Thursday, September 17, 2015

Not so Snug as a (Yuck) Bug

Day 2 of attack of the yuck bug.  

This unwelcome intruder has made itself at home, and appears for all intents and purposes to be as snug as a bug in a rug, or in this case one miserable little kitty, my head! Joy. It has proceeded to flood my nasal and sinus cavities with some sort of alien goop that is just viscous enough to irritate my nose causing a near constant sniffle.  Yet it is congealed enough to resist even the most Herculean nose blowing efforts on my part. 

Surely this thing must be an alien VAMPIRE yuck bug.  No matter how much I sleep it still manage to drain all my energy.  Further, where ever it comes from it must give off helium as a by-product of its bio functions, because my head feels like it's floating in the clouds, which honestly isn't that pleasant of an experience all things considered.  Makes me feel rather woosy and dizzy.  Tom, I said dizzy, not ditzy.

After repeated, and failed attempts to drown this sadistic little bugger with juice and water, then poison him with vitamins, Tylenol, and Benadryl, I admit defeat again tonight.  Maybe tomorrow this alien vampire yuck bug will tire of toying with me and move on to some other poor unlucky target.  For now I am going to sniffle and gasp for air in the darkness while I pray for sleep or some other form of unconsciousness to overtake me.


I'm actually on day 4 in this battle against the alien Yuck Bug.  So far it is Yuck Bug 4 - kitty 0. Hope is not lost.  I still have hot tea. Allen bought me some Dayquil to add to my medicinal arsenal. And we were able take a long hot shower today.  Fear not my feline friends, or is it friends of a feline friend? Or... Oh who cares, I'm going back to bed! Yuck Bug wins another round. *sniffle cough hack*

~ Sierra Sugar

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Trucker's Moon

A late summer moon rises in the night.
Full and round with its soft amber light.
Watching quietly.
Traveling patiently,
Keeping vigile from it's path across the sky.

A late summer moon rises in the night.
Mostly ignored for the glare of city lights.
Busy people.
Hurried people.
Too distracted in their chaos to notice the sky.

A late summer moon rises in the night.
Guiding the Trucker by it gentle glowing light.
Helping Truckers.
Friend to Truckers.
All the world slumbers, yet the Trucker and his moon travel the roads til morning light.

~Sierra Sugar (c) 09/01/2015

The Great GATS by me, Sierra Sugar

Downtown Dallas night before GATS

Now that we've all had a chance to finally sleep since the weekend, let me tell you a little bit about my first experience with the Great American Truck Show.  Yes my first. Even though my involvement was fairly high, though not as much as others, like Tom Kyrk... Tom are you even alive out there?  For my first time around with this truck show there was a lot going on.

Thanks to Tom and his blog, Road Tested Living, I recived my first ever Press Pass which allowed me to see a little of the behind the scenes of the show.  The all- powerful press pass enabled entrance into the super secretive club room known as the "Press Room".  It even granted me early entrance to the showroom floor, and pretty much no questions asked access to almost anywhere I wanted to go, within reason, during the entire truck show.  I'm not one of those take advantage of a situation kind of person, so I didn't test the boundaries.  The media access and catered goodies in the press room were a special treat to escape to throughout the busy day, especially for someone with tired little toesies and blood sugar that was practically flopping on the floor.
Press room goodies.
GATS was smaller than MATS in over all square footage, but to me it felt like there was more power for the punch.  The space didn't feel crowded, but rather proper use of the space for the displays.  There were a few dead zones; perhaps there weren't enough signed up to fill the space this year. It was nice, however, not to have to run from building to building.

The large hanging numbers over head were easy to see and helpful in finding key areas and displays inside the convention center. The addition of the talent search, Truck Tank, and the Health Pavilion gave GATS an air of a true "EVENT" and not just a show where you idly walk around.  There were some neat things  this time around too if you were only there for the "trucker treating" from the vendors.

Of course, from a Florida girl, the John Anderson concert completely rocked!  We all knew he was going to close with it, but when the first notes of "Seminole Wind" started I got chills.  It is an anthem for anyone born and raised in Florida that will go straight to your heart!

