The 50k is coming!

First of all, I’ll start with a happy update since my last post – my coolant tank has been holding coolant steadily at the “full” line! This is a big deal for Delores the Volvo! And me! I did have a couple of long waits at shops for a trailer light and a goofy situation getting a tire repaired this week, but that’s just truckin’. Always something. But at least it wasn’t coolant-related! Yay!

Ready to rock ‘n roll! Should I wear these insane shades for my race? Haha!

So on to the subject I popped on here to write about: My upcoming 50k race!

I just finished my peak week of training (at 44.8 miles! Holy moly! In one week! That’s a lot for me!!), which means the next two weeks are taper weeks, which means I run less and less leading up to race day, which is July 14th, which is 21 days away! My plan for the actual race week is to run zero miles and focus on sleep. Because… I’m tired.

So looking forward to this!

Runners generally talk about the difficulty of taper weeks – after all the training, it’s hard to just back off suddenly. And I get it, I really do. And I might find myself there once I’m deep into taper-ville. But right now? I don’t think that I’m going to have any issues with that – At – All. I’m just worn out and looking forward to the slow-down. (But I hear that’s what they all say.)

So I managed, so far, to stick to my wacky, flexible, truck-drivery, homemade 50k training schedule, without missing a beat, for 14 whole weeks! When I look back on that, and all the places I’ve run to make this shit happen? That’s craziness! But, because of my perfection-ish obsessiveness, I feel ready to run those 31 miles. I think it’s going to go just fine and be really fun – I mean, as long as I don’t have a major bonk day, which could happen, and dangit, I’m due for my lovely period that very day (not awesome, universe). But then again, that’s never held me back before. So whatever!

135.8 miles in these last four weeks! And my legs feel good!

The race: The 50k I’m signed up for is called Dances With Dirt at beautiful Devil’s Lake State Park, which is just north of Madison, WI. Definitely check it out! There’s bluffs, a lake, forest, and apparently, dirt – and in addition to the 50k that I’m signed up for, there’s also a 10k, half marathon, full marathon and a 50-mile event, so there should be lots of fun trail people hanging out. I’m really excited to dive into the ultrarunning culture and meet some other crazy-awesome people – I hear so many great things! And? I’ve heard ultras referred to as eating events with some running. Yeah, I think I’m going to really like this stuff.

But. A big but. That 50 miler is one short month after this 50k, and while I’m trying to stay focused on one race at a time, I do know after seeing some online videos, that the Marquette Trail 50 is tough. Like, seriously, there’s a good chance I could just not be quick enough and get pulled from the race for missing a cutoff time. So I can’t help but have this in the back of my mind, too. I’m going to give it my best shot, you can bet on that! And, 50 miles feels crew-worthy, so Adam is probably going to be my guy! He’s gonna feed me, fill my water, and kick my butt back out on the trail from the aid stations when I want to linger. So that’s going to be yet another whole new (awesome) experience.

And why all this? The very original idea was to run a 100-miler in 2019 – because I’ll be turning 40. I mean, why not? Reasonable. Right? Haha! Nope. Not at all. But that’s how I roll. We’ll see what I say after hopefully crawling to a finish at the 50 miler. And the 50k. First things first! I gotta focus!

Maybe I will have a tough time tapering! I’m pretty wound up!

Tonight I love the Ten Junk Miles podcast. They really kept me great company on a lot of my runs. Thanks, guys. ❤️

A funny sweat story:

A few weeks ago I went for a run and was laughing at myself when I got back to the car because, well, this! Sweat patterns can be so weird!

Then tonight, I took my shirt off to change, and… this! Oops! I did it again! Didn’t realize I chose the same bra/shirt combo. And there were a LOT of people on that rec trail! Probably gave ’em all a good chuckle. 🤣

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Work Run Repeat

I need a vacation soon. This has been a trying week, but mostly because it started out with needing a new radiator last-minute, totally throwing off any sort of schedule that I can never really count on, anyway. Here’s what happens: I plan, plan, plan. Then it changes. But, that’s just trucking. Heck, that’s life. So… I’ve got a delivery 1,200 miles from home, and my trailer will be ready at 2pm. I’ve got it all figured out, so I get up a little later than normal and head to town with my duffel of clothes, clean dishes and a huge tote full of healthy food for my fridge. I know it’ll all just barely fit in there, too. It’s a small fridge, but bigger compared to the fridges I’ve seen in most other trucks. It’s one of the features of this truck I really love. Anyway, fridge-lovin’ aside, I get to my truck, toss in my stuff and pop open the hood right away. It’s Tuesday and the shop where I park is still open. I always like to do my pre-trip as soon as I can just in case something is a little off. That way there might be time to have them take a quick peek. Usually all is well, and I move on with my planned day. Not today.

Turns out my radiator is cracked. After all was said and done, I was set back a precious 7 hours (but better than the two days if they hadn’t had the parts – silver lining?) and I was on my way – only to have to make another pit stop in Milwaukee to have a hose clamp adjusted and my coolant topped off again. Because almost all of it leaked out, setting off my red-blinky-noisy-scary stop-alarm on my dashboard. And after that was all taken care of, I had to wiggle this beast of a vehicle through a construction-peppered downtown Milwaukee at night. That was fun. Well, no, it wasn’t fun, it was sketchy. But I made it unscathed. Sometimes I look back on stuff like that and wonder how. How did I even?

