morgan-bridge

He started shooting photographs when he was in first grade, well before the days of one-hour photos. Morgan Countryman always shot on 110 mm film, then he mailed the reel away to be developed. “As a kid, I had high anticipation for getting those photos back,” says Countryman, now a longtime owner operator based in Texas. “Getting those photos back was like getting Christmas in the mail, because you never really knew what you shot.”

By now, Countryman has had a CDL trucking job for 27 years and has mentored several truck drivers in photography. Here’s what the self-taught sharpshooter had to say about his own favorite shots and his beloved pastime.

morgan-umbrellaTell us about this umbrella shot.

It was taken at Niagara Falls. I didn’t even know the person was there. I stumbled across this shot. As soon as I saw it, I knew it would make for a good one. I’ve got it hanging on my wall at home. I like it because it’s marrying the old with the new.

You shoot black-and-whites almost exclusively. Why?

I am a big fan of Ansel Adams. I have been since I was a kid. He’s my inspiration. His photos blow me away. Color shots are gorgeous, but black-and-white tells the story.

morgan-girlThis is my friend’s kid.

I love the way the shadows play with her skin and create a dramatic image. It was a total accident. I did a studio-style setup for a friend and she was my test subject.

Speaking of friends, you’ve mentored up to 20 truck driving photographers.

I find people who have the eye but don’t know enough of the basic rules to pull the shot off. There are a few basic rules that could help anybody. If it doesn’t add to the photograph, get rid of it. That alone can take somebody a long way.

morgan-boat

This is Bolivar Point, Texas, across the bay from Galveston.

I happened to be in the right place at the right time. A filter was left on the camera by accident, but I liked it so well, I kept it. I like the solitude of it, like it’s the last boat to sail off into the sunset.

What do you strive for when you’re shooting?

To make the camera see what I see. Because what you see is not always what’s there. It’s like a carpenter who looks at a house and sees what could be.

morgan-crossThe cross was on a back Texas road.

I turned the car  around and went back to take this shot. The grain of the wood caught my attention. I like how it interacts with the textures around it, how the clouds are below the cross. Most black-and-whites wind up being pretty dramatic. A good photo will tell a different story to different people.

At Drive My Way, we love a good story, whether it’s told in words or images. Join our community here and help us celebrate truck drivers’ talents.

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Jazz, blues, folk, rock, Bill “GS” Bass can play it all. He grew up in a musical family where if you had an instrument you played it, and if you didn’t have an instrument, you improvised. Bass took to bass guitar as a kid growing up on Long Island. He liked it so much he took the name of the instrument as well.

While Bass first started strumming in sixth grade, his passion for bass guitar has stood the test of time. He’s had a CDL trucking job since the 1990s. Today he drives part-time for Roehl Transport and spends his home time jamming with other musicians at clubs in Phoenix, Ariz.

Bass

Bass’s truck

“Every song you play is not going to be perfect,” Bass says. “The goal is to have a good time onstage and hopefully that energy spreads to the audience.”

When he’s in his element, the audience can see Bass’s passion unfolding in real time. To be good, you should understand music theory, have the right timing and have a good ear, he says.

Bass strives to bring all of that to his own performance whenever he plays. If he succeeds, the audience will feel it as much as he does.

bass-jamming-nice

“You want to be able to feel the music in time and be an ensemble player,” Bass says. “For a bassist, the drummer is usually your best friend onstage. You tend to play off of those rhythms.”

When it comes to shining moments, one special moment especially stands out for Bass. He was jamming at Pho Cao in Scottsdale, Ariz., when a special guest stopped by. It was legendary drummer Jerome Teasley, who made a name for himself playing with Jimi Hendrix, Tina Turner and Motown greats.

“That was a proud moment for me,” says Bass of jamming with Teasley. “As far as having  a moment where ‘Oh my gosh, it can’t get any better than this,’ that would definitely be it.”

 

bass-band

Bass has played in several bands over the years. They’ve run the gamut from jazz to rock. But those days are over. Bass prefers to cut loose in jam sessions and get caught up in the revelry of the moment.

“My friends are my mentors,” he says. “They’re exceptional players, and I aspire to play like them. A lot happens in jam situations. You play onstage with three or four other people, nobody knows what’s going to happen.”

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The Holleys

At Drive My Way, we’re always highlighting truck drivers. We decided it’s time to highlight their other halves—the wives who hold it down at home while their truckers are on the road.

