Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Clear hair, Cold nights


[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]


One of the hardest things to get used to while being over the road in a big truck is not being able to take a shower every day. When you're under a load that has a tight time table finding time to stop and shower isn't always possible. Every time we get fuel we earn shower credits at places like Flying J, Loves, Petro, and Pilot truckstops.  But we can't always stop at those when he has to drive until his time is out.

Last night was one of those no truck stop nights.  Instead we stopped on a "get on ramp" off the interstate in the middle of the desert.  It was late and dark, and the stars were so bright in the sky miles away from any city lights.  The Milky Way just jumped out at you like special effects at a 3d movie.  Despite the spectacular view I couldn't relax because my head was itching. My hair needed washing and bad!

This was the view to random passerbyers.  Me standing outside the truck, the top of my head barely reaching the bottom of the door. The desert winds blowing, dropping the already chilly air to near freezing while I used a spray bottle to wet my hair. Thankfully, I keep a small bottle of Dr. Bronners castille soap on the truck. It cleans and refreshes wonderfully, removing oil and dirt without tons of bubbles and lather to try and rinse away. The bad thing about it is, it has peppermint in it, which is cooling.



Scrubbing the soap into my wet hair, in the cold night air, my poor little fingers were frozen. Then the fun part.  He had a gallon jug of rinse water which he slowly poured over my head. So here I am bent over, head turned upside down, combing my numb fingers through my hair as he poured cold water over it right there off the side of the interstate. Yay for teamwork!  It didn't take much water thankfully and my hair was fresh and clean.

Clean hair finally, and I was able to sleep last night all snuggled up to him to keep warm.  Tonight we get a hot showers somewhere near Fort Worth, TX.

~sierra

Monday, November 17, 2014

Main Street of America


Get your kicks on Route 66!

This morning while heading down a road in the middle of no where desert California I startled him with a squeal.  Blazed in white in the middle of this little two-lane blacktop was the unmistakable symbol of Route 66!  In my head I started singing lyrics from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, John Mayer, and the Rolling Stones.  Of course the wonderful man that he is, he humored and stopped for pictures.  Even the dog got in on the family photo opp!  

Route 66 has nearly as many pop culture references and historical landmarks as it does miles. Officially opened in 1926, it was the first fully paved highway in America. The over 2000 miles of two-laned road from Chicago to LA was officially closed in 1985, but many patches of the original highway remain and there is a movement to reopen it and restore the historic landmarks. This a huge part of Americana and is quite literally a highway through time, miles and miles filled with glimpses into the history and progression of the American traveler. 

Well if you ever plan to motor west
Just take my way that's the highway that's the best
Get your kicks on Route 66
Well it winds from Chicago to L.A.
More than 2000 miles all the way
Get your kicks on Route 66
Well it goes from St Louis, Joplin, Missouri
Oklahoma City looks ooh so pretty
You'll see Amarillo and Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona don't forget Winona
Kingsman, Barstow, San Bernadino

Would you get hip to this kindly tip
And go take that California trip
Get your kicks on Route 66
Well it goes from St. Louis, Joplin, Missouri
Oklahoma City looks ooh so pretty
You'll see Amarillo and Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona don't forget Winona
Kingsman, Barstaw, San Bernadino

Would you get hip to this kindly tip
And go take that California trip
Get your kicks on Route 66
Get your kicks on Route 66


~sierra

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Past, Present, Future



One of the things I love about being over the road is getting to see all the terrain and climate differences from across the country.  I've seen the white sands of the Gulf Coast, the foliage filled mountains and winding hills of the Appalachians, the crop covered rolling hills of the great plains, snow topped mountains, painted skies, the intricately wind-carved ridges all along the Colorado river, wide open skies of Montana, and the airid desolation of the Mojave desert.  Each trip out is something new to see and experience.  Even places or roads we've traveled before reveal new sights due to different times in the day or variations in season.  Everyday quite literally is a new adventure.

