Well today is the last day of my Churchill Fellowship trip. I am packing, or trying to jam stuff in my bags, ready to catch a Qantas flight home tonight. It has been an amazing experience, I have met many people with only two out of the whole trip, not welcoming, but they could have simply had a bad day. I have spoken with hundreds of drivers through to media and industry and government bodies and have a damn site more to do when I get home and start to follow up on those meetings and contacts.
I aim to immediately put in a submission to the FMCSA request for comment on their hours of service and will invite the current head to come to Australia and see how we do it. You have to aim high! I have dozens of books and magazines to read and go through for information, for further contacts and to simply get even more views. I travelled just over 6000 miles (9600 kilometres) across America and into Canada and whilst one fellow did ask, why aren’t you flying, I said being on the road is what I do and what better way to feel and understand it, as I preach to our authorities when I ask them to do a trip with me. I could possibly have used the driving time to keep my report up to date, as I am a week behind in it, though have my diary up to date, but still feel, driving best suited the aim and intent of the trip.
I would have loved to have done it in a truck, but that was a big ask for 5 weeks on the road and whilst I have been invited back by some for the future, the issue of a truck license, unless you move here to work, is still a major hurdle. Still, one thing at a time.
I spent an hour on the Road Dog Trucking channel on the satellite network coming into Dallas, explaining the trip and taking calls, including a Kiwi who wanted to tell me they will win the football again. At GATS, I did an interview with the lovely Marcia who does a midnight radio show and she was so friendly and effusive at the end, hugging me and saying she loved my passion and then also had an Aussie trucker, who now lives in Montana on a ranch and does a daytime driving job, invite me to stay and do a days run with him over the mountains if I ever get back here.
The number of companies looking for drivers here is remarkable and there were dozens with trucks on show and or recruiting, but I had a number of drivers ask what I was doing. “Are you recruiting for drivers in Australia” or, “How can I come there and drive them roadtrains, I just want to have a go at that”. The truck show and shine had some beautiful trucks, there was an award for the Rookie Driver of the year and a final for the Talent search on stage, so many thing to see and do as part of the show.
Tony Justice who is still a fulltime driver but also a well know musician here, did a concert on the Friday night that I attended and I arranged an interviewed with him on Saturday, along with a lady from the St Christopher Truckers Relief Fund group and a fellow from Trucker Buddy, a school penpal group that not only promotes the trucking industry and road safety, but in a way that young kids and teachers can use to improve their learning and for something to do in my spare time, I plan to get something going here in partnership with them, as they have the infrastructure and the people and knowledge to help me do it right.
Thank you to the Great American Truckshow and the organisers for their help in allowing me to attend and for the small stand I had to show my banners and to all I met with and or spoke to there.
Thank you to the Churchill Fellowship and its board and judges for the chance to do this trip, to my employer Rod Pilon Transport for the time and their support over 11 years now, to those who helped with contacts and suggestions and to all I have met on this wonderful adventure. I am looking forward to a few nights good sleep when I get home, as I did a few long nights (or long days and short nights) towards the end and the best part of the trip, was no bloody logbook or alarm clock.
My complete report will likely be 30 plus pages, my photo count is over 2000, video of many hours and stories and lovely people I will remember for years to come. I have just rang Bruce Outridge from Toronto thanking him for his hospitality, done an interview with Stan from Trucker Radio, earlier did a catch up with Luke on the “Nighshift” radio show back home in Australia and am now gearing up and looking forward to many hugs and kisses with my children and grandchildren, when I get home.
They have been very supportive of all my efforts in trucks and road safety and whilst it is the worst part of this job, the time we spend away from them, doing what I do, shows, events and the time to put in submissions and trips such as this, few outside our industry recognise that cost and impact on a truckies family and I fear few others care, but that is the way of the world. I love my family dearly and one day hope to make up to them the time I have put into this hobby or passion, or both.
I love what I do, I love my family and my job, but I still hope to get the next TRUCKRIGHT Vehicle up and running and will commit to it for the next 5 years and that will be my next push on returning. There is nothing like the TIV anywhere I have been and I wish I could have brought it with me to show off what we do and how we do it.
I did visit the Iowa 80 truckstop, the biggest in the world and their museum and there is a truck there, that went over the Europe and did a tour some years ago and was recently donated to the museum when the owner retired. Anyone with suggestions and or offers to help with the next TIV will be warmly welcomed.
So now to sort the luggage issue, a shower and to the airport. Thanks again to all who have helped in any way and to my family, I love and have missed you all dearly and can’t wait to be home. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.