Dad, Paddler, DJ, MC, Picture Taker, Traveller. Telling stories one adventure at a time
I am a mobile disc jockey, planner, master of ceremonies, scouter, and dad in O'Fallon, Missouri! see also Elkhorn, Nebraska / Indianapolis Indiana / Dubuque, Iowa. I believe in love, and the oxford comma.
I bought new long sleeve technical shirts on my trip this year. My weight has topped out near the all time high. I have a stack of XXL, but they are bunchy. I bought three in Portland. I bought two more online when I got home. They had a really nice Cardinal Red, which are rare. I only have one other and it came with a St. Louis Cardinal’s logo and was pricey.
I have been poking around the internet, because someone can make custom shirts.
Here is my breakdown of what makes a good long sleeve technical shirt. I will be standing by for an invite from Ma Boyle.
My Perfect Shirt
Button Down Collar is required. I have a couple that have a double collar that unrolls. Pretty nice. I probably would not add that feature in my perfect shirt.
This is the top back of the shirt. Most technical shirts have a mesh inside with vents. No velcro should be anywhere near this area. No gussets. No Billows. No mystery place to accidently put your arm when putting the shirt on.
The Placket is the front of the shirt. Simple is better.
The breast Pockets
A Single button-down, Non-gusseted breast pocket on each side. It would be better if they were just decorative. The point of the pockets is to minimize the nipples.
The Buttons and Buttonholes
I need an extra button hole south of the collar button. Most of the time buttons are evenly spaced. I think there has to be a option between Disco Steve and Button Up to the Neck. I need a middle option. I want to see a version of shirt buttons using the golden ratio or something.
Regular fit, longer like a dress shirt. I need to bend over with this shirt.
I need a tailor to explain what darts might accomplish.
I like a good roll up sleeve. They don’t stay rolled up. This is where I want my science dollars spent.
I like two button cuffs.
Regular fit, longer like a dress shirt. I need to bend over with this shirt.
Here is the Review that Started This…
Men’s PFG Bahama™ II Long Sleeve Shirt – Big
The Headline – Pretty nice choice from VERY LIMITED OPTIONS.
I moved up to 3x. This is basically the only option. I like the colors, Red, White and the darker grey. Basically the best color options I have found in ages. I would like button down breast pockets. They aren’t available. The collar buttons down. I like that. The sleeves roll up with loops. That is great. Bonus pockets on the breast pockets are unnecessary. Gussets on pockets are unnecessary. I own about 30 Columbia Long Sleeve technical shirts in a couple of different styles.
Gun Stuff – Don’t come crying to me when your vehicle is robbed. If you advertise that your vehicle is full of guns, everyone who can read can figure this out.
Dope Culture – Don’t come crying to me when your vehicle is searched and seized by the cops. There are still states with cops enforcing drugs laws.
Ghost Hunting – unless you are driving the Ectomobile from Ghostbusters or the Mystery Machine from Scoobie Doo… just don’t. I am going to assume that you have never heard of pareidolia or dust. Grow up.
Zombie Hunter – Zombie stuff is usually on a crap car that needs skateboard stickers. Occasionally, it shows up on nicer rides. End Times Toyotas and Mall Crawlers. I like zombie movies as much as the next guy, but limits. Grow up.
Politics – I can usually figure out your politics based on the car you drive. If you are driving a car that doesn’t match your politics, you shouldn’t be wasting money on bumper stickers. Grow up.
If I had a dollar for every rooftop tent, I saw this trip, I would have enough money to strap a rooftop tent on my own truck. But I wouldn’t because they aren’t aerodynamic and most of the time they are overloading the base vehicle or at the very least increasing the tip over risk of your Jeep.
Sprinters have a lot of ways to strap your gear to the outside. When I am king of the world, you will only be able to strap one sport to your sprinter at a time. They now make Surf and Paddle Boards racks that hang on the side of your already super wide Sprinter.
Tailgate Cargo Carriers
This is another winning option, if you want to overload the rear suspension AND ruin the handling of your ride. This is a great place to start. A loaded, big cooler can weight 300 pounds. Hanging that weight at the far end of the ride can really mess up your handling. If the back of the car looks like a low rider and the front looks ready to hop off the road, you are not doing this right.
