Great Shoes for the Wanderer, Teva Mens Riva Leather Event

I know footwear pretty well.  I spent over 24 years as an Infantry Marine hiking with heavy loads on my back in just about every “clime and place.”  Good quality footwear for the Traveler, Adventurer or Wanderer is a must!  After I find, and wear a great pair of footwear till it’s about worn to pieces,  I usually say, “I should have bought two pairs, because now that model is discontinued…”  Before “Teva” discontinues the “Mens Riva Leather Event” model shoes, I will try to buy another pair.  The Riva Leather Event shoes are really, really comfortable and very well made!  I think at $140.00 (REI price) they are some of the most expensive footwear I have ever purchased (excluding “Gore Tex” Boots), but I am completely satisfied with them!  I recently looked at the “Teva” website and they apparently only have them in “bouillon” or (brown) now, but the pair I bought at REI are green and black (see picture below).

Above, the “Teva Mens Riva Leather Event” shoes, great for the Wanderer!


Personal Hygiene Tips, for the “Wanderer.”

During a recent flight from Washington, D.C. to Houston, Texas, I found myself waiting in the TSA security screening line for about 45 mins with 100+ other travelers.  An attractive, 30-something year old gal was in front of me with her carry-on suitcase.  On-top of her suitcase was a large see thru, plastic zippered pouch, filled with about 30+ different “make-up” / “cosmetic” items.  My initial thought was, “wow, I’m glad I don’t need all that stuff…” (maybe I do and my friends are just too kind…)
Then I began to think, what items do I take when I travel and what are the absolutely necessary hygiene items one needs while traveling (or at least what I need).

After much consideration, I’ve decided to give my list of “necessary hygiene items” for the “Wanderer.”

– Baby Wipes and Rubbing Alcohol;  

Baby Wipes with Rubbing Alcohol added are a great way to freshen-up after a long trip and are a wonderful alternative to the conventional “shower.”  I buy unscented baby wipes in the 100 count packs for about $3.00 on-line.  I use them to give myself a “cowboy” bath (sometimes called a whore-bath, but not appropriate for this blog).  I add about a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol to the baby-wipes before I clean my armpits, crotch, buttocks and feet.  The added alcohol helps prevent, athletes-foot, monkey-butt, jock-itch and just plain-old-smelly-pits!  Caution, if you already have the early stages of monkey-butt or jock-itch then the rubbing alcohol might cause a brief but intense, “my junk” is on-fire sensation but this sensation will only last about 10-15 seconds (consider yourself warned)!

– Toothbrush with SteriPod;

A clean mouth is a happy mouth.  Oral hygiene should be an important part of every “Wanderer’s” daily routine.  I have traveled for years with those little plastic toothbrush caps to keep my toothbrush “clean,” but eventually my toothbrush always got that nasty crud on it.  Then I found “SteriPod,”  the clip-on toothbrush sanitizer.  It’s basically a toothbrush cover with safe anti-microbial properties.  I have found that the average “SteriPod” lasts about 3 months before it start to lose its antimicrobial properties.  I also recommend the small, travel size, toothpaste tubes.  They tend not to explode as easily as the large tubes and if one should have a blow-out, you have other tubes as back-ups.  Don’t forget dental-floss too.

– Anti-Biotic Ointment;

In the tropics, a small cut can easily become a major medical issue if not properly treated.  A small tube of anti-biotic cream, like “Neosporin” or “Bacitracin” can help prevent infection.  I apply a small amount of cream to any cuts before they become problematic, remember “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

– Body Wash;

I travel with a few small plastic bottles of body-wash.  I find that body-wash alone works fine to clean my entire body and hair, no need for separate shampoo, body-soap and conditioner, one bottle does it all!

– Travel Towel;

I like the micro-fiber travel towels, they are compact, lightweight and very absorbent!  Google, “travel towel, micro fiber” and you will see way too many options.

– Sunscreen;

I am of “English-Origin” and am pretty fair-skinned.  “Sunscreen” is a must for me!  I like the small travel size tubes of sunscreen you can find in the “travel section” of your local Walmart.  They cost about $1.49 each and are small enough to fit in your pocket.

– Lip Balm;

I take a few tubes of SPF 15 or higher lip balm on all my travels.  Chapped, cracked lips are no fun!

– Baking Soda;

I take a small box of “Arm and Hammer” on all my travels.  I use it to help settle an upset stomach.

– Nail Clippers;

Your fingernails and toenails will continue to grow no matter what time zone you are in, don’t forget the nail clippers!

