Solely Barefoot

Barefoot 24/7/365 since August 2010!

Planning a Barefoot Bicycling Trip

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The adventure bug has bit me again.  This time, really bad.

What this means is, I need an adventure.  And soon.  It’s like an itch that won’t go away until I’m on an adventure.

My tentative plan is to bicycle around the contiguous  48 USA states.  Barefoot.  Living simply.

Yeah, it’s a big plan.  It will take a while, I imagine.  I guess I’ll plan for 1-2 years.  I want to take my time on the trip and experience the United States in a slow and thorough way.
I’ll do it with people and alone, I imagine.  I doubt anyone will want to accompany me the entire trip, but I expect I’ll have friends join me for a week or fortnight or through their state and whatnot.

I’m planning to do a bit of couch surfing as well as roughin’ it with a hammock between two trees.  I don’t expect to have to use hotels, but I’ll have some money set aside for emergencies (like rough storms or the like).
I’ll buy a bit of food in advance, but I’ll also buy as I go.  Maybe even do a bit of foraging.
Everything has to comfortably fit in my backpack.  If I’m going food shopping, I don’t want anything to be left on my bike and potentially be borrowed with no intention of returning.

I’m not sure what cities I’ll visit.  I was thinking about making a point of visiting capital cities, but I’m not sure if I want to stick to a strict schedule/plan, either.

I will have an iPhone 5 for my technology.  It will supply me with music, weather, maps, emergency phone, Twitter (and maybe YouTube?) for recording my trip, and maybe some fun game apps for helping me fall asleep in strange places.

This trip is planned for at least 6 months into the future, but probably no more than a year from now.  I won’t need much for it.  I do want to have a saved amount of money for emergencies and for anything special I might want while on the trip.

Oh, and the barefoot thing.  I’ll probably get a fixed gear bike for this and alter the pedals to be safely for barefeet (I don’t want a sweaty foot sliding off into the spokes of a wheel!  I’ve heard of that happening to people as kids).  Who knows, if it works great, I could have them made for fellow barefooters and sell them!

And this isn’t about endurance.  I know some people bike long distances as an endurance challenge.  I want to take this journey at a relaxed pace.  Nap when I want to, eat when I am hungry, explore a town when I feel like it.
I won’t be wearing special biking clothes.  I’ll probably just bring a few shirts and two or so pairs of Thai Fisherman Pants (relaxed and loose, good for keeping cool).  Of course I’ll have a reflective belt/helmet/bike reflectors.  I’ll probably even have a license plate for places like NY that require bicycles to be licensed.

But anyway, I’m just really excited about this idea/plan.  I’m going to contact a few friends to see if they’d be interested in joining me in their state for a bit, or at least letting me sleep on their couch while I’m there.

I’ll probably try to get a few sponsors, as well as tie my trip into raising money for a charity.  I’ll probably put a “Donate” button for my PayPal account on this blog as well.  (maybe I’ll do something like 50% of what you donate will go to a specific charity?  Something like that).

If you have any ideas or know of any awesome places I should visit, let me know in the comments!

Written by Star

29 September 2011 at 7:31 PM

Posted in Travel

Conflict at Walmart Concerning Shoelessness!

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What happened??

I just talked to these people!  We had confirmed with the ASSISTANT MANAGER at Walmart that there is no reason I was being told to wear shoes or leave.

So I go to Walmart for some weekly shopping (still trying to automate my grocery shopping on Amazon Subscribe and similar websites) and I’m just walking through the garden center on my way to the pet supplies and a lady stocking a display looks at me, looks at my feet, and says,
“You know you have to wear shoes in here.”

I was of course very surprised and slightly caught off guard.
I told her that no, I didn’t have to, and that Walmart doesn’t have any rules against going barefoot in their stores.

She muttered, “Whatever…”

“I could go walk with you to the manager and ask him, if you like.”

“No, it’s fine,” she said in a sort of high pitched voice that really just told me she didn’t like me but did believe that I was right.

So I continued my shopping and laughed to myself every time I thought of her response.

I think my Walmart must’ve hired a lot of new staff because I didn’t recognize a LOT of the people working there.  Perhaps they’ve just not been informed (yet?).

If Walmart does ever make another rule against barefeet, I WILL stop shopping there that day.  And never go back.  I don’t like them to begin with, but that would just be the last straw.

