Arizona is far from home for us. We live in the Northeast and this is the Southwest.
For me, a Trucker I always traveled far from home but for the most part I traveled within the United States with a dash into Canada now and then.
This trip was special as the man I loved was not given much hope of a long life so we packed up the old Chevy van with camping supplies and Gold Prospecting equipment we already had and the pup of course and headed west. He had never been past the military base in Texas and that was so long ago for boot camp. He flew in and out of there. So this would be a journey for him but for me it would be like old times, well without the shifting.
We stayed out on BLM land for 6 or 7 weeks till we had to come back for another visit with his doctor. He did not want to go back home least of all for more tests. I missed home and my kitty too much to hide my head in the sand of the desert. We loaded up the old van and said our goodbyes to all we had met and I snapped a few more photos.
We came home to good news much to their amazement. We could once again take out the map from my old trucking days and plan a trip far from home.
Well yesterday, the 10th of May, our Hummingbirds finally made it back here to spend the summer with us.
As I sat playing frisbee with JT I had a female hummingbird sit upon the clothes line just to the left of where I was sitting. She looked healthy and I was glad to have just hung fresh sugar-water out for them. The Apple Tree is what I go by. As it had started to look as if it would burst forth in gorgeous blooms, I readied their feeders.
Up here in New Hampshire we have the Ruby Throat variety of Hummingbirds and an occasional Hummingbird Moth visit us. You know I love these little fighters though, I keep learning more amazing facts about them.
So did you know I had just one tattoo? It is in fact a life-size Hummingbird and this was also what I used for a CB Handle. Now the handle was used when traveling cross-country in the tractor-trailer we never used our own names? Did you have a CB and a Handle? I was trucking when Burt Reynolds made Breaker 1 9 pretty famous. Many songs, mostly country ones, have been done all about trucking, highways and roadie. I loved Convoy’s line “Crash the gate doing 98 and let them truckers roll!”
I had some wonderful times driving the night hours out there on the quiet roads of America. I usually drove after we had our evening meal and kept laying down the miles till it was time for breakfast, when the ex and I would switch. He did not want me, a greenhorn, in all the rush hour traffic he figured at night with just other rigs on the road what could happen.
Well let me tell you one of the stories from so long ago. I was heading west and in Kansas and had stopped to grab a coffee to help get me through my 12 hour shift. The road was dark and filled with many wild animals you had to not only watch for but to avoid as well. While filling the thermos for my evening run I was talking with fellow drivers who would be going the same way, WEST. So we followed each other out and got our trucks rolling down the interstate and chatting on our CB’s we all introduced ourselves and they thought Hummingbird was awesome! I told them it was because I was FAST! They loved it and off we went hammer down, (pressing the gas pedal). We gabbed for hours with each of us keeping our eyes peeled for the police as we were not doing 55. Then someone who had the lead suggested we try something he had all his lights on and if you have traveled the United States you know what I mean, LOTS OF LIGHTS on his rig. We truckers have a special name for ones like this, Chicken Hauler. Yes we have lots of nicknames like our CB Handel’s, like your personal car is called a 4 wheeler. So with truck out in front fully covered by tons of lights and the one in the rear of our convoy(a group of MANY RIGS) with its lights on, all of us in the middle had just our marker lights on NO HEADLIGHTS! Yes not to swift, were we night riders of our countries highways, mostly hell raisers and non conformists.
So mile after mile with our radar detectors working over time ever mindful of State Police we continued this way for miles and miles at a very good clip! Then we hear the bird dogs go off(radar detectors had names too) as a trooper was headed east and running his radar and capturing us all speeding but also us dummies in the middle of the convoy running without headlights. Now they run CB’s as well and had been listening to us talk and I was a very young female and they were all experienced truckers and who do you think the cop came for, yes ME! I saw him go into the medium strip and it was such a dip I saw his headlights shining on the sky above. He then came flying up the highway behind us and by now yes all of us had our lights on and speed to about 60 mph but he had locked on to me he said in the end.
So my trucking CB buddies were gone, I was alone except for ex in the bunk sleeping. I was in big trouble! This officer walked up to my driver’s door and told me to come back to his police car. As I opened the door and started down the ladder of our cab-over Freightliner he saw how young I was and ordered me to go back in and get all my PAPERWORK! License and registration book and my Log Book! OH NO I was really in trouble I hated doing logs as I could not do them the correct way as I had been taught to in tractor-trailer school not with the ex.
