A Day without a Car
Okay, this is weird. But I’m going to try to make it work.
Over at the Green Phone Booth yesterday I posted a “Day in the Life” post for the Green Mom’s Carnival–a pretty typical day, honestly, despite a lot of missteps that didn’t have to be missteps. But the same day I wrote the following, about my own Friday after posting it:
Today is different, because my car is in the shop, I have two kids to get to and from day camp, an appointment with a friend for breakfast, and another appointment at 1. It’s ninety degrees out. I have a bike. Today I’m learning more about the realities of car-less travel, not out of a desire to save the planet, but because I really have no other choice.
7:00am–I drag my sorry butt out of bed, wiped out due to a combination of staying up to finish the Nora Roberts novel late last night and a caffeine addiction hitting critical, which means I need to back off the stuff until it starts working again. We need to get moving earlier, because we have to leave earlier. I pack lunches. I find towels.
8:00am–at this point my husband has just left for work and i’m trying to get the kids into their swimsuits with regular clothes over them, so we can leave at 8:10 rather than our usual 8:35. I remember to have them pack their hats since they will wear helmets on the way to school. I remember to have them both put on gym shoes rather than sandals, to make biking easier. I forget to have them put on sunblock, because the morning ritual is utterly destroyed today.
8:40am–we are pretty much pulling up to the school/camp right on time. My son rode his scooter, my daughter rode her bike with training wheels, and I walked. It was perfect pacing for everyone, really, since my little girl needed some help up hills. I was and am very frustrated by the periodic lack of sidewalks in our neighborhoods–riding with little ones, I would have felt much safer with a band of grass between us and the road, and the same is true when walking. What is it about the burbs? Seriously, if one were to design an area that looks idyllic and green and natural, but create it in such a way as to make automobiles just about the only safe way to get kids from point A to point B, it would look a lot like my neighborhood. Grr.
9:00–I’ve walked home, where my friend is meeting me so she can drive both of us to breakfast. We pig out, talk about dysfunctional families, and in general have a wonderful time. Fortunately today I will work off most of that big breakfast.
11:45–still no word from the auto shop, so it looks like I’ll probably be biking to the chiropractor. I look up the directions on Google Maps, using their beta bike directions page–it gives me a fairly basic route, the one I would probably have guessed without looking, and tells me it’s about 2.3 miles away and will take 12 minutes. I figure I should leave myself 20, because I always take longer than the directions tell me.
12:45–okay, guess it’s 15 minutes, because I’m just leaving.
12:53–okay, guess it really WAS 12. And despite the almost-90-degree temps, it was a pleasant ride. One thing I’d forgotten about biking vs. walking, is that when you pick up a little speed on the bike, you generate your own breeze. So it was fairly pleasant. I’m a little sweaty, but her house is air-conditioned.
3:00–home from the chiro, still waiting for final word on the car. The ride home was even quicker, because it was mostly downhill (just a gentle grade, but that’s enough for some good speed), and I feel great. Sweaty, but otherwise really good. But it is fairly definite that I’ll have to go out there again and walk to get the kids. This I’m not looking forward to–doing it at 8:30 in the morning was nice; doing it at 3:30 will be just plain old hot. But I’m doing okay. And at least I get to crash for half an hour now.
3:30–okay, this doesn’t look good…it was hot and sunny half an hour ago, it’s cloudy now. I know storms are supposed to come through tonight, but they weren’t supposed to be here till 6pm or so…
5:30–Wow. that was an adventure. By the time I got to the kids’ school, the sky was turning black and the drops were starting. Five minutes later, the winds are kicking up and they are pulling the kids inside away from the windows. Didn’t seem like the right time to get on bikes and scooters and ride the mile home, you know? Ten minutes after that the tornado siren is going off, and we are all piling down to the basement. By the time we were released, it was still raining out and my husband was half an hour from arriving home anyhow, and my son is like the Wicked Witch of the West about being rained on, so we just hung out till he could pick us up.
6:00pm–time for me go go downtown to sing in a Beethoven concert. I climb happily into the Highlander, with its roomy seats and working a/c, and drive into the city.
It was an interesting day. And nice to know that, in a pinch and when the weather isn’t too horrible, I can get through the days without a vehicle. It made my “day off” a veritable festival of work and exercise and pretty much no free time at all, but it worked.
But it’s also really nice to have one when I need it. Time to go pick up my car…