Vail Daily column: These boots are made for walkin’ |

Vail Daily column: These boots are made for walkin’

Richard Carnes
My View
Richard Carnes

With apologies to Nancy Sinatra’s one-hit wonder (she was known for one other thing, too), I recently had two pairs of boots re-souled.

Doing so is not really much of a big deal, but to me it was another rite of passage for formidable footwear that are spending their fourth decade in my closet, no matter where that closet has resided.

If they could speak — and sometimes I truly wish they could — man oh man, the stories they could tell. But then I realize quite a few of those stories occurring while wearing them should never be repeated, especially in a family newspaper, so they’re better off heeling their traps.

Hence my use of the word: Soul.

Growing up in Dallas, it was normal to wear cowboy boots to just about any occasion, sort of like it is to wear Sorels around here during the winter. Standard Texas footwear, but for me at the time, it was the look much more than the feel.

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Texan vanity, I suppose.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard the question, “Hey, why you wearin’ cowboy boots?” but I have heard mouthfuls when it came to colors, skins, hides, shapes, stitching and so on.

I’d go through a pair in a year or two, except for the nice ones saved for special events like a Dallas Cowboy game, and then replace them with a fresh pair, tossing the old ones just like you would worn out sneakers.

Hence the nicer ones tend to stick around much longer.

So every once in a while, I would get an extra special pair, and the first of that kind were a pair of cream-colored Nocona “Bullnecks,” and they were a high school graduation gift in 1977.

Wore them damn near every day in college, and exactly four years later, in 1981, I had the distinct honor of having the CEO of Justin Boots, John Justin Jr., come to our house and do a custom measuring of my 21-year-old feet.

A family friend, Mr. Justin spent over an hour using a podiatrist protractor of sorts to minutely scour my plantar pads and every other square inch of my leg pedals.

They arrived four months later.

And now, having gone through many other boots, these two specific pairs have never left my feet, figuratively speaking.

They stood tall through my first job at a bank, my first wife, our first house, our first dog and the first monumental life-changing event in our young lives — moving to Vail in 1984.

They were with me as I worked at the old Westin (now the Cascade), bought a video store, opened another video store, opened two music stores, had two boys, divorced and then was elected.

They remained upright as I fell in love again, remarried, had yet another boy, took up golf, discovered craft beer and began writing a weekly column.

From the cobbled streets of Pompeii to the fjords of Norway and the pearl-lined beaches of Bora Bora, these boots have traveled the world, and now at age 50-plus, it’s the feel much more than the look.

New soles, but the same boots, and for better or worse, the same feet doing the walkin’.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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