So, yeah. It’s been a stressful week. Adam’s still out west, and in order to not miss him I’ve been trying to not think about him (he’s so busy with the movie set that we’ve hardly talked -at all – mostly just some text messages here and there).

In Oregon getting beardy and doing movie things!

It’s impossible not to think about him, as it turns out, but the working and running has kept me busy enough, I guess. But I’m feeling a little disconnected from him. And a little blue. I know once we see each other those feelings of disconnect will dissolve and we’ll be back to normal in no time, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t wearing on me a little bit.

And I’m thinking more and more about using a week of my vacation to, I dunno, do nothing? I want to hike and visit friends and visit family and catch up with people I love and camp and sleep and eat ice cream and float down rivers and sit in front of bonfires and go for long runs and see more friends and more family and catch up some more and sleep more and hike a really long trail for like 8 months. But I have a week. When? What? Vacation is even stressing me out right now. What’s my best use of a week off? When should I take it? Who do I see? Where do I go? How do I do everything all at once? I need to do all the things and immerse myself in the company of all my people!! Because I miss everyone so hard! Ugh. Guess I’ll just keep working. It’s too much to think about.

I do have two events coming up that I’m looking forward to, though. Just weekend deals, as of now… And it’s races! It’s been forever since I’ve done a race, and I’m pretty excited, actually. I signed up for a 50K (31 miles) in July, and a 50-MILE race that’s in August, because apparently I’m officially crazy. I was on the wait list for the 50-miler and honestly didn’t know if I’d get in, so I kind of put it out of mind and focused on my 50k – that one was a for-sure thing. So I came up with a very flexible training plan about 2 months ago and got to work on it.

Because of my job, I did get the opportunity to do a couple of “runs” in the mountains. Which thoroughly kicked my arse.

Training for an ultra race is hard as a truck driver. Mostly because finding time and places to run is exhausting. Also because if I’m not running, I’m sitting. Driving. A lot. And my legs get twitchy and need to stretch and move. Whenever I’m home I get in a longer run, and on the road I try to get in two our three shorter runs and some body-weight strength workouts in where I can. And, lately, headstand attempts, which I’m terrible at.

Headstand in the truck! Getting there, but still pretty horrible at them!

I’ve somehow managed to keep up with my plan so far, but it’s kind of tiring me out, and I’m trying to take it easy this week – and already looking for the next chance I’ll have to run. Tomorrow, I think. If there’s a safe place to run from wherever I park my truck. Sigh… Turns out actually running is the easy part of this. Who would’ve thought?

Oh. And then suddenly? I’m #2 on the wait list for that 50-miler! So chances are pretty good I’m going to get in. And now I’m kind of freaking out. My last 20-mile run was a beatdown, and I’m already nervous about my last long training run (25 miles) and my 50k race. Can I even DO 50 miles? Yes. I can. It’s going to probably hurt – really bad – but I can do it. Right?

I keep thinking about the Frozen Otter. I’ve done that twice, and it’s 64 miles. But it’s also a winter race, which really is a whole different beast. And I had 24 hours to do that one – it was probably mostly hiking and some running. These races are going to have shorter time cutoffs and I hope more running than hiking. And a lot more sweating. I’m a total noob when it comes to ultrarunning. So I’m definitely learning as I go, and we’ll see how it turns out. I’m really just winging this thing.

As of right now, my confidence obviously isn’t super-high, but I’m just going to keep plugging away and try to focus on the 50k for now. That’s on July 14. One month away. 50k. Focus.

One of my fave photos from a mountain run in Missoula, MT at the top of Mt. Jumbo. Loved this run!

But even before that, this cup of hot decaf coffee while these guys finish unloading my trailer. Then I drive towards Boston, and then towards home where I can start another crazy week all over again. But hopefully this time a good long run and no new parts will be needed on my truck. Fingers crossed.

Tonight I love seeing my coolant tank full. I really do.

That’s a nice thing right there. A full coolant reservoir!

PCTing, working, running

My view as I write. Trucks…

I thought it would be a good time to start another update on Adam’s PCT hike and what’s up on my end – because I had kind of a hard day yesterday. And because I’m sitting at a Safeway Distribution Center, waiting to get unloaded, and from past experience, I think that I’m going to be here a while. So I also have time.

After Adam’s crazy long day and on-trail zero in the rain, he got up the next day aged 40 instead of 39. It was his birthday. His 40th birthday! He had, I think, about 10 miles to go and he’d be in the town of Idyllwild. He was taking a PCT alternate to avoid a recent burn area, and the trail dropped him right in town. I think his original plan was to just get about halfway there and camp, then get into town the next day. But then he just hiked the whole way and got there that day! It hasn’t taken him long to fit right into the thru-hiker mold. Food and town and beds and showers and flush toilets and running water? They call at you hard when you’re on the trail, and when you’re *that* close to all those wonderful luxuries, you just hoof it. I’d say he’s gettin’ good at this hiking thing!

