decided to laze and watch my clothes dry. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

OOOOOOOOOH! Ok, I totally spaced this (there goes my brain again) So, my second trip to Brogans on Christmas Eve I had their mussels and OMG… Yes I’ve been told the mussels in Brussels are wonderful (side note Mussels in Brussels is my new all girl punk band name) but to date these were the best mussels I’ve had.

They are served in a white whine, shallot, and garlic cream sauce and I really really really loved the sauce. It was perfect.

Next up: Dublin, Lemmy, and serindipity

Day 2: Driving in another country – Dublin to Bodyke and beyond

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Waking up I headed down for breakfast. While it’s was your usual buffet fare, it was still better than anything I have ever had in an American Hotel. Sorry USA, your standards for food are very lacking.

After I checked out I hopped a cab and headed over to Enterprise to pick up my rental car.

Ok, I’m not going to lie. This was my favorite part of this trip. I have always (since I was a teen) wanted to drive a right hand drive manual car. Yes I know I’m weird. I’ve been star struck with anything European and knowing that people drive on the other side of the car and road was always something that fascinated me.

One thing I didn’t pack for this trip that was a definite fail was my dash camera. I would soon lament the lack of it after hitting the road.

Making it out of Dublin was my first issue. I’m very comfortable with a manual transmission, but it had been so long since I had driven a car I forgot that you don’t have to double clutch to change the gears like you do in a semi. While working a gear shift with your right hand is second nature to me at this point, it took a bit more brain power to shift with my left. I had the option of going through town to pick up the motorway I needed, or to hop one motorway to another. I chose the route through town just to give me some practice following and understanding the flow of traffic.

Once done, I was off for Bodyke (which is not pronounced as Body-key but bo-dyke as I would later come to find out). About 3/4 of the way there I realized I needed to fuel up. I stopped at the next service station which was just very confusing.

I just…

I really kinda have no words. It was surreal and the last thing I expected to see in Ireland.

As I understand it, Falmouth Kearney was Barack Obama’s maternal great-great-great grandfather and he was from Moneygall. The Obama’s visited the village and there was huge fanfare and hullabaloo.

Right!

Back in the car I pulled off the motorway to make my final leg of the journey through the countryside of County Tipperary and County Clare. Ok, I’m not too proud to admit that I totally squealed like a kid as I steered left and right down the curvy two lane road. Word of advice, there is no room for errors on Irish roads. In America we have lots of space. Many of our roads have shoulders, or at the least a flat patch of ground if you need to pull over. More often than not, in Ireland you had road, 3 inches of dirt, and then a rock wall. This made things a bit more interesting.

As the road dipped and twisted I did what I always do when I see farm animals I yelled out their name, except adding the word Irish to the beginning. “Irish Cows” or “Irish sheep” because I’m eternally 5.

Finally, I arrived at my final destination the East Clare Golf Village.

It was exactly what the name says, a little village by a golf course…

out in the middle of nowhere…

in a town called Bodyke…

And I’m here for a week…

Well, at least I have a car!

After checking in and settling in, I headed to Scariff which was the closest town with a market to get food and gin. There is no way I’m getting through this week without gin. Once back at the two bedroom two bath cottage, I poured myself a drink and then sat there in a daze. I knew I was heading to Galway tomorrow but what after that? Oh yeah, Christmas where everything is totally shut down in Ireland. Sigh.

The next day I drove to Galway and I did a bit of walking around and shopping for presents (which I can’t talk about because they haven’t been delivered yet. I did manage to reign in my inner 15 year old and not buy one of these.

I never owned a swatch back in the day but I did have several for short stays. Usually surreptitiously snagged from a boy while they were otherwise engaged elsewhere. Hey! The Sting was one of my favorite movies growing up and I adored Ellen Brennan’s character in that movie. What Can I say?

After Galway, I headed into Ennis for some dinner at Brogan’s. I had come across Brogans back in the states when we were searching for Christmas dinner (before we knew everything was closed on Christmas) and I also had another truck driver from my company suggest it as she’s originally from County Clare.

It was pretty packed with people downstairs but I was told I could get a table upstairs. There I met three lovely women and they kinda changed everything for me. When I walked in I was feeling down and out, still kinda in a daze wondering what the hell I was doing and going to do for the next week or so. Struggling with the idea of just holing up in my little golf cottage and drinking myself into a stupor until I needed to go back to Dublin, thereby avoiding everyone having a joyous time with friends and family, or doing what I always do which is making magic happen.

As I ate, and between tables, these ladies and I talked and laughed and had a great time. They told me of their Pan-demic” of 2018 as Storm Emma brought higher than normal snowfalls and the stores were sold out of bread and milk well ahead of the storm. Of course some people had a laugh at the whole Pan-ic.

While Becky and Chelsea regaled me with stories of winter in Ireland and how they wish they would get more snow, I shared the ultimate horror of growing up in the upper Midwest where 2 days after it snows you begin to wish it was gone, and knowing that the universe was out to get you when everyday you would wake up and have to shovel the sidewalks.

Miss Becky

Miss Chelsea

I had a lovely meal of Clonakilty Chicken which was a pan fried breast stuffed with Clonakilty black pudding and wrapped in bacon with a creamy mushroom sauce. Since this was my first trial of black pudding I thought it was a safe way to go and in the end, the black pudding was what I loved the most about the dish.

After dinner I headed downstairs to the bar to see who I would soon dub my new Irish bestie, Ellen.

My Irish Bestie Ellen ❤

Since we’re Facebook friends now, and she follows this blog I know she’ll be reading this. Ellen, you were a godsend on a dark night and your kindness will never be forgotten.

This woman bought a total stranger a Christmas gift so she would have something to open on Christmas Day. The world needs more Ellen’s.

While at the bar I sampled one of their house cocktails, The Burren. While I never made it to the actual Burren, the drink was lovely.

This delicious drink was made with Bombay Sapphire, violet liqueur, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, passion fruit purée, and Pinot Grigio and was very dangerous.

If you ever find yourself in Ennis in County Clare, please do yourself a favor and go to Brogans. While you’re there, give these ladies some love from me.

Christmas was spent…well in a drunken stupor. I had decided on a steady diet of mimosa and went through two bottles of champagne over the course of the day and night. Also, pants were not allowed. Not a bad day if I do say so myself. Plus my toes were toasty and cute with one of my presents from Ellen. ❤

Next up, Cliffs, Crows, and Customs.

Day one

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After finding out that my friends weren’t joining me I had two choices, one was to completely shut down (which quite frankly I was leaning towards) or grasping the ring of opportunity and riding away on a unicorn. Well, I chose the unicorn of course because why wouldn’t I?

As tired as I was, and really only having a 2 hour nap on the plane doesn’t equate to a full night of rest, I decided it was time for a shower, some food and coffee, and to hit the town.

I had the opportunity to eat at the hotel but what I really wanted was a little cafe that was quite and not filled with other tourists. As I walked with no destination in mind I came across T.J. Coffee Cafe. Well hello lovely! I had to stop since it was fate given the name.

Inside I met Theresa and James, the lovely proprietors who made me a perfect Irish Breakfast (mini), sans beans because I’m just not about beans for breakfast. Call me silly, it’s cool. Theresa was, what I have come to reference as the consummate Irish person. Open, gracious, funny, and just a genuinely nice person, After telling her my story, she asked if I was going to be in Dublin, .When I told her I was headed to the Ennis area, she was sad because she wanted to invite me to their house for Christmas. My first thought was shock. I mean, who does that? My next thought had my frozen heart melting and growing three times its size.

This, I would come to find out, is Ireland.

After my meal I jumped on the Loise (tram) and headed over to the Irish Heritage Museum. Coming from Chicago where our museums are massive, I expected something along the same lines. Instead I found this lovely quaint little museum with extraordinary treasures that rival any others of the same time period. The fact that some of the caches are still being found (last one found was in 2016) with lovely and delicate gold work from anywhere from the 6th to 8th century…mind blown.

After walking around and visiting a few shops, I jumped the tram again and headed back to the hotel. Once in my room I still felt a bit out of sorts and to be honest a bit gut punched, and I decided it was time for some food.

There was a pub that came recommended by a few people and I had a craving for fish and chips and a G&T.

I walked in and sat down and then it happened. The it that I had been avoiding for weeks. Over the soundsystem Wham’s Last Christmas started playing, I knew that I was taking my life into my own hands by coming to this part of the world, but I was really hoping that I could hold out for the 4 days before Christmas. Nope! Here, within my first 24 hours I get sent to Whamhalla. Le Sigh!

If you’re lost, please look up Whamageddon.

At least my G&T was delicious and made with Dingle Gin. One of the things I would come to love is the little bottles of soda that would come with your glass of alcohol if you bought a drink as a mix. While one may think it’s wasteful to have all those little bottles (glass recycling is a thing) I like the ability to decide just how much mixer I want in my glass

Of course I went with the Fish and Chips for my first meal (the chips are hiding under the fish) and it was good.

After dinner and still not ready to go back to my room, I decided to walk off my meal and ended up at a tattoo shop. No, I didn’t get a tattoo…I just made an appointment to get a tattoo for when I get back to Dublin.

After that, well it was time to call it a day. I decided to have a nightcap in the hotel bar and there I met and man whose name I promptly forgot, as I’m wont to do. This man was drunk beyond drunk, what I’ve heard referred to as pissed, and because I’m weird I gravitated towards him. He told me lots of stories. Told me about growing up in Belfast and having to kill people. Told me about spending time in prison before going to New York. Told me of the IRA in New York. Told me again about his time in prison but this was about a guy who wanted to perform fellatio on him due to the size of his penis. Queue eye roll. Next thing I know he’s offering to toss my salad and now it’s time for me to go.

Deciding I needed a bit of nicotine I excused myself and headed outside. He, of course, followed me, and demanded my room number. Oh man, he picked the wrong American on the wrong day.

I politely declined the requested information and he persisted, getting more and more agitated. The hotel staff came out looking concerned and I gave them the thumbs up letting them know I was fine because honestly I just wanted to see where this was going and because he was so drunk a strong wind could have knocked him over. He became more and more insistent but never touched me so he was allowed to stay. I didn’t find him to be dangerous just belligerently drunk. My favorite part of the conversation was this.

Him: Are you scared?

Me: Are you 5?

Of course all good things must come to an end and it was definitely time to end this. After him asking me if I was turning him down because I was a lesbian for the 7th time, I had pretty much had enough. I told him I wasn’t getting naked with him, I didn’t care how big it was or what he wanted to do to various parts of my body, and that I preferred potential partners to be sober enough to remember the exchange and that I quite frankly had had a shit day and I really didn’t want to deal with his bullshit. When he asked me AGAIN if I was a lesbian, well that’s when my claws came out and I got loud and very forceful as I told him he needed to walk the F away from me as he didn’t know who he was dealing with.

Side note….I really can be intimidating when needed and at that point it was very needed.

He blinked at me and I stepped into his personal space putting us chest to chest and nose to nose and simply said:

Do you really think I couldn’t take you? I don’t know who you are or where you’ve been but I can tell you that you, my drunken friend, don’t stand a chance of walking away unscathed and trust me when I say that attacking a woman traveler over the holidays probably isn’t a good thing, regardless of the fact that you will be quite bloody and bruised and probably a bit embarrassed at how easy it will be for me to wipe the walk with your face. I will press this until the end and will walk away while you will not.

Needless to say, he backed down. Score one for the badass bitch with zero fear.

The manager of the hotel came over to apologize to me and I tried not to laugh at him. I told him that I was fine and in no danger and that I had dealt with his kind a time or two. He again apologize and said they had a duty to keep me safe and I told him I was safe enough. While drink may make people a false kind of brave, it also slows their reflexes and makes it easier to take down when necessary. He laughed. I laughed. It was all good.

Now, it was time for bed. I made sure he was not on my lift and I watched myself on the way to my room, but I was more than ready for my bed,

Tomorrow, I leave Dublin in a rental car.

And away we go…

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As I sit here on my delayed flight, wondering if my travel mates will make it out of the states at all, I’m filled with this sense of peace. I cant really explain why it is, but I feel as if I’m supposed to go on this trip. I’m not a big believer of destiny or fate (because if I did I’d have to have a long conversation about a few key things, including the two marriages to horrible people) but for whatever reason, this trip is different.

My day so far has been a series of starts and stops. The day before travel, saw Tampa covered with sputtering rain. It started, it stopped, and it wasn’t consistent at all. This morning however was all about downpours.

My flight was delayed about a hour and a half. I thought about going to the airport and waiting, but since Tampa is rarely busy and I was only 5 minutes away, I decided to just wait it out. That was the first mistake I made. When we finally reached the airport traffic was horrendously backed up. Even Travis was surprised and stated “in the 20 years I’ve lived here and as many times as I’ve flown into/out of this airport, I’ve never seen it this busy.”

TSA was…ugh. I’ve decided to apply for global entry as it also includes pre-check so I can bypass the regular line. If I’m going to be traveling more often it only makes sense and well I’m sick of taking off my shoes.

After I got through the line I had just enough time to get to my gate before they started boarding. Since I splurged on this flight, my Tampa to Newark flight was first class.

Once seated the flight progressed as all flights do, but with good food and room to move.

Salad with roast chicken, quinoa salad, and hummus

After landing in Newark, I had a 3 hour layover between flights so I headed over to the Polaris Lounge. Talk about swanky…

Top shelf alcohols and a few signature drinks like Cloud Cover, their gin offering

This wasn’t your average buffet.

Free food and drinks and plenty of seating and charging stations made this an extremely comfortable place to wait for my next flight.

Starting clockwise from the top: Hummus on pita, chicken parmigiana. Salmon mousse on brown bread, roasted winter veggies, fingerling potato salad, cherry coleslaw, and cheese ravioli.

