DEERWOOD -- One man traveled incredible distances to fulfill the dream of being able to drive a Peterbilt semi on United States highways.
Mike Persson, of Osbey, Sweden, has been driving a truck for 15 years, only on the other side of the globe. His delivery travels have brought him to 10 countries, including Germany, Finland, Norway and France. He can now count his 11th country, the United States.
While Hub Nelson, of Nelson Inc., in Deerwood, was visiting relatives in Sweden, he met Persson. "He asked me, 'If I come over there, can I ride with a Peterbilt driver?', so I said sure," said Nelson.
Persson admitted that it used to be a dream for him to drive an American truck and compare the differences to Swedish trucks. "Everything is totally different, especially the gear box," said Persson.
While staying in Minnesota, he is driving a Volvo truck full-time, long distance, for Nelson Inc. He arrived in Deerwood on July 11, and will return to Sweden Thursday. This is Persson's second trip to the United States. His first visit was in 1989, when he vacationed in Florida.
His farthest ride has brought him, along with another driver, to North Carolina, which he said has nearly the same landscapes as Sweden. "I am hoping that my next trip will take me out to the west coast, but I have no way of knowing," Persson said.
Regardless of where this job will take him, he is planning a trip in two years in which he will rent a car in southern California, and travel up to Minnesota.
"I haven't really had any time for sightseeing, I've just been around the area here," said Persson. "All of the sightseeing I do is in the truck."
Persson studied English in school for three years, ages 13 through 15, and said he hasn't run into any problems with the language while he's been here.
"We watch a lot of American television," said Persson. "You can just listen to it and not talk, that makes the language easier to understand. My English is a lot better now, I hope."
Nelson has enjoyed Persson's visit.
"He's a very nice guy, very personable, very intelligent," said Nelson. "He's truck happy!"
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