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One of Those Suckers

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.

Join the Road Trip Revolution at the Solo Road Trip Facebook Fan Page, here.

An Interview of SRT by Smart Computing Magazine

Blaine Flamig, a writer for Smart Computing Magazine is a SRT fan. I realize the magazine is an unlikely one to feature road trips but there’s a rule that says never turn down an opportunity to spread the word, assuming you have one. I do. So I did. Besides, geeks and nerds drive don’t they??

When I’d worn thin the pages with my interview and got enough coffee rings on the first copy to need the second copy, I finally turned over a few other pages and was pleasantly surprised at the usefulness of the content For instance, the article “What To Do When Your PC is Slow” resulted in my trashing the Sony PC and getting a Mac. “Cloud Backup – How it Works, Why It’s Safe”, saw Carbonite becoming my new best friend. Although I have to add, they are slow slow slow. The initial backup of the new Mac took several weeks – no kidding. I no longer needed the article “Sync Your PC & Mac”, because I no longer had a PC, but “Erase Your Hard Drive”, stepped up in importance for the PC that now sat sullen on the floor,  haughtily held all my secrets in the world. There were more articles that dead-eyed ‘inquiring minds want to know’, but I never got past the titles – figured one more unusual charge and the credit card company would be calling to see what the hell I was up to.

Either I’m a sucker and extremely susceptible to suggestion or the magazine is a mind reader for those of us who know just enough to be dangerous with everything IT, but have lingering questions that no one else seems to address.

SRT in Smart Computing Magazine

The interview:

Smart Computing – Tell us about the blog’s origins.

SRT: I’ve always wanted to call myself a writer and not laugh and stutter while saying it. So I figured a blog would give me reason enough to finally apply the description with a straight face.   Having spent 40 years dreaming about travel and exploration, I married a man with some means and realized the road trip travel style I thought had been a necessity due to limited funds, was instead my preference.  When that nugget of truth surfaced, the blog gained a platform and I, a voice.  I must confess however that I did upgrade my travel vehicle from a front wheel drive 1993 Mazda MX-6 (just enough clearance to not be a turtle killer), to a new Onstar equipped, heated seats, 4-wheel drive Yukon.  It doesn’t shudder when I take it places we really shouldn’t be.

Smart Computing – What draws you to traveling and to solo road trips in particular?

SRT: Dreams. And an early understanding the people who lived just down our dirt road lived much different lives (and I wanted to know how and why).  Well that’s what drew me to travel in general. The solo road trips were born during the hard charging years of 60+ hour weeks in the financial services industry – retail with an ego.  What initially began as a way to cope and survive evolved into a passion.  Heaped on top of the high stress work, I’m a people pleaser. I think some of us are predisposed to be people pleasers and that’s not something you can escape by leaving a career. And I don’t think that label is reserved to women. The only way to escape the cursed fussing over others is to separate ourselves completely.

Short of becoming a hermit, a periodic unplugging from that predisposition is an intoxicating, rejuvenating breath of air that no amount of money can buy. Blog readers have asked me about taking a dog for a companion because they can’t fathom being totally alone.  Of course I couldn’t care less if you want to take a dog. But I will tell you the experience will be completely different. The liberation of making decisions on the fly, as fast as the brain can process, unfettered by the diplomatic process of asking what someone/something wants to eat, see, do, and when, is something everyone should experience once.

About the whole you-go-on-solo-road-trips-so-you-can-do-things-you-wouldn’t-do-at-home, you know the ‘what happens on the road stays on the road’?  Afraid not. Diane Arbus, the famed photographer took that tact, and she wasn’t a very happy person. I’m a fan of her work, but if I’d ever had the opportunity to speak with her I would have strongly advised against the sex with strangers on Greyhound buses. I go on SRTs as a release from being gracious and interested (always sincerely – it’s part of the curse of being a people pleaser).  I don’t want to create any new ties, have any appointments, no one to see on the return trip, lunches with friends, time targets to meet, some strange someone knowing where I’m headed, who I am, etc.. I go to shed myself if only for a tiny, but perfect slice of time.

