Knick, knack, paddy whack


I stopped in at an independent specialty retailer yesterday to buy some miscellaneous knickknacks for my Laos trip.

The Outdoor Store in Fort Bragg, CA is not a enormous store, but it has everything that one could ever possibly need for traveling or backpacking and has several choices within each category.

No junk either, just the good brands.

The owner personally came over to help me; I don’t recall ever getting that level of service at an A-16 store. I wasn’t asking for obscure stuff, but since it was a small store in a small town I would have forgiven them if an item that I wanted was not normally carried. But no, it was as if they had read my mind. They had it all.

I love the independent specialty retailer.

They carry what they want to, what works, what is proven. Independent retailers are a feisty lot; they have no patience for stupid, trendy products. Independent stores reflect the owners personalities and that are where you find the real stuff and knowledgeable people who actually know what they are talking about.

Please support your local stores.

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I originally stopped in only for a pair of Chums.
I like Chums for keeping my sunglasses from sliding down my sweaty nose. Chums come in all colors (including tie-dye), but I chose basic black. Now my prescription sunglasses will not swim in the Mekong without me.

Since I was already there, I bought a new bottle of Campsuds
Campsuds is a super concentrated, all-purpose cleaner and is de rigueur for when you find yourself washing clothes in your hotel room sink. Campsuds is the product that I depend upon. The container has been upgraded since the last time I bought some, it now comes in a tough, leakproof Nalgene bottle.

I am going to try to keep from getting sick in Laos, so I am picked up a nifty little 60 ml. bottle of Hand Sanitizer. This product is kind of like Purell, but in a smaller bottle that is much easier to carry along. The rule of thumb is to use this stuff just whenever you think about it, it kills bacteria and germs and it might keep you from getting deathly ill. Get some.

In Asia, I’m not worried about getting bitten by mosquitoes, but I hate all the itching that they bring. I never travel without a tiny bottle of Sting Eze, and I always seem to lose mine, so I replaced mine while I was shopping anyway.

Historically, I choose my hotel based solely upon its close proximity to an all night karaoke bar, a busy train station or swarms of drunk 20-year-old backpackers, so I need to pack several pair of earplugs to get any rest.

The best are sold under the imaginatively named EAR brand
These are pretty inexpensive at Contractor-supply places and at finer neighborhood gun shops everywhere. If you prefer to pay a lot more, you can also get them at any drug store, pharmacy or chemist. Since the Outdoor Store is where you buy better brands of outdoor gear (and is the antitheses of a “hook & bullet” shop) I will find my earplugs elsewhere.

I’m not especially superstitious, but I believe that it is bad luck to go traveling without new socks. The Outdoor Store had my favorite brands in stock: Thorlo and Smartwool.

On any trip, I will walk more in a week than I normally do in a month, so I picked up four new pair of Thorlo socks. I want my tootsies to be comfortable; after all, they are on vacation too.

One of the best things about shopping locally: they remember your name.