Fingerling potato salad,. So delicate…

I really loved all of the food with the exception of the two salads. I felt they were not dressed enough so the flavors were lost.

Soon enough it was time to head to my gate, which was conveniently located just outside of the lounge. After boarding I was greeted with this.

Everything I needed to be sung as a bug in a rug was located on this seat. In the small black bag, I found the silly thing that made me a happy camper.

THE SMALLEST TUBE OF TOOTHPASTE EVER!!!!! Sure we can have a discussion about the fact there is more plastic than product here, but can we not? Look it it! It’s the most adorable thing ever!

I also had a very large screen with plenty of movies and tv shows to choose from or a flight tracker to show me exactly where we were in our trip.

Then there was the food…The starter was a lovely salad with Kale, mesclun, roasted fennel, bell peppers and pomegranate seeds and was served with a pomegranate balsamic vinagrette, smoked duck with a cranberry pumpkin seed farro salad, brined carrot, and stone ground mustard.

For the main it braised short rib with Carolina stone ground grits and braised Bok Choi.

There was a dessert offering but I was way too full and a bit sleepy so I reclined my seats to the full bed mode and snuggled in. I felt that I had only been asleep for a few minutes, but it turned out to be hours as we were about an hour from Dublin and I was being woken up to ask what I wanted for breakfast. Considering I hadn’t finished all the food I was served previously, and I still felt full I passed on breakfast.

At 7am the sun was still down so I wasn’t able to see much as we came in for a landing. Once on the ground I was amazed at how quite the airport was. Like, there was NO ONE around. I grabbed my bags, hopped a taxi, and headed to check in.

Once at the hotel, there was a bit of confusion at check in. I was told that all of the reservations were in one of my travel mates name but the hotel said they had no reservations for him. Feeling a bit panicky and probably looking as much, the lovely girl asked what my name was and said the reservation was under my name. Confused but happy that I would be able to take a shower very soon, I finished my check in process, and headed up to my room.

Once in my room I checked my phone to check in with my family and saw that I had a missed call from my travel mates and a message asking me to call them.

When I called I found out that my entire vacation was changing. They had missed their connecting flight and due to storms in Florida and high holiday traffic they weren’t able to get out of the states until sometime later in the week, so in short they weren’t coming.

They had contacted everywhere we are staying and transferred all of the reservations to my name, but for all intents and purposes I’m on my own.

Next up, Dublin and driving on the wrong side of the road.

Year one is in the books!

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Today the 12th of December, well “today” as I write this because who knows if or when this will be uploaded, is my one year anniversary of getting my CDL and legally being able to drive a truck. Three trainers and a few months later and I was picking up my new truck, now dubbed Large Marge, because who doesn’t love a good Pee Wee Herman reference?

So, what’s been going on with me you say? Yeah I know it’s been a while. It’s not you, it’s me. You, my lovely readers, haven’t been forgotten. I’ve just been…in a place. Not a good place and not a bad place.

So I’ve mentioned my upbringing a time or two and some of you know more than others, but for those new here I grew up a transient. I went to 12 schools in 12 years and even after school I couldn’t stay in one place. I’ve lived at roughly 30+ addresses in my young 47 years. To add to that, I was an only child and what was termed as a latch key kid. I was always the new kid and by the time I made friends we were moving again, so I spent A LOT of time alone. I had plenty of toys and games but no one to play with so it made me hate being alone. Until now…

True, the loneliness of this job was hard to get used to, but now I revel in the fact that I can sometimes go a day or two without talking to anyone. I have two people I talk to almost daily and that’s a fellow driver named Jay who has been instrumental in helping me along the way and my sister from another mister Tonya who is a part of my T-Town family. There are some days that I don’t talk to either of them and that’s ok. I no longer get twitchy when I think of being alone. It doesn’t make me feel that I’m missing out or that I’m less than, something it very much used to do. Now, I’m at peace with my life and choices and for the first time I no longer feel as if I’m always on the run from something but rather to something.

With that being said, I’ve just been dispatched on my last load of the year because this time next week I’ll be in Ireland. I’m taking this show off the road, over the pond, and on to new roads. I’ll even be driving over there so that should be interesting as the rental is a manual right hand drive. Ok, who am I kidding? I’m freaking stoked. I also decided to splurge and get business class tickets because they weren’t that bad and because I could. Plus, considering that we’re flying back the morning of the 1st, I feel it prudent to be able to lay flat while I cross the Atlantic. I’m sure I’ll be at worst hung over or at best still a bit drunk.

I’ve writing you all several times, but I haven’t been able to finish any of them. Maybe I’ll post them anyway. I kept losing my thoughts and everything just petered out. No my darlings, it really isn’t you.

For a quick recap…

In September I went to San Francisco with two lovelies and had a grand time.

In October I was back at home in Chicago and rocking out with Nine Inch Nails and catching up with family.

In November it was time to get my cooking on by making a full thanksgiving dinner of a one legged turkey (true story he only had one leg but that’s for another time) for my T-Town family in Tulsa. Everything was a huge success or they were convincing liars. Considering the King Brothers came over the next morning to eat left overs, I’m guessing I did well. It’s weird to be spending as much time as I have been in a place I previously detested, but again I’m in a very different place now from where I was when I lived there.

As far as the road goes, well I’ve put over 95,000 miles on Large Marge since March. I was hoping to hit 100,000 before years end but that’s not going to happen. It will happen before I hit the 12 month mark with LM but it’s just not happening in 2018.

On my travels I’ve stumbbled across things that have made me laugh,

As well as things that have made me cry.

I’ve learned that some truck stops have bath tubs.

I’ve spent miles and miles wondering what that light in the sky is.

I’ve crossed the continental divide 16 times and been to the highest elevation East of the Mississippi River 12 times.

I’ve picked up some new piercings and ink and have made self care a part of my routine.

I’ve even picked up a new hobby because…Godzilla.

One thing I’ve been struggling with lately is weight gain. It’s starting to happen despite my best attempts at keeping it away. Of course I’ve been in the cold zone for the last two months so I’m trying to just chalk it up to that, but given my history I know that’s not the whole story. I’m not emotionally eating but I’m also not making the best choices. That’s something to work on next year. I’m not going to stress it now.

All in all, life is good and just gets better every day and that’s really all I have to say.

Merry Holidays and all that jazz to you and yours. I truly wish each and everyone of you a Happy New Year. I’ll see you on the flip side! Love you!

Review: Ultreia Denver, CO

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Have I mentioned that I have a recently discovered strong love affair with gin? After going most of my adult life hating the taste and smell all it took was one well mixed Aviation by a good friend and suddenly all I waned to drink was gin. Two years later, it’s pretty much the only thing I will drink with the sudden exception of a good Bloody Mary now and again.

When scoping out restaurants that I wanted to try, I stumbled across Ultreia and when I saw that “gin tonics” proudly listed on their website, I knew this was my next destination.

According to Eater, Ultreia is a Spanish Ham and Gin Bar. Well count me in!

Located inside the Denver Train station, Ultreia seats approximately 50, but with a small patio and a nice night, my companion Nick and I opted to sit outside on the patio. This was a good thing as the night air was much cooler than the stifling and loud interior of the restaurant. It also gave a bit more space between our dining experience and travelers shuffling by.

Not bothering to dither over choices, Nick and I both dove in ordering some of our favorites for round one. I decided to start with the Wendy Peffercorn to drink.

I don’t know what I was expecting but I know it wasn’t pink peppercorns floating in my drink. Regardless of that, this was lovely. It did have a slight pepper bite to it but not in a bad way. I did find it a bit on the dry side but all and all it was a lovely drink.

We started with Cod fritters with a garlic aioli and blistered lemon which was the special of the day.

We followed those up with the ham croquettes,

The crispy sesame eggplant,

and the goat cheese stuffed dates.

Nick also ordered the cured trout plate (not pictured) and while I did have a sample it wasn’t to my liking.

Another round of drinks and a final share rounded out our night.

For my second drink, I decided to try the Adventure Land and it was everything I wanted.

Our last share plate were fried shishito peppers and this was the perfect cap on the evening.

While I did enjoy my evening at Ultreia, there were more than one dish that I felt was a bit over done. These included the dates and the cod fritters. The dates were almost too tough to chew and the cod lost all of its lovely creaminess due to being flattened and fried to such a crisp. Maybe that was the intent of the chef, but it seemed to gain all the crunch while losing all the flavor and that makes me wonder if it was really intentional or accidental.

The other thing that made me kinda sad was that I had intended on ordering the chef’s tasting menu since I saw it on both the website and menu. When I inquired about it I found it wasn’t a true tasting menu but rather a standard listing of items currently on the menu and “really isn’t a a thing anymore” according to our server.

If you are in the Denver Union Station area, I would still suggest stopping in and checking out Ultreia. As for if I will stop again… I might give it another try just to have their ham sampler and more G&Ts but I don’t think I would go out of my way.

Review: Till Kitchen – Colorado Springs, CO

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The longer that I live on the road, the more I start to realize just how important it is to not judge a book by its cover. This is very true for restaurants. Some of the swankiest and glitziest places have had some of the worst service and bland loveless food. Then there are the hole in the wall joints where I’ve winced when walking through the door only to be bowled over by the food.

That’s why, as my family and I drove up to Till, I had hoped this wouldn’t be another take on an up and coming chain restaurant tucked back into the burbs. Man, was I wrong on so many counts. Usually when visiting someplace I do a bit of research and get a general idea of where I’d like to eat to share it with you, my lovelies. This time, I let my Aunt pick and I’m very grateful she did.

Till isn’t just a restaurant, it’s large multi-purpose building with an open space restaurant, a bakery, a coffee shop, and a whole lot of sustainable practices and components. Within 5 minuets of walking in I kinda wanted to ask it to marry me because I was head over heels in love.

The open kitchen made me swoon. If I hadn’t been with my family I probably would have bellied up to the bar and settled in for hours to watch the chefs at their craft.

Their market was small but still had a great selection of ready to eat meals.

The restuarant seemed to go on forever and with the clean classic feel of the colors and lines I can see why this would be a perfect place to rent out for an important event such as a wedding receiption.

We were there for brunch so I decided to have the Salmon Toast.

Everything about this plate make me smile. The spring greens salad had a light almost not there dressing and the main of salmon, cream cheese, toast, and onions just had me doing a happy dance as I ate.

Because, what is brunch without drinks….or rather what is one of my reviews without drinks…

I started out my morning with a gin, lemon, ginger beer creation that was so amazing I really wish I hadn’t forgotten to get a picture of the menu so I could replicate it when I’m on home time.

For seconds I had my second Bloody Mary that I didn’t hate. Maybe it was the bacon….because bacon makes everything better. Maybe it was the colorful garnish with the pickled watermelon radish that just made me happy. Who really cares, it was a perfect ending to a lovely day of dinner with 4 generations of women.

There were so many things going on this day that I should have gotten some shots and thoughts on the other meals at the table. Usually I do these things by myself and I’m not distracted but this time, watching the interplay of my daughter and grandmother, as well as enjoying a lovely visit with my aunt I just didn’t think about it.

Sure there are plenty of places to try, but if you’re in the Colorado Springs area, I suggest you stop by and give Till a try. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Rocky Mountain High…

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Did John Denver know that his song was a bit prophetic? When I drive through places I often sing songs that remind me of that place. For Iowa, I sing Iowa Stubborn from Music Man, for Tulsa it’s always Livin’ on Tulsa Town, and for Colorado…Rocky Mountain High. It’s like a compulsion but since I drive solo there’s no one to annoy with my idiosyncrasies.

At the tail end of August I took a break from driving for a few days to celebrate my daughters birthday.

Miss Morgan O’Shae, the light of my life and the jelly to my peanut butter (because she’s sweet and I’m nutty) turned 24. She is well on her own path of growth and change as she recently started school for massage therapy. She had taken to it very well and she now has a definite direction her life is going towards. I couldn’t be happier for her or proud of her. I might be feeling a bit misty eyed just typing about it.

We had planned a full schedule of shenanigans planned including Morgan getting her first tattoo, visiting her great grandmother and aunt, mani/pedis, shopping, and food food foooooooooood.

Speaking of food, I love people who smoke their own meat. I especially love people who smoke their own meat and share it with me.

After a quick jaunt to Costco to procure supplies, Joe (my future son in-law) smoked not only a brisket but salmon for me.

Please excuse the nibbles taken out of the salmon. Sometimes I forget to take pictures before sampling.

While Joe was slaving away over a hot grill. (Ok, maybe slaving is a harsh word to use for what he did…) Morgan and I jetted down to Colorado Springs to visit my Aunt and Grandmother. Because of weird family dynamics that I won’t expand upon, neither of these women have seen my daughter since she was a wee babe.

We had a nice visit at their home and then went to dinner at Till. A review of my experience will be in another post but I will happily give you a preview by saying “Zomg Yum!”

So, what do you do when you have four generations of women together? You take a picture, of course! Added bonus is the cute waiter photobombing us in the background. I also kinda love the fact that my Aunt and I are both wearing black while my Grammie and Daughter are more colorful.

After the visit, Morgan and I headed back to Colorado Springs to hit up The Tattoo Shop for a bit of ink. This was my 6th and her first. I hadn’t made an appointment for myself but was hoping to slide in. Dwayne, the owner, had a client no show so Winner Winner Chicken Dinner for me!

Morgan wanted a fox skull with a crown of roses. Ok, I can get behind that. It’s where she wanted it that had me concerned.

She decided the placement for her first tattoo would be at the top center of her back. Here is how that conversation went.

Me: Um, are you sure that’s where you want it?

Mo: Yep

Me: You know, being that this is your first tattoo and you don’t really know what it’s going to feel like, you might want to choose a less painful spot.

