Traveling With Boots

I travel more now than I have been traveling in a while. Work-related trips have brought me to the U.S. West Coast three times in the last three months, and also to Puerto Rico. I anticipate more domestic travel in the coming months, including a trip to a U.S. Commonwealth way out in the Pacific.

As readers of this blog know, I choose to wear boots exclusively. I don’t own any shoes or sneakers or sandals. I have expressed my opinions before about those types of footwear. Sum it up as, “yuck.”

Recently, a close friend who has contributed a lot to this blog with comments and guest blog posts traveled for his work to Houston, Texas. He remarked about taking the trip on Facebook.

One of his Facebook friends asked him, “Sportin’ the boots?” to which he responded: “Not this time. Traveling with them has become such a pain these days.”

I replied also, saying, “oh my lands, what’s this world coming to?”

My friend, chagrined, admitted in a follow-up email that he was concerned about the amount of walking that he would have to do in the airport, which is why he chose not to wear (or bring?) boots with him.

Hmmm… well, buddy, I have some comments about this matter:

1. If the boots you currently own are uncomfortable to walk in, then you should consider getting gel insoles, which I wear in many of my cowboy boots that I wear when I travel. The insoles add a spring to my step, and make walking a pleasure.

2. Alternatively, perhaps, you should consider a different size for a new pair of boots? I have found that boots that fit me perfectly do not have adequate room to accommodate a gel insole. The insole in well-fitted boots causes the top of my foot to press against the inside top of the boot, and soon enough, the bones in my feet begin to hurt as they rub against the inside of the boot. I solved that problem by getting boots a half-size larger. The insole takes up the room so the boots do not slip when I walk, and the slightly larger size accommodates the room required for the insole. Plus, as an added bonus, I found that insole-supplied half-size larger cowboy boots give more toe room, so I can wear pointed-toe cowboy boots more comfortably, as well.

While my friend didn’t directly address concerns about hassles in going through airport security with boots, let me address those issues as well.

First of all, these days, everyone has to take off footwear, regardless if the footwear is a pair of boots or anything else: sneakers, shoes, etc. Therefore, don’t think that if you wear shoes or sneakers that you’ll be able to get through without having to take them off. (I have observed that in larger U.S. metropolitan airports, everyone has to take all footwear off. Perhaps one can get through wearing sneakers in smaller airports, but not in the big ones where the TSA staff are more formal and drone-like in enforcing “the rules.”)

Wearing boots at an airport is no big deal. One just pulls them off like any other footwear. Therefore, keep in mind that since you have to pull boots off while balancing at a table before the magnetometer, the boots should be easy to pull off, and not require untying laces or a helper to remove them for you (such as my situation if I were to wear tall motorcycle patrol boots).

Once the boots go through the magnetometer and you go through the x-ray, you should have boots that are as easy to pull back on as they were to take off. For me, I carry them to a seat, then sit down and put them on while I also put my laptop back in its case, retrieve my cell phone and pocket change and put it away, etc. I abhor the slogs who bunch up at the end of the magnetometer who try to put their shoes on right there and put their stuff away. That behavior causes the lines to slow down significantly. Just get your stuff and walk away (in socks) to a nearby seat and put yourself back together. Don’t make the rest of us behind you wait for you to get your act together and move on.

While addressing the issue of boots and travel, let me point out that if you will be in the air for more than a couple hours, take your boots off when you get seated on the plane (provided you have room enough to do that; some airlines make you pay a ransom for more leg room, and if you don’t pay the ransom and don’t have status to get you priority seating, you may not have enough room to do that.)

The reason why you should take your boots off is to allow blood to circulate in your legs and feet. As we age, we become subject to all sorts of maladies when the circulation slows down and blood flow becomes sluggish. You need to stretch your feet, circle them around at the ankles, bend forward and back, etc., several times an hour. Doing so will help several ways: 1) it prevents DVT (deep vein thrombosis), which can be deadly; 2) it helps your feet feel refreshed so your boots feel better when you put them back on your feet; 3) your feet won’t sweat in the boots, so your boots won’t get as stinky. My recommendation: take your boots off in flight. You will feel much better. And who knows? Maybe your seatmate is a secret Bootman and will notice and strike up a conversation about your boots with you. 🙂

Another thing about air travel: wear comfortable clothing. I shudder when I see men dressed in suits and ties on the plane. They look so damn uncomfortable. They worry about wrinkling their jacket, and make the rest of us wait while they carefully fold it and put it in the overhead bin. I know, I know, sometimes some men can’t avoid it — they go right to a meeting upon arrival, or they work for the airline which requires their employees to wear a suit when flying their airline. But most of us don’t have these situations. I usually wear a comfy pair of jeans (denim or leather) and a shirt with two pockets (helpful to carry ID and boarding passes, cell phone and glasses). Be comfortable when you fly, as most airlines these days make air travel cramped and uncomfortable.