We spoke with two trucker wives who have more in common than they know: Justine Culhane-Holley of Jacksonville, N.C., and Michelle Campbell of Mocksville, N.C. Both have two kids. Both are in college. And both make it look easy (It’s not.).

The Campbell family

The Campbell family

Full days and challenges

“There are some really hard days,” says Campbell, who has an 11-year-old autistic son and a 4-year-old daughter with her husband, Eric.

While Eric is busy as an owner operator leased to TMC, “I’m in nursing school and I’m pretty much running around like a crazy person to make things easy for my husband,” Campbell says. “He’s doing everything he can for our family. I know that. But sometimes I think it might be harder for the mother at home.”

For Culhane-Holley, the day begins at 5:30 a.m., when she gets her daughter ready for kindergarten.

Campbell follows at 6 a.m. It has to be 6 a.m., because her son needs routine.

Soon after they take their kids to school, the ladies hit the books for their own classes. Campbell is in her last year of nursing school; Culhane-Holley is pursuing a conservation degree online.

“It’s real important for me to stay strong for him so he won’t worry about me,” Culhane-Holley says of her husband, Charles Holley Jr., a company driver for TMC. “I make sure he’s not the one I complain to. I don’t want to put extra stress on him.”

Both women are raising their children without a support system, which adds to their stress. The Campbells had Eric’s mother nearby for a while, but she has since passed away. The Holleys, who have a toddler and a 5-year-old, moved to North Carolina from West Virginia last winter.

As lonely as days can get, both women know if it’s hard for them, it’s just as hard for their husbands.

Home time

Charles Holley with his kids

Charles Holley with his kids

On weekends when Eric is home, the Campbells play with the kids, cook together and live in the moment.

“We have quality time, because that’s what matters,” Campbell says. “It’s not as often as we wish, but we enjoy what time we do have.”

The Holleys get as little time together as the Campbells do—an average of 24 to 36 hours a week. When Charles is home, he spends most of his time with his daughters, taking them to the beach every chance he gets.

“When he’s on the road so much, the time we do have together is all the more special,” Culhane-Holley says.

Making it work

Love is what brought these couples together, and it’s what keeps them together. While being apart is never easy, it’s always worthwhile.

Michelle and Eric Campbell

Michelle and Eric Campbell

“I would like women to know that it’s definitely not an easy thing, and they need to appreciate the time they do have with their husbands,” says Campbell. “It’s about quality over quantity.”

Culhane-Holley has become more independent since Charles began driving last February. “I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was,” she says. “When the kids get hurt or you have an issue with your house, you have to buck up and handle it. Once you can handle the problems yourself, you realize you can do it.”

Campbell, too, knows the life they’ve built in North Carolina is a good one, even if her family lives on the opposite coast in California. To handle stress, the women have turned to TMC and Facebook support groups.

“You’re actually not alone, because you can see that others are sharing your experience,” Culhane-Holley says. “We can express our frustrations to each other instead of to our husbands.”

Adds Campbell: “I love that there is a community out there for women, because it isn’t easy. At the same time, I wouldn’t ask my husband to do anything differently. We make things work, and he’s provided us with an amazing life. I couldn’t be more thankful for that.”

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long-island-expressway-welcome-center-renderingThe $20.2 million NY welcome center on the Long Island Expressway in New York between exits 51 and 52 is set to open as early as this week, state officials said, providing a stop for motorists—but not for drivers with CDL trucking jobs.

Residents remain upset at the thought of having trucks near the center, Transport Topics wrote.

Residents opposed expanding what had been a pullout area with no services. They shared concerns of pollution from idling trucks and quality-of-life issues, such as noise and crime. However, as a compromise with residents and local officials, New York Department of Transportation officials banned tractor-trailers and buses at the welcome center. This exchanged for the community agreeing not to sue or impede sewer and water district approvals for the project.

Alternate rest areas for trucks and buses exist farther east.

One on the westbound side of Exit 56 and another eastbound between exits 65 and 66. Those stops have been renovated with improved lighting and portable restroom facilities, DOT officials said.

On a recent afternoon at the Exit 56 rest area, longhaul truck drivers said they had mixed feelings about the new setup, which requires them to turn around from the eastbound side to get to the rest stop on the westbound side or drive another 20 minutes east — longer in traffic.

Bruce Maze of Lewisburg, PA avoided driving to Long Island during his 36-year career.

His reasoning is it’s not very accommodating for truckers. He said the new stops show improvement, but give and take from residents must exist to make it work. “I understand residents’ concerns,” Maze said. “But at the same time, businesses need supplies, and truckers need and want a safe, well-lit area to pull over.”