Mo: Joe says it’s not that bad.

Me: Everyone experiences and processes pain differently.

Mo: It will be fine.

Me: Ok but the last thing I’m going to say is out of all my tattoos, the one on my back was the worst.

So her artist (who’s name I’ve forgotten because I’m horrible but I loved his work and I’ll probably be seeing him next time I’m in Denver) drew up a great sketch and they sat down to get started. I was in the other room getting my own work done. I look over through the little window and see her in the chair, head dropped forward, tears streaming down her face and into a garbage can they placed in front of her. She wasn’t crying she was sobbing. At one point I heard her say “I should have listened to my mom.” For you mom’s out there, you know that right there is gold.

Once my tattoo was done I replaced the receptionist who was holding Mo’s hand and I settled in for some crushing and bruising. Man, that girl has a grip!

All in all she took 3 breaks, sobbed a gallon of tears, and moaned and whimpered firecely but she finished the tattoo. At the end the artist told her that she was firmly in the top 10 of all time tattoos for him because he had never seen someone cry and cry out in pain so fiercely but refuse to quit.

Yep, that’s my girl.

The piece I got for myself was just a small piece of something I’ve wanted for a while. The picture I took is before the guide ink was washed off so it’s not a clean look. It’s still healing and in the flaky stage currently so this will have to suffice. Bonus points if you know what it stands for.

I loved this shop. The vibe of the people. The quality of work. I think I found a shop to get started planning and working on my sleeve. There are other artists all over the world that I’d love to have art by, but I have plenty of skin and lots of time for that.

The other fun thing we did, besides satisfy a craving I had, was to hit up Seoul Korean BBQ. If you are in the Aurora, CO area, I highly recommend this place.

This picture does not do justice to the entire banchan we had at our disposal to go along with the three different meats of our choosing. We wen’t with the honey combed pork belly (pictured on the grill) and a marinated beef and chicken not pictured. Also not pictured is the kimchi soup which was to die for, the scallion pancake that I wanted to sell my first born for the recipe for (sorry Frobebe), and a table cooked omelette.

The biggest problem with Korean BBQ is that it’s really too much food for me. Over two years ago I had 80% of my stomach removed so my intake capacity is waaaaaaay lower. Then again, LEFTOVERS ROCK and I ate on that kimchi soup for at least two days when I got back to my truck.

Pictured in the lower bowl with the ladel with a Korean drink called Makgeolli. A great article about Makgeolli, it’s history and hopefully it’s future, can be found on Eater.

If you have not tried this drink for yourself, next time you’re dining out at a Korean restaurant, give it a try.

I finished out my visit by having dinner with my good friend Nick who I hadn’t seen since somewhere between 2001-2003 (because neither of us could rightly remember). Nick and I met in Tulsa while working in a call center for DirecTV and some of those times were wild and wacky and a bit of a rollercoaster but they will always stand out in my mind for the people I met and the things we did (including my ex-husband but he has no place here *waves*). Oh man, do I have some stories from those days…

Now, I’m back on the road and have been pushing hard (which is why this update is much later than I would have liked it to be. I’ve had to flip my schedule at least twice and I’m currently in a bit of a tail spin. At this point I have a two week push until my next mini vacation when I head to San Francisco with two lovely ladies to wreck the town like a radioactive lizard!

Until next time my lovelies! Xoxo

Driver by any other name….

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This one is for the men…or maybe the ladies…aww, hell its for everyone.

For starters I’m going to start off by saying that as I started to write this, I had just experienced my third sexual harassment moment of the day. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry at the fact that each instance was from a different category of harassment. It’s almost as if the universe was saying “hey, want to know what you should write about next?” It’s been a few days and I’ve calmed down but I still feel this all needs to be said.

Some days on the road are better than others. I generally try to keep this blog positive but I’m about to lay down a bit of truth about life on the road as a woman trucker, but in all actuality it’s really just about life as a woman regardless of where you are or what you do and it’s a bit of a rant and just needing to get all of this off my chest.

I’ll start you out easy with whistles and cat calls.

Whistling or cat calling aren’t a way to tell a woman you find them good looking. In all honesty, we (and I’m speaking for the majority of women I know) don’t find it flattering when you whistle at us or yell out to us. I for one will always respond with a one fingered salute at a minimum or I will gladly walk over and give you a piece of my mind while most likely shredding any dignity you might have. I hope for your sake it’s the former and not the latter because as I’ve been told I can be right intimidating when pushed. Today it was the one finger salute and a yell out of “F Off”.

For the most part, when you whistle at or yell things at a woman it shows you have no self control. It also tells us you don’t really respect us. If you have no self control and no respect, why in the hell should we give you the time of day? If you get upset at a woman not genuflecting at your feet after you yell out something trite like “Damn look at that hot ass” or “Girl you fine” then it’s probably not the woman as much as it is your method of delivery. Ask any woman in your life how they feel about being yelled at. Hell, ask any woman in your life what it’s like to be a woman and the crap they’ve had to go through their entire life and you might understand.

Next, your hands. These should never be placed upon another person or any of their possessions (especially the clothes covering their bodies) without their permission. That goes for men, women, and children. There is no grey area here and no exception. If you want to see a person’s tattoo that is partially covered by a piece of clothing, ask them. They will most likely show you since most people are proud of their ink. What you should never do is move someone’s clothing to look at their ink without their consent. I’m sorry, if I feel someone touching me (as I did today) without my knowledge or permission I will turn into a honey badger, and honey badger don’t care.

I will probably (again as I did today) respond with violence. A slap at minimum, a full beat down if I’m really in a foul mood. The man who decided to grab at the back of my shirt to get a closer look at my tattoo probably wasn’t expecting to end up with a stinging face and a stumble from a shove but then again I wasn’t expecting to be pawed at or touched without my consent so we both got something we didn’t want or expect.

His stunned look and stammering excuse of “I just wanted to look at your tattoo” got a very loud response of “Don’t you ever put your hands on another person with out asking asshole. If you want to see my ink, ask. You’re lucky you’re still breathing.”

The stunned silence in the truck stop was impressive and more than one person moved out of my way as I stormed out after paying for my purchases. No one came to my defense. No one came to his defense. I think everyone was in shock except for me. I was seething with a blind rage.

Lastly, and this was kind of my last straw. If you don’t know a woman’s name the acceptable way to address them is Ms/Miss or even a ma’am. Calling a woman Darling, Gorgeous, Sexy, or any other derogatory term is well, derogatory. I can ignore most things, I just choose not to. When I’m called any of those adjective instead of a proper greeting that place emphasis on my looks, well then I feel like an object not a person. I can either choose to ignore it or say something about it. Those of you who know me will know I will usually take the former rather than the latter any day. When this happens in my current business, I really take offense to it.

That is why the following conversation happened.

Dockworker: Hey Gorgeous, you can back into door 19

Me: Driver

Dockworker: I’m sorry?

Me: You can call me Driver if you don’t know my name. If you don’t want to call me driver you can call me Miss or Ma’am or you can ask my name which is Tj by the way. I don’t respond to gorgeous.

Dockworker: (laughs nervously) Uh, I wasn’t…

Me: Trying to be sexist? Well you failed.

With that I started my truck to move it to door 19. After I was unloaded the same dockworker came out to give me my paperwork.

Dockworker: Here’s you paperwork gor…um driver.

Me:

After a moment of doing the above I wished him a good rest of his evening and left.

Here’s the deal with all of that. When I’m picking up, driving, or delivering I’m essentially at work. I get that I don’t dress, act, or look like other drivers on the road. All of that is irrelevant in my eyes. I’m still at work. Yes I know I’m an anomaly. Yes I know that some women may be flattered by this kind of attention. I am not.

I had a conversation with another driver about this and asked how he would feel if he had a dockworker talk to him like that. His immediate response was to say if it was by a male dockworker the would be offended because he’s not gay.

I’ve given this a lot of thought over the last couple of days and realized that the reaction is kinda the same. He would be offended because he’s not gay and doesn’t want the attention of a man that way. I’m offended because I also don’t want the attention of a man that way regardless of sexual orientation. Is it such a hard concept to wrap your head around?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I still feel safe on the road and I’ve yet to really feel in danger. I’ve heard of many women drivers who have all sorts of weapons and deterrents just in case. Me, I’ve just never been the type to feel I need a weapon to feel safe.

To quote Ani DiFranco, “Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right.” My weapon is my mind and my determination and those are really the only weapons that matter to me.

I’ve left Calgary behind. I didn’t get to do what I wanted due to getting a bit of a tummy bug. Maybe this made me a bit more sharp when dealing with people.

Let me say that being sick in a truck sucks. It doesn’t matter what kind of sickness it is, it all sucks when you’re in a truck.

After picking up a load of apples again from Washington, I’m heading down to Alabama. I have a lot of time on this run so I’m taking it easy, having short days, and conserving my energy. I’m ready for my next break which will be in Denver at the end of the month to hang with my daughter for her birthday. I’m looking forward to getting out of this truck for a couple of days and do normal things. Lately I’ve been feeling like Stabby McKnife.

Thanks for reading my rant. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Something is in the air…

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Yesterday I picked up my Calgary load. Since I was so close, I decided to swing by our main terminal in Springfield, MO to pick up my mail and a couple of shirts I had ordered.

My route took me on small two lane county roads and away from the hustle and bustle of interstates, and that’s always a good thing by me.

Just west of Jonesboro, AR I saw a small prop-airplane making dips and dives and I smiled. While I always think of North by Northwest when I see crop dusters, its interesting to think they are still in use today.

As he made dips and dives I smiled as I watched him. That is until I got a bit closer. The chemicals he was spraying sent me into a tizzy. My eyes were watering, I was coughing, and generally felt like I wanted a shower. It made me wonder what it must be like to work with those chemicals as well as harvest the food, or even ingest the food. Again, this job has really made me think about where my food comes from.

Another sight along the road (and this is a very geeky moment) was when the sun set behind a bunch of clouds.

I apologize for the blurry picture. There’s only so much I can do with an iPhone.

Suddenly I realized where I had seen that shape before.

Ok so it might be a bit different but hey, work with me here. It’s Amy Pond’s crack in the wall.

If you’re lost, please look up the Doctor Who Series 5-7 featuring Matt Smith as the 11th doctor and his memorable chin.

It should take me another three days to get up to my crossing point in Montana, and then another day to Calgary.

Until then my lovelies, stay awesome. Xoxo

Rogue – Richmond, VA

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After delivering my load of apples in Virginia, I was short on hours so I took a day off. Since I was less than 40 miles away from Richmond, I decided to head over a take a look.

I needed a mani/pedi (hey life on the road can still be glamorous) and afterwards I decided to check out Rogue for dinner,

Located in Historic Jackson Ward, Rogue offers a 5-course Chef tasting menu. After a quick perusal of the menu, I knew I wanted to try the tasting menu.

First course was a roasted beet salad on chèvre with duck bacon. (I was working on my Canada post between courses, hence the iPad in the background) I’m not a huge beet fan, but these were sublime. Between the natural sweetness of the beets, the creamy texture of the chèvre, and the salty note of the duck bacon this dish was not only perfectly layered but also had a balance that allowed each component to shine without overpowering it’s compatriots.

My second course were pan fried pork tenderloins over a green onion sauce. These were delightfully crispy on the outside with that perfect tenderness on the inside. The sauce added a bright note that really paired well with the pork.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT….

Paul was my bartender and he was not only a great mixologist but a very nice man.

Rogue currently has a list of drinks based on movies. After a quick perusal I settled on the Coop Coop, a gin drink based on the movie the Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Mad with Blueberry-Thyme infused Copper Fox gin, Blackheath cyser, cinnamon syrup, and lemon juice, this pink drink was fruity and refreshing but a bit on the sweet side for my tastes.

One of the things I liked about the bar experience is that if you don’t know what you want, you can give a couple of suggested adjectives and they will make you something to suit. This is a great way to find your new favorite cocktail.

Rogue, also has all of their old menus available to peruse. These were fun to look at as they ranged from a look alike Denny’s menu to a Madlibs menu.

And now, back to our meal.

If I could marry a risotto, it would be this creamy little dish. With lemon creme fraiche folded in and topped with pea shoots, well there really is nothing left to say but “I do!”

Beef with braised breakfast radishes over potatoes. Ok, I love me some beef especially when it’s done well. This beef was done very well but as I said to Paul when he asked me how it was…”Fuck the beef, these radishes are the fucking star of this show.” I had never had braised radishes before and the texture as well as the flavor change once the perfect amount of heat is applied is lovely enough, but then braise them with a touch of butter and bacon fat and well, I’d sell my dark soul for those.

My last course was olive oil cake with candied olives and what I believe was a lemon jelly topping. Add a touch of cream, a lovely strawberry, and a drizzle of olive oil and perfection.

I am not really a sweets fan, so to finish with a dessert that only barley grazed the sweet side was the perfect ending to my meal. The cake was moist with a lovely earthy taste thanks to the oil. The sweet components of the berry and the jelly were not cloying or overpowered the lovely clean taste of the oil.

While waiting on my check, Chef John Maher (@chef_johnny) came out to say hello and thank me for coming in. I raved about his food and told him how much I enjoyed everything but the radishes blew my mind. He seemed genially pleased and after a quick shot he was off again.

Bird and Bottle – Tulsa, OK

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I used to live in Tulsa, OK. For various reasons, none I’m going to go into here and now, I moved from Chicago, IL to Tulsa, OK when I was 23. This wasn’t my first foray to the land of Oral Roberts and Rhema Bible College, nor would it be my last.

When I say I lived in Tulsa, that’s not very accurate. I existed but I never felt like I was really living there. I always felt out of place and while I connected with some truly amazing people I always wanted to be somewhere else.

