Luxury Trucking: Time to Enjoy

Nashville, Tennessee

The value of time is a growing older lesson. The years pass and we learn that time, not a McMansion, nor a Porsche is the greatest luxury of all — although McGyver would disagree about the Porsche. That point was driven home by my father’s dying words to me and brothers: don’t work yourself to death, no one will thank you.

The New York City Truckers’ goal in life is to find the magic formula, the most money for the least effort.

Bike path runs parallel to I-5 near Central Point, Oregon. Time to pull our bikes out of the tractor means we have the right pace of freight.

Three months into driving with Schneider National, we realized that we liked the trucking and traveling lifestyle, but we didn’t want to truck on their schedule, so we became Owner Operators. Our next carrier, Forward Air, was the closest thing to a company job with freedom. All the runs were dispatched but we could choose when and where to run. Better, but not quite right. Although we were making money, the wheels were turning a little too much and a little too fast for us, so we tried carrier number three, upped our game with some specialization and signed on with FedEx Custom Critical to pull one of their temperature-controlled trailers. In every change our goal remained the same.

Last weekend, we came the closest yet to the magic formula, enjoying a three-day drive from Seattle to Sacramento, while under load.

Years ago, a New York City art exhibit featured the theme: the more we own, the more we owe. It reinforced the theme of our relationship. Before moving in together we attended a retreat. The lecturer made a huge impression on us when he said that the only difference between couples is what they do with their money. Will they be big spenders? Rolling in debt? Or a pay-as-they-go? He warned us the decision would determine our future.

Not long into our relationship, we chose a life of no debt, paying down about $27,000 in one year. Freed from The Man, it’s made 20-years of adventures possible.

Our most prized possession is the FU fund. A savings account. Ideally, says my brother, who got the idea from another guy, an FU fund contains two years of living expenses, so you can always quit your job. Ours is stocked with grocery and rent money so we can say no. No to a client, a job, a carrier, a run, anything that we feel is not right for us. Surprisingly, it takes very little money to enjoy the power of choice, the power to say no. It’s the biggest dividend of saving.

In my days as a consumer reporter, working with my now friend Peggy, owner of Dollars and Sense Budget Counselors, who helped us start our no-debt lifestyle, we helped families eliminate debt and move forward. As little as $250 prevented deeper slides into the red because, you can count on it, shit happens.

We’re happy to report that our status as Professional Paid Tourists should be re-instated soon after 18-months of move-it, move-it air freight. Load five with our new carrier delivered, we’re liking the pace.

We picked up a load late Friday night, June 10th near Seattle, bound for Sacramento, to be delivered Monday morning. Sixty hours to run 763 miles, in that time we could drive from Los Angeles to New York.

First stop, the rain forest of Kelso, Washington, 40 miles north of Portland, Oregon and the Columbia River. A logging area, it reminds us of British Columbia. Big logs from big trees, no pecker poles, like those in North and South Carolina. We pulled into property owned by our friends Mel and Michele, who recently hung up their over-the-road keys, deciding it was time to be closer to home, and parked in their front yard, next to their new logging truck and trailer.

Mel and Michele understood what we needed, in addition to great conversation, showers and laundry. They threw in burgers on the barbecue.

Late afternoon we headed south to Central Point, Oregon. We have been driving by the Pilot at exit 33 on I-5 for three years, the bike path running parallel to the Interstate calling out to us. Never a chance to stop and pull out our Brompton bikes.  But finally time met perfect weather, crisp morning air, sunshine and high clouds. We rode into Medford, Oregon a boom and bust town founded in the last 1800s by the railroad, it enjoyed an economic bubble of its own in the early 1900s, an orchard boom, speculators and Gentleman Farmers from the east coast drove up the prices of property, but the market collapsed. Another boom during the Second World War thanks to an investment in early aviation.

The downtown is picturesque, quaint, paving stone streets and a great passion to see this town rise again. Old buildings, nice looking restaurants, parks, big leafy trees but on Sunday morning, on our eastern time zone, nothing was open.

We turned back to Witham’s truck stop at exit 30 and dug into their homemade, fluffy buttermilk pancakes before finishing our ride and loading up to head south to Corning, California and a night at the Rolling Hills Casino, which has a giant big truck parking lot.

A relic of days of trucking past, Witham’s on I-5, exit 30, serves great pancakes.

All three nights we enjoyed non-moving sleep in coolish temperatures, we did not need the APU for air conditioning. Our sleep was silent, save for Greg’s soft snoring.

Monday morning at 0700 ET, I drove to Sacramento where the pace picked up. We delivered and were dispatched again, a load to Dallas, followed by a load to Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania where we found ourselves with a three-day weekend. Enjoying my favorite grocery store in America, Wegman’s, with its fist-sized grilled prawns, a $10 barbecued salmon meal with two sides, roasted vegetables and steamed green beans. Friday and Saturday night we rode our bikes into Carlisle and it was just like having a regular life, dinner sitting on two different outdoor patios, a little Italian, followed by all-American. A little time to work on the business and the truck and watch two movies.

We were pre-dispatched on a load out this past Monday morning. We’re thinking this might be the pace, steadily moving through the week on a drive/sleep schedule, about 4,000 miles a week, with a long weekend load or a weekend off.

If it is, this might work out fine.

2 thoughts on “Luxury Trucking: Time to Enjoy

  1. Sounds fabulous. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Wegman's. Lucky you! And although we've been to Carlisle many times (once even to catch a great outdoor jazz concert), we've never really explored downtown. It's on my list of places to check out.


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