Hi all! Right now I'm I'm relaxing in a hotel, so I thought today I'd take the time to answer some questions that I think will help new drivers a little bit. Let's jump right in!
1. What was the transition like between trucking school and OTR training? Did USA Truck make sure you were prepared and that things went smoothly?
I thought the transition between CDL training school and OTR training went really well. The CDL training school went out of their way to make sure we understood what was to come with USA Truck and/or PAM Transport. In fact, on graduation day, the school spent individual time with each student to go over what to expect. I thought this really helped and I was appreciative that they did this.
USA Truck, as well, went out of their way to make sure we were "ready to go" out on the road. I spent 2 1/2 days in classroom training which I thought was invaluable. Our classroom trainer (I'm sorry his name alludes me at this time) had many years experience with USA Truck and OTR driving and was a great asset during training. So I believe both places prepared me well. With that being said, I will go back to what the director of the CDL training school told me - "You get out of the training what you put into it," meaning, there is so much training going on in a short amount of time, studying and staying the course was imperative to succeed.
2. How did you stay in touch with family while you were on the road? Did you ever feel like you were missing out?
Staying in touch with family was pretty easy. I have a smart phone, so I could receive and transmit any type of messages when I was "off duty." That's important, as USA Truck does not want students using phones at all when driving! I'm not one to make a ton of calls when out on the road (just ask my mom, who kept calling and asking me, "Are you all right!?" LOL), but I can say, my Phase 2 trainer had a really cool feature on his iPhone!! He could "Facetime" with his family of 4 daughters and wife when off duty. My kids are older and in or out of college, but his 4 daughters are younger. So it was really, really cool to see him able to have "face time" with them when we were rocking and rolling on the road.
For me personally, I never felt like I missed out on anything. With that being said, I'm not married at this time, (my friends call me "Ross" back home LOL) so that dynamic with a significant other isn't there for me. I'm confident with all the new technology out there, that having a stable relationship with family and friends is so much more attainable than in the past. I'm still stuck on how cool that "Face time" was on the iPhone! Just beware of your data usage when using it. It's a lot from what I was told!
3. What's it like being a "guest" in someone else's home (semi) for several weeks?
Being a guest was easily the hardest part of the training, bar none. Both my trainers were excellent in welcoming me into their "home" and tried to make it as comfortable as possible. If you go into the OTR part of the training with allusions of a lot of space and the most comfortable place you have ever stayed, then you will be disappointed. It's small and cramped. But as I had mentioned in a previous blog, it is sooooo doable.
The mattresses were semi-comfortable. I bought a camping foam bed for $7.99 at Walmart before I went out with my first trainer. I put it under the mattress and it did wonders for my sleeping accommodations. Just that little bit more of support was huge for me. Here is some more advice I got... Never wear your shoes into the back of the cab! It's not only rude (yes I did it once unfortunately and had to clean up my mess), but your shoes get all kinds of crap on them from the truck stops and such. Oil, dirt, mud, etc. Stuff you don't want to introduce into your "home." It's also very hard to clean up after you make the mess.
4. What did you do for exercise during the first part of training? What tips do you have for staying active?
Exercising is my first priority when out on the road. As I mentioned in previous blogs, I like to walk or hike a lot when I can. I was able to do this a lot in Phase 1. In fact, during a truck stop stay in Indiana when I snapped those pictures of the cows, I met the farmer and his wife while walking around. They laughed and said, "We don't get to much trucker walking traffic here!" They said they were surprised they didn't get more foot traffic, being it was "Corn Country." Lots of open road to stretch your legs and keep and eye out on your truck and trailer. I almost had dinner with them! LOL Just my personality. I like to talk a lot, from what I've been told. HA.. I'm planning on buying some small weights as well to work out with in the cab when possible.
If you have any questions you want me to answer, just leave 'em below! I'll answer some more a little later. I'm still tired from Phase 2! Time to take another nap!
P.S. The pictures are from the Eagle Creek trail about an hour and a half east of Portland, Oregon. The waterfall is Tunnel Falls. It's about 6 miles into the hike. Crazy nice place!