The Planet Grom on YouTube

Aloha!  I just wanted to write quickly about YouTube:

My kids and I were talking about YouTube and they are under the impression that success on YouTube is easy, sudden, and lucrative.  It’s not that I aim to prove them wrong or anything, but I did say that they’re talking about the minority when it comes to the successful cases.

And, to prove my point, I’ll make a public channel, create videos to the best of my abilities, and monetize them (whenever the channel receives enough hours watched to make them eligible) and I’ll keep them in on the progress.

I have ideas for the videos, but the ones that are easiest to do (for now) are vlogs and opinion pieces.  I have one video up now so you can get a feel for how those ones will work and I’d appreciate the standard likes and subscribes.  You know the drill, I’m sure.

I like doing them because it’s an easy way for everyone to see Hawaii.  “It’s a cool way to get a sense of the neighborhood,” said one viewer in a message.  Check it out and see for yourself.

Motorcycle Souvenirs

I have a policy when it comes to counting where I’ve been: I have to either leave the airport I landed at or something really memorable needs to happen.  Basically if I can see the actual local area or at the very least get a story out of the destination then I’ll count it.

My friend, on the other hand, counts airports because his criteria is “if I died here, what would the report say?”  Would it say “Chuck died in the Chicago O’Hare International Airport?”  if so, then yes, he’s been to Chicago.

Yet another person I know doesn’t even need to touch the ground to count the stop.  He says he flew over the pyramids of Egypt and, since he saw them with his own eyes, he says he’s been to Egypt.

On road trips, my wife won’t say she visited a town unless she was going to that town specifically for a reason.  We stopped for gas in a ridiculously tiny town in Georgia that had – with no exaggeration – one gas station and about five houses, all within view of said gas station and she still wouldn’t count it.  Maybe if we had gone on a trip to visit the town specifically to get gas…

Everyone’s got their own criteria for where they’ve been.

This made me wonder what the criteria was for the adventure riders whose pictures I often see.  The ones with hard luggage usually have stickers of the places they’ve been and I just wanted to know what counts.

I posed the question to a Facebook adventure rider’s page and got some unexpected answers.  Some seemed to understand and gave their honest answers (“if I pooped or slept somewhere”) and some gave answers that were either meant for a different question (“I just make fun of Harleys”) or condescending (“no-one cares, work harder”).

To the ones who answered the question I actually asked, I followed-up with a question of how they commemorate the trip or stop.  Some said they don’t – they just tell stories – and others said they use maps and mark the routes.

This answer intrigued me.  Do they use different maps for different bikes, or is it the same map regardless?  They said that they used the same map regardless of bike.

Interesting.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of data and have thought about getting a great big globe and putting pins in for everywhere I’ve been, but there’s no way I would be satisfied with just one color pin.  I know this because I have an app where I track the places I’ve been and I have tons of different colors.  I have one color for places I’ve been before I met my wife, another for the places we’ve visited together, another color for places I’ve been on business, etc etc.  The result is a world map that has a ton of dots on it with a bunch of different colors, but I like knowing exactly what the context was for whatever dot.

Which brought me to souvenirs!  I come from a long line of pack-rats and hoarders and try to control it as much as I can, but the need to collect random stuff from my trips… it’s strong.

Whenever I travel on business, I always pick up a Starbucks mug for my wife and, in an effort to help mitigate clutter in the house, make postcards for my kids with pictures I take.

But what kind of souvenirs would be good for motorcycle trips?  They can’t be too big, bulky, cumbersome, or heavy.

I was thinking of finding some random gumball toy machine in each state and getting something, but I’m the kind of guy who likes a theme.

Similarly, I could send myself post cards of the places I’ve been, but you have to ask yourself where it will stop.  How many pretty pictures with a little map would you want printed at $3.00 a pop?  That would get expensive pretty quickly.

Then it hit me: Starbucks.

The joke of the ADV world is that people just get BMW GS bikes to go to Starbucks, but I genuinely like Starbucks and it makes for a handy meeting/rendezvous/break point.