In summary, I will forgive my friend for his transgression, for he knew not this advice (because he didn’t ask, yet. LOL!)

Life is short: wear boots!

Differences on Skins of Cowboy Boots

Once again, Google brings interesting questions that drive some visitors to my website.  In this case, the question is, “what is the difference between lizard skin boots and alligator skin boots?”

The answer to that question is simple: alligators are alligators and lizards are lizards. Two different animals whose skins were harvested and treated to fit over molds (called “boot lasts”) and sewn onto leather soles, had leather vamps (rear part of the foot) and shafts attached … and voi-la! They became boots that are called “alligator skin” or “lizard skin.”

These type of cowboy boots fall into the general category called “exotic skin” boots. “Exotic skins” means anything made of an animal that is not an animal from which traditional leather products are made.

This gets a little complicated, but leather is made from more types of animals than cows. While cowhide is the most common, leather can (and is) also made from goats, deer, bulls, lamb, elephants, and even horses. When another kind of animal has its skin removed and used to make boots, then the resulting boots are called are called “exotic skin boots.”

There are a number of exotic skins that are used to make boots. The most common are ostrich, teju lizard, and python. Each of these animals is “farmed” (that is, grown specifically to produce skins from which to make boots and other products). Other animals with skins that make interesting boots are alligators, crocodiles, cobra, rattlesnake, eel, shark, and sting ray. There are probably more.

I have a variety of cowboy boots with exotic skins. I think they look cool. While most of these skins are durable and strong, some are not. Especially snake skins. Boots made with snake skins can be easily damaged by scuffing as well as by getting wet. Snake scales on boots will curl when they get wet and will not “uncurl” when they dry. So it is important to wear those boots only in dry weather, and not in the rain.

You can see the variety of exotic skin cowboy boots that I own here, on my website.

Life is short: wear boots!

Flowers for Leatherdude

My partner is a hopeless romantic.  He missed me as much as I missed him when I was away for a week in California.  While I called him every night, and sent him several email messages every day, it’s not the same.

I failed to mention that my partner drove me to the airport to drop me off, saving me (well, my employer, anyway) the cost of paying for long-term parking. Also, I didn’t want to leave my truck in a lot for a whole week.

When I returned to the airport, my partner picked me up. He doesn’t have or use a cell phone, so there wasn’t any waiting in a cell phone lot. Nope, he parked in the short-term nearby parking garage and came into the airport to find me.

So when he saw me at baggage claim, he called out, “hey, leatherdude” and handed me a big bouquet of flowers. He gave me a kiss, embraced me, and said, “welcome home!” I smiled, kissed him back (yeah, in front of “all those people”), took the flowers and shed several tears.

Man, it sure is good to be home with the man who makes every day worth living: my partner, my love, my hunk, my bestest friend in the whole world … my “better half.”

Life is short: show those you love that you love them.

Traveling in Leather

My flight from San Francisco to my home airport departed on time and actually arrived 45 minutes early. Better yet, my suitcase made it onto the luggage carousel in under 20 minutes — a new record for BWI, which has, I believe, the world’s worst record of timely luggage delivery. Most of the time, I have had to wait an hour or more for my luggage to come out.

As soon as my bag came out, I pulled out my jacket and then my partner showed up. Great timing! We got home by midnight and I crashed.

So much so for the logistics of the return — let me tell you about a totally non-scientific “experiment” that I did. I brought leather jeans and a leather shirt with me on this trip. I wore these garments sometimes in my off times. I mean, after all, I was in San Francisco.

I recommend in my tutorial on “Air Travel with Leather Gear” that if you have expensive leathers, to put them in a carry-on instead of checked baggage. That’s because if the luggage gets lost, you will not lose an expensive investment.

While I was packing my things at the hotel for my return trip, I decided to wear my leather shirt and jeans instead of pack them. So there I was: dressed in full leather as I checked out of the hotel, rode BART to the airport, got my boarding pass, went through security screening (no problem), stopped to have some lunch, and made my way to a free wi-fi carol (sorta like one would find in a library). I used the internet until they began to call my flight.

I walked on board the plane, put my carry-on bag in the overhead compartment, sat in my window seat, and got comfy.

