Beating the Winter Blues

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

The nights are longer, the days are shorter and the cold can chill you to the bone! By the time winter is over most people are suffering from cabin (and “cab”) fever. Rather than let it get you down, find ways to beat it and keep you happy ’til April showers bring May flowers and the warmth of summer returns.

If you are fortunate enough to run south in the winter, maybe you can take a me day and find a beach, watch the sun set into the gulf, or the moon come up out of the ocean. Have lunch or dinner at a nice little place overlooking the ocean and listen to the soothing sound of the waves crashing on shore.

If you happen to be in a place like Vero Beach, you can park at the truck stop, call a cab or get an Uber and head to the beach. If you don’t have time for that, just get out of the truck and into the sunshine. It will be just what the doctor would order. Not everyone has the luxury of running Florida or the southern coast states in the winter so you might have to find other ways to have fun and beat those winter blues before they beat you!

A lot of theaters have enough room to park a truck. Get a big tub of popcorn with lots of butter, a big Coke and take in a good movie. Hopefully they have a good comedy playing as they say laughter is the best medicine. Go take a big spoonful!

So many malls won’t let us park there anymore but if you can find one that will you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a good time. Here you can “mall walk” and get some exercise and when you’re done with that sit down and people watch. I have found that can be quite entertaining. If there are a few things you need to shop for hopefully what you’re looking for is on sale. Sometimes a little retail therapy can go a long way, for women and men!

If a friend’s house happens to be in your flight path stop and visit. I have always liked to stop and see friends when the opportunity presents itself. I make a point to do this even more, we aren’t getting any younger and it seems that so much is happening time spent with friends is priceless.

It is always nice when you can get a hotel room. Get out of the truck, watch TV, order a pizza or Chinese to be delivered and just relax. See if there is something close by worth checking out. Anytime you can take a break, get away from the truck for the night, just get out of there and treat yourself to a ‘mini’ vacation, it will refresh you and give you a new outlook on life. Sometimes, we just need it.

A friend introduced me to K1 Go Kart racing. There are several places across the country where you can do this and boy is it fun. Take out a little frustration and go have a good time! Let’s face it we’re drivers and this is driving for fun as well as a little friendly competition!

Book a spa day where you go and you have a massage (this is a great stress relief). If you’re a lady driver, get a mani/pedi. Maybe be daring and try one of the polishes that change colors when it’s hot or cold. It’s fun and there is nothing wrong with doing something that makes you feel better or pretty.

For the guys, maybe you could stop into a Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shop kind of place and wander around for a bit. Some have a shooting range so you could do a little target practice. Whatever you do make it fun. It’s the best way to beat back the winter blues until spring has sprung!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Christmas Dinner in the Truck

Christmas Dinner in the Truck | Trucker Tips Blog

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Thanksgiving is over once again and Christmas is quickly approaching. In our business it’s a fact of life that not everyone gets to make it home for Christmas. Many truck stops have a really nice buffet dinner, but maybe you’d rather make your own dinner. Are you one that wants a more “being at home feel”? We believe being on the road for this holiday is the hardest of all. It’s a time to be with family and the ones you love. If you are able to prepare some of your family favorites, made the way Mom does, it can go a long way to help lift your spirits. You may also want to put up some festive decorations and colorful lights in your truck to keep your mood cheerful when forced to be away from home during the holidays.

thanksgiving_turkey_500pxUnless you have the luxury of a big bunk with an oven, you probably won’t be able to cook an entire turkey, but a bone-in turkey breast a great option instead. There are a variety of 12-volt cookers available these days. Back in the day, we had an inverter and I used a rectangular metal crock pot with a small little griddle at its base to make our turkey. The drippings from that I put into a small pan to make gravy. Microwave a couple of potatoes and mash them up. If you want a healthy version of mashed potatoes, try cauliflower! Bake it and mash it the same as you would potatoes. Sweet potatoes are another healthier option, unless you add the brown sugar and marshmallows to make them extra yummy. I say, “Go for it. It’s Christmas after all!” I’ve said this before, but lunchbox cookers with foil pan liners work great for cooking, including sweet potato casserole. They make clean up easy. You simply throw out the pan when done!

