In the 21 years I've been a Schneider driver associate, I've always admired our over-the-road drivers who have found a way to pursue their interests and hobbies despite the many weeks behind the wheel.
Often, and with very creative means, many have found a way to use their breaks and restarts to do something — anything — rather than just "kill time." I've met drivers who make this happen by carrying exercise equipment, golf clubs, fishing gear, gaming systems, knitting needles, musical instruments and much, much more. For quite a few years I had pretty much incorporated my sleeper into a full-blown guitar studio using breaks and restarts to hone my musical abilities.
My latest desire has been to rekindle a passion I've had since my childhood for outdoor wilderness adventures. People ask me all the time, "How do you do that? In a truck?"
Growing up in the foothills of the New York Catskill mountains, tucked right in the Mid- Hudson Valley area, my brother and I had instant access to acres and acres of woodlands to explore as children. Later we joined our church group version of the Boy Scouts, teaching us many outdoor bushcraft skills and backpacking techniques through outings and merit badges.
As young men and into early adulthood, we would set out on many overnight adventures into the wilderness, hiking and climbing in the great Adirondack mountain ranges. In all kinds of weather and conditions, these outings would hone our skills and test our abilities to survive in the wild. This was the appeal: to be comfortable, safe and successful in the wilderness, testing our skills mentally, physically and practically with only what we carried on our backs.
Years after leaving all this adventure behind, the desire to have it back was always on my mind. I saw an online picture with a backpacking hiker, with bold print that read, "Hike while you still can!" It hit me pretty hard because times just sailing along here. Then I thought, I still can. So I could and I did!
You'd be amazed how often I can find places to experience the woods just by simply searching the Internet and online maps wherever I land for a break or restart. Now, I'm not saying everywhere has access to an amazing deep woods wilderness adventure. But it never ceases to amaze me that there's always a metro park, a county forest and nature trail in the city or something that may afford a little outdoors experience. Just stepping onto a dirt path will clear your mind, settle your spirit and even get your blood flowing through the exercise.
Now that I've discovered I can continue this outdoor hobby I carry all the backpacking essentials I need in the truck; a 65-liter backpack, one-man bivy tent, sleeping bag and pad, and a simple DIY cook set. I pick up food and water along the way.
I also love chronicling my adventures via pictures and video. Simply by using my phone's camera and video camera, I can easily edit and upload my full experience. This is how I share with and inspire others to seek out their own outdoor hobbies and adventures. I can also share the experience with family and friends online. For example, watch my solo overnight backpacking expedition near Schneider’s Carlisle, Pa., facility.
Since I restarted this endeavor, I've had dirt time in Washington state, Virginia, New York and the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. Did you know that our Carlisle facility practically sits on the world-famous Appalachian Trail? I've even explored trails and dirt roads right behind truck stops as long as it's allowed.
While we all realize that over-the-road driving is practically "camping out" everyday, stepping out of, first, the comfort of your home, then the truck, and into the woods is quite a remarkable experience that I really enjoy and get excited about.
Many will say, "Well, good for you, but it’s not my idea of a good time!" And hey, that's fine! Let me just encourage truck drivers who may feel life on the road is just all about work and living the job day after day after day — that if you have an interest, hobby or sport, you can make it happen, at least to some degree! When you put your mind to it, you'll find a way.
Life's too short to put your passions on the back burner. Pursue an outdoor hobby like hiking (or whatever your interests are) while you can!
Explore new places as a Schneider driver.
Carl is a 22-year driver associate with Schneider. He studied English composition and majored in Communications and Architecture in college, and ran a building/remodeling company prior to Schneider. Carl has been married 33 years, has two grown children and two grandchildren. He is an avid backpacker, guitar player and creative writer.