Written by Star

26 September 2011 at 8:25 PM

Posted in Life

Tagged with , , ,

No Apologies Accepted

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I will not even attempt to apologize for not writing, because, well, there simply is no apology. People don’t want to hear it. So here we go. I’ll just jump right in.

As some of you may recall, I was planning to go to Australia over the summer. Well, I did! And I went barefoot! I did almost all of my transportation to and from Australia barefooted and lived for about 5 weeks in Australia without having to wear shoes but maybe 3 times (all happened to be in Melbourne, Victoria?!). There was a concert I attended (Josh Pyke, yeah!) that was in a bar that I wore shoes to, simply because bars have dress codes so people look nice. I have no problems with dress codes, so it was completely fine!

I stayed mostly in Adelaide, Australia with some friends (and what a lovely time we had!), but I also traveled to Melbourne, Victoria (with said friends) and Sydney, New South Wales (with the same friends minus one of them). Sydney and Adelaide were the most laid back about barefeet, though it was also most comfortable to be in those cities without shoes. The ground in Adelaide, especially, was surprisingly clean for a city (I guess I am comparing with New York City), and Sydney wasn’t so bad (though I did encounter a bit of broken glass on a sidewalk on the way to our hotel (no, I didn’t get cut!)). Melbourne was the most industrial of the three cities, and was consequently the least clean. It still was not as bad as NYC, though!

I traveled to Australia in my summer, but that means it was winter there! It was in the upper 50’s and up to the mid 60’s (Fahrenheit) the entire time we were there, so it really was not like the winter I’m used to. Not to mention the cold was mostly a dry (not humid!) cold. It REALLY makes a difference. The wind sometimes was cruel in Victoria, but overall, really not that bad for a winter.

The first day we got there was a shock on my entire body because of the amazing temperature change. Coming from 90-100F to 56F is a huge difference, especially if you’re going barefoot. My feet actually felt numb for about 30 minutes during a walk on the first day. After that 30 minutes, they adapted and were perfectly fine for the rest of the trip.
They did get cold occasionally when it was cold, wet AND windy. It’s my least favorite combination when it comes to weather and bare feet.
Hot pavement and sand I can take, but cold, wet and windy is just mean.

The day I stepped on hot pavement (5 weeks later) again in Arizona on the bus trip home I acquired 3 or 4 moderate sized blisters. Nothing too terrible. It happens every year if I don’t ease into the weather changes.

Australia is so much different from the USA. I could go on for hours at the differences and funny culture anecdotes, but the basics is this:

Australians simply don’t care. If it isn’t hurting anyone, they won’t even look twice.

I got more weird looks during the bus trip into town while I was wearing my fake sandals (leather straps around my feet) than I did in an entire week of staying in Adelaide.
Most of the strange looks to my barefeet were more than likely weather related. It’s winter, after all.

The only times I was specifically told to wear shoes were:

1. On the way to Adelaide, Australia, we were boarding a transfer plane in Melbourne and the stewardess told me it was a health and safety hazard to be barefoot. I assured her I’d put on shoes and did when we left the plane in Adelaide.

2. In Melbourne, Victoria, I was eating in a pizza restaurant and forgot that bars have dresscodes. The bartender asked me if I had shoes I could wear when I was finished ordering my food. No problem. My own fault.

3. This one doesn’t quite count, but there were some Northern European tourists on a tram in Melbourne that asked me if I could afford shoes. I assured them I could, but didn’t want to buy any. In hindsight, I wonder what would’ve happened if I told them I couldn’t afford shoes? My friends and I joked about it later and I started to contemplate if my recently torn pants made me look homeless and poor.

So the only strange things to happen concerning my feet were in Melbourne.

In customs, they randomly did a bomb and explosives check with me and asked where my shoes were. I told them they were in my bag (which they had just scanned), and they let me continue through with no further questions asked.

Overall, great traveling experience! If anyone asked where my shoes were, I just told them they were in my bag. No worries! If I needed them, they were easy to whip out and slip on. But that rarely happened. :)

Written by Star

23 September 2011 at 12:37 AM

Posted in Life, Travel

Barefoot Updates

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It’s been too long, guys. Time for an update. :)

Barnes & Noble did eventually get back to me. They said the information I requested was proprietary, and when I asked what, specifically, that meant, they repeated that the information I requested was proprietary. All right then. Guess I’ll just have to take it up with the manager of that Barnes & Noble if I ever find myself there again.

