Bethany Naab has been trucking for over 16 years and lives in southwestern Minnesota. She owns her own truck and like many professional drivers today, carries her camera with her wherever she goes. I interviewed Bethany recently after she returned home from a California run.
How was your trip to California?
California was great! I really have missed being out there and it was good to be back. It smelled so good, as the flowers and shrubs were starting to bloom!
How long have you've been trucking?
I've been licensed for 16 years, but had a few years off in between and drove "teams" before the license, so I guess it probably evens out one way or the other.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Minnesota. I still live in the southwestern part of the state.
How far do you drive from your home base of Minnesota?
As far as I can get away with! I generally run within 500 miles of home.
What are the reasons you entered this profession?
I love to drive! I have been in love with trucks since I was a kid. My grandfather was a trucker along with my uncle and dad. But I think it all started when my dad helped me write a poem in 3rd grade about a purple Peterbilt. It's been all I could think of ever since!
Is trucking today what you thought it would be when you first began 16 years ago?
Yes. Even with all the changes, I have loved every second of it. For me, ever since I was a kid I've always wanted to run away to someplace new, yet be able to come back home and trucking gives me that.
I know you own your own truck. Can you describe the make and model?
"Rosie" is a 1999 379 Peterbilt and she's powered by a 550 Cat.
Where did you get the name "Rosie"?
Rosie's name comes from my middle name, which is Rose.
What made you choose on becoming an owner-operator opposed to driving for a company?
I used to be a company driver, but owning my own truck enables me to be home when I need to and run my equipment how I see fit which is something I really like.
As an owner-operator, how severely has the increased price of diesel fuel affected your bottom line?
It hasn't hurt me too badly, but it has made me run a lot smarter. I have always shut my truck off when parked for loading/unloading and sleeping. In the long run fuel prices have made me a better business owner. I try to run fewer miles for more money and a lot slower, which is better for my truck and nerves!
Do you feel you are treated equally to your male counterparts in today's industry?
For the most part, yes. I still run into a handful of guys now and then that think I'm just a dumb girl in a truck and have no business out here, but they usually find out in talking with me I know what I'm doing. I'm willing to get dirty or unload a trailer right next to them and I can say I've never had to have anyone back a trailer for me. I'm tough and don't give up and that gets respect out here. For the guys that have given me a hard time I will say that they have made me one hell of a better driver.
What one thing would you change in the trucking industry if you could?
Get rid of the large companies that are bringing in inexperienced drivers. I would also make it mandatory that the "on the job training" was done by someone with at least 10 years experience.
What advice would you give to those who are interested in becoming a trucker?
Talk to an old timer with experience and really listen to them! They know what they are doing, and they are still out here for a reason!
What is your favorite subject to photograph when on the road?
The land is what I seem to be good at. My truck and any other fancy trucks would be a close second.
Do you have a favorite picture?
My picture of a Texas back road is one of my favorites.
What camera do you shoot with?
I have a Canon Rebel XT and I'm looking to upgrade soon.
Besides trucking and photography what are your other hobbies you enjoy when you’re at home?
I love to garden. We put up a good portion of our food each year. I also have a horse, 18 chickens, 2 dogs, and 4 cats that keep me pretty busy!
I always like to ask, "what is your motto"?
In trucking it would be "More money, less miles." In life, it would be "Everyone has their own truth." It makes life so much easier to go through when you can understand why someone else thinks the way they do.
And finally Bethany, what would you say is the most rewarding part of trucking?
Seeing Mother Nature at her best and worst! Some days it's the same old road or freeway but like my grandfather use to say, “if you look close enough you will always see something new and exciting every day.” I can honestly say I never get bored.