Tuesday, May 29, 2012

From Bayous to Beltways: Two for the Road

Even after driving his truck more than 1 million miles, Glen Allen doesn’t think the old girl has reached the end of the road. She keeps on rolling, even on a long trip.

“I can leave right now, punch your address into my GPS and drive with as much confidence as I have when I drive to the grocery store a quarter mile away,” says Allen, who lives in St. Amant, La.

That’s important for a man who makes his living driving across the country, escorting vehicles carrying oversized loads.

Allen bought his 1996 pickup truck in January 1997 from Price LeBlanc Toyota in nearby Baton Rouge. The truck had six miles on it.

It was his fourth Toyota vehicle, the only brand he’s ever owned. “I bought my first one when I was 21 years old,” he says. “It was an ’84 Xtra Cab, white with gray interior.”

He later bought a ’91 Corolla and a ’93 Toyota pickup truck. “I’ve been very impressed with Toyota’s products,” he says. “I really don’t have the desire to purchase anything else.”

He’s particularly pleased with his current truck. “For a small truck, it has plenty of leg room and head room,” he says. “It’s been a comfortable little truck for me. I can reach anything I need from the driver’s seat.”

Comfort is vital to Allen, who can rack up 90,000 miles a year escorting trucks carrying bulldozers, cranes and other heavy equipment. “I could get a call in the next five minutes telling me to go to Minnesota,” he says. “I never know where I’m going or when I’m going. I’ve got to keep my bag packed.”

Despite the uncertainty, he says, “It’s exciting because I get to go to a lot of places I never dreamed of going. I’ve been to 38 states and Canada. I enjoy taking back roads, running into little hole-in-the-wall restaurants.”

Allen doesn’t spend all of his time on the road. He sometimes spends hours in parking lots while the big trucks are being loaded. But he doesn’t mind waiting because his cabin is comfortable enough for naps. “I get some of my best sleep in my truck,” he says.

Even during Louisiana’s scorching summers. “I can sit in my truck all day long with the air conditioning on, and the temperature never goes up,” he says.

Allen calls his truck “My Little Red Demon.”  As for the gender, he says, “I think a vehicle is always a ‘her,’ isn’t it? You treat her nicely, and she’ll take care of you.”

Allen has treated his vehicle nicely. “I don’t dog the truck,” he says. “I don’t hot rod it at all.”

He gets the tires rotated regularly and changes the oil every 5,000 miles. He replaced the original engine at 658,000 miles. “The original clutch looked so good, the mechanic was tempted to put it back in.”

He got the truck painted a couple of years ago because “I wanted her to look good when she turned a million.”

Yes, Allen was confident his truck would reach that milestone. “Once I saw how far the first engine got me, I thought I could get to a million.”

Today, his truck has about 1,080,000 miles on it. Although his family and friends have urged him to get a new truck, he’s in no hurry. “It’s still in great shape,” he says. “Even if I get a new truck, I’ll keep this one for local jobs.”

When the time does come, Allen will probably get a Tacoma “unless I’m just completely blown away by a Tundra.”

In the meantime, he says, “I take care of my truck the best I can and boogie down the road. We spend a lot of time together. She’s the love of my life, what can I say?”

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