Asphalt Cowboys

Traditionally horses were used as the main source of power, hence the term horsepower. They were used to pull plows, transport materials/people, and as a method of delivery. Modernly horses are often used for leisure, such as horseback riding, racing, and for show. The wonderful wild west is a region that provides an excellent example of the needs that horses fulfilled. 

When one starts considering the west and horses in history they often imagine depictions of Cowboys & Indians riding off, kicking up dust and stone, to battle. When we watch western styled or themed movies we see horses hauling wagons full of people to church or to the train station. We see scenes where the horse is used to get people into town to get their telegrams or pick up a letter that took weeks if not longer to reach them. The mail system was dependent on horses to deliver letters, the railroad system depended on horses for their power to pull/move and transport parts to build it. Now that we have moved on from the restrictions of that time period and the world has become industrialized our horses morphed into eighteen-wheelers. 

*(For more information on the west check out my reference:

*(For more information on truck driving check out my other reference:

The Modernized Morphing- Western Cowboy to Asphalt Cowboy

Truck drivers drive trucks, obviously – but what may not be so obvious is what they are, how they work, and what they are called. Tractor-trailer trucks or rigs were once known as large-cars, but are not more commonly known as 18-wheelers, big-trucks, semi-trucks, or semi’s. Trucker slang also allows for a wide variety of terminology to describe types of trucks on the roadways. 

For example there are brands such as Peterbilt, Kennworth, International, Frieghtliner, Volvo, and Mac. The brands have slang terms for them, such as K-dub for Kennworth, Frieght-shaker for Frieghtliner, Twin-Screw Subaru for Volvo, and Peter or *insert truck color* -peter (Orange Peter or Black Peter).

Underneath that umbrella falls the category of names that signify what the truck can do or haul. Flatbed trucks (aka skateboards) can haul oversized loads, things that will not fit in box trailers, and I have even noticed that truckers will strap a tiny toy truck to the bed of their truck if they are unloaded. For some this is humor, but for others it signifies that this trucker has a child at home. 

Car hauler – semi trucks that haul cars (aka parking lots). These are the trucks that you see pulling into dealerships with a load of new inventory for the season. There are often multiple cars/suv’s/trucks loaded on the trailer. 

Tankers (aka as cans)- they typically carry liquids, hazmats, gases, or food substaces like milk. 

Trucks that haul livestock are known as pig pens or cattle vans. 

The United States relies on Asphalt Cowboys and their 18-wheelers (horses) to deliver wanted/needed commodities and goods, such as food, clothing, building supplies, machines, and equipment. The development of roadways, pavement, and highway system has significantly contributed to the ability to meet supply and demand on a large-scale, thus the death of the horseback or horse-drawn delivery system and the birth of the Asphalt Cowboy. Today’s trucker is responsible for transporting over 70% of our goods in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median income for a truck driver in the US is $41,340, as of May 2016, and the projected job growth remains at 6%. 

For more info look up this reference: (

Another New Frontier Means Another Breed of Cowboy Created: Computerized Cowboys

On  my journey from truck stop to truck stop and listening to drivers banter back and forth over the radio waves, I learned that our Asphalt Cowboys have a real concern and fear with the next generation of cowboys – Computerized Cowboys. These new cowboys will be more economical for the large corporations; it will save them money but it will be the death of our current truck drivers.   

Traveling With A Trucker

The Last Of A Dying Breed

My trucking adventures from Maryland to Utah with Bullfrog. A little back story included and my speedy typing skills in keeping up with his trucker rants

You know growing up I always heard my daddy say, “I’m the last of a dyin breed!” We would all chuckle and snicker at him walking around the house in his briefs after getting home from a long week or two of being out in the truck. Whenever he was hauling locally my baby brother and I would be able to take turns going out on the road with him. My biggest memory is hauling to the charcoal plant a county over or the time he was driving a tri-axle and he let me hold my head out the window in a rainstorm and I would be excited to come up on big puddles of water that we could splash through! Now, of course when I would get back to the house or wherever we were meeting my mother at, she wouldn’t be too happy. I would be soaked near head to toe and smell god awful. My mom would always exclaim, “Mark!” He would dumbfoundly reply, “what?” with a smirk and laughter, which never helped much and she would continue to shake her head and tell me how I was going to end up sick.

