Posted: 24 Jul 2011 01:09 AM PDT
Lisa Kelly shares what it is like to drive a truck in the dangerous mountains of the Himalayas.
ARGUABLY the second most famous woman to come out of Wasilla, Alaska, Lisa Kelly, for three months last year drove a truck around the mountains of the Himalayas in the Himalayan Road Challenge, hauling a wide range of cargo from cement to water and even sheep!
And you can see all that in Ice Road Truckers: Deadliest Roads, a documentary-style reality TV series that details the treacherous job of driving trucks over frozen lakes, also known as ice roads, in Canada's Northwest Territories.
Kelly started out driving a school bus to get her licence before trucking for Carlile Transportation and has been in love with her job since.
"(I love) The freedom and the independence. Besides that, I also get to listen to music all day. I can work in my pyjamas, get some alone time and most of all, I get to travel. As much as I like to be at home, it's part of the job and part of the lifestyle," said Kelly in a recent phone interview from Alaska.
She continued, "It was never a dream of mine to truck when I was young. I just happened to be a trucker. My family and friends didn't really object but they were surprised when they found out that I was a trucker. I guess they wanted me to shoot higher or hoped that I would do something better."
Asked to compare Alaskan roads with the ancient Himalayan roads, Kelly said the latter was definitely more challenging.
She said: "It's a lot more difficult because I have been in Alaska for over 20 years and I am aware of where things are and the culture is more familiar. Whereas in the Himalayas, they drive on the other side, have different trucks, different kinds of roads and a different culture."
Asked about an unforgettable moment while truck driving, she said: "There was this guy who fell to his death in front of my eyes. I have yet to have any near-death experience, but there were some pretty scary moments."
Kelly took up the Himalayan Road Challenge because she liked challenges and felt that this could help her become a better truck driver.
She regards some of the biggest challenges of the job as having to do a lot of work, being able to think and plan ahead and being willing to work hard.
One of the other problems she faced during the road challenge was with her spotter, a local resident who acted as a co-driver.
"He did help me a lot but there was this language barrier as I couldn't understand what he was saying and it got frustrating when I needed to know something important. But all in all, he was really a good guy."
Kelly also revealed that she always prayed before driving, which prompted us to ask if she was afraid of landslides and whether the danger was worth it.
"Well, we encountered landslides and there were a lot of times that I was wondering if it was worth it. But I conquered it eventually."
She also hailed Freefall Highway – the first road she took on in the Himalayas – as one of the toughest she has ever driven on. "It was steep and really high up."
Also, as opposed to the snowy mountains of the Himalayas, the average temperature was warm for Kelly and she stated that one of the must-haves for job was the right clothes.
Has the Himalayan trip changed the 30-year-old?
"It opened my eyes to what the world is like and what trucking in other countries is like. I also realised how important it is to get out of your comfort zone. It has made me a more understanding person and I started enjoying listening to Indian music.
"I have this need to finish what I start. And now I've been getting people telling me that they don't quit because of me, and that has in turn inspired me as well."
In fact, Kelly said that since she got on the show, she has been getting shoutouts from people almost every other day.
She remembered one instance when a lady came close to her and stared at her for a bit before going 'Oh my god! I can't believe it's you!' "
But it isn't all drama and glamour in ice road trucking.
"It's really about long hours, packed lunches and driving as much as you can. When I'm on the road, I live in the truck and lunch is basically jelly bars and sandwiches," said Kelly.
But all truck and no play, makes Kelly a dull girl. "I also like to race motorcars, skydive, riding, biking," said the former motorcross rider.
Kelly also has a family of four-legged animals like horses, cats and a dog, and, of course, her husband Travis. "I miss them a lot when I am on the road," confessed Kelly.
Regarding challenges faced as a women truck driver, Kelly said: "At times, we do get teased and there are also some drivers who can't accept the fact that women can drive trucks. But there are also nice ones, and I do have quite a number of female truck driver friends. For the most part, I am generally accepted here and have many truck drivers as friends.
"On the show, I'm one of the 'guys', but they sometimes watch over me as I am a lady, too."
When asked what her family thinks of her profession, she said: "Well, my husband gets worried but he knows that I got to do what I got to do. He's very supportive and my four-legged kids don't give opinions."
Truck driving has also changed her as a whole. "It taught me that hard work pays off."
When asked if she had any advice for amateur truckers, she said: "Never think you know it all. You can always learn something."
Catch Lisa Kelly in the premiere of Ice Road Truckers: Deadliest Roads on July 28 at 10pm on History Channel (Astro Ch 555).Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by Used Car Search.
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