Product Review: Rockport Total Motion Mid Pump

by Nicole Sheets
( July 28th, 2014 )


Rockport Total Motion

“Those are Rockports?” WanderHubs asked.

I confess I’d had a similar thought before I checked out the brand’s recent lookbooks. These styles are a far cry from the humorless, sensible shoes fancied by retired schoolteachers and or devoted wearers of pleated slacks (my Nana Sheets included. She had a sense of humor, even if her shoes did not).

The folks at Rockport recently sent me a pair of their Total Motion Mid Pump, shown above. It’s available in a variety of luxurious neutrals. Though let’s be honest: for Wanderchic, if it’s a contest between Taupe and Python, we know who’s going to win. The versatility of the print is one of my favorite features: it’s professional yet playful.

Rockport Python Pump

This pump has nearly a three-inch heel, which is a bit higher than I usually wear. Rockport also offers this print in other styles, including their “Seven to 7 ” line, such as the Low Pump (more like a kitten heel) and in a Peep-toe Wedge. NB: Both styles happen to be on sale at right this moment.

One big selling point of the Total Motion collection is the Adidas ADIPRENE+ technology, designed to “bend the rules of movement.” The insole is squishy soft, as though they’ve snuck a slipper into a pump. The shoe feels stable and springy, a bit like a running shoe in pump’s clothing. I imagine that, given the materials in the sole and heel, these shoes are pretty much impossible to repair. It’s a bummer, and one that stretches pretty much all across our contemporary shoescape.

Rockport Total Motion Sole

Size-wise, the shoes run a bit big. I’m usually a 10.5, though a 10 in the Mid Pump would be closer to that glove-like fit. (It’s a rarity to encounter a 10.5 at all, much less to find it a bit roomy.)

I sprayed the shoes with leather protectant to ward off the Northwest rain. That’s not an issue these days, but these shoes will transition seamlessly into Fall and maybe even Winter with the right tights. I’m looking forward to putting more miles on them.

Rockport with cat


Photo Credits: and WanderHubs

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Royal Robbins Lt Expedition 3/4 Sleeve Shirt Is Ready For Adventure

by Nicole Sheets
( July 9th, 2014 )

Royal Robbins 3/4 Expedition

I had a great chance to try out the Royal Robbins Lt Expedition 3/4 Sleeve during my recent wanderings. (That’s me, above, at a cute Italian restaurant on the Thames, where WanderHubs and I repaired after a thrilling production of Julius Caesar at Shakespeare’s Globe. You know, like you do on a Friday afternoon).

The Globe is an open-air, rain-or-shine theater, and we’d opted for standing or “groundling” tickets. I’m rather evangelical, about sunscreen, so I was delighted that the Lt Expedition offers an “Moisture Control System” with UPF 50+, at least through the first 40 washes. The shirt felt breezy and wicked away sweat. It’s 100% polyester, but it’s that classy, silky polyester. The shirt feels comfortable and gives off an air of casual, effortless polish. And after living out of a suitcase for a couple of weeks, I was grateful for the shirt’s resistance to wrinkles.


Royal Robbins Lt Expedition Emerald

I love the choice of snaps instead of buttons. The front panel, or “covered snap placket,” features subtle, decorative stitching.

I’m less excited about the sleeves. Sure, 3/4 sleeves are an OK length for a shirt designed for folks who spend time in the outdoors. The longer sleeve provides more protection from the sun and stray branches. You can also roll up the sleeves and button them into place. This creates a slightly fussier look than I usually go for (though you can see in the first photo that I totally went for it). All told, I think I’d rather have either a long sleeve or a short/cap sleeve and be done with it.

I opted for the Lt Expedition in Emerald, and it’s also available in Pool, Soapstone (shown below), White, and Wild Rose.

Royal Robbins Lt Expedition Soapstone

Aside from the lightness of the fabric, my favorite feature of the shirt is a zippered pocket in the right side of the shirt. It’s just the size for some I.D. and cash, or maybe a key. You can’t hide a Big Mac in there, but it’s a great sneak feature that doesn’t compromise the shirt’s sleek lines.

All told, this shirt is comfy without looking slouchy, and it’s versatile. After all, it was suitable for the theater (at least for an ourdoor matinee). And I’m sure it will be a trusty companion on hikes when I return to the PNW.

For a look at more Royal Robbins gear, check out Samantha’s review of the Discovery Pant.

Photo Credits: WanderHubs and


PNW Destinations: McMenamins Crystal Hotel in Portland

by Nicole Sheets
( June 13th, 2014 )

Crystal Hotel


I’ve been charmed by the McMenamins empire since that first fateful pint of custom-crafted beer at the Kennedy School in Portland. Before my most recent trip, my buddy Liv told me about the recently opened McMenamins Crystal Hotel in Portland’s Pearl District.

The Kennedy School houses its guests in converted classrooms (complete with chalkboards). At the Crystal Hotel, rooms and suites are named for musicians, a nod to the nearby Crystal Ballroom. We stayed in the Louie Louie (the Kingsmen room). Ours, like most of the rooms at the Crystal, was a queen with private-upon-entry bathrooms down the hall (there are a few King rooms with private bath available, too).

Crystal Hotel Rooms

For brevity’s sake, I offer three suggestions for getting the most out of your stay at the Crystal.

Crystal Hotel Soaking Pool

Robe On!

As if its location and charming decor weren’t enough, the Crystal has a soaking pool in the basement. It’s adult swim from 8pm till it closes at 1 am. You’ll probably want one of McMenamins’ signature beers in a plastic cup, which you can obtain from Al’s Den just down the hall from the pool.

While you’re right to assume that the bar staff are used to serving people wrapped in terry cloth, don’t be surprised if you get a few looks from the bar’s hip patrons. One woman might stare at you with her mouth open; when you say “we’re going to the soaking pool,” she looks at you as though you’ve just said that you’re off to potty-train a unicorn. Order your drink, and tell her you’re really in Portland for a swingers’ convention.

By the second night’s soak, you know where to stand at the bar, and you wear your robe with pride. A woman in heels only wishes she had on your hot pink Crocs. Smile when a guy passes you and says “Robe on!”

Make Multiple Trips to Powell’s

If you just bop into Powell’s Books for one trip, you’ll need a wheelbarrow to carry all of your loot. The Crystal is only a couple of blocks away from this, the largest bookstore in our nation. So after your first trip, to get your bearings, you can soak, regroup, replenish, strategize. It’s not a bad idea to train for your trip to Powell’s with some upper body work, so you can carry all those books. Do some stairs, so you can travel to all of the floors. Perhaps you should take a dance class to heighten your kinesthetic body awareness so you don’t knock into people among the cookbooks or graphic novels. Good thing there’s a coffee shop tucked in the back.

Perambulate the Pearl

You’re right in the middle of things in the Pearl District. Browse the museum/store of Fluevog. Approach the herd of food trucks. Graze. Repeat. Stumble into a bakery that you don’t realize is vegan and gluten-free until you chow down on a super-sweet cupcake with a slightly different, uh, forkfeel. Read the fine print on the chalkboard sign. Ask for half and half for your coffee. Learn that the bakery has no dairy on the premises. Listen to the seven other kinds of “milk” you can enjoy in our beverage (the hazelnut “milk” isn’t bad). Recognize that you’re living a Portlandia sketch, and enjoy the moment.

Photo Credits: and WanderHubs.

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