Now, this was before my teenage years when I was swamped with high school, college, friends, and a job at a restaurant. Once high school started I never climbed back in the truck with my dad. I guess I was too cool and too busy to hang my teenage head out the window in the rain anymore. Today, seventeen years later, I sit here with Bullfrog (the driver) in the passenger seat of a Champagne colored 2014 Peterbilt 389 Glider Kit. A glider kit is the cab and chassis, you take a cab and chassis and a motor of your choice, typically older (CAT, Detroit, Cummins) and put them together. The reason people use glider kits are that they are cheaper to maintain and cheaper than buying a brand new one from a dealership. Considering that a new truck costs approximately $180,000 depending on the specs. A company or trucker can save about $20,000 going the glider kit route vs. buying brand new. They still come with a warranty this way and you are cutting out the headache of dealing with emissions; California happens to be one of the states with the toughest emission laws.

Over the CB radio, the outrage and disdain truckers have towards hauling into California is clearly made known almost daily. It is evident that truck drivers absolutely have zero interest in hauling into California. Bullfrog said that from a mechanics point of view it is costly to worry about emissions, it causes too much down time, which is money lost; it causes a pain in repairing the massive vehicles, and costly to repair or manage emissions for states with strict emission regulations.

Respecting Bullfrogs wishes, he has something he would like to directly say about emissions:

“For whoever is reading this and has a problem with emissions for our truck drivers, stop buying shit and we’ll stop bringing you shit and you won’t have to worry about emissions!”


Bullfrog also has his own truck already picked out, at least how he wants it designed. He wants a purple truck with a white frame and he wants to name it “This One’s For you”, in memory of his brother. Long wheeled based, flat top Pete and by that let me transliterate that into, “Big purple people eater,” per Bullfrog. A flat top is a truck has a sleeper, but you cannot stand up inside of it- which means the roof of the top is flush (level) with the cab (the part where people ride inside). This was discovered after my many attempts to get him to describe to someone what a truck was and it’s parts, particularly for someone that does not have any prior knowledge of trucks. As for the long-wheeled base portion of the truck, that would be the gap you see between the cab of the truck and the trailer it is hauling. When I tried to explain to Bullfrog that I needed a way to describe it to people, he said “if you wanna know what stuff is about Peterbilts go on Google, we ain’t got time to see here an explain that shit!” “Long that’s all it is, long-fuck…make sure this sounds right when you’re readin it; ten-ten come on.” Ten-ten is trucker talk for yes or thing synonymous to it.


BF & QP: The Sleeper Conversation in Utah

The following is the most accurate depiction and exact conversation that we had, I was keeping up as fast as I could type, which is only about 70wpm. While waiting to catch some sleep after a long day of driving and breathtaking views of the West, we decided to kick up our feet and talk about trucker life.


BF: “If I tell ya that the blueberries are ripe, whatya do?!”

QP: “What do you mean, blueberries?”

BF: “If I tell ya that the god damned blueberries are ripe, ya grab a bucket and go pick them!” “people can Google the shit and figure it out if they aren’t sure about whats what on a Peter!”

QP:Obnoxious laughter

How do you feel about your job, what made you want to be a truck driver?


I have always liked trucks, ever since I was a little, since I was about five years old. Every time my mom would ask me what kind of toys I wanted I would always ask for trucks…or trains, that was my thing. I always looked at truck drivers as someone cool, doing something that not everybody could do- or at least that is how I looked at it back then. I liked trucks so much that I would be able to tell you what kind of truck it was just by looking at it’s headlights or the grill or the way the stacks were on it, even at night.


How old are you now?


I am twenty six, I will be twenty seven in a couple months.


What were you doing before you started driving truck?


You know it feels like I just started driving truck and I have been with this company for three months. “No matter how cocky you get, you never forget where you came from” I started out as a mechanic, making $12 an hour and thought I was top shit. I just got tired of being a mechanic and I was with a woman that didn’t want me to drive. So I tried to find something local, but by the time that happened we had already split up and that was over. I bounced around doing some local stuff and I don’t knock any of the jobs that I had because they were all experience and they got me to where I am at now. First time I started driving I didn’t have my CDL’s, but the company I started driving for said I could drive anything under 26,000 pounds and that in the meantime they would work on getting me my CDL’s. It took me so long to get them because my driving record was so bad. I had multiple reckless driving, speeding, two license suspensions, and I liked to drag race, which is part of the reckless driving thing. I would get frustrated with myself over it, but I was the only one to blame. I was the only one that was keeping me from getting to where I wanted to be.