That is why, to my supreme surprise, when I recently returned to visit my friends in Tulsa I was met with many of the things I loved about other places.

The farm to table movement is becoming a driving force in this country as people start to take an interest in where their food comes from, and it is very much alive and thriving in Tulsa.

That is why when my Sister-From-Another-Mister Tonya took me to Bird and Bottle, I was knocked off my ass.

Set in the corner of a strip mall at 31st and Harvard this new little gem is a must if you’re in the area.

Tonya and I stopped in for a Sunday Funday Brunch.

I started with their take on an Old Fashioned, aptly named a Young Fashioned. Rye, brown sugar, muddled lemon, blueberry, and rhubarb bitters with a lemon twist. It was good but not quite what I wanted.

Tonya had their Curry Bloody Mary.

I feel this is the moment where I need to come clean and say I can’t stand bloodies. I’ve tried and tried over the years. I’ve had them every which way and I just can’t with a bloody. After watching the ultimate bliss on Tonya’s face after one sip, I knew I had to try this bloody.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have finally found a bloody that I loved.

This little gem was made with Gin, house-made curry Bloody Mary mix, with a shrimp cocktail garnish.

Maybe it was the gin.

Maybe it was the mix, as it wasn’t as thick as I’ve had in the past.

Whatever it was, I am a huge fan of this bloody.

I felt like the only accompanying nibble would be to have the curry shrimp cocktail.

The fresh pea shoots added a nice bite of green to balance out the flavors of the cocktail sauce and this was indeed the best thing to have with my bloody.

I look forward to my next visit to Tulsa where I’m looking forward to trying their dinner menu. The duck empanadas are especially interesting to me.

Oh, Canada…

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When I was around 9, my parents and I took a two week road trip to visit my Uncle and see Niagara Falls. I remember sleeping a lot, as I was wont to do during long road trips. I remember eating a pint of blueberries in the back seat, a kitten that I met at a campground that I begged to take home with me, the roaring sound of the water as it rushed off the edge of the world, and various other things.

Fast forward to 2005-ish, I was stuck in a horrible marriage and looking for an escape. One way that escape took shape was in a brief but somewhat intense love affair. We can debate the morality of my decisions until the end of time, but I was smitten and felt wanted and truly loved for the first time in a long time. Maybe it was the feeling of just being wanted, since it was obvious my then husband didn’t feel that way. Maybe it was the shine that all new relationships have. Whatever the reason, for my birthday I set off on a cross country road trip to see him on the east coast and I drove via Canada.

I wanted to see the falls again. To view them through the eyes of a woman instead of the eyes of a child. Many things had changed and some things still remained the same.

I still ate a fresh pint of blueberries as I drove, constantly having to remind myself to remember it’s kilometers not miles in Canada and 60 isn’t the same. The sound of the falls were no less strong and imposing and the song they sang as they fell to the bottom was still a sweet melody to me.

Most of all, I wanted to drive roads I had never driven before.

That is one of the things I love about driving and always have. I know I’m no explorer setting off to uncharted lands to discover something new, but in this instance I don’t need to be. New to me is good enough for me.

Now that I drive for a living, going somewhere new makes me giddy. That’s why, when I talked to my fleet manager a few weeks ago about going to Canada, I was beside myself when he said he’d put me on the list.

After my brief stop in Tulsa to see friends and family for some much needed R & R, I set off with a new perspective, a little less tense thanks to a lovely massage, and a little more stylish with new nails, shoes, and a new piercing (Yay more holes in my head!)

Yes I’m wearing one pair of glasses over another. Shoosh, you.

First stop? Pennsylvania. Le sigh… Look, I’ve got nothing against PA but I’ve been all over that state the last couple of months and I’m kinda over it. Next stop was in Indiana and when I was dispatched back to PA I sent the following message.

“Dude, I’m kinda sick of PA. What about Canada, eh?”

So instead of heading to PA, I set off for Michigan. Once I delivered my load I spent two days shuttling blueberries around Michigan. These were super easy, high paying loads. You really gotta love summer time in this industry.

After that, I picked up a load of Eggo Waffles and headed towards Calgary, Alberta by way of North Dakota. Not only was I going to Canada, I was going to be driving roads I’ve never been on and see a part of the world as yet undiscovered by myself.

When you drive across the boarder in a car it’s no big deal. When you drive over with a commercial vehicle it’s a bit more complicated. We have two lovely women who dedicate their days to boarder crossings, both North and South. I had to have a 30 minute conversation with them about what to do, what not to do, and general information I needed to make this crossing easy peasy mac and cheesy.

First off, I had a specific time for my boarder crossing. I can arrive up to 8 hours after that time, but if I missed that window I would need to be rescheduled. Due to traffic and my drive clocks I ended up rescheduling twice.

One of the things the boarder crossing women tell you is when you roll up to the crossing too turn your truck off, but don’t set your brakes. Whenever a driver sets their brakes a big whooshing noise can be heard. If you’re in a close proximity to the truck it can be quite loud. As I rolled up to the crossing booth I came across my first problem, there was no one there. Would someone be coming out? Should I set my brakes and go in? ZOMG what do I do?

As I looked over I saw the officer inside waving me in. I set my brakes and headed inside.

Another thing the crossing ladies told me was to just answer what questions are posed to me and not to add anything else or talk too much or seem nervous at all.

Ok my lovelies, many of you have met me in person. For those of you who haven’t, let me say that not being me is a really hard thing to do. I don’t like to talk to new people…I LOVE IT! I especially love making people who don’t laugh often (especially law officers) crack a smile or two and maybe chuckle. Add to that what normally happens when someone tells me to do something and, well yeah, I was cracking jokes and just generally being myself. It was cool, they were well received and in less than 5 minutes overall, I was across the boarder.

For the first 20 or so miles this is all I saw. The traffic was pretty much non-existent, and I was absolutely in love. First stop, I needed to get the much heard of Ketchup Chips.

Ok, I’m not a ketchup fan. I”m actually not a tomato based anything fan (except for the amazing green curry Bloody Mary at Bird and Bottle in Tulsa, OK and a review of that will be up shortly), but I kinda loved these (even if they gave be a bit of indigestion because in reality they are crap.)

Also, everything being bilingual just makes me happy. Street signs, labels, etc. Love love love.

After I made my way though Saskatchewan and Alberta and delivered my load, I found I had a day to myself. I decided I needed a hat (or 5 as it turns out).

Hey, there is a reason this blog is called girl hat zilla…

While in Calgary, and with my downtime I decided to hit a place called Pr0/0f and ZOMG! The food, the drinks, the bartender. As stated above, I love to talk to people and I hear I’m pretty good at it, so when I sit down at the bar and hear an Australian accent in Calgary I have to know more.

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My bartender (whose name I have shamefully forgotten) is a snowboarder from Australia who moved to Canada to do what he loves because, well, snow is not really native to Australia. Kinda like being a Jamaican Bobsled Team. He was awesome and we talked gins, liquors, and favorite drinks.

I sat and watched him mix drink after drink for the patrons while I listened and just observed.

There was a certain beauty to all of his creations.

Simple yet elegant.

The food…

Their pork belly buns were an amazing small plate to accompany any of the drinks.

The Tartar (not pictured because I forgot and it was half gone before I remembered) was a tiny happy explosion in my mouth.

It was on this trip that I decided that along with my travel stories that I would also be featuring restaurants, like Pr0/0f, that I find on the road.

My trip back to the States took me through Banff National Forest and OMG!!! It is now my second favorite drive ever and first best drive in a truck (traveling North on the Pacific Coast Highway is my #1 drive of all time).

So, I have now crossed the Rocky Mountains in two countries!

After Banff I was taking a break in the Okanagan Valley when I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye. Looking around I tried to find the source of the light, when I heard the slowly accompanying thunder tell me what it was a I saw. As I looked at the clouds overhead, I saw another flash, and then another. Lightning was striking the trees in the mountains overhead. Curious, I wondered “Is that going to start a fire?” Within moments I had my answer.

If you’re interested, you can read more here.

After Canada, I was routed down to Eastern Washington to pick up apples to take to Virginia. In my next post I’ll talk about Rogue and the amazing food of @chef_johnny.

Oftentimes, when you open your trailer after days on the road you get a whiff of staleness or, in the case of meat loads, just the overwhelming smell of meat. That load, upon opening the doors, just smelled like apples and it made me smile. To date it is the second best smelling load I’ve ever had. The first was when I took 40,000 lbs of cocoa powder from PA to GA. That one made me want to take a nap in the trailer.

As of Wednesday I’m headed back to Calgary, and now that the shine of new has worn off I’ll try to get more pictures and info.

Until next time!

Lingering death of the fireflies…

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When I was a child growing up in Chicago, one of the greatest things about the summer (besides no school, shorts, bike riding, cook outs, and swimming at the lake) was catching fireflies. The magic of hunting and searching for them as they slowly floated around is something I think about whenever I see fireflies to this day.

Childhood was a simple time because the world was nothing but possibility and everything had a touch of magic to it. Catching those floating lights always felt, to me, like I was capturing a bit of magic with every one I snatched and carefully stored in my cleaned out Peter Pan peanut butter jar.

The boys I knew took a different view of the lights. They reveled in smashing them on the sidewalk and smearing them to see the trail of light that was left on the pavement. They didn’t seem to be content to let them live and exist; to stare at them in wonder on their bedside table as sleep over took them as I do often did. No, they loved the instant gratification of death and the stark evidence of it shining up on them from the pavement.

I remember one particular boy who danced around me as I looked for fireflies one June evening. He was trying to find them first and kill them so I would go home empty handed. He laughed every time he found one before I did, and then with a look of glee he would toss it to the pavement to smash and smear it with his shoe. After the third or fourth one, I was filled with an overload of rage of indignation. My body shook and my small hands balled into fists until I couldn’t control myself; I launched at him and bloodied his nose. This, unfortunately, was not the first nor the last time that I took to fists to vent my anger.

Fast forward to now and driving through the back hills of Pennsylvania. The twists and turns sometime making me break until I was only crawling ahead and making me wonder if I was really supposed to be on this particular road. The hills and fields showed me such beautiful sights as well as hiding the setting sun behind hills and painting the sky in oranges and pinks. The beauty seemed unreal at times and my favorite site was when I saw a doe eating placidly while her fawn jumped and played next to the road (all the while I was yelling “Baby Deer” and hoping it didn’t get spooked and run in front of me). Pennsylvania has the highest incidence of Lyme Disease and usually when I saw deer it was every 1/2 to 3/4 mile laying dead at the side of the road, so for me to see this little ball of ish happily frolicking while his mother looked and ate on was a beautiful site.

As the sun snuggled in for the night I started noticing slight flashes of lights in the trees on the side of the road. Knowing that I was tired after nearly 9 hours of driving and a restless sleep the night before, I didn’t pay them much attention; I had a hard enough time just trying to navigate these twisting and turning roads. All of a sudden, right in front of my eyes, I hear the splat and see the bioluminescence shining from my windshield.

No, please no…

I know it’s silly to mourn the loss of anything as insignificant as an insect, but these aren’t just insects to me. These are moments, memories, and bits of magic wrapped in a small flying case. Yes, I know its just the way they mate but I don’t care. That wide eyed child inside of me was yelling and screaming that I was a big meanie. She was fighting that boy again but that boy was now me. I was losing my grasp on reality and it was over fireflies. However these weren’t fireflies to me, these were my memories that I was watching splatter on my windshield time and time again. That’s because where there is one firefly there are bound to be more.

Splat! Splat! Splat!

With each sound came an explosion of neon green on my windshield. I didn’t dare try to wash them off knowing that it usually just results in smears and more of a mess than it’s worth. As one splatter of color would fade, two more would take its place. My nerves frayed as I gripped the steering wheel tight while I willed the torment to end.

A few hours later, I finally got to my delivery point and stopped for the night. Shaking and crying I sat transfixed at my windshield. At this point the evidence of the crimes on my childhood had faded but the memories still lingered.

While I was not that boy from long ago who delighted in the destruction he waged on the fireflies of our neighborhood, I still felt that something broke inside of me with every death. I tried to honor the light which glowed on my windshield for as long as possible, but I also had to be safe and keep my eyes on the ever turning and twisting road.

I don’t know if it was those memories or if it was something else, but I’ve been in the worst funk. It took a few days to realize that part of it is that I’m not taking very good care of myself either physically or mentally. I would say this was my first wall. I had more than one moment of thinking “I can’t do this anymore” and more than a moment or two of darker thoughts.

I’ve pushed through those feelings and I’ve made a plan for myself to take more time off. The industry standard is you get one day off for every seven driving. Unfortunately, I haven’t been taking even that. That type of behavior ends now.

I’m currently in Springfield and set to take my business course. I know, isn’t that kind of backwards since I already have my business? Well, yes and no. This class is all about maximizing profits. They schedule this about three months after you’ve been on the road as a way of using your previous data and telling you how you could have optimized your trips. I already know what they will say which is “slow down and drive 55 mph”. My sanity isn’t worth the extra savings to be honest, so we’ll see how much I actually get out of it. I will go in with an open mind but I don’t know about this whole 55 mph thing. I personally tend to think that slow trucks are a danger on the road. When so many roads are 70mph and 80mph, coming up on a driver doing 55mph can be a shock.

One of the nicest things I’ve come across was finding a rainbow in my side mirror. I tried to catch a picture of it and you can kinda see it…

I had to up the color and contrast but if you look closely it’s there.

Until next time my lovelies. Peace, love, and Godzilla.

Facing fears and being your best self…

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I have this thing I do. If I’m afraid of something I feel the need to meet it face to face and stand strong. It’s something from the way I was raised. It’s a way of saying that I won’t be ruled by my fears. It is something that has served me well at times and others, well lets just say that sometimes fear is there for a reason. I’m still alive but there have been more than one time in my life where in the aftermath I’ve thought “Woah, that could have killed me.”