Christmas Dinner in the Truck | Trucker Tips Blog

The traditional favorite green bean casserole also cooks great using the lunchbox style cooker. Open a can of french cut green beans, drain them, put contents in a foil liner. Add a can of cream of mushroom soup, stir together and top with crispy fried onions, and cook until bubbling. If that’s not possible, warm up your favorite veggie and make the best of it. It’s still cooking at home. Cranberry sauce is another one of my favorites. It makes no difference if it’s right out of the can, from the deli or homemade! It’s a necessity with turkey and a requirement for a homemade feel to your Christmas dinner.

If you can’t cook everything yourself, the deli case at a nearby grocery store might be a good way to get a lot of variety without a lot of leftovers; especially if you don’t have much room. Maybe a new salad could be added to your list of favorites for the holiday dinner. A cabbage salad, ambrosia or other fruit salad is always a great addition to any holiday meal and you can usually find these in most delis.
We can’t forget dessert! Many stores and many truck stops have bakeries, so you can probably find your favorite pie or cake by the slice. You do have options! Many times all you have to do is ask. Also, if you get to go home before the holiday, maybe you can bring some of your favorite treats from home back out on the road with you. It is always fun to talk with other drivers too and see what some of their favorite treats and traditions are. It’s a great way to connect with others and also keep your spirits up during the holidays.

Speaking of favorites and traditions; I would like to share a southern tradition with you that happens to be one of my favorites. For southerners, this is quite possibly the most important meal of the year. We always followed this particular menu, once Roger introduced me to it. He was born and raised in Alabama. I was from southern California; a different kind of southern. He taught me the practice of eating black eyed peas, hog jowls, greens and cornbread every year on the 1st of January. It CAN be done on the truck, either with canned peas and greens and deli ham and corn muffins or slow cooker made black eyed peas with chunked pork and greens on the side in your choice of cooker. You can buy, bake or fry the cornbread. The point here is that you take part in the tradition. The belief is that the peas represent luck, the pork is for health, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold. The more of each you eat, the more of each you will have in the New Year!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Kindness, Pass It On

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

A while back, we read a Facebook post that asked people what they did on their time off. Some of the answers were really impressive. Many involved volunteering. That got us thinking about some ideas we could share with you of things you could do to help others.

Lately it seems that there are more people standing on street corners begging for money or food. I have a niece who lives in the Phoenix area. She recently took her two young children with her to pass out food and water to people in their community who are in need. She wanted to teach them that not everyone is as fortunate, or as blessed as they are and they need to learn to share their blessings. What an inspiration!

We’ve read about women who crochet or knit and donate hats they’ve made to cancer patients who lose their hair. Some give hats to preemie babies or to the homeless. What little thing could we do to make a huge difference in another person’s life?

Instead of giving someone money, how about giving a lunch sack with something simple like a peanut butter sandwich, a little bag of chips and a bottle of water? And if that person has a dog with them maybe have another baggie full of dog food and give them a second bottle of water? That animal may be the only companionship this person has. Don’t be too quick to judge you don’t know what may have happened for someone to be in that situation…

When it’s cold out, maybe you could keep a few small fleece blankets on hand? Make a day of going to the local thrift stores when you are home or laid over and pick up some winter scarves, mittens and hats. These things could be priceless to the people you share them with. You can carry quite a few of these items in your truck without using up all of your storage space and without spending a huge amount of money.

Years ago, at a dock in Oakland, there was a homeless man where we were delivering. I took him to the lunch truck and told him he could have whatever he wanted and I would pay for it. I will never forget how polite he was and asked if each thing he got was ok. He got a meal, something to drink and a snack for later. He was not there begging for money and he appreciated the food.

