Carey Hall – Specialized, Over-sized, and Heavy Haul
**Spoiler Alert - Updates at the end of article.
Carey Hall, is a truck driver who has carved out his place in the specialized over-sized and heavy haul niche of trucking. A Louisiana native, Carey has called Alaska his home since he was 18. Over the years he developed a reputation within the trucking industry of not only being a highly skilled driver, but also the epitome of consummate professional. He has been highly sought after in the specialty niche of heavy haul freight and appeared in several seasons on Ice Road Truckers when ever the show was featuring over-sized, over-weight freight.
With a jovial personality and a heart bigger than even the largest over-sized haul, I was quickly put at ease and felt at home talking with this gentle giant. Although, thanks to Butterfingers, the interview almost didn't happen. You can read about that misadventure here.
So how does a Louisiana boy end up in Alaska?
Carey grew up learning driving the old way. He learned by watching his dad and his uncle, helping them work on the trucks, and having to know how to fix them before he could ever drive them. Shortly after Carey graduated high school, he could no longer resist the itch to climb behind the wheel of a big truck. It was in his blood.
The largest load he's ever pulled was 426,000lbs, and required three, and at times four push trucks to make it from Fairbanks, Alaska to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.
He's spent most of his driving career on the icy roads of Alaska pulling over-sized, over-weight freight across the frozen state. One of the most important things to remember, he says, is to respect the road and mother nature. Conditions are often extreme and can change in a matter of minutes. It's no wonder he's built this impeccable reputation as one of the top heavy haul drivers in the country.
“It's a matter of life or death”
In the winter months in Alaska, nighttime temperatures can drop as low as -82 Fahrenheit, and that's without adding in the windchill! Carey says, because of the extreme weather and road conditions, “it is often a matter of life or death” that a driver know how to fix his own truck. There aren't too many tow trucks or cities with repair shops to help a stranded driver.
In fact, he tells a tale where one night after a long day of driving his alternator was going out just as he pulled into Prudhoe Bay. It was -20, he was exhausted and hungry. But he knew if he let the truck sit until morning getting everything unfrozen enough to work on the truck meant hours of down time. So, in below freezing temperatures, he and is push driver installed a backup alternator in 15 minutes! Good thing he always keeps spare parts on his truck.
Trucks are like cars
When asked about new truck drivers today, he doesn't have the animosity towards them that you often see in long-time drivers. Carey explains that it takes a long time to truly know how to drive and work on a truck. It's not something you learn in a school, or even with a couple years on the road. “The trucks today are like driving a car.” He says they ride smoother, shift easier, and so many of them are automatic, that it doesn't even feel like you are driving a big truck. So it's easy for the new driver to not fully recognize the situation. It takes a few years of driving and learning to get out of car mode and into experienced trucker mentality.
Trees, Dreams, and Over-sized Underwear
Since his days on IRT, Carey has since retired from heavy haul, and ventured back into hauling lumber with is dad and uncle. Unlike heavy haul, the local lumber business allows him to be home every night. However, there are still things on his bucket list. Tractor pulls and semi truck racing are at the top of the list. And he says he'd like to drive an Australian land train. With his experience and vaulted reputation in the heavy haul arena, I can see his dreams coming to fruition.
Oh and those over-sized underwear were used as a practical joke on one of his fellow IRT drivers. When the other driver wasn't paying attention Carey tied these gigantic underwear on the back of the load with “Over-sized Load” written in sharpie. It was several miles down the road before the driver got out to inspect his straps and noticed the prank. With his laid-back demeanor and ever-present laughter, it doesn't surprise me one bit that Carey is well know in the area for being the prankster.
Carey's friendliness and easy going manner can make even the most anxious person feel at ease. He has a passion for life, love, and laughter that is contagious. In fact, our entire over three-hour conversation was spent in laughter as he recalled tales from the road.
If you ever get a chance to meet him, do it! I know, I greatly enjoyed meeting this gentle giant in person at the Great America Truck Show in Dallas. Our first meeting was of him standing up to greet me, then promptly getting on his knees to give me a hug. Would you believe he was STILL taller than me? You can see in the picture below how he and my fiance' Allen both tower over me.
[Interview originally published on [Chrome and Steel Radio]