A whirlwind of emotions and more trucking

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It’s been a whirlwind these past few weeks. Things have been moving right along at school. I’m getting new routes that take me to new places, driving new trucks, trying new backing techniques and practicing old ones, and getting miles on. I actually had kind of a rough day at class today, so I want to write about that a little bit, but I’ll get to that.

In between all the school stuff going on, my mind has been wandering. A lot. I’ve been thinking so much about the sudden, tragic death of my friend Richard, his wife, Meryl, his family and our circle of friends that are all going to be missing him dearly in the coming weeks, months and years. Emotions have been all over the place. I’ve felt sad that he’s gone, mad that he was taken too soon, guilty that I didn’t spend more time with him while he was here, and happy about all the memories I was able to have while he was. For a while all I could do was sit quietly and try to understand. I was trying to make sense of why he was gone, but couldn’t. I was trying to understand what my feelings were. I felt out of place and couldn’t figure out why. Then I started to think about all the time I didn’t have with Richard. I felt bad. I wished I’d have told him he felt like a brother to me, but I didn’t. I wish I’d have planned a backpacking trip with him and Meryl like I’d always wanted to. I just wish I’d have gotten to know him better. I wish I’d have spent more time with him. He was such an amazing person and I wished I’d have just done… more.

Then I started to think about when I hiked the PCT last year. I was pretty upset that I missed the last 60 miles of that trail until I realized… I hiked 2,660 miles of that trail that were absolutely amazing, and that is what I should focus on. Once I realized that, those 60 miles didn’t bother me much any more – they still call to me, but at least I’m not beating myself up about them any more.  I found I could compare this to how I was feeling now. It was an analogy I could understand. It helped me realize that even though I may not have spent as much time with Richard as I wish I had, the times I did spend with him were simply fun, and I’m going to focus on that instead. And just like I hope to hike those last 60 miles some day, I hope to see Richard again, too. I don’t know how much sense that makes, but it somehow made me feel a little more at peace – just reminding me in another way to remember the good times instead of focusing on those that I’ve missed.

…sigh… so with all of that, I might as well transition into my day today. On my drive this afternoon, I felt as though I reverted back a few weeks. My shifting was rushed, I was rushed, and as a result I bumped my tires up onto a curb a couple of times. I didn’t hit any light poles or yield signs (although I might’ve been close!), so it’s not horrible, but I kind of thought I was over that. I guess it’s said that every once in a while you just have a bad day. I suppose I’m thankful that all I did was ride a couple of curbs and nothing worse happened on my “bad day.” I tend to be a little hard on myself, too – so I’m hoping that has something to do with why I’m bummed about a couple of silly errors. And tomorrow I will go to school with a fresh mind reminding myself to stop freakin’ rushing, take my good ol’ time and have a good driving day!

Since the last time I wrote, I enjoyed a week off of driving for Fox Valley Technical College’s spring break. Adam and I went to LaCrosse for a while, which was honestly kind of boring (except for the Rivoli theater!), so we cut that part of our vacation short. We then drove to Phillips to make a short visit with family, then onto Lake Elmo, MN to visit our PCT trail friend, Hoop Dreams! That was a blast. We went out for karaoke, reminisced, and shook our heads at the current experience we were having at a weird little bar in downtown South St. Paul. After that, Adam and I traveled to Upper Michigan where we stayed at a casino for a couple of nights so we could enjoy some drinks together and not have to worry about driving anywhere. We are pretty much living a zero-tolerance lifestyle when it comes to drinking and driving. Did you know that once you have your CDL your legal blood-alcohol content (BAC) is .04%, compared to .08% for those that hold a regular Class D license? Either way, if I’m behind a wheel, my BAC is going to be 0%. It’s a good rule to live by, anyway.

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Our latest rig. A Mack 13-speed.

Once back at school, my school partner and I were given another new truck. It’s a Mack sleeper-cab truck with a 13-speed transmission. It was a little weird to drive at first, but I started to really enjoy it once I got the hang of it. The Mack truck feels really tough, and I like that about it.

We also did some blind-side backing in our big Mack truck, which was a little tricky. You basically perform a 90-degree back the other direction, so you can’t see where your trailer is going. In the real world you do everything to avoid a back like this (because they’re dangerous), but in the chance that it’s your only option, you find a spotter and/or get out and look every couple of inches if you have to. I did okay and got signed off on thid new technique, but hope for more practice in the next couple of weeks.

There’s a few more things to try at school, and I look forward to those. Coming up soon I should be hauling a tanker, a double-trailer, maybe driving a new transmission or two, and… SKID PAD! This Wednesday we’re signed up for skid pad training! I’m so excited about that, and I have my extra undies all ready to go. I can’t wait to spin out a tractor and see if I can correct it, and I’m hoping we’re allowed to let it spin a few times for the feel of it… and the fun. I’m sure I’ll be writing about that experience! I feel pretty fortunate that I’m enrolled in a school that has this as part of their driving curriculum. Besides being fun, I think it’s going to be a really important experience to have – to see what it actually feels like for a truck to jackknife while in a controlled environment, so I might be able to steer out of one if it happens unexpectedly down the road.

And holy manoley, I graduate next Friday!


Tonight I love Adam. I know I’ve used him for my “tonight I love” a couple of times before, but it was his 36th birthday yesterday so it’s okay. I feel lucky to still be with my best friend whom I’ve known since 1995. I don’t care if that ages me – that’s a lot of years with a wonderful person, and I rather enjoy bragging about it! :)

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A 13-speed shifting pattern.

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Mack hood ornament - the bulldog.


Did you know that if the bulldog is gold, the truck is made will all Mack parts (purebred), and if it’s silver it’s made with a mix of parts (mutt). Pretty cool, huh?

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Just a few buttons and switches on the dash!

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