brad's blog

Too old for Tik-Tok. Too lazy for YouTube.

My ETC (Every Trip Carry)

02/23/24 - I enjoy traveling and throughout the years have found a few things that I was consitently needed, but not consitantly carrying. So I would end up with extras at the end of the trip having bought something to substitute for the missing item which was probably laid out on my bed for packing, but never made it into the bag. My ETC is a take-off of EDC (Every Day Carry) which is an interesting YouTube wormhole if you are so inclined. I created this kit based on my perceived needs along with some real life experiences. The contents of the kit are subject to change if I need to swap something out, or otherwise deem that something is not as necessary as I originally thought. The entire kit fits nicely in a Chums Surf Wallet.

etc kit

The contents of this kit are:

etc kit contents.

I've actually used the adaptor, the meds, the Gorilla tape, the blank business cards, and the first aid items since I started carrying this kit. That leaves the flashlight, the Leatherman, the stamp, and the RFID envelope as the four things not yet used. I have used the Leatherman on previous trips, specifically for the scissors. I can't think of a use case for the RFID envelope, but it is a good way to hold the business cards and if for some reason I needed to secure my credit card, I have it. The stamp takes up almost no space so it stays for now and since it is a forever stamp, I don't need to worry about postage increases if it sits there for years. The flashight is a bit of a question mark as I have that function on my phone and have yet to use it. For now, I can't think of something else to replace it in the kit so it stays as a backup to my phone.

etc kit contents unpacked.

I like the idea of having a dedicated collection of gear that I can just grab and drop in my travel bag without have to search for the individual items. All of these are dedicated to this kit and stay in the Chums when I am not travelling. That way it's always ready to go. I have an alternate version of this kit that I am building out for a friend and will likely feature it in another blog post.

Musical Instrument Museum

02/15/24 - Another hidden gem in Phoenix is the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM). This is a wonderful place to spend the better part of a day if you are a musician, if you are a music lover, or if you just want to explore history and culture. There are extensive displays of instruments of most of the countries of the world. You can explore the music of your ancestors or of any place you are interested in.

Instruments of Ukraine

Additionally, there are special exhibits that do a deep dive into specific subjects. On my visit, there was one about acoustic music. The had a guitar used by Johnny Cash, a Piano used by Prince, and countless other examples of acoustic instruments with incredible stories about the people who used them. I never felt the burning need to see Tito Puente's percussion set up, but after this, I am glad that I had the chance to.

Tito Puente's timbales

If you are in the Phoenix area, and fancy such things, I highly recommend a visit to this museum. I put the visit at about 1/2 of a day. They offer audio tours that guide you through the museum with a headset, but I prefer to just go on my own. Go see a drum kit from Primus, the instruments from Ukraine, or see how Martin Guitars are made. If you like music, this museum will not disappoint.

Nomad Life

02/09/24 - This past week, I had occasion to visit some of my nomad friends camping in Quartzite. I met these folks virtually first then got to meet them IRL. It has made my desire to take up this lifestyle even stronger. I am a travel bug, but I'm also a cheapskate, so finding an economical way to travel appeals to me. Two of my nomad friends are YouTubers so I will link their channels below.

KatandDogsonWheels - Tan Skoolie

The first thing about van life that appeals to me is the freedom to go (mostly) anywhere. Of course you have to follow local laws, but especially out west, there are a ton of places you can go and camp/live for free. the second thing that appeals to me is going to places where the weather suits my clothes (thank you Harry Nilsson). If I do this, I'd probably be doing the 'chasing 70' mantra. Search for that if you want more info but it's basically following the temperature that suits you.

MaxMiniTV - Turquoise Skoolie

My friends have Skoolies (converted school buses). My current plan would involve a standard van, but I have taken a lot from their builds. I need a good bed, a workstation (desk), some solar, and a basic camp kitchen and potty. I did a initial POC (Proof of Concept) with a 2005 Dodge Carivan, and I learned a lot from that. My next build will probably be full size Ford or Chevy van, but I leave open other possibilities. I anticipate this becoming a reality in 2024. Check back if you want to see the progress.

Check out my friends here:
KatandDogsonWheels - Tan Skoolie
MaxMiniTV - Turquoise Skoolie

Amtrak Roomette

02/02/24 - In preperation for a potential extended train trip, I booked a one night trip from Flagstaff AZ to LA on Amtrak in a 'roomette'. The roomette is the cheapest private option on Amtrak. I did this trip solo, but the research is for a 2 person trip. The roomette is basically two seats which are facing each other, which converts to bunk beds. It is your own private space though, which I consider a plus. In daytime mode, you get two generous seats with a shared folding table. The seats are 27" wide and they recline. Plus, you get a door and curtains to add to the privacy. In addition to the seats, you get about 11" of additional space to the interior of the cabin for moving about.

Roomette with seats deployed for daytime

When it is time for bed, the lower seats convert to a 27" wide bed and the upper berth is a 24" wide bunk. The attendent makes up your beds and pillows and blankets are provided. My trip was very restful and pleasant. There is a bit of road noise so if that kind of thing bothers you, I suggest bringing ear plugs

Roomette with bed deployed for nighttime

The bathroom was shared among the floor, but it exceeded any airplane bathroom I ever used, so it was more than acceptable to me. There was a shared shower on the lower deck that I did not use. Meals were complimentary with my ticket, but make sure you check with the attendant for serving times. Will I book a roomette again? The answers is yes. It was an enjoyable way to travel and to me, worth the expense, YMMV.


04/24, 03/24, 02/24, 01/24