Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?

Darcie J. Kinsey

Cappadocia, Anatolia, Turkey Cappadocia, Anatolia, Turkey

On September 11, 2001, at 8:46 a.m. ET, my now-ex, David, and I were blissfully unaware of the chaos the world had been thrust into.

Four days into a trip through Turkey, Italy and Austria, it was 3:46 p.m. local time and we were  exploring the underground cities and villages of the Central Turkish region of Cappadocia. I could go on for days about the incredible places I saw that day—the people I spoke with—people who were equally unaware.

We met a man who, for the price of a Coke, took us on a tour of the great underground City of Derinkuyu, which is at least eight levels and 85 metres deep.

I drank apple tea in a tiny village with a man who spoke no English. I spoke no Turkish. Our common thread was French. So, we had tea and he explained to me, in French…

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“Keep It Shiny Side Up”

The day we pulled out of my brother’s yard after my mom’s birthday party in July, my Uncle, a veteran trucker, gave me a piece of advice.

He smiled and said to me, “Keep it shiny side up.”

At midnight on August 11, 2015, we were traveling on Saskatchewan Hwy 15. This stretch of highway is two lanes and runs from just south of Rosetown through Outlook and eventually intersects with Hwy 11 at Kenaston. From there, it’s a short jaunt down to Regina. We had loaded shingles in Calgary earlier that day, destined for Davidson, Saskatchewan, which is a short jaunt down Hwy 11 from where the 15 spits us out.

It was dark out. When I say dark, what I mean is pitch black. There was no moon and the only light available to me was the pie shaped arc from my high beams. The speed limit is 100 kph (62 mph). The reflections from the beady eyes of the deer grazing in the ditch were enough to slow me to about 80. At about 10 km from Kenaston, I slowed to 70. Hubby was in the bunk catching a nap. The dogs were snoozing right along with him. I was listening to a country station on the satellite radio. It was, for all intents and purposes, a quiet night. Perfect in fact.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a large black shadow emerge from just behind the beam of light. At the same time, I felt a bump on the passenger side of the truck. I moved slightly to the left and stood on the brakes. I thought it was a moose. The shadow seemed to pick up speed and rounded the front of the truck. It was only after the hind end bounced off the front grille that I realized what it was. By the time I came to a complete stop, a massive Black Angus cow was laying across the centre line of the highway, both of her back legs broken.

Hubby woke up to my screams and, of course, the rolling and bumping of the truck as it screeched to a stop. He says he thought I was being attacked! The dogs flipped out. Especially when they saw the cow.

I called 911 while Hubby checked the truck for damage. The RCMP didn’t attend the scene—there were no human injuries and the truck was drivable—and released us. Meanwhile, the gravely injured cow is dragging herself off the roadway into the ditch. I was pretty upset when they wouldn’t dispatch someone to euthanize the poor cow and I hope she didn’t suffer long.

The next day, initial estimates were done on what we thought was just cosmetic damage. Some cracked chrome around the headlight and a marker light was torn off. Small dents here and there; nothing too serious. Well, that was until we got back to Calgary and realized that the impact had pushed the rad brackets back and crushed the wiring to the headlights and marker lights. Can’t drive a truck when the lights aren’t working properly. So, while we wait for the repairs to be completed, we are off the road. It’s been 3 ½ weeks now and we are both just itching to get back to work! Should be back on the road next week.

So, Uncle, I took your advice. Not only did I keep it shiny side up, but our load didn’t shift and no one was injured, except poor Angus.

A Week In Photos

When I was 19, I moved from Edmonton, Alberta to the Vancouver, BC area with my now-ex-husband and our young son. He was two at the time. It wasn’t until I was 36 that I returned home to Alberta. I love Alberta. It is, without a doubt, my favourite place on this planet. That being said, there is something about a road trip into British Columbia that sets my pulse racing. This is why I got so excited when we were offered a trip from Calgary to Vancouver and back again. Following this trip, we were sent Northeast from Calgary to Tisdale, Saskatchewan with a reload from Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan back to Calgary. I’d never been North of Saskatoon, so I was pretty pumped about that last part of our week.