So with all of this placed on the floor of the cab I climbed down then reached up for all of this and headed back to the waiting officer. I am ordered to get into the back where upon he proceeds to read me the riot act about how I could have been killed. I told him if I had to pay a fine on the spot he would really see me die, at the hand of my ex-husband yes really young and dumb! I was not to speed or play around and I had a CB and Radar machine so there would be no fines! In the end this trooper was very nice and gave me a $20 fine I mailed to them from home. Sadly this was not the last time I drove FAST, like my little Hummingbirds! I too had places to go and people to see.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you Mom’s! I am going to have my best one yet! It is also JT’s birthday!
Well by now most of you know our JT (Jess-Tex) at least in photos. She is our Border Collie and no we do not have a farm.
I have shared my life with fourteen dogs five of which were part of a litter that went on to new homes where they were adored family members.
This dog above was born at a friend’s home, the male her father was from Texas and they drove from Vermont to pick him up. JT’s mother was a dog that was dropped off at their place in Vermont. Gorgeous lighter Gray with white. She was scared who knows the kind of life had she lead.
JT was like the runt with a not so perfect face marking and it was just her sister and her no one had chosen to be theirs.
Now I wanted no more dogs but here were the two prettiest faces begging to be loved. I said I wanted both, actually could not believe that came out of my mouth. The daughter said she was taking the tri color one. I was taking JT as long as they were both fixed, I didn’t care.
The day we found her in the horse stall with her sister, we had been camping with a three-year old great-niece so we went home to NH but when I got to my house I called them and said I would be back up for the pup I had fallen in love with. Her husband was going to be in NH on a welding job so he brought the pup with him so we did not have to go all the way back to northern Vermont.
We bought a leash and collar as well as bowl and water, as it would be a long ride for a puppy and headed north.
We took the pickup truck with a bench seat so she could lay between us. Funny as I look back six and a half years later at that ride home. She would lay her head on my leg then wander over to the passenger side for his leg. She was trying to settle in on that big seat but wanted to be close to both of us, her HERD.
We stopped often to walk her, and to let her have some water and then she was scooped up again and placed in the middle between us. It is where she has always ridden till he bought this new truck with the big back seat. All hersto be sure.
She had been born on Mother’s Day and in October she took her first really long ride down to Georgia. We went gold prospecting with a club he belonged to and she set about making many new friends that weekend. It was really rainy and nasty, creeks were swollen I was so glad this camping trip was in a cabin with a hot tub.
This pup has led a very interesting life to be sure. She could have a blog of her own.
We no sooner got back from our trip to Georgia when we set in motion an epic cross-country trip that would include sleeping out in the wild, in a tent for the month of December. Not too worry we would be in Arizona and it is still warm right?
We bought an old RV and he made it road worthy and we were looking forward to an amazing journey together. Then the gas prices soared so we scrapped the idea of taking the old beast back west where it had actually been made. I looked for a van cheaper on gas and room for all we would need to bring with us. I found a pretty cool looking Chevy van, a conversion van the kind with a bench seat that lays down and can be used as a bed. We bought it from a group of men who used it to go back and forth to New England Patriot football games. Yes tailgaters. It has a HUGE Patriots Loge on one whole window. I never thought about the fact we were going to be in the Super Bowl and the game would be in Arizona!
What a trip that was from the start. JT could feel the excitement. I rented a place for our cat to go where, she was to be treated like a Queen, for the money she better have been the center of attention. He made a rack for the hitch, the fact he was a welder for 30 years came in handy. On this rack we took the tool box off the pick-up and placed our clothes and tenting supplies as well has some dry goods like JT’s Food and dog bones. We would be on BLM land and there would be no stores, no street lights, no phones. JT would be the only one out of the three of us to do nothing but play as any pup will do. They said rattle snakes would have taken cover as well as the other critters who live under ground, I was hoping so.
So we loaded up and headed south, I had to say good-by and Merry Christmas to Mom on our way. We opened our gifts and had a beautiful meal then loaded back into the van and headed out of New England. Leaving what we thought of winter behind us as well.