Backstage with John Anderson
Watching the show from backstage.
Honestly, I didn't get to see as much of the show as I would have liked.  Allen and I had our own itinerary to stick to.  More of that will show up in a day or so in another blog, as will information about the overall rundown on the Health Pavillion and mammograms.  As a general overall assessment on the Great GATS by me, Sierra Sugar, I think it went well.  Looking forward to what Randall Reilly does to improve on this success next year.

~Sierra Sugar

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Diamond in the Rough - Truck Stop Review

Farris Truck Stop - Big Rigs Restaurant
Faucett, MO
I-29 exit 35

This is the type of place I love to find.  The diamond in the rough.  It's the real truck stop. Sure Love's and TA's are truck stops, but they are the new age, big box truck stops of the "new and improved" world of today.  The REAL truck stops are the time tested and survived, old-fashioned mom & pop type truck stops. The family owned businesses where you are a person, not a number.  Sure maybe everything isn't spic and span clean in some places, but the food and customer service are second to none.  And after a long day on the road, that is exactly what you want.... no need!

Thanks to my favorite app, Trucker Path, we found the Farris Truck Stop just up the road from our delivery location.  We were hot, our AC just went out, and I really didn't feel like cooking in the truck tonight, but a home-cooked meal is something we both needed.  He said he remembered this stop from years ago, just couldn't remember exactly where it was. Yay, Trucker Path!  The reviews of course were mixed, but we looked at the good with the bad, divided down the middle and decided it was still a good call.

The parking lot is huge.  The app claims 75 spaces, and I'd say at least that if everyone parks responsibly.  As I write this it is after 1:00 am and there are still quite a bit of open spaces.  They have a locally certified scale here.  It's not CAT certified scale, but the regulars swear on it's accuracy.  At $7.00 for first weigh and $3.00 for reweigh, if you needed to to get your tandems right for the Missouri chicken houses I'd say it's a fair price to pay for at least "close enough".  They do have fuel here, but no DEF.  I didn't look at the prices as we didn't need fuel this time; however Missouri fuel is by are far cheaper than other states. They also have free Wi-Fi, but at least from the truck it was slow.  It probably works better from inside.

Let's get the bad over with first shall we.  I had to use the ladies room.  To say it was the worst I've been in would be a lie.  I've been in a lot worse, but I've been in a lot better.  The floors were in serious need of a good mopping and the sinks and counters were grimy.  It wasn't that the ladies had trashed the restroom, it just looked as if it hadn't had a thorough scrubbing in quite sometime.  That leaves me to wonder about the condition of their showers, and hotel rooms.  This is not a place I would stop for those amenities unless there were no other options.

The store area was tidy and their prices were favorable.  Many things were marked much less than what you would spend at a chain named truck stop.  Not a huge variety, but a decent selection of foods, snacks, nick-nacks, and truck supplies.  Of course the lady behind the counter was friendly and joked with us as we walked around to stretch our legs after dinner.

Now for the good.  Actually, the really good! The Big Rig Restaurant is part of the truck stop. It's a pretty good size inside, and of course broken up into sections.  There is a driver section that also appears to be a "smoking" section.  I believe the laws in Missouri still allow for smoking in restaurants, where many states have elected to ban that practice.  We sat far away from that area so the few smoking did not bother us.  The restaurant was clean, the booths comfortable.  And they have real, REAL sweet tea.  Granted these days I have to mix mine half sweet, half unsweet due to medications, but oh it was still so good!  Our waitress was prompt and friendly.  The food arrived freshly cooked to order and hot.  To say it was delicious would be an understatement. We both got the special of the day, a guilty pleasure.  A breaded and fried pork tenderloin with homemade mashed potatoes and creamy gravy with lots of pepper!  The tenderloin filled the entire plate, and the gravy nearly overflowed!  Our waitress made sure to fill our tea and checked on us several times, but in a courteous way without being intrusive to our meal and or conversation.

While we were eating I witnessed something truly touching.  There was an elderly couple who had just finished their meal.  The man was using a walker and the lady a cane.  When they got up to leave two of the young waitress came over from where they were standing to help them both all the way out to their car.  Good hearted, down home, old fashioned, real genuine, customer service with a smile!  Kudos to Big Rig for hiring such attentive staff and to these young girls' parents for raising them with manners and caring.