One of our recurring conversations is speculation on what the native americans of yester-year and the early settlers saw as they too experienced this country for the first time.  What was it like for them then, back before technology shaped and often scarred the landsides?  What did they see by campfire light before there were paved roads, headlights, and streetlights?  We even discuss the travelers of last century heading across county by car, long before there were gas stations and rest areas every few miles.  And then we wonder what travelers of tomorrow will see as the world continues to advance.  Will those future travelers also wonder what we of today saw?  How much will the future change?  And how much of history and nature will be lost in those changes?

Sequaro cactus from Arizona.
This one was about 20 feet tall, though many of these
cactus can grow to 70 feet tall and live up to 150 years. 

Yes we're out here for work.  He has deadlines to meet and DoT regulations to maintain.  Often the days are long and by night we are road weary, him so much more than me.  But despite the required hours of work, in many ways truck driving is like a working vacation; a dream to get paid to travel the county.  Sure we don't often have time to stop, but this country provides visions of wonder to behold right out the window if you only take the time to notice.  I look forward to each day eagerly awaiting what ever wonderous view lays hidden around the next bend.



Sunset from US 95 in Southern California near the Mojave Desert.
~sierra

Friday, November 14, 2014

Realities of living in a Big Truck



[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]

Its been a little while since my last update.  In that time we made it home for a few days. We are now back out again and currently making the long haul across Texas on I-10 heading to Southern California.  In just over a week we went from Florida, to South Carolina, to Indiana, to Dallas, to Corpus Christi.  When we left home in the Florida panhandle it was in the 80s. Today the high in Corpus Christi was 44.  44!!!  In what dimention is it considered normal for Southern Texas to ever be that cold?

So we are heading to Southern California which will take us right through the Mojave Desert.  Naturally I am excited. We have a lot of time to get to our drop destination.  That means time to stop and take pictures.  There is something about the southwest's desolate beauty that appeals to me.  Maybe because it is so radically different from where I grew up.

This trip out we have better organization in the truck. When we were home he installed a 3600watt power inverter.  This will help power the new refrigerator, microwave, and coffee pot. And of course we already had the crockpot.  We lucked out at Sams and found a nice fridge on sale.  Its about 2 feet tall, like the ones you usually find in hotel rooms. Now I'm able to keep fresh veggies, milk, and enough meat for two or three meals at a time.   We can now have fresh hot coffee every morning, home cooked meals, cold drinks, and healthy snacks.  He also installed some small dresser drawers above the bed for better organization and storage.

Most of the cooking is done in the crockpot.  I found these crockpot liner bags that make cleanup a breeze.  The clean bag goes in the crockpot, then the food for cooking.  After we're done eating I wipe plates, cutlery, and stuff down with paper towels to remove food particles and grease. Then wipe everything with lysol wipes with bleach which kills germs.  Finally, I have a spray bottle with water, which I use to spray everything down and dry with a clean paper towel.  It may not be as ideal as a dish washer, but it still kills germs and is less wasteful than disposable plates, bowels, cutlery, etc...  All the trash goes in the now empty crockpot liner and throw it all away.

Of course cooking while traveling down the road is great but presents its own challenges.  You don't realize how bumpy, crooked, or otherwise imperfect our highways are until you are balanced on one foot, on top of a spring mattress, reaching on tip toe to grab something out of a cabinet; or trying to cut veggies on a small cutting board on a small slide out table and keep said veggies from bouncing to the floor at the same time.  I feel like the girl on the flying trapeze.  And did you know a bed makes a great prep area?  It has become my assembly line. Everything gets lined up on the right side of me. As I use it, it gets moved to the left side.  Strap the crockpot down and put everything away again.

When you are confined to a 73" living space three things become important. First, you have to have organization. In small spaces it doesn't take much for trash and clutter to build up.  A cluttered space is depressing and unhealthy. We try to keep everything put away. Trash gets taken out evry day. He even installed an air hose in the cab to help blow out dirt and dust.

