I'm 7xx,xxx and probably joined in the late 70's. My dad had joined many years before that (I don't know what his membership # was, but I'd be willing to bet it was less than 6 digits) and I didn't need to buy my own stuff until I went off to school at Berkeley where I was within range of store #2. I still remember my first two purchases on my own. One was an ice axe (fall sale 1978, probably). In those days the sales were these huge events because the sale prices were truly mind blowing. For those of you familiar with the Berkeley store, the line would reach out to Gilman Ave. I remember briefly wondering whether anyone would look at me funny riding my bike through Berkeley (back to dorms) carrying an ice axe, then I reminded myself "This is Berkeley, nobody will think that's the least bit strange". Indeed several people simply commented what a nice ice axe it was. Not long after that in May 1979 that same ice axe saved my life with a desperate self arrest in spring snow on Mt. Brewer; needless to say I have a sentimental attachment to that axe. The other purchase was this monster red hollofill jacket that I also still use (only for the coldest car camping trips).
I too have the REI Visa and my wife and I pretty much put all of our purchases on it. Since moving from the Yay Area, after 46 years living there it is in fact regrettable that we are now 3 hours or so from the nearest REI, but perhaps that simply protects us from buying too much. I still don't understand why REI won't open a store in Fresno; they'd make a killing here. There is a large number of folks here who enjoy the outdoors, plus this is the gateway to Seki and Yosemite for anyone driving toward west entries from the southern part of the state. I had two of my Fresno State geology class field trips make stops at the Fremont, CA (SF Bay Area) REI on different occasions and they went nuts. Of course geologists are very much into outdoor gear.
Share your advice and personal experiences, post a gear review or ask any questions you may have pertaining to outdoor gear and equipment.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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