Happy Canadian Thanksgiving

Danbury, Connecticut

“What are we going to do when we have to live in the same place all the time?” MacGyver asked me this weekend.

It’s the 20th consecutive weekend — starting in Lac Poisson Blanc, Quebec on Victoria Day weekend, the start of Canadian summer and ending here today, the end of Canadian summer and in between such highlights as Victoria, BC, Marfa, Texas, Chicago, Illinois, Nakusp, BC and Hay River, Northwest Territories — that we have been someplace different.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving

One of the many great drives this past summer was on the wild and wicked Trans Canada Highway from Alberta through the Rocky Mountains. This is Mount Robson.

It was an aren’t-we-lucky kind of statement, and it shows that five years into this rolling escapade, we are amazed, amused and grateful to have fallen into this lifestyle

It all started with a Newsweek article about a husband and wife team who had left the corporate world to become truck drivers for Schneider National. The idea hit me like a hammer at a time that I desperately wanted a change. To humor me, we checked it out.

I’m a pampered creature, with regular manicures and pedicures and a penchant for Chanel-style jackets

and Stuart Weitzman shoes—lots of them. I like fancy hotels and room service. I am a fair-weather everything. I sail downwind, I walk when I won’t sweat, and I only do the après ski thing.In July 2007, living in New York City, I hadn’t driven a car in ten years. MacGyver did all the long-distance driving, and I was the one who cringed on the passenger side whenever he passed one of those big rigs.But I have been known to surprise people.

Everything is on the Internet, including pumpkindriver.com, a forum for current and former Sch-
neider drivers. We read message boards, online magazines and trucker trade association sites.
We rented a car and drove out to meet a recruiter. He looked at my perky hairdo and red lipstick as I peppered
him with questions. “You have a lot of energy,” he said. “In three months, you’ll be on that cb radio giving it to the other drivers.” That didn’t happen. We drive so slow, 58 mph loaded, 55 mph empty, that if we turned on the CB we’d only hear drivers cussing at tus.

By October, we’d done our research and liked what we’d found:

  • Team drivers earned more per mile than solo drivers. Teams go farther, faster.
  • At Schneider, 21 days on the road got you four days off, 28 days was rewarded with five.
  • Pay was deposited weekly. This happens for Owner Operators leased onto carriers. If you’ve every run your own business you know this is SWEET. No chasing invoices.
  • Your truck gives you the equivalent of one big office window with constantly changing scenery, but no actual office. And when you get tired, your bed is right behind you.
  • There’s no boss to hassle with every day. Assignments come via a satellite computer and nobody talks to you unless there’s a problem. Now we use an Internet load board and talk to agents and brokers.
  • Customers do not require follow up. Once the freight is delivered, no one will call you to ask “Remember that trailer you delivered in California? I think it was in May. What was the weight?” A big perk since I’m in my grumpy 50s.

Once we knew we liked the lifestyle, which took about three months, when the terror wore off, we knew we’d become Owner Operators as soon as we could. This month marks four years owning our own tractor and now trailer.

So today, I am thankful that I am still open to crazy ideas and that I have an adventurous partner who likes to excel at everything he does.

And the tour rolls on. Next year — Deadhorse, Alaska where the longest day of the year is 63 days long and the shortest day is 45 minutes.

9 thoughts on “Happy Canadian Thanksgiving

  1. Great post. And I love the picture! I think this is one of the best jobs I've ever had. And being able to be somewhere different every weekend – hell, most of the time, every day! – is awesome. I think we have an awesome life. Way better than most. And like you said, you still get to embrace the things you love – luxury hotel rooms, mani/pedis, vacations, good food, and nice shoes. 🙂

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  2. I've got to say, it's refreshing to hear from people who love this lifestyle and embrace all of the opportunities that come with it. Too many people come into trucking and fail to see beyond the inside of the cab. You two are poster children for the oppressed office dwellers that are afraid to leave their cushy cubicles and venture out of their comfort zones to live a real life.-Ed

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  3. The Schneider instructors told us that if we thought we were going to "pound miles" day in and day out, we wouldn't survive a year. We had stop and get beyond the diesel and smell the roses. I sometimes feel a little guilty because our experience in the truck is different from the solo drivers, who are the predominant drivers in the industry, or the team drivers that come from two different households. Since the money comes into one household we can do well for less miles. And we're together, so if there's no freight, we can amuse each other.I'm sure it's because of my age and the time of my life that I found this adventure, but I think this IS the best job I've ever had. The romance of the road, if you don't feel under pressure, is compelling./

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  4. Retired, I start my mornings each day at the civic fitness centre here in Tsawwassen, BC. To-day they had a used book / war-weary CD sale on tables in the foyer. Thumbing through "I Feel Great About My Hands" I spot a name from a couple of lives ago when you, Marlaina, were a close chum of first wife Renee. Paid my Loonie. Repaired to the local Mickey-D's for my Senior's $1 refillable coffee, and settled into the many amusements and insights of "How Drooping Breasts Led Me to a Truck-driving Life of Adventure". I think Renee may have mentioned this gig of yours at a family gathering at her Fort Langley garden mecca a few years back. Looking forward to reading more adventures of you & MacGyver up the road a bit, Marlaina. May the immortal words of Tom Robbins stick with you : "Just remember that the pace of this butterfly is precisely the right pace…!" Best to you. \ Baird

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  5. Baird, great to hear from you. We were in Tswassen in August, we cruised through to the BC Ferry terminal, to take a hot load to Victoria for Target, their store chiller. Having put in almost 750,000 miles, I can tell you, you are the MOST idyllic place in North America — but you already knew that. Every place has it interesting sights and beauty, but alongthe water there, awesome. When we get tired of waking up in a different place every day or so that's exactly where I'm going.Glad to hear you're enjoying retirement.

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  6. As always great words and great images. Glad to hear you are still enjoying life on the road! Look forward to seeing you soon. Always a bed and espresso at 29.Cheers to you both.Steven, Genny and Scooter

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  7. We were talking about you all today. I was looking at a cruiseship discount website, while MacGyver was trying to figure out how to rewire the chicken lights on the tractor, Fort Lauderdale, FL to Sydney for $3,600 per person, via the Easter Islands and Pitcairn. Then I said: It's not far to Steven, Genny and Scooter . Unfortunately not this winter, we are about to break the bank and install a tarping system on our trailer. But soon. Any plans to visit "up over?"

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  8. Hi Gil, Danbury has tiny streets. It was a heck of a corner that I turned into the shipper's yard.Thanks to the trucking lifestyle, we are completely unemployable in the typical scenario. It would be prison to be sitting in the same cubicle every day. Good for many, not for us. We feel very lucky to have found something that suits us so well at this time in our life.

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