Review Disclosure

I am not compensated for any reviews on this site. Some products have been sent to me by the manufacturer without cost for the purpose of testing and review, without any conditions on the results or content of the reviews. I may receive commissions from items for which advertisements appear on this site.







Tuesday, June 5, 2018

LIFE DIDN'T CHANGE IN AN INSTANT LAST SUNDAY....LIFE PERCEPTION, HOWEVER, DID

       Easy trail ride on our mountain bikes.  My 13 year old son and I hit some trails in a local preserve just a couple of miles from home.  Nice little wooded area with good trails, some hills, and set up primarily for pedestrians, but bike-friendly, as well.  We had ridden it before.  About 15 minutes into the ride, and about a mile from where we had parked, he was riding ahead of me about 50 yards.  There was a little footbridge that was designed with an access ramp, followed by a 45 degree turn to the left.  He went up the ramp at a moderate speed, didn't make the turn in time, and as I watched, he went off the side of the footbridge an instantly disappeared.  I heard him yell once, and then nothing as I frantically rode up to where he went off.
         I dropped my bike and saw him down, thankfully only about 8 feet at the bottom of a dry creek bed.  He had crashed through undergrowth and was still astride his bike, leaning against the bank, trying to unbuckle his full-faced helmet.  I went down the embankment and reached him after banging up and scraping my arm in the process.  He was conscious and alert, but in a lot of pain.  When he hit, the pedal and crank arm had slammed into his inside calf/shin.  He couldn't put any weight on one leg, his elbow was cut up and bruised, he had scratches and welts from the brush all over him, and he was complaining of pain in his hip and ribs.    I was able to get him off of his bike, after we had checked for any spinal injuries, as best we could.  Pushing the bike up the bank and depositing it on the bridge to get it out of the way, I went back down to him and he was able to put weight on one leg.  I straddled the creek bed and got him up on the opposite bank high enough that I could lift him up onto the bridge.  I sat him down, did further assessment, and determined that he wasn't going into shock.  I gave him my cell phone, then biked like a maniac back to the parking lot.  Throwing my bike into the back of the truck, I drove it to a location about 100 yards from where he was.  He tried to hop, but I ended up carrying him back to the truck.  We stopped by our local fire dept where he was checked out thoroughly.  A later appointment with his Dr. and full x-rays confirmed he had suffered only bruises and scrapes.
           The moral to this story is two-fold.  Had that ravine been 30 feet deep instead of 8, or filled with rocks and/or rattlesnakes instead of bushes, or had there been debris or old pipes, etc sticking up, this would have been an entirely different outcome.  Call it whatever your belief system demands.  He had good fortune that day.  When you are going through life, keep in mind how quickly things can change.  Don't leave the house angry at your loved ones, hug your kids, appreciate what you have.  It could all go away and then you would realize what is important.  I realize that now.  That instant of horror, seeing him plunge off of that bridge to an unknown fate changed how I look at life.  Little highs and lows are now meaningless.
              I said two-fold.   I am 65 years old.  I have been fortunate enough to be healthy.  I run, I bike, I work out.  Sometimes I fall off the wagon and eat what I shouldn't.  I've been on every one of my son's Cub Scout and Boy Scout camp-outs since he was in 1st grade, to include whitewater rafting on the Kern River in the Southern Sierras last summer, where we were both tossed out of the rafts numerous times in class 3 [4?] rapids.  I intend for this to continue.  Fortunately, I had the physical abilities to extricate him from that ravine on Sunday.  Absent a level of fitness, I wouldn't have been able to do that, let alone carry him 100 yards to the truck.  This isn't about my physical abilities.  This is about OUR abilities.  You don't know when life will begin to smack you around.  It could be on the freeway, at home in bed, in the wilds, or on an "uneventful" Sunday bike ride.  You..........WE have a DUTY to ourselves, our families, and everyone else to train our bodies and minds to have the ability to ACT in such situations.  I made a commitment, as soon as the shock of seeing my son go off that bridge into the unknown, that I will train myself EVERY SINGLE DAY, to enhance my ability to deal with situations that arise.  You must do this, too.  Each minute that you put it off, you inch closer to being unable to rely on your body, mind, and spirit.  Each must be trained.  No days off.  Find SOME way to train, everyday.  It is my obligation to society, and yours........... 

Friday, June 1, 2018

BARE BONES "PALEO"

There is SO MUCH literature, both online and in print about paleo eating and lifestyle.  Th ere are multiple "studies" both pro and con. [Watch for the sponsors of the "con" studies].  I have seen, [and belong to] some Facebook groups about beginning or continuing on the "paleo" manner of eating and living.  So many seem to be just coming up with ideas about making "paleo" foods that look and taste like the old high-carb stuff that we are trying to get away from.   Paleo cookies, pancakes, crackers, cakes, pies, pizza, etc. etc.

