Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day 2 of car-free cold turkey

It's the second day of the Great Transportation Experiment. The goal - cut down car usage to one trip a day. This means that on days the husband works, unless he also has his Shinkendo, the car goes to work, comes home, and that's it - as opposed to, I take him to work, I come home, run errands after Kittyboy naps, come home, and then go to get him from work and come home. He works four miles of city driving away, so back and forth once is 8 miles. If I want the car during the day, that's an automatic 16 miles just to have it available, before I run to the store or whatever. Part of the impetus is not gas-related - he just made management, and his schedule is going to get crazy now. If we already have a plan in place, Kittyboy's sleeping schedule won't be messed with too much, whether husband works 12p.m.-9 p.m., or 6a.m.-2p.m., both possibilities.
So we're into the Great Transportation Experiment. I have a bus map and schedule. I have cash in my purse. And as of Friday, I will have a bus pass.
Thus far, I've mapped out one tiny grocery, one CVS Pharmacy, one Asian market, and one health-food store within 3/4 of a mile. These can be walked to, as can a small, fenced-in playground we really like. Walking is absolutely free - thus making up some of the extra spent on foods at those stores, and on basics at CVS. A bus ride to and from somewhere, with a discount pass, 5 days a week, will come to around $30 a month, which should be more than recovered through the savings in gas - I estimate that every time I want the car during the day, I probably spend about a gallon, at 22-23 mpg in town. And I wouldn't be taking the bus daily, that's mainly to Walmart or Meijer if I need something not available within walking distance or when I need several things which would be worth the ride to get more cheaply, or to OT on Thursdays. I also decided, perhaps while delusional, that the best way to do this is to go cold turkey.
Yesterday, we walked to and from the park in the morning, and in late afternoon bussed downtown to our pharmacy, and back. Distance, schmistance, our pharmacy is the last one surviving downtown, so we're VERY loyal, even with CVS so close. Kittyboy is old enough now to stand still for at least long enough to let me fold or unfold the stroller without dashing into the street or something, and the stroller fits pretty easily on the bus between me and the seat in front. Being half a mile from the nearest bus stop in any direction is going to take a lot of getting used to, and is a MAJOR HASSLE, but is not an insurmountable obstacle.
Today was a little more of a hassle than yesterday. We were going downtown to the Farmer's Market, and missed the bus we wanted by ONE MINUTE. If I'd been sixty seconds ahead of myself, I could at least have waved my purse at it. That was the 7W that goes directly downtown from our stop - half an hour, and there'd be another. 15-20 minutes, there would be a 7S coming FROM downtown, looping around a long and convoluted route and then heading back to downtown. As all roads lead to Rome, so do all buses go downtown eventually. So I figured we'd just take the 7S, and commenced to entertaining the Kittyboy by all means possible. We played fetch-the-pinecone, look-at-our-shadows, comb-the-grass, I tried to interest him in the bus map, and about three minutes before 7S came, he was DONE waiting. The driver said, when I explained about missing the other bus, that the next 7W was coming soon, and I explained that for Kittyboy, THIS SECOND was not soon enough. He laughed.
The ride there was fine, if longer than I'd wanted - the 7S winds around, among other things, a subdivision I didn't even know existed. Why, with gas costing what it does, you would develop housing way, way out where there are no gas stations, grocery stores, etc, I don't know, and I don't understand people buying homes there. It has to be close to a mile just to get the basics at a Walgreens or something!!! So you can't walk anywhere useful (there are also no sidewalks from there to anywhere else), you HAVE to drive, or take the bus, and I can about guarantee if your only bus service is the 7S, at that point in the route, you WILL be going downtown and transferring to get anywhere else. I can see living in a small town where you have the local grocery, pharmacy, couple restaurants and churches and whatnot within walking distance, I can see living IN the city, where you have bus-lines and a variety of businesses within walking distance, but I don't get the whole "Well, I want to live in the city, but I don't like all that noise, and it's not always attractive - so I'll pay out the nose to live in this completely artificial community OUTSIDE the city proper, where there is basically nothing, and get in my car every time I need toilet paper or a gallon of milk." And it's not like they could say they were moving out there for the rural peace and quiet, because it's not RURAL. There's not a cow, chicken, or field to be harvested (those might involve noise and dust), and their houses are all in close together, without room for any sizable gardens of their own. It's not rural, it's not a town of its own, but it's not really part of a city - it's absolutely artificial. BUT, it's their money, their house identical to every other house on the block, their treeless, postage stamp yard, so not my problem. Just strikes me as quite foolish.
Okay, done with the subdivision rant. Shutting up now.
The Farmer's Market was a BLAST. You can buy a big bag of peaches for $3, called "seconds" - scuffed or with little dents, or just not the size and shape the farmer wanted, and for that they're incredibly cheap. How cool is that! I always find my "seconds" first. I've already eaten three peaches today. And I found something called a "tourmaline turnip". The garlic man had some in a basket, they'd been sold to him under that name, but when he tasted one it was a radish. It's a variety of radish that's about the size of a baseball or softball. He had one cut in half on display as a novelty, because the flesh is dark pink. So I got garlic and the biggest radish I've ever seen in my life, and on the way back, we were lucky - we got to the transfer center right when the buses did! To go home, 7S is the direct one and 7W the one that winds around. Kittyboy wanted to run around the bus most of the trip home, and so spent most of it being restrained against his will. But apart from immobilizing the toddler and the whole 20-minute-wait first thing in the morning, the day went well!
Tomorrow we tackle busing to therapy!

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