Thursday, April 20, 2017

CDL School is to Pass the Test

What I learned in truck driving school: How to pass the test. It's a time thing. Usually, you attend class for a 40 hour week of instruction. You will learn all you need to pass the permit test. Week two to four, you complete the driving portion rounding out your 160 week course.

At the time, it is overwhelming. There are all kinds of people in the class representing various levels of commitment to the task at hand. Our class was no exception.

Nothing makes that more abundantly clear than your test drive for a new job. I will never forget how that went down.... it went a little like this:

After interviewing for my current job, we were scheduled for a drive test. It was two weeks after we graduated from school and everything was riding on getting this job. It was about $70,000 more than our next closest offer. That's a lot of money riding on one 30 minute drive.

We showed up to test and found out that we had to couple two 28 feet trailers with a dolly. What! We had a dolly at school to look at, but it was an overwhelming thought to know that we had to do it was a company trainer with verbal directions. Only verbal directions. I didn't know this in the beginning but if you raise a dolly to high, it will settle in the upright position. That was fun... not.

Then, we drove the set of pups out of the yard into traffic. Real traffic. With just a few comments like, "Stay a bit to the left, you don't want to clip this BMW on the right." Real cars lots of real cars and corners that were not necessarily designed to accommodate trucks. But, something from school clicked. Doubles really do track. They are so much easier to drive then long trailers because you have the bend in the middle.

Every state is different... But in Washington, the pretrip is long and tedious.

Healthy Food Tips

Eating on the road has been,to say the very least, problematic. Sometimes, I feel like all the forces in the world are conspiring to make me as unhealthy as humanly possible. To help combat this irrational food availability ... I have been​ making food and bringing it on the truck.

REALISTICALLY ON THE TRUCK I HAVE 6 CUBIC FEET TO STORE FOOD! That's every single thing that's every Cheeto, every apple, or every bottle of water that's it– 6 cubic feet. So it's vitally important to only have what I absolutely have to have on this truck

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Every time I'm home I spend 5 to 10 hours cooking food. I will wake up go to the grocery store buy everything I need to make 5 meals bring it home and cook every single thing back to back and multi-task until it is all completely cooked. One weekend I might cook lasagna, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, chili, and bake two chickens. Then the next weekend I will cook green chile enchiladas, refried beans, Spanish rice, cornbread stuffing, and grill some chicken breast.

The key to making sure your making enough food for the truck is to make 6 to 10 servings of each meal at a time. Then, portion control the food into little bags, suck out the air and freeze them. This will stock your freezer with 6 lasagna, four servings of half chickens, excetera. You will always have a variety of food to eat and you are less likely to purchase food in a truck stop.

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Other items of food that I definitely have on the truck are little bags full of fresh vegetables usually carrots, tomatoes, and snap peas. I have fresh fruit bananas, apples, oranges, melon, or any other fruit that is in season and fresh. I'm not sure why but truck stops very rarely have organic anything so in addition to half a gallon of organic milk, I make sure and pick up some shelf-stable Horizon Organic milk and store it under the truck.

If you're a trucker than you know nothing ever goes perfectly right in the industry but one thing I can make sure is that I always have something that's healthy fresh and organic to eat everyday.


One soda at a truck-stop is approximately $2.25 depending on if they're going to rob you on soda this week or if they're going to rob you on chips. So to keep my costs down, I buy all my soda on sale and stick it in the side compartment. That way I can buy a six-pack for $2.50 to $3.50 depending on the sales in town. But, of course this is not me eating healthy.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Keep Your Feet Dry

This seems like a no brainier, but it's been snowing a lot in Wyoming and the accumulation has been something else.

We stopped at a truck stop and the parking lot had a lot of snow. I was wearing my athletic shoes. And they got soaked. The bottom of my jeans were wet too!

I changed out my shoes and socks when I got back to the truck but the time in between was misery. Thankfully, I have 3 pair so I could change it up. 

My steel toed boots where trapped under the bunk, but have since been freed. It's a lot of learning when you first get started. 

I can truly say, truck driving school teaches you how to pass the test. The rest is learned on a case by case basis. There are so many things I learned since and I hope to blog about them all at one point. But this is pretty timely. 

Keep extra shoes on your truck and have them handy. Waterproof anything you can because wet feet sucks pretty bad. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Private CDL vs. Company Sponsored School

First, thanks for stopping by our blog! We appreciate your support... we truly do.