In the case of yesterday, I had to come face to face with something that irrationally makes me uncomfortable. Caves are one of the things in my life that I really don’t care for. It’s not a thing that I have a reason for, but isn’t that the way of Phobias?

I knew in this job that there would be times that would test my mettle. Yesterday, I had to drive and deliver into a cave and come face to face with my irrational fear of being underground. Everyone told me it isn’t that bad, and it wasn’t, but it was still a challenge.

There are a few underground storage locations and really, they are pretty brilliant. After spending a few days off in Madison, WI I took a load of cheese (go figure) to Springfield to the caves. These locations are made into the bedrock and can be more energy efficient than cooling a steel building above ground. Think of it as a root cellar on a much larger scale.

This one is rather large and I marveled at the construction of it all.

There are points where there are openings in the ceiling to allow for air access. Considering that trucks are running in here it makes sense. They need the fresh air to keep from the carbon monoxide from becoming trapped.

The lanes are large enough for two trucks to pass one another.

The place is massive. There are up to 25 sections and anywhere from 10 to 40 bays spotted throughout. The bays themselves have doors ranging from 2 to 5 spaces.

I personally loved the look of the bare stone columns holding up the ceiling. Hey, just because I hated it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the beauty of it’s construction.

In other news, I now have purple hair.

I started this profession for several reasons but one of them was that I was tired of the expectations of corporate life. I spent many years working in customer service giving support, advice, or orders by phone. I’ve never understood the expectations of companies to require workers who will never be seen by customers to “maintain professional dress expectations.” Does wearing jeans really change the way I do my job? Does having unnatural hair color make me a less effective employee?

Now I wear what I want and have my hair however I want. The freedom to just be me is intoxicating. I have plans for more tattoos because it’s something I’ve always wanted. More piercings planned because they make me happy. Yes, I’m pushing close to 50 but I look good and now I feel good. My happiness is in my hands and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.

One of the things that makes me really happy is coffee. It’s my biggest addiction. I need it in my life. I realized that while I had a way of making coffee in the morning, I started being lazy and buying coffee. That’s just a waste of money. Now that it’s summer, I don’t always want hot coffee and its not always easy to get iced coffee.

Enter my new favorite thing.

I bought these on Amazon and ZOMG they are amazing. I throw in some coffee grounds, place them in a mason jar, and the next morning I have coffee ready to go. They also claim to work remarkably well for infusing water with fruit but that’s something I haven’t had the opportunity to try. They are made from corn so they are biodegradable so I don’t feel horrible about adding more plastic into the world.

Today was a great day!

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Oh my lovelies, today it finally happened. I got my first child doing the horn sign.

While stuck in rush hour traffic in Mineappolis, I happened to look over a see this shy child looking at me. I gave a smile and waved and she hesitantly waved back. I Then put my hand on my air horn cord, smiled bigger and nodded over to her. She smiled and made the sign and “TOOT TOOT” I went. Ok, sure, I prompted her but she still played along with me. Her resulting smile was completely worth it and my grin was ear to ear.

It only took three months but the wait was certainly worth it.

In other awesome news today, my daughter has picked a path in her life and will soon be enrolling in Massage School. I plan on giving her lots of business because….massages!

I knew today would be a grand day since it started out wonderfully when I got to have breakfast with my bestie in Madison but man it just got better and better.

I deliver the current load I have in St Cloud, MN, then I will take another quick load to Chicago and then I’m headed back up to Madison for the weekend. I will be able to see my son and see Deadpool 2 with him, get to celebrate my besties 40th and make her ugly cry with her present (Liz, it’s totally going to happen. Just you wait!)

I’ve actually had a bit of downtime this month. I took Mothers Day weekend off in Tampa with my sister from another mister, Jessi. I’ve known her since 1997 and while we’ve always been close, we’ve routinely gone years without seeing one another. With this job, I get to see her all the time and it makes my heart glad.

Previous to that I spent a couple of days with my daughter Morgan and that girl always manages to fill my heart to the brim.

The other thing I get to see with this job is some really strange sites. Things that really make you go “hmmmmm”.

From accidents that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.

(That looks like an expensive screw up. Speed kills people…)

To “I wonder if they are missing that?”

Yes that is a Smurf in the grass median of the highway.

Then there was the “Did I really just see that?”

Dude was driving down the road with Chucky. I happened to be next to him at a stop light and yelled out “Dude, what’s with the Chucky?” He laughed and said “We’re out looking for his bride, you want the job?” I asked if I could take a picture and he held him up for me while we held up traffic. Hey, it had to be done.

It’s also been an expensive month as I finally got my windshield fixed. It took me some time to get into a terminal, but after I had a DOT officer comment that I wasn’t compliant I knew that I was pushing my luck. (No ticket was issued because…I don’t do tickets)

I also had a weird issue happen with my cattle guard. After opening my hood to do a Pretrip one morning, I wasn’t able to get it closed again. When I looked I noticed that the bottom bolt that the guard swivels on was broken off.

I ended up zip tying it together (zip ties are always your friend when traveling) and driving 5 miles down the road to the nearest TA to have it fixed. They were super nice and didn’t even charge me for it.

I’ve been noticing more and more that the color on my arms is really becoming noticably different so I’ve taken to sunning the right side whenever possible. I ussually just sit backwards in my chair and hang my arm out the window like this.

Yes, I do know I’m a dork. Thanks for noticing.

Spring is finally here all over the country and the drives are lovely and green.

I’m personally not a big fan of summer because I’ve never really cared for the oppressive heat (76 is hot to me) but its been really cool to watch the progression of the seasons all over the country.

I’m definitly looking forward to fall this year and being able to see the color explosion that happens. What comes after that isn’t awesome but hey, it will spring after that all over again.

Now that I’ve hit my three month mark, I really need a name for my truck. (Not Trucky McTruckface Kendra!) I’ve had a few names thrown at me here and there. Jess and Travis call it Large Marge and I applaud the nod to Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, but I don’t know…

So what do you think? Help me name my truck. Throw out your ideas.

Xoxo

Life is like a see-saw…

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Sometimes you’re up and sometimes your down. Last week was a fabulous week. Not only in revenue but also because I got to spend some time with my lovely daughter and finally cut off the mop that I called hair. The before and after.

Yeah, I clean up pretty well when I want to.

My day started ugly early yesterday. Like 1am early. After making my drop, and backing like a boss into one of the hardest doors I’ve dealt with so far, I headed another 90 miles down the road to a new pickup. After picking up that load, it seemed that everything went wrong.

First it started when I decided to stop for the night. I pulled into a truck stop and after backing like a boss 7 hours earlier, I couldn’t hit a spot to save my life. I admitted defeat, looked at my map and saw there was a rest stop up the road. After driving for another 30 minutes, I found the rest stop closed. Frustrated and tired, I drove another 40 minutes to the next rest stop and happily found it open and deserted. Across the street there was a small restaurant and I had stuffed cabbage rolls and purchased an apple dumpling for later. Once back in my truck I tried to sleep but although I’d been up for 18 hours at that point I just wasn’t tired. I decided to put on a movie to see if that would help, but it didn’t.

After the movie, I went inside to use the facilities and was treated to an amazing site.

There was a bluegrass group playing songs and having an amazing time. I stood and watched them for a while and when I left I had an amazing smile on my face.

Finally ready for sleep I climbed into bed with the sounds of the music spinning around in my head.

I should have checked my appointment times

I should have gotten my paperwork ready.

I awoke to quite a few messages about my eta to the drop off spot. Confused, and walking back to the restaurant to get a breakfast sandwich, I sent a message with my confusion.

The response “you missed the appointment time. It was due by 23:59.”

I quickly pulled up the delivery info while waiting on my food. It was due today, the 8th. Sudden horror pooled inside me as I switched over to my calendar and saw that today was the 9th.

Shit

Shit shit shit

Shit

I got my sandwich and a cup of coffee and headed back to my truck, quickly typing out a message that my eta was 3 hours.

While walking down the little hill, I slipped on the wet grass. My much needed coffee was now on me instead of in me. My sandwich, still wrapped was ok. One shoe was lying next to me at the bottom of the hill. My ankle…well that was at a bit of a weird angle and screaming at me wanting to know “what the hell, dude?”

Another trucker saw my spectacular landing and came over to help me. I thanked him for his care and hobbled over to my truck. I quickly changed my clothes, took some ibuprofen, and started driving. My injured ankle was at least the left one so I didn’t have to worry about using it for pressure.

Upon getting to the receiver my ankle, while not so angry was still a bit sullen at my lack of consideration for it, I realized I didn’t have enough fuel in my refrigeration tanks and the closest truck stop was 20 miles away and on a toll road. So off I went again, and got lost, and frustrated. I paid twice as much as I should for tolls due to my own idiocy. I may have quit my job, in my head, a few time. This was the wall that everyone told me about. This was the day where everything I did went poorly.

I finally found my way, got my fuel, drive back to the receiver, dropped my trailer, found my new trailer, and now here is where I sit waiting for another load.

I lost out on a great load that would have taken me to Wisconsin. Luckily I have my leftovers from dinner last night minus the apple dumpling which was consumed to keep me from crying earlier, so I won’t starve, but I’m desperately in need of a shower. I don’t want to leave here to head back to the truck stop I went to earlier as it’s small, there were no parking spaces when I was there, and I just don’t want to tempt fate anymore than I already have today. The yard dog said it was ok for me to stay hooked to my new trailer and to just hang out for the night. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers.

So today may be a down day, but I know it won’t stay this way and I know that everything will be ok in the end.

So I will leave you with a bit of a bright spot from yesterday. This group meets every Tuesday night at the rest stop in Williamstown, WV. Just in case you are in the area.

It was bound to happen at some point…

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Fear of the unknown is a real thing, especially when starting something new.

There are many aspects of this profession I was unaware of and others that I had heard about but not yet experienced.

First was the unknown of the needs and expectations of the job. Could I live full time on the road? Could I handle not having control of my life since my life is dictated by freight? These were quickly answered a big fat yes early on in my career.

Then there were the questions on driving in inclement weather, time management, boredom, loneliness, and overall discontent. Each one of these that I faced and worked through all became sort of badges of honor. A new strength and purpose filled me with happiness and contentment as I remembered that I’m a strong bad assed bitch deep in my core.

Today, another unknown was uncovered.

During training I had asked about blowouts. I had seen blowouts occur even before becoming a professional driver. I spent years escaping through road trips and spending that much time on the road you’re bound to see a thing or two. I had asked my last trainer about blowouts and he told me that they really aren’t a big deal. Of course, being a still unknown thing, the thought of dealing with one filled me with a bit of dread.

Today, while ambling down I-70 with a beautiful blue sky and white puffy clouds ahead, it happened.

This is the aftermath of the blowout. It sounded like a pop, and being a sound I don’t often hear, I immediately looked in my rear view mirror, saw the evidence, and slowly started to get over with my hazards on.

Now, I’m sitting here waiting for assistance. I’m half way between two trucks stops, approximately 30 miles in either direction. Hopefully I won’t have to wait long.

In the meantime, I have a request for all of my lovely readers. If you see someone with their hazard lights on at the side of the road, do me a favor and change lanes. It’s a bit nerve wracking to have cars zooming by at 70+mph.

And then there was a bang…

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Driving during long stretches of nothing can be relatively tedious. There is only so much green I can handle before I become jaded to its beauty.

While driving down the backroads of Alabama, lost in thought and listening to an audio book, I was enjoying the fact that I was the only one on the road. The closest car was at least a half a mile ahead of me and the oncoming traffic was light.

Then suddenly, the loud sound of a boom and my ears are ringing. As I canceled my cruise control, gripping my steering wheel a bit harder, I looked out my side mirrors to see if I blew a trailer tire. This isn’t something that I’m familiar with but my last trainer said it will sound like a gun going off. A quick glance and no shredding rubber, no smoke, and most importantly no change in control.

As my eyes swept back and forth to mirror trying to figure out what that sound was and that’s when I saw it.

It’s larger than a quarter and the glass is completely cracked all the way through. (Yes I know my truck is also really dirty) I never saw what hit me. After seeing Avengers, I’d like to think that it was Ant Man that created the crater.

I realized that this may not have happened if Zilla was guarding my front window. He’s been stationed looking out the side window to watch the scenery and guard my passenger side door.

We had a talk and I convinced him that he would have a better view if he was standing looking forward. After much cajoling and a treat or two he finally relented.

Now hopefully he will be able to alert me to any further oncoming projectiles.

I’ve been waiting for it…

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Today it finally happened. I was asked the question I’ve been waiting for: “How can you do your job in a dress?”

So, I get a lot of strange looks while at truck stops. Mostly because, well I’m not your normal looking truck driver. It doesn’t bother me. I figure, if they are gawking at me then they know where I am and I’m less likely to get hit. I’m sure seeing my bare legs and combat boots confuses some people, but it shouldn’t. I can still get under my trailer to make sure the locking jaws are fully engaged regardless of if I have pants on or not.

Winter is over so my strong aversion to pants is back in full swing. Now, I’m not wearing my best skirts while doing this job, but even if I was it’s my prerogative. 99% of my job is driving. It doesn’t matter what I do that in as long as I’m meeting the legal standards of having those naughty bits covered (but would you know if I didn’t?)

What was really surprising is how long it took someone to speak up and ask me. I’m sure I’ve received plenty of snide remarks where I can’t hear them (or been pointed out on a cd) but to finally have someone man up and ask me to my face…well I’m just surprised it took them so long.

So my answer was honest and without a shred of hesitation when I sweetly said “The same as if I was wearing pants expect more comfortably.”