As we headed south through Massachusetts we heard a lot of horn blowing and people giving me the THUMBS UP signs that was different for me having been in a big rig all those years and it was never a THUMB I got! People were excited, they saw the sign and our team was in the hunt for a ticket to the BIG GAME! When we hit NJ the looks changed, funny how that works.
I stopped on the NJ Turnpike to top off of the gas tank when a big dark-colored Suburban pulls on the other side of the pump. It had those really dark windows, looking kind of sinister. This is a place they pump for you, so as I am sitting and waiting I hear a horn beep then I see the black glass start to open and there were four huge black men smiling at me I was kind of confused then one pointed to the SIGN on our window and said GO PATS!!! They could have been players looking at the size of them! It was like that the whole trip out. Just random strangers stopping us to congratulate our team on the playoffs and wishing us well on our journey. They all petted JT. I swear more love was given to her that first year of her life. No wonder she chooses humans over animals to play with. She never new life as a dog.
more later on JT’s Adventures with us and her adoring fans
It has been a very long time since I looked at this photo. I used to miss this truck so much, then it was the girl I was, who had gone missing.
Let me tell you some background since a few have asked about the days I spent behind the wheel of an 18 Wheeler(this one has 22 ) .
So much happened before I became a trucker, guess you would surmise that, as young girls really did not drive tractor-trailer trucks in the mid to late 70’s, well not in New England especially.
So do I begin here with this time period in the photo or go from the start?
I think I will do this blog from just before the time I bought her till I said goodbye, as there really is an awful lot for this story.
I was divorced in 1995 and as part of the settlement of OUR THINGS I had a choice to make. Let’s see he had already just got rid of the truck he drove, he actually gave it back to the bank with less than a year to pay on it. He was drinking so heavy daily and I could not drive TWO TRUCKS so he did what he did. I insisted we split the days up with him driving my rig(not this one) Monday,Wednesday and Friday which would leave me Tuesday and Thursday and most Saturdays. At the time I was hauling rubbish back and forth from Roxbury, MA to different landfills and trash to energy plants here in New England.
Things were getting worse living with him. I never thought they could get any worse and there came a point when I had the police remove him from the home. I had finally had too much. Lost so much. I signed a restraining order and told them he could come for the rig, with police.
It took a year before the final day in front of the judge. All I wanted was the house, 4 dogs and my 68 Camaro and my Ford Pickup Truck. He could take EVERYTHING ELSE!
In the time I sent him away, I found a job driving for a local company. I was now driving a Dump Truck. Worked 10 hours a day and finally had a life but not much money compared to owning my own rig but I was happy, really happy. I actually looked forward to doing my hair and climbing into that Orange Mack daily.
When the judges final decree was sent he gave me everything I wanted. The house, dogs and vehicles. Now how could I pay the house payment on a weekly paycheck, as an employee, I really couldn’t.
My Dad knew I worked for a seasonal company so he gave me an old 1974 Mack to drive. He paid for the registration and fuel and insurance and I paid him back weekly. I worked that truck for probably 9 months and even put some cash away. The Mack had a lot of issues being so old and finally she just could not go on the road anymore so if I was to truck I had to go shopping and quick!
I had a job to haul containers of beer from the pier in Boston or trailers from the rail yards in Alston. I poured through books and found a place in CT that sold used trucks. I saw the tractor in the photo above and thought she would be a good enough rig for me to begin again. The man who owned the place was impressed with my knowledge of trucks see he threw questions at me to check, I was a female. I had to prove to him I owed nobody anything after the divorce except my mortgage company and that the home was mine and not the ex-husbands. So he put a paper plate on it and told me to take it up to NH and drive it haul a few loads and show it to my Dad to make sure it would be a good choice for me, and then bring him the decree so he could see what the judge had written.
I went straight to my parents home from CT which was just under 2 hours away and showed them what it looked like and then Dad hopped into the driver’s seat and off we went for a test drive just as I had when I was 18 in a car he brought home for me. He liked it and then we switched seats and I drove. It was the first time I had ever taken my Dad with me in a rig, Mom had been several times but now it was time to show my Dad how over 2 mil. miles had made me into an awesome though fearless driver. He loved the ride! He said it looked like a solid truck for what I was hauling and that I drove it like a professional. I could not be happier. He asked if I needed any money and I told him no you see it was $1,000.00 down and a payment each month for 2 years and she would be mine. That was 1996, late in the year.
