Alaska's James W. Dalton Highway runs 414 miles from Fairbanks to Deadhorse and the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay inside the Arctic Circle.
Joy Wiebe was the only woman to regularly pull a tanker on this desolate stretch of road, and author and college professor Amy Butcher tells Wiebe's story in her recently published book, Mothertrucker: Finding Joy on the Loneliest Road in America.
Butcher, who is director of creative writing and an associate professor of English at Ohio Wesleyan University, found Wiebe on Instagram and wound up flying to Alaska to ride along on one of her trips up and back on the Dalton. What started out as a profile of a woman driver negotiating a lonely road through the wilderness turned into a voyage of discovery.
It would also turn into a powerful and beautiful obituary for Wiebe, who died in August of 2018 in a rollover crash on the Dalton. A memorial convoy of almost 100 truckers commemorated the life of Wiebe, and Butcher returned to Alaska to ride in and attend the funeral.
In this episode of the Truckers News Podcast, Butcher talks about Wiebe, her spiritual connection to trucking, and the Dalton. Butcher also talks about how she, Wiebe, and many other women navigated abusive domestic relationships.
Mothertrucker is available online and at most bookstores, and soon will become a major motion picture.