At the moment I’m between road trips. The weekend before last we went to AnimeFest in Dallas. It was a good little vacation. The boys stayed home with their grandmother, we met up with some friends at the convention, and we stayed in a nice (though a bit overpriced) hotel. The dealers room and video rooms alone were worth the trip.

Along the way we had supper at El Fenix and lunch at Whole Paycheck – uh, I mean, Whole Foods Market. We shopped at REI twice, once to buy a travel clothesline, and a second time because their big Labor Day sale was nearing its end. I like to visit those places when in DFW. We don’t have them in OKC.

We tested the “wear 1 pack 2″ clothes packing system. Thus the clothesline. It worked pretty well, with amazingly light backpacks, but we learned two useful lessons.

First, bring clothes that can be wrung out and hung to dry without staying stretched out. Second, keep up with the nightly hand-washing if you don’t have a washing machine nearby. We still had clean clothes, but one particular shirt turned out to be dirty when it was needed.

Last weekend was Grand Assembly of Archers. It was a rainy weekend, so we didn’t bother to camp. Shooting arrows in the rain is more fun than it sounds. Next time I want to bring the crossbow.

Later this week we’re driving to Gatlinburg to visit some of Dana’s family. It’ll be a great trip. I already have two audio books lined up for the drive, beyond the usual podcasts, music, and hour upon hour of Dave Ramsey. One is “It’s Called Work for a Reason” by Larry Winget. The other is “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall.

I picked the running book because it comes universally recommended by barefoot runners. I’m not quite one of those yet, but I’ve been interested in the concept since reading Tim Ferriss’s article about his Vibram Five Fingers shoes. (I really want some of those monkey-toe shoes, but I’m still watching for the KSO model to go on sale.)

At least 3/4 of the average day I’m barefoot. I can get away with it because I’m at home with the boys. When we go outside, I just put on my trusty Chaco sandals, or my “real” shoes if we’re going somewhere fancy. They come off again when we get home. I learned this from the Japanese. No shoes tracking mud inside means a cleaner floor.

But after looking into how feet work, I noticed something interesting. I’ve always been clumsy. I trip over carpet, stumble on stairs, and generally clomp around – when wearing shoes. But when I take off the shoes, suddenly I’m much more graceful. I can change speeds in an instant and turn on a dime. “Clomp clomp clomp” turns into an everyday sort of ballet.

How this happens mechanically is simple. With shoes, my feet land heel-toe and lift off again like I’m wearing concrete. Barefoot, my feet usually land towards the middle or the front, and my step pushes off with the ball and toes. Turning, pivoting, or stretching also generally happen closer to the toes. Skin grips ground pretty well, and its sensory feedback lets me adjust posture for balance when the surface changes.

I don’t have think about it very often, it just happens. I go from gorilla to gazelle. Well, relatively speaking. I’m sure compared to any barefoot athlete I’m still clumsy. But it’s an improvement.

So I’ve almost decided that the barefoot or near-barefoot believers might be onto the right idea. If not for running outside, then at least for ordinary walking indoors.

Today I’m going to bake cookies for Scott’s pre-K class. We’re on the schedule to bring snacks tomorrow. Most likely I’ll make oatmeal cranberry cookies. Just start with any oatmeal raisin recipe, use cranberry “raisins” instead, and add some extra. The effect is subtle but tasty.