I received an email from someone asking how I keep from being bored. The key is audiobooks. I’m taking a bit of a break from my usual sword and sorcery fare to listen to Ready, Player One.

I read this book years ago…or rather I devoured it. I loved it and I loved the movie. I thought they did a good job and it was a fun ride.

I used to try to listen to audiobooks but…I always had a hard time keeping my focus still long enough to really absorb it. This job is perfect for audiobooks. I sometimes have hundreds of miles before I need to make a turn or maneuver and it’s a great way to keep my mind sharp and occupied while watching the road go by. I do find myself turning it off during times of heavy traffic or when going through hellacious places like Atlanta. (Have I mentioned I hate driving around Atlanta?) So audiobooks have been an amazing aspect of this job.

One of the things I like about them is that I’m finding that the pacing helps me to really absorb what’s going on. One of my newest favorite series is the Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas. I’ve read those books so many times that I didn’t think I would get much out of listening to them. I was very wrong. I picked up on nuances I missed the many times I read them.

So audiobooks all the way.

If you have any questions for me, drop me a line.

Until next time my lovelies. Xoxo

Bugs bug me

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Ok, I know they are necessary and all but man they make a mess of my job.

Then there was this one guy…wait I’m getting ahead of myself.

While driving from Texas to Ohio I was having a great day. Driving with the windows down through Arkansas, the sun shining and the day a lovely 71 degrees. I had my music going and I was just smiling at the pure joy of my life. Suddenly I felt a weird pain in my back. I moved and suddenly felt two more sharp jabs of pain. I reach back, pinch, and find there was a wasp who somehow got between my seat and my back and was not happy to be in such a precarious position. He was quickly tossed out the window and they went up, sealing me off from any other potential intruders.

Gone was my lovely day in the blink of an eye. I drove for the next 300 miles with my back screaming at me and my skin crawling thinking over the encounter. I won’t repeat the string of profanities I spew during that drive.

Luckily I’m not allergic but it still sucked.

This was one of the most horrifying drink dispensers I’ve seen. Besides the filth, the cobwebs (or were they spider webs) left me not so thirsty.

I’ve been kept mostly central with a jaunt here or there to Florida. Now it looks like I may be headed into the home office for a talk.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Tj has been bad.

So the new trucks are loaded with computers and sensors. Things that report back what is going on. This data is analyzed and used to determine risk. We have things called Critical Events. A critical event can be anything from taking a turn too fast (check) or getting a collision warning in relation to cars swooping in front of you and slamming on their brakes (check, check), or a hard break warning (check). If you rack up too many of these they call you in to have a safety talk with you and make you do some simulations.

So the logical part of me understands this. It’s akin to actuaries calculating risk for insurance companies. The thought is that his may be a pattern showing that I may have an accident in the future. Le sigh..:.

Some of these things can’t be avoided. Really the only one of these I could have avoided was taking a turn too fast. That was my F up and I owned up to it, but the others? Too often cars are trucks as an annoyance. You know you have at least once in your life. Yes we are big and slow, but that distance we are leaving in front of us isn’t so you can conveniently swoop in there and get .05 seconds ahead of where you were before. It’s for our and your safety.

The most nerve wracking part of my driving day is anytime I have to go through or bypass around a major city. Cities themselves don’t scare me. Hell, put me on four wheels and I will own that road, but in a truck weighing over 70,000 pounds…I hate it. I drive paranoid. I drive slower than usual. I’m always waiting for the next dumbass to swoop in front of me and slam on their brakes (which happens almost every time). Atlanta is by far the worst. Two of my critical events happened in Atlanta. Both of these were drivers being completely stupid and putting themselves and me at risk. I’ve gone over these events in my head time and time again and there was no way to predict or to avoid them.

If you are in the habit of cutting off trucks or swooping in front of them just to hard break, please stop. For your sake, for that drivers sake, for everyone’s sake. If you don’t believe me, I’ll be happy to take you on a drive through Atlanta anytime. It will be like an episode of Scared Straight. Trust me, one week with me and you’ll reevaluate the way you drive.

Anywhooo, the next load I have is taking me to Missouri. Not sure if this is when I’m going in but I guess I’ll find out. I’ll take my lumps, try not to roll my eyes, and get out of there as quick as possible without being a complete ass.

I’ll leave you all with a bit of good news. I was asked to give an interview about my journey by a lovely friend who was given a writing assignment. I will post about it more later with links once published.

Whew where has the time gone?

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Now that I’m on my own, it’s amazing but exhausting.

When I picked up my truck last month, it had 1018 miles. Now it has over 12000. I guess I’ve done some driving. I’ve been remiss in writing this blog and I’m sorry for those of you who have been worried. I’m still alive and I’m doing well.

Here is where I’ve been.

Springfield, MO to Kentucky.

Kentucky to Tampa, FL

Florida to Waco, TX (with visits from scary mosquitos in Louisiana)

Austin to Pheonix

Phoenix to Mira Loma, CA

Mira Lima to Portland

3 day jaunt home to stock the truck and finally pick up Zilla.

While home I did get a nice homecoming surprise.

After that I was off again. Warden, WA to Arcadia, FL

Bradenton, FL to Cedar Falls IA

Now I’m driving from Iowa to Greenfield, IN and Mount Pleasant, PA

Lately if I’m not driving I’m sleeping. I’ve battled a few bugs and I currently have an infection that I can’t seem to fight off without seeing a doctor, so after this delivery I’m going to see if I can get routed into our main terminal where there is a doctor on site.

Something I’ve marveled at is how during this time of year I can go from season to season in a single week.

One of the harder part of my job is how much time I have to come face to face with some of the emotional skeletons in my closet. When you have hours upon hours on the open road, thinking is sometimes all you have to do. It has given me a certain clarity of who I am but it’s also helped to heal some wounds I forgot were there. I’ve been unpacking emotional boxes that I had shoved deep in my attic of a brain and and looking at what’s in there. While I can’t change decisions I’ve made in the past, I also can stop beating myself up about some of those decisions and forgive. Forgive myself for bad decisions, forgive other people who have wronged me so long ago that I don’t remember the details of the wrong, and let it all go.

Loneliness can be a struggle at times. While training I couldn’t wait to be in my own truck and have my own space but now I can go days without speaking to another person. We’ve become so accustomed with texting as a means of communication instead of speaking to each other, but texting isn’t something that I can do easily or legally while driving. While I’m a competent tester, I also love to talk on the phone. Unfortunately so many people I know don’t share my enthusiasm for phone chats so it makes keeping in touch difficult at times.

One of the rudest surprises I had was at a weigh station in the rest room.

Dudes, this thing is freaking cold to sit on in winter. I mean, I’ve sat on cold toilet seats before but never ones made of metal. As weird as it is to say, but I would have rather have been in a porta potty rather than put my butt cheeks on this thing. It also just had a weird prison feel to it and that made it all the worse in my opinion.

Until next time my lovelies. Xoxo

My vacation is over…

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I had an amazing time off. It’s funny how you don’t realize just how mentally and emotionally exhausted you are until you have a chance to sit with your thoughts and just be yourself again without anyone needing or wanting something from you.

When my lovely and hilarious friend Tonya picked me up to whisk me away to Tulsa last week, I expected to have a nice time seeing friends. What I didn’t expect was to be giddy to cook food for another person again (it’s been awhile). I apologize if you’ve already seen these pictures but zomg cooking is awesome.

(In order: 1. Ribeye with polenta goat cheese stuffed mushrooms, bacon roasted red cabbage, and broiled asparagus. 2. Mushroom ravioli with pesto and goat cheese. 3. Endive boats with blood oranges, goat cheese, and almond slivers.)

I also didn’t expect someone to cook a delicious meal for me. (Thanks Amanda for the amazing salt crusted rib roast!)

More importantly, I didn’t expect Tulsa to have turned into a really cool place to be. Honestly, if Tulsa was as cool as it is today back in 2002/3, I might not have left. No, that’s not true. I needed to go and find out a few things about myself, but I gotta say that Tulsa has me thinking about the future and what the word home means.

There is no way I would have gotten a gin and sake drink there before I left (although I didn’t drink gin then so maybe I could but let’s pretend), nor would there have been this lovely craft brew in such a cool space. I know part of that is the change that’s happening all over, but I’m really happy that Tulsa is keeping up with the rest of the country at least in this way.

I came back to Springfield to finally pick out a truck on Sunday. I made the mistake of sleeping in a bit on Monday, so by the time I got to the leasing office, the only trucks left were short leases on old trucks with a ton of miles. I did look at a 2018 with 50k miles on it but it was an Internaltional truck which I’m not familiar with. While it had some cool things about it, I didn’t like the sound of the engine and overall I just wasn’t feeling it.

I trudged back to my hotel a bit frustrated, mostly at myself, and vowed to go to bed early and be first in line the next day.

This morning I did just that, but alas I wasn’t the only one who did. When I entered the office there were 6 people in front of me. One was a girl who I knew from Salt Lake City, but she was looking for a lightweight. A lightweight is different from a full size (what I wanted) in that it is only meant for a single driver. It only has one bunk instead of two. We sat and waited for them to update the lists, and when they were done we lined up.

As I was queued, I pulled up the website and saw they had two 2019 Freightliner, one blue and one green. I tried not to get my hopes up but I was bouncing with excitement. The first three people were looking for specific trucks (Peterbuilts) so they would be coming back tomorrow to hopefully be rewarded for their persistence. The gentleman ahead of me decided to look at the blue one which mean the mean green machine was open for me to look at.

I took a walk across the parking lot and as I walked up I heard the truck say “Hello beautiful, come drive me!” I broke out into a smile and said “oh yeah, you’re mine!”

As I opened the door to climb inside I had a wave of “new car smell” wash over me and I was happy. Yes I know it’s VOC (volatile organic compounds) but I don’t care, it’s new and shiny and I’m happy.

So, my day was spent getting ready to not only have my own truck but establishing my LLC and getting ready to be a business owner. Now as I sit her typing, I know that when I’m done with this post I have a huge contract to read over and sign.

So to quickly sum up my day, it was amazeballs awesome.

Now I will leave you with this, my first ever video. I apologize in advance for being a bit scatterbrained and for all of the ummms. For my first video it isn’t bad but it’s totally off the cuff, I did it with new truck brain overload, and I contradict myself at least once I saw. Eh, we’re always our own worst critics.

Hurry up and wait…

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So here I am in Springfield waiting, waiting, and while I’m at it I’m waiting.

In all seriousness, I’m really enjoying being out of a truck and having some space to myself.

Springfield, has a bit of everything. While I love me some Salt Lake, Springfield makes everything a bit more comfortable and easy.

There are plenty of restaurants and shopping in walking distance, not to mention a damned good restaurant in my hotel with a killer ribeye and a bartender who loves new challenges.

I’ve taken my last class and test to prove I know what I’m doing (and scored 98% with a 2 point deduction because I was riding the clutch) so now I just need to finish a few more computer based trainings, get my name on the list, and wait for my new truck.

In the meantime I’ve been catching up on sleep, doing laundry, enjoying having a day off outside of a truck and truck stop, and basically remembering what life was like before I changed professions. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life, but it’s nice to get off a truck every once in a while.

I also finally got to see Black Panther and my geek self is satisfied for the moment.

Tomorrow I have a bunch of meetings on the books and then I’m running away for a few days to see people I haven’t seen in too long.

I have no pride…or do I?

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One of the most dangerous things a driver can do is blind side back into a parking space. That’s exactly what I just did.

On my last load with my trainer (more on that in a moment) I needed to burn some time and take a much needed shower.

Upon pulling into the only truck stop for 100 miles with spots, the only spots left we’re two blind sided parking spaces.

As I set up for my maneuver, my heart pumping and my stomach churning, I realized there was a truck behind me waiting.

I started to back and realized I was too far back to be successful.

I got out, got a good look at the spot, pulled forward, and started to back again.

Realizing this was going to take me a while, I threw the truck in neutral, pulled out my air brake, and walked up to the waiting truck.

“Hi” I said cheerily. “This is going to take me a while. If you’d like to speed the process up, would you mind spotting me?”

The driver smiled and said “I was going to offer but some people get pissed.”

I laughed and said “Dude, I will always take any offer of assistance.”

The space I had to use was tight but with a bit of back and forth, and with the help of my spotter, I safely got into the spot.

Not too shabby.

Ok lovelies…here is my suggestion. If someone offers to help, take them up on it. Even if you think you got it, taking offered help isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes people just want to be helpful. It’s not always meant as a slight and even if it is, if they want to waste their time helping you do something you could do yourself, what does it really cost you? If they want to brag and bad mouth, who cares? Let the small people puff up their chests and take on airs and be secure in the knowledge that you didn’t need their help and they basically wasted their time.

This has been your friendly PSA from your neighborhood girl wearing a hat.

Now, as promised…dudes and dudettes…I’m done with training after this load!!! Yay! I did it!!! That means I’ll be going back to the yard to upgrade and get my own truck after we make this drop tomorrow (or really later today.)

Since this current trainer picked me up in Springfield, that’s where I’m heading instead of my home terminal of Salt Lake. I’m a bit bummed about that but it’s all good, SLC isn’t going anywhere. There is a waiting list for trucks so it could be more than a week before I get the keys. Don’t worry, there will be a big post and a naming ceremony and that’s where you come in. I’m going to let you help name my truck. Full disclosure, Trucky McTruckface is not an option.

While the wait time makes me sad, I also need a bit of downtime. So instead of waiting in the hotel, I’m going to head down to my onetime home of Tulsa and see my peeps there. Get ready T-Town, I’m invading.

He last few days have been nothing but drizzles and overcast skies, but today I got to drive through the tunnels of Pennsylvania.

