new boots identity crisis

There are times in your life when you need to accept things as they are and not as you would like them to be. This is one of those times.

I have finally accepted that my old boots are done. Dead. Gave up the ghost. Broken. Blown-out.

However, buying a new pair isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sure, I could just go get the same ones I had before, but I’m not the same person I was when I bought this pair in 2004. It’s pretty amazing that they lasted as long as they did. I wore them ‘year round riding my motorcycles in Chicago. Frozen, wet, snowy winters and broiling hot humid summers. I wore them in oven dry Phoenix for four years, but the leather cracked long before that. The first couple of years I took meticulous care of them – cleaned and polished the leather uppers each week. But after a while, the weather just beat them down, I got busy, and the boots started showing signs of wear.

A number of years ago, I should have retired these boots, but I’m stubborn. The soles were still pretty decent, so how could I discard a perfectly good (if holey) pair of boots?

Well, that time has come. I wear my soles out in the heel more than the toe and my gait is finally mal-adjusted to the wear.

When I started my new-boot-search, I was convinced I would get some side-zip Corcoran boots, like I had when I was in my teens.

But I decided I wanted something with better tread for hiking and walking. I like a good Vibram sole, so I started looking at other boots like Logger boots

but those weren’t quite right either. I was having a hard time pinning down what exactly I want from this new boot. I want it to be tough both in quality and appearance, but also feminine and not too clunky so I can maybe wear them to work, but also be a good beat-around boot for working in my garage.


This all got me to thinking about why I started wearing boots in the first place. I got my first pair of combat boots, used, from a back-woods military surplus store in a small town about 30 miles from my house. I was 15 years old, and full of hot temper and righteous indignation. I needed to be able to kick things. Punk rock and combat boots filled that need for me. As a girl, wearing the boots was also somewhat political (in that ‘the personal is political’). I was a tomboy punk rocker and made no bones about it.

As the years went by, my relationship to my boots changed, but the style didn’t. I lost my anger, but still liked the boots for their wearable function, protection, and tomboyness, plus the anti-authoritarianism and push-back at the status-quo that they still represented to me.

The last time I bought boots was in 2004. That was twelve years ago. A lot can change in twelve years. I’m still essentially the same person I was back then – my values and beliefs haven’t changed considerably, if anything, they are more refined – but my relationship to the larger world around me, and my own vantage point has shifted. I am no longer angry, I have less need to push-back against the status-quo but still want something that will protect me on my motorcycles, is comfortable enough to walk for hours in, still has an edge of my childhood punkness, but also provides a feminine aspect that wasn’t a requirement before.

There is also an aspect of “how do I want to be perceived?” It’s funny to me that most people I know were self-conscious in their teens, and as they’ve grown older, they’ve gotten less so. I was the opposite. I was pretty un-self-conscious in my teens and twenties, but as I’ve gotten older and have a professional career, I have been trying to find that balance between who I feel I am and how I wish to be perceived. Which then brings me back around to: who do I feel I currently am? I’m definitely not the same punk rock girl from 1987. I’m not even the same person who bought those boots in 2004.

I’ve often been accused of over-thinking things. I suppose this is a good example. It’s just foot-wear, right? But what we wear, how we style our hair, even our posture, are all things that are taken in and perceived by the world around us. It is also a self-conscious conversation with ourselves. Why do we dress up to go out on the town? It’s not just to receive admiring looks from strangers, it’s also to pump oneself up and feel good. “Daaaamn, I look good tonight!” That’s your self-esteem talking to you. We have different ways of experiencing that. In my younger years, if I felt tough, I felt good. Some people like to feel sexy, some to feel strong. And we wear clothes that reflect how we feel. If you are like me and tend to be a t-shirt and jeans person, that is a reflection too. I could choose to wear orange tennis shoes because they are comfortable too, but instead I pull on my boots. It’s all a choice.

Which brings me back to: What boots should I buy?


Just rode this home from Tempe, Az to Prescott, Az.

I’m exhausted now! It was quite an adventure.

