I don’t know about your bucket list, but mine has always included attending a rubber ducky race. At last I get my chance at the 1st annual Rubber Duck race in nearby Belle Fourche. Unexpectedly this exciting race includes some cunning strategy by several of the more competitive ducks.
A shrewd duck grabs the lead right out of the gate and holds onto it throughout this aquatic slugfest. While I am not sure of the duck’s gender (are the males slightly more yellow than the females?), this duck uncannily uses the river’s current to avoid calm waters, obstacles and the Shriners who are supposed to retrieve him at the finish line.
After the race ends, no one calls me to inform me that my duck won. So I assume that means no prize for me. I was sure that the mysterious smiling duck in the lead was mine. But given the circumstances, I could probably challenge the “so called winner” based on its flagrant disregard for race protocol. Of course that is assuming that they ever caught up with that clever, evasive duck.
A Live Report from Race Central
I Feel Young Again!
Click on the photo to hear the Fish Food Song.
After spending all winter and most of last year hanging around folks my own age, I have forgotten how invigorating it is to be around young people. On one of my first days volunteering at the fish hatchery, I distribute free fish food to a visiting preschool group. I am rewarded with a stirring rendition of the “Thank You for the Fish Food” song. Thank you, my little angels!!
Jamming at the Occidental
Before I left Arizona, my musician friends there insisted that I include a trip to Buffalo, WY in my adventures while up North. It turns out that every Thursday evening at the restored Occidental Hotel and Saloon a world renowned Bluegrass Jam takes place. Although the thought of performing in front of so many people makes me nervous, I load up my banjo and make the 3 hour trip over to join in.
Before I leave, I text my Arizona flash mob friend DiMarie who happens to be in Wyoming. She eagerly agrees to meet me at the jam Thursday to show me the ropes. I could never have imagined how awesome this event would be. Of course, the adult organizers put on a great jamming concert. But the local teenage (and younger) musicians stole the show for me. One young man shares with me tips for playing a fiddle. Like each of the other young players there, he plays several other instruments and is a talented performer.
A precious 7 or 8 year old young lady admires my banjo case stickers and assures me that she has collected some of the same ones from Wyoming. I ask if I can see her case, but she tells me she doesn’t carry it with her yet as the banjo is too big for her to play. Instead she has brought her tiny guitar along to play until she grows into her banjo.
I am not sure that I added anything to the Jam Session. There were so many wonderful musicians there playing so many different instruments (piano, squeezebox, harmonica, mandolin, banjos, dobros, standup bass, guitars, fiddles) that I could not even hear my own banjo. Since the key for each song was rarely mentioned, I work on trying to figure it out before each song ends.
God only knows if I ever actually played a right chord. Most of the musicians played standing up, I tried that when I got home. Usually I play sitting because a 20 lb. banjo is a lot for me to hold with just a shoulder strap for any length of time. I cannot believe how much better my banjo sounds when I play it standing up. Not that I play it any more skillfully, but evidently the resonator is more effective when not surrounded by my body.
Now I just have to work on what I learned from this jam and go back brave enough to play my own song in front of all of those people! And a nap!!! I need a nap if I am going to play for 3 hours and stay up past my bedtime.
While I was waiting for the duck race to begin in Belle Fourche, I strolled through the museum there. I came across a display about the Belle Fourche Cowboy Band. Later in a discussion with DiMarie, I learn that she and her husband managed that band for 5 years. What an amazing coincidence!