This is a place I plan to keep on our must stop at again list.  You take the good with the bad. It's old.  It's unique.  It's a diamond in the rough. These are the real truck stops, the ones that cater to truckers, that have been around for ages.  These are the ones that we as truckers need to show our support to so they can stay in business.  I plan on writing them a thank you letter for the excellent meal and customer service with a little friendly, gentle encouragement to try to pay closer attention to the ladies room.  Lets help build these places up instead of letting them continue to become run down!

Tired, FULL, & ready to relax

~Sierra Sugar

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Trucker Path (pampered) Puppy

Missy the pampered #TruckerPath puppy.

8:30am call time meant getting up at 5:30am for tea, coffee, getting dressed, pretrip inspection of the truck, and of course walking the four-legged, furbaby, Missy.  We had an hour and a half drive from New Braunsfel to a ranch west of Austin by the name Raimer Ranch for the filming of the Trucker Path commercial. We had to roll before I could do my makeup, so that was done on the road.  Did you know it's not easy sitting on the bunk in the back trying to put on makeup while he drives down a two-lane Texas back road, up and down hills, with bumps curves, and switchbacks?  It's amazing I didn't exit the truck looking like a clown! But our interview was first in the morning, so you do what has to be done.  Plus they wanted picturesque shots and video of our truck throughout the day all the way up through sunset.  It was going to be a long day.  

A long hot day in the Texas August heat.

Usually the heat doesn't bother us, or the dog too much.  The truck has a good AC. Even when we sit for a while we keep it idling with the AC and fans going.  Texas heat is arid, dry, and not humid like Florida. But at 115 degrees you don't need humidity to feel the heat.  Today we knew he and I would have to suff... endure the heat at least.  Missy would maintain her usual spot snoozing on the bed in the comfort of the air-conditioned truck.

Arriving on set early the crew was just setting up for lights and sound. We met the director Gina and the assistant Director Zane.  Then we were informed due to sound the truck would need to be shut off throughout most of the day.  We were told, however, not to worry, they had a cool place for Missy to stay.

This cool place turned out to be her very own 28 foot travel trailer complete with air-conditioner already cranking.  

The DOG had her VERY OWN trailer!  Talk about PAMPERED!  

The talent and crew were in a shaded garage with fans.  Fans.  But the 20 pound dog was escorted to her own private trailer to relax and snooze all day in cool and comfort.  Periodically, people would go check on her, pet her, take her for a walk, make sure her water was fresh.  Oh and when the filming was done the entire crew just HAD to come love on her.  

Next I expect her to start demanding for filet mignon treats and a golden collar. Maybe her own star on Hollywood Blvd? But no, she didn't let the pampering go to her fuzzy little head. She continues to snore all day in the truck sucking up the AC and hogging the bed.  That's my little Missy girl and I wouldn't have her any other way. She deserves all the pampering she can get!

Thank you to both the production company, Region C, and to  Trucker Path for everything you've done for Allen and I, but also for treating my little puppy like the pampered superstar that she is to me.

~Sierra Sugar

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Truckers it's time to #FixTrucking

#Trucking link and hash tag courtesy of Trucking Social Media

Last night we pulled off to get fuel, but trucks were backed up onto the road and couldn't get into the truck stop.  Come to find out it wasn't the the fuel lanes that were full, it was a truck that was broken down right at the entrance. The driver was on the CB asking for help, no one was answering.  There were a good six trucks between us and the guy in trouble.  Allen started talking to the guy on the CB while we found another way to the fuel island.  I ran inside to let the fuel desk know they had a truck broken down outside.  Apparently, no one else had alerted them.

After we fueled up Allen went over to physically help the poor guy with his truck.  He had a CAT motor that was completely out of fuel.  He didn't know about priming the fuel system or using ether for the air filter.  He wanted to pour diesel directly into the air filter like a carbirator on an old car. He didn't even know where the filter was.  Allen managed to get him moved out of the way after two bottles of ether.

How is this relevant to the article below?  All the trucks behind the guy who were stuck were ignoring him on the CB.  They never got out to see if he needed help.  They were sitting in their trucks playing on their tablets or talking on their phones.  The one who did get out only came over with a nasty attitude and a nastier mouth, cussing and yelling at him to get out of the way.

