Armed with a cooler of snacks, an ashtray full of change for tolls and plenty of tunes for the hours in the car I was going to spend alone, I left my family behind to make to trek to the I-80 Truckers Jamboree. I wondered if this is how it felt to be a truck driver. I had a destination to drive to and a time frame in which I needed to be there. With the I-80 Truck Stop programmed into my GPS, I was on my way. I hurried through towns that I had already been to in anticipation of what lie ahead. I quickly found out that it wasn't much. Open road and open fields sprinkled with the occasional little town and a rest stop or two. It didn't take long for my regular radio stations to fade away and I quickly reached for my cassettes. Yes, my car is outfitted with a cassette player....don't judge! It equally didn't take long for me to be tired of being behind the wheel, and that was only at an hour and a half in!
A road trip for anyone just wouldn't be complete without road construction, and there were no shortages on I-88 and again on I-80 once I crossed over the Mississippi River. It wasn't quite a snails pace, but the 3 hours and 20 minutes on the GPS easily became a 4 hour trip with the way vehicles were moving through the work zones.
It was all worth it when I saw the entrance sign. The sound of a Jake Brake and the large red Peterbilt in my rear view mirror added to the excitement of what was happening inside the parking lot sectioned off for show trucks. I couldn't wait to get in there and see what it was all about.
Once inside, I found my spot under the orange tent and dropped my gear. A quick trip around the show grounds to get my bearings, then it was time to get to work.
I greeted guys that were there to see the truck we had brought for the show. A little orange Kenworth with a big punch, called Mango Tango. Let me just say, anyone that stepped up to the truck to take a photo was not disappointed. The oohs and aahhs when they looked inside to view the interior, matched the awe when they saw the exterior paint job up close and in person. The pictures online do not do it justice.
I also had the opportunity to talk with drivers that were interested in our lease to purchase program. If you stopped by the booth and talked to Dan Brown or myself, I hope we were able to answer the questions you had and walk away with a better understanding of our program. If you're ready to take the next step, don't forget to request your starter packet. It's the first step in the process of becoming an owner operator in a DB Kustom Truck.
By time it turned dusk and the fireworks display was over, the train horns started. Apparently this is a bit of a tradition with the show goers. If you are familiar with the loud blare of a semi horn, just multiply that times 10 (or more) and you'll kind of be able to relate. I think I went deaf for a few minutes when the trucks around me all started to make some noise... but what a way to end the day!
Refreshed from a nights sleep we were back at the show in the a.m. talking with potential drivers, letting our Facebook followers take photos of the truck and selling t-shirts. The owner of Mango Tango, Ryan, was able to make it out to the show in time to receive some praise and congratulations form the visitors that were at the booth when he arrived. (Mango Tango ended up taking 1st place for the 2005-1999 Bobtail Conventional category) It was a treat to be able to witness one of our drivers getting to see his new truck for the first time, and I'm glad I was there to witness it. The time it took to build this truck and the fact that so many visitors to the booth let us know that they had watched the Mango Tango build by following our Facebook page and website, was truly a moment.
And really, only a moment it was, for me at least. By then, my time at the show was up, so I scooped up my gear and walked back to my little car for the 3 and some odd hours back to Illinois. Back to the loneliness and the long stretch of asphalt in front of me. My time at the Truckers Jamboree was interesting and educational. Maybe when I attend the next show I'll be able to roll up in a truck. Maybe I'll have the full experience of rolling down the open road high above the cars and pickup trucks. We'll see.
I have to give the truck drivers of the world a lot of credit though. You do a job that many of us wouldn't or couldn't, and usually are doing it with a smile on your face. You spend long hours in a truck all alone, staring at open road. The sights you must see though, hopefully better and more beautiful than the trek through road construction on I-88.
If you're a driver and if you haven't heard it lately, thank you. Thank you to the truck drivers that stopped by our booth at the truck show. I enjoyed talking with you. Thank you to the truck drivers who drove by and honked. I imagined that they wished they were there as well, but deadlines kept them from stopping in. Thank you to the truck drivers out there running all through the day and night. Just because I'm sleeping doesn't mean that you are. Thank you to all truck drivers. Without you, none of us would have our food, shelter, clothing, fuel, etc. You are the ones that keep the nation supplied, and we should all be thanking you.
Stay safe out there.