10.01.2006,12:30 AM
Thoughts on the Road: Personal Grooming and Necessities
When you travel on the road, some parts of your normal routine give way to necessity and scarcity. You can’t carry your entire life with you, especially on a motorcycle. You carry only what you need.

It’s a matter of priorities: what is needed the most? If there is remaining space, then you can ponder if you have room for what you want.

A coffee cup is a necessity. Coffee is a necessity. It is a medium of social interaction, civility and an essential nutrient. Being a java junkie, I have to have my coffee. Or like a robot without oil, I cease to function. As a travel gift, I was given a Starbucks insulated mug that also serves as a small French Press. All one needs is coarse grounds and hot tap water. I learned the first try on the road that another vessel is required to pour the coffee into after the plunger is depressed. So far, I’ve been successful at begging for Styrofoam cups. I lieu of half ‘n half, I’ve used milk, powdered whitener and vanilla ice cream. Despite my java addiction, I can’t drink it black. That’s a function of taste (black coffee is bitter) and my stomach (black coffee is very acidic).

A personal grooming routine that was the first sacrifice was shaving my legs. Which was without regret. The time, energy and required implements to maintain smooth shaven legs are not considered a necessity or need. It is a luxury. Most of the men I have met on the road sport beards and mustaches in various stages of growth. Facial hair is visible to the naked eye whereas leg hair is not. Who cares if I don’t shave my legs? I certainly didn’t. No regrets there.

I vacillated packing a towel. I decided not to, but I did pack a washcloth and small hand towel. Which I have used over and over, even washing them in a motel room sink. It’s amazing how human and refreshed one can feel after a day on the road by washing your face and neck with water and a washcloth. And it’s no wonder that it quickly turns gray after a few days of road dirt. To dry them, simply hand on the mirrors or handlebars of the bike.

I discovered the versatility of my Cool Max sleeping bag liner when I used it for a towel after showering in a campground facility. It wasn’t a plush towel like those at home, but it served the purpose and dried almost instantly in the sun.

After careful consideration, I sacrificed a pillow for the trip. Most of my nights in the tent I folded my fleece outer shirt, hand towel, and T-shirt or long-sleeved shirt. I shoved this makeshift pillow into the head area of my mummy bag. Not as comfortable as my special Thermarest pillow at home, but it was better than nothing.

I discovered I needed lots of Chap Stick, and stuck a stick everywhere I could: in my camera case, tank bag, and hygiene bag. I also used a small miniature jar of facial cream, prolifically covering my face morning and night to ward off the drying effects of the sun and wind. Even then, my nose and lips burned and peeled through most of the journey.

I forgot to stick a toothbrush in my bag. A horrible discovery the morning after the first night when I woke with dry cottonmouth. My mouth felt like the bottom of a birdcage and probably smelled worse. I walked to a convenience store and bought a new toothbrush, but never had to worry about toothpaste. The inn I stayed at in Taos for four nights bestowed upon me four small tubes of toothpaste, as well as three energy bars. I ate the latter immediately and tossed the former in my hygiene kit. I also added a small tin of mints in my tank bag. Not only does it mask travel mouth, but it also stimulates saliva production reducing dry mouth.

Liquids: one can never have enough of that. The Camelbac is the greatest invention; I can’t imagine a road trip without it. In fact, I’m contemplating wearing it even in the lab to ensure I’m hydrated during the day. It is a necessity and I wore it all the time on the bike. It certainly elicits odd looks from folks in the restaraunts when you remove your jacket. I encouraged it by sticking the blue and yellow end in my mouth. It reminds me of a portable respirator; well, it is a portable hydrator!

No hairbrush. They are too big and bulky and I’m a wash-and-dry kinda gal anyway. That’s what air is for; let it dry my hair and shape it however the wind intended it. And my head is encased in a helmet most of the time anyway, so what difference will a brush make? The one trait of helmet hair is that it stays that way unless you wash it after your helmet is removed. There must be some type of invisible hair spray dispenser in every helmet that cements your hair into odd shapes and stays that way when helmet is removed.

Underwear? What for? A luxury of being small-breasted is a girl doesn’t have to wear a bra. Panties ride up and you spend the rest of the ride rearranging them after you ride a mile, and 30 minutes of rearranging after you get off. They aren’t a necessity or even on the Want List. Besides, I wore my UnderArmors nearly every day of the trip, which I washed in motel sinks. Now, those were highly functional and never needed rearranging.

There is no way to accurately predict the weather, so I packed one item for cold and hot weather for the two halves of my body; jeans and fleece zippered jacket, T-shirt, tank top and shorts. By the time I reached Taos, I realized the tank top and shorts would not be needed, so I sent them back home. I spent most of my time on this trip in riding gear anyway, but I was thankful for the T-shirt and jeans when off the bike. I also packed my lightweight sandals, which I wore anytime off the bike to give my feet some breathing time and boots a chance to dry on the inside. Except for the last two days of this trip when summer reappeared, I wore the UnderArmors and insulated gear. Clothing for off the bike was minimal.

Am I missing anything? Personal grooming or personal tidbits? I don’t think so. My needs are minimal. But if I do remember any thing I missed here of importance, I’ll add it later.
posted by Macrobe
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