Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nearing the end

It's with mixed emotions that I realize we're very close to the end of the tour. But as far as endings go, Wisconsin has been spectacular.

Our second to last event was in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Terry Biddle and his wife Linda organized a huge truck convoy to escort Alex, the team, and the Red Giant into town. Like so many great things, the convoy and the whole Eau Claire event came together at the last minute. No less than 50+ trucks gathered out on the highway to drive together for the last 7 miles to the event. Strength in numbers and also a testimony to how well-loved and looked after Alex is in this part of the world.

The sherrif and local police escorted the convoy down highway 12 to Chippewa Valley Technical College. I only saw one person honk impatiently. The rest of the people we saw had parked along the side of the street and were out in the cold to wave, hoot and holler to welcome Alex. Very nice.

Once we were there, hundreds, maybe a thousand, people lined up to meet Alex, get an autograph, and take a picture. The whole thing culminated in a speech where Alex talked about how dangerous his job is compared to people who drive truck on America's highways. His basic message is that ice road truckers battle the elements and drive in a unique environment, but that people risk just as much, if not more, when they drive on American roads. That gives him, he says, the opportunity to go on TV and represent all the men and women who work hard as drivers, and show others what it's all about.

I guess the whole thing -Alex's respect for truckers and their admiration for him - is so strong in Wisconsin that it's making this last leg of the trip especially memorable. The convoy was a great demonstration of that. My impression of trucking-life is that it's complicated. It's cut-throat competitive and at the same time, truckers are part of a big professional family. It's lonely and at the same time, truckers look after each other and chat away on CB radios.

I have a way different perspective on trucking than I did before this trip. I notice truck brands, I notice how many trucks are out on the road, I see truck-stops differently, and I appreciate how important what truckers do is for the rest of us. And during something like the convoy into Eau Claire, I feel welcomed into an interesting world that I barely knew existed two months ago.

We're not done yet, but we're close. Stepping back into my real life at home is going to be a welcome transition. Sleeping in my own bed and having supper every night with my lady will be such a nice change. But there's a lot about this tour and about life on the road that I'm going to miss. I'd sure like to get back to Eau Claire as soon as possible.

I'll blog again before we sign-off on the tour. That's all for now.


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