I’m not sure why I love tunnels so much but ever since I was a child I always loved the flickering lights as we drove through the tunnels.

No pictures of the actual tunnels because man, they are really tight in a truck. No room for error.

Also on this trip I saw the most amazing thing.

Where were the mommy and me bathrooms while I was raising my kids? Any mother can attest that going to a single stall restroom with small ones is a frustrating and sometimes public event as they most certainly will invariably swing the door wide open on you while you’ve got your undies around your ankles.

Until next time my lovelies. Hit me up if you have any questions. Xoxo

Why do people gotta pet my peeves?

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If there is one thing that drives me crazy, it’s people being inconsiderate.

In my industry, we live in our trucks day in and day out. That means we accumulate trash and various odds and ends. Time and time again I see trash just strewn about in parking lots and on the side of the road. In the case of the side of the road, it’s not necessarily from truckers, as I’ve personally witnessed many people in cars throwing bags of fast food refuse out their windows, but when it comes to truck stops, yeah it’s totally truckers.

Today while sitting in my truck and reading I heard the crash of glass breaking. Not sure what it was, I looked around and didn’t really see what had made the noise. Not willing to just forget about it, I decided to go investigate. This is what I found.

A broken quart sized mason jar, with jagged edges, lying in a parking space. I didn’t see anyone around. It was between two trucks. Someone had to have known it fell and broke, so why was it sitting there amongst the rest of the broken glass (not shown in the picture but trust me, it’s there). I decided to do the right thing and pick it up, but since I didn’t know what was in there I turned to get my gloves and that’s when I saw this.

Dudes…or dudettes…there are 4 trash cans in the immediate vicinity. None of this is necessary.

So I went back to my truck, got a few bags, and decided to do some cleanup. I was off duty and had nothing better to do.

First I picked up the glass and took it to the trash.

Second, I started to weave my way in and out of the parked trucks picking up trash.

Soon my actions drew the attention of a couple of men standing by.

Man #1: When your done there little lady, you can clean out my truck.

Man #2: When you’re done with his you can clean out mine and I might have something extra for you.

I stopped, set down my two full bags, calmly walked over to them, gave them a blistering smile and said “I’m sorry gentlemen, I didn’t quite catch that. Would you mind repeating it to my *bleeping* face so I know if my anger is justified or not?”

Man #1: Woah, calm down we were just kidding.

Man #2: Some people can’t take a joke.

At this point, I decided to tell them in length what I thought of their attempt at humor and degradation.

Now at this point I should mention, for those of you who don’t know, I’m a mother of now adult children. They can tell you that I’m a champion when it comes to lecturing someone who’s done messed up. Sometimes I think my children wished I would have spanked them because it would have been over a lot sooner than one of my mom talks. So when I say I gave these men a piece of my mind I really gave them a piece of my mind.

I unloaded weeks of frustration caused by my first two trainers. I gave them all the dirty looks and snide remarks I’ve gotten from some drivers since I started this journey. I told them exactly why I was cleaning up after “professional drivers” on my down time because I cared about how we as a whole are perceived and I wouldn’t want to see anyone puncture a tire or hurt themselves in the dark on a bunch of glass someone was too damned lazy to clean up themselves. I finished with a “And I think you both owe me an apology.”

Low and behold…I got not one but two apologies. I took off my glove and shook both of their hands and said all was forgiven. As I walked away I heard the thing that finally got me to smile.

Man #2: Damn, she was scary.

Yes gentlemen, I am when I need to be.

All in all, I gathered 6 small bags of garbage (that was the total of my available bags), cleared most of the glass, and set straight two grown ass men. Not a bad days work if I do say so myself.

Such a different experience.

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The main difference between my current trainer and my previous trainers, besides competence and professionalism, is that his truck is an automatic.

I’m a Gemini so I’m often of two minds about everything. On one hand I liked working through the gears, on the other hand ZOMG I no longer hate stop and go traffic.

Over the last few days Bug and I have been getting to know one another and the more that happens the more grateful I am that he took me on. Our humors compliment one another and he really is a great trainer.

Today I was grateful for his good humor.

When driving team sometimes you drive days and sometimes you drive nights. Last night was my turn at driving nights and it really doesn’t bother me, that is until the sun starts to come up. That’s when my brain says “Yo, it’s time to sleep.”

Knowing I had almost 4 more hours to drive I decided to make a quick stop to take a brisk walk and go to the bathroom to splash some water on my face.

Once I returned to the truck I noticed that the curtains were opened a bit and thought “oh he’s seeing why I stopped.”

I got back in the truck refreshed and headed on down the road to finish out my time. As my audio book played I watched the changing colors of the sky from inky blue to pinks and oranges. Suddenly my phone rang and as I glanced at the caller ID my stomach dropped.

“OMG Bug, did I leave you?”

“Uh yeah.”

“Oh my god, I’m so sorry. I’m coming up on an exit. Please please please forgive me.”

A chuckle came from my headset as he said, “no worries, just call me when you’re pulling in.”

I got off at the exit, turned around, and headed back to the truck stop to pick up my trainer, grateful that he was so good natured.

As I pulled in and saw him waiting for me, I felt horrible. He climbed in the truck and I again began to profusely apologize. He laughed and said I was fine.

I was totally embarrassed. Why didn’t I check to make sure he was really in the truck? I felt like such a fool, but it was a good lesson to learn. Never again will I pull away without checking to ensure my co-driver is present.

Now for my random thought of the day…

I love looking at signs and pictures. This one is in the restroom of several TA truck stops I’ve been to. Every time I look at it I think, well of course it’s going to go on the ground because there isn’t a toilet there, silly.

Until next time my lovelies. Xoxo

And away we go…again

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This beast will be my home for the next 10,000 miles. She’s pretty sexy and the love and attention my new trainer has put into her shows me his dedication to his job.

After two false starts I was feeling dejected and a bit depressed. After a few days here I finally met my new trainer, Bug.

I told him I would try to refrain from quoting Uncle Buck.

I also told him that I would most likely fail because, well I know myself.

Bug, who’s real name is Kevin but prefers Bug, is originally from Chicago. We instantly bonded over food, people who don’t know how to drive in the winter, and our love of Doctor Who.

After talking for two hours I was almost near tears. Here is the trainer I was looking for since the beginning. I guess I just needed to get to Springfield to meet him.

I haven’t done much exploring around Springfield. I instead used my time to recharge my batteries for the next push in this training program.

One interesting thing I learned about Springfield, MO is that it is considered to be the home of Cashew Chicken. In Washington you ca easily find Pho, Teriyaki, and coffee. Here they have Cashew Chicken shops dotted around town. I didn’t partake because I don’t particularly care for the dish as it doesn’t have the flavor profile I like. Maybe next time I’ll give it a try but for now I chose to skip it.

We have a preplan and we’re headed to Ontario, CA. I’m ready for some warmer weather.

Ready!

Set!

Go!

Breaking in yet another trainer….

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I had written a long play by play of what happened with my first trainer, but now it seems small and unnecessary.

While in Salt Lake waiting on my second trainer, I was introduced to a few potential trainers. The first one I was given, after speaking for an hour, finally said he was a smoker and I told him I only want a non-smoking truck.

The next trainer treated me from the beginning like I was a new trainee, which is fine because I knew he needed to meet me and see me drive to know my skill level. He said I would be driving nothing but overnights and that his truck only does 55MPH. Doing quick math that meant that I would be losing a potential of 220 miles per day to reach that 30,000 needed to go solo. Taking a deep breath and knowing that beggars couldn’t be choosers I agreed and he headed to Salt Lake as I began to flip my schedule.

About 3 days later, after only being asleep for 3 hours, I was told to gather all my gear and head to the terminal as they had a different trainer for me.

I won’t go into detail on what my week with this trainer has been, suffice to say that I’ve been screamed at for following his directions, lectured at on non-sequitur topics for hours, accused of being stupid, called a liar, and exposed to general disdain. It’s been fun!

So yesterday this trainer tells me that he’s taking me to the Springfield terminal because he’s quitting and turning in his truck, you’d think that I’d be happy. Unfortunately I’m raging mad. His reasonings for doing this is his previous female trainee fired him and wrote a letter outlining why. He maintains it’s all lies. I, having been exposed to some of it, know there is truth in her words. So, because this female is besmirching his name he’s decided to get off the road for a while and give retirement a try.

Cool dude, you do you, but at the same time you made a commitment to me and to the company to finish out my training. Yes it’s a bad situation but I’ve also learned how to deal with him which is give everything, with the exception of the lectures, right back to him. If someone wants to see what I’m made of all they need to do is push me. As much as I take issue with this dude I really want this training to be over.

Anyway, now with 10,000 miles left, I’ll be getting a third trainer and I’m beyond frustrated. I’m starting to feel like I was sold a bill of goods that was a lie. 6 weeks to get through this part? Ha!

I still don’t regret my decision to join this profession but this training experience has been less than stellar.

The only bright spot in my world right now is that I got to see my daughter last night.

We had our usual date night of dinner and a movie and I got to meet my furry grandkids (as she calls her dogs).

Every night has a dawn and soon this chapter will be over. Until then, I apologize for the silence as I haven’t had any downtime to write. I know some of you rely on this blog to make sure I’m ok. I will try to do better. Xoxo

Good days don’t always end well…

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First off…I have my CDL now! Well I have a piece of paper saying I’m an official CDL holder. The hard copy will be mailed to me but still I’m official now!

Which means, 3 hours later while flagged for a level three inspection the two violations would go on my license.

But wait, I’m getting a head of myself. Stop. Rewind. Start again…

After getting my license, I was dropped off by the lovely woman with best smile on the west coast, Kendra. I said my goodbyes and climbed into the drivers seat to head out to pick up a trailer. It seems the closest one was in Bellingham, WA.

Once in Bellingham, we had our choice of bad trailers. One which had doors that would not close or latch properly and where the cooling duct was ripped, or the trailer that had been out of DOT inspection since March of 2016 and had a defective battery on the refrigeration unit so we weren’t able to properly do a pretrip test on it. We went for the out of date trailer as we could stop at the TA travel center east of Seattle and get both items taken care of.

In most trucks that drive for the big companies, we have this item called a PrePass hanging on our front window.

This handy device will speak to many of the weigh stations and tell us if we actually have to go in to get weighed. Most of the time we are green lighted and we can bypass the station. Today, I was red lighted and had to go through the weigh station.

Weigh stations are there to ensure that professional drivers like myself (hehe that’s still weird to me) are not carrying more weight then they are allowed to and have the load balanced properly for safety. What you do is drive slowly over the scale and it weighs you one axel at a time. Usually, you do this and get right back on the highway. That is unless you’re red lighted again and told to bring all your paperwork into the station.

Yep, that’s exactly what happened.

At this point I think it’s only fair to say, I have a thing about tickets. I commonly will tell people “I don’t do tickets.” I never try to get out of a ticket, it’s just what happens. I try to only use my powers for good and this case was no different.

As we got out of the truck my trainer said, what sucks is that you’re going to get a ticket on your first day of having a full license.

I smirked and said “I don’t do tickets.”

Upon entering the station I looked at the state troopers and said “ok gentlemen, I need you to settle a bet between my trainer and I. He thinks you pulled me over because it’s my first day having a license and I think you pulled me over to congratulate me for getting my license today and being awesome.

Both men laughed and well not to belabor the point, let’s just say I kept them laughing the whole time.

When asked for the paperwork I sent trainer out to get it, stating all wide eyed, “You haven’t shown me where that is yet.” I then apologized to the officers for being so new and taking up so much of their time.

Yes, it was shameless. Yes, I was exercising my privilege. Yes, I was shamelessly flirting and I may have giggled a time or two. Let me repeat, I don’t do tickets.

So at the end of the “Level 3” random inspection we could have been cited for two infractions. One for hauling a trailer out of inspection and one for not having the registration paperwork (which my trainer was not able to locate). In the end, I was given a passed inspection and told that they didn’t want to cite me on my first day of having a full CDL.

I thanked the gentlemen, gave them an HR approved air hug, and told them to stay classy.

As we left the station and walked back to our truck, my trainer looked at me and said “How in the F did you do that?” I stopped looked him straight in the eye and said “I told you, I don’t do tickets.”

One day, my luck will run out and on that day I will get a ticket. Until then, I’m gonna keep being me and seeing just how far this luck will take me.

Once back in the truck, I drove us to the TA where we were told they could fix the battery on the refrigeration unit but couldn’t do the inspection. Knowing we had an appointment to pick up a load, we took what we could get.

The refrigeration unit on a trailer is located on the front and runs off of a separate fuel tank located under the trailer.

The unit can run several different preset temperatures and on the bill of lading it usually tells us what temperature is required.

Once the battery was fixed and a pretrip test was done on the unit, we were off for Prosser, WA to take another load of onions from Washington to the East Coast. This time we were headed to Georgia, which is known for their Vidalia onions but I guess they also have a need for onions from Washington.

After driving from South of Olympia, to Bellingham, back to Seattle, then across the state to Prosser and after being up at 7 to sit for hours at the DMV, well you could say I was done and ready for sleep.

After arriving at the location, I woke up my trainer to tell him my shift was over. I also told him that he should be careful because we were on a farm and the ground was soft, especially by the trailers that were parked on a hill.

As soon as I settled in to sleep, I was jolted by a string of loud profanities. It seems my trainer, in his infinite wisdom, decided to ignore my warnings and get us stuck in the mud. I blearily offered to help and was angrily rebuked to told to go to f-ing sleep.

Ok just in case you don’t know this, dear readers, I swear a lot. Usually off-handed and rarely directed at a person unless warranted. I was also raised in a household with a man who for most of my life had serious anger management issues, so I take offense when men raise their voice at me. I don’t do well in these situations and tend to react poorly. Knowing this could escalate quickly i simply said “don’t ever speak like that to me again” and closed the curtain to let him work it out for himself.

