Duck parades and cotton fields

This past week I had the great opportunity to travel for work. Now, I know that for some, traveling for work is all about the hassle of airport security and small bottles of shampoo but I don’t travel for work that often and those shampoo bottles are still a novelty I stuff in my bag anxiously awaiting for the hotel staff to replenish the counter with new ones (I swear, they appear like magic!).

This wasn’t my first work trip but it was certainly an exciting one. I was off to Memphis, Tennessee for a whorl-wind tour of press conferences at the Peabody Hotel and farm tours in Arkansas (I work in agriculture, yo. Have I told you that before?).

For me and my vanity, the most challenging part of the trip was figuring out how to pack. I was only gone for 2 nights and 3 days and I was traveling with a group of people. Therefore, I didn’t really want to have to check any luggage. I envisioned myself waltzing into the airport with my carry-on and whizzing by all those schmucks waiting to get their bags checked.

But as many seasoned travelers know, there are rules about traveling with liquids, aerosols and gels. What would I do about my HAIR PRODUCTS. I was going to MEMPHIS with curly hair in the middle of JULY! I need several products to calm my frizz on a regular day, how would I manage with soaring temperatures and 80% humidity!

I scoured the pharmacy shelves the night before I departed desperate for a hair solution that would meet the airports 100ml bottle restrictions. I ended up settling with some sort of scrunching gel product for curly hair. For a girl who swears by the volume-enhancing and touchable outcome of mousse, this was most definitely a second-rate product.

But, when no one else in my group checked luggage, I was relieved at my prudent hair taming choices.

We arrived in the birthplace of Rock n Roll with little fanfare. The farm tours took us across the Mississippi River into Arkansas and it was a real eye-opener to drive through some of the small towns there. Small town-Arkansas seems to really be struggling with lots of failing infrastructure and boarded up homes. It made me ever more grateful for how good small-town Ontario has it.

In seeming direct contrast to the trials of rural towns in Arkansas was the green fields of cotton, soybeans and sorghum and the blinding lights of Memphis.

The conference was held at the Peabody Hotel and although we stayed in a very nice hotel down the street, the Peabody was truly spectacular. The hotel’s main attraction is the ducks that swim in the fountain in their lobby. Every day the ducks parade in on a red carpet after taking the elevator down from their home on the roof at 11am (I wish I could sleep in till 11). I was lucky enough to watch them parade out at 5pm as they walked the red carpet home for the evening.

Apparently the whole duck thing started back in the 1930s when 2 men were out hunting. Back then it was legal to use live decoy ducks and after a bit of Tennessee whiskey they decided that it would be more fun to place their live decoys in the Peabody fountain instead of bringing them home to the farm. The prank didn’t have the outcome they expected when the ducks pliantly stayed put and hotel guests oohed and awwed.

I joined past generations and did my own oohing and awwing as the Duck Master led them home. Yes. The Duck Master. That is a job that exists in real life.

I was also lucky enough to spend some time on Beale Street in the evening and enjoy a pint while listening to a live blues band. To be honest, Beale Street wasn’t quite what I expected. It had more of a college party vibe and less of the sophisticated blues vibe that I was expecting. Either way, it was pretty weird for me to be legally drinking a pint in the middle of the street. I kept looking over my shoulder expecting the cops to come shut the street party down.

Fortunately, I left the city with no police record and our flights home were equally uneventful.

I’m excited about more travel opportunities for work. I would really like to see more of North America. There are so many places in both Canada and the US that I would love to visit!

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2 Responses to “Duck parades and cotton fields”


  1. 1 Nora July 22, 2010 at 12:54 am

    I love the Peabody Hotel! Memphis is only five hours from me; such a fun city. Isn’t Arkansas intersting? It’s amazing how varied the US can be at times.

    Also, i love to take the mini bottles of shampoo, especially at nice hotels like the Peabody.

    So glad you got to see the ducks 🙂

  2. 2 Erin July 21, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Jealous! Unfortunately you can’t pack homeless kids in the overhead compartment, so I’m out of luck in the work-traveling department.
    I don’t know how you managed the hair thing. Gel?? Poor thing… I hate crunchy hair.


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I'm Claire. I like to write about ridiculous things.

I love chocolate but don't think cheese and cake belong together.

I often wish it was socially acceptable to wear glitter before 10pm.

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