And they also have distinctive gift cards for each place.

Yeah, that’s the ticket!  They’re small, easily packable, distinctive, themed, easily framed for a garage wall, and cheap enough that I could buy one each time I visit a place if I roll up on a different bike.  I mean, I could visit all 49 states in North America and every province in Canada and still have plenty of room in my bag for my essentials.

But why?  Why have souvenirs?  Aren’t the memories enough and isn’t this like bragging?

Well, yeah, it is.  But also, you forget stuff.  I’ve forgotten going to all sorts of places in my life which might mean they weren’t very significant to me or it could just mean that some stuff slips.  Too many penguins, not enough iceberg if you know what I mean.

So I’ll get a great big atlas and mark it up with my routes, days, and whatever other data I can think of and I’ll probably transpose those routes onto a big map in my garage or office, but I like the idea of bringing something home with me that doesn’t involve me taking anything natural from that place (like rocks) or filling my bag with inconsistent trinkets.  It’s even money that I would spend otherwise, so I might as well load a piece of plastic with $5.00, transfer that to my Starbucks app, get a coffee and get to keep the gift card!

And yeah, it is bragging and do you know what?  That’s fine.  If someone wants to think I’m bragging by going places, they should put me in my place by going to more places and not telling me about it (otherwise it could be considered bragging), but if I’m being honest with you, I don’t think I would take it as bragging anyway.  I’d love to ask people face-to-face about their adventures in different places and think that we should all get out a lot more than we currently do (I’m sure I’ll touch on this in a later post).

Besides, I’m not saying you should use it to hold over other people and make yourself feel better about going more places.  You should never try to make someone feel bad or inferior.  But maybe your travels would be considered inspirational rather than boastful.  You never know.  Perhaps you could make an Instagram channel of your own and post pictures of your mementos and amazing pictures from the road that may inspire someone to take up riding or at the very least go for a drive and see something new.

Also, it’s fun.  I’ll admit that not everyone collects random stuff like I do and some won’t see the appeal of loading yourself down with even more stuff, but to me this is just a bit of fun.  I’m not hurting anyone and I’m making myself happy, so there’s no harm.

Finally, I’d like to thank anyone that reads these or follows me on Instagram so whenever I do get these gift cards, I’ll post a picture of the code there and the first person to cash it in will get a coffee on me.  It’s a small way of saying thanks for paying attention to me.

See you out there!

Review: Icon Patrol 2 Boots

Runner’s HI is a cleverly-named running store in Hawaii. The owner, Raymond Woo, has been running marathons for over 30 years and the store is adorned with the shirts and matching medals from different races. Going in is pretty inspiring, even for the most novice of runners.

Their staff is incredibly knowledgable as well. I walked in for new shoes on recommendations from friends and brought along my old running shoes. Sometimes shops want to see the ones you’re retiring so they have a better idea of how you run based on the wear on the soles.

After greeting me and asking how I can be helped, the salesperson looked at my feet and the shoes in my hand and asked why I’m carrying normal shoes.

“Because… I have normal feet?” I asked. It seemed like a strange question.

“No, sir. I believe you have wide feet.”

I was thirty-two at the time and had gone my whole life without being told my feet are wide. I even went to a New Balance store in San Antonio, TX who measured my feet six ways from Sunday and had me walk around, the salesperson on all-fours to keep his eye level with the ground to see exactly how I walked and even they didn’t mention anything about my feet being wide.

“Okay,” the Runner’s HI salesperson said. “Not a problem.” He looked at my shoes and then asked if I had any inputs about them before getting new ones. Do I just want the same pair? Do I want the new version? Were these unsatisfactory in any way that would indicate a specific type of shoe for a replacement?

Then he disappeared and came back with a few different sets of shoes and the ones that were the most comfortable were – shockingly – sized wide.

It was an enlightening day.