The “pay it forward” idea has also become very popular. One day when I went through the Oklahoma toll booth, the lady working the booth said that a driver in front of me had given her $20.00 and told her to use it until it was gone for the drivers behind him. It was only a $4.00 toll, but it still made my day!

Get creative with showing kindness to others. It doesn’t cost anything to say hello or give a wave to another driver. We see so much hate and negativity on the news and maybe even in person. If each of us would work a little bit harder at being kind and sharing, it may just become contagious and help to make our world a better place! Smiles are free and my favorite saying has always been, “If you see a man today without a smile, give him one of yours.”

We drivers could get out of our truck and help watch for the trailer for a driver who is backing into a tight space. When a new driver asks you a question, help them out instead of giving them a sarcastic response. If you’ve been driving a long time, share your knowledge.

The other day in a parking lot there was a trainer with three students. They were admiring our trucks and we chatted with them. The trainer was so nice and he really loved our trucks and appreciated the time we took to talk to his students. We hope that we inspired them to work hard and a goal to work toward in their careers.

If you can’t hand out lunches, knit hats or pass out blankets, be that driver who takes a few minutes to be nice to another driver. We all know how stressful and challenging it can be on the road. A joke to make us laugh or a friendly hello can help make a crummy day better.

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Chain Up!

Chain Up! Winter Driving Tips for Semi Trucks | Trucker Tips Blog

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Ready or not, winter is here! If you run out west you had better be prepared to meet the requirements of the western states when it comes to snow chains. Even if you are stopped on a nice sunny day with no hint of snow in the forecast, you could still be at risk of getting a ticket for not carrying the proper amount of chains for the truck you are driving. It is extremely important that you familiarize yourself with the requirements for EACH state law regarding chains BEFORE you enter that state. Unfortunately, the laws are not the same from state to state, so getting the information ahead of time is crucial.

We recommend finding out which state has the strictest law and carry the maximum chains you will need, weight allowing. This way you will always be compliant. Another thing to check on, and be sure of, are the dates of requirement which can differ from state to state. For instance, Georgia now has a chain law as a result of all of the wrecks they’ve had in recent winter storms. Again, it’s important to look at the law in ALL states where you run.

When the chain law signs go up, you had better be prepared to hang “iron” or hire some of the people who sit at chain up areas to hang chains for you. If you don’t, you certainly aren’t going anywhere! Make sure that you know your company’s policy about chaining up or parking when the road conditions get to this point. Many companies will allow you to run around a severe winter storm or blizzard, which is the ideal situation. However if they don’t, you need to have the knowledge to keep yourself safe.

Before you find yourself in a situation where you need to put chains on your tires, it would be a good idea to find a place and practice putting them on your wheels. Standing in the cold and snow with drivers splashing you with yuck off the road is not the time to be figuring this out.

Make sure that you have plenty of bungee cords or spider bungees to help secure the chains once they are on. Time and travel on rough snowy roads can and will loosen them, so pay attention in your mirrors. It’s nice if you have a chain hanger under your trailer or on the frame of your truck so that you can hang wet sloppy chains up and not let them freeze in a big lump inside your tool box.

It’s a good idea to check your tires after running chains. Even if your chains didn’t break, other trucks will probably have one break and a broken link in a tire means a trip to the tire shop for repair. I would never have guessed this if a friend hadn’t told me (after learning the hard way).

Sometimes chains can help you even if there isn’t a chain law in effect. For instance, if the road is icy and you have to stop for an accident on an incline, chains might be the only way you are going to be able to get going again. Sometimes after a really big snow it can take truck stops awhile to get everything plowed, especially with all of the trucks in the lot. In a case like that chains or a shovel are going to be your only way out. Another good idea, one we ALWAYS do during winter months, is to carry a bag of sand, salt or kitty litter to help you get enough traction to get going. Be prepared – it may just save your life one winter day!

