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A Pleasant Night on the Pennsylvania Turnpike


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

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

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

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

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

Majestic Flagstaff

[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]


When I was in the 5th grade my parents and I went on a two-week trip from Florida to Albuquerque, NM, with a short trip over to Flagstaff, Arizona.  I don't remember much from that entire trip except the backseat of the Oldsmobile car my parents had at the time.  You see, the morning we left they woke me up to leave, I took two steps into the garage to get in the car and threw up.  And that was pretty much my entire trip.  I spent it sick in the backseat.

I vaguely remember stops in Texas, in New Mexico at the Carlsbad Caverns, the Grand Canyon, and even one day when my dad tried to take me snow skiing at Flagstaff, the mountain for which the city is named.  The only thing I remember about that morning is vomiting copious amounts of orange juice.  It seemed more than any 9 year old little girl's body could ever possibly hold.  My dad turned around and took me back to the hotel to stay with my mother.  I don't even remember seeing the mountain, or snow, or anything.

The other morning Allen woke me up with hot coffee and kisses.  “Baby time to get up, we're near Flagstaff and I want you to see everything.”  There at the truck stop I could see the mountain rising out of the flatland, sitting there like a snow-capped crown on a pillow of brown and green velvet.  I took some pictures but it was still so far away.


 As we drove, I kept taking pictures.  And driving and taking pictures.


And more driving and taking more pictures.  Distance is deceiving when you're out in the middle of desert land.  We drove for 80 miles with the mountain ever creeping closer yet still out of reach.


When we finally got to the base of Flagstaff it was more breathtaking than I could have imagined.


I tried to remember anything from my childhood, but sadly no images could be recalled.  I tried to imagine my dad skiing down the snow covered lanes towering so high above me.  I remember dad telling me his ski instructor looked just like John Denver.  As we drove around the mountain all I could do was smile and watch in wonder, my heart swelling with love for this man I share my life with.  One amazing experience after another, day by day, mile by mile, he is showing me the world.  I may not have many childhood memories but I am making uncountable new ones with him.  And that is what love, life, and happiness is all about.

~sierra

The Night Before Christmas

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,

Comet and Cupid and Donner, and Blitzen.

But do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?

It's that time of year where Christmas Carols are on every radio station, “Its a Wonderful Life” is playing on TV, and all the little children are anxiously awaiting what wonderful surprises might be under the tree come tomorrow morning.  It truly is the night before Christmas.  And did you know you can now track Santa and his sleigh as he makes his way around the world?  Just go

here

 and find out how close he is to your house.  He really puts those reindeer through a workout this one night of the year; a 24-hour midnight race around the world.

Ever wonder how those reindeer train for such a demanding event?  I'll let you in on a little secret.

Watch out for flying reindeer!  

You see these signs all over the highways and roadways throughout America, even the world.  Yep, that's right!  These are the practice pathways for Santa's team of coursers.  Throughout the year they race through mountains and valleys, woodlands and hills, up and down, and over the rivers and through the woods, but not necessarily to grandmother's house.  Atleast, not until Christmas Eve.

I'm sure they take some time off after the mad dash of Christmas Eve.  But not for too long, as they have to stay in shape for the next year.  With that in mind, off they go, the experienced and the hopeful, of all Santa's reindeer training to be the next Dasher or Blitzen.  Talk about hiding in plain sight!  So next time you're out driving around and notice these yellow caution signs for flying reindeer, look around, you just might get lucky and catch a streaking red glimpse of Rudolph's glowy nose.

Merry Christmas everyone!

~sierra

Kitty kissing Santa Claus!

Memories of Mom & Crochet



[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]

My mother was an amazing woman.  She was smart, soft-spoken, friendly to everyone unless they gave her a reason not to be... and then watch out.  She didn't take anything from people.  She had a her own sense of style, an understated elegance that was tasteful and classy, and very feminine.  Part Irish and part Cherokee, she had a beauty that matched her style.  She had the long, silky, thick, straight hair of the Cherokee, liquid silver in color unlike any other I've ever seen, along with the high cheekbones so prominent in the American Indians.  And yet her skin was covered in freckles.  She was a lady.  She was a wife.  She was a mother.  And she is missed every single day.

Some of my most fond memories of my mother are of her being involved in one of her many arts and crafts hobbies.  She did sketching, home décor and design, bead work, jewelry making, sewing, stained glass, painting, quilting, and crocheting just to name a few.  She was good at everything she did.

