Having taken my share of solo road trips that included sleeping in my car which necessitated sleeping in my clothes, some rather slovenly travel habits developed. Maturity has translated to a bit better overall effort in the personal presentation department on the road, so sleeping in my clothing now is a real treat, especially when I have an excuse good enough to hold all guilt at bay — like the malfunctioning heater in my motel room.

With plans to awaken at 3:30 a.m. for a Badlands sunrise shot (having bagged the sunset shot last night), sleeping in my clothes means I can throw back the covers, tie on my boots, and be on my way to the Park with hardly any time between sitting up in bed and sitting down in the truck. I should have included a bit more time for stumbling around at 3:30 a.m. “Note to self: more time for stumbling around for 3:30 a.m. sunrise shots.”

The sunrise shot was planned to the detail. Dogged by road trip weariness but determined to have bookend shots of the sun’s grandeur on the Badlands, every particular was meticulously given proper attention. Tripod, check. Remote cable trigger, check. Camera settings, check (and re-checked). Alarm clock, check. Wake-up call, check. Husband back-up call, check.

In lieu of a Badlands sunrise, I offer you this. LOL

In lieu of a Badlands sunrise, I offer you this. LOL

Or how about this?!

SURELY you didn't think all my shots were well framed, crisp, artistic. If only you knew the truth. Just to correct that fallicy, check this one out! How do you like this one?!

SURELY you didn’t think all my shots are well framed, artistic, or lucky?  If only you knew the truth. Just to correct that fallacy, check this one out! How do you like this one?!  Taken of the dashboard by accident as I rushed to get the camera in position to take yet another crappy shot of the deer crossing the road (above). 

All efforts to prepare ultimately translated to a BIG FAT failure thanks to the archaic-every-6-months tradition we have here, called a TIME CHANGE — as in “spring forward, fall back”. It’s stupid. I’m stupid. This morning everyone and everything is stupid. Already an hour off from having driven from the Central Time Zone to the Mountain Time Zone, another hour adjustment was just too much for Tammie’s world order. My own failure was soothed only by the failure of others – the motel and my dear husband – they both failed to calculate the time change as well.

Rushing to the Park I get there just in time to witness the zenith of the rising sun. My camera however doesn’t get to participate. As I’m toying with the thought of going back to the cold motel room and taking a short nap, I take a short nap. Thirty minutes later the road to Deadwood calls. After a re-fuel and a cup of coffee, the disappointment gives way to thoughts of chocolate sugarplums and the meeting of a person whose friendship has been cultivated by the internet.

The Genius behind The Chubby Chipmunk

The Genius behind The Chubby Chipmunk, Chip Tautkus. Deadwood, South Dakota

You must be ready at all times to walk through the door of friendship opportunity. Embrace the fact it’s always just around the corner. Your life can be guided in new and wonderful directions like a joyous labyrinth when you recognize one very important fact: If you reach out to people, they reach back. While the success rate is not 100%, when “it” clicks and another person’s life is added to yours (and vice versa) in a meaningful connection of personalities and dreams, it’s like finding that gold nugget at the bottom of your pan.  Not only is it rewarding on its own, but it gives new vitality to the quest for more.

My original discovery of The Chubby Chipmunk is documented here.  It’s a great story that has developed and morphed and grown into a part of my life — made more so by the meeting of the woman with whom I began an email correspondence after my first encounter with her chocolate dream factory in October 2007.  Chip Tautkus, owner/chocolatier of The Chubby Chipmunk and I met over coffee in her shop soon after I pulled into town (mere hours after the Badlands sunrise debacle). We’d arranged the meeting over the phone before I’d left Oklahoma. Neither of us could remember the other from my original visit until we sat down and began talking about what all had transpired for me to have walked through her door that first time. We talked non-stop for an hour. I photographed the shop, ate samples, bought stacks of truffles to bring home and departed with a friendship now forged by a bit of face-time and the indisputable knowledge that the connection made via email was just as significant, just as true, just as “easy” as we’d both already suspected.  We could have gone our lifetimes never having met and had the same rewarding connection. That’s one of the enrichments the internet has given our lives. But getting to face each other just that once was the icing on the cake for a lifelong friendship.  I’m so glad for that day in October 2007 when I walked up to the door and read the hand scrawled note that said “Closed Monday for nut gathering”.  Friendship history.

Sugarplum Display

Chocolate Sugarplum Display

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