I no longer worry about being told to leave Walmart because of not wearing shoes. I talked to 3 different people until I got to the assistant manager (actually quite a nice fellow) and he told me that there used to be a company wide rule (ages ago?) and they used to have signs on the door, but there was a change of policy and he guesses the employees were never informed.
And since that day, I have been apologized to by the last person to tell me to leave the store and no one has told me I have to wear shoes in the store.
So I guess with Walmart, it is worth it to be persistent. :)

I was at the movie theater yesterday about 35-40 minutes early for a movie I was seeing with Daly. Because we were there hanging out so long, I started getting a feeling people (including employees) were noticing my shoelessness. Sure enough, about 15 minutes before our film was to start, the (I assume) manager came over and told me I’d have to wear shoes, then said people had noticed I didn’t have feet. Because I knew he meant shoes, I made a joke about actually having feet and then went out to the car to grab my Toms. I wasn’t going to argue or pursue it further this time because I was with Daly and I think it’s better if I take into account that it makes other people who are with me uncomfortable when I challenge managers to show me the rules.
Besides, I had kind of set myself up for it with being inside so long AND wearing Thai pants which are not long enough to cover my feet and pretty much make it obvious that I’m shoeless.
So I put on the shoes and enjoyed the movie. No big deal.

The next big thing I’ll be doing without shoes is traveling and walking around Adelaide, Australia. I’ll bring my Toms with me because, well, I have no idea what to expect.
But I’ll keep you informed on that one.
I don’t see how there’d be much of a problem since people are going around barefoot in the airport because of security and Australia is a much more relaxed country than the states.
We’ll see how it goes!

Written by Star

23 May 2011 at 1:06 PM

Posted in Life

Looking into Barnes & Noble’s Store Policies

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I randomly got curious about what exactly Barnes & Noble’s store policies concerning barefeet are so I sent them a message tonight.

“Hi there,
I was wondering if you guys have a store policy against people not wearing shoes inside your stores?
Any information on this would be extremely helpful.
Thank you so much!
Star”

I probably should’ve worded it “customers” instead of “people”… But it’s too late now. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens!

Written by Star

7 March 2011 at 3:02 AM

Posted in Life

The results of wearing Thai pants and no shoes in Barnes & Noble

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Today I went to Barnes & Noble with two friends. I went barefoot, as I have many, many times before. What I wore that was different were my Thai fisherman pants. They are basically my pajamas and/or weekend attire. Today was Sunday, so naturally, I was wearing them.

The first 30 minutes of book perusing was quite normal. My thoughts of books being cheaper on Amazon were once more confirmed. Daly and Brad stuck around the science fiction/fantasy areas mostly and I thought of various ideas, plans, and goals, reviewed past conversations, etc.

Then, something unexpected happened.

Someone who obviously was working for the store (guessing the manager) confronted me and told me I was going to have to put some shoes one because they have a cafe and there are health policies.

I wish I could tell you that I calmly and confidently informed him that there were no health codes in the U.S. against barefeet in restaurants or cafes…

But alas, it was not so pretty and collected as that.

Don’t worry, I didn’t just agree to wear shoes (I had my moccasins in my shoulder bag for once, though).

I said something about there being no health policies with lots of stuttering and flusteredness, to which he said there’s a store policy.

I stuttered something about health and basically told him that though I disagreed with him, I would wear shoes.

What I should’ve said was: “Could you show me that policy, please?”

And I will next time.

So I put on my moccasins and felt very red-faced for a while. I almost felt like crying (not because of the confrontation itself, but because I had no support on the matter, I guess). But I got over it and tried reading a book on the floor in the humor section. My friends joined me with books of their own.

Any time we go to a bookstore, we always end up on the floor in an aisle or a corner with a book.

This was definitely not the first time we’d done it.

But here comes that manager again. He came all the way upstairs to ask us to sit in the cafe and not on the floor.

This usually would’ve been no big deal. But I (and my friends) had had enough of him and decided to leave.

I do not like that man.

But I am not complaining with no solution here.

I will avoid going to that particular bookstore from here on out (no big deal since Amazon is better), and if I do go to that bookstore with other people, I will be sure to wear longer pants so my barefeet don’t stand out so much.

