• 41°

Christmas occurs far from home for some

By Josh Bergeron
josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — For some, Christmas Day began with an early morning awakening from children eager to open presents. Others started with a trip to work. Kevin Storle started his day somewhere in between.

Storle didn’t quite start his day at work but it wasn’t home either.

Storle, a Canadian from the country’s British Columbia province, became a temporary resident of Rowan County just before Christmas. He arrived two days before and planned to stay two days after Christmas. A truck driver, Storle’s itinerary included a trip to Kernersville to pick up a piece of heavy machinery he needed to haul to Saskatchewan, Canada.

Until he could pick up the load on Tuesday, he was parked at Love’s Travel Stop at the Peeler Road exit on Interstate 85.

“It’s probably the first time I’ve been away for Christmas in years,” he said.

Instead of spending time with family, Storle said he’d clean his truck, wash clothes and catch up on sleep. With so many places closed on Christmas, his options were limited. Restaurants such as Waffle House and Thelma’s Down Home Cooking were among the few open. At both restaurants, cars crowded the parking lot and people piled in for a Christmas Day meal.

In the afternoon, Storle planned to call family members and wish them a merry Christmas.

Sometimes, the truck-driver life is lonely, and the work sometimes seems to take longer than it really does, Storle said. To pass the time, he enjoys listening to the radio during the long hauls across the continent. His favorites are country and 1960s-era music.

There are positives, too, about truck driving. Storle says he enjoys meeting new people, sometimes.

“No matter where you go there are always different people you meet that are interesting,” he said. “Just like anything else, though, there are some you like and some you don’t.”

Storle said he last visited the Charlotte area as a truck driver in the 1970s. Now, he says there’s significantly more traffic than he remembers decades ago. It’s, perhaps, a sign of the times. In the 1970s, Rowan County’s population was about 90,000, according to census statistics. It’s now estimated to be nearly 140,000. Likewise, Charlotte’s population has grown but at a much sharper rate. In the 1970s, U.S. Census numbers estimate Mecklenburg County’s population was just 355,000. Now, it’s estimated to be more than 1 million.

Storle said his first foray into the truck industry came in the 1970s, when he worked in oil and gas fields. He initially hauled water used in hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking. It’s a process used to extract natural gas and petroleum.

Now, Storle hauls a category of items he describes as “heavy, wide and high.” The load waiting for him in Kernersville is a 75,000-pound trackhoe. He estimated it’d take him several days to haul the massive machine to its destination in Saskatchewan, Canada. Then, his final stop will be at home with his family. Storle estimated he’d be back by Jan. 15.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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