Wild… the movie

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I’m really excited to see Wild, the movie based on Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling book. If you haven’t read it, give it a go. I really enjoyed it for the whole story – not just because a trail I deeply love is a big part of it.

The thing is, there’s been some negative talk about Strayed’s book and the movie throughout the thru-hiking community. I haven’t read all of the comments because I tend to distance myself from negativity in social media because it makes me feel grumpy. But some of it I happened upon and read anyway – I guess I can understand where the thought processes are coming from and since I’ve hiked the trail I can maybe even relate in a way, but I’m not entirely comfortable with myself for that. The comments I’m remembering as I write this are things like, “she barely hiked the trail,” and “now everybody’s going to come and jump on the trail unprepared and cause all kinds of problems.” The problems mentioned range from litter to forest fires to unnecessary search and rescue efforts. And while on a small scale some of that could happen, it doesn’t mean that thru-hikers that are on the trail for reasons other than being inspired by the book won’t cause any of these problems either. We are all people, basically the same from the very core of our humanness – we are capable of making mistakes no matter how prepared we are, and sometimes you don’t even know you’re unprepared until you’ve got that knot in your tummy and you’re whispering, “oh shit” under your breath.

Here’s the thing. It’s not called, “Wild. A thru-hike on the PCT,” or “Wild. A how-to guide to the PCT.” I think most people know this. It’s about this girl’s life struggles and the way she chose to deal with them and herself – and in my opinion, she chose one of THE best ways to do it! And she wrote about it. I think that’s pretty cool.

The book will inspire some to give the PCT a shot, and some will make it and some won’t. Just like everyone that’s already attempted it every other year. Who cares how they’re inspired? They’ll get out there, meet other hikers, learn a LOT, and hopefully have a safe, amazing, soul-finding journey. Just like I did. Just like a lot of us did. And you gotta’ start somewhere! I’m a fan of diving into something crazy and learning as you go. Life is short, man. It’s frickin’ precious. Sometimes you don’t have the time or patience to be a pro or “ready” for something big. Sometimes you just have to go for it. I totally get that. I admire the approach.

I read Wild before heading out on the PCT. I was in the planning stages of my thru-hike and was totally obsessed with everything PCT. So naturally when I heard about the best-selling book, I had to get my hands on it. I didn’t read it for advice or as a guide, and I was already plenty inspired. I read it because this girl went for a big ol’ hike and wrote about why she went… and her crazy experiences throughout the journey. And I loved it. There ya’ go friends. I loved Wild. It made me smile, it made me nervous and it made me cry. It gave me all kinds of emotions. The journey part of the story could have been anything besides the PCT and I’d have still enjoyed it.

So I’ll be watching the movie when it hits theatres in December, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. I’m excited to see places I might recognize from the trail in beautiful cinematic light on a big screen. I enjoyed the story and I really like Reese Witherspoon. I guess she not only plays Cheryl Strayed’s character, she also co-directed the movie with the director of Dallas Buyer’s Club, which I haven’t seen yet, but from what I hear is another great movie.

I’m no professional book or movie critic. In fact, I honestly don’t read a whole lot – it makes me fall asleep. And I can get into just about any movie within seconds and probably find enjoyment in it somehow, no matter what. And on top of that, my memory for movies I’ve seen is embarrassingly horrible. Adam and I will be talking about a movie… well here’s a very recent example:

Adam: (reads me a movie quote) Remember this quote from Fight Club?
Me: No.
Adam: Really? Don’t you remember that scene?
Me: No. I don’t even remember what it’s about except some people get together to fight with each other.
Adam: (excitedly) REALLY!? Do you remember the twist?
Me: (blushing) Um… There’s a twist?
Adam: What! Really? We have to watch it again! I’m so jealous! I WISH I could watch a movie again for the first time!

So yeah… my opinions on books and movies shouldn’t weigh too heavily on anyone’s mind. I just wanted to put it out there. I’m a PCT thru-hiker, and I’m a fan of Wild. And I’m pretty darn excited to see the movie. I hope it’s really successful, and I’m sure I’m going to love it.

