The Natural Wonders of the U.S.

We all know that there are the 7 Wonders of the World, but with our RV transport, manufactured housing, & mobile home drivers, we know that they see TONS of stuff driving across the country & it made us wonder, what are the wonders of the United Sates (we couldn’t decide on just 7)?

  • Grand Canyon – 18 miles wide, 1 mile deep with the Colorado River below, & showing almost 2 billion years of Earth’s history.
  • Niagra Falls – A collection of 3 waterfalls, these combined have the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world.
  • Everglades – The U.S.’s biggest subtropical wilderness (1.5 million acres) is the habitat for rare/endangered species like the manatee, Florida panther, & crocodile.
  • Death Valley – The land of extremes (snow covered peaks & wildflowers after the rain) & the hottest, driest, lowest point in all of North America.
  • Yosemite Valley – Near vertical walls, 10 waterfalls, & yellow pine & oak forests make this one-of-a-kind.
  • Yellowstone – Home to many of the world’s geysers including Old Faithful which shoots 140’ of water.
  • Redwood Forest – Home to the tallest trees in the world (over 350 feet) and almost 40 miles of immaculate Pacific Ocean coastline.
  • Mammoth Cave – Named a World Heritage Site & hidden in the Midwest’s Kentucky, this is the world’s longest known cave system.
  • Acadia – With the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast, this is the first national park east of the Mississippi River.
  • Crater Lake – Formed by the collapse of a volcano, this is the deepest & possibly most pristine U.S. lake fed by rain & snow

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What do you think – do you agree? Which ones have you been to?

Driver of the Month – Gary Stritesky

As we continue to celebrate warmer temps & the coming summer season, we also continue to celebrate our contractors because without all of you, what we do wouldn’t exist. For May, we are recognizing Gary Stritesky from our Howe terminal. He’s a Midwest native being from Elk River, Minnesota and has been a contractor with Star Fleet for 3 years, but he’s no stranger to the transportation industry having been a bus driver for around 40 years!

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The funniest thing he’s seen out on the road was when he had to sit & wait for a Canadian Lynx to cross the road. However, out of traveling through so many states he tell us that his favorite is Oregon because of its views and coastline, specifically along the Columbia River. I think many of our contractors would also agree!

One of Gary’s favorite things to do when he’s not driving…is…well…driving, except his Harley rather than his pickup truck as you can see above. However since he’s also a barber and carpenter, perhaps you’ll find him giving a trim or building something. And if all that isn’t interesting enough, Gary was on season 14 (Fiji) of Survivor! His nickname on the show was Papa Smurf.

We love to learn more about our contractors & are so glad to have Gary on our side – thanks for choosing to #DriveForStarFleet!

7 Tips for Healthy (Eating) on the Road

When your home away from home is a truck stop/airport/hotel/semi sleeper, leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t the easiest to maintain; heck it’s probably not even at the top of your long mental to-do list. But even just a few, small changes to your eating habits can have a profound effect. Below we’ve compiled a list of some easy ways you can improve what & how you eat on the road.

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  1. Grocery shop – instead of stopping at a fast food place every time you need to eat, hit up a grocery store to buy a meal & snacks. Not only will they have healthier options, but even if you buy perishables, most hotels have mini fridge to help them keep longer. Plus if you take a cooler along with you that will help keep things cool too.
  2. Portion out snacks – it’s healthier to eat many smaller meals than it is to eat a few large meals. If you portion out your snacks into smaller bags, it’ll be easier to be conscious of how much you’re eating.
  3. Smaller meals – speaking of, in case you missed it above, it’s healthier to eat smaller meals more often. It keeps your metabolism at a steady rate rather than up & down with fewer larger meals.
  4. Eat protein – it helps keep you fuller longer, so if you get a little bit of protein with every meal & snack, you will eat less.
  5. Salads – if a fast food restaurant can’t be avoided, try for a healthier option like a salad. Just be careful as sometimes they can have more calories, especially with your dressing choice.
  6. Drink water – coffee and energy drinks are great, but they can only do so much for so long. Water is not only good for you, it can make you more energized because you’re properly hydrated. If you take a reusable water bottle along with you, it’s easy to fill up at any rest stop & will save you money in the long run!
  7. Supplements – the best way to get your nutrients is through the food you eat. We all know how hard that can be, so taking vitamin and mineral supplements are a great way to add to & enhance the intake of nutrients from your diet.

Do you have any tips to eating healthy on the road?

Driver of the Month – Gari Bontrager

As the weather blooms into a typical Indiana spring season with inconsistent weather of rain, snow, & 70 degree weather all in a week, one thing we have at Star Fleet are consistent drivers who stay with us year after year. And so for April, our driver of the month is Gari Bontrager! He’s a local being born and raised in Goshen, IN before moving to Thornton, CO. Gari has been with Star Fleet for 3 years now, but has been in the transportation industry for 30 years total as a dispatcher, driver, dispatch manager, & delivery systems IT manager. He is based out of our Howe terminal.

