Thursday, October 21, 2010

The gear that failed us

We are halfway through our journey.  Its time for a reflection post, but we are still reflecting so we'll have to get to the big "what we've learned so far" post in a few days.  One thing we have learned that is worthy of its own post is that gear is key.  The correct gear. The daily gear we are using on this adventure is shoes.  We bought everyone a new pair of shoes before we came.  We made sure they fit properly and that they had plenty of support for lots of walking.  We had them wear them a few times to make sure they wouldn't have any problems, but all the of the shoes were "new" when we left.  Tim and I have done fine.  My new tennis shoes and Tim's hiking boots have held up well.   Here are the results 6 weeks later of the kids shoes:

Matthew's shoes have held up well.  They are Timberland's and still have plenty of tread.  He has to tie them constantly despite triple knotting them and that is frustrating for him, but common for the round hiker laces that these shoes came equipped with.  We wish we would have bought them all hikers like these.

Carter:  Champion shoes we bought at payless.  The only shoes he could find that would fit to his satisfaction.  He had a pair before and was thrilled to get these for the trip.  The tread is gone (see the edges of the sole showing).  They are completely slick on the bottom and are coming apart at the seams.

Laurel:  Sketcher's with rubber tread on the bottom of the shoe falling off.  If we had super glue or something along those lines we could probably do a repair job, but we don't.  The first portion had to be cut off while touring Berlin as it was flapping around and causing her to trip.  Luckily we were in town when the second piece of tread came loose and she just dealt with it until we got back to the apartment.

Katey: Keds' that are more supportive than the cheapest model.  They have the thicker soles and have served her well until they started to fall apart last week. The back of the shoe is unsewn and falling apart.  As a result it won't stay on her foot so we continually find her either missing a shoe or walking around on the back of the shoe like slip-on.  The lace on one shoe is broken. 

So, why is this a big deal?  Shoes are expensive in Germany and vital for us!  I likely would have brought them a spare pair if I'd have known it was literally at least double the price to shod a kid here.  We replaced Laurel's last week.  We shopped online to no avail.  We spent half a day looking for shoes for a reasonable amount of money.  Most stores shocked me, even the "discount" store we found.  Off brand shoes were 40 euros and really didn't have the structure to support the amount of walking and name brand, good shoes, were 60 euros and up (add the exchange rate and it gets even more expensive).  We gave up trying to match prices we'd pay in the US (we'd spent half a day and taken three buses). We went to a large shoe store and paid 30 euros ($45) for a pair of adidas walking shoes on sale and they were literally the only shoes in the store that fit her that would cost us less than $100.  I realize some folks shell out lots of money for shoes for their kids on a regular basis, but we don't.  Normally I try to buy them good shoes, but get them on sale.  In the next few days I have to do it again for Katey.  I have found a few more stores to try before giving up and heading back to the big shoe store.  I am hoping Carter's shoes will make it through, but I doubt it, and I'm wishing I'd packed hiking shoes instead of rubber boots.  Its been our biggest mistake on the trip.  Maybe we can count the new ones as our souvenirs?

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