I rode with Joe for about 2 years before I started driving. Joe had been out on the road by himself with the Gravity Boom for several months while I stayed at home. We had been married for a little over 9 years at this time. When I’m left to my own devices I spend a lot of time in introspection and learning about who and what I am as a person.
Uhm….sometimes the journey into self awareness took me down some peculiar paths. At that time I learned of the concept of a Gratitude Journal. Having no one to guide me and give me direction, except the book itself, I worked at getting my depressed self up off the floor and into clothes other than pajamas. My only company, while alone at home, was a cat and a dog. They were of no substantial help in my self awareness journey. I mean, neither one of them told me that it was high time to get the stink off and go take a shower and get dressed. Neither one of them told me that I needed to get something to eat.
Poor Joe. He would call me during the day and tell me about his adventures out on the road. Trucks breaking down, or a flat tire that left him sitting on the highway shoulder for 3 or more hours waiting for a service truck to arrive. He would tell me about the price of fuel and how much he felt we were being gouged by Big Oil. Let me remind you…..diesel fuel at that time was $2.75 a gallon. Oh, to have those prices back again!
He would ask me about my day and what was happening. I think it was his attempt to nudge me into doing something. Well, let me tell you. I had my husband wondering if I had gone off the deep end a few times. He would call one day – several times mind you. About the 7th time he called I would be ready to chew his head off, and I did do exactly that on some days. So you can probably imagine his confusion when one day he calls me about the 5th time, Gritting his teeth and getting ready for a pretty hostile response from me. What he got, instead, was a non stop blab fest of how much I loved him and I was very grateful he was in my life.
Frankly, there were a few times I had to ask if he were still on the line – he was dumbfounded into speechlessness.
I learned about Iyanla Vanzant during that time. Her book – One Day My Soul Just Opened Up – helped me to look at my life differently. This book and the Gratitude Journal kept me from going off the deep end. Literally. All the time I was alone gave me way too much time to think about the wreck I had made of our early married life with his kids and mine. It was time to get this wreck cleaned up and there was no one but me to do it.
When Joe came home for Christmas of 1999 I asked if I could go along with him the beginning of 2000. “I can help you get hooked up and deliver the trucks.” Joe was happy to have me come along with him.
The first several months on the road with him were like going on a Honeymoon. He was taking me to far flung places. We enjoyed each others company. He taught me the physically demanding work of getting the trucks ready for transport or delivery. We slept in the trucks each night and in hotels during the deadhead between moves. He took me to odd little truck stops or restaurants. Bought me little gifts along the way.
Our cat had disappeared the previous Halloween and she never came back home. Poor Wendy. I never found her again. Our dog, Princess, came with us.
I saw odd structures that were not quite barns. I would later learn they were tobacco barns. I saw trees everywhere along the interstate. Our poor dog found happiness wherever she could, even it was watching the outside world through a window.
I took photos of nearly everything I could see. It was a crazy time and I was a crazy woman with a camera. I looked out the mirror to see our pickup bringing up the rear in our travels. Cactus thriving under a blanket of snow in Selma, North Carolina. My appreciation of barns and farm structures began in those first few months.
I learned a few things about historical landmarks. The stone building in the photo below was constructed in 1778 by Hessian prisoners of war. That building was used as an EconoLodge hotel office. The hotel part was added later and we stayed there many times. This building is located in Staunton, Virginia. On Interstate 81. (I think that is the highway :/.)
The rock walls of Virginia were fascinating to me. Seeing trees growing out of that hard granite rock and some intrepid souls had painted their mark on the rock face.
For the most part I enjoyed my time with Joe on the road. I traveled with him “illegally” because Coldiron Companies had a “No Rider” policy so I had to keep a low profile so he would not be fired from the job. I wasn’t hiding very well. Most of the dispatchers knew I was along with Joe. Having the dog along was a pleasure and a trial. Waiting for her to find just the right spot to poop made me crazy. Especially on the days the biting cold winter winds made me feel like my bones were going to freeze. Being squished against the cold rear wall of the sleeper bunk at night was not much fun either but we were all together.
Stick with me. I’m just laying the ground work of the advent of Joe’s trailer. It was during these months that Joe was working out the details in his head. He knew there had to be a better way of moving these trucks with the pickup between them instead of following behind all the time. There were a lot of expenses involved in having our “chase vehicle” being pulled along behind. Tires, drivelines, axles catching fire, engine problems, and all kinds of other fun things that happened to leave us stranded at the side of the road.
If you think that this time on the road with Joe was all romance, I’m going to burst your bubble. Just think about the long road trips you have been on. Either as a child with your family or as an adult taking the trips with your family. Now just consider the fun and frustration you had for one or two weeks. Joe and I had that for over 45 weeks a year. There were many days that I was a very ungrateful person.