Jerry Cans/Water Cans
Water weighs 9.71 pounds per gallon. Not aerodynamic.
I love recovery tools. I keep mine inside my vehicle.
I am pro-bike. I like the tailgate pads for bikes.
I love kayaks. I don’t like to see kayaks poised to leap from the roof of your vehicle.
it all matters
Total Vehicle Weight and Aerodynamics are related to Fuel efficiency. This summer gas prices were crazy. We were getting around 28mpg in a Toyota Highlander Hybrid.
Do your own research. The more crap you hang off your vehicle weighs it down and makes it less aerodynamic.
A 2022 fresh off the floor, four cylinder Jeep Wrangler is getting 29 mpg highway. A 2022 Toyota Tacoma is getting 23 highway. Those are just advertised.
I have two Jansport Euro Saks that are around 20 years old and still awesome.
I have another six bags to replace them with that I use when ever I change things.
This trip I was carrying
The North Face Base Camp Voyager Duffel – 62 L – as my clothes storage, we packed like nine days worth of clothes, and we had to dress up a couple of times. This was a big trip and
Timbuk2 – Classic Messenger Bag – which is pretty much my default weekend, overnight, laptop, EDC and a
Golite 28L – for rain gear and down jackets, and empty it is a daypack and a
A dry bag just in case I got on the water. An inexpensive dry bag is also awesome for trash and recycling cans on a roadtrip. An inexpensive dry bag is also awesome for washing clothes on the road. Really awesome. Maybe better than a sink. I am really quite pleased that I figured this out. Put a little Dr. Bronners in there. Put some water in there. wash, rinse, repeat. I dry stuff by rolling it in a towel. I think it it less messy than trying to process a couple of days of clothes in a sink or tub. Certainly uses less water.
We have a Yeti Hopper BackFlip 24 Soft Sided Backpack Cooler that sits in the backseat for beverages and snacks. I don’t know if they are still made. Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment found it at an REI garage sale. She is a genius. It is hands down the best back seat cooler ever. It replaced an RTIC soft side with the worst zipper in the entire world.
I have two Snack Bags. They are both ridiculous. I am embarrassed to even mention the brands. Every extra reusable grocery bag will do the same quality of job. Fine.
Black Hole 25L Tote which I got an a garage sale and a
Northface tote that was VERY reasonably priced and I use it every week for groceries. Don’t let people tell you I am not having fun.
I have arrived at an age where my pants don’t stay up. Any time I hold an object in my hands heavier than a coke can, my core contracts and my pants fall immediately to my ankles.
I think this lack of a ledge to support my pants is genetic. I was helping my dad move a large piece of furniture recently. By the time, we had lifted it, our shorts were at ankle height. We waddled the furniture to its new location.
I embarked on a three part, long range mission.
One – Find a better belt.
Two – Wear shorts that stay up more readily
Three – Carry less stuff
Part One – Find a better belt
I really feel like my page formatting calls for a paragraph here. For continuity.
The Current Belt – Bison Belts
I have used Bison Belts for a long time. They come in many shapes and sizes, but basically they are all nylon webbing belts with an Aluminum D ring friction buckle. Infinitely adjustable. The issue is that the friction lock or the webbing starts slipping after a while. You can tighten it up when you need to “get some work done” or loosen it when you are trying to finish that Tomahawk steak, but not a lot of in between. https://bisondesigns.com/
This is literally the best option I have found. I have a closet of Bison belts. I need to work on my weight and my core and do some butt exercises. In the mean time….
The Next Belt – Off Brand Stretchy, but similar
I did another round of research recently. I found a belt with similar features and a bit of stretch.
Hoanan D-ring Tactical Belt, 2 Pack Elastic Stretch Military EDC Heavy Duty Belt. Here is an ad to shop at Amazon for which I will receive nothing…
It probably won’t last as long as the Bison Belts, but it works. It has a little “give” to it. It passes the hold a Diet Coke can at arms length test. You can adjust it on the fly. The elastic gives it a little more hold. There is a gap between getting ready for your pants to fall to your ankles and the moment your pants fall to your ankles. This belt when tightened to carrying and object in from of you tolerances will hold a lightly loaded pair of shorts up for most of the trip.
