Wheat Ridge truck stop has a new name

Trucker couple honored for six million miles and counting

Kevin M. Smith
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 7/2/18

The TravelCenters of America (TA) truck stop on 44th Avenue — just off I-70’s Ward Road exit in Wheat Ridge — was recently renamed Danny and Cindy George Travel Center. The letters were affixed …

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Wheat Ridge truck stop has a new name

Trucker couple honored for six million miles and counting

Posted

The TravelCenters of America (TA) truck stop on 44th Avenue — just off I-70’s Ward Road exit in Wheat Ridge — was recently renamed Danny and Cindy George Travel Center.

The letters were affixed to the front of the building last month, in clear view when Danny and Cindy returned to Colorado from a delivery to the Los Angeles area June 14.

Sitting in the TA, they recollected on nearly 30 years worth of travel and marriage.

The Colorado natives — Danny grew up in Westminster and Cindy in Fowler — met at a trucking company and after all those decades on the road in constant close quarters, they don’t regret anything and look forward to many more years of adventures together.  

“When we’re not traveling for a living, we live to travel,” Danny said.

“The Columbia River Gorge (Oregon) up there is beautiful,” Cindy said. “We’re tourists at heart, we love the scenery up there.”

The couple earned their names on the TA truck stop in Wheat Ridge through the TA/Petro fifth annual Citizen Driver award, given to three individuals plus the team of Danny and Cindy. They were chosen from a field of 100 nationwide nominations.

“The goal is to find all these terrific truckers,” said Tom Liutkus, senior vice president of Marketing & Public Relations for TravelCenters of America.

The Georges, who have lived in the Henderson the past 10 years, have driven 6 million miles without an accident. Danny said staying focused on the priority of safety has helped.

“There are a lot of things that go on the road, you can get up in what we call ‘the freeway wars’ ... someone’s trying to cut you off, someone’s being rude, you can get caught up in that stuff and forget that safety is the main thing,” Danny explained.

He said little things, like realizing he’s too tired to drive and turning the wheel over to Cindy or just getting off the road for a minute to let the heavy traffic pass can help with safety. He noted that they’ve never been late on a delivery pick up or drop off.

“So it’s not like we’re giving up being performers in order for safety,” Danny said. “It’s a matter of balance.”

They also credited a higher power.

“We’ve had so many people praying for us and we pray ourselves, and God’s very real help, and I totally have to give him credit,” Cindy said.

That’s not to say they haven’t had close calls or bad experiences over those 6 million miles.

“In that many years, you can’t avoid everything,” Cindy said.

They were driving in Ferguson the first night the protests started over Michael Brown being shot by a police officer. They’ve also had breakdowns in the middle of nowhere and been trapped on the road for a day and a half in a snowstorm.

“And that’s part of what trucking is all about: Realizing that things are going to go wrong and making an adventure,” Danny said.

Love to travel

The Georges have been to all 50 states through both truck driving and tourism. They’ve also been to more than 40 different countries and territories and visited all seven continents.

The two don’t plan to quit anytime soon. They want to spend about three months of the year sailing the seven seas and the other nine months continuing to drive a truck for U.S. Xpress (their employer). The ultimate goal is to circumvent the globe.

“We basically do that now as far as miles go,” Danny said. “We drive about 26,000 miles a month, that’s basically a trip around the world. We might as well actually do that at 4 miles an hour — 4 knots — have a chance to look at it.

“We’ve been on all seven continents, we’d like to take a little longer look at them,” Danny said.

Citizen drivers

The Citizen Driver program is about more than a safety record and dedication to the profession of trucking. It’s about service and leadership.

“There is no trucking hall of fame, so we created one,” Liutkus said.

Liutkus said the criteria includes safe driving, respectful of others, and overall great citizens outside of trucking.

“The goal is to inform the outside community just how professional these people are,” Liutkus said.

To date, 28 TA/Petro Centers have been named after truck drivers or driving teams over five years. A panel of judges consisting of industry professionals or those close to the industry like publishers of trucking magazines assign a ranking of the finalists. The scores determine how many people are named Citizen Drivers for the year.

“It’s hard to believe we’ve been honoring such hard working men and women as part of this program for five years now,” Barry Richards, president and COO of TravelCenters, stated. “We could not be more proud of the character these individuals display both on the road and off, demonstrating the true spirit and grit of a professional truck driver.”

Cindy had wanted to nominate Danny for the award in its inaugural year, but didn’t have time before the deadline. The thought escaped her until the fleet manager at U.S. Xpress nominated them as a team.

“They have the best attitude out of all the drivers I manager, and that really goes a long way with completing tasks,” Phyllis Overla, fleet manager, wrote in her letter of recommendation to the panel of judges. “And because of their driving experience and 14.5 years with the company, I can always take their feedback seriously.”

She wrote that the Georges are a great resource for new drivers. In fact, the Georges participate in a driver mentor program with U.S. Xpress.

The Georges said they had often helped young drivers get started through advice, the mentorship program added structure and pay.

“People often come up to us — over the years — and ask for our help,” Danny said.

Danny said truck driving can be a difficult career to get started in because there’s not often that opportunity for direct feedback.

“Our goal is to help these people succeed,” Danny said.

Fitness, faith and fun

Danny and Cindy currently write three blogs.

One is about fitness on the road. Danny has run five marathons, two half marathons, several 5Ks, two sprint triathlons and a half-ironman as recently as 2016. Cindy also likes to run 5Ks and has completed a sprint triathlon. Keeping fit on the road is challenging, but not impossible they say.

“You have to be very intentional,” Cindy said.

She said they find time when they can.

“Even sometimes when we stop for fuel, we stop for 15 minutes, I’ll fuel and he’ll jump out — he can run a mile and a half in 15 minutes,” Cindy said.

The Georges found themselves too out of shape to hike to see the ice fields in Alaska in 1992 and set goals.

“It’s so easy to get out of shape … all you have to do is not pay attention and eat like you’re on a road trip: have Doritos on the dash and sodas and next thing you know you look in the mirror and you’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, who is that?’ And that happened to us, that’s how we know,” Cindy said.

The Georges are writing a book about staying healthy while trucking. Danny said he wants to help people break the stereotype that truckers are overweight people.

The couple like to chronicle any fun or adventurous experiences while traveling. Danny also likes to write spiritual musings, sharing his faith with fellow truckers or anyone who else who stumbles across his blog.

The Georges have supported two children from Kenya through Compassion International. They also help with the Denver Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, Food Bank of the Rockies and several other organizations to help people in need.

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