He did have to hike through some cold drizzly crud! Check out that snot!

Anyway, he made a pit stop at a campground along his route to town that morning, and sent me a text all excited because it had flush toilets! I responded what a nice birthday present for him! Flushies!

Break time at a campground en route to Idyllwild.

Once in town he got a room for two nights, with the plan to take a full zero and rest – and celebrate his birthday, because why wouldn’t he? It sounds like he ate food, found a good coffee shop (that also had heavy cream!), an outdoor store, got a room at a hotel that did his laundry for him (!!), and discovered since it was a weekend, there was live music around town. He landed himself at a place he thought had live music… His FB post said this:

“Oh snap! They’ve got a Jukebox here! Also, that live music I mentioned? I just found out it’s going to be provided by ME… Karaoke here at 8.”

Um, could his birthday turn out any more perfect? Karaoke is only like one of his favorite things ever! He even posted a few videos of his songs. Here’s one:

Before he left town, he stopped at the outdoor store and picked up a pair of Kahtoola microspikes for his shoes – in case Fuller Ridge was icy. Probably a pretty good idea. Especially after that podcast story I heard. Remember from my last blog entry? That girl? Who took a wrong step and slid down the mountainside, only to stop herself on a tree? I’m all in favor of those microspikes! They’ll also come in handy in the Sierra since it’s all full of snow now, too.

Some of his town booty.

Oh, and that reminds me… So Adam commented after my last blog post, “I love how you thought I didn’t know how bad you were freaking out. It was like when you have a good cribbage hand.” Yeah, it’s true. I get the biggest, stupidest smile on my face when I’ve got a good “barn-burner” of a cribbage hand. I can’t turn that off. And besides, after almost 17 years of marriage, I suppose he knows me pretty well. I really did think I was hiding it pretty well, though! I tried. I never have been a good actor.

On my end, after getting home after dropping Adam off in California, I had a weekend at home. I was crazy busy with getting some things caught up that we fell behind on in our hurry to get him ready to go last-minute. For example? Two hours of washing dishes. Ugh. I also checked off about 10 big things on a to-do list, including finalizing our tax return, going over our budget and bills and going for a 10-mile run! Among others! Hopefully my other weekends won’t feel so busy. This is taking some getting used to!

Me at the start of my 10-miler. Running is going to keep me sane. I think.

Then I went back out on the road with a load going to Colorado. Everything was going okay. Well, besides picking up my already loaded trailer with a low tire and a disconnected ABS light (thanks, previous driver, whoever you are! Grrrr!). I plugged the ABS light back in, and of course it was lit, so I had to make a stop at a shop to have them look at it. They cleaned out the connections and sent me on my way. Then it came back on and I stopped at another shop where they hooked it up, said something about a poorly spliced wire. He messed with it a little and sent me on my way. The light was out… For a little while, then it came back on again. I give up. The low tire? That turned out to be an easy one. I hooked up my fancy airline tire filler thing. It’s a hose that you hook to the airline of your tractor and you can use it to fill a tire. It was missing a valve stem cover, too, so I filled the tire, put on a new valve stem cover, and it’s held air ever since. Rough start, kind of a rough trip, and then I got to Denver and sat.

Hanging out way too long in my truck…

That brings me to yesterday. I had some extra time on this trip (which was good since I had to stop twice for the ABS light!), and my plan was to get a parking spot about 5 miles from my delivery at a Denver truck stop. No problem except that these truck stops are nearly always full. I planned to arrive in the morning, giving me the best shot at a spot. I arrived around 11am and the first truck stop was full, so I went to one on the other side of the highway and found a reserve spot for $14. I took it and shut down for the rest of the day – my delivery wasn’t until 7am the next morning.

I planned to take care of a few work chores, trip plan, do a quick workout, and then I was free to lay around and watch some Netflix. I thought it would be perfect. I did all those things and even took a nap, but I got a little stir crazy. I should have gotten out of the truck. All my fantasies of having time to lay around in my truck and just chill were not all they were cracked up to be. I need stay busier than that. I watched a show that had a girl that went to an underground wrestling match with a guy-friend and had a great time and it reminded me of when Adam got me to go to a WWE show with him and it was super-fun (they had giant beers, which helped), and it all just made me miss him.

Then he called and was heading out into the perfect, amazing wilderness in good spirits and I was just sitting in my stale truck being super sad, trying to hide it, but knowing this time that I was totally failing at it. It was hard. But after talking to him for a while, thankfully I cheered up a little bit. He has been so happy lately, and I can’t help but to eventually soak that up and be happy with him.

So I realized, that not only because I’m an active person, but also because Adam is so far away, I cannot just sit around for very long or I will go crazy. I start to miss him really bad, I start to think about how badly I’d love to be out there with him, or trade places with him, or just be anywhere else than where I am at that moment, really. You know, feeling sorry for myself in Sulk-ville.

But then, I eventually realize how amazing this all is, I refocus and keep moving forward, excited about what will happen next. Where will he be? Where will I be? Who knows! It’s a pretty exciting life right now!

