For Christians, Easter is a time of reflection, gratitude and deep faith that goes to the very heart of Christianity. For truck drivers who celebrate Easter on the road, it’s also time for feasting!

We asked our truck driver community on Facebook whether they are celebrating Easter on the road or at home this year, and the poll results so far are included on the left.

For the truck drivers who are celebrating Easter over the road, here is a story of a truck driver couple who are making the most out of the holiday on the road this year—even planning to maintain their same family traditions in their truck.

Mike Wolford and Emily Allen are among the truck drivers preparing an Easter meal in the truck this year.

The couple is looking forward to commemorating the day.

“I feel very blessed to be where I’m at right now,” says Allen. “For me, Easter is about celebrating Jesus and the fact that he is risen. I want to make something special, something I don’t make every day, because it is a celebration for us.”

Easter celebration

This year, Allen will make a meal that reminds her of her upbringing: pineapple-glazed ham.

“I’m going to bake a ham with brown sugar and pineapple, just like Momma used to do,” she says. Allen laughs at the thought. “It’ll be a whole lot smaller than Momma used to do, though.” She’ll cook it in one of her kitchen standbys, her Lunchbox oven. She’ll accompany it with mashed potatoes, corn, beets, and biscuits with melted butter.

For Wolford, an avid griller, Easter is about celebrating Jesus. But it took a woman’s touch to inspire him to celebrate Easter on the road with a special roadside meal.

“Before Emily joined me out here a year ago, cooking on the truck was always about quick and simple,” he says. “I never would have considered doing what we do now. I like the idea of a special Easter dinner, but I would not have made one if I were by myself.”

Allen is a great cook, preparing dinner in the truck at least six days a week.

A typical meal Emily Allen and Mike Wolford make together on their truck.

In her kitchen lineup is everything from an Aroma cooker to an electric skillet.

“Somewhere along the line, I developed a passion for cooking,” says Allen, who learned mostly from her mom. She sharpened her culinary skills further while working at a Michigan restaurant in her teens.

“I like good food,” she says, “whether it’s on Easter or any other day.”

We’re always interested to hear how truckers celebrate Easter from the road. Join our community here to share your story!


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Marty steaks

Part of Drive My Way’s ‘Big Rigs and Barbecue’ Series

Marty Wickliff can grill anything. The company driver for TMC out of Des Moines, Iowa, learned to cook from his mom when he was a boy. He only improved from there.

Wickliff’s cooking skills were refined all the more at 16, when he got a job as a short-order cook at a navy base in Florida.

Marty Wickliff

Marty Wickliff

By the time Wickliff was 18, he was managing a Waffle House in Alabama. That’s where he honed his culinary chops most.

“The waitress would call out the order, and you had to remember it,” Wickliff recalls. “That job taught me how to time food preparation and get food out hot all at once.”

With the high volume at Waffle House, Wickliff learned to work quickly and memorize orders. It unleashed in him a passion for cooking on the fly. All these years later, that passion is still with him.

Wickliff’s culinary experience is diverse. In the years after Waffle House, he cooked at a five-star resort and attended culinary school for a time. While his dreams of becoming a chef weren’t to last, “I retained a lot of what I learned,” he says.

Wickliff took up truck driving nearly 6 years ago, after getting laid off from a factory job he had. His grandfather and former stepfather were both drivers, and Wickliff grew up observing them. “I always wanted to drive a truck, so I finally decided to do it,” he says.


Wickliff’s grilled London broil with bacon-wrapped cabbage

While he sharpened his cooking skills as a mere teen, today, at 49, Wickliff is a true grillmaster. He’s read up a lot on the technique and learned even more from doing it himself. Wickliff drives with a little gas grill he bought at Wal-Mart. It allows him to eat healthy while on the road.

Wickliff grills steaks, ribs, hamburgers, vegetables, fish, you name it. “My go-to is steak, but if it goes on the grill without falling through the grates, it’s pretty much fair game,” he says.

Wickliff likes his steaks rare. He seasons them, then marinates them for 24 hours in Worcestershire sauce. When it’s time to cook his steak, he grills it for about three minutes, then flips it and cooks it for five minutes more. As an accompaniment, he often grills up vegetables on the side.


Wickliff’s barbecued pork ribs with grilled vegetables

But Wickliff doesn’t stop at steaks. He also loves making boneless pork country-style ribs. Marinating them in 6 Pepper seasoning from Sam’s Club for 24 hours “gives the ribs a sweet and spicy bite,” Wickliff says. He also adds garlic powder and lemon pepper to the mix.

Wickliff sears his ribs on high heat, then turns the heat down to about 225 degrees and lets the ribs grill for a half hour. He tops them off with Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce and lets them cook with the sauce for 15 minutes more. To him, it’s all perfection.

