Room for interpretation

| November 03, 2005

Voss had never written a book before, but he wanted to combine his love for small town holiday celebrations with his knowledge of the American highway into a holiday story for all ages.

A Tree for America is a holiday tale about bureaucrat Robert Anjer, assigned to oversee the delivery of the national Christmas tree to Washington, D.C. Anjer finds out that he must ride along with truck driver Ken Rainey to Leavenworth, Wash., to pick up the tree and deliver it to D.C. Along the way, Rainey and Anjer form a life-long friendship while discovering the true meaning of Christmas.

The author drew from his own experiences behind the wheel and used real locations and weather conditions to tell the story. Leavenworth, Wash., is one of the most beautiful places in the country during the holidays, Voss says.

“People come from all over Washington just to go to Leavenworth and see the lights,” Voss says.

Dangerous weather conditions play an important part in the book as well, and Voss recounts the winter of 1990 when the temperature was 40 degrees below zero from Des Moines to Salt Lake City. Voss used one of his own experiences during a blizzard to create the scene in the book in which Rainey and Anjer rescue a family from icy waters after the car spins off the road. Truck drivers are constantly doing good deeds like this in real life, Voss says.

“These are the stories that the regular public never hears,” Voss says. “There are still knights of the highway.”

While Voss is a first-time author, he is a seasoned photographer. He served in the Army from 1971 to 1980 as an Army photographer and still continues to snap pictures of Americana for sale on his website, A driver since 1990 for Combined Transportation in Central Point, Ore., Voss uses truck driving as his venue to illustrate the beauty of the United States through photos.

“It has given me an appreciation of America and her people that I didn’t have before,” Voss says. “I have experienced things I never got a chance to in the military.”

Voss wrote A Tree for America to inform non-truck drivers, he says, but he hopes truck drivers enjoy it during the holiday season as well.

“It’s a chance to share that love of America, Christmas and trucking,” Voss says. ” [Truck drivers] love Christmas as much as I do. You never fail to see someone wearing a Santa hat.”
A Tree for America is $12.95 and is available at major bookstores.

Hands of Steel on the Wheel
Trucker Chris Benavides’ favorite scar is on his right hand, at the base of his index finger.
“This guy pulled a knife on me in Laredo [Texas],” Benavides says. “I hit him so hard I ended up having to work his tooth out of my knuckle.”

Benavides, 36, lives in Urbana, Ohio, and drives for Perma-Fix of Dayton, Ohio. He hauls chemical-industrial supplies for the company.

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