– Electric Razor / Disposible Razor:

I know that for most men, shaving is optional when wondering the globe.  Probably so, but ….I like to shave my face on a daily basis.  I take a Panasonic Wet-Dry Shaver and a few disposable razors on my travels.

– Vaseline:

I take a small tube of “vaseline” on all my travels.  In the event of an outbreak of monkey-butt or a rash in the crotch region, vaseline is great to have!

– Laundry Detergent;

An essential part of personal-hygiene is keeping your cloths clean.  I recommend a small plastic bottle of power-laundry detergent.  The advantage of powder is that if the container explodes during travel, you are not left with a sticky mess in your suitcase or backpack.

Above, my toothbrush with the “Steripod.”  A must have for the “Wanderer.”  It keeps your toothbrush “crud-free” for about 3 months!


Packing for a Trip and Securing Your Valuable Stuff While Traveling:

Above, 2 available options for securing your money, passport and credit cards while traveling, I highly recommend one of these wallets.  Make a pickpockets job as difficult as possible!

Quick Tips;
1.    Travel with only what you can afford to lose.
Nowadays everyone needs at least some money, a passport and the clothes on their backs for international travel, just about everything else is nice to have items.  Carefully decide what you take on a trip, if you cannot afford to lose something, like that beautiful gold necklace your Grandma gave you….leave it at home!
2.    Carry on your person or in your carry on bag, those things that are absolutely necessary.
There are certain items everyone needs to travel, like a passport, credit cards, cash, essential phone numbers, medications…etc.… It’s a good idea to keep these essential items in a carry-on bag or on your person when traveling.  Luggage gets lost more often than you think, so don’t roll the dice and take a chance that your checked-bags will arrive at your destination! 
3.    Locks are to keep “honest” people out, if something is not with you at all times or under your supervision you do not control it!
No one is safe from a determined thief!  If someone wants something bad enough they will find a way to defeat a lock and steal it!  That means if you don’t have an item on your person at all times or under your close supervision, you don’t really have control of that item!  I’m not trying to scare you but rather, “remind” you that if something is really important to your travel plans like your “passport,” then carry it with you at all times in a secure wallet around your neck or in a waist belt!  You need to be the judge, if you have a modern electronic room safe in a 4 star Hotel; your valuables are probably safe.  On the other hand if you are in a Hostel sharing a room with 5 new “friends” you might want to have your passport, credit cards, and cash on your person, even when you sleep.
4.    Travel as light as possible
Travel should be fun and as carefree as possible.  If you have all sorts of expensive electronic devices and other valuables you are worried about getting stolen, you cannot have a stress-free trip.  Travel with only what you really need, in other words travel light!
More Travel Advice:
A seasoned traveler told me years ago,
“If you can’t afford to lose something then leave it at home, don’t travel with it.”
The point being, carefully look at everything you plan to take on your trip and decide,
“Do I really need this?”
Quite often, we take things on trips that we think we are going to use and they never leave our suitcases.  Make an honest assessment of all the items you plan to take and take only what you will use.  Then ask yourself, “can I substitute a less valuable item for something more expensive?”  A wristwatch is a great example; can you afford to lose the expensive one?  Or will a $20.00 dollar watch serve your purpose?  Jewelry is another example; can you take costume jewelry instead of more expensive pieces?  The answer is probably yes you can.  Like my friend said, “If you can’t afford to lose something, then leave it at home, don’t travel with it.”
Now that you have determined you can survive a 2 week trip to Rio de Janeiro without the $2500.00 Rolex, and that the $25.00 Casio Watch will meet your needs, let’s talk about how you travel with what you really need to take on your trip.
Make a List:
I recommend that everyone make a list of everything they plan to take on their trip, to include the clothes on your back and the things in your pockets.  When you have a visual list of everything you plan to take, it’s much easier to take less than you thought you might need!  Then take the list and prioritize it from the most important items to the least important ones.  If you find that you don’t have room for everything you planned to take, you can leave less-essential items at home!
An example list might include;
1)   Travel Clothing (it’s never a good idea to show up to the Airport Counter naked)
a.    Jeans
b.    T-Shirt
c.    Socks / Underwear
d.    Leather Belt
e.    Hoodie
f.     Ball Cap
g.    Rain jacket
h.    Cell phone
i.      Casual Shoes
2)   Passport with Visa (worn around neck in secure wallet or in Waist Money Belt)
3)   Wallet
a.    2 Credit Cards
b.    $1000.00 in Cash
c.    Emergency Phone Numbers
d.    Travel Itinerary
4)   Carry-On Bag
a.    Lap-Top Computer
b.    Medications
c.    Nutrition Bars / Snack
d.    Water Bottle
e.    Power Cords with Adaptors
f.     Extra Socks / T-Shirt / Underwear
g.    Handy-Wipes
h.    Water Purification Device
i.      Extra Cell Phone Battery
j.      Pocket Camera
k.    Small Combination Lock
l.      Sun Screen
m.  Insect Repellant
5)   Suitcase
a.    2 Pairs of Travel Pants
b.    3 T-Shirts
c.    3 Pairs of Socks
d.    3 Pairs of Underwear
e.    Umbrella
f.     Sweater
g.    Sandals
h.    Swimsuit
i.      Hiking shoes
j.      2 Dress Shirts
k.    Extra Belt
l.      Dress Slacks
m.  Travel Towel
n.    Toilet Articles
o.    Step Down Power Converter
Now, take the list and send it to yourself in an email and also print a copy and carry it with you.  That way if your bags get stolen or miss a connecting flight, you know exactly what you have lost.  Also, make sure your bags are clearly marked with your name and contact information.  Another good idea is to mark your bags so that they are unique to you, that way nobody will take them at the baggage claim by mistake.  A bright bumper sticker or piece of ribbon secured on your bag them might be enough! 
Securing Valuables;
I recommend you invest in a good quality waist money belt or an around the neck wallet.  That way you can carry the most important things like your passport, credit cards and cash securely!  I wear one all the time.  I prefer the waist money belt because it can easily fit under the waistband of my trousers or shorts and it makes a pickpocket’s job virtually impossible.  Since you want the “secure” wallet to be a secret, I recommend you carry spending cash in your pocket so you need not access the money belt in public.  If you do need to access something from your money belt, go to the restroom and do it privately!  That way the potential thief doesn’t know what you are carrying.  Hiding valuables in your shoes or socks or for women, in your bra, can be uncomfortable and you will look weird always touching these areas to see if your valuables are still in place.  With the waist money belt, you can confirm the belt is still in place by simply placing your hands on your hips!
Remember it only takes a thief seconds to take your unattended items at a café, on a train or in a hotel lobby.  There are thieves that actively patrol these areas looking for easy targets.  Don’t be the easy target.  As mentioned before, keep your bags under your supervision and keep important documents on your person!