     I think this is a bit of a trap.  Our ancient ancestors didn't necessarily have so much the luxury of which foods were the tastiest.  They ate what they found, picked, or killed.  If we are going to try to at least somewhat mimic that, I think we need to stay closer to that basic premise.  I understand what people are doing, and why they take that approach.  It is difficult to change a lifetime of habits.  My personal opinion is that, in order to really make such a change, we have to change the way we look at food.  The human animal is so bright and innovative that we have taken what was once mere sustenance and turned it into the center of most social interaction.  From the time our ancestors gathered after a successful hunt to fill their empty bellies with much deserved meat, our very connection with our peers has largely revolved around the food that we eat.  Countless billions of dollars are spent each year convincing people to consume different foods.  Social scientists, chemists, advertising and marketing specialists collaborate on how much sugar, fat, or caffeine to put into food, and how and where to market it to get the most bang for the buck.  Brightly colored boxes sporting popular cartoon characters line the lower aisles of the grocery store where they will be seen [and hopefully demanded] by little ones.  Prizes are inserted into boxes.  Industry lobbyists swarm our politicians to curry favor for their products.

Generally, my point is that, if food has been "marketed" to you, you probably shouldn't eat it.  Meat should have one ingredient: meat.  Vegetables and fruits don't need ingredient labels.

This isn't easy.  Sugar, in particular, is at the very least, habit forming, and some studies have likened cravings to those for other, more sinister sounding substances. 

     You won't get this done all at once, or cold-turkey.  Our ancient, pre-agricultural era ancestors didn't need bread or cereal, or milk, or cheese, or chips.  We don't "NEED" those either.  We "need" nourishment.  That is meat, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, and maybe some tubers or roots.  All things similar [not the same, but similar] to  what our ancestors lived on.  Our bodies haven't evolved much in the past 25k years, but our diet has changed COMPLETELY.  Most quickly accessible and cheap food now seems to be grain and sugar based now.   Combine this with an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and we have a recipe for illness and a lack of ability to accomplish much of anything that has physical demands.

      I know that of which I speak.  I'm not here to preach.  I've eaten my share of sugary foods in the past, and they taste good, for certain.  I notice personally, though, when I eat more carbohydrates, I crave more.  When I eat lots of things that contain sugar, I am achy all over the following day or two.  Our bodies simply can't cope with what we are consuming, and continue to stay healthy.  We need to be outside, get exercise, get some sun, drink clear water and eat as much REAL food as we need, when we need it, not because it is 12:00 and "time" for lunch, or 6:00 and "time" for dinner.  Eat irregularly, fast for a few hours, change it up a bit.  I like to fast from sometime in the evening, through "breakfast time",  into late morning.  That gives my body a solid 12+ hours without food.  I think that affects my metabolism.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

XERO SHOES TERRAFLEX TRAIL SHOES-INCREDIBLE NEW PRODUCT

     If you look to the right of this page, you will see a link to Xero Shoes' newest offering, the TERRAFLEX.  This is a full-blown trail shoe with a great aggressive tread that holds tight to the trail and still provides some ground feel for those of us who are barefoot and/or minimalist aficionados.

Built similarly to the Prio (See further down on this page for that review), it is an incredibly comfortable and flexible trail shoe.  These, like their "street cousins", the Prios, have a 2mm sock liner that is easily removable.  If the liner is removed, you don't sacrifice any comfort.  The foot-bed incorporates Xeros barefoam for a really comfortable ride, even over rough terrain.  I even wore these on the street some, just to test the sole for wear.  Xeros have always worn well, and these seem to be no different.  The larger lug-type tread don't seem to be showing any appreciable wear, even from asphalt.

      But......back to what they are designed for!  The soles on these are still, (of course!), zero drop, and the uppers are a really comfortable fabric.  My feet aren't always the easiest to fit, but these have a crazy-wide toe box and combined with the upper fabric, I experienced NO discomfort, even when they were brand new.  I choose to wear them without socks, and the interiors are so well made that there are no rubbing seams or other spots.

  I also did a video review on these that you can find on the website by following the link to the right.  Please check it out!

I have always liked Xero's products, since buying my first two pairs in 2010.  They have always produced consistently quality products at reasonable prices, and their customer service is top notch.  Their site has detailed instructions on determining fit, and they always seem happy to answer any questions or give feedback on any issues that may arise.

Please give the new TERRAFLEX a try if you ever run trails or anyplace rough.  You will be happy with these.  I've never tried a better trail shoe.  Check them out through the link at the top right!!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

DAY LITE HIKER FROM XERO SHOES-REVIEW

I held off much longer than usual to review this offering from Xero Shoes.  My apologies to Steven, Lena and the staff who sent these to me to check out, and thanks for their patience.  

     This is such a unique offering, however, I wanted to do even more than the usual wear testing on this product.  I have put this through its' paces, and have hiked and hiked, done some running, and a fair amount of around town wear on these.  They are that versatile, and I'm excited to be doing this review, as these have become a real favorite.

