Keith and Vickie Sampson’s 156-inch ARI sleeper

Todd Dills|October 04, 2014


Landstar-leased Jon and Miriam Brown’s team operation and 2012 Volvo VNL300 converted by Showhauler Motorhome Conversions the first featured business in Volvo’s new “Welcome …

You may have seen the video above already — Trucker Talent Search winner Keith Sampson’s on the cover this month attendant to a larger story about him we’ll be publishing online quite soon. Meantime, though, as I believe I promised at some point in the recent past here, get a load of Keith and his team owner-operator wife, Vickie’s, 2014 Volvo:Keith and Vickie Sampson's 2014 Volvo

The pair sent me this picture several days after the end of the Great American Trucking Show two months back, where we’d talked about the 53-foot van — it was at that moment in the shop getting a fresh coast of red to match the truck and 156-inch ARI sleeper. Striking color, no doubt — keep an eye out for them on the highway.

Sampsons' ARI interiorThe Sampsons note they ordered the truck via the GATR Truck Center in Des Moines, Iowa, near the beginning of this year, collaborating then with ARI in Northern Indiana to build the sleeper. The “Dark Persimmon Metallic and Black Sable” paint from the factory was matched after the fact on the boxes and fenders. The trailer paint work was done by Keith’s Collision in Justin, Texas, to match.

Sampsons' ARI interiorThe sleeper has all the amenities of home, they say: shower, toilet, 32-inch flat screen TV/DVD, onboard in-motion-capable satellite with Direct TV, two-burner cook-top stove, microwave convection oven, sink, full dinette that easily folds up against the back wall, “giving us a queen size bed.” The shorepower option enables the couple to “drop our trailer and plug in at an RV park, which we do quite often.”

The fully automatic transmission along with a preference for light loads helps the unit net an average 6.8 mpg — with the light loads they typically get more than 7 mpg driving 62-65 mph.

Stay tuned for more in future, no doubt. I’m hopeful the pair may get through Nashville at some point under a load. Safe hauling this weekend, everyone!

Have You Ever Been…

Have you ever been stuck in an elevator?    I was going about my day as usual, stocking the breakrooms and pantries in an office building.  I was at the second stop of the day.  I got on the elevator to the 6th floor when it stopped between the 5th and 6th.  A loud bell started ringing and my immediate thought was, ‘What the hell?’  I reached over and started punching buttons to see if the doors would open, they didn’t.  A loud voice came over the intercom in the elevator to let me know that someone was on their way to fix the situation. I acknowledged them and told them that I was the only one in the elevator.

I manuevered the cart I was pushing to the side so that I could sit down on the floor.  I pulled out my phone and started checking my emails.  The whole time, I kept wondering when I was going to lose my mind, start sweating, or even start shaking.  It never happened.  At least, I now know that I am not claustrophobic!  Actually, it was kind of peaceful in there.  I could hear people talking about the elevator being stuck and there was one person inside.  I started to call several people but decided against it.

Twenty minutes later, the car jolted and then moved up and the doors opened.  I stood up and saw that there was a crowd outside the door.  I smiled and walked out with my cart.  Everybody was making a big deal about the fact I was smiling instead of being upset, I was fine, there was no need to be upset.  I can now say I have been trapped in an elevator!  It felt longer than 20 minutes.

Now, for the most embarrassing part
Being trapped in such a small space, not only did I have to go pee, I had a terrible case of …gas!  OMG!  When the doors opened and the smell hit everyone in the face, I felt 2 inches tall!  I could not get out of there fast enough.  Some people laughed and others showed their indignity with frowns and waving their hands in front of their faces.  You could have bought me for a nickel when that door opened.  Needless to say, no one entered the elevator after I left!  :-/

Where Are You Going?


North and south, speed limit is 60 but most are traveling at 65 to 70.  Trucks, cars, van, all makes and models going somewhere.  To work, maybe, home or on vacation, coming from a vacation returning home.  Trucks delivering gas, general freight, picking up freight. Pickup trucks pulling RVs behimd them.  RVs pulling pickup trucks behind them.  Disabled car on the side of the road, blown tire.  The flashing lights of a tow truck can be seen half a mile down the road, coming to their aid. Where are you going?  

Buses, dump trucks, tankers carrying all types of liquids, all shapes and sizes, going about their way. Some say if you see a truck on the road late into the night, on weekends, and holidays, that driver is working!    

Heading towards the city, traffic thickens. Brake lights are seen in the distance as it slows to under 55.  Cars moving in and out of traffic, jockeying for the front, hurrying to work. An occasional horn is blown to let someone know they are drifting into another lane. The loud roar of a truck’s Jake Brake passing as it slows to exit the highway.  A motorcycle or two can be heard over the sounds of the traffic as the tires meet the road.  

So tell me, where are you going?


Have you ever looked at the swirls in wood or the speckles that are in floor tile, or the patterns of  wallpapers in the doctor’s office and seen something that is not there.  I mean, have you seen faces or other objects in each?  For several years, I have been seeing faces in all types of patterns.  When I first started driving a truck, I worked for a company that had trailers that were lined with plywood.  With each trailer that I hauled, I could see faces in the swirls of wood.  Well, one day when it kind of got to me, I took my marker, which I keep in my pocket, and traced about 15-20 faces in the plywood.  Needless to say, that trailer was mighty crowded.