No one knows how to work on their rigs any more.  No one wants to learn how to fix anything.  No one wants to help anyone.  No one has any common courtesy or patience any more. Every one wants to be Mr. Billy Badass super trucker.  Well let me tell you, by doing that all you succeed in doing is bringing yourself and the entire industry down! 

Please people take some time to learn your equipment.  It is your livelihood.  If you can't fix it, don't drive it! Help one another. Talk to one another. Be considerate. Be kind. Show some common courtesy.  Use common sense.  Look out for each other. Let's be the professionals and the brotherhood and sisterhood... essentially the family we are supposed to be.

~Sierra Sugar

Friday, August 7, 2015

Tough Tested - "Driver" mono earbuds Review

I have been hesitant to write this review because it isn't entirely a positive review.  It isn't entirely a negative review either.  I struggle with saying negative things about great companies such at Tough Tested.  After a bit of internal debate and a talk with the always wonderful Gigi, I realized they don't become great without overcoming those little bumps in the road.  This is where Tough Tested shines! Their customer service and their willingness to work out the kinks.

A while ago I received a set of their Driver Noise Control Mono Earbuds with In-Line Mic as part of a gift pack for winning a contest. Also included in the pack was their Tech Gear Bag and an iPhone charger.  Being an Android user I was unable to use the iPhone charger, but it made a great gift to a friend who loves it!  Review of the Tech Gear Bag will follow shortly.

The Good:

All of Tough Tested's earbuds come packed in a study hard plastic case that while sealed and secure it is not "adult proof".  You know that dreaded so called child proof stuffed that dulls scissors, breaks can openers, shatters ceramic knives, and sends c14 explosive running away in tears.  Thank you Tough Tested for not using that stuff!  

Also, in a sea of black cords, Tough Tested stands out with a touch of Orange.  After all Orange is the New Black.  And in the trucking world Orange is safety too.  It's easy to see. It's nice touch.  

The single over the ear hook is comfortable even for small ears.  It doesn't pinch or dig.  I especially loved Tough Tested choice of earbud tips.  They offer two; the standard half sphere, and a diminishing three tiered set.  Both sets come in a soft silicon.  For me having small ears and even smaller ear canals the tiered set were the most comfortable.  

The in-line mic has a clip that allows it to be placed anywhere on your shirt for maximum control of voice output quality.  There are volume controls and a switch for EQ when you just want to listen to music, and voice for when you are talking on the phone.  Now let me tell you the sound quality is EXCELLENT even for a single earbud.  Whether you are listening to music, youtube, or an important business conference you are going to hear everything, and hear it comfortably.

The Bad:

Unfortunately, people on the other end could not hear me very well. No matter where I placed the mic, even holding it up close to my mouth I was told I sounded muffled.  This was a problem with the Marine set as well.  I tried using both sets with a different phone and in different conditions with no change.  After talking with a few other people who have used the Tough Tested earbuds we came to the conclusion that it was most likely an issue with the pitch/tone of my voice not being compatible with the internal mic settings, as they have not had this problem. For those that don't know me, I have a soft, unique highish pitch voice. Men and women with a stronger or deeper voice have no problems talking into these and being heard by those on the other end.  After talking with Gigi, we plan on getting together at GATS and doing a few tests to work out the kinks.  Now that is customer service!

The Overall:

Despite actually being unable to talk on the Driver Earbud set at this time, I still would give Tough Tested high marks for quality, durability, versatility, comfort, and customer service. After GATS I plan to do an update on the earbuds and see if we were able to work out the voice issues.  

If you are looking for a sturdy set of comfortable earbuds to wear while you are driving that are both durable and offer good sound quality I would recommend any of the Tough Tested brand earbuds, single or double.  Please don't let my issue stop you from trying them. I've spoken with several people who use them regularly and it appears my situation is unique.  Beyond that, their custom service is top notch!  If you're not familiar with their brand of products look for them in any of the major truck stops, especially Love's.  

Or you can check out their website:
From there you can find both their Facebook and Twitter links!  If you're going to GATS make sure to stop by their booth too!

~Sierra Sugar