The past two months have been busy for me, I’ve been traveling around to media events in Texas, South Dakota and the central part of Pennsylvania. I’m not a savvy traveler – and if I am driving, I tend to get lost very easily and very frequently. When I bought my Chevy SUV back in 2015, I was ecstatic that it was equipped with OnStar, and I gladly paid that monthly fee for years. And then tragedy struck at the end of 2022 when OnStar notified me that my vehicle was not equipped to handle the 5G network that was ushered in and the rat $&!*@#s pulled the rug out from under me and I was left to fend on the highways by myself, so I went out and purchased a Garmin.
In May, I flew to Texas for the Peterbilt 589 Reveal. I toured the Peterbilt plant in Denton and the day after the Reveal, I was bussed to the Texas Motor Speedway where I had the opportunity to test drive the new 589. Now, I will confess that I am not a great driver. I had zero plans on getting behind the wheel of a big rig . I mean come on man; I’m living large driving a SUV. But my husband kept telling me that I HAD to drive that 589. He was texting me from home while I was in Texas saying, “Just do it!” And so, I found myself standing on the racetrack in the early morning and I thought to myself, ”What the heck. You only live once…” And so, when the Peterbilt staff asked if any of the media wanted to get behind the wheel, I bellowed, “I do!”
And I climbed up in that cab and thought I was going to have a heart attack. I looked over at David and said, “I think I made a mistake. I don’t think I can do this.”
David was a very calm and cool dude. He talked me down from the ledge and coached me on how to get that truck around the track. I have to mention that the Peterbilt 589 that I drove was automatic because I cannot drive a manual transmission. I maneuvered the truck around the other parked trucks and away we went. I did fairly well until I came to a curve in the track, and I panicked and hit the brakes. And I mean, I literally HIT the brakes. I was wearing a seatbelt, but I still went for a little sail. I giggled in embarrassment. David told me I was doing great. David was lying…. He asked me if I wanted to go around the track again and I found myself saying, “Sure! Why not?” And son-of-a-gun, I got to that blasted turn again and I panicked again and well, you know what I did. David was very kind and said that the brakes can be a little touchy. He did not ask me if I wanted to go around the track a third time. I was pulling up to where the row of 589s were parked and yeah folks, I panicked and hit the freakin’ brakes for a third time and poor David lurched forward and I calmly looked over at him and said, “David, maybe you should put on your seatbelt.” David just smiled and told me I could leave the truck where it was and so I put it in park and crawled down from the cab and did the walk of shame in front of the assembled Peterbilt staff and fellow media colleagues, who were trying hard not to chortle.
My Uber driver Michael arrived soon after to take me to the airport. He took a wrong turn and went through the Speedway tunnel and almost drove onto the racetrack with the Big Rigs. We had a lovely conversation on the 35 minute ride to the airport. He shared that he was from Vietnam, his father was in the military during the Vietnam War and his Mom didn’t want to come back with him when the war ended. Later, Senator John McCain worked to get Michael, his Mom and his brother over to the USA. We then turned the conversation to more lighthearted chatter, and I told him that I like to watch TV in my underwear. When I was dismounting from his car, he came around and hugged me and told me that I had made his day and that he couldn’t wait to go home that night and tell my stories to his wife. Ummm… thanks, Michael, I do strive to keep everyone entertained. We stopped short of exchanging addresses for sending Christmas cards, which I now regret not doing.
In early June I flew to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and then rented a car to drive to Huron for the Wheel Jam Truck Show. I found myself behind the wheel of a 2023 Toyota Camry Hybrid. I had brought along my trusty Garmin. I did great on the two hour drive to Huron until I arrived at my hotel, and I went to take the keys out of the ignition. But they wouldn’t come out. And I kept getting a ding, ding, ding sound and a message would flash up, “Check the back seat. Check the back seat.” All that was in the back seat was my suitcase. I spent 10 minutes sitting in that dang Toyota turning the car on and off and the key would not dislodge. I dug around in the glove box and found the owner’s manual still shrouded in plastic wrap, which I hastily removed. I could not find any instructions to help me. I tried Googling but I don’t do so well seeing anything on that little iPhone screen. In frustration, I called my friend Tina back in Pennsylvania. Her husband is a manager of a Toyota dealership and she recently retired from there. I begged her for help. Tina’s a miracle worker, and she told me what to do and Huzzah! I got the key out of the ignition. You have to twist and push the key to remove it. She also told me that the “Check the back seat” message was a new safety thing that sounds when there is weight on the back seat and you attempt to leave the car, it’s telling you to make sure there is not a child back there.
On the way home, back at the Sioux Fall Airport, I went through security with my suitcase and backpack. I had all kinds of camera gear in both bags, and I did some desperation souvenir shopping at a convenience store in Huron because I could not find any gift shops. My bags were stuff with Jack Links jerky, freeze dried salt water taffy, and bags of chips. I know, I’m weird. The TSA Agent asked me if I had any food in my bags, which was the first time I ever had that question asked. I honestly said that I did. She asked me this as I was pulling out my laptop and taking off my shoes. “You’ll have to take all of the food out of your bags,” she said. I said, “You have got to be kidding me. Are you serious?” She assured me that she was indeed serious. “Well, I have a lot,” I said.
She watched in amazement and maybe a little bit of horror as I filled up one of those bin trays full of snacks. I had my suitcase laying up on the conveyor with its contains splayed open to the world. She made me put my telephoto camera lens and my Garmin in a bin but said the camera, flash, and 6 lithium batteries could remain in the suitcase.
I was still pulling out candy and chips and she peered into my suitcase and said, “What else do you have in there?!” as she pointed to a bag that was tied up. “My dirty underwear, “ I retorted. “Do you want me to put that in a bin for you, too?” She backed away rather rapidly and told me that would not be necessary. I finally made it through security and got my shoes back on and it took me about 10 minutes to repack everything. I found a souvenir shop in the airport and with some finagling at the gate seating area, I was able to stuff some legitimate souvenirs in my bags.
And I think I’ve “rambled on” enough for this month, so I’m gonna spike the brakes on this column.