Rick Caetano, who has been driving for more than 20 years, called the need to turn back west to use the rest area a “hassle” and said he would prefer to be able to use the new welcome center.

Caetano also shared his opinion on how the lack of truck parking impacts the new welcome center.

It’s not always easy when you have a CDL trucking job. Join the Drive My Way community here to keep up with all the latest industry news and make your voice heard.

Welcome center rendering by New York Governor’s Press Office.

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Blue Ridge Mountains

Many CDL permit holders know full well the beauty that blooms along the East Coast every fall. As drivers, you probably have your favorite spots to espy vibrant colors along your trucking routes. But there’s perhaps no better place than the Blue Ridge Mountains or the Shanandoah Valley to absorb the beauty of the season.

One Los Angeles Times reporter put fall colors to the test when he drove all 105 miles of Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, Va., then all 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina.

In beautiful prose, reporter Christopher Reynolds captured the majesty of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the fall.

For four days I could almost hear the swelling violins as I zoomed under leafy canopies of red, orange and gold; hiked along creeks, lakes and ridge lines; listened to plenty of bluegrass and blues; and gave thanks to the National Park Service for bringing together so much beauty and so much blacktop.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is America’s most popular national park, with good reason.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, authorized in 1936, has been all about the automobile from Day One.

Both the parkway and Shenandoah National Park were Depression era projects intended to create jobs in a desperately poor region. For the parkway, the idea was to sculpt an epic country road, a black ribbon that would unfurl seamlessly amid the knobs, hollows, notches and gaps of Virginia and North Carolina.

The work took decades, but now the road’s shoulders are graced with overlooks, its straightaways unsullied by billboards or service stations. (There are also plenty of hiking trails along the route, including the 2,180-mile Appalachian Trail.)

The parkway speed limit is 45 mph, Reynolds notes.

Which means drivers move slowly enough to notice the region’s nuances and beauty.

For most of the last 50 years, including 2015, the parkway has been the most-visited unit in the park system. Last year its rangers counted 15 million visitors, who spent an estimated $950 million.

The parkway rises, falls, bends and straightens, following the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains with no commercial buildings or truck traffic, cushioned by a buffer zone of landscaping that alternates between narrow and wide, semi-wild and manicured.

The scenes I glided through were not quite natural.

They were more orderly than that. But they were unfailingly pretty.

Now I was heading into the busiest stretch of the parkway, the area around Asheville, N.C., where rangers counted 42,520 vehicles passing through in October, the month of my visit — almost three times the traffic tallied at the Peaks of Otter.

It was easy to see why. I happened to hit this stretch within a few days of peak color. In the hour before sunset, about Milepost 360, the scene turned surreal as the road carried me through tree tunnels of flowing orange and flaming red, then luminous yellow-green.

As CDL permit holders, what are your favorite roads to drive in the fall? We’d love to hear!

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photography for truck drivers

Robert Moody has worked as a truck driver since 1976, most recently as a company driver for Lincoln, Neb.-based Crete-Shaffer. He’s on medical leave now due to a heart ailment that nearly killed him. While he’s on leave from his CDL trucking job, Moody has delved deeper into another one of his passions—photography.

Moody estimates he’s taken 500 photos from his truck over the years, all on the Nikon D2X camera he bought 10 years ago. We asked Moody to share with us his favorite photos and the backstory behind them. His insights are as captivating as his photographs.

Sharpshooters: The Truck Drivers with a Talent for Photography

This photo taken in Grand Teton National Park is your favorite. Why?

It was one of the first I took when I started taking photos seriously. I got there early in the morning before the sun rose. I set up my tripod. There were other people there, but with the clouds, they all left. They didn’t think it would be any good. It ended up being really good. The sun peeked out a little bit through the clouds. It lit everything up. Nobody was there but me.

What caught your eye with it?

The barn itself has a lot of character. That barn is a statement to its durability. You build something right, it lasts.

robert-rainbowWhere was this taken?

Cave of the Winds, Niagara Falls, on the U.S. side. There’s so much mist and wind there, you can’t use a tripod or your camera gets soaked. I had to hold the camera under my raincoat and take it out to shoot. This was the first big picture I ever sold. I sold it at an art show in Rochester, N.Y. It’s one of my favorite photos. The dark blue sky, the power of the water, the rainbow. All of it together is calming.

How has photography impacted your medical leave?