Oh! An Aloha side story, before I forget! Aloha got “Aloha’d!” He got what he referred to as his “first unsolicited trail magic!” He was walking out of town on a curvy, paved road with lots of traffic and not a great shoulder when a lady pulled over and offered to give him a ride to where his route turns into a less-busy dirt jeep road. So he took the ride! Then she offered to take his trash, give him water… But he just came from town so he was all set. He could tell she just wanted to do something nice for him, and as she grabbed her pack of American Spirits, she asked him if he smoked. He told her he didn’t, but then she got this excited look on her face and asked, “weed?” Adam explained that he’s never smoked it before but wasn’t opposed to the idea. So she handed him a small bag of weed! Funniest thing ever! He’s in a state where it’s legal, so why not, right!? Haha! I don’t know if or when he’ll try it, but if he does, and doesn’t mind, I’ll let you all know how it goes! Weed! For his first trail magic! What a lucky guy, hey!? Too funny!

Just heading out… Must. Devour. Giant. Burrito. First.

On another not-as-exciting note in the story of my life, I got through a whole, successful week of 50k trail race training. My race is in mid-July, so I came up with a loose, flexible training plan. I’m actually on week 3, but the first two weeks were totally shot because that was when I was bringing Adam out to California, and I opted to trade in my training time for extra cuddles, cribbage and quality time with him (worth it!). Anyway, once I dropped him off, I jumped in on week 3 and finished it feeling pretty strong. I ran four times, my long run being a 10-miler, and all of them in my Bedrock sandals (which I’m hoping I can be ready to run the race in). So far, so good. I want to write more about that, too, so hopefully it’s not too dreadfully boring!

Cold, wet, socks and Bedrock sandals. Because that’s how I roll.

Right now, I imagine Adam is still sleeping snugly in his sleeping bag after a spooky night of twig-snapping and bear-sized squirrels stalking his little tent. He saw a coyote or something (hopefully not a kitty) right before going to bed, so he was a bit spooked. And me? Still sitting in the same dock, waiting for these lumpers (that’s what the guys unloading me are called. I have no idea why) finish taking all 40,000+ pounds of cheese out of my trailer.

Then? Onward.

Tonight I love feeling caught up on sleep. Been a while.

A taste of Adam’s amazing writing talent (this was a post he shared on FB):

[Narrated by David Attenborough]

The North American Leaning Hikertrash Tree. For those lucky enough to find its fruit, the nourishment provided can propel a backpacker to the next town or road crossing. Often when the fruit is visible, not far off are the trashpods, which birth backpackers in the morning, and the newborns pluck the fruit from the tree, carrying what they cannot eat in the versatile pouch along their spine.

Night hiking views!

The lobby of his hotel in Idyllwild. Cozy!

Foot pic! Not looking too bad so far!

I love this photo so much. I mean, I’m already attracted to him… Then he goes all thru-hiker on me! 😍

Town fooooood!

A pretty photo of the scenery coming down from Spitler Peak, I believe. Looks like rain!

Scary aftermath from a tick bite. (Which is already going away and he’s already thoroughly consulted with his sister who is a nurse, so try not to worry! He should be just fine.)

Another great Aloha selfie. 😊

Life out of order: becoming a solo trucker. 

Broken, but on the mend… an explanation.

What the hell is happening? How can life turn upside down and twist around so easily and why does it all have to happen so fast? Why is this so hard? Why does my head hurt, and why am I so tired from all of it? Why do I have to feel all of the things all at once? Frustration. Sadness. Excitement! Fear! Anxiety. Anger. Helplessness. Nervousness. Worry. Can I pause this show? Or, wait. Fast-forward? Where the hell is my backpack because I’m getting the hell out of here. No, I’m actually not getting the hell out of here, but damn, I sure wish I was. Fight the flight, Robin. Fight it. Fight. Fight. Fight. I always fight the flight. One of these days, though, I swear.

So really. What the hell IS going on? Three things broke in this order: Adam. Our GPS. Our windshield. None of them on purpose. But then, very intentionally, Adam grabbed on to the one piece of control he had left and made the decision right there to quit his job. As it turns out, trucking is full of depression and anxiety triggers for him (he’s had some pretty awful past experiences in the industry, unfortunately). So once the honeymoon phase of our new team driving adventure faded a little bit, an uphill battle ensued. He soldiered through as long as he could with persistence and courage, but inevitably reached a limit and it was over. Just like that. It had to be. It was the one, final thing he could do that was solely his decision and felt final. Forward movement. Quitting would hopefully force enough of a change to encourage the healing of a pretty unbalanced mind… So this really has been a long time coming. We’ve known it, and we’ve been hiding behind it for too long. The volcano’s been a’stewin’ for a while and it’s finally erupted.

We’ve had a few blue days out there on the [still beautiful] lonely road…

So what next? First and foremost, Adam takes a pause to rest an exhausted mind, soul, and self. Mental illness is a tricky beast – if you break an arm everybody understands. “Ouch, that probably really hurt! Brace it, rest it, don’t use it for a while.” But break your mind and everybody’s all like, “suck it up, buttercup!” But a broken mind needs rest and time, too. He is going to need to take care of himself here, so that is our #1 focus. He needs to take the time he needs – however long that is – to regain his strength and begin on that path toward healing – this has to happen at his own pace. He’s feeling drastically unbalanced at the moment – and I would add a bit fragile, too. So this is just going to take time.

