Two Women and an Order of Fries

January 6, 2018 - Perfect Slices of Time

Heads up neophytes, ginger is NOT a substitue for alcohol.  “An extra shot of ginger” she said.  For the ginger tea she ordered.  I’m on my 2nd martini and chuckle out loud.  I’m not so far gone that the awkward moment escapes me, so i quickly look down with an extra stern glance at my phone and throw in another chuckle so they wouldn’t feel that I was laughing at them.  It’s 6:00 on the other side of a long work day.  Ginger?!  

The serving board has been in front of them for 20 minutes.  They’ve each had 2.  Fries. Thick cut. The color of toasted wheat bread. I can see from here the dusting of large crystals of finishing salt. Same women who asked for extra ginger for their already ginger tea.  Why did they order the fries if not to eat them, one after another in something of a rapid succession? I’m sharing the trunk table with them as they discuss whether it’s a Restoration Hardware product.   They’re talking fast and animatedly like I would after a few ginger teas with healthy splashes of vodka.  And the fries sit there neglected and cold.  Unappetizing.  I mean I’d eat them, but it’s become sadly apparent that they will not have any more and the fries will be tossed.  In the garbage.  Aside like red meat left in the back seat of a hot car too long.  Sad.  I can’t take the irritation of the situation any longer so I tab out.  They look up as opposed to re-discovering the desperately wilting fries. An awkward sob escapes me as I walk out.   



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She Ate Well

7 or 8. spindly.  braided pigtails. with intent and focus she raked the black olives from the top of the pizza to the side closest to her, dipped down to the plate not bothering to raise it, and took the olives in.  a subtle softening of expression; her head tilted back a bit, her eyes blinked.  she sighed. and then looked up to see me watching her.  i looked down at my pizza, surveying it with renewed appreciation — like the 7 year old had just demonstrated.  with a smile of anticipation and an intent to focus on the food in front of me, i lifted a piece to my mouth. sublime. my head tilted back a bit.  i blinked. sighed.  and looked over to see her give me a thumbs up.  


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The Road Back From Long and Blonde

November 12, 2017 - Personal Journal

It’s fall.  Some things didn’t make it to the dry cleaners at the end of last winter and the long blonde hairs are stuck to the back of the navy peacoat.  My favorite.  I want to wear the coat, but I don’t want to roller tape the hair away so I look at it like it’s an alien and hang it back up.  Then leave without a coat for the Sheriff’s office where my employer has requested finger prints.  

The football player sized deputy sheriff takes the imprint cards and leads me to the back.  Height? Weight?  Hair color.  I’m standing right there.  Hair.  Color.  Miss.  It was a distinctive MISS.  Instinctively I reached up to the 1/2 inch long hairs.  “Well,  it’s mostly gray. Today it’s gray.”  “It WAS long and blonde”.  It came out with no agenda; bubbling forth like my hair had all of a sudden fallen victim and needed defending. 

“Is that what you want to go with, gray?”  

Not really big dude, but since I’m in an environment that smacks of truth,  gray seems to win out regardless of what i want.  


He hunts through the digital list and clicks on gray.  “Personally miss, I think red would look amazing on you.”



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10 Tips for a Fearless Solo Road Trip

If you begin “My son and I began our first solo road trip…”,  you’ve yet to take one.  Solo=alone.  No one. Not even a dog.  People stretch the meaning because they really can’t go it alone so anything less than another adult in the vehicle, qualifies.  Never sign a contract with someone given to such leaps.

There is much to fear alone on the open road – mostly the person you see in the mirror, but that’s a topic to broach with your psychoanalyst.  If you’re like me you’ll skip the outrageous bill, take the SRT plunge, and wonder why everyone doesn’t fire his or her shrink.

In Rear View

For fears of which you can’t be blamed, there are things you can do to control them.  Understand they can’t be eliminated. Cars break down and tires go flat.  If you’re okay with that, the adventure of a lifetime awaits you.  If not, take someone with you. Just don’t call it a solo road trip.

The first eight of these are about limiting risk.  There’s more you can do than this list, like a AAA membership. But that’s only good as long as you have cell service.  The more you rely on outside factors, the less control you maintain, which diminishes your ability to reduce fear factors.  Less, diminish, reduce – all used within one sentence to send a message – learn how to change your own tire. I’m an experienced SRT’er so I occasionally put the truck places I shouldn’t, hike into places I shouldn’t.  I’d prefer not to die a painful death, but I want to enjoy life a bit as it flashes past.  And so we all make choices.  Make good decisions based on your own knowledge/experience base.

No, I don’t carry a gun.