Smart Computing – Has the blog turned out to be what you originally intended?

SRT: Of course not. I had no original intention anyway, really.  It’s become more impassioned towards road trip travel than I’d originally foreseen. My own beliefs toward travel, road trips, solitude, discovery, have been not surprisingly, honed by the exercise of writing down my thoughts.  The blog has gained focus over time. I’ve become the purveyor of the road trip revolution, at least in my own mind. I believe it’s possible to travel on a walk to the local grocery store. I don’t subscribe to the notion there’s a difference between travelers and tourists and personally feel that entire argument arose from the arrogance of those travelers looking down their noses at those on tour coaches, exiting en masse with cameras in hand. Those who gag on the word tourist couldn’t travel down their own street and do it well.

Smart Computing – What has the reaction been in general to the blog?

SRT: Excellent. Surprising. Unexpected. I’ve been published because of the blog. Had a book deal and movie rights purchased.  NOT. Writing opportunities have however come my way. Being a writer? It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.  Hard work, low pay, nothing glamorous.  It’s interesting to hear the comments about how afraid people are to travel alone, to be alone, to drive off into the sunset alone.  Again, I’m not talking solely about women. The “I really want to do this but I’m afraid to do this alone” is something I hear more from men than women.  It surprised me too.

We’ve become so plugged-in the connections have morphed into chains. Now we don’t know what to do with the gorgeous sunset when there’s no one to text, no one to email, no one to speak to next to us. The power to self entertain may be the greatest death of our technological advancements.

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Here’s the full blurb about SRT that appeared in the magazine’s monthly feature: “That’s News to You.”

 

Join the Road Trip Revolution at the Solo Road Trip Facebook Fan Page, here.

 

Best Road Trip Blog?

i’m terrible at marketing. most comfortable being behind the scenes, i desire to write, not self promote. i understand trade-offs are made. for the most part i’m fully aware what those are. self promotion takes a lot of effort and for that dedication and commitment anyone good at it gets my respect. nevertheless i appreciate, even delight in the occasional pat on the back.

it’s hard to top being nominated by USA Today as one of the top ten iconic American images with the photograph Walkway to the West.

Badlands, South Dakota

Walkway to the West. Badlands, South Dakota.

“Finalist: Walkway to the West in the American High Plains by Tammie Dooley of Tulsa, Okla. The judges, who would have picked this as the second-place winner, were struck by its “great mood – stormy, majestic, dramatic – emphasized by the drama of black and white. It draws you in and pushes you away at the same time, challenging you intellectually.” They found it emblematic of the high plains and prairies so unique to the American landscape. “The whole middle of the country is represented here,” they said.””

but that was sometime ago (November 2009). the ego needs a boost occasionally. even if it’s a trumped up one.

does this mean i can claim to be the #1 road trip blog? seems an ever so tiny stretch. think i’ll just stop at hey, good news!

a believer in sharing the love and that the BEST changes with every perspective and day to day like the tilt of the sun’s illumination on a door knob, here’s the link that lists all the others.  road trip fiends rejoice – you have many choices.

Join the Road Trip Revolution at the Solo Road Trip Facebook Fan Page, here.

Road Trip Badges of Honor

Inspection for new scratches after November SRT

I wanted to call this SOLO Road Trip Badges of Honor, but I’m attempting to gain a broader readership.  If nothing, I’m truthful.

Badges are marked by circumstances and occurrences that have you crying in the moment, but laughing later; sometimes much later.  That have your friends shaking their heads or raising their eyebrows at your bravery. Or stupidity. That create some degree of pride, however misplaced. That remind you you’re alive even at those times you sort of wish you weren’t. That make you laugh out-loud at how juvenile you are and how good it feels. That result in a longing to do it all again.

Many of these of course do apply to any road trip. Like how about returning with a cracked windshield?  A favorite of mine.  Not so much of my husband’s since I drive his truck.  But getting locked out of your motel room during a sprint in the middle of the night to the truck for an extra blanket in nothing but your cotton pj’s, is strictly a badge to be worn proudly by a solo road tripper.