Oh, and please don’t remind me of the twist in Fight Club – I’m going to see it for the second first time very soon! :)

Watch the WILD Trailer here (Reese Witherspoon – 2014): http://youtu.be/dHJDeIrq340

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

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A beautiful day to love my job.

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Not a bad view, hey? I’m sitting here in the driver’s seat of our truck, enjoying a little down time as I wait for a call saying my load is ready and a door assignment. The sky is blue outside our “mobile office” windows, the mountains are natural, comforting shades of browns and dark greens, and they’re gradually rising up from fields of already-harvested crops – cut short and glowing in bright golds. The sun is shining through the passenger window, warming my left knee and left arm. I am… content.

Yesterday we stopped at a truck stop for a shower, then head to our receiver in a little Utah town called Bear River City. We drove down country roads past cafes and small bars saying to each other, “we should come back here to visit some time.” We arrived at our receiver with permission to park overnight. We were positioned facing a small mountain range, and planned our routes for the next day as the sun started to set. Adam and I set out for a short walk along a country road with farm fields, abandoned horse corrals and a road lined with spots of giant yellow flowers that I assume are some sort of small sunflower. After our walk, back at the truck we watched a couple episodes of Breaking Bad before I went to bed.

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Sunflower variety?

This morning took us along a winding four-lane road through the very mountains we were watching last night, and after I’m done getting loaded here, we’re off on another mountainous route that has switchbacks and looks like it’s going to be highlighted with great scenery. I’m excited. It’s a warm, sunny day, Adam and I are in good spirits having a nice time on this run, and we’re really enjoying the new places.

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Morning view from our "office." Not too shabby.


Tonight I love my new career.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

A typical delivery day

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Well, I honestly don’t know if there’s ever a “typical” day out here in the trucking world, but I jotted some notes down after one of our busy delivery days so I could share what it’s kind of like.

To make things easy, I stayed in central time when making my notes – this was a California run from Wisconsin, so through all of this we had to constantly switch back and forth from central to pacific time. I’m still getting used to that.

We drove a load of paper from Wisconsin to California. Our delivery appointments were on Monday morning, and my work day started when I woke up at 4:30 am (I got to sleep in!) and finished up at 10:30 pm.

4:30 – 6:30 am
I wake up and flip on the bunk light in back of the truck. Rub my eyes and stare for a few minutes. I unbuckle the series of clips on my bed’s safety belt and sit up. I grab an apple and peruse Facebook as I eat. Change into exercise clothes, grab a bottle of water, dumbbells and my jump rope, and step out of the truck into the dark parking lot at our first receiver. Adam drove in last night and parked here. Not all places will allow us to park overnight, but these folks do. I like it because it’s quiet and feels safe for an outdoor workout – and nobody’s around to watch me, either. After an intense 25-minute workout of jumping rope, lunges, push ups, high knees, squats, mountain climbers… I’m sweaty but feel great. Back in the truck I trip plan to the next stop while I cool off, then step in back, close the curtain, bathe with Huggies wipes and get dressed.

6:30 – 9:00 am
I get my food ready for the day. Usually a handful of mixed nuts, a couple containers of mixed raw veggies – celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, and baby carrots – a half sandwich, a string cheese, and a couple bottles of water. I heat water with our coffee pot and make myself some dandelion tea. I head outside with my lights and 4-ways on to start my pre-trip inspection. Check to make sure every single light works. Open the hood and make sure everything is in order. Walk around the truck thumping tires and crawling underneath to check out brake pads, drums, hoses, brake chambers, locking jaws… all is well with the truck. I gather the bills for our load and head in to find someone to give them to. He gives me a door number and I head back to the truck. Plug a few things into our e-log system and head over to the docks. I back in and wait as the truck softly bounces from side to side as the forklift driver goes in and out of our trailer. Guy comes out, hands me my signed paperwork and I pull away from the dock door. I jump in the trailer and secure the remaining palettes with our load lock, shut the doors, add our own seal and lock. After plugging in a few more details to our e-log system, I head out towards our second delivery.