I went down the Grip6 rabbit hole. Basically, a web belt with interchangeable buckles. They don’t tension very well compared to Bison. They don’t “stretch” Nope.
This is advertised to people like me on Facebook. It doesn’t work very well. It is elastic, but it wants to be pre-tensioned all the time. It also doesn’t cross your pants button/snap which is asking for a lot from the the most tenuous part of holding up your pants. Belt loops are for looping belts not pre-tensioning a Velcroed bungee strap. The Button on my jeans and pants are attached with a gossamer strand of hope.
I should have done some more research. I was a little overly enthusiastic about this one. Don’t bother.
I also bought a pair of suspenders. I don’t like them either. They work great it you are always doing the one thing they are adjusted to do. Sitting, standing, bending; choose one. Mrs. JonTheBruce found them hilarious when I was wearing them.
Part Two – The Death of Cargo Shorts
Last year, I started moving away from Cargo Shorts. It has been a long time coming. Me and Cargo Shorts have done some stuff. I bought multiple pairs of board shorts or stretchy shorts from Costco. Board shorts are usually quick drying. Cargo Shorts are usually cotton. Board Shorts have minimal pockets. Cargo shorts have plenty of extra pockets for carrying crap.
The Costco shorts don’t last forever. This year they had O’Neil board shorts in limited sizes that I couldn’t squeeze my butt into. I found extended sizes at Amazon from Quiksilver. Quiksilver Union Amphibian Hybrid shorts. So that is what I am rocking this summer. I really want to like these, but one pair is piling like my grandma’s velour after two weeks.
I can’t figure out pronouns. I get tripped up by the language of inclusion. Maybe dropping the cargo shorts are my ally move. Also, I make a conscious effort to carry less crap in my pockets, so don’t read too much into it.
Three – Carry less stuff EDC
Here is my Every Day Carry
Apple Phone 13 Pro
Bose SoundSport Wireless NFC Earphones In Ear Bluetooth Headphones – I really like these a lot. Wireless but attached to each other, so when one falls out, the other might hold long enough to catch it.
On the road, I talk to myself. Usually silently, sometimes quietly. Sometimes I use my hands or head or face to make a point or draw a conclusion (while talking to myself). Mrs. JonTheBruce always asks me what I am doing. I find these interruptions VERY annoying. Rather than start a days long fight, I tried a different tactic this trip. I answered her honestly. Told her what I was thinking about, sometimes I even told the truth. Made things less fighty and more productive.
Getting ready to write
I usually take contemporaneous notes, like FBI Director James Comey, during the course of trip day. Or try to jot down some stuff that forms an outline to write around when I am ready. This trip, Summer 2022, is that. I broke some stories or hunks on the road. Mostly I am using my jotted notes as stems to filling in the missing words based on my notes. I think publishing at the end of the night before going to bed is more gonzo, more real, more urgent.
Mrs. JonTheBruce is a big fan of sleeping and doesn’t enjoy the clicking of keyboards. Merryweather is a much sounder sleeper. Adjust according to your environment.
Making notes on the road from the passenger seat is ok with the onscreen keyboard. Not advised from the drivers seat.
The drivers seat
My Overland Rig, the F150, has Apple CarPlay and you can talk to it. It takes dictation. IOS speech to text is pretty great. You can answer the phone and carry on a conversation with people.
The Toyota Highlander has the worst piece of crap built in microphone imaginable. It’s been a total pain in the ass. I didn’t realize how bad until I had my phone hooked up to the car and tried to use it. Mrs. JonTheBruce and I have had many, many failed conversations over the last 4 years because of the Toyota Highlander microphone failings.
In the Highlander, I had to disconnect the phone from the car via bluetooth then use the built in mic or connect my Bose Headset (which works great) to use speech to text. Even worse, the Toyota has the most aggressive automatic connect I have ever seen. It is like the car has the psychic ability to automatically ruin a phone call by connecting automagically to Bluetooth.
At the desk
I brought a MacBook for something else on this 2022 trip. Honestly, for the weight and bulk, I would rather have a wireless keyboard that works with my phone. The MacBook allowed me to deal with photos from the other cameras I brought, but I probably shouldn’t have brought them anyway. If you are bringing extra cameras, why not throw another couple of G’s worth of computer into the back of your car. It’s super secure. You would need a rock or a stick to break in and grab all the stuff. You can also haul all that gear into a hotel room every night. It’s just another bag. More stuff, doesn’t make me less crazy. When it comes to keeping my sanity and keeping track of stuff on the road. Less is more.