The best day of my life was the day I got my CDL’s, it was something I always wanted to do. I feel like I accomplished something.

It was hard to get a job driving in Morgantown, WV because of my driving record, so I took whatever I could get and I went back to being a mechanic on night shift.


QP: Is that when I met you?


Yeah, in that time frame. I thought I had a job driving, so I turned my job notice in and then the company called me to say they couldn’t hire me because of  my driving record, it’s hard as hell in the state of WV to drive if you have anything on your record. Luckily, I was able to get my job back until I started driving back at the job I originally started out at mechanicing years ago. I was there for a couple months until I was talking to a friend of a friend of mine and she was telling me who her dad drove for. I met with them and they were a big family based company, they are amazing people, they talk to everyone, they sit down with,they aren’t just worried about moving freight, they don’t put money before character and quality. They started me in a brand new truck and everything, it was like riding in a Cadillac.I work hard, that is just how I work and the company I left to come here for this company told me I could go back if this job didn’t work out. Life is about opportunity and I believe it was all of those opportunities that got me to where I am. When I showed up, we sat down and talked about working for them. They told me I could be home every weekend and he asked me if I would drive over the road and I said yes, I didn’t even hesitate. It is a learning curve, it is something that you have to adjust to. When I first started he took me out to the lot and showed me two trucks and told me to pick which one I wanted and of course I picked the orange one because orange is my favorite color. It’s just like anything else though, you have to take the good with the bad.  


BF: Listen don’t put nothing about Swift truckers in there, we don’t care for them. They are always fuckin up! Swift drivers know it! Swift puts people in big ol’ trucks after only having one month of training and then they go out and they can’t drive. It’s honestly just not Swift, but they get in the way. Their trucks are set at 63 mph, you cannot even drive the speed limit- it’s messin up runnin down the road. When you are places like where we are at right now (Utah) the speed limit is 80mph, now what-a-ya do when this Swift driver pulls out in front of you and they top out at 63 mph, trucks don’t stop on a dime and it’s ridiculous. Swift advertise in house training and etc., but you see they are one of those self insured companies that do alot of stuff for insurance purposes and they aren’t safe. If they are back home in the mountains it’s not so bad for them to max out at 63 mph, TMC is another one that is set at 62mph. I’m not saying that all those guys drivingin are bad drivers, it’s the company. I’m not trying to bash anyone, it’s just how it is. Most truck drivers are some of the nicest people you could ever meet They have a high turnover rate because they don’t care about their employees, they will just get more. They have a bunch of trucks sitting around, if they don’t get taken care of or they get wrecked they just throw them in another one. It’s not like that for other places, we can’t have our trucks down. That means someone isn’t able to work and that means making money to pay their bills or feed their family. So, we take care of our trucks, we care about our driving records, and we don’t want to be out of work. Ya know I work for the kind of company that my boss invites us to the lakehouse and our families. It would take one hell of a deal for me to leave this company,they would have to guarantee me all kind of stuff. I am where I want to be in life, I don’t make the best money,I dont go home every weekend, but that is my choice. I had a talk with my superior about being at the age that I might want to start settling down and they understand that I might want to do that and decide I want to be home more and they will do that for me. You don’t see that unless you run with a smaller company. I told him I don’t have no one at home, I don’t have a girlfriend and until I find someone that is okay with what I do I am just fine out here doing what I love to do.


How do you feel about being called trucker trash or negative stigmas placed on truckers?


I’ve never been called that. Anyone that thinks truck drivers are bad people, I say stop buying shit. We are out here sacrifices our lives to make sure things get delivered. Those tankers you see, you like getting gas dontcha? All these Amazon trailers they are out their delivering your packages. What am I doing right now? I am hauling parts for the oil industry, you use oil dontcha? Think about it the next time you are in traffic and you cut off a big truck and cause an accident. Think about that five seconds you idiots try to save by swerving in and out of traffic because you don’t want to wait behind a big truck. We don’t stop on a dime, we can’t turn around easy, we don’t get going easy. Your life is going to be there at 7:00 the same as they are at 7:05, but if you make the mistake of trying to cut off truckers you are going to get someone killed. 9 times out of 10 the man behind the wheel of that truck has a family at home, they want to get home to see them to. Most of us that have families this is all we know how to do for a living and truckin is how they take care of their families.They don’t get to go home every night and see their kids.  Now, I like being gone all the time and I like driving. I am tired, but I am not tired of my job. I want to get up and go to work every day.