Written by Star

6 February 2011 at 10:32 AM

Posted in Disadvantages

20 Things I Learned in 28 Days of Barefooting PART 2

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Here is the continuation of Part 1 of this post:

I remember the year before last when I went barefoot at my school (technical college) and one of the security guards told me I had better put my shoes back on. I had only done it 2 or 3 times (not knowing the great stuff about not wearing shoes), but for some reason, I have managed 20 days at my college barefoot and nobody has told me to stop. I think the main reason back then was because I had been carrying my shoes in my hand. Now I don’t bring shoes with me. I keep some in my car just in case, and if I think it will be tricky somewhere (like Walmart), I will wear some leather around my foot so it looks as if I’m wearing sandals.

I did get “kicked out” of Walmart for not wearing shoes this past weekend. One of the elderly greeters spotted me. Why she was looking at feet is beyond me. But she told me it was against Walmart’s policy. Funny, I didn’t see a sign outside. So I walked out, grabbed my shoes from the car and stuffed them in my pocket, then walked in a different entrance with barefeet still. I made sure to leave from a door other than where the greeter had spotted me.

Now I know that there is no policy (not to mention no sign on the door) against barefeet in Walmart.

Knowledge is so empowering.

If she catches me again, I will probably protest and not give up without a fight. And probably end up having to leave and enter in another door (that is, if she doesn’t call for the manager’s backup (the manager there is actually quite intimidating)).

We’ll see, though.

I have gone into Southpoint mall (large mall), the post office, Barnes & Noble, the Apple store, Walmart, Lowe’s Foods, Food Lion, Tractor Supply, Lowe’s Hardware, Umami (Japanese restaurant), Panera, the Food Court, Subway, my college (and each class many times), on escalators, elevators, a bathroom, the woods, down the road, the grass, gravel, hot pavement (running makes it painless), many parking lots, and probably other places that I’m forgetting.

The only time I stepped on glass was in my own driveway.

Don’t worry, it was a very minor cut that healed completely in two days.

Yesterday I stepped on a thorny leaf on my arch on my way to my door that caused a little bit of pain.

The only other time I’ve stepped on something that punctured my skin was when I was walking through the automotive repair shop I work at and stepped on a tiny piece of metal. It may have been wire. But whatever it was, it poked me and it hurt enough to notice.

None of my minor injuries have bled. None have visually remained for more than 2 days. And none have hurt once the problem was removed.

Worthy of insurance coverage? Don’t think so.

Also, a lot of these things wouldn’t have happened if my skin was more developed. I read it takes about 6 weeks for the skin on the bottom of your feet to thicken enough to walk on gravel without it being painful. By that time, I probably wouldn’t have been bothered by the little piece of metal, and perhaps not even by the glass (the thorny leaf was on my arch, so that was unavoidable).

All in all, not bad for my first 4 weeks barefoot. And if the first 6 weeks are the most difficult, then things will only be getting better from here on out.

Oh, one thing that some people have asked me (namely my best friend and my parents) is what I am going to do with the sandals I just bought 3 months ago. Well, I won’t WEAR them, if that’s what you’re asking. Sure, I know, they were expensive. They are also very nice and handmade.

But let’s say you were a Catholic that converted to Buddhism and you had JUST bought a beautiful handmade rosary 6 weeks before, more expensive than any you’ve ever owned. Each wooden bead hand carved. The cross made of handwrought silver. Well you’re now a Buddhist so that rosary doesn’t mean anything to you. You may keep it because it was so expensive and beautiful, but you won’t be using it. You don’t need it.

And you won’t feel bad for not using it. It is not important anymore.

That is how I feel about my shoes.

I will likely use them for formal occasions, but 98% of the time, they will be stored in my closet.

Here are some great resources for aspiring barefooters and people just curious about all of it:

Pretty much the barefooting headquarters. Information on just about everything barefoot and links to anything they missed.

A detailed bit of literature on going barefoot (available in PDF for free (it’s 12 pages)).

Letters to the Health Department for each US state.

Everything you need to know about going barefoot medical/health wise.

Why denying barefooters from establishments is discriminatory.

Debunking the illegal barefoot driving myth.

Barefoot FAQ

A free simple moccasin pattern.

What do you think?
If you had no fear of what people would think of you, would you go barefoot everywhere?

Written by Star

22 September 2010 at 9:23 PM

Posted in Green Living, Health, Life