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At the Truck Stop: Driver is living his childhood dream, with his kids

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Gaylon Walker is spending a good part of the summer spending quality time with his children, bringing them along so they can see what dad does when he’s away from home driving a truck. (The Trucker: KLINT LOWRY)

Do teachers still have kids write essays about “What I did on my summer vacation”? If they do, Gaylon Walker’s kids will have it made.

It was about 8 a.m., and like a lot of his fellow truckers at the Petro Truck Stop off Interstate 40, exit 161 just east of Little Rock, Arkansas, Walker was getting ready for a day on the road. He approached the food counter with a spring in his step.

“I hope you’re ready for me,” he said to the woman behind the counter, “because I’m hungry.”

She stood ready. He kept ordering, and the way she kept loading up the container, he was lucky the truck stop didn’t sell their meals by the pound.

She set the brimming container near the register. On second thought, Walker said, his son Kollin is sleeping in the cab, maybe he should get a little bit more.

“You’re just remembering you son is with you?” the woman asked. No, that’s not it, Walker explained. He’d been ordering for both of them, but it’s easy to underestimate the appetite of a 15-year-old boy.

School let out for the summer a few weeks ago, and Walker is letting his kids see what dad’s job is all about.

Actually, it’s all still pretty new to Walker. He has been a professional truck driver for just a bit over a year now. Before that he had worked at a Kroger distribution center back home in Houston.

“I was a truck unloader,” he said. “I worked in the freezer for about five and a half years, then I started unloading trucks the remaining time I was there.” It was a setting that constantly reminded him of a childhood dream.

“I’ve been wanting a truck since I was for 4 years old,” Walker said. “I saw the opportunity at 37 years old, and I took the opportunity.”

Of course, the dreams of a 4-year-old child are free from adult realities that can put a damper on those dreams. But he came into trucking with an adult perspective. The first company he worked for wasn’t so great, he said. But that’s to be expected.

“In the trucking industry, you might have to go through two or three companies before you find that one company you’re going to stay with,” he said. He feels like he’s found one he can stick with. About a month ago, Walker signed on with John Christner Trucking. “I’m buying a truck through them. It’s a good program.”

His goal is to eventually have his own business with three or four trucks, and if all goes well, leasing them through Christner.

Having the maturity to know that living out his dream was going to take some getting used to, Walker said he’s adapted to life on the road in his first year. One thing he realized very quickly is that you burn a lot more calories unloading trucks than you do driving them. Don’t let that gigantic truck stop breakfast fool you, he’s careful about what he eats.

He gets one meal a day at a restaurant or truck stop. The rest of the time, he keeps a well-stocked fridge. “I’ve got salads, I’ve got apples, oranges, bananas, oatmeal” and a few more fun-food type snacks to keep him full on the road.

With 10 hours a day behind the wheel, whenever he has a break, he makes it a point to walk “at least a mile, mile and a half a day” to make sure his legs stay strong.

Of course, the biggest adjustment has been the time away from his wife and five kids.

“I call them when I’m on the road, every day,” Walker said. “They video chat with me, make sure I’m all right.

“They’re OK. If anything is needed at home as far as money or my expertise they call and talk to me. And when I’m there we have as much fun together as we can.”

Walker is usually out on the road three weeks at a time, and now that summer is here, he’s bringing the kids along on an adventure. His eldest daughter, Danaijha, just graduated high school and is busy getting ready to join the Navy, so Kollin got to go first. Right now they were running a load of pork from Washington to Alabama, through the Rocky Mountains.

“He loves it,” Walker said. “He’s been taking a lot of pictures.”

Kollin’s been out with him for about three weeks. Once this run is over, they’ll head back to Houston, 10-year-old sister Dia’ana and 7-year-old brother Darius will get to ride with dad. Kid sister Daphne, who’s 4, will have to wait a few years. She’ll stay home with mom as she tends to the family’s barbecue business back in Houston.

Once the kids are back in school, all he needs to do is bring a little bit of the family’s secret family recipe pepper sauce with him and he’ll feel like he’s right at home.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. MrBigR504

    June 30, 2019 at 7:42 am

    Yep, high hopes and empty pockets! Good luck with that dream. You’ll be lucky if you can finish paying for the one you’re driving! You better keep the doors closed and keep it moving because if you do manage to pay for it via “leas purchase”, its gonna have high’azz miles and you’ve paid waaaaay to much for a damn fleet truck!