So here we go.  I own each of these. Some I hope to not own two of. Read them. Share your own.

  • A speeding ticket, or even better, one in every state you’ve driven.  I’m ashamed now to admit I used to think this was cool.  Until once, I couldn’t pay my car insurance because the premium jumped 300%.  Not cool.
  • Mud caked on the running boards and drizzled from the top like runny icing on a cake.
  • Being out of cell phone service most of the trip.
  • Not being able to locate yourself on a map for the better part of a day [it’s called lost], and not caring.
  • Being face-to-face with a full grown mountain lion in the backcountry of Wyoming with only a fiberglass flyrod for a weapon.  Which is why I now carry a knife.
  • A wound sure to be a new scar.

  • Getting caught in a Mazda MX-6 in Yellowstone in a blizzard so severe it took blind dependence on a GPS to find shelter.  And the rancher with the GPS.
  • Hiking to the top of what once was a tourist attraction on a hill in South Dakota only to realize [upon descent] it had been abandoned due to rattlesnake infestation.
  • Pushing the Mazda to the top of a hill that was buried under rain slicked, greasy, glistening mud only to lose control turning around, slide all the way off the side to the bottom, and land safely wedged between the hill and a tree.  I checked to make sure the camera was okay before clamoring out.
  • Making it all the way down a 4-wheel drive marked road in less than a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
  • Making it all the way down a 4-wheel drive marked road in less than a 4-wheel drive vehicle and realizing you need the 4-wheel drive to turn around.
  • Waded 2/3 of the way across the Yellowstone River near Le Hardy Falls, water at upper flyvest pockets, holding flyrod up to God – it was the only offering i had, water running too fast to turn around. Had it caught the broadside of me… Only one way to go. Forward. Closest I’ve ever been that I know of to death. A slip of the foot or deeper water ahead and those waders would have inflated… Yeesh. Most frightened I’ve ever been.  Caught some kick ass Yellowstone cuts on the other side though. Then had to wade back.

  • New dings on your camera gear.
  • Being caught in a predicament that causes you to think about what your Will says and make a mental note to update it if you make it home.
  • Knowing you must go forward, because turning back or around is impossible.
  • Hearing the satisfying crunch of gravel mutate to the hiss of a blown tire.
  • One finger waves and head jerks continue when you get home.
  • Hiking out the wrong trail-head and swearing on your Grandmother’s grave you’ll kill the SOB that stole your car.
  • Breaking the law. Okay, it was only a wee instance of trespassing into a cemetery.  But a famous one.

Wild Bill would have been proud.

  • Locking your keys in the car.
  • Sleeping in your car.
  • A cracked windshield.
  • Hearing the door to the motel room lock behind you in the middle of the night as you streak in your pj’s to the car for an extra blanket while the attendant’s rehearsed check-in spiel “there’s no one on site after midnight” plays in your head.
  • Sore muscles and shriveled feet.
  • Mostly unworn clothes in the suitcase – a favorite of mine.
  • Pulling into a deserted town with smoking chimneys, no people, and getting a gut check about the 2nd coming.
  • Thoughts of Deliverance or Race With the Devil burr into your brain while hiking alone [where you shouldn’t].
  • Transferring the entirety of something really bad for you from the plate to your belly and being profoundly happy you didn’t have to offer a single bite to anyone else.

I want this tablecloth.

Join the Road Trip Revolution at the Solo Road Trip Facebook Fan Page, here.

 

Standing Alone

it stands stoic in the field politely (in the way all southern chimneys are raised) requesting a match, the heat of a flame to crackle the kindling it still cradles. only smoke chugging into the sky will return the stories told, the meals cooked over it, the hands scuffed together to help the thaw along. it doesn’t know the structure is gone, its owners long buried on the hill above. it needs only a bit of heat to recall its venerable but singular purpose. i want to give it life, but i only take its picture. its face is a gift to me. i take without giving.

Alone In West Virginia

 

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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