Use the iPhone with a Bluetooth keyboard
My current favorite is the Logitech K380 79-Key Compact Multi-Device Wireless Bluetooth.
It works great and packs small. It has a physical, sliding on/off switch. It takes AAA batteries. It is deviliciously simple to forget to pack though. Here is a link for which I will not be paid…
Skip the iPad. Skip the laptop. Pour the champagne. Pour the champagne.
I have been writing for a long time. I still wish I had a working copy of Wordperfect 4.2 at times. Here are the things that work for me.
I love Textpad on Windows. https://www.textpad.com/home I am still looking for something like it on Mac. Textpad is a barebones places to type words in a pleasing order. Not a lot of distractions. This is the way to get things done, when you might be tempted to adjust the type size or color or margins or ohhh. how about digging in the tab settings. The best trick I have for writing is to write with as few distractions as possible. Check out Textpad. Textpad also has really advanced search and replace functionality. Notepad++ is a decent backup choice.
I like textEdit on MacOS. Textedit comes with the MacBook. But make sure it doesn’t switch to Rich Text Format. I just spent 30 minutes using different tools to find a weird Carriage Return that was being treated like a line break in WordPress. Not cool. It hasn’t caused issues before now though.
I use Notes on the iPhone and MacBook and iPad (Cross Platform) for taking notes and writing hunks. Notes syncs across devices, so I can see them on the Mac or iPhone or iPad. This requires stable, working internet. Stable internet wasn’t a guarantee on this trip. Notes can also be used for writing. I swear I found an app I like for writing on an iPhone. I didn’t use it at all this trip and I don’t remember what it is called.
Gmail is pretty handy. Allegedly, there is an offline mode. I actually used Gmail for editing today. It is way more robust than notes or TextEdit or the WordPress editor. It caught stuff that I missed in WordPress. Pretty handy. I haven’t looked into how it would work with no internet.
[Just checked. Editted this story offline, in Chrome on Gmail. It works. Google Workspace. Pretty handy. I would still do the bulk of the writing locally, then copy and paste to edit in Gmail. Always back up. Always. Always. Always. Backup]
Notes is my ride or die cross platform. It is very handy to have all the notes on any of the devices I might be using at the moment. It works locally and syncs to my other devices. I use it for keeping track of shows we have watched. Recipes. Notes on writing. I have the measurement of things stored in case I need window curtains or a rug.
Microsoft Word still works. I am a Microsoft Word and Microsoft Office professional. This is my default choice when I need to do adult things seriously. I am trying to avoid subscriptions. I don’t need a ton of features to write words that will be published on a dedicated platform.
Apple Pages is part of the free iWork Suite that comes with Apple Proucts. It syncs across platforms. I should try it out. People have nice things to say about it.
Eliminate the Distractions
The apps I mentioned above are pretty distraction free. Just get the words down. Don’t get caught on procrastinating stuff. Things are never going to be perfect. The screen, your chair, your bullshit excuses aren’t getting you any closer to have written something.
It isn’t always easy. Hunter S. Thompson used to type out the words to Great Gatsby to get his fingers moving. They don’t have to perfect. They just have to get down on the page. You can fix them later. Keep practicing. I get stuck in the jazz of it. The rhythm, the flow, the haiku, the beat. Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road” has some of the finest strings of words, I have ever read. It is poetry that serves the narrative. At this age, I can deliver some ideas almost fully formed. Once they are down, they can almost always be made better. Sometimes worse. I get too close to ideas sometimes. I lose the thread. I think this is what my friends call “Being Jon Bruce”.
I am always looking for a great picture. Something that tells a story. A great moment. Photo Journalism Style. Sometimes, I see a moment that I want to capture, but don’t because it just isn’t my photo to take.
At Cheyenne Frontier Days, there was a grandma feeding her grandkids and some grateful, exasperated stranger mom’s hungry kids snacks. They were lined up on the top of the stands, adorable and happy. Very focus on snacks. I had a spark of inspiration. Rather than wheel around with my camera and intrude, I asked the grandma for her phone so I could take a picture. I wish that I could share that picture with you, but it is not mine. But it got taken and I feel better knowing it exists. C’est la vie!
