Day One - Shopping. Blech.
Oh X Chromosome, why doest thou forsake me??
I think the shopping gene on my X chromosome is defective. I really, really hate to shop. In person or online. For pretty much anything, even for toys for myself. If forced to decide between hitting the mall, waiting in line at the DMV or doing my taxes, I will happily dive into Forms 1040, 4562, 2106, 8853, and Schedules A, B, C, E, and M (for starters) while sitting in the uncomfortable chairs of the AZ Motor Vehicle Department. Shopping only happens during moments of true desperation.
Having an actual hole in your riding jacket qualifies as a moment of desperation. Since local motorcycle shops generally carry one token woman's item (usually a too-large, pink, poor quality jacket, or perhaps a helmet with flowers on it), I knew I was going to have to go the internet mall. After weeks of late night web surfing, discussion, phone calls, hemming, hawing, I opted to have this jacket made to my measurements and specifications (each of which added to the cost.) But if I am going to have to go through the pain of shopping, I want it to be an item I will not have to replace for a long, long time. My Motoport kevlar jacket* has a guarantee of seven years, and will even be repaired or replaced if I wreck it in a crash. Already, that sounds good. The replacement/repair bit, not the crash, that is. Actually, I ordered it quite a while ago, but had not yet received it in time for this trip.
One of the main reasons I opted to abort that mission, was the fact that I did not have decent cold weather gear. Here's another one of my charming idiosyncrasies: I can't cope with being cold. And I am almost always cold. Not the "a little bit chilly, my hands and feet are a touch cold" kind of cold, but the "core temperature dropping, curl up in a ball, become absolutely non-functional" kind of cold. Once (likely more than once, but I only bothered to document it one time), my body temperature dipped (ever so slightly) into the realm of actual hypothermia just from sitting in a 60 degree room, even though I was wearing more than a National Geographic photographer would while staking out penguins in Antarctica. And I've spent more than one long night unable to sleep in my tent from being so cold, despite my so-rated zero degree sleeping bag. In July, even. So you can see I'm not making this up.
All of that qualified for another moment of desperation requiring research and shopping. It was way past time to get some real gear. I made countless trips to REI and Summit Hut (I lost count at 7, one of which was the Saturday before Christmas, a very, very bad idea) and their respective websites. I purchased, returned, tried on, and exchanged untold amounts of merchandise, and in the end spent an ungodly sum of money for, among other items, a new sleeping bag (Marmot Ouray, EN tested as a real zero degree bag) and two base layers (that's cool speak for long underwear), one of Polartec and one of merino wool, since I couldn't decide between the two, and I'm going to wear them every single day until March, I'm sure of it. Good thing the record for wearing Icebreaker wool non-stop is 196 days, supposedly without getting stinky (one of the selling points of wool). I may break that record. Notable: I still can not find a pair of hiking boots that does not, in one fashion or another, maim my feet by mile three. All hail hiking sandals. I'd climb Everest in them before I'd hike in boots again.
Ironically, having only just now completed the last of my "12 Days of Christmas," although not necessarily all the posts in between, I am realizing, with a sinking stomach, that the shopping has not ended. I need some riding boots. (You'll see why in the fine print at the end of "Day 12" of this series). Given my success (?) with hiking boots, this will be quite a trick. Ugh. The late night internet research has already begun...
*I'll probably post a formal review of the jacket for those interested, but I'm not quite ready yet. The heated liner is still in the works.