I use photography as a therapy while I’m going through this. There’s a park here in New York called Glenn Park. It’s really beautiful. I go there a lot. If you position your camera right you wouldn’t have a clue you’re in a city.

robert-fall-trees-by-waterWhat is it about this picture?

This is Oxbow Bend, Wyoming. I probably get more comments on this picture than any other. People like this photo. I live in Williamsville, N.Y., where you don’t see stuff like this. This picture makes me think that no matter how dark and gloomy life might get, there’s still light, there’s still something beautiful out there.

What motivates you?

I like national park landscape. I think I got my desire to shoot from my uncle. He used to take us to the zoo. He was really into photography. Ever since I was a boy, I wanted to take pictures.

robert-yosemite

Yosemite is my favorite national park

It’s massive, the sheer cliffs, the waterfalls coming off them. It’s so incredibly beautiful. I can imagine people crossing in their covered wagons and asking, “How are we getting through this one?” It’s an incredible place. This photo was taken in May at Tunnel View on Hwy. 41. I’m pretty religious, so I see God all over this picture.

Have a passion for photography on the road? Follow Drive My Way on Facebook here for more information. For more of Robert Moody’s photos, check out moodyimaging.com.

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A Very Special Drive

CDL trucking jobs and Special Olympics

The scene is jubilant as athletes in cities nationwide gather to play games, have picnics, ride in convoys and dance to live music.

But these aren’t just any athletes, and it’s not just any cause.

It’s the Special Olympics Truck Convoy.

It’s called “the World’s Largest Truck Convoy” because it used to happen in cities nationwide on the same day every year. Now it happens in various cities every September, though not always on the same day.

And perhaps no Special Olympics Truck Convoy is bigger than Nebraska’s, annually drawing about 50 truck drivers, 25 law enforcement officers and 200 Special Olympians.

“I was born and raised around a lot of (Special Olympics) athletes,” says Roger Duering, Nebraska’s Special Olympics Truck Convoy coordinator. “I used to help an athlete do his stretches when I was younger. For me, this is a way to give back to the state of Nebraska.”

Special Olympics Truck ConvoyDuering has been behind the event since it launched in the state 13 years ago.

He had a CDL trucking job until he retired for medical reasons, so he feels he has a personal stake in this weekend year after year.

This year, the two-day fundraiser will be held Sept. 16 and 17 in Hastings, Neb. and Grand Island, Neb. As always, it will be replete with good vibes. On tap are games for the athletes, a Friday night picnic, the convoy (9:45 a.m. Saturday) and a post-convoy barbecue and auction.

“The World’s Largest Truck Convoy has a great impact on the athletes and programs of Special OlympicsSpecial Olympics Truck Convoy Nebraska,” says Katie Kellar, director of development for Special Olympics Nebraska. “The funds raised from the event help to provide sports and leadership opportunities for athletes throughout the state.”

Earl Deterding, an owner operator leased to Fremont Contract Carriers, has participated in the Nebraska Special Olympics Truck Convoy every year since it launched.

“The best part is to see the look on the athletes’ faces when they’re in the trucks,” Deterding says. “It’s a fun deal. Some athletes come out every year, and every year you can see them getting more confidence. I think this event empowers them.”

Athletes begin asking about the event as early as January, Duering says. “They’re always asking, ‘What are we going to do? What games are we going to play?’”

For their part, organizers ensure the games remain a surprise for athletes. In past years, softball, an egg pass and scavenger hunts have been huge hits.

Special Olympics Truck ConvoyIn the contests, truck drivers and athletes go head-to-head. “The athletes always win, we make sure of that,” Duering says.

Because for athletes, the Special Olympics is more than fun and games. By participating in the Nebraska competitions, such as broad jump, running and long jump, athletes can qualify to compete in the state Special Olympics contests held in Omaha. From there, they go on to compete in Nationals.

The money raised at the Nebraska convoy helps pay for athletes’ travel expenses to future competitions. “One year this convoy sent 15 athletes to the national games,” Duering says.

Last year, the Nebraska convoy raised $13,000 for the Special Olympics, and organizers hope to top that this year. Truck drivers each pay $100 to participate in the convoy, driving from as far as New York and Florida. Other funds are raised through the Saturday auction, always popular with athletes.

Truck drivers donate items for the auction then engage in bidding wars to raise more funds for the Special Olympics Truck ConvoySpecial Olympics. Truck driver Reuben Dupsky donated a toy truck with a $45 value for the auction one year, then ended up paying $90 for it in the auction. In the end, he gave it to one of the athletes, who beamed upon receiving it.