Remember to SLOW DOWN in inclement weather. Nothing will help you avoid disaster better than a slower speed! We have to keep a sharp eye out at all times for new drivers; 4-wheeler and 18-wheeler alike. For some, this could very well be their first ever winter driving experience. We need to be driving our trucks for them, as well as for ourselves, to keep everyone safe. It is our responsibility as the professionals out here to stay calm and behave as such. We can lead by example and do our best to keep the accident statistics down this winter.

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

A Trucker’s Christmas Wish List

Great Gift Ideas for Professional Drivers

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

It’s that time of year again, time to start thinking about Christmas gifts for the trucker in your life. The list might include glitz for the truck or more practical gifts for the driver.

Blue Tiger Elite Bluetooth Headset | Iowa80.com
Blue Tiger Elite

Let’s start out being practical with some things that every driver should probably have if they don’t have already (or upgrade or replace what they’ve had for a while). A hands-free device is a necessity and we’ve found that it doesn’t hurt to have 2 synced to your phone. This is especially helpful for the driver that listens to books on tape. When one hands-free device is dead the other one is charged and ready to go.

Garmin Dash Cam 35
Garmin Dash Cam 35

A dash cam is something every driver could certainly use these days! They are handy for taking beautiful pictures as you travel but can also be a very useful tool in case of an accident, whether you are involved or not. The dash cam can provide the proof you need of your innocence or someone else’s bad behavior!

Rand McNally TND730
Rand McNally TND730

Another great gift to ask for would be a new GPS, but, if you are going to get one of these, make sure it’s one specifically built for a truck! The trucker GPS units have weights and heights built in as well as speed limits and hours of service laws. The units made for a car can get a driver into a bad situation in a hurry. Many of those instances have made the news!

Rubber Floor Mats
Rubber Floor Mats

If you are just getting started in this business maybe a few things to organize your truck like a seat organizer. That way you can keep most everything you use on a regular basis at your fingertips. Seat covers are a great way to spruce up your inside space and help protect the seat. It’s also nice that you can take them off and throw them in the wash. Floor mats are also nice to have. They help catch all the winter slop that you can’t knock off your boots and end up dragging into the cab. The outdoor mats that attach to your steps also can help get the muck off your shoes BEFORE climbing into your cab!

Dometic Waeco CRX50 Refrigerator
Dometic Waeco CRX50 Refrigerator

There are many different types of air fresheners available to choose from as well. It’s always nice to climb into a truck that smells good. If your truck doesn’t have a built in fridge, there are several models and sizes to choose from that plug right into the any 12-volt plug located throughout the cab and sleeper. Winter is nearing and you should always carry food on the truck in the event that roads are closed for an extended period of time. Having a refrigerator on board can be a true lifesaver!

Cannon Ball Express
Cannon Ball Express

Now for the fun stuff like a set of train horns! Many drivers want this grown up toy for their truck, maybe you do too? If you do, and are fortunate enough to receive this wonderful gift, PLEASE, be responsible with this particular item, the last thing you want to do is cause an accident. Train horns are fabulous but they are LOUD, I mean, that IS the point, right?

Bugler (AKA Swan) Hood Ornament
Bugler (AKA Swan) Hood Ornament

There are a wide variety of hood ornaments available to personalize your hood. You look at it every day so have some fun with it. Personally, the swan will always be my favorite (Kim) and I had a roosting chicken at the end of my long nose (Heather), but that’s why they make so many! Not everyone has the same taste and your truck, is all about what you like. There are also many varieties of gear shift knobs and steering wheels available to help add personality to the interior.

Gift Ideas List:
Train Horn
Dash Cam
Bluetooth Headset
Seat Organizer
Seat Cover
Floor Mats
EasyJake Jake Brake Switch
Gear Shift Knobs
Steering Wheel
Refrigerator
GPS
Hood Ornament
Interior Duster
Air Freshener
T-Shirts

Trucker's Gift Guide

When in doubt, just look to our suggestions provided here. We are sure you will be able to find SOMETHING you’ll want to add to your wish list.