Everyone talked about the artwork and asked who did it.  I didn’t own up to it, at first.  But of course, they tracked it back to me.  It became something that drew everyone’s attention to the point that they displayed the trailer out front of the dispatch office for everyone else to see.  I was called up on the carpet for the “defacement of company property” and had to forfeit a couple of hundred dollars for my…. impulsiveness.  But, truly, it was worth it!  Faces are found in the smallest patterns on the floor or on the wall, in the tops of the trees as the wind blows, in water when food coloring is dripped into it.

Remember as a child, you and your friends would lie on the ground and look up into the clouds and see animals, cars, faces and other things?  Even now, as grownups, people are taking pictures of objects they see in the clouds.  Some most famous are those that look like Jesus, reaching out to us or looking down at us.  These phots are posted all over Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.  Use your imagination as much as possible, you will be surprised at the things you are able to see.

Heavy Heart

Emotions are running high, tears fill my eyes.  How could this be happening? Not you!  I’m afraid and at the same time, not knowing what to do!  Even though you are my nephew, it was like you were my son. Everyone treated you like you were their son or nephew.  You are loved dearly and the thought of losing you is weighing on us all.  I don’t want you to be by yourself when  it happens but we don’t know when that will be.  The have taken you off your meds that was keeping you alive and disconnected you from the different monitors that kept track for your breathing, blood pressure, heart rate and the pressure on your brain. “It’s only a matter of time, now.” Said the doctor. “We have done all we can do. It’s up to him!”  Yeah, it’s up to him but mostly it’s up to the Lord.  If he wants you to remain here amongst your family and friends, the doctors really has no say!  They tried all the medications they could and performed all types of procedures on you but it wasn’t working.  Now it’s time for the Lord to take over and make you whole again or call you home.

Even though we are upset, angry, sad and other emotions, whatever happens is for the best!  I want to be selfish and not let you go! Family gathered around you as you started your walk down the path to everlasting life. The sounds coming from you was hard to hear without crying. The doctors come in to give you medicine to ease your pain and help you pass on. Still, you hang on a little while longer. One of your aunts jokes about how stubborn you are and how you don’t want to listen. There was a momentary giggle from everyone then silence. For a few more hours, we stand around your bed and pray for the moment when you take your last breath. Nurses continue to come in and out tending to you, turning off machines and saying, “It won’t be long now.” Words that make some of us cry even harder knowing that this will be the last time we see you other than in our dreams and memories. Your breathing is now more labored than before and is audible, sounding like a deep snore. Then…

Sadness does not describe the feeling when you witness your love one dying. For years, I was angry with my brothers and sisters for not allowing me the opportunity to say goodbye to my brother, my nephew’s father, when he died. I now realize why I wasn’t suppose to be there. It will be forever on my mind watching you take your last inhale. You will be missed, Mel. I am glad that you are not hurting anymore and the doctor’s can stop putting all those drugs into you. I love you, my nephew. God bless you!


Jeffrey Melvin Anderson, I miss you and will always love you!









Clover all over the yard. I find myself spending minutes standing in the yard trying to find that elusive 4 leaf clover.  I have been lucky enough to find a few over several days but today, I found not only that 4 leaf clover but two others that looks pretty weird.  Wonder what was happening there?

So, are the 4 leaf clovers as lucky as they say?  If I take it and place it on a lottery ticket, will I win?  Well, the grass will be cut tomorrow and I will have to wait a few days to try again.

Sunday’s Best

As told to me by my niece Stacie Brown    


It rained just about the whole way there.  My mind was occupied with thoughts of the different people I would compete with.   What kind of talent I would be facing?  Which song on the list will they have me sing?  It really didn’t matter, I had practiced several of them.  Even though, my stomach was in knots, I tried to show that it really was no big deal, I can handle it.  I was determined to make the trip and make the cut!  The closer we get, the more my stomach churns.  I tried sleeping a little while listening to gospel music and humming some of the songs I practiced to take my mind off the pending competition, it didn’t work.  This is something I only dreamed about.  Several people have mentioned to me that doing a competition like this could be good for me and could make me a star, even if I didn’t win.  I’m not sure if I would want the celebrity status, but I’m going to try anyway.  

     I am making this trip with my mother, sister  and aunt, the aunt that says she is my number one fan! I have the support of my family, all of them. The excitement is getting to me! It has been raining but I don’t seem to mind.  I got to meet Kirk Franklin back stage and Erica Campbell, now tell me how exciting s that?  Some of us never get to meet anyone that’s a celebrity and I have met two in the last few hours.  With each round, my nerves seem to be settling down.  When it came to be my turn, a quietness seem to settle over me.  I stepped up and sang  “Come Ye Disconsolate”.  Several of the contestants sang the favorites, “How Great Is Our God”, “Take Me To The King”.  The rules were you could not sing any extra notes, or running as they call it in the business, but one contestant did and she was the one that was picked out of 400 entrants.  Well, if nothing else, it was a great experience and I will not give up.  I will continue to sing in my church and other functions that come my way.  I will always sing in the shower or when I am not doing anything.  At least, I will have something to talk about when the family is sitting around on a Sunday afternoon.

This episode will be broadcast on July 9, 2014. Even though Stacie will not be featured, check it out on BET.