Throughout the two hours leading up to my flight, I was watching how other people looked at me. To be very honest — hardly anyone did. One guy said, “nice leathers!” and another one said, “woof!” (which made me smile) but that was it.

On the packed flight home, a guy in a business suit was seated in the middle seat next to me. He had all the toys of the rising star — laptop, not one but two Blackberries, AND an iPhone. He was busy juggling his gadgets and synchronizing them (or something) when he turned to me and said, “man, I wish I could be as comfortable as you.”

So there ‘ya go! Even the business-suited yuppies think that leather clothing is comfortable. I know it is, but not everyone knows it.

Upon arrival home, my partner’s first words when he saw me at the airport were, “hey, leatherdude!” which caused a few guys to spin their heads and look. I just smiled, embraced my partner, and we took off.

I still see a number of questions entered into Google that land on this blog asking about wearing leather in public. Honestly, it is Nobody cares. As long as your leather gear is decent, doesn’t leave certain parts hanging out, then wear it.

Life is short: get in gear!


I am writing this post on Saturday prior to departure from San Francisco for home. Let’s hope the flight departs on time and gets me home to find my partner waiting for me at the airport. Then he will take me home, and we will snuggle closely in bed for a gentle, “welcome-home” reunion.

No plans for Sunday other than catch-up on household chores, visiting some of my senior pals, and getting reacquainted with my beloved partner.

No rest for the travelin’ weary, as I return to work on Monday, starting with a meeting at 0600. Yep, early!

Life is short: be joyful with reunion with the one you love.

San Francisco Reprise

I returned to San Francisco late Thursday night, checked into the hotel, and slept well. Ordinarily I have trouble sleeping in strange places, but I was so tired and (fortunately) the room was quiet and comfy, I drifted off quickly.

Friday saw me doing more work, going to meetings, and getting a tour from a San Francisco County sheriff’s deputy of risk areas related to my job. We had a great meeting and discussion. I am confident that my friends in San Francisco are well cared for by their emergency planning and response officials.

I had the afternoon “off.” I thought, “hmmm… I am in San Francisco, so what do I do now and where should I go?” I dropped in to visit my friend, Mike. We went down the street and had a cup of coffee (well, me … I had a Coke, since I don’t drink coffee) and then Mike got back to work and I took a walk.

… A long walk. I walked 10 miles, from the Bay at SOMA all the way around the ballpark then across the Embarcadero then down to the piers for tourists, then up a hill (until it got too steep)… then hopped on a trolley and took that back into the Castro. I had a late lunch, then walked back to my hotel. So I really walked … though I have not been walking as much as I should. Gotta keep the weight under control and not disappoint myself by getting lazy.

So what does a gay leatherdude do in San Francisco for a night out on a Friday night? Well, this monogamously-partnered guy who doesn’t fool around behind the back of his partner was met by his cousin (and family) who drove in all the way from San Jose just to see me. We went to a great local seafood restaurant. I returned early and went to bed. I’m just not a night-owl and even though my hotel is right in SOMA, the heart of gay leather San Francisco, I don’t want to go out to a gay bar or other gay-oriented places. Been there, done that…. I guess I really have become an old married fart.

However, there was a spark of “hope” for me — I wore leather jeans and boots for the evening out with my cousin. 🙂

It has been a great visit, but I am very much looking forward to returning home to the arms of my man, to my home, to my long list of chores that have undoubtedly built up, to my senior pals, and to life as is my routine. Maryland My Maryland, the Free State… callin’ me home. Returning as you read this… wish me a safe flight.

Life is short: enjoy the love of family and unexpected surprises, such as a “DC Trolley” (which at one time served the area where I live in Maryland)… rolling down tracks in San Francisco.

Thursday Delay

Spent most of the day on Thursday in “Wittle Bitty Airport” (“WBA”) in far Northern California waiting for a flight back to San Francisco, but Mother Nature had other things on her mind. My flight was supposed to depart at 10am, but as I am writing this, I’ll be lucky if it takes off at 6:30pm. Long day….

I am writing to describe the day at a small airport. Some interesting and fun things happened.

First of all, I was very pleased that as small as WBA is, it offered free wi-fi. I was able to catch up on backed-up email and continue responding to things for work. So far, so good — especially because I am so cheap that I refuse to buy a smart phone and pay the monthly ransom that wireless carriers demand.

I stood near the door for about five hours and interviewed people about what they did up in this area of the country on March 11. There was a serious disaster threat going on that day, and I wanted to know what they heard, what they did, and what they thought about it. I interviewed over 250 people. And yeah, this *is* related to my job. Very interesting commentary!

