“I took a break,” she tells Zap2it. “I’m ready to dive back in, have some fun. It’s a crazy kind of life, so it was nice to have a break from it. I missed hanging out with everybody and having the fun that goes along with it.”
In June 2012, when asked about Kelly’s absence, executive producer Thom Beers told Zap2it, “We offered her a contract to return, and she chose not to. That’s it. we invited her back. Love to have her. She’s taking a year off, realizing that she might not be able to get another show. But she’s an interesting woman. we liked her.”
According to Kelly, the fans were eager to have her back, and, she says, “I would say it’s the funnest season we’ve ever shot. Had a blast. We were just driving and making TV. That’s what it was.”
Asked what she loves about trucking, Kelly says, “I like going different places and being alone and the amazing views that I have. I can go to work in my pajamas, and sleeping is part of the job. It’s amazing.”
Of course, on “Ice Road Truckers,” Kelly’s not alone, since there’s a camera operator in the truck cab with her — which means explaining yourself, over and over.
“It’s not like you just say it once,” she says. “You’ve got to say it lots of times, because you’ve to got to recap the day at the end of the day, say what you’re doing while you’re doing it. You’ve got to do it outside the truck, and inside the truck, in the dark and the daylight.
“I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve already said all this stuff.’ ‘Yeah, but not from this angle.'”
The immense popularity of the show — which spawned a spinoff, ,“IRT: Deadliest Roads,” which sent Kelly and other truckers on hazardous routes in India and then Peru — surprised her.
“It’s just truck drivers driving up and down the road,” she says. “[Fans say] ‘It’s so exciting!’ Oh my gosh, it’s boring for me.”
Of course, the fans do get a somewhat condensed version.
“Yeah,” says Kelly, “It takes 12, 15 hours to do 10 minutes of TV.”
During her time off, Kelly says she’s been truck driving and also spending time with her horses and other animals, and with her husband, avid dirtbiker Traves Kelly — which is a change from the usual for the couple.
“That’s how our marriage stays alive,” Kelly jokes, “I’m never around.”
In shooting this season, Kelly had a lot of fun with trucker Darrell Ward, a Montana native seeking a fresh start in Alaska.
“He’s super-awesome,” Kelly says. “I’ve had a lot of fun with him. He’s really funny and upbeat. I don’t know where he gets his energy. He’s insane. He’s one of those super-energetic people that will wear you out. It’s a laugh-a-minute with him.”
And while fans are watching Kelly drive around sub-zero wintertime Alaska, she’s dealing with an unusually toasty summer in the state.
“It’s been 80 degrees every day,” she says, “which is unbelievably hot for us. We’ve been swimming horses, because it’s too hot to do anything else. 80 is killing me. I’m sunburnt and bug-bitten.”