Thursday, September 17, 2015

Not so Snug as a (Yuck) Bug

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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 head...ie, 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.

---Update--

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

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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

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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

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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

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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


http://truckingsocialmedia.com/time-is-now-to-fix-trucking/

Friday, August 7, 2015

Tough Tested - "Driver" mono earbuds Review

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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:  http://mizco.com/tough-tested/
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



Friday, July 31, 2015

Exciting Opportunities!

Teaser Revealed

The other day I mentioned I had a surprise that I couldn't reveal yet.  Well things are pretty much confirmed now.  Some of you might remember the interview I shared from Trucker Path.  

Trucker Path

Trucker Path is an app that truckers and travelers use to help find parking and stopping places across the country.  It's helpful for for locating both major chain truck stops, the old mom and pop stops, rest areas, parking, restaurants nearby, Wal-Mart, hotels, and more.  Every place has user reviews so you know what kind of place it is.  How far away, what exit, what side of the road, etc.  We love it! 

Ok, so the BIG news?

Allen and I use the app all the time. After I spoke with them at MATS to do some cross promotion for Missing Truck Driver Alert Network they ended up interviewing me, as I previously mentioned.

Earlier this week they contacted me about a promotional video/ commercial they are filming.  Trucker Path wants to have me and Allen in it!  They've made arrangements with their production company to get us down to Austin next week for filming.  The video will premier and play the whole time at GATS. I didn't know this, but apparently Trucker Path is one of the big sponsors at GATS, so I'm kind of blown away and excited all at the same time.

The AMAZING RRE team

Allen's company, Roadrunner Expedite, has been wonderful in working with us to give us the time to go there, company shirts, etc.  Such a fantastic team and group of people!! So of course shout outs to Jim, James, Laura, Scott, Nicole, Patrick, and entire dispatch team!  Y'all totally rock! 

~Sierra Sugar

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

South Dakota Rest Areas are Possessed

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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


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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

Friday, February 27, 2015

Mema's Magic Refrigerator

Fridge and microwave next to the bed in our 73" sleeper.
Mema's magic refrigerator.

My mother's mother lived in northern Mississippi. They had 86 acres of farm land, so there was always an abundance of food, especially veggies. She had a deep freezer, a  second small refrigerator, and a magic refrigerator with an unending hole in the back.

No matter how many left overs we had, or fresh fruit, or gallons of tea getting cold, or any number of things needing to go in the fridge there was always room. More to the point, she alone knew the magic combination to open that vast hole mysteriously cloaked in the back of that old fridge. Nothing ever had to be thrown away that was still edible. And no matter how many groceries she came home with from the commissary, she always found room for it all.

This magical legacy has been passed down to me. Even with the tiny dorm fridge we have in the truck with a freezer smaller than a mailbox, that magically hidden hole opens for me allowing me to find a place for everything that needs chilling. Gallon of creamer? Sure. Milk, 2 types of deli cheese, butter, cream cheese, deli meats, tortillas, condiments, sodas, fruits, and veggies? No problem. A whole pot roast, beef tips, ground beef, ground pork, chicken breasts, frozen spinach and peas?  Sure thing!  Left overs? Pudding? Candy? Chicken salad? Juice? Yogurt? Ricotta? Mozzarella? Eggs? Bacon? Apple sauce? More? I can make it fit with room to spare!

This gift is a god-send while we are over the road.  A big truck, even with a 73" sleeper, has limited space. Every inch is valuable and utilized. Eating out all the time is expensive and unhealthy. I love my little fridge and other appliances that allow me to cook more meals than not while we are on the road. He drives all day, in all weather conditions. This way I can always have fresh food to fix him a nourishing hot meal at the end of the day.

Thank you Mema, for passing down this witchery, this magical heritage, the unending refrigerator hole!

~sierra

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mountain Snow, Deer, and Anxiety


Last week while night driving through the western part of Idaho there was a range of mountains ahead of us that was covered in snow.  It was later in the afternoon, closer to early evening.  The sun hadn't quite set yet, so the sky had that bluish haze of dusk that makes things seem magical and surreal.  While my picture doesn't do justice to the actual site I saw ahead of me, hopefully you can get a little bit of an idea.  We have all heard about mountains being blanketed in snow.  Indeed these appeared that way, blanketed in a shimmery layer of whitish/bluish satin.

Of course cooler weather and snow at these elevations brings creatures of all sorts down from the mountain tops.  This created an up-close encounter that was slightly less exhilarating than the Bald Eagles from the other day.  Rounding a curve there straddling the center line was a mule deer.

A giant female mule deer.

The top of her head must have come at least as high as the hood of our big truck.  There was no where to go, and she was in no hurry to go anywhere.  Thank goodness he was driving because my brain froze.  The only thing I could do was put my feet on the dash (don't laugh) and say “Baby! Baby! Baby! Baby!” over and over again like a record with a scratch stuck in repeat.  With his many years experience of driving his reaction was much calmer and productive.  Thankfully, he was able to slow enough to give the mammoth doe time to make up her mind that yes, she did want to get out of the road.  I watched as she casually trotted off to the snowy grass on the other side and he went around her.

Heart pounding, stomach churning, I spent the rest of the night curled up in the sleeper.  I will never forget that deer, her eyes, her size, and the fear of hitting her or sliding off the side of the mountain.  Thankfully, I will also never forget the beauty seen just a little while before of the satiny mountaintops.  And I am so very thankful for his calm handling of our fully-loaded, nearly 80,000lb truck in that sticky situation.

