Stepfather and Stepson Hit the Road for Adventurous Summer Vacation
Everyone loves a summer vacation, including Paul Henley, his stepson Heath, and their loyal companion and pet Chihuahua, Sparky Lee. For the last two weeks, Paul and Heath have been driving around the Midwest, taking in the sights and experiencing life from the front seat of Paul’s truck.
Paul Henley started driving trucks in 2013, and has been working with Transport America as an owner-operator for two years. As a third-generation truck driver, Paul is following in his grandfather’s footsteps by taking his stepson along on jobs during the summer.
“My grandfather drove for 53 years,” Paul says. “He taught me how to love the road, even when it gets rough.”
“I’ve wanted to be a truck driver since I was nine years old,” he adds. “And now I’m doing it.”
Before Paul started driving, he worked in a number of jobs – driving a straight truck and working as a cook for 10 years at his nearby Waffle House. Finally, there came a point where he had to act on his dream.
Today, he participates in Transport America’s Lease-to-Own (LTO) program. The program offers drivers a number of benefits, such as no-money-down options, new or well-maintained equipment, world-class driver support services and a $5,000 new hire sign-on bonus. Because of Transport America’s LTO program, Paul is able to support his family as a truck driver, just as his grandfather did.
Paul used to go on trips with his grandfather before he retired at age 87. Today, Paul is passing down the lessons he learned along the way to his 13-year-old stepson, Heath, and Heath’s little brother, Ashton.
Paul and Heath have crisscrossed the country, stopping in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Iowa as they go along. They’ve been over mountains, across rivers and through the flattest lands America has to offer.
“I’m showing him the life of a professional driver,” Paul says. “We’ve been seeing the country and spent all day at the Walcott Truckers Jamboree at the Iowa 80 Truckstop.”
“I even taught him how to make filet mignon in a crock pot,” he laughs. “Trust me, it’s the best meal you’ll ever have.”
Once their trip wraps up in Alabama, Paul plans to take his other stepson, Ashton, 12, on a trip of his own. But there are still a few weeks left of Paul and Heath’s trip, and they are currently making their way to North Carolina.
This is Heath’s first time outside of Prattville, Alabama, located about 80 miles West of Montgomery, and he can’t wait to get back out on the road soon.
“Most of the kids his age don’t get to see the world over summer break,” Paul explains. “I just love seeing the look on his face when he experiences something he’s never seen before, such as driving through the mountains.”
Paul hopes to take a trip with Heath each summer, show him the hidden gems of America and introduce him to more new experiences while they listen to music together, talk and joke. What really matters to Paul is to share some true quality time with Heath.
“I’d love to take Heath to Cascade Mountain in Wisconsin,” Paul says. “He’s never seen snow before. Even if it’s fake snow, he has to see it sometime.”
“There’s so much to learn from driving a truck and traveling,” he explains. “There’s nothing like home, but there’s also nothing like the freedom of the open road.”
As a Transport America driver, Paul has gotten to travel all over the country and captain his own truck. He has been to all 48 states in the contin
ental U.S., and has picked up a few pieces of insight along the way.
“As a truck driver, you learn that everyone is equal, no matter where you are,” Paul says. “People don’t change much – they’re hunting and fishing everywhere.”
“The only thing that changes is the way people talk,” he jokes. “I’ve probably heard every accent in America by now.”
“I’m so glad to be with Transport America,” Paul adds. “Their common-sense policies make it possible for Heath and my dog to come along with me in the truck. They truly want the best for their drivers.”