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travel

I Found My Thrill On Cabbage Hill

I Found My Thrill On Cabbage Hill

It has taken two years, two trucks, and about ten trips back and forth to Oregon to finally see Cabbage Hill in the daylight. Every time prior to that when we've gone over Cabbage it was dark. I'm wondering if that was preferable.

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Speaking of out west, I finally got to see *Cadillac Ranch*.  We've drove by it several times but never had the time to stop, or if we did have the time the weather was not favorable.  Today, everything worked out perfectly.

Diamond in the Rough - Truck Stop Review

Farris Truck Stop - Big Rigs Restaurant
Faucett, MO
I-29 exit 35


This is the type of place I love to find.  The diamond in the rough.  It's the real truck stop. Sure Love's and TA's are truck stops, but they are the new age, big box truck stops of the "new and improved" world of today.  The REAL truck stops are the time tested and survived, old-fashioned mom & pop type truck stops. The family owned businesses where you are a person, not a number.  Sure maybe everything isn't spic and span clean in some places, but the food and customer service are second to none.  And after a long day on the road, that is exactly what you want.... no need!

Thanks to my favorite app, Trucker Path, we found the Farris Truck Stop just up the road from our delivery location.  We were hot, our AC just went out, and I really didn't feel like cooking in the truck tonight, but a home-cooked meal is something we both needed.  He said he remembered this stop from years ago, just couldn't remember exactly where it was. Yay, Trucker Path!  The reviews of course were mixed, but we looked at the good with the bad, divided down the middle and decided it was still a good call.

The parking lot is huge.  The app claims 75 spaces, and I'd say at least that if everyone parks responsibly.  As I write this it is after 1:00 am and there are still quite a bit of open spaces.  They have a locally certified scale here.  It's not CAT certified scale, but the regulars swear on it's accuracy.  At $7.00 for first weigh and $3.00 for reweigh, if you needed to to get your tandems right for the Missouri chicken houses I'd say it's a fair price to pay for at least "close enough".  They do have fuel here, but no DEF.  I didn't look at the prices as we didn't need fuel this time; however Missouri fuel is by are far cheaper than other states. They also have free Wi-Fi, but at least from the truck it was slow.  It probably works better from inside.

Let's get the bad over with first shall we.  I had to use the ladies room.  To say it was the worst I've been in would be a lie.  I've been in a lot worse, but I've been in a lot better.  The floors were in serious need of a good mopping and the sinks and counters were grimy.  It wasn't that the ladies had trashed the restroom, it just looked as if it hadn't had a thorough scrubbing in quite sometime.  That leaves me to wonder about the condition of their showers, and hotel rooms.  This is not a place I would stop for those amenities unless there were no other options.

The store area was tidy and their prices were favorable.  Many things were marked much less than what you would spend at a chain named truck stop.  Not a huge variety, but a decent selection of foods, snacks, nick-nacks, and truck supplies.  Of course the lady behind the counter was friendly and joked with us as we walked around to stretch our legs after dinner.

Now for the good.  Actually, the really good! The Big Rig Restaurant is part of the truck stop. It's a pretty good size inside, and of course broken up into sections.  There is a driver section that also appears to be a "smoking" section.  I believe the laws in Missouri still allow for smoking in restaurants, where many states have elected to ban that practice.  We sat far away from that area so the few smoking did not bother us.  The restaurant was clean, the booths comfortable.  And they have real, REAL sweet tea.  Granted these days I have to mix mine half sweet, half unsweet due to medications, but oh it was still so good!  Our waitress was prompt and friendly.  The food arrived freshly cooked to order and hot.  To say it was delicious would be an understatement. We both got the special of the day, a guilty pleasure.  A breaded and fried pork tenderloin with homemade mashed potatoes and creamy gravy with lots of pepper!  The tenderloin filled the entire plate, and the gravy nearly overflowed!  Our waitress made sure to fill our tea and checked on us several times, but in a courteous way without being intrusive to our meal and or conversation.

While we were eating I witnessed something truly touching.  There was an elderly couple who had just finished their meal.  The man was using a walker and the lady a cane.  When they got up to leave two of the young waitress came over from where they were standing to help them both all the way out to their car.  Good hearted, down home, old fashioned, real genuine, customer service with a smile!  Kudos to Big Rig for hiring such attentive staff and to these young girls' parents for raising them with manners and caring.

