By Jon Osburn, Driver of "The Spirit of the American Trucker"
I’m the type of guy who roams from town to town. Anyone remember that song “The Wanderer” that Dion (and lots of others) sang? Some of those lyrics have described me and OOIDA’s truck, “The Spirit,” of late.
Carlinville, IL, was one of those towns we roamed to during the summer. In July, we joined truckers at the World of Large Cars, a smaller show northeast of St. Louis.
Then we rolled on to DeMotte, IN. Years ago, DeMotte was known as a town where strangers are acquaintances, neighbors are colleagues, and friends are family. Well, at the newly reopened TA there in DeMotte, that’s still true and truckers get the red carpet treatment.
Speaking of fine treatment, I want to give a big howdy to the ladies who work in the Iron Skillet at the Petro in Girard, OH. We stopped there for a few days. If there was a contest for the greatest truck stop restaurant waitresses in the world, they just might get my vote.
A new show for the Spirit this year was the Carlisle Truck Nationals at the Carlisle, PA, fairgrounds. There were all kinds of trucks, even monster trucks like Bigfoot, Backdraft and Megasaurus. In the Big Rig Show and Shine there were classes for combos, wreckers, dumps, specialty, working and non-working.
One of the towns we roamed to recently was Comstock Park, MI, near Grand Rapids, where we saw some sweet trucks at the season’s second National Association of Show Trucks show. It was the second NAST show of the year and featured a concert by country western artist Billy Currington.
Wandering on to Racine, WI, we parked at the Petro. Racine, by the way, is the home of O&H Danish pastries. Remember when the president visited the Danish bakery in Wisconsin a couple of years ago? The headlines were “Obama eats a Kringle at Danish bakery” That was O&H Danish Bakery in Racine. I have nibbled plenty of them myself.
The second weekend of August found us at the Waupun Truck-N-Show in Wisconsin, where the city salutes truckers and trucker families. The food is great, especially the chicken BBQ hosted by the Waupun Ice Sculptures Synchro Skating Team. The events are so uniquely Wisconsin – the milk truck competition, for example. Of course, it doesn’t get any better than raising money for Make-A-Wish and Special Olympics. This year the crowd didn’t get rained on, so the parades went off without a hitch.
OOIDA Life Member Ron Mermis was on hand with the NASCAR simulator and joined “The Spirit” for the weekend. With the simulator, Ron raised $300 for Make-A-Wish. Lots of trucks and a whole town showing up equals one great weekend.
Roaming on down the road about 44 miles, we hung out at the Petro at Portage, WI, and got to visit with a lot of good folks there, too. Wisconsin is such an awesome place we just couldn’t leave, so in mid-August we rambled over to Eau Claire, WI, for the Eau Claire Big Rig Truck Show. This was the third year and better than ever. It’s a beautiful location and gets a gold star on the truck show schedule.
OOIDA was this year’s sponsor of the big “Best of” trophies for the NAST competition. Ron and his simulator raised more than $500 for United Cerebral Palsy of Western Minnesota.
Speaking of Minnesota, it’s hard to find a nicer place in the early fall. Plenty of other truckers must have been thinking that, too, because the attendance this year at the Big Iron Classic at the Dodge County Fairgrounds in Kasson, MN, was amazing. We sure met with lots of great friends and OOIDA members, new and old.
As Land Line goes to press, I’ll be leaving Michigan, some cool memories and no doubt some vivid images of the Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show, a NAST event in St. Ignace, MI. Ron rode with me in the truck as we did the 20-mile convoy and crossed the Mackinac Bridge. If you’ve never experienced that spectacular truck parade of lights, put it on your bucket list.