Taking Pictures on the Road
Keep it simple. More cameras equals more complexity, more places for images, more images to process.
A modern, up to date, iPhone is a powerful camera and it makes videos and panoramic pictures and nice portraits. It also takes great selfies. It does amazing in low light.
After my 2022 trip, I processed, rated and reviewed more than 2500 pictures. I still have 1800 pictures from the iPhone and two Cannons.
98.54% iPhone Pictures
135 of 137 (98.54%) of the best pictures I took on this trip were iPhone pictures. 98.54%. This is because it was the only camera I carried ALL the time. This is also because the iPhone takes great pictures. Everybody has an iPhone. Camera gear looks expensive and can attract unnecessary attention.
If you need another camera, bring a friend with an iPhone. Lower your base weight. Friends can also haul camera bags. Probably not.
If you need a better camera, buy a new iPhone.
Unless, you are taking pictures that require special lenses.
Super Duper Telephoto
iPhone doesn’t do eagle photography. A Sigma 150-600mm would have been awesome in San Francisco when I was trying to take pictures of the wild parrots. Mrs. JonTheBruce got some decent iPhone pictures of the parrots because she could see them with her normal color vision. I couldn’t figure how to frame them, because I couldn’t see them in the trees. I would have done better with my giant camera, because I could zoom.
It might do hummingbird photography. I don’t have hummingbirds that like to get that close to me and stay still. I get great results with the same 150-600, but my cousins kid’s got an amazing picture free hand with an iPhone.
I got a lot of great pictures in the Redwoods with my Canon and a 10-18 wide angle lens. The whole series is Canon goodness. I don’t have any Apple pics to compare.
Some how I started this year’s trip without my soap. I use Dial White Antibacterial Soap. Almost exclusively, I have used it forever. It works for me.
I have used a basic big box store plastic travel soap holder forever. It works, but not really well. Improving your soap situation should be about half way down a one bag packing journey, after the merino wool foot pajamas and before the titanium poop trowel.
Ziplock bag $.05
A zip lock bag of soap kind of sucks. Dial White will get soft and unusable if it left wet. The bag will get nicked up and fail at some point. My grandma would reuse ziploc bags, wash them out, turn them inside out to dry and reuse them for food. I am not opposed to re-use, but on the road I lack the infrastructure to chase down replacements if there is an issue. So this is a non-starter. I should add a photo. Soap in a ziploc is gross. Don’t do it. Just NO.
The quick fix – $5 or below
When we got to Salt Lake City we stopped at 5 Below and I bought soap, a travel soap container, and a cheap first aid kit with a waterproof enclosure.
I put the new soap in the travel soap container. I was basically done. It did occur to me that this was maybe not the best solution. The plastic soap container is bulky, pretty easy to break and not cool.
The first attempt
The cheap first aid kit soap dish would be awesome. It looks cool, like a waterproof plastic wallet from 20 years ago. It is see through. Two issues. The one I bought was a little too small for a regular size bar of soap. It also broke on the way to the car from the store. It might work if you are bouncing from hotel soap to hotel soap. Probably not.
Soap can be resized
This is important to remember! Most people have been in a fancy soap store where they will cut you a chunk of soap. The last one I went to doesn’t sell a decent travel soap container. They also put their products in containers that don’t protect my wife’s nice stuff for their soap and liquids and semi-liquids. If you are carrying anything softer than dial bar soap get a container with a gasket or a screw top and a gasket and put that in a ziploc bag, break out the Tupperware.
By the Way
Bar Soap is not a liquid. I am not a law and order guy, but I spend a LOT of time worrying about what the TSA thinks about my carryon liquids. About 10 years ago. I realized I could fill up my quart bag with 3 ounce containers of liquids. Bar soap might be wet, but it ain’t a liquid. TSA don’t give a hoot about your bar soap.
To the Soap cave!
Even with the spotty internet, I started researching what are the cool kids doing to manage their soap? I want to be influenced. Some where between Andrew Skurka and Martha Stewart and Real Simple is the answer I need to be using.
What makes a good soap container?
