MACK: The beginning of a new phase.

Adam and I have this thing we do. We give the trips we go on some sort of name. They don’t have to make any sense, but sometimes they do. We also named a spider that hung around on our bathroom ceiling in one of our apartments. His name was Bob. Our Montana road trip was Gus. Our road trip and PCT thru-hike was Alexander Supertramp.

Next up? Trucking. We call it Mack. It kind of makes sense.

Mack starts tomorrow. My first day of trucking school at Fox Valley Technical College. I’m trading in my hiking boots for 18 wheels, at least for a while. Trail for road. Tent for sleeper berth. Pickle Jar for Tractor-Trailer. You get the idea. I sure hope we get to haul pickles at some point. Just because.

The open road

I am looking so forward to this! The open road!

So it’s the night before my first class. I’m excited, a tiny bit nervous, but mostly excited. Last Wednesday Adam and I drove over to the campus to find out where my first class was held so I wasn’t roaming around looking for it on my first day. The transportation department is a whole separate building from the college, so that was a good thing to find out. As we pulled up, I looked up at a parking lot full of huge, white FVTC semi trucks. One of them had a student in the driver seat backing out of a parking spot with another person directing him. I looked around and started to get butterflies in my tummy. I am going to… um… drive one of them things? Oh boy… what have I gotten myself into this time!?

…I love that feeling.

We head into the building, and the lady at the office stopped what she was doing to show us where the classroom was and answered a bunch of questions we had. We found out that Adam can do a refresher course if he wants to, and depending on how he does it could be anywhere from 1-3 weeks. He can fit that in anytime while I’m going through my 10-week course. Then we head to the financial aid office. Getting financial aid for these courses was a pain in the neck to be completely honest. I applied back in October and received my aid three days before classes started. Three. Oy! I was disappointed with how that whole thing went down, but thankfully I don’t have to unleash angry Robin (which is pretty mild, really) – they aren’t making me pay any past due charges since my tuition bill was actually supposed to be paid a couple of weeks ago. It all worked out, so I’m just going to move on and not dwell on it. Hopefully I won’t have to go through that process again.

My thoughts are kind of all over. I have to shower and pack my lunch and be to bed by 9:30 pm so I can get a full 8 hours of sleep tonight. Will I like my instructors? Will they like me? Will I be in a truck on the first day? How hard is this going to be? Will I get to do skid training? How about chaining up tires? I think I have a physical and drug test tomorrow right away. That should go just fine. All the wine I drank last night should be out of my system. No more of that! Is my new Carhartt jacket too big? Will I remember everything? When can we get our trucker GPS? Will I sleep okay in the sleeper? Adam described the “seatbelt” I have to wear when I sleep while he’s driving. It’s like a net. That’s going to be weird. I can’t wait to take photos of these things and share them here on my blog. I’m so intrigued by this whole trucking thing. How will my diet do? Will I be able to get in enough exercise?

Speaking of diet and exercise… this has been a huge thing on my mind. I’ve put a lot of thought into this because I fear that my history with easy weight-gain will work against me in this new career of sitting all day and being tempted by truck stop diners and their delicious meals served in portions big enough to feed a family. I’m aware of the stereotypical trucker lifestyle, and I am mentally preparing myself to fight it. I’ve already taken a few steps in the right direction. Adam and I went grocery shopping and he helped me pick out foods that are easy to eat while driving. My lunch tomorrow will be a peanut butter sandwich, carrots and celery, pineapple juice, almonds and a some sort of fruit, I think. For the last three weeks I’ve been trying out a bunch of different 10-20 minute workouts, and those are going great. I can do them all with no equipment. Perfect! And yup – I’m going to be that crazy trucker lady next to my truck doing jump squats and push ups. It’s going to be awesome. I’m pretty damn determined to stay in shape. It can be done. In fact, I found a couple of websites dedicated to trucker’s health. I even found a Facebook page that puts out tips and challenges, and it’s pretty active. I hear training is the toughest because you kind of go along with your trainer’s schedule, but hopefully knowing that going in will help me prepare for that.

Well, here we go! I’ve been so ready to start this phase of our journey – I miss the PCT a lot, and I’m holding on to the dream of getting back on sometime in the future when our financial and trucking adventure goals are met. But for now, I’m just so excited for this. I’m going to learn to drive a semi truck!

I sure hope I get the hang of shifting that thing…

Tonight I love comfortable, new blue jeans. Adam said to me as we shopped, “You’re entering a whole different world. On the trail you’d have been crazy to wear jeans, but in a truck you’d be crazy not to wear jeans.” Yeah, I suppose wearing a skirt as a trucker might be a bad idea. I dunno… steel-toe boots and a skirt? Could be a good look! :)

Night Driving

Night Driving. My next shots of the road will be from a much higher vantage point.


8 thoughts on “MACK: The beginning of a new phase.

  1. Whatever you do , don’t do pushups next to your truck at a truck stop or anywhere else trucks normally park. The ground is most likely saturated with human effluence. Good luck with the trucking. I’ve been driving almost three years and enjoy the meditative possibilities, listening to hundreds of audiobooks a year, and, oh yeah, the pay is pretty good too. Keep an eye out for crazy four wheelers and good luck with your training.

    Raru (PCT 2004)

  2. Drive on, Toots Rubbertramp! If you get into my area during the hiking season, message me and we’ll all do a quick dayhike (evening hike?) and then get some great food. Maybe I can get you and Adam to join in some trail magic, too!
    To follow up on Marcia’s suggestions, try the Biggest Loser’s DVDs. I use them for mostly stretching and cardio, and you can tailor them to be as long as time allows. I’m a thin guy (so it’s definitely strange for me to buy them!) but I’ve found they work for overall fitness and I always feel better after I get done with one. Just a thought…

    • Hey Reno Dave! Yeah, we hope to find a way of letting friends know that we might be in the area… even if we only have a few minutes to say hi at a truck stop… will have to see how things go once we start driving. Sounds like time is pretty tight most of the time between loads, but then again, each company is diffrrent. Thanks for the suggestion fir the dvds. I hope a few months into driving we can buy a nice, small tv for the sleeper, so that would probably work. :)

  3. have so much fun with this next adventure! glad you are still keeping up the blog — we’ll be following along! sending good vibes your way for day one tomorrow :)

  4. So scary and exciting at the same time! I know it can be a challenge. My brother is a truck driver, but not long haul. He didn’t like that at all so he does short hauls. One of my cousins drives long haul.

    I’m sure you’ll figure out the food thing. Wasn’t there a truck driver in the movie Fat Sick and Nearly Dead? That’s extreme, but an example of what you can do.

    There are a bunch of good body-weight and other workouts that can be done in 20 minutes. I’m a big fan of Fit Yummy Mummy (hate the name, but has good workouts). It’s a constant “up-sell” kind of environment – but she has a reasonably-priced E-book with a variety of 15-20 minute workouts, and if you end up on the email list you end up with good ideas from time to time. I won’t lie, most of the emails are trying to sell you her download workouts for $50-$100 (I’ve never caved on those). But most of my quick workouts come from combining her suggestions.

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