In the meantime, I drive solo. This is something I wanted to eventually try – but Adam’s decision to quit just catapulted us into this change sooner than we’d planned. Life just happens out of order sometimes, I guess. Thankfully I’ve found myself really enjoying this crazy job, so I’m going to stick with it for a while on my own and see how it goes. But going solo? It’s a little scary. I’m going to find out really quick all the little things I’ve been leaning on Adam for as team drivers. But to my advantage, the big things should be covered. We’ve always run our team in such a way that I could do the job on my own if needed, which is just how I like to roll. It’s an independence thing. And, well? Good thing, because here we go…  

I’m actually writing this in the middle of my first solo run, so all of this stuff is happening – these changes are already in motion. These past few weeks haven’t been easy, stress levels have been high and I’m mentally exhausted – and fighting my own little burnout. Taking a break from social media during all of this was a result of that. It was a way for me conserve a little energy by withdrawing from the world – and frankly I didn’t know what else to do. I was scared. I didn’t have the time or energy to explain everything so I chose to shut down. I lowered my head and pushed on as best I could in a pretty lonely state. But I’m finally feeling ready to join the world again – and I’m doing that with this very blog post. It’s a start for me to feel like I’m sort of getting back to normal. It’s also a way to avoid vague-booking (which is a huge pet peeve of mine). I didn’t want to be all like “OMG, people! Big changes!” on Facebook and leave it there for everyone to wonder and jump to conclusions. I thought I’d just spill it all at once and get it over with.

So I guess the thing to take away is this: Change is happening, like it always does. We’re scared, but determined. We may no longer be team truck drivers, but we’re still a team in life and love, and we’ve been together for-frickin-ever – that gives us a pretty solid foundation to work off of, and we’re going to stand on that. We’re hoping we’re through the worst of it and on our way back up. 

So, well, thanks for listening. If we seem disconnected or withdrawn, just know that we still love all of you – our friends, family, followers. We just need some time. 

Tonight I love… a quiet mind.

A near rollover, video-style. 

When I started truck driving, I kinda thought I’d see more car accidents. Not that I wanted to, of course, but I just figured with the large amount of time I’d be spending on the road, it seemed as though my chances were much greater for witnessing more crashes. But I haven’t, really. I usually show up to most wrecks after emergency vehicles have already arrived and things are being taken care of. I’ve driven past a few that had JUST happened, but other witnesses were already assisting, emergency vehicles were on the way, and since I didn’t see any of it happen or wasn’t involved, I’d just slow way down, pay attention to the road and drive on.  

I did witness one very minor accident in Chicago where a car lost control and side-swiped another car. They both pulled off to the shoulder, and since I witnessed it and knew I’d have footage on my dash cam, I pulled over – Adam was up with me, so he jumped out right away to make sure both drivers were okay. They were fine and already calling the authorities. We ended up moving on.  

But recently I got really, REALLY close to witnessing what would have been a terrible rollover. It was a couple of weeks ago. It was about 3:20am and I was cruising along the I-694 bypass in Minneapolis. I was driving 60mph, which was the speed limit along that stretch, and noticed a vehicle coming up alongside my truck pretty fast on the left, passing me. Then I saw his lights get a little too close for comfort, so I reacted by slowing down and moving onto the shoulder a little bit. Even with slowing down and moving over he still almost clipped my front end as he cut in front of me.  

I kept an eye on him after he passed, and things got crazy shortly thereafter. Watch the video I pulled from our dash cam! You may want to pull it up full-screen, and wait at the end – I zoom in and replay it in slow-motion. 

 

After he passed me, I watched him swerve around, and then he started fishtailing. At first, it was really short, tight fishtailing. I slowed down again, and that’s when he really started to swing back and forth.  

It’s amazing how many thoughts can run through your head in such a short amount of time. This same week, I came close to hitting a deer. He started walking out in front of me, and I started braking, but I had to strategically brake so I didn’t lose control of the truck. I also happened to be changing lanes after passing by a weigh station, so I was also making sure I kept my line of travel and didn’t swerve. It was raining, so the roads were wet. All these things were processing in my mind, and on top of those decisions going on, I clearly remember thinking, “I’m going to hit this deer. There’s no other traffic around me. There’s a good shoulder here I can pull off on. I’ll have to get out and check out the damage it caused. Then I’ll have to call safety…” And just then, the deer looked up at me and ran. I missed him by what seemed like inches. After my heart rate slowed down a little bit, I still couldn’t believe that I was already in action-mode, taking care of business. It was like two seconds! 

So as this driver in the video started to fishtail, I was already throwing on my four-ways and pulling off to the shoulder because I was certain I’d be calling 911 to report an accident while running out to check on the driver. I was scared.  

I remember saying over and over as it was happening, “Oh God, Oh God.” Adam had just gone to bed, and he felt me slow down and move over, and then he heard my panicked-sounding chant along with the pickup driver’s squeeling tires. He asked if everything was okay, and I just said, “not really” and continued to explain to him what I just saw.  