“Mainly, I go back to what I learned in the restaurant business,” Wickliff says of his technique. “I’m pretty good at picking out meats. I drive solo, so I have to do all my prep work myself. To me, grilling is relaxing. Just to sit out here in my lawn chair and grill out and unwind, it’s a great way to end the day.”

All food images by Marty Wickliff; image of Marty Wickliff by Rachel Torres

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Smoking, Meats

Part of Drive My Way’s ‘Big Rigs and Barbecue’ Series

If Karl Pickard were a recipe, he’d make for an interesting mix: one part truck driver, one part foodie.

The company driver for ATS out of St. Cloud, Minn., started cooking in his mama’s kitchen at age 8.

He’s pushed his culinary boundaries ever since, whether he’s cooking at home or on his truck.

“Us out here on the road, we don’t have much. The one thing I do insist on is good food,” says Pickard in a smooth drawl. Pickard puts few limits on what he’ll cook, even if it means having to improvise while on the road for his CDL trucking job.

Karl and Jeanette“Everything we cook really does not have a recipe,” he says of himself and his wife, Jeanette. “We’ll look at the recipe online and get the general idea, then we take it in any direction we want to take it.”

Having a CDL trucking job doesn’t hinder Pickard’s ability to cook what he wants. He’s been at it long enough to make anything work. On the road, Pickard loves to grill truckside. On any given evening, he could be firing up brats, sausages or the stuffed hamburger Jeanette makes.

But when he’s home, it’s all about the smoker. Pickard learned to smoke meats when he was a teenager. He learned from watching his uncle and stepdad, who were “big into it.”

By now, Pickard, 57, is big into it, too. He’s smoked it all, from brisket and pork shoulder to fish and sausages. When asked what he prefers to smoke, he replies, “Everything. I’m an eater. I’m a foodie. I just like eatin.”

The Prep

Pickard loves pork short ribs most of all. He recommends first pulling off the membrane on the inside of the ribs. If the membrane is on, the dry rub won’t soak in. And for Pickard, it’s all about the dry rub.

“The rub gives the meat its flavor,” he says. “So you start with a good dry rub, like McCormick’s applewood dry rub. I add to that chipotle, cayenne powder, brown sugar and black pepper. You rub it on your ribs really thick—really thick—and put them in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.”

When Pickard’s ribs have marinated long enough, he fires up the grill to 225 degrees. He soaks wood chips in water, getting them nice and wet so smoke develops. Then he puts his ribs on the grill and closes it up, letting them smoke for 8 to 10 hours at low temperature.

Cooking on the Truck

Pickard cooks ribs on the truck, too, but when he does, it’s quite a different process. When the ribs have Karlmarinated in the refrigerator for 24 hours, he cuts the slab into three equal pieces and places them in his Aroma cooker, one slab on top of the other. He sets them to “slow cook” for three to four hours, “until they’re nice and tender,” he says.

Then he fires up his 18-inch gas grill and cooks the ribs for about 10 more minutes per side, until they’re crispy.

“If you want sauce, I’ll bring sauce to the table,” Pickard says. “I do not sauce my ribs. I take pride in what I make. It’s the best feeling to see the looks on people’s faces while they’re eating what I cooked.”

Missed our first “Big Rigs and Barbecue” story? Check it out here.

Featured image courtesy RealAKP / Pixabay, other images courtesy of Karl Pickard.


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When It Comes to Grilling, This Truck Driver is Right on

Part of Drive My Way’s ‘Big Rigs and Barbecue’ Series

When Charlie Clark says she grew up on a truck, she’s not exaggerating. The long-haul truck driver, an owner operator leased to Larry Gary, really has been in trucking “for the long haul”—ever since she was 2 weeks old.

An Alabama native, Clark is a child of the highway. She was raised by her father, a truck driver. And while Clark inherited her father’s love of the road, she likewise inherited his passion for barbecue.

Charlie with her fiance, Matt Horne

Clark with her fiance, Matt Holmes

“My daddy always had a grill with us on the truck growing up,” Clark says. “I was all up in his face when he was grilling, so he could either teach me or I was going to become annoying.”

Clark’s father, a southerner from Oklahoma, had wanted a son. So he named his girl Charlie. But it didn’t take Clark long to prove that when it comes to barbecue, she can hang with the big boys.

“The first thing I did on my own was I smoked a brisket when I was 11 years old,” recalls Clark, who was home schooled on the truck yet graduated from high school a year early. “We used to make deer jerky all the time. I’ve been making jerky since I was 7 or 8. That’s like second nature to me.”

Clark recalls catching grasshoppers at age 6 and using them as fish bait; constructing makeshift grills at campsites; and barbecuing with her dad at the lake.

