Starting a New Family Tradition

Transport America driver Craig Hunter and his grandson, Jackson, reflect on their summer road trips together in Craig’s truck.

When Craig Hunter and his 12-year-old grandson Jackson spent a few weeks on the road last summer, they didn’t know their summer trip would gain so much attention in the Transport America community, and even beyond.

In summer 2016, Craig, a Transport America driver with two years of driving under his belt, invited his grandson to join him on the road.

“Going out together was a mutual decision,” said Craig, “but when I started driving, Jackson was very interested in the truck. We thought it might be a good experience for both of us.”

Last summer, according to Craig’s Facebook page commemorating their adventures, the two traveled 4,962 miles in 12 days, riding through 13 states.

Fast forward to the Summer of 2017: Craig and Jackson hit the road again, and rode from Minnesota to New York, driving through Kentucky, Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, and Pennsylvania along the way.

Before Craig started driving for Transport America, he owned and managed a number of properties in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area. He enjoyed being self-employed, and found that trucking lets him live a very entrepreneurial lifestyle.

“Truck driving is the closest thing you can be to self-employed while still being an employee,” Craig said, and he was happy to share his lifestyle with Jackson.

Of course, a minor like Jackson can’t just hop into a cab without first taking care of some paperwork. Jackson needed Department of Transportation checks, and notarized permission from his parents to travel with Craig, as well as Transport America approval. And then, to top it all off, Jackson was fully briefed on the safety standards of Transport America.

“The first year I learned a lot of new things about truck driving,” said Jackson. “I learned how to get out of the cab properly by having three points of contact at all time. I learned that all drivers have to wear a vest outside their vehicles when they are on duty, and that it’s important to honk the horn a few times before backing up, to warn others around the truck.”

“This summer, though, I felt a lot more comfortable, and I gained a lot more experience with safety procedure,” Jackson added.

With an average of seven hours on the road per day, Craig and Jackson listened to the radio, specifically a station that plays the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones 24/7.

They would also have some pretty in-depth discussions to pass the time on the way to their destination.

“We talked about Jackson’s future,” said Craig. “He’s going to be starting the seventh grade in the fall, and is thinking about a career as a pilot. I also got to share with him a bit of family history; I told him stories about his mom, and about relatives he has never met.”

“I really liked seeing how much Jackson matured compared to last year’s trip,” Craig added. “For him, the ages 11 and 12 are very different. The trip, in all, was very positive.”

When Jackson wasn’t sitting in the front passenger seat, he hung out on the bunk in the back of Craig’s cab, watching movies or surfing the web.

“The long hours on the road can be pretty tiring if you’re not used to them,” said Craig. “I think Jackson definitely had to adjust to the truck driving lifestyle both times he’s gone out on the road with me.”

The highlight of this summer’s trip, both Craig and Jackson agree, was their excursion into New York City, where they spent the day visiting the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Times Square and the Empire State Building.

“We were doing something the whole time, and we had a blast.” said Craig.

As Craig and Jackson traversed the Eastern Coast of the United States, they posted daily to a Facebook page Craig created for last year’s trip called “Road Trip with Grandpa.” While Craig expected only family to keep up with their whereabouts through Facebook, he was greatly surprised by the attention their page received.

Currently, the page has 342 likes and 351 followers.

“Some of our posts have over 117,000 views!” said Craig, astounded by the amount of traffic to the page.

However, to Craig, the Internet fame doesn’t seem to matter as much as spending some quality time with his grandson.

“I hope this can be a tradition that Jackson and I continue,” he said. “And I know I have a lot of support from my Transport America fleet leaders and managerial staff to make each year a positive experience.”