Wednesday, July 22, 2015

South Dakota Rest Areas are Possessed

It was an innocent visit really, no need for the senseless attack.  I was just sitting there minding my own business as it were, when out of no where *BAM* or rather *SPLASH* all over my back were streaks of icy cold water. Startled, I jumped to my feet.  Nearly toppling over as I spun around in the small confining space, I both cursed and thanked those close walls as my forgotten pants fell to my ankles. With my now soaked back pinned against the locked stall door I watched in horror as the possessed icy water continued to spiral upwards out of this South Dakota rest area Ladies Restroom toilet and attack the walls as it once attacked me.  Then all went silent.  As quickly as it started it stopped.  The water stilled.  I pulled my pants up and rushed outside where he was waiting for me like always. 

Yes, he helped me clean up.  

No he still hasn't stopped laughing.

[This was experienced and written back in April.  Yes, I had a good laugh at myself, you can too!  Ladies, just be forewarned.  If you're traveling through South Dakota and stop to use a rest area facility at night, the ghosts are pranksters!]

~Sierra Sugar

Monday, July 20, 2015

Riddle Me This

How can I feel perfectly content in our average (read small) 73" sleeper "big truck", yet feel claustrophobic traveling up and down the highways here on the East coast of the US?  Logic dictates that there is more room outside the truck than there is inside, right?  But as I stare out the windows each day at the trees and the green I can't help but feel a sense of being closed in, trapped.  All I want to do is retreat to the comfort of the sleeper of the truck to write or draw.  Where its small, where it's safe.  How does that make sense?


I remember the first Twilight book, don't judge me, the books were good, the movies awful. After Bella left Phoenix and arrived in Forks, Washington everything was green and wet. The huge trees crowded her view.  She missed the brown of the desert, the view you could see for miles.  The first time I read the books I didn't quite understand that.  You see, growing up in Florida, yes the beaches and ocean, but also trees, trees, nothing but trees. Trees, and grass, and swamp, and green.  Green everywhere.  Pine trees and great big beautiful Spanish Moss Oaks hundreds of years old crowd the roads, arching over them, canopies protecting all below from the sun and rain.


But you know what else comes with the South and its oceans, and green, and trees, and rains?  Humidity.  The air itself literally weighs on you like one of grandma's heavy quilts. Except this quilt has been soaked in hot water and its steaming you while you bake underneath in the sun, roasting, suffocating.  It's heavy.  It's like trying to walk through hot, sticky, melted butter every day.  But when you live in it your whole life, you don't know any different.  That's life.  You grab an ice cold glass of sweet tea, pull your hair up into a ponytail, and go on.  Open-toe shoes are your best friend.  Cotton breathable clothes are a must for survival in the saturated heat.  Panythose?  Forget about those!  Except for hanging your onions and apples.  AC, big paddle fans, trips to the beach, river, springs, or any other cool watering hole are the elements of survival for summers in the South.  And everywhere you look is green.  Even the beaches.  I didn't know any different, and I couldn't imagine a place where brown and dry would ever be considered beautiful or comforting.


Then I climbed into a big truck.


My whole world changed.


Our first trip out he took me to Seattle by way of Salt Lake City.  After, we went down through Utah.  I was literally rendered speechless and into tears at the beauty of the barren red rock.  For the next 7 months we traveled back and forth across the US.  Up to Seattle and back to Nashville.  Across Utah, Arizona, Colorado, out to California and back.  I saw New Mexico, all over Texas, even up to South Dakota and the Black Hills, Kansas and the great plains.  But everywhere we went, I was always happy to go back west, to Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico.  Especially Utah, Montana, and Wyoming for some reason.  Each for similar and different reason.  Utah for its breath-taking barren beauty.  But all of them for the wide open spaces.  (queue Dixie Chicks) I felt free and alive out there.  I could look and never get tired of what I saw.  My mind would wander with ideas.  I realized for the first time I didn't feel crowded.


And then we'd head back East.  About the time we would cross the Mississippi River I could feel my mood change.  The roads felt darker.  The trees were taunting me, teasing me.  They hovered, their branches reaching out to snare me.  It felt like a trap.  They were going to hold me back East forever and never let me see the beauty of the West again.  I could feel my anxiety start to rise and my depression start to sink into my chest.  And suddenly I understood what Bella felt.  I longed for the brown.  For the dry, or dryer.  I longed for the wide open spaces.


Everyday we run, well he does.  He drives.  Expedite keeps us moving and busier.  It was a smart move.  But as a solo expedite driver freight lanes are limited.  Meaning, we are limited to the Eastern part of the country.  Don't get me wrong, I've seen some beautiful things I never would have seen.  Expedite gives us lighter loads, we can take some different routes, off the beaten path.  I count myself lucky to see the things I have.  Yet, every day I feel those trees closing in on me, mocking me.  I try to look beyond them in vain.


