Getting the hang of things… maybe.

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One of the prettiest sunrises... and of all the places we go... this is Wisconsin.

I haven’t been able to write much lately, and I’m hoping as time goes on that this will change. I have lots of ideas and things to write about, but I’ve been recently focusing my energy on getting the hang of this over the road trucking thing. I’m getting the basics down – driving, trip planning, backing, delivering, logging… and that’s allowed me to notice other parts of this job that I am struggling with. Sleep is one that I’m working really hard on. Others are lonliness (which I need to explain), and missing the woods and being close to nature. Besides the sleep issue, these are things I expected to be hard, but they are surfacing now that we’re getting a good routine down, so it’s time to start working on them.

Sleep.
I have always been really good at sleeping. I could sleep anywhere, and usually any time. Midday on a cold floor? Curled up in the fetal position would be my choice for a quick snooze. No problem. But trucking? Dangit. It’s not as easy as I thought it would be, and not for the reasons I’d expect. It’s not because the vehicle is moving, or because it’s noisy, or because I’m not in control of the truck. Adam’s a great driver, so I’m never worried about that. And the rumble of the truck and gentle rocking from the uneven highway underneath us is actually quite soothing.

Where I struggle is my schedule, and I love my schedule. My shift is 2am to 2pm, so I get to see the sun come up every morning, and I’ve really enjoyed that. The problem lies with our time off. It’s really difficult to keep that schedule when we have a day off, because if I want to see anyone, a 4pm bedtime really puts a damper on things. So I just stay up and sleep at night with Adam, and when it’s time to get back on the road, I can’t get a full chunk of sleep before my shift starts because I’m wide awake after sleeping the night before. I usually only get three or four solid hours before I have to drive, and that’s tough on a 12-hour shift. Maybe it’ll get a little easier with time, and maybe I’ll get a little better at planning my sleep on our time off. But for now, I’m mostly finding creative ways to stay awake when my eyelids get heavy, which is usually between 4am and 6am. My latest trick, which I can only do when it’s still dark out, is exercise. Arm pumps, steering wheel dances, toe taps and leg lifts, overhead punches… all kinds of moves that I’m certain make me look like a crazy person. But it works!

After struggling through that first shift after our time off, I weerily crawl into the bunk, pass out cold and sleep like a rock for eight hours, and I’m usually almost back on track until the next day off.

Loneliness.
I have Adam with me out here, so I’m not lonely in the sense that I’ve got no company. I don’t know that I could do this as a solo driver, though. I like that I’ve got someone to talk to, touch, hug, and wake up if I need help with something. I would really have a hard time doing this alone with little human contact. I can’t just walk up to other random truckers and ask for a hug. Well, I could, but I don’t think that would be wise.

My loneliness is for my box girls, my meetup backpackers, old work friends, family, my PCT friends… I used to be such a freakin’ introvert when I was younger. That girl could sure help me now, but over the years I totally flip-flopped – finding so much joy, laughter and fun in a group of people. I knew I’d miss happy hours at Oblio’s and weekend backpacking trips in Kettle Moraine, but I didn’t know how I was going to deal with it. I still don’t. This I need to work on. It helps to tell you that, readers. You might be part of those groups I mentioned, and just know I think of you all the time. And I really miss you. I really love this job, but this part of it is really tough.

The woods.
Oh, how I miss the woods. Mountains. Rivers. Meadows. Trails. Mud. Dust. Sleeping on the ground. I get to see a ton of great scenery out here on the road, and I’m really happy about that. I’ve got the best office with windows since those scenes are constantly changing. It’s definitely one of my favorite parts of this new lifestyle.

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There's a bit of danger when I find a trail during a break. This is at Lolo Pass in Idaho. I could keep going!

But there I am, driving along feeling totally thankful, but as always just a little unsatisfied. That little bit of unsatisfaction leaves room in my imagination to dream about more. I can’t tell you how many times I look out that windshield at a wide open, yellow-grass meadow with layers of low, rolling mountains way off in the distance and wonder to myself, “I wonder how long it would take me if I parked the truck right here, got out and started walking across that expanse of sagebrush meadow to those hills. I wonder if there’s any water? I wonder if those mountains are rocky, or if they’d be easy to climb? I wonder if it’s private land? Would it matter? There’s so much space… who would know I was even out there? Just a tiny speck on the horizon, wandering off toward a sinking sun, camouflage amongst the low junipers and afternoon shadows…” Yeah, that’s one example of where my mind wanders as I drive.

I find small joys to satisfy my need to touch the earth. At rest stops I’ve found small nature trails, flowers, a pond or river in the back, birds in the trees… there’s always something I can turn my focus to for just a moment that sends a wave of comfort over my entire self, even if only for a few seconds. I can hang on to that for a while. I stopped a rest stop in the salt flats once, walked out to the water and bent down, inspecting the salt crystals, picking them up and even tasting it. Stuff like that is just another thing I love about being out here, moving from place to place. I get several tiny experiences like that one. I guess I get those mini experiences instead of one giant adventure for now. Which in reality is part of a different big adventure. Huh… that’s a pretty good deal. I’m already figuring this out! I just need to think about it in the right way.

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Salt crystal. Yup, tastes salty!

I’ve got future adventures stewing in my mind, though, too. Lots of them. Hopefully down the road Adam and I will be sorting through all of our ideas, settling on one that fulfills both our needs. I am pretty sure hiking will be in there somewhere. For now, we truck. We drive, we work, we smile. We widdle down debt and feel pride for working hard and being responsible. When the time comes to put one adventure to rest and set out on that next one, we’ll be ready.

But I must focus on enjoying one thing at a time while I’m here, in the present. :)


Tonight I love my people. I miss my people. If I could I’d reach through this screen and squeeze you.

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Pre-sunrise early morning reflections in a pond at Lolo Pass. Idaho mountains.

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Parked at Lolo Pass.

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An Idaho beauty.

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The view behind our truck, parked along the Columbia River in Oregon.

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Entertainment. Dude in the red truck was feeding them. They didn't poop on our truck, so okay with me!

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Mid-June mini-blizzard in Montana near Butte. Twas a bit freaky.

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Early morning in the salt flats.

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One more. Salt flat sunrise. Love!

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

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3 thoughts on “Getting the hang of things… maybe.

  1. Hey Kid, Good to hear from you, just love the pix, just trying to imagine you doing arm pumps and various gyrations as you drive, i wonder what i would think as i drove by you, thinking look at that fruitcake-LMAO! things are going well back here in land of the curd, wheeling in summwe activity, mammy has the garden looking primo, should have a bumper crop this year for canning, mowing grass has become a bi-weely norm now, hope to see you guys soon, love always — Pappy —

  2. Shift work sucks, all the people I have spoken to have always found it a pita. The one that works for me is getting up super early the day before I start work. That way come 4pm, you are knackered and can sleep through till the start of your shift.

  3. I can totally relate to everything you just said. From my point of view as a driver looking at those mountains & fields through my bug splattered windows too I was always looking forward to your pct hiking blog. It gave me a funny & adventurous glimpse of a world I can’t see from the highway. The thought of a place that isn’t covered in concrete & blacktop where you didn’t have to feel like everything is on the clock sounded pretty nice to me. So thank you for that. I hope you & Adam find a good balance between work & life. :)

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