“The athletes are thrilled by it. No matter what they get, they’re excited that they got something,” says Dupsky, a local driver for Fremont Contract Carriers who’s participated in the convoy for 12 years.

“It’s just awesome seeing the smiles on their faces,” he continues. “It keeps me coming back every year.”

Special Olympics Truck ConvoyIndeed, for those with CDL trucking jobs, seeing the smiles on the athletes’ faces is always the highlight of the event. Drivers engage the athletes at every turn, whether they’re playing softball with them or letting them honk the horn during the convoy. In fact, many drive with the same athletes year after year, forming a long-term bond.

“Participating gives me a good feeling,” Deterding says. “These athletes need a little pick-me-up once in a while, something that says ‘everything’s OK.’ It’s a great event. I’ll keep doing this for as long as I keep driving.”

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Photos courtesy Special Olympics Nebraska and Roger Duering

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trucker barbecue

Part of our ‘Big Rigs and Barbecue’ Series

John Fitzpatrick is a country boy, even now, at 58.

The oldest of five kids, Fitzpatrick learned to barbecue from his father, his scout leader in Boy Scouts.

From his dad, Fitzpatrick learned how to cook over an open flame, clean fish and build snow caves in the frigid Canadian winter.

“We always barbecued growing up. When my parents started camping, that’s when I got really into grilling,” he says.

John chicken wings 2Fitzpatrick, a company driver for Canadian American Transport, is a long-haul trucker who spends up to four weeks at a time on the road. But he still grills out every chance he gets.

Among friends, Fitzpatrick is called “The Barbecue King,” with good reason.

The die-hard griller has two grills and three smokers at home in Kingston, Ontario.

“I do love my grilling,” he says. On the truck, Fitzpatrick grills out on an 18-inch gas grill he travels with, using mesquite, cherry or apple wood chips to enhance his barbecue. But at home, he cooks for others.

“We invite family and friends over and we all get together,” Fitzpatrick says. “There’s camaraderie. We have a good time.”

At gatherings, Fitzpatrick cooks up beef ribs on the smoker.

“My friends like the flavor and how tender and moist my meat is,” he says. “The juice just pours out.”

Fitzpatrick’s friends savor his ribs most of all. That’s probably because he makes a homemade rub that John bbq ribs and wingsgives his ribs an extra kick. He calls it Bone Dust. It’s a mix of cumin, chipotle powder and other seasonings. “I can take any type of rub and change it to give it my own flavor,” Fitzpatrick says.

Fitzpatrick has tried to cook brisket on the road, but it’s never the same.

So he saves his brisket for home time and does it right—smoking it at 210 degrees for 18 hours. The result is delicious, says.

“Patience is the key, and keeping a close on eye it,” he says. “You never want to rush it, whether you’re cooking on the grill or the smoker. If you rush, you’ll end up with tough meats. It takes a lot of practice.”

Fitzpatrick has been smoking his own meats for 25 years and grilling for 40 years. He enjoys cooking for his wife, Evelyn, most of all.

“I wish she was with me on the road,” he says. “When I retired after working 25 years at DuPont, we traveled in a camper together for a year. I loved driving with her.”

Evelyn loves her husband’s lemon chicken.

Fitzpatrick rubs it with salt and pepper, stuffs it with halved lemons and smokes it on his vertical smoker for about two-and-a-half hours. “It’s her favorite,” he says.

When Fitzpatrick retires from his CDL trucking job, he and Evelyn will drive Route 66. “We’ll hook up the camper and just stop wherever we stop,” he says. “We’ll go fishing and enjoy the journey.”

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Featured photos from Pixabay.com; other photos courtesy John Fitzpatrick.

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Truck Pull 2

Carter Express long has made a habit of giving back to the local community. It routinely gives to charity through Wreaths Across America, food drives, fundraising dinners and the United Way.

On Aug. 27, Carter Express will be pitching in for the United Way again.

That’s when the Anderson, Ind.-based trucking company participate in the 3rd Annual United Way Human Truck Pull.

As the event’s chief sponsor, about 55 Carter employees typically partake in the truck pull every year, from truck drivers to in-house staff, says Jessica Warnke, director of marketing and communications for Carter.

Guns and buns“We’ve always been big supporters of the United Way, so when the United Way came to us a few years ago and asked us to support the event, we thought it sounded like a good way to get the community involved,” she says.

As a company, Carter Express donated $5,000 annually to the cause.

That’s in addition to the contributions its staff and drivers donated individually for participating in the pull.