Long story short, we sat there in the mud until one of the farm hands came with a tractor to get us out. Once on our way I listed in and out of sleep. Finally nature called and I got up to ask him to pull over for a break.

The next few days were a blur of drop offs and pick ups. During my time with my trainer we had some fundamental issues that I haven’t spoken about before but suffice to say I now find myself back in Salt Lake City waiting on a new trainer. This was my choice and after several severe issues I finally asked to be reassigned.

This, dear readers, has been the reason for the lapse of updates.

My new trainer should be here in a few days so until then I’m working with my first trainer and his new trainees and being as helpful as I can.

Super Secret Squirrel

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No, not the Hannah-Barbera classic of my youth. What I’m referring to is the load I just delivered.

Not all loads are the same. For loads such as the one I had the last two days, well I’ve taken to calling them Secret Squirrels. These loads are considered High Value loads and special procedures have to be taken with them. The video training for this was hysterical. Lots of over the top sneaky guys looking over the top sneaky and dramatically over acting and reacting in every scene. You know what I’m talking about, right? If not, all you have to do is watch any infomercial and you’ll instantly understand.

Some of the procedure examples for Secret Squirrels are;

1) No stopping within 200 miles of pickup.

2) When we do stop we must send a message indicating where we are (exit #, mile marker, truck stop name, etc) and how long we plan to be there.

3) The freight can’t be left unattended for more than ten minutes, unless placed in a pre-screened secure yard/ware- house, with cameras, on-duty guard, and fence or secure building. Also when stopped you should use Cuff Locks to secure your brake lines.

4) Never discuss what we are carrying. Basically, Fight Club rules apply.

5) Depending on the freight, or at the shippers request, additional rules may apply.

The value of the freight is what classifies it as High Value (I know you knew that but I feel it still needed to be said). Types of freight that would classify as Hi Val are pharmaceuticals, flat screen TVs, a trailer full of iPods/iPads/iPhones, and a trailer full of Victoria’s frilly bits (you know, the secret ones).

For my drive yesterday I drove from Tucumcari, NM to Kingman, AZ about 643 miles. It was pretty uneventful and somewhat boring. New Mexico is a beautiful state. Arizona has its moments but since it was dark as I was rolling through I missed those moments.

New Mexico currently has my favorite welcome sign. I think it’s just lovely.

Sometimes when you’re on the road, a sign will catch your eye and it will bother you for miles. This was the one for this trip:

Years ago, while living and working in Tulsa, OK, I had a friend named Sam and his biggest peeve in life was people who ended sentences with prepositions. He would be incensed by this sign. I then wondered (and this occupied my mind for at least 50+ miles) if the creative minds behind this campaign wrote this deliberately to stick into minds like mine who knew it was a slap in the face to the English language, or if they wrote it this way because it is how many Americans speak. Also, the lack of descriptor of “it’s” really bothered me.

The really amazing thing that happened on this trip was this:

No, not the mountain silly. Well it’s a bit hard to see in this picture. Let me try this a different way.

See it?

I drove with the mother trucking window open!!!! Oh it was glorious. After being in freezing weather for weeks to finally get some fresh air that wasn’t also trying to kill me was just lovely. I rode like that all day until the sun went down and it did wonders for my mood. That’s not to say I was in a bad mood, but the sun and the wind definitely turned my day up to 11.

Currently I’m in Fontana, CA waiting on a new load assignment. The plan is to route up back to WA so I can finally get my CDL license.

If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or random dad jokes, let me know.

…and we’re back!

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Happy New Year to all of you. I hope your holidays were wonderful and drama free.

My time in the Big Apple started out fun and ended just being too long away from the open road. I did fall completely head over heals in love with New York and if I won the lottery I would totally buy an apartment there where anyone I knew could go to stay and fall in love with New York for themselves.

One thing I realized on this trip is that I need a better camera than what I have on my phone. Lady Liberty isn’t as crisp and gorgeous as she should be and that’s a damned shame. Don’t worry, dear readers, it’s on the list for 2018.

On Tuesday (1/2) I headed for Penn Station to take an Amtrak to Rochester so my trainer could pick me up and take me to the truck. Now a smart person, one who has ridden Amtrak several times, knows to check the status of your train before leaving the house. A smart person who’s overly excited to get back to work just blindly goes to the station to find out that the train is delayed due to the tracks breaking.

Ok…Broken tracks, lets talk about that for a minute. I now work in a field that is dangerous for several reasons. I can mitigate some of those dangers by being alert and smart while driving. What scares me is all of the stories talking about our crumbling infrastructure. Hearing about broken train tracks only heightens this feeling of unease but actually being out and seeing overpasses with huge chucks of concrete taken out of them downright terrifies me. If this can keeps being kicked down the road instead of being addressed then more people are going to die. It’s as simple as that.

Sorry for the rant.

One of the things I realized during this time off is that I really missed being at work. That’s something I’ve never had before in my adult life. Work was always a chore and something I had to force myself to go to. It’s just one more example of how I made the right choice in becoming a professional driver.

We finally got a load assignment on Wednesday and off to Ohio we went. It was just in time as the Bomb Cyclone was scheduled to hit the east coast in the next 24-36 hours and I really didn’t want to be here for that. This load would be taking us back across the country to the LA area and I was ready for warmer weather.

Tomorrow we will talk more about the freight I’m hauling. It’s what I’ve termed a Super Secret Squirrel load.

As I got behind the wheel for the first time this year I got a bit nervous. I wondered did I remember everything I needed to? After hooking up to the new trailer I knew it was just like riding a bicycle. Once my first mile was behind me I laughed at myself for being silly.

Total miles driven on first day back on the road: 657.7 along the blue line.

Seasons Greetings and a clarification…

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I was recently asked “What is a Zilla?” For those wondering, Zilla is my lovely retro Godzilla toy that was gifted to me years ago. He has been my co-pilot since leaving Chicago heading West in 2016.

It was not always easy keeping him entertained but he seemed to be surprised and excited at every new thing we saw.

After 4000 miles without a single argument, I realized he was the perfect traveling companion.

He is currently back home in Washington waiting for me to get my own truck. You see, he can sometimes be a bit grumpy and I didn’t want to wake up one morning and find he had stepped on or eaten my trainer. I mean, how would one go about explaining that to their boss?

My Zilla will be joining me on the road in 2018. Until then, may this holiday season bring you love, laughter, and a wee bit of weird.

Musings during downtime…

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Last night I picked up a load in New Jersey that needed to be in New Hampshire before Midnight. Unfortunately I don’t have another load yet so it looks like this is the end for this year.

One quick thing about last nights trip…I drove a mother trucking semi over the mother trucking George Washington Bridge and survived New York City Traffic.

Yeah, you’re right, I do feel like a bad ass.

The area I delivered to was a dead zone after midnight, so we headed back into Massachusetts to a tiny truck stop with an awesome diner.

Fun fact: I love old diners and greasy spoons. They always make me smile and I could sit and people watch in them for hours.

This place was no exception and I loved every moment. That is until I took a look at their jukebox.

Nickelback? For reals? This place lost so many cool points. Luckily the food redeemed itself and I went to bed with a full tummy and excited to get off the truck.

After a great nights sleep (I definitely sleep better when the wheels aren’t moving) I crossed the frozen parking lot to have some breakfast while I waited for my trainer to wake up. Upon walking in the waitresses were singing and dancing to Pearl Jam and the kerfuffle of Nickelback being on the jukebox was completely forgiven.

After eating I made my way back to the truck to finalize my plans…or get them as final as I could. I started looking at Amtrak tickets and realized I could still head to Chicago and see my family. I started making plans to do just this but then I thought, how often do I get a chance to hang in NYC for NYE? Choosing the new over the familiar I jumped in an Uber in Albany and set out for the Train Station.

So now, dear readers, yours truly is headed into New York City to see friends I rarely get to see and to try to stay out of trouble. That might be the hardest part of this trip.

This may be my last entry until next year, but don’t fret, I will fill you in on all the appropriate juiciness of my time in the big apple. For the inappropriate bits you’re going to have to at least get me inebriated first.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, and Best Festivus for the rest of you beautiful people. Sending you all some love and hugs on this holiday season. ❤️💋

Follow the blue line…

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This is the route we just drove. Othello, Wa to LaSalle, IL to Camden, NJ. The last few days have been a blur of driving and sleeping (or attempting to). Somewhere in Idaho I suspected that I had the beginnings of a sinus infection. By Montana I was pretty certain that’s what was going on.

This is one of those situations I was waiting for. When you’re driving cross country, you don’t have the luxury of just pulling over anywhere. I’m driving a 83′ vehicle that weighs approximately (for the current load) 63000 pounds. Careful route planning at all stages of this game are crucial. I have to watch for low overpasses, weight restrictions of roads and bridges, and just anywhere my long fat butt of a truck just can’t physically go. Turning around, if I get myself in a bind, is easier said than done. One bad move and I could end up in a ditch, or having to call a tow truck to extract me from someplace I shouldn’t be. I don’t really have a AAA option so we’re talking a tow rate of somewhere in the area of $2000. The very worst case scenario is that I roll the truck. Rollovers are deadly for the cargo, your license, and your self.

So, now here I am…swollen face, aching sinuses, and nothing for relief. The guy I’m driving with has nothing on his truck to even heat water in. As I drive along I find myself dreaming of my neti pot back home. I had considered bringing it but space was limited. I consoled myself with daydreams of what I would have on my truck when I was done with this whole training thing and yes, my neti pot was on the list.

As I outfitted my truck in my mind, I suddenly had a brilliant albeit weird idea. You see, I travel with salt. I’m not a fan of regular table salt but I do have Himalayan and sea salt with me. Yes, I know I’m weird. If you’re new to this blog you’re really only scratching the surface of how weird I am.

At my next stop, I purchased a coffee cup filled with hot water, placed what I guessed to be the the proper amount of sea salt for the amount of water, and placed the lid on it. This was to be my poor mans neti pot. Thrilled with my idea, I went into the bathroom and proceeded to test out my new invention.

For the most part, it worked. I had to add a secondary hole to allow the water to flow more freely, but all in all it was a success and my sinuses were already happier with me. I would repeat this at every stop we made the next two days and this effectively helped my sinuses clear out and get to a more healthy state of being.

This trip was also the first time I needed to get fuel. This is how much it costs to fill up just the main tanks with Diesel. This doesn’t include the refer tank (which also runs on diesel and keeps my trailer at a temperature specified by the shipper) nor does it include DEF.

Speaking of DEF…DEF stands for Diesel Exhaust Fluid. “Diesel engines can be run with a lean burn air-to-fuel ratio (overstoichiometric ratio), to ensure the full combustion of soot and to prevent them exhausting unburnt fuel. The excess of air necessarily leads to generation of nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are harmful pollutants, from the nitrogen in the air. Selective catalytic reduction is used to reduce the amount of NOx released into the atmosphere. Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) from a separate tank is injected into the exhaust pipeline, where the aqueous urea vaporizes and decomposes to form ammonia and carbon dioxide. Within the SCR catalyst, the NOx are catalytically reduced by the ammonia (NH3) into water (H2O) and nitrogen (N2), which are both harmless; and these are then released through the exhaust.

DEF is a 32.5% solution of urea, (NH2)2CO. When it is injected into the hot exhaust gas stream, the water evaporates and the urea thermally decomposes to form ammonia and isocyanic acid:

(NH2)2CO → NH3 + HNCO

The isocyanic acid hydrolyses to carbon dioxide and ammonia:

HNCO +H2O → CO2 + NH3

Overall, this is

(NH2)2CO + H2O → 2 NH3 + CO2

From this point, ammonia, in the presence of oxygen and a catalyst, will reduce nitrogen oxides:

2 NO + 2 NH3 + 1⁄2 O2 → 2 N2 + 3 H2O and 3 NO2 + 4 NH3 → 3 1⁄2 N2 + 6 H2O

The overall reduction of NOx by urea is:

2 (NH2)2CO + 4 NO + O2 → 4 N2 + 4 H2O + 2 CO2 and 2 (NH2)2CO + 3 NO2 → 31⁄2 N

2 + 4 H2O + 2 CO2″

Above sourced from Wikipedia. This concludes your science lesson for the day.

Some drivers will call DEF bull piss and while it’s gross, it’s also kinda true. I don’t know that’s it’s specifically bull urine but it is a urea compound which is the breakdown of proteins in mammalian urine.

Anywhooooooooo….DEF is expensive as well and necessary for the truck I drive. The 145 gallons of fuel will take a fully loaded truck approximately 1200 miles.

This trip was my first experience driving in snow. Now, since I grew up in the Midwest, I do know a thing or two about driving in winter weather. Now after experiencing it in a fully loaded Semi I’m here to tell you, my lovely readers, that shit sucks. You’d think that the extra weight would give you more traction but you’d be wrong. Not only that, when your trailer starts to slide, your initial reaction is to break, but this can actually increase your slide and make you jackknife. What you have to do in this situation is completely contrary to everything you know and that’s to accelerate to pull your trailer out of it.

I will say, I may have freaked out a bit during this. My poor trainer Adam, who was sound asleep, got woken up but a slightly crazed and frazzled Tj just to have him there for moral support. I will say that while I didn’t cry, I may have felt like crying a bit. It was actually quite scary, but now that I’ve done it I think I’ll be ok next time I hit weather like that.

One of the things this trip allowed me to do/see again is the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania. Twenty years ago I moved to New Jersey and drove these roads first in my car and then in a Ryder truck pulling that car. To now drive these in a semi was a whole different experience while still feeling a bit nostalgic.