I tried to get the vehicle’s license plate number, but he was too far ahead by then – he hadn’t stopped! When he finally did stop, he pulled into an off-ramp and drove up onto the curb. Another car also saw what happened, and they pulled off behind him. I was thankful someone else saw it and was able to pull over, because at that point there was no longer a safe place for me to pull over.  

I was still moving slowly with my emergency flashers on, and just as I was approaching where he nearly crashed, I looked in my mirror and saw a police car come flying down the on ramp behind me with his lights on! I thought, “great! He saw it all happen, and he’ll check on this driver!” Then he flew right past the whole situation. Obviously he missed it and was off on some other call.  

It was crazy, and one of the scarier things I’ve seen while on the road. I’m so very thankful he somehow – miraculously – kept that pickup under control. I don’t know what happened. Given the time of night, my first assumption was that he was drunk, but it could’ve been a health issue – a seizure, a heart attack -or  maybe even a mechanical issue with his vehicle or something. But… It’s hard not to jump to the conclusion that this was alcohol and/or drug related. But who knows. Either way, it’s a good reminder – don’t drink and drive, people! 

All I can say is this dude got damn lucky. That, or he’s a Hollywood stunt driver. But I’m leaning towards the luck theory.  


Tonight I love designated drivers. If you can’t find one, be one. :)

A really bad day and a winter shut-down

Winter is kicking our butt this year!

Picture this scenerio: Two truck drivers, doing the best they can to keep their wits in poor weather, are pulled over in a designated pull-off of a two-lane, winding mountain road to let a line of cars go by. When they try to head out they find themselves stuck with tires spinning – on a cold, lonely mountain pass. After several attempts and strategies out of their situation, frustration and worry begin to surface. As if that wasn’t enough, the passenger-side window shatters after shutting the door with the window half down. All they can do is just stand there, staring at each other in disbelief from their bad luck. Feeling totally worn and defeated, they stare into the snow-turned-freezing pouring rain for a few seconds. The truck is stuck and freshly-broken window glass is spewn about. All they can think is, “is this really happening right now?”

Most trips go pretty smoothly with not much to talk about. Then some – well, like this one – leave you with a story to tell. These trips test your patience, character, ability to make decisions, knowledge, and simply whether or not you can hold yourself together. Which really, in the end, you have no choice in the matter. You just gotta do what needs to be done. But it sure isn’t fun.  

It started before we even left. Our route to Portland, Oregon from Wisconsin would normally take us through North Dakota, but a blizzard came through, shutting down most of our route along I-94. We took a slow-going alternate route through Wisconsin, dipping us down toward I-90 through South Dakota instead. This put us a little behind our normal schedule, but that was okay. One blizzard bypassed? Success, I suppose. 

Not a great outlook. Red is closed, red/white is not advised.

We confidently cruised through rain and snow flurries in Montana and Idaho. Then we crossed the Columbia River gorge from Washington state into Oregon. It was like someone turned on a light switch, only it was a blizzard switch. We found ourselves in a world of white, falling and blowing snow. After a couple of hours of poorly-maintained roads a sign told us we had to stop and chain up. We pulled out our tire socks, installed them and head back out. I went back to bed as Adam slogged along at 20mph in the snow storm. We finally, but safely, arrived to our pre-paid reserved truck parking spot at 11 pm. We made it through another nasty blizzard. 

Chain restriction on I-84. On go the socks!

Then came the ice. The next morning we planned to walk over to the restaurant for breakfast. We stepped out of the truck onto a glassy, reflective sheet of solid, thick ice that covered the entire parking lot. And every truck. And every branch of every tree. Every… thing. We literally shuffled our feet by inches to make our way across the lot for breakfast, then slowly head out into those elements to our delivery. At our delivery, the ice-covered lot made it pretty tough to back into our dock. I kept trying to pull up to the right, but the tractor would just slide to the left. Finally after about ten attempts I got backed in, all while a couple of forklift drivers looked on, entertained. I was tempted to install our tire socks on my steer tires just to get backed in… I was close! 

Just a little ice.

After that I took a deep breath and head south to a second delivery a couple of hours away, and got a break from the ice. The temperature rose and it poured rain, but it wasn’t icy! Unfortunately we had to head back right into it for our pickup in Tillamook, Oregon. This trip is normally a beautiful drive along a winding, two-lane mountainous road in the Cascade mountain range. 

That’s when our bad luck started to pile up. Already working on spent nerves, we made our way up the pass. It wasn’t long before the rain on our windshield started to splatter. It was starting to snow, and as we slowed down, a line of cars built up behind us, impatient and wanting to pass. It’s common courtesy and sometimes law to pull over if possible to let others by. So we did. We pulled off on a pullout designed for these sorts of things. This one, in particular, was covered in snow but looked pretty solid. We sat and let the cars go by, taking advantage of being stopped to breathe, gather ourselves, and discuss and prepare for the night’s uncertain weather that lay ahead. 

