Most people have a bucket list – a list of the things they want to do or accomplish at some point in their lifetime. And, if you are lucky (or persistent), you’re checking things off that list on a regular basis. As drivers, we get the opportunity to travel to many places that most people must pay to get to. This eliminates a huge expense, so take advantage every chance you can when you end up in a place at or near a destination or event on your list.
A memory came up on my Facebook page with a quote from Mark Twain that I think applies here: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the sage harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
I’ve learned that in life who you are with makes a huge difference in how you see things. I talked with my friend John Jaikes for over a year after meeting him in Walcott at their Jamboree in 2015. We had so much in common – the trucks we drive, the loads we haul, the places we’ve been, the people we know, and, if you know us, how we both love to talk! He teases me about turning him down the first time he asked me out. Persistence pays off, and he didn’t give up. We began to talk nearly every day, and I tell him he finally wore me down. Now, I know I should have said “yes” the first time he asked.
Since I’ve known John, I’ve said he’s the most positive person I know – especially after all he’s been through. I can’t imagine being told I have cancer and only a 10% chance of survival. When you live through something like that it gives you a different perspective on how you want to live the rest of your life. He has helped me change my life from, as he says, just existing to really living, and promised me, “There will never be a dull moment from here on out.” And, based on how it’s been since then, I believe him!
Together, we’ve made a long bucket list. In February, we checked off something both of us had always wanted to do – go to Key West. This is where the trucking business worked in our favor. We delivered in southern Florida and there was no good freight that weekend. With John’s truck and trailer secure, we dropped my trailer at a place with security and bobtailed south. This way, we could take “the boys” Mr. H and Reno (our dogs) and go check out the island.
It was so nice not to be in a hurry and to enjoy the scenery on the way there. We both were able to really kick back and just be true tourists – even though we were still in my truck. Neither of us knew what to expect on the 113-mile drive south of Miami on the section of Highway 1 called “The Overseas Highway” which leapfrogs from key to key over 42 bridges. In 1982, the well-known 7-mile bridge, along with 36 others, were replaced with wider and heavier spans. This highway has a long history, and just might be a topic I write about some day.
There was more land than we thought there would be, dotted with many businesses and places that you could stay with oceanfront views, RV parks, and not too many of the typical chains that you see every day across the country. And the sunset that night was spectacular! Driving into it, the sky looked like it was on fire. When we got to Key West Friday night, we went to a grocery store to stock up a little, and then asked a local police officer about where we might be able to park for the night. We learned that it is illegal to sleep in a car, camper or truck on the island from 11 pm to 6 am. Happy we got that info before we got a ticket. So, we drove north about 10 miles, found a safe place, and parked for the night. The weather could not have been better. And, with the bunk windows open and a nice ocean breeze, we could even hear the waves.
In the morning, we took a walk on a trail that runs along Highway 1 and watched the sun come up out of the ocean – it was the perfect way to start the day. Our plan was to drive around town, but be warned, this is NOT a place to take your trailer. But, being bobtail, it was awesome! The local police officers were very helpful, too. Talking to one of them, we found a local park that would allow us to park the truck and walk to the pier to enjoy the sunset.
There are signs that say “No Trucks” on each end of the street leading to the famous cement buoy located at the farthest point south in the United States. While driving by those signs, John casually said, “It’s just a sign.” Needless to say, I got some great pictures of that buoy over the hood, which I am sure not many others ever have. Sometimes, you just have to go for it!
On our bucket list, we put a check-mark next to “See Key West” and, as an addition to our list added, “Go back to Key West.” Then, just weeks later, with a little planning and things working out, we ended up near New Orleans for Mardi Gras. The closest I’d ever been to this event was seeing a float that had been in a parade on I-10 once several years ago. Not nearly the same thing as being there, for sure. John’s daughter and her friend were there, so we had a ride and a place to stay. It was fun to share this experience with them.
We got to see Bourbon Street on Monday and Tuesday night – wow, what an interesting collection of people! There were police on horseback, and it was amazing how calm those horses were with all those people around them. And, just in case you were wondering, you do not need to lift your shirt to get lots of beads. When we got to the end of Bourbon Street, there was a parade going on, so we went down the block to watch. It was hard to catch the beads and things they were throwing from the floats, but we got a few. There was a mom there with her little boy, and John and I both gave him one of our strands of beads. His mother thanked us, and the smile on both of their faces was priceless. So, this was an event that got checked off our bucket list.
After making a delivery in Charlotte, North Carolina, we recently had the opportunity to go to the ticket office at Charlotte Motor Speedway and get tickets for the Bank of America 500 that will be held there in October. It was so cool to be able to park my truck and trailer so close and get a few pictures that I wouldn’t be able to get when it’s race time. We even got to go up in the stands and sit in the seats we will have for the race. In October, we will cross two things off our bucket list – going to the race and getting to check out the NASCAR Hall of Fame. We can’t wait!
I have a friend who wears a necklace that says, “Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.” When you make your list, be sure to include things that might push you outside of your comfort zone. Here are just a few of the things on our bucket list: take the train to the Grand Canyon; take the train over Donner Pass; visit New York City and see the Freedom Tower, the Empire State Building, and the Statue of Liberty; visit Philadelphia and see the Rocky Balboa statue, the Liberty Bell, and Germantown; visit the USS Alabama battleship in Mobile, AL; go to Yellowstone and see Old Faithful; take a trip to Seattle and visit with Trevor and Alicia Hardwick; visit Boston and see the “Cheers” bar, China Town, and check out Boston Harbor, where the Boston Tea Party happened (while up that way we would have to visit with our friend Mike Gaffin and his family, as well); and so much more!
Talking to another friend of ours the other day about bucket lists, and life in general, Bob Guy said, “You have to give up the life you had planned to live the life you have now.” I think most of us plan how we think our life is going to go, and then life happens – and it’s not always the way we planned. But that’s okay. Be thankful you are alive and live life to the fullest! And, hopefully, you can check off everything on your bucket list before it’s your time to check out. Good luck and have fun!!