By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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“It was nerve-racking,” said Todd Dewey, 39, after filming the reality show in Winnipeg, Canada, where he hauled heavy equipment between the Manitoba capital and small villages in Northern Canada.
“It was quite the experience,” Dewey said.
Dewey said that rookie “Ice Road” truckers are paid $30,000 for their two months of work on the high-risk truck route, as well as for filming.
“Sometimes,when things are happening it doesn't seem like enough,” said the Port Angeles resident.
On Sunday afternoon, Dewey, along with his family — wife, Jeannette Dewey, 33, and daughters — Kylie, 14, Jelena, 11, Mady, 10 and Taylor, 9 — were eagerly anticipating ,watching the first episode featuring the family hero.
The episode is titled “Fear the Crack,” according to the History Channel, which on its “Ice Road Truckers” Web page describes Dewey as bringing “his rebellious attitude with him on the road.
“He's trading in his trucking job in Washington, which has provided the income neeed to support his wife and children, for the chance to make big money,” the website says, concluding that the latest member of the cast, 'faces an incredible risk as he has never encountered anything like the winter roads before.”
Todd's wife said, “We are all very proud of him.”
The show airs at 10 p.m. Sundays on History Channel, and episodes are available at www.History.com after their initial showing.
Todd is a Port Angeles native, a member of Port Angeles High School's Class of 1992 and a member of the Rygaard Logging family, members of which have been featured on the show “Ax Men,” another reality show, since 2009.
He was “discovered” in August nu a group of “Ice Road Truckers” producers when he arrived at a North Olympic Peninsula job site and found that no one was available to load his cargo, so he started loading it himself, Todd said.
The producer asked for an interview, but Todd replied that he had a job to do — if he wanted to talk, he'd have to get in the truck and ride along, he said.
A series of interviews later, and he found out in January he had been selected to replace a departing trucker-cast member for the two-month “Ice Road ”season.
The “Ice Road” — an unpaved one-lane highway — is passable only in January and February, when lakes and rivers freeze over.
Everything villagers in the northern reaches need for the year is shipped in during those months, because once the ice melts, the region is inaccessible.
Todd said the road is treacherous, and if two trucks meet on the road, one has to back up — sometimes for miles — until they find a place wide enough for the trucks to pass.
During one trip, his chase-vehicle, which carries the film crew, met with an oncoming truck as they rounded a blind curve, resulting in an emergency evacuation, he said.
There are few trucks on the road, and Todd said it was sheer bad luck that one came along.
The crew has a satellite phone, since there are no cell phone towers along the Ice Road.
Dewey said the sleeper-cab truck carries the driver, a cameraman, 500 gallons of fuel and food and clothing for the trucker and cameraman.
For Jeannette, waiting at home for her husband to call after a four-day trip , was stressful, especially when it takes six days to finish the route.
Todd is an experienced logging trucker, but in the past, he was home after each day's work hauling equipment to various worksites on the North Olympic Peninsula.
“When I can't hear from him and I can't see him, it's scary,” she said.
The four Dewey children have been excited to tell their friends at school about their father's impending fame, she said.
They showed classmates preview video clips from the History Channel website, including a video introducing the rookie ice trucker.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.