I don't even know where to start on how thankful I am. So many good things happen all year round, but September and October seemed especially full!!
I'm so thankful that good health allows me to do the job I love. I'm thankful for the amazing family and friends who support and encourage me every step of the way. I'm thankful to be presented with new and exciting opportunities at every turn.
I was recently interviewed for an article published in a US magazine. One of the questions was along the lines of, "What goals do you think you still have to achieve in your career?" I almost didn't know what to say. Shocking, I know!! When I thought about it, the best answer I could think of was, "Maybe I've peaked!" I don't know where else my career could really take me, but I'm always open to more opportunities. I never dreamed that I would be living my best life when I signed up to be a truck driver.
I was only able to take in one truck show this year, but I managed to make it to the Big Iron Classic in Kasson, MN. It was great meeting up with old friends and making new ones. It's always so nice to be able to put a face to a truck that you've seen so many times in passing yet never get a chance to stop and talk. I don't ever spend much time in one place enough to relax and really enjoy the conversation. I always feel like I'm so rushed and trying to pack so much into short periods of time. I met a driver, Nick, from Jade Transport, who I had spoken to on CB multiple times but never actually spoke face to face. He was parked a couple of trucks down from me, so I went to introduce myself. I ended up introducing him to the wonderful people I've met over the years attending this show. This is what I find great about trucking. It's the camaraderie we find amongst other truck drivers. This was Nick's first truck show, and I think he quite enjoyed himself and looks forward to many more in the upcoming truck show season. I remember going to my first truck show, wondering if I would make any friends. I wasn't sure if people were "cliquey" and stayed in their own groups or if they welcomed newcomers. My good friend Bear introduced me to so many people who are now my long-time friends, so if I can return that favour and introduce new people into the group, I definitely will!
I was really trying to plan my month of September strategically because I knew I had a big vacation coming up. As I get older, I think about where my life is headed and what I hope to achieve and accomplish. I've always wanted to travel more but what often ends up happening is I don't save up for it, or I don't actually go through the steps of trying to organize or plan it.
With covid, travel was basically non-existent, but some really good friends of mine had a trip in the works to South Africa for when restrictions were going to get lifted. My friend Corey, who had actually trained me to drive a big truck many years ago, was the one who told me about this trip. He had been once already, and it sounded just amazing! When he told me about this next trip, I was one of those annoying types who just invite themselves. But, to my luck, he didn't mind letting me tag along. I was beyond thrilled to get this chance. Corey and Kathy were fantastic enough to do all the planning; I just needed to show up. Some people often wonder if their travel companions will get along or if there will be issues, but considering I basically lived in a big truck with Corey for a month or two while he trained me, I figured we would be just fine.
One leg of the flight was a 15-hour one from Atlanta to Johannesburg. Seeing as I sit for upwards of 11 hours a day in the truck, I thought this shouldn't be too tough. Although in the truck, I can pull over and go for a walk whenever I want. Honestly, though, I did much better on the flight than I thought I would.
Once arriving in Johannesburg, I was hit with that feeling of, "Oh my goodness! I'm really here!" Right from start to finish, the vacation was absolutely amazing! We stayed at Dinkwe Lodge and Safaris. The accommodations were beyond anywhere I've ever stayed. Absolutely stunning! The people that owned the lodge were fantastic!! They made sure our stay was an enjoyable one. The food was amazing! We even got to try some wild game, sable and eland. Both were so tasty!! I've never seen sunsets like I got to see there. It was just so wild to be driving along the bushes and see a couple of giraffes standing there looking back at us. I got to tag along on a South African hunt, got to try my hand at fly fishing and took in some whiskey and local gin tastings. I learned so much about life and culture in South Africa. Some aspects really make you appreciate what you have at home that you may take for granted.
When asked if I would go back, the answer was, "In a heartbeat!" I got the travel bug now and can't cure it. Like John Denver sang, "All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go….I'm leaving on a jet plane."
In addition to planning the next trip to South Africa, I was invited to join a group tour to Italy and Greece in July. Although I don't have the money saved up for it yet, I have that fear of missing out, so guess who will be trying to pack on the miles over the next eight months to try to finance the trip??