Our Parade Across America
There are a lot of misconceptions about the Big Idaho Potato Tour and I wanted to take a minute to clear one up right now. When most people look at our job, they just think that all we do is drive around to awesome festivals and events, hang out and play games with amazing people, and then sit around and brush our long beautiful hair. And while there is a lot of all that (especially with the luscious hair), people often overlook the amount of driving we sometimes do. This last week was a perfect example that it isn’t all fun and games out here on the road… well at least not for Larry.
That hair though.
Our week started by honoring our Veterans in the Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C. and ended with us dancing in our space suits in the Starlight Parade in Portland, Oregon. These were hands-down two of our biggest, funnest and most memorable events of the year and there was no way we could miss either one. Before our boss, Laura, committed to both, she asked our driver if he thought we could make them. His response was, “we have to.” And we did. In an ‘epic’ cross country road trip that spanned over 2,800 miles and took around 50 hours. Yes, you heard me, the three of us spent around 50 hours inside the tractor together and we all came out alive… scarred, but alive.
When people hear things like this they always ask ‘how do you do it’ and ‘what do you do’. So let me go ahead answer those for you. First off, the ‘how’ is easy: we must. This tour is greater than any one of us and it just happens to be that occasional long drives are part of the job. And when you think of it, it is really a small price to pay for the incredible opportunities we constantly are faced with. We also have bunk beds. 😉
The ‘what do we do’ is a bit more complicated. Larry obviously drives. But not only does he drive, he talks, sings, talks, thinks, waves, talks and then does what he can to play tricks on us… like turning off the air conditioning to our bunks until we awake from our naps sweating and gasping for air. Adam gets car sick so he works until it kicks in, naps, listens to books, snacks, works, naps and then gets so stir crazy he does about 5 minutes of stretching. I have the top bunk which gets the most heat and bumps. This means I have to move from up there to the front seat depending on my activity. If I’m napping, then of course I take the bunk (although Larry did get a vide of me sleeping up front with my mouth open… not attractive), I will also lay up there and listen to audio books and podcasts. When I snack, work or talk with Larry I sit up front. And sometimes, I’ll just sit there and watch the countryside roll by. These different activities help us break up the day and allow for time to pass by more quickly. Sometimes 11 hours in the truck can feel like 6, while 4 can feel like 10… it all depends on the day.
The funniest part about this trek was the nearly unfortunate circumstance the day before our arrival. Every day was budgeted to the max with literally no time to waste. Larry was an absolute trooper as we covered the first 47 hours of our journey unscathed besides an un-routine traffic stop in Illinois (apparently the biggest clowns on the force HAD to get their pictures with it). We landed in Hermiston, Oregon, on Friday which put us about three hours from Portland. Nothing could stop us… except a derailed train. That’s right, as we entered Oregon that day a train with cars full of oil had derailed about 100 miles past where we were staying for the night. One car had become engulfed in flames and had literally created a firewall between our glorious destination and us. We scrambled to do everything we could. The boss was back in the office looking into the options while we were going in and out of service trying to do the same. Oregon DOT closed in 30 minutes and said there were 70 other trucks in front of us applying for new permits to detour around it. Washington DOT also closed soon and even if we got a permit, the route would require three pilot cars.
Laura was able to secure us the permit just in case but we all held our breath that everything would be cleared up by morning… luckily it was. Just as soon as the emergency sprung up, the catastrophe was averted (well, besides the whole flaming oil train thing). We made it on time to our destination (after fixing a flat tire in the morning… sigh) and ended up having an epic weekend reuniting with friends, an old Tater Team member (Kaiti) and the great people of Portland.
And now we rest here in Boise, as we prepare for the next leg of the Big Idaho Potato Tour. Be sure to follow along and keep up with the adventures of the Spud Studs… and Larry.
Ellis- The Original Spud Stud