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

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

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.

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.

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!

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