Monday, December 19, 2011

So I walk into the Midway Truck Stop …

Anyone who has jumped off of Interstate 70 at Exit 121 knows that there are two things you can count on about the Midway Truck Stop: friendly people and never knowing what you’re going to see.

Joe Bechtold, center,  sets up the strongman competition.
My idea of Sunday afternoon fun the week before Christmas was to load up the kids (two teens and a tween) and head out to Midway for the filming of a trucker appreciation event for the show “Truck Stop Missouri” airing on the Travel Channel.

My truck show veteran, road trippin’ savvy kids were skeptical. What could a truck stop smack-dab in the middle of Missouri do that they haven’t seen before?

I laugh, even now, as I write this. They should have been wondering what is that crew at Midway going to do this time?

Just about everyone has flipped on the TV and seen the strongman and strongwoman competitions. I just hadn’t seen one up close and personal until Sunday.

Redefining "truck pulls."
Midway Truck Stop’s Joe Bechtold invited four of the strongest men I’ve ever seen in my life to hold a strongman competition that included lifting a barbell with mounted car tires as the weights for the warm-up act. Then they graduated to a “truck pull” where they pulled the Volvo tractors supplied to the event by Arrow Truck Sales.

Television will not do this justice. I promise.

These guys pulled those trucks more than 80 feet in less than 20 seconds. I figured I’d have all day to take pictures of them pulling those trucks. Not quite.

Big Foot, and its tires, were a big hit.
Later on, the “main event” was an appearance by the “Bigfoot” monster truck team to crush rows of junk cars. Even my boys who don’t get impressed by much that doesn’t involve them were amazed. Soaring high in the air over the junk cars, revving engines that hit deafening decibels, it was hard to not be impressed.

Again, television won’t do the size of these trucks justice. To give you some perspective, my son pushing the tire in the picture is about 5 feet, 9 inches tall. And, yes, I stopped him before he gave his sister a real ride.

All in all, we had a great time. And we weren’t the only ones.

OOIDA’s Norita Taylor and her son were there as well. She set up a cool area for kids in attendance to write letters and draw cards for the Truckers for Troops care packages. That was quite the hit too with the kids.

There’s just no shortage of things to do or see at Midway. As we were leaving, I swear there was some local riding around in a motorized shopping cart. Honest. My bet is, Joe couldn’t resist taking that ride for a spin. Guess we’ll have to see if that makes the final cut for the episode. And, as of right now, no air date has been set. So we’ll keep you posted once that’s finalized.

You figure it out....
While Midway is one of my favorite places to stop, it’s important to realize that “Truck Stop Missouri” is a celebration of the independently owned stops around the country. These men and women always find a way to make the experience memorable for those who come by. There’s even a Facebook group dedicated to supporting the “mom and pops” out there on the road. LL’s own Jeff Barker is the driving force behind the page. Be sure to check it out.

From what I’m seeing on the Facebook page, the stops they talk about are a lot like Midway. You never really know what you’re going to find until you stop, but a lot of the time it’s a real treat.