Heading out to Vancouver, we travelled along the Trans Canada Highway West. The highway takes you through several National parks as you wind your way to the Coast. Arriving in Kamloops, BC, you have the option of continuing along the Trans Canada down through the extremely scenic and beautiful Fraser Canyon to Hope, BC, or you can travel the Coquihalla (the “Coq”) down to Hope. If you have ever seen the television show “Highway Thru Hell”, you know all about the Coq. If you haven’t yet had the privilege to watch, treat yourself. It’s a great show! The highway runs across a high mountain pass (Summit elevation of 1,244 m or 4,081 ft) through the British Columbia Cascade Range and is inarguably one of the most treacherous and dangerous stretches of highway in North America – particularly in the winter. Less so in the summertime. That being said, the day we travelled to Vancouver, there were three separate accidents on the highway South of Kamloops with many, many injuries. Some critical. We elected to take the Coq down to Hope. Between the Summit of the Coq and the Great Bear Snowshed is the steepest section, fondly known to the trucking community as “the Smasher”. For good reason too! There are accidents and spin-outs near daily in the winter and in the summer, vehicles fly down in attempt to break land speed records. In any season or vehicle, the smartest thing to do is just take it slow. We came down in 3rd gear and went back up the same way. We still have a transmission and we didn’t get smashed!

I could write for days about this week but sometimes it’s best to see things through someone else’s eyes, or in my case, camera lens. The next time through, I will get more pictures of some of the places I missed while sleeping!

This long weekend brings my daughter and I back up to my parent’s farm for some relaxation and time with our youngest son who has been up here working for the summer. Eric has gone on his annual golf weekend with his buddies back out to BC.

Oh! I nearly forgot…it’s official…we’re getting married!!!!!!!

Heading down 10 Mile Hill into Golden, B.C.
Heading down 10 Mile Hill into Golden, B.C.
One of the many snowsheds through the Roger's Pass between Golden and Revelstoke.
One of the many snowsheds through the Roger’s Pass between Golden and Revelstoke.
Saw this antique fire truck in Chilliwack. Thought it was pretty cool!
Saw this antique fire truck in Chilliwack. Thought it was pretty cool!
Beginning a one hour climb to the Summit of the Coq
Beginning a one hour climb to the Summit of the Coq
Climbing the infamous "Smasher"
Climbing the infamous “Smasher”
I just had to take a photo of the speedometer as we climbed the Smasher!
I just had to take a photo of the speedometer as we climbed the Smasher!
We took a detour along the floor of the Nicola Valley between Merritt and Kamloops. Such a beautiful stretch! Highway 5A...do it!
We took a detour along the floor of the Nicola Valley between Merritt and Kamloops. Such a beautiful stretch! Highway 5A…do it!
Lilly has taken to riding shotgun! Here she's sitting with Dad while he does paperwork
Lilly has taken to riding shotgun! Here she’s sitting with Dad while he does paperwork
Last but not least...near Tisdale, Saskatchewan. Gosh I love "Big Sky Country"
Last but not least…near Tisdale, Saskatchewan. Gosh I love “Big Sky Country”

What Will You Eat?

Loaded, strapped down and on our way to Regina
Loaded, strapped down and on our way to Regina
This past week has me feeling so much more confident. My driving time has increased quite a bit and Eric was even able to fall asleep while I was driving through Saskatchewan the other day. I’m so happy to see the number of women drivers out there on the road. It’s so encouraging! The only downside is that our dog, Lilly, must have eaten something somewhere that didn’t agree with her so she was sick for a couple of days.

Several months ago, when I told my mom that Eric and I were heading out on the road together, one of the first things she asked me is, “What will you eat?” Of course, I know she’s concerned about our general health and well being and trucking is not one of those industries that has historically not encouraged a healthy lifestyle. So, we decided early on that we were going to eat healthy out of the truck. Eric has been on the road for 23 years and he has always tried to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. I also know that when he was tired, stressed and generally burned out, he resorted to eating a not so healthy diet. Sure, we’ll treat ourselves to the occasional fast food lunch or dinner out, but the good majority of our meals will be made in the truck using our microwave or RoadPro 12 volt Portable Stove. Just the other day, I made a dinner of pork chops with roasted mushrooms and carrots in the stove and mushroom risotto in the microwave. That, together with a green salad made for a pretty good meal. It was pretty simple. I lined the stove with aluminum foil (you can also use the 8×3 aluminum pans for this). Then I layered the chops, mini carrots and fresh mushrooms in the stove with a little bit of salt and pepper. They cooked for a couple of hours.

