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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.

An Atlantic Blue Moon in Black and White

After getting 22 hours away from home on our holiday road trip, my husband and I decided we were ready for our own bed. So we drove home in a day and a half.  It was a good decision – 10 nights on the road without our Tempurpedic mattress threw us into foam-deprived withdrawals.

One thing I didn’t miss: the computer. I made one post about a lonely, homeless fireplace from West Virginia, haven’t tweeted, facebooked, flickr’d, emailed, or stumbled. And all reading was done the old fashioned way – a book.  It was nice, but I’ve missed you.

Thank you for reading the SRT blog during 2009, for your comments, your encouraging kind words. Without you the blog would have been discontinued during one of my many road trips and never resumed even after a great night’s sleep in my own bed. You made 2009 a year I won’t forget.

Here’s wishing you and your family a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. – Tammie

IMG_7054 copy

New Year’s Eve 2009 blue moon taken on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

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

13 Reasons for a Road Trip: A Pictorial

The majority of my best photos have been taken on road trips – some within 50 miles of my house.  Most were stumble-upons; moments I couldn’t have planned, or ever forget.
The sun is shining here for the first time in several weeks.  Looking at these photos and watching the leaves tumble makes me smile. I hope these inspire you to hit the road this weekend!
Catoosa Blue Whale

Blue Whale. Catoosa, Oklahoma.

Leo the Cowboy

Kansas.

The Family Sedan Goes Hunting

The Family Sedan Goes Hunting. Yes, I was driving when I took this. And yes, the entire animal was in the back seat. "Hey, kids, help me unload this thing!"

Grasshopper's Delight

North Dakota. The Enchanted Highway.

Donalds

Somewhere in the Midwest.

Carhenge

Carhenge. Nebraska.

Scott's Bluff, Nebraska

Nebraska. Scott's Bluff.

Kansas? YES, Kansas

Kansas. Monument Rock.

First

South Dakota. Mt. Rushmore.

The Badlands?

South Dakota. Badlands.

Devil's Tower National Monument, Wyoming. High ISO FILM - see the moon?!

Devil's Tower National Monument, Wyoming.

Yellowstone Winter

Yellowstone. My secret spot.

Deer Crossing

Montana.

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

The Annual Itch

Just about the time we’re contemplating a jail break from the confines of our air-conditioned homes, the light and air begin signaling fall. The itch to wander off the beaten path starts gathering steam as the sun starts changing its slant on the Earth. Our thoughts, as we look upon an errant runner of Bermuda grass, turn suddenly from being annoyed by it, to the desire to be like it – free to meander and roam.

Those far-off looks in our eyes and that nagging restlessness have only one diagnosis – wanderlust. The condition has only one cure – ROAD TRIP!

So get out a map (or not), buy some sandwich fixin’s, gas up the car, clean and fill the ice chest, throw in some fishing gear (just in case), recharge the camera battery and load up.

Barnsdall, Oklahoma barn

old dairy barn, north of Barnsdall, Oklahoma

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** This is a reprint of an article I wrote for Urban Tulsa and will be of most interest for you Okie readers. HOWEVER, anyone desiring to see some of Oklahoma, in this case North and East Oklahoma, should save this for a future trip. Some of you do want to see Oklahoma, right?!

The specifics (directions, mileage/driving time, and recommended side trips) are here.

Scenic Road Trip #1 – East Loop to Jay

This loop heads east from Tulsa towards Locust Grove on Highway 412. The route delivers three state parks, Lake Eucha S.P.(pronounced ooochee), Spavinaw S.P. and Snowdale S.P.; takes you past both of Tulsa’s water supplies, Lake Eucha and Spavinaw Lake; will have you checking out one of the earliest permanent settlements in the state at Salina; puts you on a portion of Rt. 66 on the return trip (from Claremore to Catoosa); and provides a photo opportunity at one of Oklahoma’s best known curiosities – Catoosa’s Blue Whale.

Scenic Road Trip #2 – North Loop to the Tallgrass Prairie

Heading north of Tulsa, this road trip pivots around the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, the largest protected remnant of tallgrass prairie left on earth. The grass reaches its full height in early fall and grows among 650 other plant species. Look for large brown animals roaming. As many as 2,500 head of bison, the largest land mammal native to the Western hemisphere, live on the prairie. Osage Hills S.P. is along this route, as is Bad Brad’s Barbeque (918-287-1212) in Pawhuska.

Scenic Road Trip #3 – South to the Talimena Drive, Southern Variation

This is the classic fall circuit for Oklahomans – Talimena Drive.  This variation diverts south to Broken Bow after completing the length of the Talimena Scenic Byway. From Wilburton to Broken Bow, the entire stretch is a designated scenic drive.

The trip passes five of our state parks and one National Recreation Area – Okmulgee’s Dripping Springs S.P., Wilburton’s Robbers Cave S.P., Talimena S.P., Winding Stair Mountain N.R.A., Broken Bow’s Hochatown S.P., and Beavers Bend State Resort Park. To do this trip justice, plan for two days.

Scenic Road Trip #4 – West Loop to Little Sahara/Anadarko

This western circuitous route encompasses two of Oklahoma’s most surprising topographic wonders – the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge and Little Sahara S.P.

The sea salt of The Great Salt Plains was deposited by an inland sea that once covered the area. The world’s only known deposit of selenite, a crystallized form of gypsum, is found here.

Ancient deposits of quartz and volcanic rock have eroded into the sands dunes of the Little Sahara. Approximately 1,500 acres of the shifting dunes were set aside for the state park.

The wide loop meanders past five state parks: Keystone S.P., Great Salt Plains S.P., Little Sahara S.P., Watonga’s Roman Nose S.P. and Hinton’s Red Rock Canyon S.P., with several others located in the surrounding areas.

The entire route from Little Sahara S.P. to Anadarko is a designated scenic drive.

Nicoli’s Italian American Restaurant in Anadarko is worthy of a refuel (for you, not the car). Call for reservations at 405-247-6340; open only on Friday and Saturday evenings 5 – 9pm. www.scaffettas.com.

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So your appetite’s whetted for Oklahoma travel?  Order the 2009 Travel Guide from www.travelok.com. You can also order free maps and a glove box full of additional state-wide resources.  Want to know more?  Steve’s Sundries (in Tulsa) carries, Off The Beaten Path Oklahoma and Oklahoma Curiosities; both worthy of any Okie library.

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


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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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