Oh, the trucking adventure

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AD · VEN · TURE
adˈven(t)SHər
noun
1. an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.

Truck driving is an adventure, all right, and comes with a full set of rollercoaster-like emotions.

I’m generally a positive person. I’m the type that tries to find the good in even bad situations, and I drive my husband bonkers with my “it could always be worse” scenarios. But there are times when I can’t hold my calm, positive demeanor and I temporarily break apart or snap. Sometimes it comes in the form of a long string of cuss words. Sometimes my eyes just frantically start spitting out tears. On rare occasions I’ll even throw something.

This new career in truck driving is fun for a lot of reasons – I get to see the country, spend a lot of time with Adam, get dirty and feel accomplished with what I do – to name a few. Thankfully the good parts of trucking still outweigh the bad by a lot. I hope it stays that way.

But the truth of this adventure: It’s hard.

For those of you that know me well, might find it hard to believe that I’ve cried my “happy” little self to sleep in the sleeper bunk on a few occasions. That, my friends, is a confession that I haven’t revealed to anyone. I don’t like the feelings I’m usually having when I get to that point – where I need a crying release in private. It’s almost always an equation of events + frustration = mini-breakdown.

I tend to hide my crying. It’s not because I feel ashamed, nor do I consider it as a weakness. I just don’t want people to feel sorry for me, and during those raw moments I don’t want the extra attention because it oftentimes makes me spin into an even bigger self-pity party. I want to cry, feel better, get over it and move on as quickly as possible. The attention somehow keeps me dwelling on it. So I try to let my tears fly in private. I do enjoy a good cry now and then, anyway. It releases toxins and stuff. Right?

There have been a few occassional stretches of what I started calling my “trucker blues.” I’ll temporarily feel sad, a little hopeless and things that would normally make me smile somehow plant alligator tears in my eyes. It’s kind of like a sporadic mini-depression. But soon after, I snap out of it and go back to my normal self – and I once again love this gig and all the crazy that goes with it.

In fact, even the stressful situations can bring out some good. For example, there was a delivery Adam and I had to make in downtown San Francisco last week, where it’s kind of scary to drive due to heavy traffic, tight turns, and many obstacles for a big rig to carefully navigate around – including pedestrians – in every direction. On this particular occasion we pulled up to our delivery location (with a plan to double-park on the street and meet a forklift driver that would quickly unload us right there) and we were met with a construction situation that wouldn’t allow us to unload.

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Downtown San Francisco.

A new plan was needed, and quick as traffic flowed around us. We decided to quickly route-plan to the only fuel station in San Francisco that was “truck-friendly” while we wait for further instructions from dispatch, but our maps took us there from a direction in which we couldn’t enter the parking lot. We had to keep driving past it while route-finding on the fly. This is much scarier than when you’re in a car – especially in San Francisco where there are so many places we simply won’t fit with this truck.

My point of this story is that Adam and I both stayed calm, worked together and came out with a feeling of pride from tackling a potentially stressful situation without incident.

What’s funny… well, not super funny… about that day was that it kind of went downhill from there and we later lost our cool for a bit, but I guess that kind of demonstrates the whole back-and-forth emotion and stress that makes this kind of hard sometimes. I might make it seem like it’s always puppies and rainbows out here with my uber-positivity, but that’s obviously not always the case (just like any job, really). It can be really frickin’ hard. It’s not always just the long hours, sleep struggles, getting dirty, bumped, bruised and missing family and friends, either. A lot of times it’s just the stress from unexpected little situations that snowball into one big crazy day that makes it hard. Like getting to your shipper an hour late, begging them to stay because it’s Friday and you don’t want to wait until Monday to load, paying them cash for their overtime to stay for you, then finding out your axle is overweight and you can’t get the load rearranged because the warehouse is closed down for the weekend. Yup… That’s when things get hairy again.

But then you make another new plan, cross your fingers and roll hoping everything else goes smoothly. And when it does, and when the week is done, you get home and take several deep breaths and prepare for the next trip out. Again with fingers crossed.

In between all of this there’s those mountains I adore, so many fantastic miles to cover, time to quiet my mind and think, listen to podcasts and audio books, hang out with Adam, and enjoy the fact that I’m in a different place every single day.

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Some of those mountains. These, in particular, are in Nevada.

I wanted adventure, and by definition I got myself into a doozie – that’s for sure!


Tonight I love boiled eggs.

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I love when the sky is so blue against the red rocks!

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A very damaged trailer on the road - being transferred, I believe. Not hauling anything. As if it could!

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Blue sky, puffy clouds, and miles of road. ♡

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Sunrise in California.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

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Of life and satisfaction.