Second, you have to make time to get out and walk around. Sitting for long periods is bad for your health. It can create blood clots in your legs due to lack of circulation. Being sedentary is bad for your blood pressure and your metabolism, as well as bad on your joints and nerves.  When we stop at truck stops he always parks in the very back, which gives us lots of leg stretching time when we walk back and forth. Having Missy with us helps too, because we have to walk the dog several times a day.  And on the days when we aren't pressed for time extra stops for pictures and site seeing help too.

Third, its important to have hobbies. Being cooped up in a small space with nothing to entertain your mind causes cabin fever, grumpiness, high tension, and other forms of stress. He and I spend a lot of time talking and joking with each other. We talk about the things we see as we travel, as well as future dreams and plans.  I look up places we're going to and we discuss the history and other trivia. We listen to a lot of music. We listen to the news and have discussions on what we hear. I spend time blogging. Yes, I do updates and check ins with my friends and family on facebook. I read on my kindle app. I have my drawing materials for when we are stopped.  And currently, I am again trying to teach myself to crochet.

Also important I think, is for each of us to have time to ourself. Not that easy in such small confines. He gets up in the morning and shuts the sleeper curtain allowing me time to wake up slowly. This is his time to listen to his talk radio shows.  After I wake up we spend some time together talking and planning.  We plan the trip route together, daily stops, fuel locations, and work on paperwork together. Usually some time in the afternoon I will go back in the sleeper to read, cook, rest, or listen to music with my headphones on, and let us each have some "me" time again.

I think we are managing a good balance. We manage to be considerate and respectful of each other. There's always lots of laughter and I love yous. And overall I feel this adventure has been good for us.  Adapting to a new lifestyle isn't all smiles and sunshine. But when two people work together the bumps in the road don't seem quite so big.

~sierra


Friday, November 7, 2014

The best part of waking up...


The year was 1993. I was barely 21 and getting ready for my first day at a new job and what turned out to be the start of a new career.  Mornings were hard for me.  I was lucky to get my clothes on right-side in and forward most days.  There I was standing in the tiny kitchen of my rented house trying to figure out if I had everything before walking out the door when suddenly there was a knock.

Anxiously I peeked out and there he was, all smiling and full of energy.  He came by to wish me good luck on my first day. I remember him straightening my scrub top and fixing the hem of my pants so they were properly tucked into my socks, hey it was the 90s.  He made sure I had my purse, my lunch, my keys, a big hug and loving kiss, then sent me on my way.

It is now 21 years later, mornings haven't gotten any easier, and he is still always thinking of me.

This morning I woke up and the truck wasn't moving.  He usually wakes up before me and drives for an hour or two before I wake up. Then we stop to get coffee or breakfast. But, this morning we were already stopped.  I poked my messy bed head out of the sleeper and was greeted with "Good morning my beautiful!"  A groggy, I-haven't-had-coffee-yet smile and I manage to ask why we were stopped.

There is a pass in North Carolina on I-40 heading up to Tennessee.  It is a gorge that follows the Pigeon River for 20 some miles.  He told me he didn't want me to miss it, so he stopped and waited so I could see it.  Always thinking of me.  Always taking care of me.  After getting dressed and getting a hot cup of coffee, made right here in the truck, he took me on a leisurely drive through the gorge.  As I sipped my coffee I got to see the mountain fall colors in all their magesty.  Ambers, golds, coppers,  and ruby reds, mixed in with the vibrant evergreens.  It was a gorgeous morning driving through God's garden all decked out in Christmas colors.
Morning in the mountains, 11/07/2014


And there he sat in the driver's seat pointing trees and mountains out to me, all the while with a smile of amusement on his handsome face. The road was narrow and curvy, and there weren't any scenic pull offs to stop and take pictures. While I managed to snap a few from the moving truck, the memory of this serene mountain morning will always remain.  And every day I hope I make him as happy and feel as loved as he does me.

~sierra