My next purchase will be the RoadPro 12 volt Portable Slow Cooker! The possibilities will be endless and I’m such a sucker for slow cooker chili. Yum!

I’ve done a lot of research over the past few months about healthy living on the road and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at what I found! There are so many websites, Facebook pages, Pinners and Blogs on the topic. One of my favourites is TheHealthyTrucker. The site is full of ideas for healthy living on the road from exercise tips to recipes and meal planning. I’ve also started my own board on Pinterest where I’ve been pinning recipes and exercise tips, along with the odd trucking funny. I’m really excited to try the jambalaya!

We are off to Brandon, Manitoba next with a load of shingles. After that, I get to put a bunch more pins in my map because we’re reloading drywall in Winnipeg for Oakville, Ontario. I have never been to either place, nor any of the points in between! The drywall has to be tarped…speaking of exercise! I’m really excited to run through Ontario and see the Great Lakes. I’m sure there will be tons of pictures in my next post!

Until then, feel free to send me some of your favourite recipes and tips for living healthy on the road!

Our Lilly
Our Lilly

Racing Trains
Racing Trains

One Week In

One thing I have learned this week is that I will not be posting here daily. I know, I know, I love the sound of my voice too, but seriously, I only drove a few hours a day to start and it was exhausting! That being said, I know that if I can get into my pick up truck and drive for eight to ten hours out to B.C. and not bat an eyelash, I know it’s only going to get easier with time and practice to do the same in the Freightliner. In fact, I noticed that by Wednesday, I was able to drive a couple hours longer so that’s encouraging. Hopefully soon, Hubby will feel comfortable enough with my driving to relax and maybe even sleep while I drive. Poor guy’s exhausted!

Mom’s birthday party was incredible. Nearly 100 people showed up to help us celebrate. Everything went off without a hitch and we are so happy and thankful for all the help and support we got planning this shindig.

What a beautiful cake!
What a beautiful cake!

On July 8, our baby turned 18. He can now drink (legally), vote, buy a gun, enlist in the Forces and all the fun, responsible stuff that being an adult brings. It blows my mind that he’s grown up. Yesterday, he and his big sister were toddling around, taking off their diapers and smearing shit on the walls. Today, he can choose our Country’s next leader. He’s such an incredible young man and we’re so proud of him! I’m looking forward to seeing him next weekend so we can celebrate.

Happy 18th!
Happy 18th!

After an incredible weekend with family, it was time to go back to work. I can honestly say I’ve never been so excited!

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We loaded plate steel out of Edmonton on Monday morning for Oxbow, Saskatchewan. Where the heck is Oxbow, Saskatchewan? My thoughts exactly! Southeast of Regina, just north of the border at Portal, North Dakota. I can now stick a pin in my map and say I’ve been there. I was struck at the number of army tanks and trucks on the road between Lloydminster and Saskatoon. It took us a while to figure out that they were heading up into Northern Saskatchewan to help fight the forest fires. Hundreds of troops have been deployed to help fight the roughly 118 fires burning in that Province which have evacuated more than 50,000 from their homes. Don’t quote me on those numbers, they change daily. Officials say the fires could burn until a “weather event” snuffs them which could very well be the first snowfall. Kudos to those guys! Score one for our boys in uniform.

Tuesday morning after unloading the steel, we find ourselves sitting at a little gas station three kilometres out of Alameda, waiting for dispatch to send us somewhere. After a while, we ended up driving into Carlyle and taking the dogs for a good, long walk. Eventually, we’re told to head for Neepawa, Manitoba, which is about an hour-ish Northeast of Brandon. Another pin in my map! We spent the night in Brandon and loaded lumber on Wednesday morning in Neepawa.

So, I did forget to mention that this whole week we’ve been having “issues” with the air conditioning in the new truck. “Issues” being defined as, “not working”. Keep in mind it’s above 30 degrees Celsius (that’s about 86 F) and we’re pretty much melting.

