Learning to Love to Haul

From the moment Parker found our truck, he’s been in love. It’s a 1996 Ford F250 5-speed diesel Powerstroke with a 7.3 liter engine. Sounds impressive, right? It is! We needed something that could haul our nearly 5,000lbs trailer, and this truck makes quick work of it. As Parker says, it “loves to haul.” While I’ve always appreciated what the truck can do, the idea of driving it myself has been intimidating.

Parker did all of the driving when we moved; we took 101 from Oregon to California, and that road can be scary even when you’re not hauling a big trailer. Clearly it wasn’t yet my time to learn, but once we finally settled in California, I knew I needed to start right away.

It was important to me that I know how to drive the truck for a couple of reasons: 

  1. I need to defend my reputation as a badass
  2. If something happens and Parker is unable to drive, I can’t be the reason we’re stranded. It’s much safer to have two people that can drive the truck.

To get a feel for what we’re dealing with: this is a 6,500 lbs truck with an industrial clutch. It’s lifted, it’s got a turbo…it’s a huge machine.


I move the seat all the way forward and all the way down so I can reach the pedals, and I put nearly my entire body weight onto the clutch to get it in all the way. I can’t wear the wrong shoes when I’m driving or I can’t get enough purchase on the pedal.

Going back to school, moving states, deciding to live in a trailer, and leaving our families isn’t enough, right? I also need to tackle this one small thing. And so the lessons began!

Did I kill it? Yes.
Multiple times? Yes.
In public? Yes.
Did I grind the gears? Yes.
Did I shift into the wrong gear? Yes.
Did I cry? Yes.
Multiple times? Yes.

For someone making a career of education, I don’t think I’m a very good student. The idea of killing me and Parker, innocent bystanders, and the truck that we need to move our house, for Parker to get building supplies, and for me to get to school was always top of mind, and it showed. I was apprehensive, reluctant, and nervous. I’m not sure how many times Parker told me to give it more gas before I finally understood what “more,” meant. But eventually, I began to improve. I think the breaking point was when Parker decided to put on The Life of Pablo – it gave me the confidence I was missing. I’ve found that much of driving is a head game! Like so much in life, when I’m not thinking about it as much, or feeling relaxed, everything comes much easier.

After driving to school for a couple of weeks (always with Parker in tow), my test came when I needed to drive Parker to Sacramento and drop him off and drive home by myself. That’s right folks, we’re talking highways, California traffic, and a route I’d never taken before. But, lo and behold, I made it. I sent Parker a victorious, “I killed it!” text as soon as I arrived, and even sent a photo of my perfectly between-the-lines parking job.

Since then, I’ve been doing quite well, if I do say so myself. I wouldn’t necessarily choose to drive the truck if I didn’t have to, but I’m feeling more and more at home in it. Luckily, I carpool with our neighbor to school most days, and I can get most of our errands done in nearby Winters (only 5 miles away as opposed to the 20 or so to Davis). While it’s the perfect truck for moving our home, it’s not as practical as an everyday driver. I’ll look forward to Parker driving my car back from Oregon in a few days.

In the meantime, in this time of nearly constant turmoil, adjustment, and transition, it’s nice to feel like I’m getting the hang of something practical and powerful. I reminder that, as my mom says, “I can do hard things.”



4 thoughts on “Learning to Love to Haul

  1. I knew you could do it! The bigger lesson here had nothing really to do with driving and will take you places you haven’t even imagined yet.


  2. Great accomplishment! At least you didn’t slide backwards and out of control down the hill in front of St Ignatious Church in Highland Park! This was my experience learning to drive manual transmission in Rusty’s VW bug! Sorry for the dubious genes!


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