Saturday, September 11, 2021

My Trucking Experience

The people who have been following me for quite some time are aware that I tend to embark on weird and crazy adventures in my life, never a dull moment. One of those adventures is the trucking lifestyle, which to me is a must to experience as it coincides with everything my boyfriend and I love to do. The trucking lifestyle let’s us visit different places, sample various types of food and get to know different people.  


We got introduced to trucking while my boyfriend was working in the heavy steel industry, and all the raw materials they used arrived on a flatbed semi truck.


I invite you to read further and see how our trucking journey began from totally green with no experience all the way to Owner Operators owning our own semi truck. Hope you enjoy reading!    


The first step to trucking is to find a truck driving school and get a Class1 as it is referred to in  Canada and in the USA it is called CDL or Commercial Drivers License. There are three cardinal criteria needed to be a truck driver, first is good health and physically fit. If you take medication or have a chronic illness you will face challenges. In addition, no criminal record, and squeaky clean driving record which will make it easier to find employment and your insurance cost will not be as high.


Another great advantage is to have and maintain the lowest possible personal cost, so no expensive  mortgage, high car payments as for the first three years your income will be low. 


As you drive to different destinations you will see beautiful scenery, experience a lifestyle that very few get the opportunity to do and at the same time face interesting challenges on the road. 


My life on the road spanned about four years and during that time I learned how the transport system works. The fact that all the products you find on store shelves came by semi truck is something I never thought about. I learned that trucking is the most micromanaged and rule intense industry since it is part of public safety. My boyfriend was the one who did all the driving and fueling and I handled the administration part of the job, some of which entailed preparing customs paperwork to cross the border, scanning the bill of lading/proof of delivery for dispatch, planning stops for fuel and shutting down for the night. 


As we drove my boyfriend taught me about how to calculate Hours Of Service, plan trips, where to stop for the night, and mapping routes, etc. I also learned that states and provinces have their own standards and permits depending on what you are hauling. Also, driving a truck is nothing like a car, there are specific roads that trucks cannot drive on,  for instance weight restricted roads, low bridges and power lines; after all, an 80,000lbs semi trailer can easily damage roads.


Our destinations ranged from east to west coast in both the USA and Canada and we drove through winter storms and summer heat. Experiencing BC Canada mountains in winter and putting chains on the tires to drive through the heavy snow, the same in Colorado USA was an adventure for the ages, physical fitness comes into play here. We favored the west coast more than the east as it is much less busy and much more scenic and exotic.  


I never knew a truck stop could look like a resort. My most memorable ones were  IOWA-80 in Walcott Iowa, the biggest truck stop in the world (no joke) where the famous antique trucking museum is located and when you go inside antique trucks are on display  dating back to the 1900’s, it’s like trucking history comes alive. Inside the shop, truckers can find numerous items to soup up their truck, fancy shifters, steering wheels, lights, even seats and more. There were about five different restaurants and a gift shop filled with souvenirs which I took full advantage of in terms of shopping. I also visited its sister truck stop Joplin44 in Joplin MO which was smaller without the museum.  


Another great place I had the opportunity to visit was Barstow California, where I had a chance to shop at the outlet mall and there were about 100 restaurants to eat from. I will be including photos for Iowa80 and Barstow California to further paint a picture. 


Each destination we went to turned into a fun adventure we never saw trucking as a job which made it very unique. 


I also found that USA truck stops like Flying J/Pilot, Loves and TA/Petro (TA Travel Centers of America) had the best customer service and really everything you need is available, for example, cell phone chargers, bedding for the truck and basic items like antennas can be found at these places. Also you will never go hungry, the food may not always be healthy but you won’t starve and the restaurants in these travel centers are generally chains like Subway, Wendy’s.  Now, regarding showers they are very similar to hotels, Flying J/Pilot even provide towels which is so convenient. 

 

I honestly felt like a paid tourist driving through the types of neighborhoods, it gives you an idea of what life is like in the different towns. Montana had a beautiful scenic boardwalk of shops in a town called Missoula which I hope to visit again one day, it looked like something out of a storybook.


The best times I had was when we were off on what is called a reset, during this time we would rent a car and explore the town/city we were in. One of the nicest off-times was in Niagara Falls Ontario, we got a chance to visit attractions like Clifton Hill, Wax Museum, Skywheel and of course the Falls. This is  one of the most touristic places in Eastern Canada. At the time  we also experienced the 2019 Pride Parade in Toronto which made us get some much needed exercise since we walked for hours. 


Trucking is all what we expected it to be, we embraced it as a lifestyle and passion. We are most happy resetting on route for long periods of time; and we favour the western region as it is the most exotic and scenic no matter the season. If you get the opportunity to experience this I strongly recommend you take it, as this is to me is a rare chance one gets to do in a lifetime. 


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