Wednesday afternoon, as we’re leaving little bits of our melted selves along the Trans Canada Highway through Saskatchewan, I notice that there’s a set of flashing red and blues behind the truck. No problem, I’ll move into the shoulder a little to let him pass. Wait a second, he’s not passing. “Honey, get off your phone, I’m being pulled over.” I pull into the shoulder and 2 km later, I come to a controlled stop. This kid, and I mean kid, walks up to my truck and introduces himself as “Officer John”. He’s pulled us over because he doesn’t think we have enough straps on the load. We melted for 45 minutes with no air conditioning while Officer John counted straps, measured the height of our load, checked out our paperwork and wrote up an inspection report. Day three of my trucking career and I’m run through my paces by DOT. Awesome. But, he was a good kid and he was only doing his job making the roads safer. Score another for the boys in uniform.

We pulled into Calgary on Thursday morning and by this time we have about had it with the air conditioning issue. Off to Freightliner we go. So, here we sit on Friday night in Calgary. It’ll be nice to get a few visits in with the kids and grandkids. The air conditioning issue has been fixed and we can score another one for the boys in uniform – and yes, today I’ll count a set of mechanic’s coveralls as a “uniform”!

We will unload and reload for destinations to be determined next week and we will keep on truckin! Until then…

T-Minus 4 Days…Thoughts on Pride

No, I’m not going to discuss the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage, or as I call it, marriage, in all 50 States. Marriage is about love and if you are in love with a person and want to spend the rest of your life with that person, then you should be able to. Period. That’s all I’m going to say on the subject. Oh, except for the really funny stuff I’m seeing on Facebook about all those who apparently want to move to Canada now that marriage is legalized in all 50 States. FYI – same sex marriage has been legal across Canada for 10 years. But, hey, welcome to Canada. Here’s your beaver tail cap, your beer, a pound of bacon and your subscription to the NHL GameCentre. Moving on…

So, we’re four days away from driving the truck off the lot and holy cow what a crazy, emotional, all over the place week it’s been.

We spent the first three days of the week up at the farm working on my mom’s birthday party. It was a productive time and I think we’re pretty much ready to go! To date, we have 84 confirmed guests. Mom is over the moon excited. I just hope there’s going to be enough food! How many does a 200 lb pig feed?

Our daughter graduated high school on Thursday. Like any parent, we are so proud of her. Like ridiculously proud! In November 2013, she made the difficult decision, at 17 years old, to keep the baby she was growing in her belly. A few months later, she made the decision to stay in school and get her high school diploma. In June 2014, our granddaughter was born and come September, off they trotted together to the first day of school! Day by sometimes agonizing day, she dragged herself, exhausted, baby in tow, to school. On Thursday, she walked the stage with 39 other courageous young women who, by getting their high school diplomas, took a huge step toward their children’s futures. I started crying at 9:00 a.m. and didn’t stop until the end of the day.

Mummy Pride
Mummy Pride

Friday was the day we signed all the financing paperwork for the new truck. I won’t bore you with the details. We’ll just say the bank owns us for the next five years! To lighten the mood, we finally got to see the decals which were put on. We wanted to personalize our home on 30 wheels and honour our family at the same time. We’ve listed the kids’ and grandkids’ names on the sides of the bunk. They thought it was pretty “bad ass”.

Wednesday, July 1, is Canada Day, so I’ll proudly wear my red and white all day, drink beer, surf the NHL website, watch old reruns of SCTV and eat bacon. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to cook bacon in the truck.

As for the rest of this week, it’s shopping, shopping, more shopping and moving all the stuff we buy into the truck.

I apologize in advance to my husband for the damage done to the bank account this week. I love you, hunny.

T-Minus 9 Days…And She Wanted A Ring

We’re sitting around my brother’s kitchen table last night working on our third bottle of wine and we start talking about the new truck and all that stuff. Somehow we got onto the topic of what the truck is costing us and Hubby looks down at me, smiles and says, “And you wanted a ring! See, I did one better and bought you a new truck!” I think it would be funny to have that decalled onto the truck somewhere. “And She Wanted A Ring” just above the headache rack.

The kids have now completed the pilfering of our house. The bed was moved out on Friday. The carpet cleaners came on Saturday morning. All that’s left is a box of cleaning supplies and our daughter’s grad dress.