This is a place I plan to keep on our must stop at again list.  You take the good with the bad. It's old.  It's unique.  It's a diamond in the rough. These are the real truck stops, the ones that cater to truckers, that have been around for ages.  These are the ones that we as truckers need to show our support to so they can stay in business.  I plan on writing them a thank you letter for the excellent meal and customer service with a little friendly, gentle encouragement to try to pay closer attention to the ladies room.  Lets help build these places up instead of letting them continue to become run down!

Tired, FULL, & ready to relax


~Sierra Sugar

Exciting Opportunities!

Teaser Revealed

The other day I mentioned I had a surprise that I couldn't reveal yet.  Well things are pretty much confirmed now.  Some of you might remember the interview I shared from Trucker Path.  

Trucker Path

Trucker Path is an app that truckers and travelers use to help find parking and stopping places across the country.  It's helpful for for locating both major chain truck stops, the old mom and pop stops, rest areas, parking, restaurants nearby, Wal-Mart, hotels, and more.  Every place has user reviews so you know what kind of place it is.  How far away, what exit, what side of the road, etc.  We love it! 

Ok, so the BIG news?

Allen and I use the app all the time. After I spoke with them at MATS to do some cross promotion for Missing Truck Driver Alert Network they ended up interviewing me, as I previously mentioned.

Earlier this week they contacted me about a promotional video/ commercial they are filming.  Trucker Path wants to have me and Allen in it!  They've made arrangements with their production company to get us down to Austin next week for filming.  The video will premier and play the whole time at GATS. I didn't know this, but apparently Trucker Path is one of the big sponsors at GATS, so I'm kind of blown away and excited all at the same time.

The AMAZING RRE team

Allen's company, Roadrunner Expedite, has been wonderful in working with us to give us the time to go there, company shirts, etc.  Such a fantastic team and group of people!! So of course shout outs to Jim, James, Laura, Scott, Nicole, Patrick, and entire dispatch team!  Y'all totally rock! 

~Sierra Sugar

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 Great Pacific Ocean

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


“Are those the waves?!”  I exclaimed as we came around a bend in the trail and the shrubbery opened up to the expanse of damp beach sand.  He could only laugh at me, which is his usual reaction to my apparently amusing expressions upon discovering something new.

This was my first view of the Pacific Ocean.


Growing up in Florida, with parents born and raised in Key West, the ocean is no strange sight to me.  Where most kids grew up having their yearly growth measured against a mark on a wall, my parents recorded my growth via video as I played on the beach and my ever increasing adventure as I interacted with the waves.  But just as the Florida Atlantic coast is different from the Gulf coast, the Pacific coast is also vastly different from anything I had ever seen before.

The water was darker color and the waves, even on a calm day furiously crashed in rows and rows back into the cold Pacific waters.  You don't see waves like that in Florida unless a hurricane is blowing.  The shore was 100 yards easily, if not more, of wet sand with tiny little streams of water left from the receding tide.  That means the tidal change on the Pacific coast is MASSIVE compared to the East coast.  Talk about rip tides and undercurrents!  I can only imagine that swimming in these waters during a tidal change could be a challenge even for an experienced swimmer.

Another thing I noticed is that the air was not as salty.  When you get close to the beach in Florida the air is filled not only with the smell of sea salt, but you can quite literally feel it on your skin.  A day at the beach, even if you aren't in the water, will leave your skin and hair with a coating of salt.  I guess because the Pacific is so much larger in water volume, the salinity is significantly less than that of the Atlantic or Gulf.

That morning I woke with the tightness in my chest that signals the onset of a massive anxiety attack or mood swing filled with mania and rage.  What a day to set out on an adventure, right?  As always, he was calm and patient with me, forever understanding.  We walked around on the beach letting the dog run and play (on her leash) while I picked up shells and just marveled at the view.  After the hike through the trails of the state park and an hour out at the beach, my whole being felt calm and happy.  I have always said the beach is my safe place, my place of grounding and peace.  And this particular day was a perfect example how going to the beach can significantly turn around an anxiety attack and manic swing.  The rest of the day and drive was spent with smiles and love, and lots of planning for future trips to the Seattle area.  Looking forward to the spring when he takes me horse-back riding on the beach!



Water marker for flood/tsunami waters. 0.o !!
~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