The outside makes me feel claustrophobic.  It's too small.  Yet the 73" of our sleeper is my safety.  For now atleast.  Until we can figure out a way to get to those wide open spaces once again.


~Sierra Sugar.

Monday, July 13, 2015

America, just stop!

America.

It has often been stated as being the greatest nation on earth by both Americans and foreigners alike.  Every year there are not hundreds, not thousands, but hundreds of thousands of people that come to America both legally and illegally.  This has been going on for a couple hundred years. Which just by itself says something.  Parts of our history is ugly, yes.  Parts of our present is ugly too.  But a few things everyone needs to consider since America became, well...America.

We have freedom of speech.  This allows people to speak out publicly with out fear of persecution from their government.  That's right.  All those things you don't like, are offended by, disagree with, you can say so without fear of the government throwing you in jail, or worse.  Some countries behead you.  That doesn't mean your speaking out against what ever offends you gives you the right to take away some one else's rights.  You just have the right to complain.

We have freedom of religion.  Which allows every one to practice what ever religion they want, or no religion at all.  You don't like Christianity?  That's fine!  Great!  Don't go to church, or buy crosses, or say the words "...under God" when reciting the pledge.  That's your right.  Practice what ever religion you want, or don't practice any.  Don't take away someone else's ability to practice theirs.  You do not have that right.

We have a government system set up, while not perfect, it in theory has a checks and balance within it self.  Further, it is ultimately purviewed by the very people it is governing, that means you and me.  And we have always had the right to bear arms.
Not for hunting.
Not for protection against robbery.

**But for protection against a tyrannical government should it try to grow too powerful like governments from world history.**

Do Hitler and Stalin ring any bells?  What about the British government the American Revolution fought to escape?  THAT is our INALIENABLE right to bear arms.  Untouchable. Undeniable.  Can't be taken away.  Not just shot guns, but all guns. Our forefathers were smart enough set in motion the legal necessities to protect us, US, the people.

These are just some of the many reasons millions of people have come to America since the beginning of America.  It's worked for over 200 years.  Certainly not everything is perfect.  And not all citizens like all these things, but they don't have to like them, just abide by them.  Laws, from our ORIGINAL CONSTITUTION , were not made to be liked.  It's called compromise for the sake of order and safety. These are the reasons America has been called such a great nation, a nation of opportunity. Our freedom and foundation is strong.  Stop chipping away at it!!!

Just because you are offended doesn't make it wrong!

~Sierra Sugar

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Bigger Picture


I watched a video the other day of BHO giving a speech at Cambridge university back in 1995.  I watched the full video, listening to him read narrative from his autobiography and explain to the crowd the words he himself had written about his life. About him growing up with a white mother and black father, his experiences, his influences.  And ultimately what his presentation closed on was him identifying with something his mentor, a writer, a black man, said to him.  That was that no matter how nice a white man was, there were no good white men in the world.  Here he was with his white grand parents raising him at that time, loving him as only grandparents can.  And says he realized he was completely alone.  At that moment he had turned his back on all white people.  It was chilling, and all I could think was "What wolf a in sheep's clothing"!

This man from that time has had an agenda to divide the country.  Any thing and everything to get people to focus on race, hate, prejudice, anything to promote discord.  There are white northern liberals who speak of genocide of the "southern people" to purify America to make it a great nation again.  This is the new world order that is coming.  This is the "bigger picture" that you have to look beyond.  Stop focusing on flags, and race, and slavery that ended 150 years ago.  Don't forget it!  For the love of God never forget!! But let the hate go.  Cause that hate that is swirling in this country like a cesspool is what is going to destroy this country in rapid order.  

~Sierra Sugar

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Pleasant Night on the Pennsylvania Turnpike


The sun was low and the soft white clouds stretched across a dusky blue sky.  The wind had died down significantly from the gusts of the afternoon to a gentle cool caress.  So many times out on the road we are confined to the cab of the truck.  Miles and miles to run as the clock counts down.  "Hurry up, go." it says, "hurry up and get there."  But last night it was quiet.  Last night there was no rush.  We were out on the road, somewhere in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania without a care in the world. No load to rush to.  No clock taunting us.  No highway teasing us.  Just he and I and a peaceful evening breeze blowing through the open windows of the truck.

"Let's turn the truck off and go sit outside," he says.  "Do you want to?"  It should have been a rhetorical question.  The weather was so perfect why would anyone want to stay cooped up inside?  After dinner we took the four-legged fur baby for a long walk all around the perimeter of the large parking area of the turnpike travel plaza.  She ran and pranced and had a furry good time.  The wind whisked through the long white strands of her tail making it look like a flag waving in the breeze.  By the time we got back to the truck she was ready for some water and a soft spot to curl up for a nap.