     Let's get started, as I have a lot to say........

     Fresh out of the box, I could see and feel that this product was different.  Xero ALWAYS produces a quality shoe/sandal, but these are exceptional.  Built on the same running sandal sole, they have a really comfortable upper that snugs up around your ankle for serious hiking, while maintaining that "Roll up in a ball" flexibility for which Xeros have become so well-known.  You can see that the toe box is nice and wide, and the tread pattern is capable of serious grip on any terrain that I encountered (and I encountered quite a lot in these!).
 The laces are set up in a "speed lace" style for quick tying, and they have a unique texture which really helps them stay tied in every situation.  They come with a thin insole that is removable. I actually did remove the insoles in mine for most of the time, as I love every bit of ground feel that I can get.  The insoles are thin enough, though that it really isn't necessary to remove them, and leaving them in will likely be better for the interior bottom of the shoe.
      Shortly after receiving these, I had the opportunity to do some camping and hiking at Big Bear Lake, CA.  I took these and another pair of Xeros that I have previously reviewed, their Prios.  I had a history with Prios, hiking in heavy snow, and I knew they could be my go-to if for any reason the Day Lites caused any foot issues, being just out of the box.  I didn't wear anything except the Day Lites, and they were extremely comfortable, whether it was around camp or hiking at the lake or the woods, as seen below.  Brand new hikers that caused no foot issues.  That is a phenomenon in and of itself!
 Not too long after the Big Bear Campout, I had a chance to test these in a lot of different terrain during a trip across Northern Arizona.  They were great during about a 3 hour hike at the Grand Canyon.  Didn't get to take them down in, due to time constraints, but they carried me nicely along several miles of the South Rim.
 We also spent time at Meteor Crater, as shown in the next photograph.  This was more walking and stairs than hiking, but they performed nicely, nonetheless.
      A great test of the soles was the day of hiking through the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest, near Holbrook, AZ.   If you have been there, you will recall that the trails are covered with really sharp remnants of petrified wood, interspersed with heavy gravel.  We went off trail a bit, and encountered more of the same, only rougher.  I could feel the rocks under my feet, but the soles on these were more than adequate protection from the jagged edges.
 As we crossed the northern part of the state, along I-40, there was an obligatory stop.  I had been getting my 12 year old hooked on oldies, and he has become a big fan of the Eagles.  We pulled off in Winslow, and happened to hit there during a huge Native American festival.  The little town was packed, and there was a big parade, with all the streets lined with food and jewelry vendors.  Parking was nowhere to be had near our destination, so we had to trek a mile or so to "THE CORNER", so had no choice but to "Take it Easy".  Day Lites are good not only for camping, hiking, exploring, but are perfect for "Standin' on the corner in Winslow Arizona"!  Here we are below.  Aren't we "such a fine sight to see?"  There was no girl in a flatbed Ford. We had a great Wife/Mom there to take our picture, though!
The bottom line on these hikers, is that they are the most comfortable, versatile shoes I've ever had.  Next summer we head for summer camp with the Scouts, and these will, for sure, be along, ready for the next set of adventures.  If you haven't yet bought a pair of these, just follow the link to the top right of this page, and treat yourself.  You won't be sorry!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

New Coalton Chukka from Xero

Today I have an initial review of a new product from Xero Shoes.  I received these about a week and a half ago, and have a video review in the works, but I wanted to at least get a short one out with my impressions so far.   By way of background, I bought my first pair of Xeros back in 2010, when this company was in its infancy.  They have consistently put out good, innovative footwear since that time.  The Coalton is a great example.


     This latest offering is a casual chukka-style that is comfortable enough to wear all day, and just dressy enough to get away with pretty much any attire.  In my day job, I work in an office, and have been wearing these Coaltons to work since I received them.  I am on my feet a lot during the day, and these leave my feet with a great feeling at the end of the day.  I am fortunate to have a desk at which I can stand for most of the day, and these keep my feet comfortable enough to do so.  

     These great shoes are built on the same, tried-and-true running sole that has become one of Xero’s most recognizable features.  Absolute zero-drop and a crazy-wide (in a good way J) toe box that gives your feet plenty of room.  They are made of a nice feeling semi-distressed leather upper that is soft to the touch and has an almost suede-like feel to it.  Top that off with leather laces and you have the whole package.  These can be worn anywhere, with jeans or khakis, to more dress-type pants and they just blend in well.  The stitching and Xero traditional side strap lacing system give these just enough character so they are not “just another shoe.”  The more I wear them, the more they break-in and get even more comfortable. After a while, these are going to feel like my best old leather gloves, only on my feet.  Do yourself a favor and spring for a pair (or two) of these.  As with every Xero product, they are backed by world-class customer service and the 5,000 mile warranty on the soles.  Xero continues to push the envelope with their designs, and this one was a home run!

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