Stuff for the Wanderer, Water Purification 101

Everyone knows that water is life!  It doesn’t matter how tough you are, no man can survive long without water!  All smart “Wanderers” should have a plan to ensure they have access to safe drinking water during their travels.  I do not recommend simply relying on bottled water at your destination, it’s always prudent to have the means to purify your own water for drinking.  
I relied on what I thought was “safe bottled water” while hiking the “Inca Trail” in Peru in 2003 and ended up getting quite ill!  I bought what was supposed to be “bottled water” while hiking.  It was “bottled water,” but what I didn’t know was that the vendor on the trail was the one who “bottled” the water straight from the local stream.  The water was complete with parasites at no extra charge!             I learned the hard way about the importance of safe drinking water!  Please learn from my mistake and  take your own water purification equipment when you travel.
The same methods that your local municipal water-works uses to make water safe to drink at home are available to the smart traveler at a reasonable cost.  I take 3 methods of water purification when I travel, a micro-filtration system, an ultra-violet pen and chemical treatment tablets.  I don’t use all three methods together, but certainly could if I felt the need in situations where the water source was extremely contaminated.  Normally I use the micro-filter system first and then the ultra-violet pen to ensure my water is safe.  The filter removes over 99.99% of viruses, bacteria and other nasty critters and the ultra-violet pen kills anything that may have gotten through the filter!  If you are really worried about your water supply, you could then chemically treat it in a third step!  
The picture below is what I use; 
On the right, a “LifeSaver 3000” micro-filtration system.  It operates very well in even the most extreme conditions because it is a positive pressure system.  Meaning you hand pump it to force the water through the filtration membrane, thus speeding the process.  No more waiting 30 mins for gravity to carry the water through the filtration process!  
In the middle, the ultra-violet system I use, a “Steri-Pen Adventurer.”  It is very handy because it came with a solar charging case, therefore I always have the means to keep the batteries charged and ready to purify water.  
Finally, on the left,  I have “Portable Aqua” tablets to chemically treat water if necessary.  
It’s always smart to have a back-up plan to your back-up plan when it comes to purifying your drinking water…..   

Above, the “Portable-Aqua” chemical water treatment tablets, the “Steri-Pen Adventurer” ultra-violet water purifier, and the “LifeSaver 3000” micro-filtration system.  I have used them with great success in Latin America and Africa!


Great Stuff for the Wanderer, EXOFFICIO Underwear!