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


Trucker Wish List Gift Ideas for Professional Drivers | Trucker Tips Blog

Trucking & Multi-Tasking

Trucking & Multi-tasking | Trucker Tips Blog

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Drivers who have been driving for any length of time know all too well the challenges of getting everything done at home when you are on the road. It makes no difference if you are running team or if you are alone. There is always more to get done than there are hours in the day. Having someone at home all the time helps but it doesn’t mean there still won’t be plenty to do when you do get that precious home time.

Planning can help you make the most of the hours you do get at home. If the lawn needs mowing, hopefully the weather will be on your side. Being on the road means that sometimes we end up missing so much! It’s always nice if you can make it to the kids ball games or school programs. Scheduling doctor appointments can be a challenge, making an appointment a year from now is crazy, but that’s the way it is sometimes. Hopefully you will have a dispatcher that understands the importance of your appointment and a doctor that understands your crazy lifestyle.

If you are an owner/operator there is even more to do, like all of the paperwork that has to be done. Sometimes you just have to give it up and hire someone to do things like this. It’s a tax write off and it frees up some of your home time. It’s also nice to have a shop near home that can do your scheduled maintenance. Anytime you know you are going to be home, try to schedule it with the shop. If you can give a week or two notice, odds are you’ll be able to get in. Waiting might mean they are too busy to get to you, forcing you to get the work done on the road at a shop you don’t know. A good relationship with a shop at home is always wise, if there is a problem you are more likely to have them stand behind their work. Read more Trucker Tax Tips here.

Another approach is to have a shop on the other end of the country, one you visit regularly, which is what Roger and I did all the years we owned our own trucks. We would call ahead and schedule any repairs or maintenance we may need so that when we arrived they had a spot open for us and were able to get us in and out right away. A good relationship with a shop is invaluable and also frees up time at home for personal things so you can actually step away from the truck while you are there. From the time you set those air brakes until the time you have to push them in to leave again is time you should be able to enjoy as much as possible. After all home and the people you love is what you are out there working for! Read more about Maintenance Records here

If you have down time before you get home, sometimes it is worth doing laundry on the road. For one thing, you won’t have to drag it out of the truck and drag it back in. If that doesn’t work, put in a load of laundry and go out and start mowing. When you take a break, put the wash in the dryer and start another load then finish up the mowing. Try to make the most of the miles you have running errands without having to back track a lot. Try to spend only one day of your home time taking care of the things you can’t take care of while away.

Even the best laid plans go awry sometimes and you always have to be ready with a Plan B, C, D… Sometimes dispatch will have an emergency forcing you to cut your time at home short. If possible be flexible and do them a favor, hopefully they will remember they owe you one.

Above all, TRY TO RELAX while you are home! Home time is precious and scarce so use it to reconnect with those in your life you love. Do your best to take care of those things that need tending to but don’t neglect the PEOPLE in your life! We try always, to take care of business and personal business while away in order to take the most advantage of our home time to nurture the relationships that make life worth living!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Oh, the Places You’ll See!

Take Pictures | Trucker Tips Blog
(Be sure to take pictures)

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Today it’s so easy to take lots of pictures. The digital age is phenomenal and has made it so simple! You can see your photos instantly and either keep them or delete them just as fast. You can edit them quickly, so there is no reason not to take them. You can file them, label them, put them into albums, store them on a cloud and on your computer. Many times your device will even know when and where the photos were taken. Such a huge leap over the old Polaroids and Instamatics of our early days where as you actually had to write that info on the photo!

As the quality of cameras in smartphones and tablets keep getting better, it is easier for you to have lots of great photos! Most EVERYBODY has a smartphone on them, almost every moment, so there’s no excuse for missing a shot. You can shoot some pretty amazing videos too! It may not seem like it now but these are memories that one day you will cherish.

