Podcast: The Capitol Christmas Tree Mission with Ed and Deb Kingdon of Hardy Brothers Trucking
Last fall, Ed and Deb Kingdon had a mission: to deliver the Capitol Christmas tree, transporting it from North Carolina to Washington DC. They knew they were about to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but neither could anticipate what it would mean to them personally.
On this episode of Freight Nation, the Kingdons sit down with host Brent Hutto to talk about their unforgettable journey.
Long Road to Trucking
In 1978, Ed found his interest in trucking after having ridden with Deb’s brother. But he didn’t find his way to life on the road until much later. Instead, he served in the US Air Force for 38 years first, completing several active duty tours abroad and finishing his career stateside in Washington DC. When he retired, he was ready to make the transition to trucking. But when he proposed his vision to Deb, and that they would take on the challenge as a two-person driving team sharing adventures on the road, she wasn’t as enthusiastic. After two years, he convinced her it was the right next step, and so they joined Hardy Brothers, beginning the next chapter of their life together.
Driving With a Plan
Team driving is incredibly different from going out on your own, and even different from when Ed originally rode with Deb’s brother, which made it a massive adjustment. Ed jokes, “[Team driving] is an adjustment, like I said, our kids laugh with us saying, how in the world are you ever going to sleep with mom driving?”
However, the pair quickly found their stride. Each has different strengths, complementing one another perfectly, and making one of the strongest driving teams around. With both of them driving, there are fewer stops, even on their multi-day trips. They are meticulous planners, working out every detail but still make sure to enjoy the routes.
“There is a romanticism of the road, of the industry out there. It seems to be diminishing a little bit, but it is there. You know, to go places, see things, the scenery, to go from East Coast geography to West Coast rocks and earth—and things are so different. Taking moments to see what’s there and what you’re passing and what you’re doing. I mean, it’s amazing.” Ed Kingdon, Hardy Brothers Trucking
The Christmas Mission
Hauling a 78-foot tree is a tall order. It requires a special trailer and careful maneuvering—especially through the mountainous terrain on its journey from North Carolina to Washington DC.
Throughout the journey, they made seventeen stops where they were met with crowds of people who were overjoyed to witness the tree firsthand. People would take pictures, sign the truck, and share their stories with the pair, making for a very memorable trip.
The stops along the way made the trip extra special for the Kingdons. Seeing the excitement from locals who don’t often have big events come through their town really magnified how magical this journey was to everyone.
In one particular town, a group of people with learning difficulties and their caregivers came to see the truck and tree. When Ed and Deb revealed they were the drivers, they were asked for many pictures by the group, with caregivers explaining that they considered them heroes for transporting the tree.
“One of the caregivers said, you will have no idea, you really are heroes to these people. You have no idea what that has meant to have you here and talk to them, you know. So that was really special to us that we don’t feel like heroes, but you know, they thought we were.” Deb Kingdon, Hardy Brothers Trucking
Taking part in the tree transport forged connections and relationships that will extend beyond the season—and memories that will last a lifetime.