I hauled the beer and goods for maybe a year then I got antsy I wanted to haul the heavy loads again. This truck did not have a double frame or a wet system. I traded my Camaro for a Wet System which consisted of a pump and a tank which held Hydraulic fluid and hoses and fittings. This poor truck with her big Cummings Motor was going to set out to do the impossible, just as it owner.
I hooked up with old friends and started hauling Bark Mulch from a place in Maine all the way to Cape Cod and places in between. I loved the work and the places they sent me as so many others would hit everything but the lottery in the customers yards that they started to request the Blonde Girl who was a great driver! Everywhere I went I got smiles and waves from people. See I was an oddity still and we were now in the late 90’s.
Bark Mulch was seasonal so I had to find steady work I had not only a home to pay for but a truck. I hooked up with another friend in the rubbish business and started to haul four loads a day for him 6 days a week. I now had Sunday’s to play with the dogs in the yard while the truck was washed and oiled changed for the next week of work.
I hauled garbage till it just became too expensive to keep tires on it with going in and out of a landfills and hooked up with a Spring Water company. It was now 1998 winter again and this would be my first experience hauling a tanker down off the top of a mountain with snow and ice. I was scared, very scared about stopping at that stop sin at the bottom, why do they do that anyway!
I worked that whole winter of 1998 and then in 1999 the real fun began. I never got sleep I just napped in between loads. I hauled 3 to 4 loads of water, weighing out at 103,000 pounds back and forth to bottling companies, you see the country was getting ready for Y2K, which would happen in the year 2000, when the world would change as we knew it. We hauled thousands of gallons of water, as there were 10 other drivers doing the same thing for the company I worked for. Stock piled water filled these places with fear about what would come of the computers of our world and all the machines run by them.
As we all know we were really fine, doom and gloom never came to be. They would have a slow down in production so it was time for a much-needed vacation!
I parked this rig, tanker attached and locked up safe and sound and headed to FL where else would a girl go who loves the sea. I took 3 dogs as one had passed away and the cat and boyfriend at the time and headed to his Aunts place for a little rest. It was while I was there we decided it was where I wanted to be. Get rid of the house go back home and get my rig and start a new life where things were no so hard on me or the equipment. I could find work anywhere. So we left the dogs and cat there with his Aunt and I was heartbroken as I headed north but I would be back in 2 weeks with everything I wanted to start all over again with.
We made it back as planned I left the house for mortgage company to deal with as they refused to take the ex’s name off and set about finding my own place to call home.
So I spent most days in the beginning when we got down to Florida getting caught up on sleep and sun tanning and playing with my dogs, who were now 10. I finally got the bug to really drive again so I hooked up with a company to haul empty cans to bottling companies along the east coast of Florida, you see I loved the Gulf Coast . My rig was getting a much deserved rest as well, loads were so light I had to keep checking in the review mirrors to make sure I still had the trailer hooked to it. Life was GOOD, it really was the best. I was so very happy, finally, the year was 2000.
Well around August I received mail from the company holding the loan on my home. It seems they didn’t want it either and had given it to me free and clear only stipulation was I had to live in it. I was shocked to say the least. They asked me to go back to the home I loved so much in the woods of NH and lock the doors as I had left it cleaned out and spotless with doors unlocked for potential buyers. Now what go back, start again I didn’t want to. I liked it here in Florida but some of my dogs were buried there, it was home. At this point I was tired of making decisions really on my own as the boyfriend at the time was younger than me and OK with me doing it all. Yes I am now sadly aware that was who I was and nothing to do with him.
I decided I would go home alone with him and the pets but no rig. It was an old truck now, pretty and in great shape but not for another season of hard, nasty weather. I placed a For Sale sign in the back window and within days a man approached me and asked if he could check it out which he did and bought it with CASH. I had lots of money to pay his Aunt’s bills up to date, pay my brother cash I owed him and fuel for the van and enough to live on upon getting back to NH where I would also have to put electric on, fill the propane and hook up TV and internet.
We packed everything back into a U Haul, kissed everyone good-bye.
We were coming home.
I miss that truck and the freedom she gave me out on the roads but you see I finally get that there is more than one chapter in this woman’s life.
Time to LIVE IT!
the beginning and the middle will come with time STAY Tuned