OOIDA’s tour trailer stops Sunday in Willington, Conn.

October 9, 2020

Chuck Robinson


With the tree leaves turning color and autumn bringing a chill to the air, there’s no place better to pull OOIDA’s tour trailer than Willington, Conn.

The Spirit of the American Trucker tour trailer is scheduled to be at the Willington TA Travel Center on Sunday through Wednesday, Oct. 11-14. The Willington TA is at the Ruby Road exit from I-84, Exit 71.

“The trees are changing, and it’s gorgeous,” said Jon Osburn, skipper of the Spirit of the American Trucker.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has a chart identifying the colors the leaves of various tree species turn.

The Willington TA has 240 parking spots for big trucks. The full-service Country Pride restaurant is temporarily closed, according to the website, but there is a Burger King, Dunkin’ Express and convenience store fare for making do.

The Willington TA is dedicated to OOIDA life member Robert Fernald of Westbrook, Maine, who was one of five Citizen Drivers named in 2015. The award recognizes drivers who have an exemplary career in trucking and are great examples of the kind of people who honor the great profession of truck driving. At the time, Fernald was driving for Walmart, had been driving for more than 21 years and had logged 2.5 million miles. The Westbrook Press Herald newspaper seemed to be proud of its hometown celebrity.

Fernald has been a familiar face at the Mid-America Trucking Show, where he has rustled up food at the Cause We Can Cafe to benefit the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund. He also has been active in the Wreaths Across America program, which delivers wreaths to put on the graves of fallen soldiers. He also has been active with the Maine Professional Drivers Association.

Groundbreaking for the truck stop was in 1995, according to an online Hartford Courant article.

Willington is 20 miles east of Hartford, Conn., on I-84. Providence, R.I., is 50 miles east. Boston is 80 miles away via the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Until February, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont had been pushing for trucks-only tolls to pay for infrastructure improvements, but he stopped when faced with opposition in the state’s Legislature. I-84 was one of the highways where Lamont wanted trucks to pay tolls, in addition to I-95 and I-684.

Stop by when you see The Spirit

If you see OOIDA’s tour trailer, stop by and say hello to Osburn. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. He usually has copies of Land Line Magazine to hand out. You can join or renew your OOIDA membership for $10 off the regular price there. Free face masks are available at The Spirit. You also can get forms for uninsured drivers to get flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccine vouchers at The Spirit.

After Willington, OOIDA’s tour trailer is scheduled to stop in Waterloo, N.Y., before heading to Carlisle, Pa.

Here is the schedule for The Spirit. LL


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.