Friday, October 22, 2010

Now that was a convoy

Of all the good times we’ve had trucking, participating in the Share America Convoy in ’97 is a standout. The convoy was bookended by the Truckers Jamboree in Waupun, WI, and the Knights of the Road Jamboree in Reno, NV.

Held during Trucker Appreciation month, it was to promote Trucker Buddy. It sounded like a fun deal to Geri and me. We had been showing our truck for a couple years, and we couldn’t wait.

The way it all shook out if memory serves, several of us did the Waupun show, which ended on Saturday night. The convoy formed at the T/A in Madison, WI, on Sunday, and we headed out for Reno, doing little shows at truck stops across the country. We did Rochelle, IL; Walcott and Des Moines, IA; Omaha, Grand Island, North Platte and Hershey, NE; Cheyenne, WY; Salt Lake City, UT; Wendover and Battle Mountain, NV, ending at Reno.

Joey Holiday provided the entertainment. Joey and Vicky hadn’t hit their stride yet and were traveling in an old motorhome. I never asked Joey but I suspect his plan might have been to run it as far as it would go and leave it – been there, done that. We passed the hat a couple times for gas and duct tape.

The convoy was led by Gary and Carol King. Gary was the founder of Trucker Buddy. Some of the other players were Darien Stevens, Dave Sweetman, Phil Lanum, Russ and Debbie Brown, Curt and Sharon Smith – and of course Geri and myself. There were others who made the entire trip, but I can’t recall their names.

Roger Fayman of California Custom Products acted as our scout, running ahead and giving people a heads up, making arrangements, promoting some free meals and some fuel or gas for those that needed it.

Other truckers joined the convoy along the way to ride a day or two then get on with their business. All told, we took five and a half days going 1,850 miles – my kind of truckin’ – ending up in Reno at the Alamo Truck Stop for the Knights of the Road Jamboree. We knew it was gonna be special when the Crash Test Dummies waved us in to the show lot.

There was a brand-new motel on the property, and we had a room reserved. The folks that brought the lions didn’t and needed to be close, so they offered Geri and me a room at the Nugget for our Super 8 room. We had our cocker spaniel with us and had to turn them down. That was OK by me. I wanted to stay right in the middle of this anyway.

Dave Sweetman, a longtime OOIDA member, columnist for this magazine and others, won a laptop computer (his first I think) in a drawing and learned how to use it. The world hasn’t been the same since.

Reno was fun. Bob Cashell, former lieutenant governor of Nevada, owned the truck stop at the time. One afternoon, he sent a coach and invited everybody to his home for a cookout. What a spread. Everything was out on the decks and patios, three or four free bars, no tips allowed and a designated coach driver to get us home. There was this huge multicolored parrot sitting on his perch. He looked me right in the eye and said, “I can talk, can you fly?” It was a fun evening for sure.

Who was that hanging off that overpass with three cameras around her neck? Bette Garber, of course. Bette was there, beginning to the end with her red, white and blue van. Her job was to cover it all and she did. It was a treat for Geri and me to spend quality time with Bette over the 12 days or so. Normally at the shows, she was always on the run. R.I.P., Bette.