Rachel and I have had the discussion a few times about how difficult it is to put into words and express how excited we are to have seen the opportunity to tackle the Pacific Crest Trail and actually make it a reality. I want to spill these exciting feelings I have all over this blog so you can all see it and soak some of it up. I want to share it and I want to spread it around, and the only way I can think to do that is to just let it bust out. At least try, a little bit. I don’t have it figured out, and not sure I ever will. It’s going to be a cluster of thoughts and excitement, I warn you. :)

I feel weird when all I write about is me and what I’m feeling, but this is what this post is about. It’s pretty much what this blog is about. I write about me and my experiences, and the number one reason I write is for me to remember later. Because the memory I have has never been something I can really trust. The second reason I write is because I’ve had people tell me they enjoy following my journeys. This motivates me to keep writing, so I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that support – because by following my journey, you are in a way helping me remember my past! Pretty trippy, hey!?

Anyway, this post is going to be all about me today, and I’m going to try to not be shy about it. Let me start by saying that I’M GOING TO THRU-HIKE THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL! I know you already know that, but I feel the need to scream and shout a little! I am really doing it!! I’m finally going to do another big hike!

I’m going to be one of those people that leave their 10-year office job – something so many dream of doing – and I’m going to do it. I’m going to jump off of this beaten path… this busy highway in life that I’ve never felt comfortable taking. I’m going to be happily homeless and jobless for a little while, and living a life of excitement and adventure. I don’t know for sure if the plan will work, but it doesn’t matter. Want to know why? Because I’m excited about not knowing. Either way, I’ll adjust. I’ll make it work. I’ll do what I have to do to get done what I have to get done… just like I always have. This all started with a plan my husband and I made, so we’re going to be sharing in this adventure together, we’re going to make it work together, and that is probably my very favorite thing about all of this. I feel lucky to have such awesome people in my life to make this all so much better. My #1, Adam; also Rachel, my bestest hiking buddy; my parents, family, friends; my readers… They (you) are all amazing. I feel happy. I feel brave, strong and ready. I’ve got a lot of good on my side. What is there really to fear?

I’ve daydreamed about doing something like this just about every single day, and most of those daydreams happened in a cubicle, at my desk – where I’ve spent most of my daytime in the past 10 years – how’s that for perspective! Yikes! For the last year, I played out in my head how I’d tell people of my plans, hoping they’d accept them. I’ve thought about how I’d give notice at work. I thought about taking breaks in the hot sun on a dusty trail. Climbing switchbacks up mountains. I thought about setting out that first day in the car with Adam. I’d look at him and smile, he’d smile back, and we’d drive away.

We’d drive away, but we’re not running from anything. We’re chasing dreams. Ever heard the song “Nature’s Law” by Embrace?

“You can run all your life, all mine I will chase.” (Embrace)

It’s one of my favorite songs, and one of those inspirational songs that have motivated me to keep trying to make something happen. I knew it would happen, eventually. Well, that time has come. It’s here, it’s real, and I’m more than ready. It’s running through my veins. It’s fueling my smile, and it’s making me glow.

The coolest part of all is that this isn’t it. I’ve got so much more than thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I’ve got today. Today is a good day. Tomorrow will be, too. And every day after that.

I love the fact that my biggest problems in life right now are all the things I want to do, and I’m not sure if I’ll have the time to do all of them. Here’s a quote that I love:

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I wish I could say this isn’t true. I wish I could say that I can, in fact, do everything — and that you can just watch my stubborn ass do it. But I can’t. It is the one reality I need to remind myself of. It doesn’t stop me from doing anything I want to do, but it does stop me from feeling totally and completely overwhelmed with the opportunities that this life holds for me. There are too many things I can do, and simply just too many options. I’m not giving up on climbing Mt. Everest someday. It will always be on my list. I just have to always adjust for the “now.” I can thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail now. One thing at a time, Robin. Focus. Try to focus.

Even when I’m out hiking and happy as I can be, I’ll still look across that mountain valley and see a beautiful mountain peak on the other side. I’ll be standing on an incredible trail with a breathtaking view, a breeze blowing across my face, the sun shining down on me, the giggle of friends coming up behind me, and what do I think? “I’d sure love to walk across that valley and climb that other mountain.” Then I turn my head and look back down the trail in front of me. “But I have to get over there, which is also cool.” Then I turn my head back to the other mountain across the valley, “But I’d still really love to climb that mountain, too. Maybe I will someday.”

And that’s what I mean. You could say I’m never going to be satisfied, and that’s the truth – but that doesn’t make me sad, and it doesn’t mean I’m not loving the moment I’m in. In fact, I’m learning more and more every day to embrace this “never satisfied” sensation. It’s what makes me… me. And you know what? I love that. There’s always going to be another mountain to climb. Always. That is a fact, and how can that NOT be exciting!