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In his time as a driver the funniest thing Gari has seen on the road is Cadillac Ranch. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a series of Cadillacs buried hood first in the ground. His favorite state is probably Texas with its open roads, gulf coast, diverse landscape, & no state taxes! When Gari isn’t out on the road he enjoys fishing, hunting, boating, camping, and four wheeling. He has also had the opportunity to ride in the pace car at the Talladega Speedway (at speed!) as well as race at Bandimere Raceway in Colorado.

We’re so glad to have Gari in our fleet – thanks for choosing to #DriveForStarFleet!

Shootings In The Workplace

Workplace shootings. It can’t happen to you, right? Yet it happens more often that we’d like and it does happen to someone (or more likely multiple people). As a truck driver, you might think it’s less likely, but just because your workplace is on the road, doesn’t equate to fewer shootings. A few Star Fleet contractors have unfortunately witnessed this tragedy first hand. Specifically a few months ago when Michael Vance went on a shooting spree in Oklahoma and shot a motorhome driver while one of our contractors (Rudy) and his wife slept in their truck next to the motorhome.

“I got woken up by hearing a door shut at about 1:50 am. I heard people talking and then yelling and then a loud noise. I had to put things together, but eventually knew it was a gunshot & not a tire exploding (which can sound similar). A few seconds later a second shot goes off. Then I heard someone yell, ‘Help! Help! I’ve been shot in the leg!’ I got dressed and out of the truck & saw a car driving off. I was the first to get to the guy screaming and saw blood all over his leg. Then a woman came to help and she was a nurse and we made a tourniquet out of a belt he had on. The police got there and everything was roped off and we had to give statements and I gave an interview to a TV and radio station. The man survived and what I found out later was the car I saw driving off when I first got out of my truck, was actually the shooter.”

Michael then later killed another man who was the brother to another one of our contractors.

I’m not here to discuss the ‘why’ it happens, but rather what you can be on the lookout for and do if it ever happens to you. The response protocol according to the Department of Homeland security & the Bureau of Justice Administration is the acronym ALICE – alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate.

Alert authorities by calling 911 once it is safe.
Lockdown the building as much as possible. This includes interior as well as exterior doors and windows.
Inform authorities of what is happening as it’s happening. This helps dispatchers relay the most up-to-date information. If possible, keep co-workers updated using your internal system.
Counter the attack by fighting back if the tools and circumstances allow.
Evacuate the premises if it is both possible & safe to do so.

Utilizing this protocol can help reduce or mitigate the number of victims, no matter where you are, if an active shooter situation does occur.

Driver of the Month – Stephanie Keuneke

With a new month upon us, that means we have a new driver to feature for the month. Say hello to Stephanie Keuneke! Stephanie is in our motorized division driving motor homes to dealers all over the U.S. While she’s only been with Star Fleet since November 2016, she’s been in the transporting industry since 2011.

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The funniest thing she’s seen on the road is a van parked at a Flying J that was completely covered in eagle statues and stickers. We’re not sure what to think….

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Stephanie’s favorite state is Florida, not just because of the great weather, but because there are plenty of diverse activities on either coast. She also asks, “Where else can you get a great cup of Cuban coffee?” When Stephanie is not out driving, she enjoys boating, art museum, and sampling ethnic cuisines.

Prior to entering transporting, Stephanie attended IUPUI and majored in graphic design, though by her own admission her true artistic medium is printmaking. One fun fact she shared with us was that she grew up in a town so small it had no traffic lights, only a 4-way stop. She moved to Iowa and when she’d come back to Indiana she would specifically avoid the Chicago area at all costs because she was deathly afraid to drive in major cities. We’re happy to know she has since overcome that fear as she loves driving through any major city.

We’re so glad to have Stephanie on our team – thanks for choosing to #DriveForStarFleet!

Snap It!

As an owner-operator driver for Star Fleet, we know that you get to travel all across the U.S. and see some pretty amazing stuff. Capturing those moments is incredibly rewarding & with our monthly photo contest, you have the chance to be rewarded in cash! So what makes a good photo? Below you’ll find some tips on what makes a good picture overall & what the Star Fleet team is looking for in the pictures you submit & see some of our past winners that utilized these suggestions.

  • Take advantage of the scenery around you. It doesn’t have to be something rare, but using objects in the scenery surrounding you is a great way to draw attention to your main subject (your truck)!
  • Make sure your truck is in the picture. Of course we love to see you and a peek inside your home life, but we want to see what you see on the road (including the vehicle that got you there)!
  • Try another perspective. Sometimes shooting a picture with everything perfectly centered & head on, can eliminate some of that scenery you’re trying to include. Try going higher or lower or even at a different angle (sometimes the sky is a really neat background).
  • Take photos when the sun is lower in the sky. Whether that’s early in the morning or in the evening, this is called the “golden hour” when light is warmer & softer. This isn’t always true, but a good guideline.
  • Capture the season. What’s fun about this is that the seasons are different depending on where you are. Autumn in the Midwest isn’t the same as autumn in the south.

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Also as a reminder to enter the photo contest, post your picture to our Facebook page or email them to starfleettrucking@gmail.com to be entered as a finalist. We will choose 5 finalists & post those where you like the one you want to see win. Good luck!