July-August 2021 –
After high school, I came back to the farm and got my license to haul grain. That’s when I really got bit by the trucking bug. Shortly after getting my license, I got a job working as a driver in the oilfield in a brand new 2008 Peterbilt, 379 long hood flat top with an ISX Cummins. I learned a lot from my first boss Tim Sitter. He taught me how to take good care of a truck in harsh environments by keeping it clean and well maintained. I worked with Tim for about four years, always aspiring to become an owneroperator, and he always encouraged me to chase my dreams. In 2011 I got my first truck, Old Black, a 2000 Kenworth W900 powered by a red top N14 select plus an 18-speed transmission.
As a new owner-operator, my first job was hauling grain in the prairies. After about a year, I went back to the oilfield but this time, with my own truck, I was able to make better money and be closer to my daughter, Kenley. After a couple of years, I saved up enough money to upgrade to a 2007 Kenworth W900 with a C15 MXS 550 Cat and an 18-speed transmission – now known as Gypsy. I drove it in the oilfield until 2013.
Work was starting to slow down, so I decided to set off for something new and joined a company out of Saskatoon, running a long haul, which was always my dream. I got to experience what it was like to run from Texas to Alberta, mostly hauling pipe for the oilfield. Then in 2014, the oilfield crash caused me to look for a new job, so I leased on with another company doing deck work.
I had a weekend free during the job switch, so I picked up my daughter and went camping with my parents. That is where I conveniently met my future wife, Jamie. She was quite impressed by my escapades behind the wheel of an 18 wheeler. So when I asked her if she wanted to come on the road with me, she promptly quit her job as a cake decorator of 7 years to become a truck driver. I taught her to drive, and she got her license, then we ran team for about two years.
During those two years on the road, we had many amazing experiences. We spent Canada Day walking around downtown Montreal, taking in the sights and the fireworks with some friends who work at the same company. It was really cool because we were in the middle of a Military move to a base near Quebec city so we had military equipment on our trailers on Canada day.
Another time, because we were team drivers, we could travel faster so we were given a rush load of mobile stairs for loading people onto evacuation airplanes during the big fire in Fort McMurray, Alberta. We drove through the smoky city right after the fire had gone through, and it was still burning very close.
One of my favourites was a trip where we met up in Edmonton, Alberta, with our good friends Mike and Rhonda, who were also team drivers. We were hauling Beyonce’s stage from the Edmonton Eskimo Stadium to her next gig in Chicago, Illinois. We had some time to kill while waiting to load, so we headed over to the West Edmonton Mall for some fun. Mike and I thought we would brave the roller coaster, It turns out we aren’t teenagers anymore, so we slowed our pace and went shopping with our wives. Afterwards, we moseyed on down to the Eskimo Stadium, driving right onto the turf where we loaded Beyonce’s stage then we high-tailed it to Chicago, making it in record time.
One Friday, we ended up in a small town in Ohio called Fort Recovery. We were there to load a grain cart, but, when we showed up, it was a lot taller than it was supposed to be. So we spent the weekend there while they made a few changes so we could legally haul it. We were grateful for the little break, as Gypsy ran for most hours of the day. We were close enough to town that we could walk around and check out some historic buildings at the Fort Recovery State Museum. We were able to get some shopping done so we could BBQ at the truck, and just relax.
On a dark day in January of 2017, I was involved in a horrible accident. I was driving along on what would have been a very normal day when a young person attempted to take their own life. Luckily everyone lived to see another day, but it was an experience that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. The accident caused a lot of damage to both Gypsy and my trailer, which started a long road of financial hardships—dealing with insurance, waiting for parts, and a lot of downtime. All in all, it took over four months to get Gypsy back on the road.
During that downtime, we acquired a 2005 International Eagle 9900i, which became known as the Snot Rocket due to its unique shade of green. It ended up as Jamie’s truck once we got Gypsy back on the road. This opened the door for different opportunities and even more adventures.
A great opportunity came our way when we joined our good friend Joe who had started a new company, Smoke’n Transport. Now Jamie and I were able to run together more often with both our trucks.
That summer, we were asked by David from WoWtrucks to come to a photoshoot for the 2018 True North Calendar, Women in Transport. At the photoshoot, he learned that we were engaged and hoping to be married soon. He offered to take some photos of both of us, which we ended up using for our wedding photos. Due to the unforeseen circumstances of my accident, our wedding plans were drastically changed from 150 guests to only 6. One day in December, we were travelling together on route to visit family for Christmas. Talking on the CB, we decided to see if we could get a marriage certificate somewhere along the way. One of the places Jamie called said that they could also do the officiating for a very minimal fee on top of the certificate. Jamie asked me on the CB if we wanted to get married tomorrow at 1 pm. I said, I do!
That spring, Joe lined up two loads going to Whitehorse, Yukon from Montreal, Quebec. We decided this would make a great honeymoon. Once we hit the Alcan highway, we stopped every chance we got. We stopped at Fort Nelson, British Columbia, to catch a flick at the Phoenix theatre then proceeded up the road to spend the night at the Laird Hot Springs. The next day we went to Watson Lake and took a stroll in the Sign Post Forest before making our way to Whitehorse. Once entering the city area, we reported to the scale where the DOT officer turned travel agent gave us pamphlets for all the cool sights to be seen in Whitehorse. After unloading the shipping containers full of equipment, we took a week off and walked around the whole town, enjoying all it had to offer. It was the perfect trucker’s honeymoon.
Approximately 8 1/2 months later, my wife could no longer drive her truck, Snot Rocket, because we were expecting a child. We decided to go on one last trip, just the two of us. We went to Stuart, BC where Alaska is just on the other side of the river. It was quite a scenic winter drive. The doctors thought we were crazy venturing so far away, so close to the due date and not long after we got back, our beautiful little Adalynn was born. The arrival of our little girl brought our team driving chapter to a close.
I am lucky enough to have the kind of job where I can take my kids with me during the summer. Though I have many stories, one of my favourite trips was when my oldest daughter Kenley and I went to Toronto. While there, I broke down, so I called my good friend Travis, who lives nearby, for help. Somehow he was able to find the part I needed. He rushed the part to me, but it was too late to load by the time we got it all fixed up. So we jumped in his pickup and went to Niagara Falls. We spent the night watching the light show by the water and enjoying all there is to see and do at the Clifton Hill Fun by the Falls.
A couple of friends and I started a group on Facebook called All Out Big Rigs NoLimits. We started it to bring our industry together for the better. What started as a small community of friends slowly got bigger to the point where we could bring drivers together for truck shows to help other people in the industry. We have also created fun challenges for the men and women who put pride in their rides. David from WoWtrucks interviews the winners, and then we share pictures of their rigs, and their stories, with our group. It’s fun to be able to put a positive spin on this challenging industry.
I am currently still enjoying the long hauls but always looking forward to coming home to my girls.