It holds the soap you want
You can see if there is soap inside
It isn’t a millimeter larger than it needs to be
It protects your soap from the rest of your luggage
It protects your luggage from the rest of your soap
It should be manageable in the shower.
Matador Flatpak Soap Bar Case – $13.99
Do you even Matador? First thing I learned is Matador. https://matadorup.com/ Matador is doing cool stuff in this space. If you have throw around money and want to blow up on the socials, buy a Matador Flatpak Soap Bar Case. Buy it from REI.com. The Amazon price is crazy like $10 more.
The Matador Flatpak Soap Bar Case is sleek, and clever and beautiful and probably works awesome. It has a spot to clip it to something. It has “Dry through technology”.
My only issues are two. One. It isn’t see through. Two. I been in the outdoor game for a while, Son! That Flatpak Soap Bar Case is a waterproof phone case for an old iPhone that you don’t use any more. Or looks like one. I got a hundred of those. Some of them even have windows. The only thing worse than not having a soap case on a trip is having an empty soap case on a trip. My fakes don’t have “Dry through technology” but worth a try maybe.
Coghlan’s Soap Holder – $2.50
Let me knock out the REI purpose built option. You should own something from Coghlan’s. They have about a million products under the Coghlan’s name brand. Most of these fine products are available elsewhere for less money, but only a little less money. Coghlan’s has probably saved a small outdoor business or a camping trip. I kind of enjoy looking through a well planned rack of stuff that includes many of Coghlan’s fine products.
I don’t buy much of their stuff, because I already own five waterproof match containers. I already own four kinds of outdoor matches. I am always buying the marshmallow skewers. Just in case.
Coghlan’s probably distributes the finest version of a cheap Soap Holder. Buy this one. BUT… It isn’t see through. So buy it from the big box store save your next Coghlan’s purchase for fireproof matches.
Big Box Store Soap Container – $2.50
It’s probably around the same price. You may already own one. It will break if you drop it. It should be see through… Don’t buy an opaque soap holder. Friends don’t let friends buy opaque soap holders. It’s bigger than the soap it holds. That volume could be carrying an extra pair of earbuds and a chapstick. There isn’t a hotel bathroom anywhere on the planet that can securely hold that thing on any surface. It will fall and break or will fill up with water and the soap will get ruined. Or both.
Wirota bar soap accessories – $19.99
Amazon’s suggestion when you search for Matador. It looked like fun and had a bunch of accessories. It looks very partially waterproof. It has a zipper. This is not the most reassuring feature in a waterproof or water resistant thing. Otherwise it looks bombproof, it’s either a kayak bag or fancy fetish gear. It is not see through. It doesn’t have a window. It stands up on it’s own. It has a spot to clip it to something.
Pass. I am going to use this for something, but not soap.
The accessories that it came with were pretty useless except the silicone soap rest which was very nice.
Repurpose, Remix, Up-cycle.
Chums Old Waterproof Phone Case – Free for me
I have a bunch of old waterproof phone cases, even Coghlans! This one by Chums happens to look the most like the Matador. The first thing that came to mind. It holds a bar of soap. It has a window so you can see if soap is inside.
It packs flat so it doesn’t take as much space as a hard case, at least not in the same way. I am going to guess this particular case is 10 years old. I am going to ignore the price on my soul for hauling this around for that long. The butcher’s bill for my inability to let things go is huge.
I am pretty sure it is still waterproof. It protects the soap and the luggage. The dry bag rolling closure and clip is taking up some space that could be better used somewhere.
Boom new favorite.
Dishwasher Safe Reusable Ziplock Bags Silicone – $1.26 each when you buy 10
I bought these because I couldn’t find the next option which I knew was in the house somewhere.I actually got an assortment of sizes. This was the closest to the right size. It is still the wrong size. I got bigger sizes that will be useful for something, maybe.
Holds Soap, See Through, A little big. Protects Soap and Luggage
This is a pass for me. It would be great for something longer. Like a toothbrush and toothpaste or a tricky tube of tripe ointment or an unguent or a tincture. I went to the trouble of buying this just to as a proof of concept. They make other kinds like…
(re)zip Lay Flat Leak Proof Standup Bag – $4 – free for me.