My mom is turning 65 next week. I remember a time when I thought 65 was old, but I look at my mom and she doesn’t seem to have aged at all. Anyway, my brother and I are throwing her a big party next weekend up at his farm west of Edmonton. A bunch of family members are rolling in their RVs and spending the weekend. The forecast doesn’t look so great now, but maybe if I do enough sun dances…or maybe we’ll be having a garage party.

It’s been a busy week. Hubby and I came up to the farm on Saturday afternoon and have been busy helping out with all the party prep. My brother built an outdoor bar on his property and a bunk house for anyone who wants to spend the night but doesn’t have a trailer. In amongst it all, our granddaughter had her first birthday on Sunday. Where did that time go? I suspect that when I turn 65, I’ll be asking that question again. I just hope that by the time I turn 65, I look as good as my mom!

We have to head back to Calgary tomorrow. Our daughter is graduating high school on Thursday. I’m really proud of her. She went back after having the baby and got it done. I think it’s going to be an emotional day! On Friday night, we are heading out for a pub night with friends. Saturday we celebrate my mother-in-law’s 75th birthday and then we pretty much just hang out in Calgary until we pick up the truck on the 2nd.

There’s a couple things we need to do with the truck. It just had a headache rack put on, a power inverter and an engine heater installed. On Friday, we are taking it down to get the decalling put on. I’m pretty excited about that. I won’t say anything more about it…but I will post pictures when it comes back. We just bought a new mattress for the bunk. the truck came with one of those flimsy foam mattresses, but my theory is that you shouldn’t have to sleep on something that can easily be rolled up! So we went out and bought a nice memory foam pillow top mattress. After it comes back from the graphics shop, we can start moving in. The moose bumper comes in on July 2nd. That’s when the adventure begins…except that the first three days will be spent parked at my brother’s place celebrating our mom. Until then, we keep living in limbo.

T-Minus 15 Days…

  Hey! Thanks for stopping by. I’m going to keep this whole introduction thing short and sweet because I actually want you to come back and join us on this little crazy adventure we’re going on.

So, here’s the deal. I’m a paralegal. After 20 years, I can say that I’m done with that. Burned out. Hate my career. No joy left. I quit my job. My last day is tomorrow.

I’m a writer. Lots of joy there.

I love to travel, but I haven’t been able to due to the usual culprits – money and time.

Hubby’s been driving truck for 23 years. He’s burned out and needs to slow it down a bit.

We have four kids and two grandbabies. For a little while there, we had an obscene number of people living in our house. We let the lease go and everyone moved out. We gave the kids everything except what had sentimental value to us. All that’s left in my house right now is my bed, the dogs and our clothes. The bed moves out on Thursday. That’s when we move in with the mother-in-law because I refuse to sleep on the floor.

After a lot of lessons, a swollen and sore “clutch knee”, one miserably failed attempt at a road test and a lot more practice backing up, I got my Class 1 driver’s license. We sold the old 2009 International ProStar and bought a new truck – a 2015 Freightliner Coronado.

We hit the road together with our two furbabies in 15 days.

Writing a travel blog is near the top of my bucket list. So, I figured I’d take my love of travel and my love of writing and combine the two into something that will document the next year or so of our lives as I adjust to my new career and as we adjust to being together 24/7. Of course, this is all in addition to the fifty billion (slight exaggeration) half finished writing projects I already have on the go.

We’ll run Western Canada (BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) and slowly venture into Ontario and Quebec. Calgary will be our “home base” for now, but with family and friends all over the place, who knows where we’ll stop on weekends. I guess you’ll just have to subscribe to this blog and see where the winds take us. I can’t wait. I’ve seen some beautiful places in this world, but I’ve never really explored Canada and the U.S. My North American world really stretches from Tofino, B.C. in the West to Regina, SK in the East and from Fort McMurray, AB in the North to Vegas in the South. I did fly to Toronto for a few days and I was in San Diego for not nearly long enough a few years back.

What better way to see this beautiful Continent than on 30 wheels…and get paid for it!!!

Oh, and once I figure out how to upload pictures…I will. Work in progress, people. Work in progress!!

D & E