I say all this not to bore you about my running habits, but to set the stage for the absolute bear that is finding motorcycle boots for wide feet. You can buy boots made for cruisers that have gigantic toe boxes that make it hard to shift on normal bikes or you can buy boots that are fashioned more in a European way where the toe boxes are svelte enough to easily get under the shifter, but it’s difficult to find them in a wide size.

Enter the Icon Patrol 2.

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When I was looking for my first pair of bonafide motorcycle boots, I was looking for a balance between protection, comfort, and it had to be fairly waterproof. Hawaii may be known as a tropical paradise, but nothing achieves that status without rain and Hawaii definitely has rain. It may not last for long, but it exists and you don’t want to get wet because it’s still hot outside so you become a weird mix of cold and hot, muggy and consistently wet, and smelly really fast. It’s best to avoid it when you can, but it tends to sneak up on you.

Scrolling through Revzilla, I found the Patrol 2s and liked the size of the boot. They don’t go up to your knee or anything, but they do cover quite a bit of my lower leg without even a peek of an ankle showing through.

And the protection seems pretty on-point with a solid feel and D30 armor incorporated in the boot.

The look works well. As a ridiculously-dressed youth, I would wear jeans that were far-too-tight, tucked in white tee-shirts, and Harley-Davidson boots. Big, clunky, black leather boots. It wasn’t my best time as far as fashion goes, and I’m still not entirely sure whether the boots broke in and became comfortable or if I just got used to them. My wife testifies though, that they never became attractive.

The Patrol 2s look more like shoes than boots, though there is a solidness to them. They won’t be mistaken for sneakers, but I also don’t look like Frankenstein walking around.

Side note: I know it’s popular for people to cry out “He never had a name! Frankenstein was the name of the doctor!” and you’d be partially right, but in the book, the Monster clearly states “At length the thought of you crossed my mind. I learned from your papers that you were my father, my creator; and to whom could I apply with more fitness than to him who had given me life?”

“The monster,” as you people so enthusiastically call him is saying here that he identifies as a Frankenstein (Victor’s last name) because Victor Frankenstein is basically his father. So seriously, folks: stop with the insanity of calling people out for being right.

*ahem* Moving on…

Today’s weather was absolute garbage here on the island. Puddles are deep and the rain seems like it’s never going to stop. I needed to run errands and knew I was going to be more damp than usual so I eschewed the usual flip-flops and put on my Patrols.

Getting them on is a breeze. You just grab the finger-hold on the back and in goes your foot, easy as pie. Then you snap down the BOA ring and start turning it, tightening up the wire laces, and you’re good to go! There’s a concern – a fear – that wearing laces means your boots will get ensnared by parts of your bike, which could happen, but it wasn’t such a huge concern that I was only looking at BOA systems on my boots.

But as a great big nerd for cool new stuff, I still really like it. I want it on all my shoes.

Today wasn’t a riding day because I had to go get random things and bring my daughter around on errands, but I did have to walk through a ton of rain and some pretty deep puddles and my feet were warm and dry while my daughter’s shoes are currently on our front porch (or lanai, if you please) drying out from the thorough soaking they received.

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The protection seems pretty substantial too, without adding all the technical hard shiny plastic parts that would surely increase the security while decreasing the comfort and blending-in aesthetics that these guys have.

Speaking of comfort, it’s the best. I’ve read all sorts of reviews for all sorts of boots and it always seems like you choose either comfort or protection but these feel great. I walked around all day these last few rainy days wearing these saying I was “breaking them in,” but there was no real break-in required. They felt great from the first time I stood up (though I did have to order a whole size larger than a Nike running shoe).

And, while they don’t specify “wide,” some people have expressed that they fit well enough for people with wide feet – something I can testify to as well. They feel great width-wise, they’re lightweight for the protection that is obvious, the fact they’re waterproof is very welcome to me, and the laces are just plain cool.

But how will they hold up? I’ll be sure to update this review later on down the road if they turn out to be different in the long-term, but I can’t see it shaking out that way. I’m totally satisfied and think they’re well worth the $190 (from Revzilla).