“I did a lot of rabbit as a kid,” Clark says. “I’d kill ‘em and skin ‘em and grill ‘em. Grilling is in my blood.”

Truck Driver Is Right on Today, Clark teams with her fiancé, Matt Holmes. When they’re off the clock from their CDL trucking jobs, Clark prefers making steaks and barbecued ribs. She coats her ribs with a homemade dry rub, marinates them in whiskey or beer and lets them sit in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Clark cooks her ribs on an 18-inch grill, cutting the slab in half so they’ll fit.

“My concoctions differ,” says Clark of her dry rubs. “Some of them will be spicy, some won’t.” Cayenne, garlic, some secret seasoning she picks up in Florida, it all depends on which meat Clark is cooking.

Clark uses her 18-inch grill for cooking nearly anything.

Clark uses her 18-inch grill for cooking nearly anything, such as these chicken-fried steaks.

So what’s Clark’s secret to making great barbecue? “Time and patience,” she says. “Anybody can cook a hot dog, but it takes patience to cook a steak or a brisket just right.”

The last time Clark cooked brisket, it was on her 18-inch grill. “Nobody’s sleeping,” she says of the experience. Clark wrapped her brisket in aluminum foil and let it cook on low heat for 29 hours. It turned out great, she says.

“Barbecuing is our time to relax and kick back,” Clark says. “It gets us outside the truck. It’s the equivalent of going home for the weekend.”

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Cedar Plank Grilling

Lee Fisher, an over the road company driver from Colorado, has liked cedar plank cooking ever since he tried it one year ago and won an online cooking challenge with the recipe. This Easter, Lee and his wife, Kari, will be spending the holiday on the road. But that’s not stopping them from cooking Easter dinner on 18 wheels. They’ll be preparing their winning recipe: cedar plank salmon.

“The more we experimented with cedar plank cooking, the more we learned how to do it properly,” Lee says.

The key is to soak the cedar plank in warm water for one hour before cooking, Lee says, then place the plank on a warm grill for about seven minutes before adding the fresh salmon—“to where the plank starts to smoke.”

Truck drivers prepare Easter dinner on the roadWhen the salmon is done cooking, it retains a nice smoky flavor. On Easter, the Fishers will serve it atop a bed of wild rice and accompany it with grilled asparagus for a complete, healthy meal.

Cooking on the road has brought the Fishers ever closer, Lee says, especially on holidays such as Easter. “It’s a joint effort when we cook. It’s made our relationship stronger. Those days where basically I’m stuck in high traffic situations, breaking the grill out, it’s like therapy.”

Keeping it Simple

People with CDL trucking jobs prepare Easter meals on their trucksEarl “Bugsy” Milroy will be cooking an Easter dinner on the truck for the first time this year. “I just figured I’ll be out here anyway, so why not?” reasons the OTR owner operator leased to C.R. England. Milroy plans to cook something simple, like ham with carrots and potatoes.

Milroy, who’s had a CDL trucking job for 23 years, enjoyed cooking Thanksgiving dinner on the road last year and is eager to see how his Easter meal fares. In cooking, Milroy relies most on his plug-in cooler and Lunch Box stove. The stove, shaped like a lunch box, works like a slow-cooker.

“I like the fact that I made it,” Milroy says of his cooking. “More and more at truck stop restaurants, the food doesn’t seem to be prepared with as much care as I would give my own food.”

Milroy, a Christian, savors the tradition of the Easter meal as much as the food itself. “I was raised with traditional holiday values,” he says. “I learned most of my cooking from my ex-wife. My mother, God rest her soul, couldn’t cook worth a damn. But my ex-wife is a really good cook, and I learned most of what I know from her.”

Lightening-Up Traditional Meals

Truck drivers cook Easter meals in their trucksLike Milroy, Carie Partin is a Christian who loves the tradition behind holiday meals.

“Easter means life, resurrection. It means hope for us,” says Partin, who made an Easter meal on the truck for the first time last year. “I still want to carry on my mom’s Easter tradition. It was important to her, and it’s something I never want to die out. Even if it’s just me and my husband, I want to hang on to it.”

Partin rides shotgun with her husband, James, an owner operator lease-purchase to U.S. Express. Their Easter dinner will be smaller and lighter than last year’s meal. Like the Fishers, the Partins are on a health kick. James has lost 21 pounds, and Carie’s blood pressure is lower than ever.

Truck drivers make Easter dinner on their trucksThose results have inspired them to cook lighter alternatives like cauliflower “mashed potatoes.” But Partin will make her signature deviled eggs again. Last year she shaped them like chicks; on Sunday, she’ll make them flower-shaped with a garnish of spring onions.

“It’s still the Easter tradition,” Partin says. “But getting healthier makes the culinary experience more fun.”

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