OOIDA’s tour trailer heads to Willcox, Ariz., home of real cowboys, drivers

February 5, 2020

Chuck Robinson

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The next stop on the 2020 Arizona desert tour for Jon Osburn, skipper of OOIDA’s tour trailer, is in Willcox.

Jon and the Spirit of the American Trucker are scheduled Feb. 6-8 to be at the Willcox TA travel center at exit 340 from I-10, the Fort Grant Road exit.

The Willcox TA has 229 truck parking spots.

Jon will get some mountain driving as he takes The Spirit on I-10 through Tucson, Ariz., to get to Willcox. I-10 traverses 2,500 miles from Santa Monica, Calif., to Jacksonville, Fla. It is a principal truck route connecting Los Angeles ports with the rest of the U.S. and goes through eight states. It also is the southernmost interstate highway in the continental U.S.

Willcox is in the Sulphur Springs Valley, a flat and sparsely populated drainage basin. The city is surrounded by Arizona’s most prominent mountain ranges, including the Pinaleño Mountains and the Chiricahua Mountains. Looming of the city to the north is Mount Graham in the Pinaleno Mountains. To the west is Reiley Peak (the highest point in the Winchester Mountains), and to the east are Dos Cabezas Peaks, two dramatic rock outcrops on top of the Dos Cabezas Mountains.

The mountains and the saguaro cactus suggest a set of an old Western on TV, but in Willcox the Western vibe is genuine, not artificial.

“They have real cowboys there, and real drivers,” Jon said.

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Willcox is the home town of the “Arizona Cowboy,” Rex Allen Sr., an actor and singing cowboy on par with Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. Remind yourself of his music here. Allen died at the age of 78 in 1999 in Tucson, when his caretaker accidentally ran over him.

Willcox has the Rex Allen Arizona Cowboy Museum and Willcox Cowboy Hall of Fame. Rex Allen Days is in October.

Drawing a crowd in Eloy

At his last stop, in Eloy, Ariz., Jon said a big crowd was drawn to the truck when he projected a video of Lewie Pugh, OOIDA executive vice president, testifying at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on Wednesday.

The hearing was titled “Keep on Truckin’: Stakeholder Perspectives on Trucking in America.” Pugh told the senators that it was obvious to small-business motor carriers and professional drivers that “the trucking industry is dysfunctional.”

“In large part, this is because too many people who know very little about trucking have an oversized role in shaping trucking policy. Drivers feel the negative effects of this firsthand, myself included,” Pugh said.

Pugh provided lawmakers an outline of specific measures they can take to improve the lives of truck drivers and improve highway safety simultaneously. The list included repealing the electronic logging device mandate, fund truck parking, and not mandating speed limiters, underride guards or higher insurance minimums. Read the list here.

Here are some highlights of what Pugh told the Senate subcommittee.

Glad to have people stop by

Whenever you see The Spirit tour truck, go say hello to Jon. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. You can join or renew your OOIDA membership for $10 off the regular price there. Also, you can get vouchers for flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccines from Jon at The Spirit.

After Willcox, The Spirit is scheduled for Texas stops in El Paso, Laredo and San Antonio. Here is the schedule.

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Chuck Robinson

Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.