9:00 – 11:00 am
Drive to second delivery and wait. We’re about an hour and a half early and they won’t take us until our appointment time. While I wait, I go over the directions to the next stop, eat a container of my veggies and some nuts and finish my tea.

11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Bring in paperwork, use their bathroom (it’s a nice, clean one), get my door assignment, back in. While I wait to get unloaded I eat my sandwich. When they’re done I collect my signed paperwork, pull out, secure the last of the load, shut the doors, seal and lock them, and do a quick walk-around vehicle inspection. Adam wakes up to help me navigate to our next delivery because it’s closer to San Francisco.

12:30 – 1:30 pm
Drive off to the third delivery. We cross the bay into San Fran and pay a $25 toll fee. It’s our first time across the bay and I’m a little nervous with traffic, narrow streets and a note about backing in off the street, blocking three lanes of traffic – but I keep calm and hold it together just fine.

1:30 – 2:30 pm
Arrive at third delivery. Adam jumps out with his safety vest on and we’re both wearing our Bluetooth headsets to communicate. I stop in the middle of the road with my 4-ways on and we wait for traffic to slow. I back into the narrow driveway, holding up some traffic, but surprise myself by getting in there pretty quickly. Times like this, I’m SO happy to have a teammate! Adam crawls into the trailer and a worker lifts a palette jack up for him. He wheels the last of the palettes to the back of the trailer so the fork lift can reach them. Now we’re empty! And now we head south to where it’s drier and hotter and pick up some food to bring back to the Midwest. At least it’s not cheese. I feel like a trader when I bring California cheese to Wisconsin. I’d eat it anyway, because I love cheese. And the few dairy loads we’ve done have all gone so smoothly. Anyway…

2:30 – 4:30 pm
Drive to shipper further south in California to a town called Firebaugh, tucked in between endless acres of growing fields of food. I drive along while constantly glancing at the passing fields, unsuccessfully guessing what is growing in them – with the exception of corn (duh) and melons. It fascinates me to no end, and as I cruise along I wonder if I’ll ever get down this way to work in those fields to see what that hard work is like.

4:30 – 6:30 pm
I check in at a guard shack, back into my dock, get loaded with 43,000 pounds of beefsteak tomatoes, secure the load, shut the doors, seal it, lock it, and do a quick walk-around vehicle inspection. I drive across the road and use their private scale for ten bucks. I’m a little off so I slide the tandems a couple of holes, then trip plan to the certified CAT scale, which just happens to be right before a weigh station.

6:30 – 7:30 pm
Drive over the CAT scale, find a place to park the truck, back in, go in and pee, buy some water and boiled eggs and get my second ten-dollar scale ticket. I’m legal! Yay! I still have mini celebrations for things like adjusting the truck weight properly. There’s math involved here, folks! I eat some more nuts as I trip plan to the place where Adam and I will switch. I check my hours – 2:25 left to drive.

7:30 – 9:00 pm
I drive to the Flying J truck stop in Lodi, California. I park, run my post-trip inspection while Adam does his pre-trip inspection (they’re basically the same thing, but we both have to conduct a pre- and post-trip each shift), I run in and pee and brush my teeth.

9:00 – 10:30 pm
Adam starts driving and I wind down. I get tomorrow’s food ready, have some tea, change into jammies and go to bed.

10:00 – 10:30 pm
I read. It makes me fall asleep – always has. By 10:30 pm I’m out.

Yes, that’s a long day. They aren’t all that long, and usually we switch a little earlier. The way our workable hours played out on this run, and with a sort of goofed-up sleep schedule, it’s just how it went. A good, hard day of work. Things always take longer than I wished they would for whatever reason, but at the end of the day, if we’re safe and the truck is undamaged, it was a pretty darn good day.

Next I’ll write about a typical day on the road driving towards our destination. It’s quite the contrast!

Tonight I love windows of free time in the truck. Especially when they’re big enough widows to do something fun – like blog!