5 Days – A Scent Journey

It seems that most of us were on the road this week. March & Patty had an elegant, fabulous time in NYC, Portia’s in South Korea…and I ended up in a car, driving to Ft Worth to see one of my all-time favorite customers EVAH!  We could’ve flown but Chloe is still in the throes of separation anxiety and it just didn’t make sense to set her back.  Besides, we have a lot of customers between here and TX and …well energy plants tend to not be in easily-accessed places.   So drive we did.  Walk Drive with me.

Five Days in a car with a Dog.  A Very Big Dog.  The car had an interesting smell combo of dog-drool, dog-breath…and Windex.  See, I hate the sight of dog smears on windows – and the smell?  Ugh.  So at each stop I pulled out my Windex and OCD’d them into cleanliness.  10 minutes later they were re-drooled and stank to high heaven but for those Ten Minutes.  Windexy Bliss.  At one point March and I were on the phone and she was waxing rhapsodic over that JAR barnyardy oudh and I was sitting there, with the VBD having dog sweats, breathing in my ear, El O burping up his breakfast, drool jelling on the windows while we were at a crossroads next to a pig farm.  You want barnyard?  I gotcher barnyard right there, honey!  $600 saved!

Super 8s.  When you travel with A Very Big Dog your lodgings are limited.  And even without the VBD you are in the middle of a cornfield – so whoyagonnacall?  Super 8.  They creep me right the hell out but I appreciate them – were it not for the 8 I would be sleeping in the car with the VBD. So, bless them.   But, ooooweeee and weeeedawggy!  They are just……..and all of them use this detergent that makes me want to break out in hives except I’m usually too tired to do more than slap some Vicks underneath my nose and pass out.  And I didn’t know you could get sheets that thin.

And I have Officially Become My Mother.  OMG.  The road trips with the iffy motels – she would spray the hell out of everything before we were allowed in.   In my highfalutin’ days at the Ritz and Shutters I forgot allll about that.  Now we travel with a can of Lysol and I spray the hell out of every surface before we touch anything.  El O thinks I’m nuts.  I should show him the Blue Light special! LOL! He would never leave home again!

Grassy Verges.  Unless you travel with a VBD or are a hitchiker it is unlikely that you have ever walked the grassy verges along on-ramps to the Interstate.  It’s where you find the McDonalds and the Super 8s and the Waffle Houses of this great nation.  And it’s where you can take your VBD for that potty break.   Those verges are actually pretty interesting, with all sorts of microworlds hiding under rocks and beautiful plants which are nothing more than a colorful blur as you’re gaining speed to merge onto I44, when you’re going walkies you get to see the thistles and buttercups up close.  Ponds spring up after a heavy rain – the smell of toads is marine/saline with a bit of oily dirt thrown in for good measure.  It was one of those evenings where the wind was damp and gusty, the sun was glimmering through the clouds and everything was green and fresh and fragrant.  Even along the on-ramp to I44W

Texas.  There is something just so Texassy about Texas.  When you fly into DFW or Houston you miss all the interesting bits.  We drove in from Oklahoma (who knew there was this big-assed LAKE in Oklahoma?  I didn’t know there was any water there at all.  I figured it was like Mars or Jupiter…because Stupid.  No, really.  I remember a family trip to Oklahoma City back in the late 60s and all I remember is dust.  But right before you get to the TX border you cross this giant lake!  with shale and rock edges – and it rained the entire ride through OK so everything was murky and fabulous and smelled vaguely primeval.   The drive through OK and the northern part of TX smells like oil.  Literally.  Driving down I75 I kept sniffing the air, wondering if our car was on fire.  It’s an interesting smell, sort of like Bulgari Black.

Central Missouri.  Pecan trees just beginning to leaf out.  The gorgeous juxtaposition of the almost-black bark and the light green leaflets.  Grove after grove of pecans.  That must be heavenly, come October when the nuts are ripe.  Russian Olive trees, with that sugar-sweet smell.  My first experience of ROs was in Chicago – a neighbor had gotten 3 of them at a hardware store and planted them along his driveway.  I’d never smelled anything so…..schweet!  It’s almost nauseating, except the scent doesn’t travel far unless the wind is blowing and the wind dilutes it, so it’s kind of like walking past a cotton candy factory (emphasis on walking past).  Wisteria.  Missouri is a border state in more ways than one – come Spring there are a lot of near-Southern microclimates in Missouri.  Wisteria grows like a weed!  Rolling down Hwy 24 we came upon this …..sight.  A charmingly rundown house set back from the street, with a wooden arbor supporting not one but TWO wisteria.  One, that standard, gorgeous purple.  The other, an entrancing Miss Havisham-colored ruined white with brown edges.  As March is with witch hazel and Patty is with daphne, so I am with wisteria.  El O threatened to leave me if I didn’t get back in the damn car, dammit! (it was a LONG 5 days).

