Editor’s Note: This was written by Map Dot, Kentucky Founder Cory Ramsey in 2013, and has been hidden away on a zip drive in a drawer for the past five years.
“The girls in the back wanna know if you got any more of your cards.” I swallow a pancake and look up at her brown apron. Scratchy bluegrass music plays softy in the background. I’m post hike at a Cracker Barrel in Cave City.
“I’ve got a few more.” I say, reaching into my back pocket to pull out my wallet. “Here.” I hand her all I had. She smiles. “Thanks! They really like them. They like that ‘Coolest guy you know.’”
Indeed. Cool until I had to return to real life in an hour. But it had been a great start to the “Kiss My Tail Tour.”
I’m a welder. But not the kind that deals with blueprints and projects, and jobs well done. Rather, I stare at an assembly line. Lord, Mr. Ford. Nearly a thousand people pressing a button and pressing onward to support life. Seven days a week. Second shift to boot. And America still schedules its entertainment (read: life) for folks that work nine to five. If it weren’t for TiVo, we’d miss everything. Since 2006, sports seasons, movies, plays, concerts, Christmas parades—all missed because “I had to work.” Try dating. You can’t. So, folks that share my lot—including retail clerks, public servants, even doctors and nurses—miss out on the enjoyment sector of life due to a work schedule that benefits increased production (or in the case of health care, necessity). More is made in 24 hours as opposed to just eight. Somebody is getting rich. Not me.
Weekends for many were the normal and expected relief. But in February, 2013, I was told those would be gone, too. Seven day workweeks for an entire year. No days off. Put your life on pause.
I’d had enough. But granted, had to pay the bills. I couldn’t just walk out the door and quit, especially not in this economy. I had to work with what time I had left. The daytime. I decided to take miniature vacations in the morning. If I woke up at six, I had a seven hour window to travel to anywhere, so long as I could make it back to work by two. Christened it the “Kiss My Tail Tour.” Because I didn’t want to see a year go by without having a good time.
So the first trip happened a couple days after the announcement. Up at the scheduled six. Coffee in a stainless steel mug after a quick shower. If was flannel weather. Fair, but not too awfully cold. I was out in red and black plaid, Wranglers, and Red Wing Boots. Breaking the rules on what to wear on a hike. All the fancy magazines for hikers demand we put on synthetics and prohibit blue jeans. Whatever. I took said Wranglers up the road to Mammoth Cave National Park. While not exactly an all out road trip, I did want to spend the morning in the woods.
I won’t bore you with Muir-like descriptions. I hiked. I saw woods. For those unsure of how to picture that, picture woods. Then picture a trail in that woods. Then put me deep in that woods on that trail. More importantly, don’t picture that factory anymore. For the rest of the blog.
Now, look over there at that deer. Deer love the national parks and run rampant due to the fact they’re not hunted. Adjoining private lands are, but most big bucks are wise enough to stay in the heart of the park property. I jumped several on the walkabout. So used to visits that they stopped for pictures and listened while I casually talked to them. If they had talked back, they would have criticized my blue jean choice. One buck positioned broadside fifty yards away with one side of his antlers gone. I didn’t have much to say to him, but did snap another picture.
Imagine that trail again winding along the Green River, where once boats stopped for passengers. Now, only a small ferry to transport cars from one end of the road to the other. It was lunchtime when I hiked back to my car in front of the park visitor’s center. I drove a little ways to Cave City and that Cracker Barrel. Maple syrup on pancakes while I explained my plan to a willing to listen waitress. “I’m going to travel every morning.” I said. “And if a girl wants to come along, great. If she doesn’t, I’m going anyway!” I gave her my card, which became sort of an item in the kitchen and produced requests for more. I had made them years earlier with some TV work I was doing, and under the basic info was the phrase “Coolest Guy You Know.” Yep.
I left and went to the factory, and clocked in for the next eight hours.