If you have followed my blog since it began about 2 years ago, you know that I like to post recommendations of equipment / gear / clothing etc… basically things that I think are great for someone with a mobile lifestyle or for someone living off-grid or in an RV for example.  It’s been a while since I last recommended something, I have been meaning to do it for a few months but the internet connection at my hotel here in Malabo has been really “hit or miss” and mostly “miss” lately, so posting any pictures has been really slow.  This weekend the hotel changed the password which appears to have freed the network from all the band-width thieves in the Plaza across the street.  For the time being, I have a pretty good connection, so I’ll try to post a few recommendations.

I have traveled a lot during my life, I have been to some “really nice places,” and I have been to some really “less than nice places.”

My accommodations have ranged from the luxurious,

The “Sofitel Grand Hotel” in Amsterdam, on the high end of luxury….

To the less than luxurious like,

A snow-cave in Norway, a two-man tent on the peat moss bogs of the Hebrides, Islands of Scotland, or a GP tent in the jungles of Sok Son, Cambodia.

One thing that all these places have in common is that the frequent traveler eventually needs to have his or her laundry washed.  No matter how rough and tough you are, no one likes to smell you from 30 paces.  When you can smell yourself, it’s definitely time to wash you drawers!

Speaking of drawers, that’s exactly the piece of clothing I am going to recommend, that’s right, underwear.
I know many men will say, go commando, I don’t wear any underwear….. blah, blah, blah… that’s your call, but I recommend that all smart travelers wear underwear.
Why?  You never know when you will be in a situation where you will want to change your outer clothing, like going from a pair of long pants in the jungle to a pair of shorts on a nearby beach.  If you have on underwear, you can change clothes without offending the local population (or in some people’s case “frighten the locals”) or without getting arrested by the local police for indecent exposure.

Ok, what’s my recommendation, it’s EX OFFICIO boxer briefs.  They have been the best underwear ever invented for the mobile lifestyle.  They are comfortable, rugged, quick drying and don’t look like they fell out of grandpa’s closet!

Above, a pair of my drawers, the EXOFFICIO boxer briefs.  Perhaps the greatest pair of underwear ever invented for the frequent traveler.  I can wash them in my hotel room sink and air dry them in about 8 hours.  If you notice, I have a “bungie-cord” type clothesline.  It has also been a great piece of travel gear!  It’s a “Rick Steves” travel clothesline.  You can hang it anywhere!

EXOFFICIO Boxer Briefs………………. about $30.00 a pair
Rick Steves clothesline…………………….about $15.00
Clean Drawers………………………………..PRICELESS!


Cooking in a Thermos

Tropical Storm Isaac has brought rain and clouds to Central Kentucky for the past few days.  As you know, solar cooking doesn’t do as well in cloudy conditions.  So today I decided to cook lunch using a single burner camp stove and my “Nissan Thermos.”  The “Thermos” functions much like my thermal cooker with a few differences.  The inner-pot of the thermal cooker can be placed over the cooking flame and once the contents are rapidly boiling, you then place the inner-pot into the outer pot.  With the “Thermos” you need to have a separate pot to cook in and then you transfer the boiling food into the Thermos.  The advantage the “Thermos” has over a thermal cooker is that the thermos has a secure top and can be easily placed in a backpack, or laid on its side without spilling.  A thermal cooker is less secure, or at least the one I have is…. I need to use small bungee cords to securely hold the outer pot’s lid in place if I am driving on a rough road in the Truck Camper!  But, both a “Thermos” and a “Thermal Cooker” cook in the same way…. they maintain the food’s temperature high enough to continue to cook without a heat source.  They are great for the mobile lifestyle, where you want to use as little fuel as possible and let your food safely cook while you do other things!  Would you feel safe leaving a pot over a gas burner on low in your RV for 3 hours while you went hiking?  Probably not!  That’s why the Thermos or Thermal cooker are so awesome…. You simply, cook the food long enough to get it to a rolling boil and then place it into the “Thermos” or “Thermal Cooker” and it continues to cook!  And cook safely!  Even a crock-pot requires a constant heat source!  Not a “Thermos” or a “Thermal Cooker”…. Cook for a few minutes, place the food into the Thermos or Thermal Cooker and let stand for a few hours… then the meal is ready!

Above and Below, cooking with a single burner multi-fuel camp stove and a “Nissan Thermos.”

Today’s meal was, black beans with diced ham.

-one can low sodium black beans.
-one small can of lean diced ham.
-one small can of diced jalapeño peppers.
-a few dashes of habanero sauce.
-a pinch of sea salt.


