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A Hobo Lifestyle Inquiry: 11/24/21
I sat at a bar drinking Coors Light draft when a short, chubby and cute lady about my age sat up next to me and introduced herself. Her name is Elah and she is [redacted at lady's request]. She apologized for “just telling you my life story, like this. But you seem out of place and not. Do you have a place…”
Elah was interested in my duster range coat and military boots and wondered about the footwear a hobo afforded himself and how staying dry-footed in such places as Portland and the Cascades was accomplished. For this narration she bought him a beer…
I have worn the same pair of traveling boots for two years, boots that have seen much work, have shooed these feet in training, hiked over mountains both desert and drenched, have been ankle deep in mud ditching and have just begun to tear in one old creased spot. I intend to replace them in the Cascades, at the store at the foot of Mount Rainier in Eunemclaw where The Colonel bought them—and thence to leave this old pair with The Captain, as work boots.
These are Keene boots, made in Pittsburgh with many variations. Rick regards them as worthy boots and he is a man deeply versed in masculine artifice. The rock guard feature, that rounded hard rubber outer toe that prevents hikers from tripping in rocky terrain, makes these the perfect all round travel boots. They wear like heavy sneakers, do not catch on train stairs and coach frames, are good for kicking the door opening plate between train cars, do not trip me up on curbs or stairs, are heavy enough for kicking and stomping downed foes to good effect and have mostly leather uppers. Rick was disgusted with me for oiling my Keenes with coconut oil. But the mink oil is expensive and is reserved for the duster, the coat which I mail around the nation and stage from the Rockies to Seattle for the wet winters.
I was also traveling with a backup pair of “boots.” These are Underarmour high-topped sneaker boots, light and did not add much weight. However, my increasing decrepitude has required the disposal of as much clothing weight as possible. Hence the sneaker boots have been cached in sneaker friendly foe-lands where they are most useful.
Hence I travel in that one heavy pair of Keenes.
The other boots are staged like so, in places were I have shipped or left clothes, and I will postdate this list to represent my projected boot staging for when this article will post, in winter 2022:
Afoot
2022 Keenes, hopefully my last pair of travel boots
Base Camp
Kamas, Utah
Old canvas Keene’s given me by Bob in 2017
Duster
Leather house shoes bought by The Colonel in 2019
Three pair of work pants given by Arla.
Autumn Camp, Portland, Oregon
40 year old army surplus “jump” parade boots, the oldest of three pairs I used for fighting and training when my ankles were torn up in the early 2000s, stitched and resoled by three Baltimore cobblers from 1981 through 2006. These are the boots I wear at night in Portland.
2018 water proof, injection-molded hard toe work boots, black, given to me by my mother for Portland. Designed for kicking frozen pallets, I wear these by day.
Winter Camp, Cedar River, Washington
2019 Keenes bought for me by The Colonel when I broke a boot running his dogs, boots that have tread the beaches of both coasts.
Spare socks, insulated pants, work pants given by Arla, Danny and Monica
Rail Head, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
A hand bag of spare socks, shirts, hats, a water-proof wind breaker, a winter coat and some misplaced sweat shirts that I should have kept in Oregon. Will probably mail this to Portland in the spring.
Safe House #7: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Foot locker
Spare clothes and jackets
2016 work boots
Two pair of 20-year-old jump boots, one of which needs to go to Safe House #1 in Jersey
Mom’s Place: Harford County, MD
A Drawer of summer shorts and sleeveless shirts in the guest room dresser.
Safe House #3: Baltimore City
Jeans, shirts, socks, fencing mask, gloves
Sneaker boots given by Sweet City in 2019 at a cheap motel meat-up
Steel-toe Keenes bought by The Colonel’s wife in 2021
That is what I recall of my attire dispersal. The idea is to keep my back weight below 50 pounds, which includes 2 lap tops and, in places where I have a dresser drawer, closet or foot locker, to wear those local clothes when there and not even unpack the travel clothes and limit their wear.
I will do the rucksack in another article.
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