Left Prescott this morning at 10:00am with two friends. We got to Tempe at about noon. The seller had forgotten to have the title notarized (necessary in Az) so he left to the bank to do that while we hung out on his front porch.

He returned, we did the exchange, and off we went! My two friends drove my truck behind me the whole way…just in case.

Good thing too!

I pulled over and we discovered that the emergency brake was on! I hadn’t checked it because the seller had told me that he never uses it. Turns out, he showed it to one of my friends… and didn’t take it off. No wonder it was handling so sluggish. We moved the rig into the shade to let the shoes cool off.

We got through Phoenix and onto Grand Ave / Hwy 60 when my (suicide) shifter stopped working. It was floppy!

That area is an industrial part of the Valley, and fairly barren. I pulled into a large, empty lot.

After spending ten minutes or so trying to locate any near-by motorcycle shop, a tall, thin man sauntered around the corner of the warehousy building which shade we’d been using.

We all had a moment of mis-trust, but when he saw the Ural and heard about our plight, he took a brief look at the shifter, and said, “I can fix that.” He made a slight motion for us to follow him.

I followed after him and as I rounded the back corner of the building, I saw… a workshop! Cars! Motorcycles! Tools!

The guys, “my pit crew”, pushed the rig around and into the shop.

A welder who looked suspiciously like Brandon Frazier’s younger brother, checked out the problem with pit crew Cliff – the suicide shifter’s previously not-so-well-done weld had broken.

Brandon’s brother (who I found out later is a pro-dirt bike racer!) made quick work of welding it back together. He did a great job and the linkage was tight and sure!

They even have a race team for the one guy’s kid!
Punk rock!

How crazy fortuitous it was that my shifter broke where it did!

It was really windy on the back highway roads, and I was parched. We stopped for gas and a look-over in Wickenburg and were on our way.

After a slow ride up Yarnell, and an even slower ride up the twisties of the White Spars, got home and Pugsly greeted me in her excited pug way.

I’ve been getting her used to the Doggles, so soon she shall ride with me!

Overland Expo

This weekend the Howlers Vintage Motorcycle Club made an expedition to the Overland Expo outside of Flagstaff at Mormon Lake.

We started off from Prescott at 8:30am and stopped for lunch in Cottonwood, Az. I highly recommend this place!

After lunch, we decided to traverse Schnebly Hill Trail.

We went two miles up some very rocky terrain and my left leg gave out. We decided to stop for a break. It was hot and one of the guys was on his street bike, so we decided to turn around.

We took a water break once we got back to pavement

and continued on up lovely Oak Creek Canyon road instead.

Once we got to the Expo at Mormon Lake, we set up camp.

I have no idea what this thing is, but someone does some crazy overlanding in it.

This was just one of the interesting vehicles I saw at the Expo. 1940’s Willys (I think that’s the year)
Before I was born, my folks had a Willys pick-up truck that my dad built a camper on the back.

There were a lot of doggies traveling with their people, and plenty of water and treats all over the camp.

My folks were there with their lovely restored Avion cab-over camper and treated us to a dinner of home-made Indian food.

Arizona sunsets are amazing.

In the morning we went searching for coffee. There was a converted ambulance coffee truck close to our campsite! They even had soy milk for me!

We spent some time just hanging out at our campsite.

There were many vendors at the Expo, including a number of well-traveled authors. We had the pleasure of meeting Ted Simon, who wrote “Jupiter’s Travels

I made some new friends.

This guy and his dog enjoyed the warm afternoon with naps.

There were a number of characters at the Expo, including this fellow who was riding around with his kitten in a tank bag. The kitty was un-phased and seemed to enjoy the ride.

Nested among all the shiny adventure BMW’s, KTM’s, and new Urals, were some fun vintage bikes.

We spent the last evening hanging out at the Mormon Lake Lodge restaurant and bar.

Sorry for the dry update – the camping was great, but I didn’t get much sleep for the few days we were out and I’m still pretty tired. 🙂