Take Pictures | Trucker Tips Blog
Traffic jam on I-70 before it was completed alongside the Colorado river, circa 1984

Looking back through pictures that we took back in the day, we get to relive that race down the drag strip in Topeka or the water fights at the Walcott Truckers Jamboree, even the run we made together up and over the grapevine! Those old photos are in pretty poor condition considering the age, the film and processing, not to mention the ‘equipment’ we had to shoot in the mid ’70s, but thank God we have them! We don’t have many, but those we do have are very precious to us! We get to remember the friends and family who are no longer with us, but we get to see that smile or funny face that we loved so much. Where we’ve been helps make us who we are and it’s a pretty nice place to revisit from time to time.

Take Pictures | Trucker Tips Blog
An unusual sight! Semi Truck Parking Only sign in Gloucester, MA, circa 1983

For drivers just getting on the road today, take our word for it, 20 years will go by faster than you can even imagine! So start taking lots of pictures of your first days and years on the road, it’s will be fun to go through them years later. It’s also a great way to share all the places you’ve been with family back home. It brings your stories to life, paints the picture of your day for them, so they can feel more a part of your world.

No matter where you run, all 48 or a dedicated run, the photo opportunities are endless! The sun comes up the sun goes down and in so many places this can be quite spectacular. When the snow stops and the sun comes out it creates an entirely different kind of beauty! There is beauty in a rain storm or a moonlit night sky. Fall presents a plethora of landscape changes that are among my personal favorites to shoot. I am forever searching for that perfect backdrop to use to frame my truck amidst the changing colors of fall leaves. Springtime itself has its own multi colored beauty which oftentimes go unnoticed in our rush to just see green after a long cold winter, but look for it, it’s there!

Take Pictures | Trucker Tips Blog
A beautiful sunset

I personally like taking pictures of my truck and trailer in some of the “challenging” docks and places I have to deliver. It looks pretty impressive to see where you can get that rig without hitting anything! This is a skill and you never stop learning!

Hopefully you will never have to take pictures of an accident but if that ever happens and if you are able, make sure you get a lot of photos, because you are probably going to need them before it’s over.

Taking pictures is a passion for both of us, we have been doing it for years and we encourage others to shoot pictures of lots of different subjects; such as a snowplow at work in the winter or a hummingbird mid flight. There is beauty all around us, things worthy of being photographed, especially a beautiful truck in an unusual or scenic setting. The places we go, this industry we are a part of, is an ever changing entity. It evolves quickly and the equipment itself changes too. What is here today may not be tomorrow. TAKE PICTURES! You won’t regret it. We promise!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

No Time to Read?

No Time To Read | Trucker Tips Blog

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Reading broadens your horizons, but as drivers someNo Time to Read?- Reading broadens your horizons but as drivers sometimes it’s hard to find the time to sit down and enjoy a good book.times it’s hard to find the time to sit down and enjoy a good book.

These days there are so many options to enjoy your favorite authors.  I am still a fan of a good old fashioned  book, sitting down and turning the pages. Sadly, that’s not always practical. Even when you get the opportunity to do so, you might find yourself falling asleep after the first or second page!

Books on tape have been around for years and they have come a long way from the days when there was a rack in nearly every truck stop. In the early days, you would rent your favorite books, listen to them and return them miles down the road; rent a new title and enjoy hours of listening to a murder mystery, a drama, western or war story, even a love story. It was the forerunner to today’s Redbox.

You can spend the money and find many good titles that are still sold in most truck stops and swap with friends on the road.  If you don’t have the money to create your own audio book collection there are other places that you should investigate.  Most libraries will let you check out audio books just like you would a paperback and they usually give you a couple of weeks to listen before needing to  return them.

Some companies have racks in their lunch rooms or drivers spaces that will let drivers leave books for others to listen to and bring back so other drivers can share the same book.