When we were ready to go, Adam released the brakes, lightly pressed the fuel pedal, up went the rpms, but nothing. We weren’t moving. It was a classic case of warm tires on cold snow. The tires get warm from driving on the road, and when you stop, those warm tires melt through the snow, and when it’s cold enough, that melt freezes, and there you sit. Aaaand so there we sat. We were basically stuck with each individual tire in its very own icy hole… spinning. 

First we pulled out our handy collapsible shovel and shoveled the snow out from under each drive tire. Nothing. Then we tossed kitty litter under each tire. Nothing. More shoveling, more kitty litter, nothing. We rocked and rocked and shoveled and kitty-littered… Still nothing. I grabbed a couple of tire socks and tucked them under a couple of the tires. The tires grabbed them! But then spit them right out the other side. No go. 

I started to worry, and we were getting frustrated. We were cold, muddy and wet from the sloppy snow/rain that was coming down. I stepped back into the truck to grab another set of tire socks, with the new plan of trying to install them onto the tires that weren’t going anywhere. That’s when Adam closed the passenger-side door. We had the window halfway down so it kept out most of the rain, but so we could still hear each other while trying to get unstuck. The door banged shut, with an eerie simultaneous, “crash!” I turned to see what happened and saw the passenger seat full of shattered glass. My heart immediately sank to my stomach. Is this really happening right now? I felt like we were stuck in some kind of lucid nightmare. 

In an effort not to lose it myself and run off into the snowy forest screaming and crying, I just kept going the only way I could. I got out of the truck right away, walked over to Adam, hugged him tight and said, “we’re just having a really bad day. But we’re going to be okay.” We stood there in what was now pouring rain, hugging, and just for a single minute gave up and didn’t care that the truck was still stuck, and now our passenger-side window was gone. 

After letting ourselves just be in our craptastic moment, we continued on with the task of getting the truck moving. I got a couple of tire socks halfway on, and with some tricky rocking of the truck, Adam finally got it moving forward. I quickly gathered our tire socks, shovel, and kitty litter into my arms, jumped in the truck, and off we went. I wore my jacket, hat and gloves the last 30 miles to our destination to thwart off the cold coming in through the broken window, and thankfully the rain mostly stayed out. 

We made it to our shipper, and while we waited for an open dock we started to deal with the window situation. We gave our awesome maintenance guy a call, and he got us going on a plan. He talked us through how to rig up a temporary window using clear plastic and Gorilla tape, while he called to see if there was a place nearby that had the window we needed. Trying to get the plastic and tape to stick to the wet truck while it poured rain was quite tricky, but we worked fast and managed to patch something together – but it was most certainly temporary. Thankfully there was a place in Portland that had a window – and they were open until midnight! Now we just had to get our trailer loaded and get back over the same pass in the declining weather before they closed! 

Makeshift window. Not an easy task in the pouring rain.

We arrived at the service garage with a few hours to spare. We dropped our truck off, and got a ride to a nearby hotel where we took hot showers to rid our bones of the wet chill we’d been fighting, and went right to bed. The next morning we picked up our truck with the plan of finally heading home. 

Nope. We weren’t done yet! I-84 eastbound (our route home) was closed down because of not only poor road conditions, but also to clear up some accidents that had occurred due to the roads being slippery. Maybe it was a good thing that we weren’t able to head into that the night before. Did our broken window save us from that mess? Who knows. Maybe we wouldn’t have gone anyway. 

Enough of this!

In an effort to keep moving, we head north toward Seattle to catch I-90, avoiding the whole closed I-84 mess. About 10 miles out we realized chain laws were in effect over Snoqualmie Pass. We pulled off at a rest area and made a call to our after-hours dispatcher (it is now Saturday). Our company is always totally supportive of our comfort zone when it comes to driving in adverse weather conditions, and with no question, the decision to try the alternate route or go back and shut down was totally up to us. We turned back. Heading up to a chain-restricted mountain pass sounded a little too nerve-wracking and dangerous. 
Will this week ever end? Keeping fingers crossed! 

About says it!

Tonight I love summer. 

Let’s play catch up!

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Bonneville salt flats, Utah. Always beautiful.

I miss you, bloggity blog and faithful readers/friends! I am happy to be back. I don’t know why I go in these streaks where I just don’t write. Busy? Lazy? Bored? I don’t know. But I’m still here and the trucking adventure continues to continue. In between driving, inspecting, backing, loading, unloading, fueling, securing, logging, sleeping, eating, and more driving, other things have been happening, too.

Let’s see. A little catch up. I started running again, which has been a great experience, except that I got a little too excited about it and maybe did a little too much a little too soon. I’m currently nursing a sore hip, which I think is a strained IT band – some muscle and tissue that stretches from your hip down the outside of your leg and kind of wraps underneath the bottom of your knee, connecting to the shin bone. I’m no expert, so I may have that screwed up (experts, please correct me if I’m way off on that).

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A run in North Dakota to visit Salem Sue, the world's largest Holstein Cow.