Actually way more expensive because I am disorganized. I bought more only to find this one the moment I hit the buy button. I am not sure which one of these I own. I bought a pack a while ago. It is definitely the stand up version. Holds Soap, See Through, A little big. Protects Soap and Luggage. It will actually hold two bars of Dial White Soap.
My new favorite solution.
Up cycle your own
Look around your own spaces. You probably own a cell phone case of your own. Maybe an old one. Mrs. JonTheBruce gets all kinds of clothing in zip closure bags of varying quality. Some of them would work great for damp clothes or towels or soap or shampoo or liquids.
Take care of your soap and shave kit
Before you pack it all up. Get the extra water off the soap and out of the container. Make sure shampoo and conditioner and liquids are secured and double sealed.
I got a recommendation from my friend to check out Rand Custom Hat’s in Billings, Montana. https://www.randhats.com/index.html At the time, I got this tip there was no way in the world I would be in the area. Life is funny like that.
Rand’s is awesome. It’s not huge, but they had several hats in 7 3/4″ handy. One of them came home with me. I also got measured for a custom hat. The lead times are not trivial and the number of beavers that will need to be shaved to make my hat could fill a bag of jokes and puns.
Usually, I have the biggest head in the room. Luckily, there was a Samoan kid from British Columbia with what the boss head measuring guy described as a honest eight inch. I also introduced the Samoan kid to Fatheads Eyewear. https://fatheadz.com/ The eyewear of choice for fellas with big heads.
So the next time you see an incredibly stylish Samoan guy with a cowboy hat and cool sunglasses. You can thank me personally and partially. Minds were blown.
Folks will tell you that cowboy hats are all different and fit people differently. This is patently untrue. Every cowboy hat is the same as every other. I took some photos for comparison and to prove my point.
Luckily, Hanna, who made a custom hat for my buddy, was able to steer me into a hat that was virtually indistinguishable from the others. She also ran in the back and made me a custom Stampede Strap. Rand makes all the kinds of cowboy hats. Literally you pick the material, the crown shape, the brim shape, the brim front, color, accessories, and size and color. They have more options and choices than the family standing in line in front of you at Starbucks. Like millions. They also have Hanna, who can help you find the thing that fits on your head like you were born into it.
I love luggage. Red Oxx Manufacturing has been making luggage that has been on my radar for a while. They make travel gear for the road, the rail, the air, the dirt. It’s pretty heavy duty. Massive zippers. Awesome grab handles.
I have had them saved on Google Maps for years. My only problem with luggage is that I have too much of it.
and a heart full of desire. If you are wondering if Red Oxx is awesome, and bomb proof and feels as good as it looks, it is. it does. It passed all the tests. Not going to be the lightest option, but definitely going to be the last bag standing.
The Nomad Shave Kit is the home for my new Tevas or a pair of Merrell zero rise in it. It’s perfect for back up shoes or flipflops and accessories. probably great for shave kit, too
I woke up to breakfast with the other guests. Way elevated compared to free hotel breakfast. Blueberry pancakes with identifiable blueberries. We ended up sitting around a single table. Interesting group of folks.
I did the two hour tour and got paired up with Kayleigh, a first year raft guide, and a nice family from the Research Triangle. We talked birds. Got to see some nesting Ospreys. The river was pretty awesome. The Yellowstone River is pretty big, we powered over a rapid onto a giant boil, the size of swimming pool, that made me happy I hadn’t decided to run it in a boat. This was a good day for a two hour family friendly rafting trip. Flying Pig launches from downtown Gardiner and shuttles home. I would recommend them.
We got to look at the river which was recently flooded and running 20 or 30 feet above our heads. A flood which effectively locked Gardiner out of Yellowstone National Park for the summer. The eight miles were pretty scourged clean, but there were remnants of a buildings and furniture on the banks. Several homes got upgraded from waterfront to perilously clinging.
I got a nice sandwich for the drive at Tumbleweed Bookstore & Cafe which was exceptional and the kind of local eats you want to run into on the road.
Got to see my first bison. They were ranched bison, but bison is a bison. Having the opportunity to visit someplace with no crowds is really the best version of that place. Even if you have to deal with fire smoke or can’t get easy access to a National Park.
I could have back tracked two hours and gone through the park . I didn’t. I turned East. Towards Billings.