I took breaks from time to time, as standing for hours is not my choice of “fun.” I got lunch, took a walk, and fired up the laptop to deal with more e-mail.

Most people took me very seriously when I stopped to ask if they had a minute to answer a couple questions. I guess having an official “Big Brother” I.D. helps, but a few of them told me that they thought I was “official” not because of the I.D., but because I was wearing leather jeans with a blue stripe down the side.

Heck, I hadn’t even thought of that! I just put these leathers as I was dressing because: a) they are warm (and it was cold); b) they are comfortable; c) I was going to San Francisco, after all. I wasn’t even thinking of the perceptions by the non-leather straight crowd that wearing leather jeans with a stripe down the side could be interpreted as anything other than an interesting pair of leather jeans. Okay, SK, you’ve convinced me why I need to have breeches with no stripes when I ride around with my club. Got it.

I saw about 20 or so guys with boots on, and about half of them were wearing tall rubber boots. After all, the primary industry in this area of the country is fishing, and tall rubber boots are worn by guys who do that work. There were about 5 guys in tall logger boots, and obviously, these guys were in the logging industry. The rest of the boots that I saw on guys were black harness boots. No cowboy boots, and far too many sneakers for my taste, but at least there were not any men wearing those horrid crocks or flip-flops or yuppie sandals.

All-in-all, I made the best of the day that I could, and did things related to my job so I would earn a day’s pay while postponing the meetings scheduled for Thursday to Friday, since I realized pretty early on that the entire day would be shot. Oh well, that’s how things go sometimes.

Life is short: make the best of it.


Yesterday was a busy day on this trip for work.  I co-taught a class and loved it.  Over 100 participants said that they thoroughly enjoyed it, and they will be tested through application of their new skills over the next weeks and months.

Meanwhile, I am happy that my camera found me again (long story, but FedEx had to bring it to me from South San Francisco…. don’t ask.)

Here are some random shots taken along the rugged Northern California Coast:

Life is short: love what you do and bring all you have to make it great!


I have had two “Eureka!” moments yesterday. I think the term dates back to Archimedes, a Greek mathematician and physicist. It means, “I have found it.” Albert Einstein is often given credit for this expression, but Archimedes beat him to it by 1,750 years (give or take).

Foolery and bad attempts at humor aside, my two “Eureka!” moments were:

1. Arriving in Eureka, California. They’re right, this place is not anything like the rest of California. As the locals say, they consider themselves more aligned with Oregon and Washington, or “the southern end of the Pacific Northwest.” Before my Canadian friends get their knickers in a twist, I will confine this expression to the Pacific Coast of the Northwestern United States.

2. Participating in a meeting among very dedicated, committed professionals who want to learn how to apply lessons learned from a recent major emergency toward future application to enhance public safety. Listening to their discussion, I was fascinated and admired great passion. I was pleased to be recognized for my past work in this field, and my thoughts and opinions were eagerly sought in the discussion, which was quite lively and animated, but very on-target and … well… “fascinating.”

I love my job. Tomorrow, I will conduct a training class for newer-but-eager people who wish to join the effort. That will be … “fascinating.”

Oh, how was I dressed, you ask? Beige fatigues in combat boots and a denim shirt (with a logo of my employer). I am delighted that my field work does not require dressing up. I am even more delighted that my work at my office doesn’t require dressing up beyond slacks and a collared shirt. I have long outgrown patience with the jacket and tie foolishness. I can be the flaky academic who gets by with a more casual and comfortable choice of apparel.

Life is short: keep it fascinating!

Imagine the Bootmen

Well, I’ll have to say “imagine” because I have misplaced my camera and none of the other eight guys who joined me for dinner in the Castro in San Francisco last night had one (or thought to take a pic with their i-gadgets.)

Nonetheless, I was delighted to enjoy dinner with Larry and Bill of fame; MichaelSir and his partner; Mike McNamee and his new business partner, Ken; WetInSF; and Boots SF (umm-humm! Woof!). What great company! Very interesting men, with lots of fascinating stories to share. They are really great guys — knowledgeable, friendly, and delightful company. Sure makes a business trip to San Francisco enjoyable.

And, of course, all were in boots. Tall Wescos won the day. All looked mighty fine in them, too. Boots SF was in Dehners, and was especially handsome in full leather.

I was glad that Larry could arrange this for me, and that so many guys showed up. What a great evening!

Now… time to head north. Return later for another entry of “as this Bootman travels.”

Life is short: measure it by the quality of the company you keep.