Starbucks Adventure Essentials

My accountant had packed a portable toilet! 

When I saw him trying to unsuccessfully wedge it in his aluminum panniers I thought, “WTF is that?”

At first I thought it was a tool for supporting his motorcycle when needing to remove the rear wheel, or some kind of a tire bead breaker. Then I saw the canvas seat with the hole in the middle. 

The newbie was not carrying his kitchen sink but had chosen to pack a portable sitter-shitter, something he had purchased out of an Internet camping catalog as “needed” for out-of-the-way adventures.

Being my usual affable and inquisitive self, I politely asked, “What’s that for?”

“Oh, my Internet research told me that where we are going there might not be essential amenities, like clean toilets, so the writer added it to his essential list. He’s the expert and I am just learning, so I took his advice. It doesn’t weight much, folds up flat like a camping stool, and I can envision it will be essential if we find ourselves away from modern humanity.”

When he could not wedge the foldable sitter-shitter into his panniers I suggested he position it across his luggage rack and pile his other hundred pounds of adventure riding essentials on top, thereby hiding it from inquiring eyes.

I had seen a lot of odd adventure gear being packed on adventure motorcycles, and in my opinion much of it far from essential. But being curious I asked what other essential motorcycle adventure riding gear he had researched and deemed essential.

He listed a GPS, and then two smart phones with GPS tracks programmed in case the GPS failed, ear buds, emergency transponder/tracking device, plus a spare battery pack. Then his list got to the far edge of essential, like the $1,000 adventure riding jacket, $300 adventure riding boots, $600 adventure-styled helmet and $270 motorcycle adventure gloves. 

Artwork by Mr. Jensen

To support one of his phones he had a $48 handlebar mount, and to feed his electrics a $22 dual-USB charging port, which he described as not only essential but indispensable. To carry his supply of Depends for Men, toilet paper and assorted clothing, he had an 80-liter soft bag that retailed at $525.

Peering inside one of his fully loaded aluminum panniers I saw what I thought was a water-carrying backpack, and curiously asked, “Why are you carrying this and not wearing it? Won’t it be kind of hard to get to if you need to hydrate?”

He said, “It’s not for water, it’s for gasoline.” At $150 he really thought an expensive gasoline bladder essential for crossing the United States on mostly interstate highways—there might be a gasoline shortage, or he could run out of gasoline!

Always willing to learn what some adventure blogger/journalist and the newbie adventure accountant deemed essential, I did internally nod positively at his choice of a Wolfman Wolfy Roll for $35 to carry tools. What I was afraid to ask, and possibly laugh at, was what was included in the seemingly 25 pounds of “essential” tools he had rolled inside.

Our plan, since he was paying for gas, food and accommodations, was to start the adventure in Southern California, wander across the northern part of the country to the east coast and finally, after two weeks of adventure hammering the paved roads of America, end in southern Florida, 90% of the time having driven our adventure laden motorcycles on interstate highways or toll roads. The plan included four and five-star hotels, no fast food restaurants and some down days for R & R, laundry and secure Internet conferencing with his newly-met Internet dating site girlfriend. While he would be using the hotel swimming pools and fitness centers or swilling $50 bottles of wine during dinner, I could ride to seldom seen friends’ homes to visit or trade road tales and schmooze with some sponsors, so I went along as wingman for the motorcycle driving time we had together.

As we were doing our final packing on our day of departure, I tried not to laugh as I asked if there was anything he might essentially need before leaving civilization, like a spare shit-holder-bag for his portable shitter, or a map showing Starbucks coffee locations along our route?

At first I wondered at the length and detail of how he had tried to bubble wrap his motorcycle adventure but decided not to rain hard on his dream. However, I could not resist a tweak to his cranial list of essentials by asking, “Did you get that porta-shitter tent that is sold with the unit to protect against the malaria-carrying mosquitoes?”

He seriously replied, “No, according to my research, malaria is not prevalent where we’re going, but for security I am taking the anti-malaria pills my doctor prescribed. I think I’ve bought essentially everything for this epic adventure. I even got lucky and was able to download all the Starbucks locations along our route on my GPS and both phones. So as the songs goes, let’s head out on the highway, looking for adventure.”

Yeah, I thought, we’ll essentially be looking for adventure. 

Get a copy of Dr. G’s all-color coffee table book, “Down and Out in Patagonia, Kamchatka And Timbuktu,” available at 

This story originally appeared in our May 2018 issue.