No Time To Read? | Trucker Tips BlogWe found when you get hooked on an author it made for many hours of listening that helped us cover thousands of miles while entertained. I, Kim, enjoyed the Sue Grafton alphabet murder series. I enjoyed the P.I. character Kinsey Millhone narrated by Judy Kaye. To me she became the voice of Kinsey in her adventures in the fictional California town of St. Theresa. We look forward to the next book coming out in any series. They become so addictive. The characters become members of your own friendly circle!

Now, in the digital age, it has become even easier to get the books you love to “read”. If you have a smart phone or tablet it’s as easy as installing an app called OverDrive. You can use this free service if you have a local library card or through your Facebook account. The app has linked libraries from across the country, all over the world in fact. You can access audiobooks and ebooks, download them to your device for listening while you are connected to the Internet so that when you are away you can listen to them and they don’t use any data. You can keep the books for a couple of weeks and if you don’t renew them, OverDrive will automatically remove them from your device on their due date. You do have the option to renew.

If you want a certain book and it isn’t available, you can put your name on a waiting list and when it does become available they will notify you, just like any other library service. The cool thing about this particular service is that as drivers, we just don’t always have the option to get back home to the library like average folks to pick up and return books. With this type of digital service, we don’t have to worry about that any longer!

Roger and I used to check out 10-12 audiobooks every time we went to the library! It took up a lot of space and we actually began to run out of books to listen to, with this service, I can’t see that ever being a problem. Listening to a good book is a really good way to keep you wide awake and alert, especially if you are driving overnight. We highly recommend this form of entertainment as a way to occupy your mind and keep you safe.

I know from experience that listening to a good book would, literally, make the time just fly by while keeping my blood pressure down. It’s a win-win. Give it a try. We hope you end up enjoying it as much as we do!

No Time to Read? | Trucker Tips Blog

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

A Trucker Network

A Trucker Network | Trucker Tips

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

If you have been driving for a long time, you probably have a network of friends and other drivers you have met over the years. If you are just getting on the road, it’s not a bad idea to start creating your own network. Building such a network will be one of the most worthwhile things you ever do for yourself. It is priceless. Reliable people in our industry, those who have each other’s backs, are still out there. We know many and we can count on them as they can us.

People you can trust to give you good information when you are in their neck of the woods, or the areas where they run, are invaluable. It’s nice to have someone you trust that lives in the area to tell you the best route to take. They might know about safe places that you can stop or the places that might not be so safe that you should avoid if possible. We can not tell you how many times we have utilized advice from a friend, or given advice to a friend of a friend in order to keep them safe or save them from driving useless, unnecessary miles. Once you have established a core network, your friends all have friends and it’s arms reach out forever.

Trucker friends who have delivered to the stops you go to can be a wealth of information about things like whether or not you can park there; how long before your appointment they will let you in; if the lumpers are reasonable or they are going to charge a lot; how long you can anticipate being there, etc.

We developed many of our lasting friendships at truck shows and can count on our friends for accurate advice. If they don’t know they will tell us that too. The recent flooding in Louisiana and wildfires in California are prime examples of what we are talking about. I got a call from my best friend who had just pulled into the truck stop in Hesperia, CA to change drivers and had just seen the sign telling her that I-15 was closed due to the fire. We had lived and run there for almost all of our 40 years so I was able to give her a detour route that was less crowded than those being used by most of the rest of the traffic. This helped her get through with less of a delay than she would have otherwise experienced. Calling me was her first thought, she knew I would have good, dependable information and that she could trust me. She knew that I wouldn’t put them out on a restricted route or give her advice that would get them into any trouble. Like I said before, a good, reliable network is worth it’s weight in gold! Once you have developed your network you can share your contacts with others you meet who need their help and the entire network expands across the whole country! It’s a truly beautiful thing.

Sitting in the waiting room at a receivers dock to check in where there is a long line of drivers can sometimes be a place for conversation and information gathering pertaining to a drop you have after the one you are at. At these places a lot of times there will be drivers that run local and are familiar with the area. They know about current construction zones and streets you want to take and ones you might want to stay off of. Use this time to find out as much information as possible. It will make your day easier in the long run!

