You can tell a lot about a man by looking at his boots. Looking at my boots will tell you that I am either severely lacking in funds, or severely lacking in judgement. A day of riding in perpetual rain across the Canadian plains has left me questioning my footwear selection.
I don’t remember the exact circumstances that led me to purchasing these boots. I do remember that it was about 7 years ago, it was about 1 am, it was at the north Lincoln Wal-Mart and I paid around $25 for them. Just as it is a stretch to refer to EZ-Cheez as a dairy product, these footwear are classified as “boot”only by the loosest of definitions. Though I know I should probably be wearing something more suitable for a trip of this magnitude, I can’t bring myself to replacing them while they still maintain even a sliver of functionality.
As a sick joke, these boot makers wrote “Waterproof” on the side in all caps. But as any experienced rider knows, there is a distinct difference between “waterproof” and “motorcycle waterproof”. I did try to plan ahead, ordering a pair of boot covers a couple of weeks before my departure, but they ended up being too small to slip over my boots.
Each of my riding days had been nearly perfect up to this point, but rain was all but guaranteed for this day. Our goal was to make it to our hotel in Canmore, just outside of Banff National Park.
The rain commenced just as we were departing and lasted just about the entire day. It was the first real water test that all of my gear would endure. Most everything failed. Water breached the sign on the back of my bike, Sonic began to get discoloured, my gloves and boots were like sponges. Even my passport which was in my leather jacket, 3 layers from the exterior, was wet and warped.
The cashier at a gas station offered her sympathy for my plight and I responded that it was still better than being at work. That was a total lie, but it seemed like the right thing to say. We continued on across Alberta and I had neat experience on the way into Calgary.
A few days ago I shared the post I made about my Sonic whirligig on a site called Reddit. The post got pretty popular and has been viewed 270,000 times. It was the top submission in the DIY category.
We hit the outskirts of Calgary near rush hour and traffic had slowed to a crawl. Suddenly, a guy on a Kawasaki Versys pulled up next to me. He flipped up his visor and began pointing at Sonic. “Is that from reddit?” he asked. We shouted back and forth a little bit, both of us surprised by the chance encounter. “Small world, eh?” He sped off, obviously more comfortable driving in the rush hour traffic than I was. He has since contacted me through this blog. I must admit, it is probably the most famous I have felt in my whole life. 🙂
I did not want to leave Calgary until I had a boot-rain solution. It will be a long time until I am in another city this size. We found a bike shop on the north side of town: Universal Cycle. The guys there were very helpful, both in getting me equipped and in suggesting our route. The boot covers cost me more than the boots themselves, but they will be worth every penny.
At their suggestion, we decided to take the more scenic route to Canmore, the 1A. It was soggy and semi-miserable, but the scenery helped brighten my spirits.
Don’t we look miserable 😦 …….. 🙂
Upon our arrival in Canmore, I realized what a fancy resort area this is. It’s not the kind of place that the Anderson family typically stays for the night. It’s the kind of place we would visit for the day before retiring to our mosquito infested campground next to the old drainage run off (but hey, it’s cheap). Our room had a fireplace and a nice view of the mountains. It almost felt too nice for the nature of this trip.
As much as I’ve cursed my boots, there is part of me that also feels attached to them. I see some commonality between us. We’re both a little scuffed up, we’re both past our prime, we both smell like rotten eggs sometimes (this analogy is getting a little off track). I’ve already learned that I am a sorely deficient vessel for the rigors of this trip, but a major theme of this adventure will be pressing on despite less than ideal circumstances. Despite their deficiencies, I’m still thankful for my boots. 🙂