“It’s just a fun event,” says Warnke, who organizes volunteers and helps plan the event. “Personally, I like the idea of bringing the community together to support an organization like the United Way. I always have a blast at the event, and it’s been personally gratifying.”

Pitching In for a Cause

Teams of 10 men or 12 men and women compete in the truck pull. Two teams at a time go head to head against each other, trying to pull the 30,000-pound truck-and-trailer combination 125 feet for a chance to win prizes. To participate, each team must donate at least $500 to the United Way.

Susan and Lowell Mitchell

Susan and Lowell Mitchell

Carter Express team drivers Lowell and Susan Mitchell, a married couple who have driven together for 10 years, have participated in the United Way truck pull every year, steering the trucks that competitors pull.

“I’m always happy to do something for a good cause,” Susan Mitchell says. “I hope the truck pull brings awareness about what United Way does for people. People at the event give great testimonies about what United Way has done for them. You don’t always think about that. They are definitely a help to people.”

When steering the truck for the truck pull, the Mitchells must be aware of people’s safety, just as they would be on the road. But the event is entertaining and full of levity, Lowell Mitchell adds.

“It’s a fun day,” he says. “We enjoy doing it. As truck drivers, we try to be givers more than receivers.”

Truck pull 1

Kim Williams, vice president, resource development for the United Way of Madison County, says the organization has set a fundraising goal of $40,000 for this year’s truck pull. Last year’s event brought in $13,000 for Madison County, but for the first time this year, the truck pull also will benefit nearby Delaware County. “We would love for each chapter to walk away with $20,000,” Williams says.

The fundraiser features food trucks, vendors and a kids cab pull.

People who benefited from the United Way share their stories, too. In that regard, “the truck pull helps put a face to what we do,” Williams says. While the United Way always focuses on income, education or health, the organization’s aims differ from community to community, depending on residents’ needs. In Madison County, the United Way alleviates poverty. In Delaware County, it focuses on youth education.

“One of the goals of this event is to connect with folks that we normally don’t connect with during the year,” Williams says. “This helps us better connect with the community and invite them to join with us. We bring people and organizations together to inspire change.”

The 3rd Annual United Way Truck Pull takes place at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Anderson Airport in Anderson, Ind. All proceeds benefit the United Way of Madison and Delaware Counties. For more information, visit http://www.unitedwaymadisonco.org/truckpull2016.

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All photos courtesy of United Way except the one courtesy of Susan and Lowell Mitchell.

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newsminer.comJack Binder has braved Alaska’s famed Dalton Highway since it opened in 1974.

Now 68, Binder, a 50-year truck driver, recently retired from his CDL driver job. As he looks back on his driving achievements, he relishes the opportunity he’s had to master Alaska’s harsh conditions.

Newsminer.com captured the highlights of Binder’s career in a nice feature story.

“It’s a career that’s paid me well and given me a lot of independence,” Binder told the publication.

Originally from Bemidji, Minnesota, he first came to Fairbanks at age 18 to drive a cement mixing truck during the summer construction season.

“I came up here in ’68 and Alaska got in my blood,” Binder said. “It’s sort of hard to explain. It was a frontier atmosphere and it was an adventure coming up here.”

During the Vietnam War, Binder worked as a translator.

He missed Alaska, so in 1972 he returned there to drive a cement mixer in the summer months. It was the start of a long career in Alaska.

Binder’s father was a truck driver, too, and when the Alyeska Pipeline and the Dalton Highway opened in 1974, the father-son duo moved to Fairbanks to drive for the now-defunct Weaver Brothers truck company and deliver supplies to the camps in the North Slope oil fields.

“I fell in love with trucks at an early age. He and I were really close. I suppose I was following in his footsteps,” Binder said of his father. “I grew up with this idea that truck drivers were kings of the road and they’d stop and help everyone.”

The Dalton Highway was different then.

It was only open to commercial vehicles, the road wasn’t as straight and there was no bridge spanning the Yukon.

It was in hauling bridge beam pipes for the construction of the E.L. Patton Yukon Bridge that he fell in love with trucking.

“It just got in the blood,” he said. “Trucking is something that is easy to get into and difficult to get away from.”

However, Binder, now retired from his trucking job, has gotten away from it. But he hasn’t gone far. He decided to become a mentor and trainer at Alaska West Express, where he’s worked the last 13 years.

“It’s been a rewarding career and I guess I’m ready to be off the road,” Binder said. “It’s nice to be home every night.”

Read the rest of the story here.

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