After fixing some hot chai tea, grabbing my laptop and my jacket, he and I headed out to the front of the travel plaza where there were some wire mesh table and chairs. You are probably thinking sitting outside a busy travel plaza on a turnpike would be neither relaxing nor romantic.  When you are confined to 73" of space day in and day out, any change of environment is a pleasant change of pace.  

We sat and and watched the setting sun against the rolling hills of the Pennsylvania landscape.  The cool breeze was a wonderful change from the scorching heat we are used to this time of year in Florida.  No pesky bugs or humidity to intrude on the evening.  I sipped my hot tea and worked on an article I had been procrastinating on for weeks.  He had a soda and looked through a magazine.  Every once in a while the distinctive sound of good old-fashioned jake brakes coming through un-muffled straight pipes would get our attention and we'd look up to watch, or drool, as the beast rolled by.

We talked about our dream truck.  We talked about our near future plans.  We talked about long-term future plans.  We whispered sweet nothings and blew kisses in the soft winds.  It was fully dark before we headed back to the truck.  My article was complete and we were both completely refreshed and relaxed.

Its the little things that matter.  Spending time together matters.  Getting out together, even if it is just at a picnic table at a travel plaza.  Anywhere is somewhere special, as long as the person you are with is special to you.

~Sierra Sugar

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Wyoming I-80 Multi-Vehicle Pile-Up Catastrophe

By now I am sure just about everyone has seen or heard on the news about the multiple crash events that happened recently in Wyoming on Interstate 80. First, I want to state that my heart goes out to all the drivers, truck and car alike, who were in these wrecks.  Their personal and professional vehicles have been damaged, in many cases completely totaled.  To some this means a complete loss of income.  And that is just the small stuff.  The injuries, the stress, the worry, the heartache, the aftermath in dealing with it all, I can’t even imagine.  Then there is the life that was lost, that family has a missing piece that can never be replaced.  These kinds of tragedies reap all kinds of havoc in a myriad of ways.  The fallout from which leaves people angry and crying for answers, pointing fingers or blame, for vengeance.  

The media is like a leech feeding off that negative energy and continues to spin a story in what every sensationalistic light it can to prolong the outcry from the public to its benefit.  And trust me it has a benefit in the form of green, as in money.  But that is for another day.  Today isn’t about smoke and mirrors of press and government agencies, its about realities and physics, and a little bit of understanding amidst a horrible tragedy.

We spent most of the winter traveling between Nashville/Atlanta and Seattle.  That meant  many long treks across Wyoming and I-80.  The winter was mild this year.  We actually joked after being down South that we needed to go back to Seattle to get warm.  Wyoming didn’t get hit really hard until this month, a late spring storm.  On par with storms up there, it was a doozy  I-80 across Wyoming is a long stretch of… well, a long stretch.  You see lots of nothing.  Fields and hills, mountains, snow drift guards, and flashing signs warning of high winds or “interstate closed if flashing.”  There is a lot of wide open spaces in Wyoming, queue the Dixie Chicks.  Wyoming DOT has their work cut out for them in bad weather, which means, well, the roads don’t get well maintained, they get shut down.  And with this storm they were shut down, a lot. Then reopened, and shut down again, then opened, and shut.  You get the picture.  It was bad and quite hard to keep the roads clear for any length of time.

What happens when you get stuck somewhere for an extended length of time?  When you finally are able to be on your way?  Why of course you typically tend to rush, even in less than ideal conditions.  Oh come on!  Be honest here, no one is looking.  You’re just reading.  Admit to yourself that you’ve rushed somewhere, sped a little when you shouldn’t have in the rain, the snow, too windy, bad traffic, something because you were late for something.  Just about everyone has done it some time or another if you've ever driven a motor vehicle in your life.  Now imagine a pack of people heading out from a gathering point where they’ve been held over against their will for hours.  Some trying to get home to waiting family, maybe school-aged kids.  Some trying to get to work.  Others, truck drivers trying to make deliveries with dispatchers hundreds of miles away in a warm cozy office, or at home in their pajamas with their families talking on a cell phone being uncaring to the stranded truck driver, making threats of decreased pay for late delivery etc…  Everyone heading out is in a bit of a rush despite horrible weather conditions.  Despite the fact that Wyoming DOT probably should not have opened the highways so soon, but probably did so under pressure from thousands of people stranded trying to get across the state.  Maybe these rushed people weren’t “speeding” but traveling a too fast for weather conditions.