There are so many questions we are working through as we embark upon our next great adventure! 

What kind of CDL do I need? Where should I go to school? How much money am I going to really make? What is a good company to work for? Do I want to be in a truck with my spouse all the time?

After many weeks of research, we have decided to private pay for our school. We can sum this decision up in one word. #Options

Guaranteed Job vs. Marketable CDL with options

When you attend a company sponsored school, you are often stuck in a contract paying you very little per mile. The company is happy to write off your CDL school tuition after a predetermined and often lengthy time. Leaving one of these contracts can also prove tricky and your license can be put into jeopardy if you do not pay off your school or fulfill your agreed to contracted time.

The company sponsored schools run a great game. They hire recruiters that only have three things to tell you...1)This is the company for you 2)This is the standard industry pay and 3)Earn money while you learn. If you ask them a specific company question, they are quick to direct you to a company website that is more propaganda. 

You only have to stop by to see that there is plenty of undesirable trucking situations out there.

Paying for your own school gives you options. With an unencumbered CDL, you can work ANYWHERE you want to! Most companies want you to have some experience but are willing to take a chance on a new driver from a reputable school. So take your time to pick the best school for you.

Reputable schools spend time developing relationships with local companies willing to hire new CDL truckers. A direct referral to a local company can earn you much more per mile which adds up quickly running 4500-6000 miles per week with your partner. 

Check back later to see what else we are up to!

The Big Goodbye

"I would say that the leaving was coming for a long time... Maybe. I look back now and see that there were so many times I should have left but I thought about my responsibilities and I found myself staying because cancer is expensive and so is college," he said.

Wow...I felt like crying. For years, I watched my husband take on more and more responsibility with minimal compensation and much complaint. Not his complaining but other people. The people. The ones that can make or break his career sitting back watching while he worked his @ss off and they benefited from ALL of his hard work. I would say they were the problem, but the truth is we were conditioned to work hard. To exchange time for money.... Then, we had a mindset shift and set ourselves free.

In order to really appreciate this blog, you have to agree with this one thing... To your company you are a person sitting in a place doing a job and when you go, you will be replaced with another person doing that job and the company will go on. But to your family you are everything. EVERYTHING!

So to exchange time at work instead of building meaningful relationships with your family and memories with your kids is crazy.

Our first Thanksgiving in Seattle was attended by my brother who is living in his passion. His family was enjoying the week spending time enjoying the local sites. Thankfully the team was playing out of town so my husband was able to join us. One day we went down to the stadium and the kids got a tour and stood on the field.

For my nephews, it was surreal to stand where national champions played. These players followed their passion to the apex. After the photos, my brother asked my kid what she wanted to do in college. She was pretty vague which shocked him because she was a senior at the time. Then he gave her the same look my dad give me a hundred times.

Later that night, my brother was talking to the kids.... He was giving my kid a hard time about not knowing what she wanted to study in school. I intervened with, "It's not that she doesn't know... It's that she is tired of defending her choices. Because she is a top academic student, society expects her to go into a STEM field or something like that but her passion is...." This opened up a real discussion about following your passion and to never be afraid of what you want. To never be silenced about your passion because the people don't live your dreams you do.

To set yourself free, you have to know what your passion is... For a long time, I thought my passion was teaching. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE TEACHING. I really did until I helped a friend get out of a jam. She really needed a technical writer to help with her business. "Just a few articles," she said. But, I was hooked. I enjoy talking to people taking their story and making it come alive. #Writing is my passion. Absolutely, without question.

My husband has always wanted to be a trucker. I am not sure why, but it has been something he asked about since the Phoenix days. We did copious amounts of research, then we pulled the trigger. I can hear you now, "How does that get you to #YourTruckingLife?" This blog. REALRelevant. Unfiltered. Trucker Advice. Here... This blog is how I get there....

The second my husband, the father of my children and best friend, made his decision to leave his corporate operations manager job, I was there cheering him on. His biggest cheerleader for years was supporting him as he made one of the biggest steps in faith of our 21 years of marriage. Was I scared? Yes, I was scared...terrified. With a large mortgage, a child in college, and a house full of half paid materialistic BS, I said #YesPlease. And I don't regret a minute of what happened since.

This blog is that story... Thank you for joining our journey.