Ever since I was a little girl I always wanted to crochet.  It was something I grew up seeing my mother and my grandmothers do.  I loved all the things they made.  At one point my mother even owned a yarn and crochet shop.  I would try and try.  Mom tried to teach me.  Both my grandmothers tried to teach me.  Over the years various friends would try.  But, I could never get the hang of it.  I'm sure in no small part due to my lack of patience.  I wanted to do it, and it be perfect... now!  And art just doesn't work that way.

With the weather turning colder, my mind once again returned to thoughts of my mom and the things she would make.  I was determined to learn to crochet once and for all.  Its something I can do in the truck while we are moving, unlike drawing which requires the truck to be stationary due to all the bumps and such in the road.  We were in the craft section and he bought me a book, a DVD, some yarn and several various sized crochet hooks.  I studied the book, practiced some of the stitches.  Watched several videos on how to crochet.  And finally I think I have gotten the hang of it.

He's been incredibly supportive and encouraging, especially when I would get frustrated.  I've actually finished a few small practice pieces and he just bought me the yarn to try to make my very first afghan.  Needless to say I am incredibly excited.  But there is also a part of me that is melancholy as I wish my mother were here to finally see me able to crochet.  I wish there was a way to turn back the clock, or change the past, and allow me a cool afternoon of crocheting on the couch, sipping coffee, and talking with my mom as she was busy crocheting too.

Mom, I love you.  And you are missed every single day.



~sierra

Clear hair, Cold nights


[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]


One of the hardest things to get used to while being over the road in a big truck is not being able to take a shower every day. When you're under a load that has a tight time table finding time to stop and shower isn't always possible. Every time we get fuel we earn shower credits at places like Flying J, Loves, Petro, and Pilot truckstops.  But we can't always stop at those when he has to drive until his time is out.

Last night was one of those no truck stop nights.  Instead we stopped on a "get on ramp" off the interstate in the middle of the desert.  It was late and dark, and the stars were so bright in the sky miles away from any city lights.  The Milky Way just jumped out at you like special effects at a 3d movie.  Despite the spectacular view I couldn't relax because my head was itching. My hair needed washing and bad!

This was the view to random passerbyers.  Me standing outside the truck, the top of my head barely reaching the bottom of the door. The desert winds blowing, dropping the already chilly air to near freezing while I used a spray bottle to wet my hair. Thankfully, I keep a small bottle of Dr. Bronners castille soap on the truck. It cleans and refreshes wonderfully, removing oil and dirt without tons of bubbles and lather to try and rinse away. The bad thing about it is, it has peppermint in it, which is cooling.



Scrubbing the soap into my wet hair, in the cold night air, my poor little fingers were frozen. Then the fun part.  He had a gallon jug of rinse water which he slowly poured over my head. So here I am bent over, head turned upside down, combing my numb fingers through my hair as he poured cold water over it right there off the side of the interstate. Yay for teamwork!  It didn't take much water thankfully and my hair was fresh and clean.

Clean hair finally, and I was able to sleep last night all snuggled up to him to keep warm.  Tonight we get a hot showers somewhere near Fort Worth, TX.

~sierra

Main Street of America


Get your kicks on Route 66!

This morning while heading down a road in the middle of no where desert California I startled him with a squeal.  Blazed in white in the middle of this little two-lane blacktop was the unmistakable symbol of Route 66!  In my head I started singing lyrics from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, John Mayer, and the Rolling Stones.  Of course the wonderful man that he is, he humored and stopped for pictures.  Even the dog got in on the family photo opp!  

Route 66 has nearly as many pop culture references and historical landmarks as it does miles. Officially opened in 1926, it was the first fully paved highway in America. The over 2000 miles of two-laned road from Chicago to LA was officially closed in 1985, but many patches of the original highway remain and there is a movement to reopen it and restore the historic landmarks. This a huge part of Americana and is quite literally a highway through time, miles and miles filled with glimpses into the history and progression of the American traveler. 

Well if you ever plan to motor west
Just take my way that's the highway that's the best
Get your kicks on Route 66
Well it winds from Chicago to L.A.
More than 2000 miles all the way
Get your kicks on Route 66
Well it goes from St Louis, Joplin, Missouri
Oklahoma City looks ooh so pretty
You'll see Amarillo and Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona don't forget Winona
Kingsman, Barstow, San Bernadino

Would you get hip to this kindly tip
And go take that California trip
Get your kicks on Route 66
Well it goes from St. Louis, Joplin, Missouri
Oklahoma City looks ooh so pretty
You'll see Amarillo and Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona don't forget Winona
Kingsman, Barstaw, San Bernadino

Would you get hip to this kindly tip
And go take that California trip
Get your kicks on Route 66
Get your kicks on Route 66


~sierra