Life On The Road
Life in an 18-wheeler is exciting, monotonous, beautiful, challenging, and honestly quite hard at times.
The truck and open road have been our home for the (almost) first three years of our marriage, and I have to say it's been one of the best things for our relationship! You really learn how to communicate as there is no other "room" to run to to get away from each other haha. It's been a blessing to travel through the US and get to see places we otherwise might've never had the chance to see. And after thousands of miles you realize just how small this country actually is ;)
So what does a normal day look like for us?
David hops out of bed and gets dressed first because there's only enough room for one person to be standing up at the same time. While he goes outside to do the pre trip inspection on the truck (making sure the load is secure, & that everything looks up to par) I get dressed, make the bed, and make cold cereal for us. I start a log for the day, and then we hit the road.
Depending on where our load takes us, we either have hundreds of miles ahead of us to drive, or we have multiple drops we're racing to get off before the receiving guys quit for the day, which is usually around 3-5 pm. Sometimes getting that last load off is what will make or break our week.
We have to take a 30 min break each day, but often times due to traffic slowing us down, or having to wait at our drops we take that time that we accumulated and mark it as our "break" in order to save time. So that means we never have a proper lunch break (like normal people) ;) and we just eat lunch rolling down the highway. Usually it's pretty late by the time we pull into a truck stop for the night, we're tired, hungry, and just want to hit the sack. So we go in and get a bite to eat, and we're at the mercy of whatever restaurant the truckstop has to offer. Quickly eat, and come back to the truck, and relax a little before falling asleep and doing it all over again the next day.
What do we eat and how do we stay fit?
For breakfast we stick to cold cereal. For lunch I make sandwiches or wraps with lunch meat, tuna, tomatoes, avocados, lettuce etc. For snacks we'll have Cliff bars, chips & salsa, cheese & crackers, fruit, peanut butter, etc. It's hard to get around in an 18-wheeler, so Walmart is about the only place we're able to pull into and get groceries. I hate shopping there, and it's so hard to get fresh foods but we just do the best we can!! Like I said we usually eat at truck stops for dinner because we only have time for something quick. And I've learned that there is always a healthier option to order even at places like McDonald's. We both watch what we eat, and I keep a mental tally of the calories I consume.
We keep some dumbbells in the truck, but in reality we don't have the time and energy each day to get a workout in, so as we go about our day I'm just conscious to make sure I take the longer route to get more walking in and stretch. Also securing the loads, and assembling the trailers that we deliver keeps us running around too.
In the summertime when we have time we love to grill out! It's such a relaxing way to wind down for the evening. David has gotten so good at grilling steaks, they are better than Texas Roadhouse, no joke!!! Sadly we only grill about once every couple weeks or so, that's how slammed our schedule is.
One of the things I love about trucking is how it has taught us to live a very minimalistic lifestyle, and you learn real quick what you can actually live without when your home is a tractor trailer!
Inside we have a pantry, tiny closet, storage under the bed and we also use the top bunk for storage. Having to pack a seasons worth of clothes in a carry on size suitcase was really hard for me at first because I love clothes so much and I love variety. But I've learned that all I really need is a couple dresses, two pairs of shorts, several tanks, button up, and a pair of jeans. And then I also have my workclothes. On the plus side we're hardly ever anywhere twice, so who cares if you're wearing the same thing all the time? One thing I haven't learned how to capsule is my makeup haha!
Being in a truck for several years could either be the best or worst thing for a newlywed couple, because you're in a confined space with your spouse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for months at a time. The only time we really are ever apart is when one of us is in the bathroom, haha! We have never had a problem with that, and actually treasure it. It has brought us much closer over the past few years than would have been possible if we had a normal life where we had separate jobs. To be honest we never get tired of being around each other, even though we both do benefit from having some alone time, it's just really hard to get that in the truck when the majority of the time we're on the highway, or parked at a truck stop. And that's just not the environment that's conducive for alone time.
But we've learned better how to make the most out of little pockets of time, and so simple things like pulling off on the side of the road and jumping in a lake, or taking a little extra time to get out at the top of a mountain pass in Colorado and breathe in the fresh air, are the moments that help refresh us.
Or stopping at a cute little ice-cream shop in the middle of nowhere between Regina and Saskatoon Saskatchewan for an impromptu date. That little shop is always busy, and has amazing food and ice cream!
Even though we've gone to a lot of cool places, we barely get to explore anything as we're almost always on a time crunch, because "if the wheels aren't turning, you aren't earning!", and it's illegal to take a big truck onto most city and residential streets. (learned that one the hard way lol)
I get so bummed when we go through the cutest town ever and I can't stop at that adorable coffee shop that is in a little cottage with ivy growing up it's old brick walls. (that one is in Ashland WI btw)
On this subject though, we keep a list of gorgeous little towns and places we plan to go back to one day for anniversary trips, or vacations. And David keeps a list of roads he wants to ride his motorcycle on someday.
There's a lot more to it than just road tripping across the country; every single stop we make, city we deliver to, place and time we fuel up at, and the amount of time it takes to get from A-B has to be written down on the log. And it has to be PERFECT or else you could get a big ticket. I keep up with all of that and I'm proud that I have become a wizard at making sure everything is perfect and legal! :)
I also have to keep up with every state line we cross, and figure up the miles we drive in each state.
Let's talk about monotony! Everyone wants to know how we stay sane, driving for a living. The truth is that there isn't an easy secret or anything, but there are a few things you can do to help. My favorite is listening to audiobooks and podcasts. Why not get a bit of education while you're at it? David's favorite is "the millionaire next-door" by Thomas J. Stanley. We've listened to it four times at last count, but there are a lot of great options on audible. It really helps when we're driving through somewhere beautiful, such as the picture above of the dust storm in the Nevada dessert. But the majority of the time we're just on the boring open highway.
All in all trucking has been a wonderful experience for us, although it certainly has it's challenges just like with anything. You never know what you may come upon, such as this beautiful old abandoned church, built in 1903, sitting in a field off of a dirt road in Saskatchewan. That's one of the little perks of being on the road.
One of our favorite things in trucking is how we've gotten the chance to visit family and friends who are scattered across the country. We aren't in control of where our loads go for the most part, so it's always short notice and random times when we stop in and visit someone.
It's become our life, and as nice as it is to go home and stay in a real house, and eat home cooked food, the truck is our home and it always feels good when we get back on the road.