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The Nation

Love’s, its customers raise more than $3.75 million for children’s hospitals

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Love’s showed additional support for CMN Hospitals on National Coffee Day, which took place September 29-30 during the store campaign. To honor the day, all hot beverages were discounted to $1, with sales going to CMN Hospitals. (Courtesy: LOVE'S)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores and its customers raised more than $3.75 million for sick and injured children through its five-week store campaign to raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. In the 20th year of the campaign, the company surpassed its goal of $3.6 million and set a company record for the most money raised during a campaign.

“We are so thankful to our employees and customers who not only donate at our stores, but who also go out of their way to raise money for sick and injured children in creative ways,” said Jenny Love Meyer, vice president of communications for Love’s. “Each year, we enjoy seeing communities come together for this effort and we couldn’t be prouder to have raised over $3.75 million for this year’s campaign.”

From August 26-September 30, customers could purchase Miracle Balloons, round up to the nearest dollar at registers or pumps or participate in events like 5k runs or fishing tournaments to donate money to CMN Hospitals.

Love’s showed additional support for CMN Hospitals on National Coffee Day, which took place September 29-30 during the store campaign. To honor the day, all hot beverages were discounted to $1, with sales going to CMN Hospitals.

“We are excited about the results of this year’s Love’s fundraising campaign,” said John Lauck, president and CEO of CMN Hospitals. “Not only did 2019 mark a 20-year milestone of partnership between Love’s and CMN Hospitals but more exciting, Love’s also crossed $31 million in donations to help sick and injured children treated in our hospitals across the U.S.”

Of the 170 CMN Hospitals throughout North America, 107 benefit from Love’s annual campaign.

 

 

 

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The Nation

Average price of gallon of diesel increase half a cent

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The price for the week ending October 14 was 34.3 cents lower than the comparable week in 2018. (The Trucker file photo)

WASHINGTON — The average price of a gallon of on-highway diesel increase four tenths of one cent to $3.051 for the week ending October 14, according to the Energy Information Administration of the Department of Energy.

Normally posted on Monday of each week, the average price chart was released Tuesday because the federal government was closed Monday for the Columbus Day holiday.

All but two regions of the country posted increases led by a 1.9 cent increase in the Rocky Mountain states (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado).

The New England states (Maine, Vermont, Hew Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts) was the only region showing a decline at five tenths of one cent.

The price for the week ending October 14 was 34.3 cents lower than the comparable week in 2018.

 

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The Nation

DeFazio asks IG to investigate reports of Chao’s conflicts of interest

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In requesting an investigation of Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Rep. Peter DeFazio cites newly-obtained information from a recent media report that suggested Chao used her office to give preferential treatment to organizations and projects in Kentucky where her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is currently seeking re-election. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is requesting an investigation into Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and her reported conflicts of interest.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., made the request in a letter to Department of Transportation Inspector General Calvin L. Scovel III.

The letter, sent October 11, cites newly-obtained information from a recent media report that suggested Chao used her office to give preferential treatment to organizations and projects in Kentucky where her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is currently seeking re-election.

Politico reported that 25% of Secretary Chao’s meetings with local officials between January 2017 and March 2018 were with individuals from Kentucky.

DeFazio said the report noted that requests for meetings with Chao are typically forwarded from McConnell’s office to Chao’s chief of staff, who previously worked on McConnell’s Senate campaign, DeFazio wrote.

The Office of the Secretary of Transportation took exception to DeFazio efforts.

DeFazio said the Politico report followed an earlier report that Chao had asked her chief of staff to serve as an intermediary between her office and McConnell’s office, and that he had helped advise the senator and local Kentucky officials on federal grants of particular significance to McConnell.

“These allegations were first raised by left wing advocacy groups and hashed out in the media, and the department has previously fully responded to them. They are politically motivated and intended to waste time. While the Department will always be cooperative and responsive to appropriate requests, DOT looks forward to a prompt and final resolution of these questions,” a DOT spokesman told The Trucker Tuesday.

“Allegations included the steering of discretionary grants to fund these projects,” DeFazio wrote.  “I would expect Secretary Chao to meet with individuals from her home state more regularly than other states, but the sheer volume of meetings with local officials from Kentucky when compared to meetings with local officials from the rest of the country creates an appearance of favoritism that is troubling.  Even more troubling is the fact that McConnell’s campaign touted the Politico article on social media saying, ‘Mitch McConnell is a Kentucky Asset.’”

DeFazio said news reports have also raised questions about Chao’s adherence to her federal ethics agreement in which she agreed to divest certain assets to prevent her personal finances from creating conflicts of interest.

In particular, it has been reported that the secretary retained stock in Vulcan Materials, a stone and asphalt producer, as opposed to accepting a cash payment for her stock options in the company, as provided for in her ethics agreement.

 

 

 

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