  1. Know how to drive.  It’s more than keeping the car between the ditches.  Do you know when to shift into a lower gear? If you’ve got 4-wheel drive, can you shift into it at any point or does the vehicle need to be at a certain speed?  How about shifting out of it? In North Dakota last November I drove into a snow bank that was much deeper than I expected (in an attempt to turn around).  The only way out was reverse in 4-wheel low.  Once free of the snowbank, I couldn’t get out of 4-wheel low.  Confusion.  Resorted to manual.  Some of knowing how to drive is experience; some is simply knowing what all the buttons mean on your dash.
  2. How to change a tire.
  3. Maintain a full tank of gas and bottled water in the front of the vehicle.
  4. Don’t drink an alcoholic beverage unless it’s for dinner in the hotel you’re staying or you’re having a night cap in the room.  Obviously drinking and driving is a no-no, but a loose tongue in the wrong place has equal potential for disaster.  See #8.
  5. Find lodging before dark.  Doesn’t mean you have to call it a day. Just secure a place to stay; then you’re free to explore the local area as long as you want.  See #4 and #8.
  6. Wear a seat belt at all times.  It won’t save your ass if you drive off a mountain but it will provide protection in most other cases.
  7. Keep your cell phone charged. Check in with someone daily (preferably the same person).
  8. Don’t talk to strangers.  A tricky one. The people I meet are a big part of open road adventures.  Use good judgment.  My daily routine while traveling is to awaken early and go to bed with the chickens.  This translates to striking up conversation with people over breakfast or lunch and becoming more insular as the day progresses.  To no one do I give much information about where I’m headed.  When around others, pump gas and order dinner with confidence; at all times send the signal you’re in control.  I will not go to a bar. I avoid other strays even early in the day.
  9. Get off road. Yes you can do that without 4-wheel drive.  See #1.
  10. Before you leave home practice saying “holy shit”, varying the emphasis and inflection. You’ll use it in a lot of varied applications.

** This article is mine.  Feel free to link to it, but any republishing without my consent will find me on your doorstep.  Fear that. **

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Other how-to SRT related posts:

Road Trip Coffee Can Survival Kit

3 Best Kept Travel Secrets

Take a Solo Road Trip!

Solo Road Trip Safety

Just for fun:

Road Trip Badges of Honor

One of Those Suckers

June 30, 2015 - Behind The Wheel

On a Tuesday in June without announcement my back went out, the sort of going out that ends with the news of a ruptured disk, sends your spouse to the guest bed for a week, and garners an enlightened understanding of drugs that fall in the respective categories of the good shit and the not so good shit.  Minor care emergency doctors dispense the kind that shoo you out the door with a naively hopeful belief you’ve side-stepped a visit to the real doctor. Avoid them. Head straight to the real doctor, the one that knows you and isn’t afraid to prescribe the knock you on your ass drugs, with a refill for good measure. At times like this, know your true friends.

For my siblings and me as kids, June meant a road trip with surrogate parents (and their two children) – a couple, of no relation who positively contributed to the arduous and long suffering job of converting cretins to socially responsible individuals.  My first travel related memories are due them; the love of road trips surely rooted in those early journeys in the back of a camper-hull-domed-pick-up-truck headed to the likes of unimaginably distant, exquisitely exotic specters of Knott’s Berry Farm and Silver Dollar City via America’s original Holiday Inn, the KOA campground circuit.

The world beyond the ranch to young country bumpkins was an impressive stretch of man-made sensory overload and vibrant, uber pigment-saturated kitsch. The love of road trips stuck. Check on the camping as well. The awe of man made currency denominated achievement however, reversed itself with whiplash gusto, becoming an uber repulsion by the time I took control of my own road trip machine. For the next 18 years, a laughing, saucer eyed boy ensured June’s reign as the year’s first opportunity for a non-family related, purely for pleasure, road trip.

All American Summer Break Road Trip, classic style

In my drug induced deliriously pain free fog, the nostalgic memory of June’s past began its march. Oh how I’d love one of those color swirled round suckers the size of a tractor tire, or a town pennant like the one I brought home with Intercourse, Pennsylvania on it. Surrogate Dad thought it a riot. Real Dad not so much. Despite the glorious passing of several years since June’s death-clutch on the road trip ended with my son’s exit for college, there’s apparently such a thing as mental muscle memory when stoked by good drugs.

Tears stream as I sorrowfully pounce on the fact there can’t be a road trip this June because woe is me I’m not able. And oh God, let’s throw more fuel on this roaring pity party, maybe not even in July or way more tears, August.

Please don’t attempt comfort by reminding me I strive to never travel in June, July or August in order to avoid the drones of people forced to the roads in these particular months. Just because I can’t stand the bumbling crowds, the sniveling kids, the oppressive heat;  just because I sneer at station wagons, flip off grandparents slowing down to not miss the theme park exit, glare at pick up trucks with unsecured passengers in the back, and honk at anyone I see pointing at stupid things…doesn’t mean I no longer believe in the wholesome goodness of the American summer break road trip.

It simply means I’ll do whatever it takes to avoid them.  Unless of course I’m flat on my back, down and out, not physically able, couldn’t drive into the sweating surge of humanity if my solo road trip arrogant self depended on it.  Then I just want some sympathy.  And one of those suckers.

Dogwood City, Arkansas. Wow.

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The Grand Climb


Tammie DooleyAbout SRT... I’m a traveler, writer and photographer for whom the open road frequently summons. Adventurous solo road trips are a staple for me, and a curiosity. So I created this website to share them and inspire you to step out and give them a try. Welcome!

A soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone – Wolfgang Von Goethe

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