What were those weather conditions?  Roads slushy, black ice, snow covered, high winds, very low visibility.  Essentially winter blizzard, yet DOT opened the highway saying it was ok to travel.  In those weather conditions semi trucks absolutely by law are required to have tire chains on their tires.  Most cars do not take this precaution.

Most of the larger trucking companies out there today, JB Hunt, Schneider, Swift, Wal-Mart, Celedon, just to name a few, have their trucks governed, or equipped with “speed limiters” usually between 58-65mph anyway.  These trucks because of their controlled speed are used to running in “packs”, meaning they don’t space themselves out naturally.  They can’t pass normally, they hold up traffic, etc  So they get in a pattern, a habit.  Now they are out there in bad weather, repeating a dangerous habit in extremely dangerous weather.  When you run in a pack and something goes wrong it has a domino effect escalating rapidly.  One truck gets in trouble and suddenly they all are in trouble because there is no room or time to maneuver.  This is a serious issue with speed limiters.  They may not have been running at top speed in this storm, I certainly hope not, but they were repeating patterns learned by being limited by their speed limited engines.

Another issue is CBs.  For a truck driver CBs are not a toy, but a necessary toolbox matter what anyone says. This trend to stop using them is a detriment to the industry when it could be use to prevent so many incidents.

For those that cry they are a distraction, if you’re going through a town or at a truck stop and someone is being obnoxious that’s what the volume or power knobs are for.  But in bad traffic or weather situations CBs are an excellent tool for ANY driver, not just truck drivers.  In the case of the Wyoming pile up, if the drivers in the back had their CBs on, or even HAD CBs in their trucks they might have heard some of the other drivers in the pile up yelling out on the radio about the accident.  Or heard from drivers heading the opposite directions giving them a heads up to slow down and stop that there was a big accident.  They would have known instead of just continuing on and plowing into everyone else.  

So many new truckers today say they don’t need a CB because of the new technology, ie cell phones and such.  But even for a car driver a CB is a great tool to have at your disposal.  A cell phone can’t tell you about that accident around that sharp curve when it’s raining, or notify you that hey your brake light is out, or did you know you’re dragging a chain and it’s sparking back there?  Or, there’s a huge accident 3 miles up and they have the interstate blocked, instead of sitting for 2 hours you might want to jump off at the next exit and go around on local roads.

Should DOT have kept the roads closed longer?  Probably
Should DOT have done a better job clearing the roads?  Again probably, but it was a bad storm and their workers may have been at capacity.
Should everyone (cars included) have had chains on their tires?  Yes.
Should everyone (cars included) have been traveling at slower speeds?  Again, Yes.
Are vehicles traveling in packs a safety issue? Absolutely.
Would everyone, or at least all big trucks, having CBs in their trucks at least lessened the damage of the pileup?  Probably.

The purpose of this long explanation and rant?  Don’t believe everything the media tells you.  Semi truck drivers are not complete idiots and reckless road mongers.  80,000lbs just can't stop on a dime. Many of the trucks that were on the road were under pressure to get delivered regardless of circumstances. And believe me there were cars being reckless in that mix too,but the media doesn't like to focus on that.

Right now there is more going on behind the scenes with the ATA and government/industry payoffs, CARB fraud being uncovered, congress and OOIDA going after the FMCSA to tear them down and reform or completely dismantle, and so much more.  In the midst of it all, instead of building the industry up, “big trucking” if you will like the ATA is doing everything they can to destroy the image of trucking and make it impossible for the American Trucker to earn a living.  The harder we fight for real reform and cleaning up of regulations and our image, the worse they actually make it.  

I will end my rant for now.  But I will continue to update on reasons why car drivers hate truck drivers so much, and vice versa.  And why we really just all want to get along if the big agencies like ATA and FMCSA would just get out of the way.

~Sierra Sugar

Monday, April 20, 2015

Share the Road

Truck Drivers want to share the road. The only reason I keep pushing so much big truck this and that is because I didn't realize how one sided things really are until I came out here. Truck Drivers have a professional license. They pay road use taxes, car drivers don't. They pay hundreds of dollars for all their CDL endorsements. The industry is highly over regulated and micromanaged, more than almost any other industry.  You really have no idea. And still they are pushing for more regulations.  It's making it almost impossible to do the job.

I challenge anyone to ride with a driver over the road for a month and will you see the reality. Yet car drivers are never taught how to drive around big trucks. They are never taught to share the road with us. They are never taught the physics of a big truck, not safety and courtesy around them. They are not taught history of the highways nor why trucks are on the road. Nothing about commerce and shipping and what the truck driver does. No, instead they are taught truck drivers are evil road mongers, when that is not the case, not usually.

Trust me, truck drivers would like nothing more than to share the road with car drivers if only they would take the time to educate themselves and do the same.

~Sierra Sugar