Plants.  Ethanol Plants.  The whole purpose of our trip.  Fermented grains.  En Passant and the L’Artisan that smells like farina. Cream of Wheat…no….Malt-O-Meal!  Which I always wanted because my mom wouldn’t get that cereal (we were CoW folks) and then when I got it I was all ?????? but isn’t that always the way?  Sitting in the sun, smelling the distilled grains as it goes into the hopper…. I developed a huge craving for a baguette.  And tacos, made with corn tortillas.


Home.  After 5 days and 2500 miles.  The smell of home.



  • nemo says:

    You somehow make your road trip sounds almost magical. It makes me want to drive down to Texas myself, but I don’t have a VLD… Welcome home!!

  • Jamie says:

    “And I have officially become my mother” hahahahahahaha OMG is right. My son informed me that so have I. 🙁

  • Ann says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your adventures, dear lady! It’s a good reminder that beauty (and oddity) is right under our noses everywhere, if we’ll just stop to look for it. You guys are such troupers and Chloe is very fortunate to have you to love and care for her. Have a great weekend and get some well-deserved rest.

  • Dina C. says:

    What a marvelous travelogue Musette! I could see it and smell it so vividly! I’ve lived in San Antonio as a kid, and my dad has family in Austin, but I’m unfamiliar with the northern part up near Oklahoma. And while I do remember pecan trees, I don’t think I’ve ever seen or smelled a Russian Olive. Here in Virginia, the wisteria is blooming, too. It’s so beautiful. You’re a hearty adventurer to brave the Super 8 for Chloe’s sake. She’s a very lucky dog. Next time I go on a road trip, I’ll be sure to pack antibacterial wipes.

  • Holly says:

    So I was cruising along with you at high speed and enjoying the ride immensely! I was a bit confounded that Slutters would be considered highfalutin’ but I’ve never heard of it so I just chalked it up to being behind the times and not knowing that this is now part of American culture and upscale at that!

  • foxbins says:

    Super 8s! They are horrible for humans but I love their dog policy. I had a little argument at a motel which shall remain nameless about the fact that they would allow two dogs, each with a weight of no more than 50 lbs each but would not let my dog (108 lbs, I was going to lie about the 8) stay. I argued that my one dog was within the combined weight limit and there would only be four paws on their carpet instead of eight, but no dice. Off we went to a Super 8!

  • rosarita says:

    Hi Ms A, what an enjoyable read! I love road trips and I love Texas. My husband was born in north Texas, we both have family in various places, we met when I was living in Houston. You are definitely correct, it is like a whole ‘nother country, which was their tourism slogan for a long time. And yep, I travel everywhere with antibacterial wipes and Febreeze antibacterial spray. First thing that gets hit is the remote. Glad the VBD is coming along!
    Oh, about those grassy verges – I totally get the hidden beauty and I confess to loving Waffle House if they don’t look TOO nasty. It’s the hash browns…..smothered, covered, scattered, smattered , you name it. I lurve them.

  • Queen Cupcake says:

    Loved the grassy verge, Musette! And it is pretty fascinating when one can slow down and observe and sniff the microcosm. Now I have to go look up the Hotel Impossible…I’m scared! (Don’t touch the TV remote unless you disinfect it; I know that.)

  • poodle says:

    I can’t wait to tell the hubband that there’s another person out there who travels with Lysol! I often bring a small bottle of bleach too for the shower or tub. He used to think I was nuts but then I made him watch a few episodes of Hotel Impossible. He never complained again. Lol.
    I’ve learned to overlook some of the doggie nose smears on windows. If I don’t I’d be cleaning that sliding door in the family room every hour. Why must they press their wet little noses right up against the glass every time?
    I went to Texas to visit relatives and loved how Texas it was. I’d love to go back for a proper touristy vacation.