You see, the excitement started with my discovering a friendly Facebook page for truckers that are runners, like me. There are some obvious challenges to being an over-the-road trucker that needs to find places to run that are safe – from traffic and creepers. I mean, I’m not going to run just anywhere because I don’t want to end up in ghetto-ville. Unless I’m carrying my three-pound hammer/tire thumper. And I’m not going to run carrying a three-pound anything. Running is tough enough!

So anyway, this Facebook community has shown me a few routes already that I’ve taken advantage of. There’s a trail in Utah where I can park on a ramp and run up part of a mountain where it smells like juniper trees and fresh air.

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Utah

There’s a park in Evanston that has trails that wind along a river where wild moose are known to roam, and I hope to see sometime I’m out there. And there’s a 1.8-mile trail in that leads to the Arizona Trail, which is an 800-mile long-distance hiking trail that stretches the length of Arizona from north to south. My favorite!

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Can't wait to get back out here again!

So I got excited and I ran as much as I could when I got any opportunity, since they’re hard to come by. Then I did some speed work when I was short on time. Then my hip hurt. Now I’m taking time off and I miss it already. So there’s that. I hope to be back up and literally running soon.

We’ve also had a little time off. In early February we took a weekend so I could join my group of girlfriends for our annual “Big Box Tour,” which is a name we’ve given our girl’s weekend.

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Girls eating yummy paella and drinking wine.

We’re pretty low-key. We hang out, catch up, eat, drink, talk about getting old, act childish, cuss, laugh, shop, play, and just have fun together. This year we went tubing, colored in an adult coloring book of swear words, ate paella, enchiladas, and morning egg-bake, watched TV, compared ourselves to the Golden Girls, and suffered from Poo-pourri poisoning and gut-blasting laughter. I love those girls, and our annual get-together is especially important to me now that I don’t see them as regularly as I did when I worked with most of them.

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Tubing fun!

In March Adam and I took a full week off and rented a very cabin-y cabin in Door County.

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Super cabiny cabin!

Some highlights were wine tasting, having a campfire in the fire pit outside, couples massages, dressing up and going out for a fancy dinner, driving to the tip of Door County and back, getting snowed in for a day and hunkering down, playing lots of cribbage, having our own private basement frat-style party complete with drinking games, enjoying a shower every day, and taking advantage of the kitchen. Adam made tons of delicious french-pressed decaf coffee, omelettes, and even pork egg roll patties – a new favorite of mine. On his birthday I baked him a butter cake in a bundt pan and it actually turned out really freakin’ perfect. It was a great vacation and very relaxing. Door County is pretty quiet in late March and a lot of businesses are closed for the winter season, but we enjoyed the quietness of it all. That place gets nuts in the summer and fall with the touristy seasons. We’d do it the same way again. March is more our speed.

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Adam enjoying some wine tasting.

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The butter cake I baked!

Other than those few things, I’ve gone on a couple of day hikes. One was in January on a snowy, cold, sunny day and the other was a fantastic 20-mile jog/hike a couple of weeks ago. It was cold with hardly any signs of spring yet to be seen, and it even snowed. But it was still great and felt awesome to push myself a little bit. I was surprised to find that I could have easily done more than 20 miles, so I’m looking forward to another long day hike soon to see if I can creep closer to my current limit. Should I go for 25? 30? I dunno!

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January's wintery day hike.

The driving and working side of things has been going pretty well. I mean, I haven’t had too much to write about simply because things have been fairly smooth. I guess that’s a good thing. We’ve had a couple of interesting weight issues, having to get our freight reworked or cut, and a couple of times we even had to keep our fuel below a certain level to keep our load legal… which is a pain in the butt. But that’s been about it. No blown tires or breakdowns, and we’ve managed to miss or intentionally drive around some pretty major winter storms (mostly Wyoming) – oh! Except for the wind storm! We did end up stuck in Laramie for two days because of 75 mph winds. I forgot about that – I probably should’ve written about that. It was kind of crazy. We’ve never really had to sit somewhere that long, but thankfully we were at a pretty big truck stop, so we had bathrooms, showers and a restaurant to keep us occupied.

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I went for a run in that wind. It was blowing me all over the road!

This was also the first time we missed our deliveries. So we ended up delivering on Monday (instead of Friday), then driving a load to Iowa where we met another driver and switched trailers. He delivered our load and we took his to California to get us back on our regular program. It was an interesting couple of weeks.

So now that I’ve caught y’all up with a super long-winded, boring blog entry, maybe something super-exciting, but good, will happen that I can be long-winded about! Haha! Actually, I’m thinking about doing an entry showing what Adam and I eat on a normal day in the truck, and eventually one that shows some of my workouts and ways I keep active out here. It’s tough, but I’m staying determined to keep it up.

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You might be surprised to see what we normally eat while we're on the road.

Is there anything else any of you would like me to write about? Let me know!

In the meantime, enjoy yourselves, and thanks again for following along with me. I look forward to sharing my next big hiking adventure with you. I have a mini-long-distance trail in the works. It’s a longer trail, but one I only need some vacation time for. But I’ll leave ya’ hanging there! I’ve got more research, planning and decision-making to do before I can even really get too excited about it.

Onward!

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Love from the Grapa Truckers!


Tonight I love comfy beds. Lordy, we need a new, firmer mattress in our truck!