I do not fully trust my GPS unit. If I’m in doubt, I will at call a shipper or receiver and hopefully, if I can’t talk to a live person, they have a direction line that will tell you the right way to get there with a truck! If I am running behind, I will call my next pickup or drop and the people on the other end of the phone are usually very nice, appreciate the call and tell you that doesn’t happen much anymore. Be the driver that does this and it will usually make your life easier. This can also help establish your network. If you make personal contact with your shipper/consignee, be personable and polite. Hopefully, they will remember you and treat you with the same respect and possibly be flexible when you need it!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Cooking in the Truck 101

Cooking in the truck 101By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Some drivers have cooking in the truck perfected, but this blog is for the drivers who are just getting started or want to dip their toes in the kitchen and see if this will work for them.

Let’s get cookin’!  A lot of companies provide generators and a small refrigerators in each truck.  If your company provides these it will be easier, but if they don’t you can still make it work.  After all, we did years ago before many of today’s conveniences became standard equipment. For a minimal initial investment you can get started cooking your own meals. This allows you to keep the wheels turning and earn money while the smell of dinner cooking wafts throughout your entire cab! When it’s time to stop for the night you’ll have fresh, hot food ready to eat right in your truck.

If you don’t have a generator or an inverter you can purchase appliances that use power from the 12-volt cigarette lighter plug.  A lunch box cooker is priced at most truck stops between $30-$40, a small hot pot runs about $20-$25, and a refrigerator will cost $200+ (you can even start out with a cooler and ice until you gather all these other 12 volt goodies!) If you are going to cook, it’s a must to be able to keep food cold.

After gathering a few of these appliances, you will need the food. The cookers include a few recipes and there are also many online resources you can tap into for ideas. Let’s use a simple dinner example of pork chops and mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes and peas.

First make a list of ingredients. It’s really easy to over-buy, which can be a problem if you don’t have much storage space. Get a couple of spices, salt & pepper, and butter. These are staples that we always seem to use. The lunch box cooker will let you cook meats, bake a cake, and get creative all while enjoying the aroma of your cooking lunch or supper. Get a small package of the foil liners for the cooker, it makes clean up a breeze!

Back to the list. On that list you should also add everything you need for easy clean up.  Paper plates and bowls, plastic silverware, paper towels, baggies and a big container of antibacterial wipes. I’ve used them for years without ever having a problem getting sick from clean up of my appliances or utensils.

Cooking in the Truck 101- Some drivers have cooking in the truck perfected but this blog is for the drivers who are just getting started, or want to dip their toes in the kitchen and see if this will work for them.Get a small package of pork chops (2 chops), 1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, 1 small bag frozen petite green peas, 1 small envelope of garlic or butter instant potatoes, 1 small container milk, 1 small butter/margarine, salt and pepper.

First, put the pork chops into the foil liner inside the lunchbox cooker and cover with the cream of mushroom soup. Then, plug it in and cook it according to directions, usually 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pork, like chicken, needs to be thoroughly cooked and the stirring keeps it from sticking to the bottom. The foil liner isn’t a requirement, but you will find that it is well worth the extra investment! Depending on the thickness of the chops, the time to cook will vary, you will have to determine that by checking them yourself.

When you stop, fill the hot pot with water to boil the peas. When they are done, remove them and use the same water to add the instant potatoes in a bowl so you get the nutrients from the peas as well as the flavor! If you don’t have enough water left, add some and reboil before making the potatoes, making sure to add dry potatoes SLOWLY as they take a few seconds to get to proper texture.

When everything is done, put it together on a plate, add the gravy on top of the chops and potatoes and voila! Hot, hearty supper in the truck! This works no matter where you happen to be! Cooking in the truck can be a life saver, and a reminder of home, when you find yourself in the middle of nowhere. You may find that you enjoy it and just the beginning of a lifetime of “Cooking In The Truck.” Happy Cooking!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.