I think my biggest fear in life is feeling stuck. I never want to feel like I’m spinning my wheels and not moving forward. I have no regrets with anything I’ve been doing or have done in my past. I worked 10 years in an office and met some incredible people, doing something I really enjoyed. That was a great part of my life, and it helped me figure out what more I can do – it fueled me to work towards something more. Everything is a part of something, and I just finally took the chance to make a new, bold move so it could actually become something.

So here I go. I’m going to run as fast as I can, chasing satisfaction, knowing I’ll never catch it, arms flailing in the air, zigzagging back and forth, laughing hysterically, and never running out of steam because I have so much excitement built up in me. Momentum. My goal in life is to keep that going…

…even on my last day when my last words will be “I can’t wait to see what’s next.”

Let’s go. Let’s do this.

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Robin and Adam’s Big Adventure

The rumors are true. Adam and I are leaving Wisconsin and going on a lengthy adventure. We’re going to live differently. And we came up with a plan, in phases. We gave these phases names, as we do with many things, mostly for fun. We have a counter in our kitchen we call “Bob.” Because if there’s a piece of mail on that one counter… in the kitchen… by the microwave… it’s a lot easier to say, “It’s on Bob.” Our Montana vacation was called “GUS.” We had no specific reason for that name – it was Adam’s first reaction to my question, “What should we call our Montana trip?” He replied, “GUS.” So it was decided.

These next steps in our life are more than a vacation, they’re going to be much bigger. So we planned it out and named it in phases.

Phase 1. Betty. This is the name we gave phase 1 of our adventure because it sounded like a household name. Betty describes our living “normal,” as society would call it. Work during the week to earn a paycheck so we can pay rent and bills, watch sitcom reruns on TV at night, and enjoy benefits like health insurance and gym memberships. During the last half of the Betty phase, we moved to a small studio apartment, dropped cable and internet, got rid of “stuff” and began to pay down small debts and save, save, save. The original Betty for us was a grind and made us feel stuck. Thankfully we planned this phase to be temporary — change had to happen. So while we had to embrace Betty for a while, we worked on our escape plan. It was… I mean, IS an exciting escape plan that will fulfill dreams and keep us close. I can’t express how excited we are for phase 2.

Phase 2. Alexander Supertramp. If you’ve seen the movie “Into The Wild,” you’ll know where we got this name from. But we aren’t mirroring our plans or travels to Mr. McCandless’ grand adventure. We just thought the name was fitting.

Phase 2 naturally split into two parts.

The first part is where Adam and I road-trip around the country to visit some family and places, then travel to Washington and drive the west coast all the way south to the Mexican border. This first part of phase 2 will take approximately one month, maybe a bit more. We will live cheaply — sleeping in the car, at friends and relatives’ houses, campgrounds, hostels… with one splurge in Bozeman, MT, while most of our meals will be cooked on our camp stoves.

The second part is when our road trip will bring us to the end of our west-coast drive, ending near Campo, California, where I will touch the wall that divides the US from Mexico, put my loaded backpack on my back and take my first steps north on my thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Its a 2,650-mile journey through California, Oregon and Washington states and I will hike it all the way to Canada. This will take between 5 and 6 months, and somewhere roughly around 6 million steps. Adam will parallel this long hike by car and meet me along the way in towns to help with chores to keep me going. Resupply, laundry, blog updates, finding good food and places to get a shower. Once we reach Canada we will begin work on phase 3.

Phase 3. Mack. We’ll start this phase with some research so we can decide where I will go to school to earn my CDL to become a truck driver. Adam already has his CDL, so we will find a fitting company to work hard for and team-drive. I get a lot of interesting looks when I tell people about this part. I’ve worked in an office for over 10 years, doing a job that I honestly love, but why not dive into something you’ve always wondered about? For the adventure! Besides, it’s just another thing for me and Adam to check off of our dream list as a couple. And it seems like a good transition after living mobile along the PCT. We’ll just be living mobile in a new and exciting way while earning some dough. How awesome is that!?

Phase 4? We have lots of ideas and possible names for it. But we’ve got a few years of phase 3 to figure out the details. So first things first.

We’re excited and ready to begin. I hope you enjoy following this crazy journey. And it’s really okay if you think it’s crazy… because it kinda is. That’s just how we’re gonna roll. :)

This quote has been hanging in my cubicle for more than a year. It’s been a daily inspiration for me.

Don’t forget to add your email address to the right, at the top of the column. You can get an email notification whenever I post a new entry. Once I’m hiking, I’ll have a new post (with photos!) for every day, but they may come in bunches, as I’ll only be able to post when I get to towns with wi-fi and some interwebs for me to take advantage of.