Bertha’s New Bedroom, 2012

This Summer it’s been hot all over the globe, and nowhere has it been worse than here in central Kentucky.  I’ve mentioned the Summer heat a few times in past posts, I’m sure!  The worse thing is that Bertha (my truck camper) has been sitting in the hot Summer sun since I arrived back here in Kentucky in late May.  I have been wanting to build a roof over the old girl for a few years and the heat this year made me act!  I know that getting some shade over the camper will significantly reduce the temperature inside during the Summer months!  So that’s just what I’m doing!  The shade will help keep me and Bertha cooler and help protect her from the sun’s harmful Summer rays and the ocassional hail storm!  In addition to the roof over the camper, I added a gate and about 30 feet of horse fence to the entrance to my property!  I have really enjoyed the building projects… they help keep me sane!

Below, Bertha the Truck Camper gets a new bedroom, at least a roof anyways!

Below, the new gate and section of horse fence on the old farm!


Bean Curry in a Thermal Cooker

I love curry!  Anyone who has followed the blog knows I have posted a few times before about curry dishes I have made.  Today I made a vegetarian bean curry on the single burner camp stove and after the contents reached a rolling boil I moved them to the thermal cooker for a few hours.

Vegetarian Bean Curry,


-olive oil, 2 tablespoons
-1 large white onion
-1/2 cup dry lentils
-2 cloves garlic minced
-3 tablespoons of curry powder
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 pinch of cayenne pepper
-1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
-1 can garbanzo beans (15 oz)
-1 can kidney beans (8 oz)
-1/2 cup rasins
-salt and pepper

Cook the onion in the olive oil, add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a rolling boil.  Then place the pot into the thermal cooker and let cook another 2 hours.

Above, the assembled ingredients for the Vegetarian Bean Curry Dish.

Below, sauté the onion first, then add the rest of the ingredients.

Above, the rest of the ingredients being brought to a rolling boil, then into the thermal cooker for a few hours!

Below, the finished product ready for consumption!  Very tasty!


“GLOBAL SUN OVEN,”…. Lemon Chicken

I occasionally post information about equipment I find useful for off-grid living or for life on the road in a small RV!  I have mentioned the “Global Sun Oven,” solar oven before but feel compelled to again talk about this wonderful cooker!  Today I made baked lemon chicken (an entire chicken) with vegetables and once again the “Global Sun Oven” performed like a champ!  I set-up the oven at 10:00 AM and let it cook until about 4:30 PM…. the temps varied between 220 and 250 degrees the entire time.  I moved the oven 4 times throughout the day to better catch the sun’s rays.  The chicken was delicious, very moist and almost fell off the bone!  I think it’s pretty cool being able to cook without using fossil fuel sources!  The initial cost of the “Global Sun Oven” is probably the only negative, a bit high in my opinion!  Today on Amazon, they sell for $259.00.  
All things considered, the “Global Sun Oven” has made a wonderful addition to my off-grid lifestyle!

Above, the un-cooked chicken just squeezes into the cook pan, under the chicken are a healthy helping of fresh vegetables!

Below, the “Global Sun Oven” in action, cooking a whole chicken!

Below, the chicken fully cooked by the “Global Sun Oven” and ready for consumption!


Motorcycle Hammock Camping in the Coconino Forest

This past weekend I attended the 2012 Overland Expo at Mormon Lake near Flagstaff, Arizona.  My buddy, his wife and another couple decided to camp about 9 miles from Mormon Lake in the Coconino National Forest.  We took the motorcycles by trailer from Prescott Valley to our camping site and then used the bikes to explore the trails around Mormon Lake and attend the Expo.  Hammock camping is a great way to get a comfortable night’s rest without carrying a lot of extra gear.  I have a Hennessy Hammock that I purchased before working in Africa in 2010-2011.  The Hammock worked great the first night but when temps dipped to 27 degrees the second night, my jungle sleeping bag with liner was not enough to stay warm.  As the old saying goes, “travel light …. freeze at night.”  I survived and really enjoyed the weekend.  Below are a few pictures of the campsite and the surrounding mountains!  I will post pictures of the Overland Expo in the next post!   

Above and below, Motorcycle camping in the Coconino National Forest near Mormon Lake, Arizona.

Above, my Hennessy Hammock with rain fly in the Coconino National Forest near Mormon Lake, Arizona.  Hammocks are great for camping because they are light-weight, keep you off the ground and above crawling creatures, provide a good night’s rest and are relatively inexpensive!

Above and below, the mountains surrounding our campsite!

Below, the motorcycles at the first day of the Overland Expo at Mormon Lake, Arizona, 2012.