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Book details
  • Genre:TRAVEL
  • SubGenre:Special Interest / Family
  • Language:English
  • Pages:123
  • eBook ISBN:9780984858019

Death by Tartar Sauce: A Travel Writer Encounters

Gargantuan Gators, Irksome Offspring, Murderous Mayonnaise & True Love

by Jules Older

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Death by Tartar Sauce: Welcome to my world. Travel writing ruined my academic career. The day I discovered that other people were traveling the world and getting PAID for it, was my last day that teaching medical students the arcane Coolidge Effect and the mysteries of parallel play held me in thrall. Since that happy day, my wife Effin (who also quit honest work for the writer's life) have traveled this wide world over. As a travel writing-shooting-filming team, we've test-tasted wine in California, skied and snowboarded in Colorado, fled from gators in Florida, witnessed a near-death experience with tartar sauce in Maryland, got punk'd in Montana, drove wayyy too fast in New Hampshire, discovered ancient dirty pictures in New Mexico, got kicked out of an opera in Australia, retched at the national dish in Iceland and had bodily encounters in Japan. I've also lost my wallet New Zealand, my swimsuit in Switzerland, my shirt in San Francisco, my heart in the Virgin Islands. It's all here in Death by Tartar Sauce; rambunctious kids, weird food, insane skiing, nightmare at the opera and too fast cars racing along too narrow roads. They're my strangest, wildest, funniest, most humiliating experiences as a travel writer. Plus, observations on ethics, Arizona, censorship, and the ways I love Colonel McBurger.


The writer's maxim is Show, Don't Tell. So, here's a sample from Death by Tartar Sauce... Loser in Leukerbad Some people travel so easily. They walk lightly on the earth. They exude peace and harmony. They hold onto their belongings. I envy these people. I'm the traveler who loses his wallet, loses his guide, loses his way. I'm a loser. Take my trip to Switzerland. As I board the United flight in San Francisco Airport, I suddenly realize I’ve left my shirt in Security. The flight attendant warns: “Not sure you can make it. Security’s a long way, and we depart in 15 minutes… with or without you.” “I'm a runner,” I lie. And off I run. Fourteen minutes, 30 seconds later I'm back, gasping for breath but shirt in hand. Then, in Chicago, as I board the airport train, I drop the backpack containing cell phone, camera and camcorder on the platform. A Black women’s quartet spots the disaster-in-the-making, directs me to the pack and holds up the train while I dive for my invaluables. Then, they serenade me with a sweet rendition of Just a Closer Walk with Thee. I have always relied on the kindness of angels. When I reach Switzerland, I make my way south on the country’s famously punctual trains. Two trains and a bus later — all on time to the minute — I’m in snowy Leukerbad munching on apple strudel and enjoying it so much that I leave my parka on the back of the chair. The next day, after I've recovered the fanny pack I left at breakfast, I go snowshoeing. The snowshoe experience is lovely and silent…except, what's that roar? A plane? A turbine? No — an avalanche! It’s one of the most chilling sounds I've ever heard. Loud enough to rattle windows, long enough to make me consider my mortality. And there's an intrusive thought: This town has been wiped out by avalanche before. No, wait — the last time was January 17, 1719. Guess I'm reasonably safe, after all. After the hike, my fellow snowshoers and I head for Leukerbad’s modern ice rink for a quick hot chocolate and a long, competitive game of a sport I've made fun of my entire adult life. Now, I'd like to apologize. Curling is not the incredibly lame, totally unathletic, funny-hat-on-the-head faux-sport involving brooms I took it for. There's considerable skill involved. Even that crazy brooming is kinda fun. Think bowling on ice. Picture croquet with a forty-pound rock. But that night, I join a Leukerbad activity that makes curling look normal. It’s called “Kino im Pool.” I have no clue what that means. I do as I'm told: Don a swimsuit and head down to the big indoor/outdoor pool at the Alpentherme. As we relax in the warm waters, the lights dim, and a large screen fills with... James Bond. Yes, it’s Quantum of Solace. I've been to drive-in movies; this is my first swim-in movie... So what do we have here? A perfect Swiss mountain village that lives on water. Some is in the form of snow; some as ice, and the rest in healing pools. How sweet it is. And here's an inside tip. At the many-pooled Burgerbad, a.k.a. City Bath, swimsuits are required. At the tasteful Walliser Saunadorf, a.k.a. Sauna Village, swimsuits are verboten. Not discouraged — verboten. Unless you enjoy a stern lecture in Swiss-German in front of a lot of naked people, don’t bring your swimsuit. Wasn't a problem for me — I'd lost my mine two days before.

About the author

In his lucky life, Jules Older has been — sharp intake of breath — an author, broadcaster, children's author, clinical psychologist, creator of apps, consultant, disc jockey, ditch digger, magazine editor, medical educator, professor, radio commentator, ski writer/editor/filmer, speaker, travel writer, TV villain and videographer. His work has won glittering prizes in Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and the USA. Jules is a husband, father of twin girls, grandfather of three boys. He and Effin live in San Francisco; they have lived in New York, New Zealand and Vermont. Jules grew up behind Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore. Here's his work life in a tweet: Jules Older PhD: psychologist > medical educator > writer > editor > app creator > videographer > ePublisher. Big awards, adventures, fun.