If anyone ever thinks driving a big truck is a skill-less trade that anyone can do better think again!  It takes a calm mind, quick thinking, rational though, quick and steady reflexes. And lots of road, equipment, land, and animal knowledge to successfully survive out here across America's highways.

~sierra

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Size Matters


A beautiful morning in Arkansas, just because.
Bigger doesn't always mean better.  Especially in the case of cities.  Certainly big cities have their benefits.  Most things you could possibly need or want are close by.  Bigger cities usually are a host to a variety of entertainment, cultural, and shopping centers, not to mention easy access to an abundance of educational opportunities.  But they are also crowded, congested, often dirty, and higher crime.  But the biggest thing that stands out to me while traveling across the country is the lack of architectural diversity in larger cities.  Yes, they have huge sky scrapers, interesting medical buildings, art museums where the building itself is a work of art.  But essentially they all look the same.

You have your grid lock of street lights with cars racing between the reds.  You have your big box stores, your typical strip mall shopping centers, your chain restaurants.  You have your residential sections split up according to income and social status.  And driving through these larger cities very little stands out that is worth seeing aside from a famous night skyline or two.  Otherwise, the only thing you are usually watching are the taillights in front of you as you try to avoid an accident from the bumper to bumper, always in a rush, traffic.

It is the smaller towns that catch my eye.  The rural life with its rustic beauty and diversity.  The ones that have historic town hall buildings that are still functional.  The mom and pop stores and family owned grocery.  They are filled with history both in landmarks, stories, and architecture.  These little towns catch the eye as you travel slowly through them with all their neat little buildings and layouts.  They aren't as segregated as the larger cities.  You can often see residential mixed in with businesses, right next to “industrial”.  These little towns are made for walking, exploring, and enjoying.  They boast a slower pace in life.

When we are younger most of us want to escape to the big city to experience all the excitement.  But as I get older I realize the the beauty of a slower paced life and enjoy the quaint beauty of the tiny towns.

~sierra

Friday, February 6, 2015

The All-Terrain Dog goes Mudding

Look at that face!  You can't tell me she's not smiling.
My 12-year-old grumpy old lady of a puppy was having the time of her life at the beach!

Now let me give you a little background.  This is the dog that grew up in Florida.  She hates getting a bath.  She hates going to the beach.  She won't go near the water.  And she has never been much of a playful dog nor done much running around.

Since being in the big truck she has suddenly become my “all-terrain dog”.  She absolutely loves riding in the truck.  The cooler weather and the higher altitudes seems to bring out a playfulness in her that was never there before.

On this particular day in late January we were at Ocean City State Park in Washington State, which is on the Pacific Coast.  For my puppy and me, it was our first time ever seeing the the Pacific Ocean.  Her reaction was priceless!  She spent a good hour literally running (on her leash of course) all over the beach, in and out of the water, splashing in the puddles, even swimming in the chilly little rivulets of water left behind by the receding tide.  She pranced and pounced and thoroughly covered her legs in cold beach mud with what can only be described as a smile on her pretty puppy face.


Catching her breath before taking off running again. 
Splash! Splash! Splash!
Look at the mud on those feet!

~sierra

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Great Pacific Ocean

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“Are those the waves?!”  I exclaimed as we came around a bend in the trail and the shrubbery opened up to the expanse of damp beach sand.  He could only laugh at me, which is his usual reaction to my apparently amusing expressions upon discovering something new.

This was my first view of the Pacific Ocean.


Growing up in Florida, with parents born and raised in Key West, the ocean is no strange sight to me.  Where most kids grew up having their yearly growth measured against a mark on a wall, my parents recorded my growth via video as I played on the beach and my ever increasing adventure as I interacted with the waves.  But just as the Florida Atlantic coast is different from the Gulf coast, the Pacific coast is also vastly different from anything I had ever seen before.

The water was darker color and the waves, even on a calm day furiously crashed in rows and rows back into the cold Pacific waters.  You don't see waves like that in Florida unless a hurricane is blowing.  The shore was 100 yards easily, if not more, of wet sand with tiny little streams of water left from the receding tide.  That means the tidal change on the Pacific coast is MASSIVE compared to the East coast.  Talk about rip tides and undercurrents!  I can only imagine that swimming in these waters during a tidal change could be a challenge even for an experienced swimmer.

Another thing I noticed is that the air was not as salty.  When you get close to the beach in Florida the air is filled not only with the smell of sea salt, but you can quite literally feel it on your skin.  A day at the beach, even if you aren't in the water, will leave your skin and hair with a coating of salt.  I guess because the Pacific is so much larger in water volume, the salinity is significantly less than that of the Atlantic or Gulf.

That morning I woke with the tightness in my chest that signals the onset of a massive anxiety attack or mood swing filled with mania and rage.  What a day to set out on an adventure, right?  As always, he was calm and patient with me, forever understanding.  We walked around on the beach letting the dog run and play (on her leash) while I picked up shells and just marveled at the view.  After the hike through the trails of the state park and an hour out at the beach, my whole being felt calm and happy.  I have always said the beach is my safe place, my place of grounding and peace.  And this particular day was a perfect example how going to the beach can significantly turn around an anxiety attack and manic swing.  The rest of the day and drive was spent with smiles and love, and lots of planning for future trips to the Seattle area.  Looking forward to the spring when he takes me horse-back riding on the beach!



Water marker for flood/tsunami waters. 0.o !!
~sierra