I’ll be straight; this is a two parted review. I could go into detail about everything that happened before 1pm, but that’s best left for someone else’s’ lawyers to figure out. After 1pm, I began my day trip north. I set out with a simple mission to try on some of the backpacks I’d been drooling over for months online. It was a nice sunny afternoon to bus/hike/hitch up to the other side of Pinellas County, FL.
My first leg, well the snake rather, almost caught my leg as I took my first twenty steps towards the bus stop by where i’m staying. i startled a 5 foot black racer poised under a bush by the sidewalk. Fast little things. What is it with me and black racers in Florida? I know, I must have mentioned this in a previous posting. The wildlife here never amazes me, As though the state’s ecosystem is always trying to kick out civilized mankind. The bus trip to the transfer with my trusty new camera remained uneventful. The next bus was 25 minutes off, so I ducked into a wendy’s for a frosty. It’s the columbus, oh part of me. I had been avoiding this chain the entire time I lived there and for the past half year. As I finished some fries and approached the stop, a bumper from a newer mustang flew across the road into the sign post in front of me. Thanks to the county for amazing sign placement. I avoided the debris from a 55 mph crash. luckily a woman pulling out of the parking lot near me ran from her car and called 911. As it turned out the camero, hit by the mustang, deployed all its airbags. Neither driver, being only one person per car, sustained any injuries. They both denied the paramedics help. Two totaled sports cars, completely sober drivers, and zero injuries: one hell of an insurance problem for someone, i’m sure. With the stall in traffic, I even caught the bus to just south of Tarpon Springs. Oops. My destination is just outside of Clearwater. Taking some spare time saved for picture taking, I hoofed it to the store, over a few miles and through a really nice Korean War memorial park.
the scene of the accident.
- florida has an amazing collection of old war vehicles lying all over the place.
As I thought the stores entrance was on the south side of this park, I walked the length of the park. In hindsight, the backdoor is actually a loading dock for kayak tests, not an entrance, but the employees graciously led me through the door and onto the amazing showroom floor of Bill Jackson’s. This is a store I’d heard about in great detail on the way down through Georgia. The place lives up to the hype and exceeds it in many ways. Unlike a box store, no one pestered me at minutely intervals to ask, too chipperly, if I needed anything. This is one of my greatest pet peeves. But the second I had my first question a gentleman was there with exactly the answers I needed.
the ebtrance to bill jackson’s, just off us 19.
I really only meant to see how the packs felt, but there is something amazing that happens when you step foot into a real live store with real live people, especially such a nationally recognized, locally owned, outdoors store. You spend more money, but you wind up with what you actually need, not what you thought someone else told you to want. No specs or biased, inflated forum reviews. With bags, its just that. You need to speak to someone who actually uses the products. Like shoes and cars, you, also, have to test drive them. I’ve owned as many bags as any bicycle-commuter/weekend warrior and have owned many things that have been returned or suffered catastrophic failures. I lost a laptop down three flights of stairs in college from a faulty shoulder strap, for example. Just as you’d expect from a place like this, the person assisting me took his time to help me get everything right. They offer an amazing $35 pack fitting. Without even asking, I was given a general fit by the associate at no cost. I had become overwhelmed with so many options from kelty, northface, and $900 wonder packs. This store only carries what really works, something for every one’s individual needs, no crap, and nothing that costs more than is worth in practice.
I found out as I combed through each model with my rep that I’d been looking at packs from the wrong perspective. I wound up purchasing an osprey porter 65, from their travel and trekking collection. Basically, what I needed was a backpack/duffel bag/back country hiking bag. Osprey actually makes something that does all this, with out jingling outer straps, can be checked on planes, has a removable day pack(which at $35 I saved to buy later), and all for $129. I chose the 65l version which is the larger so that i can use the extra room for film supplies and my sleeping bag. For now I find my Timbuk2bag fits perfectly as the attachable day-bag. I hope the photos of all this do it justice, my journey now takes me back home and to the grocery.
What went into the bag.
- with room to spare.
Just as I had some bus issues finding the store, these problems persisted. After a bus passed my by at the stop a mile down from bill Jackson’s, I spent a half hour talking about weather, storms, and Florida’s heat with a woman waiting on the next bus. Luckily, I flagged down a pickup driver and went on my way to the downtown Walmart for groceries, skipping the bus, altogether. The bag on my back ignited constant conversations with almost everyone I met. But what better way to test a frame less 65l bag than to fill it with $75 in groceries for the next few weeks, then hike the five miles home. I’m sure the sight was something strange to people downtown. Drenched in sweat, I made it home just before 9pm. My initial findings are that I’ve found the best possibly bag for the way I travel. I may never fill it up to 38lbs in canned goods again, though it handles well. I suited it up with everything I had to normally carry as well, roamed around the house, yet nothing I could do made it difficult to maneuver in or carry. I even found that the cavernous sleeve for the straps to tuck away into at the airport can hold a water bladder, if needed. Not having the extra straps is a godsend. I’m yearning for the daypack to go with it. It’ll give me a system which is actually only one pack when it needs to be, but can be separated when i need something lighter or hop the train. In the coming months, I’ll be able to fully test it out, as I plan on heading back to Ohio for a short family reunion, then out to Vegas to visit with friends. All this after the summer heat passes of course.
a shot of the bag, fully loaded with all my camping gear. smile.