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A Yellow, Rubber Duck

June 3, 2019 - Abroad

It’s a yellow, rubber duck.  A simple toy with hopefully fond memories from a happy childhood. But like a daisy chain necklace, a rubber duck isn’t as simple as first it appears.  

A friend’s partner recently passed away and while the friend and I haven’t been close since high school, we’re both somewhat aware of the path of each other’s life.  Her’s has been difficult, and my heart aches for what she’s now going through.  As I laid in bed last night thinking about her, a memory of innocent times popped in for a visit.  We made daisy chain necklaces.  It was a favorite adornment of ours and it bugs the hell out of me because I can’t recall how to connect the last stem to the first stem to make it hold together round our necks for an afternoon of play (I wonder if she does?).

I lost sleep thinking about it and the problem of that crucial last step became tangled in the heartache I feel for her loss. I cried for her.  And part of me cried because I couldn’t remember how to connect the ends of those stupid necklaces – those things around our necks that looked like shit the next day but bound together our youthful years. The memory of the joyous simplicity of those daisy chain necklaces suddenly became one of pathos. And complexity.  

My friend and I spent a lot of time together, but as farm kids, we spent a lot of time on our own as well.  My favorite toys were used for imagined travel.  A Viewmaster.  A fortune teller of folded paper with crayon dreams. A Magic 8 Ball, of which one has always, and will always, sit on my desk. These simple toys were magnificent travel tools in the hands of my imagination.  And so it was from this perspective of appreciation for simple toys that I approached the yellow, rubber duck during a recent solo journey. 

I don’t recall playing with a rubber duck in the bathtub.  Too young I guess. But this rubber duck, while possibly and superficially at home in a small body of water, is for grown ups — grown ups who day dream a lot about travel. From the first time I read about this thing, this travel trophy, this simple, rubber duck that has nothing to do with bathtub playtime, I wanted one.  My Magic 8 Ball and the paper fortune teller and the Viewmaster needed a new, deceptively naive, travel toy.  

They say the journey is all that matters. As I think about my friend, mostly I say that’s a BS lie.   But this time, on this journey, they were right.  

 

The yellow, rubber duck given to Lufthansa's First Class Passengers at their First Class Terminal/Lounge in Frankfurt, Germany

Not-so-simple, yellow, rubber duck

First class rose and early refreshments

On the way for the rubber duck

a reflection in the plane window

Everything At Once

caviar with all the accruements, and no skimping either

the rubber duck better be worth this

Lufthansa's first class cheese course

no words left

Lufthansa's first class breakfast course

Breakfast

the Porsche that provided transfer

The Transfer

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Red Lodge, Montana

May 20, 2019 - Montana

Travel to Red Lodge takes homework. 

Red Lodge attracted and held my attention from the first failed attempt to visit.  Heading there on the Beartooth Highway from Cooke City, Beartooth pass had closed for the winter on that first attempt. It was October, which in Oklahoma is far, far away from winter. It’s also a long distance from Oklahoma, so the disappointment to have gotten oh-so-close was intense. A challenge to drive there? Historic hotel?  Missed first attempt? Yes, please.

As a result, the 2nd attempt was not off the cuff. Which translated to a plane ticket, a rental car, a hotel reservation, and yes damn it, homework. The Pass, having been the road block on the initial trip to the area, was my main destination; something to be conquered. But Red Lodge’s ironic-for-a-resort colloquial atmosphere was so personal that for the first time I walked into an art gallery as if an avid and resourced collector.  Then, had the ease and confidence to ask for layaway. The allure of the Pass faded as I ate and drank, stared at the sparkle of stars in the night sky, and strode confidently into more art galleries.

It’s tempting to compare Red Lodge with my first love, Jackson, Wyoming.  The more accurate comparison is to contrast the two. As I walked the streets, the light and shadows combined in a way that defied gravity and I felt unencumbered and lighter by 20 pounds. It was easy to be in the moment; to be mindful of sounds and scents and images; to be blissfully unaware of yourself and even more liberating, of those around you. Jackson is western kitsch wrapped in high-end furs. Red Lodge is laid-back in a genuinely friendly way that Jackson lacks, and emotionally evocative as only postcard perfect mountain ranges or blissfully pristine beaches, command.  

After 4 days of unplanned, spontaneous wandering, I went to Babcock & Miles and said, “I’ve come to see the Pass.”  They obliged with a picnic basket piled with adventure worthy food and wine – the perfect reward for a destination requiring some homework.

 

Red Lodge's Beartooth Pass at 10947 ft Elevation

Beartooth Pass

 

Snow Plows Clear 40 ft drifts on Beartooth Highway

Billings Gazette

 

40 foot drifts accumulate in Red Lodge's heavy snow fall winters

Snow Sideboards

Red Lodge Culinary Adventures, Mountain Style

Red Lodge’s Babcock and Miles

An assortment of my Red Lodge picnic by Babcock and Miles

Great Food and a Map = Adventure

 

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An Order of Fries

January 6, 2018 - Perfect Slices of Time

There are times when nothing less will do than a proof beverage and an order of fries.

Heads up neophytes, ginger is not a substitute for proof alcohol.  “An extra shot of ginger”, she said.  For the ginger tea she ordered.  I’m on my 2nd martini and contemplating an order of fries and can’t stop an audible chuckle.  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 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. 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 the ladies, and as they discuss whether it’s a Restoration Hardware product, they speak fast and animatedly like I would after a few ginger teas with healthy splashes of vodka.  And the fries?  They sit neglected and now cold.  Unappetizing.  Understand that I would eat them, but it’s sadly apparent that the women will not, and the fries will be tossed.  In the garbage.  Aside like red meat left in the back seat of a hot car.  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.   

 

An Order of Beautiful, Golden, tragically abondoned French Fries

The Fries

 

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She Ate Well

she was 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 in the olives.  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.  

The dining room where a 7 year old demonstrated how to enjoy pizza.

A lesson learned in this dining room

 

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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.  

“Yes.”

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

 

 

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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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