Trucking can be a lonely job – but not for Duane & Cindy Anwiler of Pingree, North Dakota. Since teaming up in their truck 12 years ago, they have had the best time and love their life together on the road. Travelling the country with each other and enjoying all the fun places they find along the way, this happy couple couldn’t ask for anything more – they have a beautiful truck, a great job that pays well and gives them plenty of freedom, and they get to spend all of their time with their best friends – each other.
Duane Anwiler (60) was born and raised in the small town of Pingree, North Dakota – and he still lives there today. Duane got the trucking bug early from an uncle who had his own truck, and after going out on a few runs with him, the hook was set. One night, while eating dinner, Duane announced to his parents that he wanted to be a trucker – that did not go over well (his mother wanted him to be a banker).
When it came time for Duane to get his learner’s permit, he secretly got it without his parents’ permission. Later, when he turned 21, he borrowed an old “war wagon” from the local grain elevator – a 1964 Emeryville that nobody took care of – and proceeded to the local DMV office. Needless to say, the guy who administered Duane’s driving test was not impressed by the old relic. After passing the test, he got a job at that local grain elevator (M & M Trucking) and ended up driving that old Emeryville for awhile. Duane remembers having to stop every hour or so, in the winter, to warm his feet, and having to use a sleeping bag inside the truck because it was so cold in the cab. He even kept an ice scraper on the dog house so he could scrape the ice off the INSIDE of the windshield while he drove.
After four years of driving for Gene at M & M Trucking, Duane developed a medical condition that sidelined his trucking career for a few years. Looking for work, he found himself in Nebraska, helping a friend do some farming. While there, he met Cindy, describing her as the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Wasting no time, he asked her out on a date – she refused. So, he asked again – and she refused again. Finally, after several months of asking, she gave in and went out to dinner with Duane. In 1980 they got married, and 32 years later, Duane is just as smitten with Cindy as the day he first laid eyes on her in Nebraska.
Shortly after they got married, Duane took his bride back to North Dakota. After resolving his medical issues, Duane went back to driving, this time hauling cattle. After eleven years of busting his butt, he switched to hauling regional van freight, and then did that for another eight years. After moving to Pingree, Cindy followed her dream and opened up an upholstery shop in town called Country Upholstery, which she ran for almost twenty years. Specializing in car and hot rod interiors, truck and tractor seats, tarps and tarp repair, and recovering chairs and couches, she loved it, but over time, got tired. One day, Duane was complaining about his dispatcher and Cindy said, “Why don’t you just buy your own truck!” That was all Duane needed to hear.
Their neighbor was hauling lumber for an outfit out of Eugene, so Duane and Cindy went to Oregon and interviewed for a job there. The woman who owned the company said that if they could get a truck, they could have a job. They immediately went out and bought a brand new 2000 Kenworth W900 and a new flatbed trailer, closed the upholstery shop, and started hauling building materials between Oregon and the east coast. At first, Cindy did not have her CDL, so Duane had to teach her how to drive the truck (which, apparently, can strain even the best of relationships). After getting her license, Cindy began helping out with the driving duties.
After three years of driving the KW, they bought a new 2003 Peterbilt 379 powered by a Cat C-15, an 18-speed transmission, and 3.55 rears. The truck, which had a 70-inch standup sleeper, was nice but basically just stock. Painted Raspberry Pearl, like their Kenworth, they called the truck “Razzberrys & Chrome” right from the start. Besides changing out the headlights to single rounds mounted on Double JJ brackets and adding all of the Double JJ fender brackets and blinker bars, not much else was done to the truck. In 2006 they switched to Landstar Ranger, and have been hauling “lightweight freight” all over the lower 48 ever since (the extra set of mirrors mounted on the nose of the truck are required items when you run for Landstar). At 635,000 miles, the motor went down so they tore it all apart and rebuilt it. Today, the truck has 1.3 million miles on it, and it is still going strong.
A couple years ago, Duane decided that he wanted to upgrade to a bigger sleeper. Taking the truck to S & J Truck Sales in Fort Wayne, Indiana, they stretched the wheelbase from 272 inches to 322 inches, and then mounted a new 120-inch ARI sleeper. To accommodate the extra weight, oversized front rims and tires were added and a new 14,400-pound heavy duty front axle was installed. The sleeper features a 32-inch flat screen TV with surround sound, oak cabinets, a two-burner cooktop and a microwave/convection oven, a toilet and shower, refrigerator/freezer, and plenty of storage space and mood lighting. Fitted with a 70-gallon water tank, a generator, and two 170-gallon fuel tanks, the truck is fully self-contained (just don’t try to make gravy while rolling down the road).
Other changes made to the truck when the new sleeper went on included new 7-inch Lincoln Chrome exhaust (the exhaust from the generator was plumbed into the Y-pipe so it would go up and out the pipes when running), seven KW grille bars were added, stainless steel cab and sleeper panels, fitted with extra LED lights, were installed, extra stainless steel trim pieces with lights were added around the sleeper, and a headache rack, painted and polished to match the truck, was mounted behind the big bunk. To break up all that Raspberry Pearl paint, Jenny at Van Dyke’s Signmakers in Tangent, Oregon created some chrome-colored vinyl graphics for the hood and sleeper. Everyone thinks these graphics are symbolic of something, but they are really just some swirly lines created to break up the paint and add a little “razzle dazzle” to the rig. Using her sewing skills, Cindy made quilted fender and storage box covers, as well as new covers for the seats inside the sleeper. More recently, stainless steel panels with lights were mounted behind the front wheels, new painted dash panels from Rockwood were installed, and new seats were bolted down (this is their fourth set).
Although the Anwiler’s do not show their truck very often, they have been attending the Wheel Jam show in Huron, South Dakota for a few years now, and this year their truck won Best of Show Bobtail. Getting plenty of help from family and friends, Duane & Cindy were quick to thank everyone involved, including Duane’s brothers, Keith and Lynn, and their sons, Corey and Alex, not to mention Duane’s friend Todd Schmoker, who helps with all sorts of stuff, and Cindy’s sister Trish, who made special “Razzberrys & Cream” t-shirts for everyone to wear at the show. In Huron, Duane & Cindy were surprised to find that everyone back home had secretly fixed up and pimped out their old golf cart for the show – they even painted it to match the truck.
Duane & Cindy love travelling across the country together and have seen a lot of neat places along the way – one of their favorite things to do is to go off the beaten path and find local eateries. Having family in Phoenix and Los Angeles and lots of friends in Oregon, they love to visit these areas as much as possible. They have a home in Pingree, but they do not spend too much time there – in fact, from Thanksgiving to Easter, they run the southern routes to avoid the bad weather, so they don’t get home much at all during that time of the year.
Working for Landstar Ranger is about as close to being completely independent as you can get. With no dispatchers to answer to, they choose their own loads, set their own rates, and take days off whenever they want, and for that, they are very thankful. They are also thankful to Chris and his crew at Danny’s Truck Wash in Avondale, AZ for taking great care of their truck throughout the year. We wanted to give another shout-out to Tony at Tony’s Metal Art Custom Polishing & Supplies (www.tonymetalart.com) in Fresno, CA for once again getting another truck camera-ready for one of our photo shoots, and for coming along and helping out all day.
With no children by choice, Duane & Cindy Anwiler are “livin’ a dream” out on the open road. Cindy’s dream was to get off the farm, travel, and sew, and Duane’s dream was to be a “trucker” with a cool ride. It seems they have both fulfilled their original dreams. But now, getting to spend every day together, that turned out to be the real dream, and they are livin’ that one out, too. And it just doesn’t get any better than that!