Traveling In Trucks

There I was, parked along the interstate at a Park N Ride; backpack on, cellphone in the back pocket of my jeans, and my Adidas gym bag in hand while I climbing across a guardrail to step up in a Peterbilt.

I realized that life is short and I have always wanted to travel, I love to see new things- just to experience the sight, the sounds, the smells, and the touch of the experiences wonders. Lucky for me I just finished my last week of work before changing jobs, took the semester off from grad school, and have a friend heading to the west! My biggest worry is my constant need to pee, even if I haven’t had anything to drink for hours- which is my current situation. I figure this next week will be great for dieting, horrible for hydration, and give me a new life experience to become enveloped in.

Things I learned about driving over-the-road:

I know this may come off as racist, but growing up in a household that was all one race, I didn’t realize that there were so many diverse truck drivers out there – and might I just say that there are some very handsome ones and I LOVE chocolate!

Loading and unloading is not quick or fast, however the closer it get’s to shift change or quitting time for the workers – the faster they will load/unload your truck so you can be on your way.

Almost every truck has a name and every driver has a handle. Names of the trucks are written across the back of them, like a ‘tramp-stamp’ tattoo. Names such as Thunderstruck, Nuclear Banana, Slow Your Role, Destination Nowhere, and my favorite Truckasaurus Rex! Handles are the drivers names and they range from witty, clever, basic, to vulgar. So far there happens to be a Baby-Maker, Bullfrog, Shine, Part-Time, Crackhead, Rubber Ducky, and Squirrel. Now that I think about it, I want a CB Handle- I guess I already have one though, don’t I?

Not everywhere is truck friendly, as in there aren’t any places to pull in and or park.

I am pretty sure that my ability to pee in a cup while in a moving vehicle is going to come in handy.

Not all truck-stops are created equal, some of them have great food just like home and others- not so much. Some have TV rooms, arcade games, shower rooms, and places to wash your laundry.

Over-the-road Transliterations:

Mickey Mouse = it’s small, it’s worthless. Example: that truck stop is Mickey Mouse. Unloading my truck at the next stop is gonna be Mickey Mouse.

Skate Board= a flatbed truck

Four Wheelers= cars

Parking Lot= trucks that haul cars/vehicles (car haulers)


Alligators = busted tired in the road from a blow out

State Troopers = Full Growns  or Bears or Bubble Gum Machine

If it has a cover on  it =  Covered Wagon

Put a rag on it = means you have to put a tarp on your load

10-4 = yes

20 = Location

Garbage Trucks = trash cans

Passenger = Seat Cover

Driver = how you address talk to an unknown driver, when you don’t know their handle

91 Yardstick = this means you are at mile marker 91, yardstick being the mile marker

Back it Down = slow down

When counting yardsticks/mile markers directions : if you are heading South & West the numbers count down, if you are going North or East the numbers are counting up.

Listening to guys talk on the CB is one of the most enjoyable things to observe. Occasionally some people get into verbal pissing matches, but for the most part the guys really try to communicate on traffic conditions and have a bit of witty chit chat. Occasionally, you will hear a female voice travel across the radio waves. There isn’t any room for emotions out here, they aren’t afraid to call other drivers out for not paying attention, not being able to get their radio’s working – boy they all are quick to jump on the wagon! I can’t help but laugh at the smart-ass comments.

Apparently since the last time I was in a truck, the guys don’t use the CB’s like they use to and boy do they get pissed if they think you haven’t had yours on!

“At least I can say I pissed on the Pennsylvania Turnpike” Bullfrog – this is what happens when a mud/rock slide blocks traffic and trucks are lined up at a stop.

Also, I thought when I confiscated the Minion Fart Gun out of my house, that I would never have to hear it again. I thought wrong- line up miles of truckers with only one goal in mind- DRIVING FORWARD- tell them they are gonna be sitting still for awhile and all hell or wind breaks loose over the waves! (lol)

Rumble Strips = Zippers

To be continued…..