GRAIN VALLEY, MO. – Nov. 12, 2014. Our Land Line Field Editor Suzanne Stempinski covers so many cool trucking events we call her “Bucket Babe.” Today she’ll be reporting on an event that she describes as “absolute bucket list stuff.”
This morning, she was on her way to Wilmington, Ill., to meet up with the entourage that is transporting the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree to Washington, D.C. Not only is Stempinski covering the event for Land Line, she’s participating.
LL Field Editor Suzanne Stempinski
Departing at noon, she’ll be driving the truck for a part of what will eventually be – for the tree – a 2,000-mile journey to Washington.
“I’m just doing one leg of the journey,” said Stempinski, “but this is a very big deal, and I’m so thrilled to be a small part of it.”
Stempinski, former team driver with her husband, Bob, has more than 1.5 million miles of safe driving. Both Bob and Suzanne are life members of OOIDA, and she’s been the field editor for Land Line for more than 14 years.
She’s due to arrive with the tree tonight in Elwood, Ill., behind the wheel of a special Kenworth T880. The model is Kenworth’s flagship heavy-haul vocational truck equipped with a 52-inch mid-roof sleeper, 500-horsepower Paccar MX-13 engine with 1,850 lbs.-ft. of torque, and Eaton Fuller 13-speed transmission. The T880 will pull a trailer specially designed for the Capitol Christmas Tree – a nearly 80-foot white spruce from Minnesota’s Chippewa National Forest and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.
Another 70 Christmas trees, donated by Minnesota Tree Growers Association, will be transported by the Kenworth T680 Advantage. Those trees will be used to decorate the inside of the U.S. Capitol building and other federal sites throughout Washington, D.C. The T680 Advantage also will bring 10,000 ornaments created by children and others from Minnesota communities to adorn the Capitol Christmas Tree and the smaller trees.
After Stempinski drives, the job goes back to two Wille Transport drivers who will pilot the Kenworth T880 and a Kenworth T680 Advantage on the journey. The entourage is due to arrive at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Thursday, Nov. 20, where it will be prepped for the procession to the Capitol Building.
The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will be lit by Speaker of the House John Boehner during a ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 2, on the Capitol’s West Front Lawn beginning at 5 p.m. Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers will serve as master of ceremonies.
A complete tour schedule and additional information may be found at the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree website so the public can track the truck’s progress.
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