As I checked to see how much gas I had yesterday, I began to think about how infrequently I put gas in my car in Portland. I still haven’t filled it up since we returned from San Francisco – I think we put gas into it in Grant’s Pass or in Eugene that night. I don’t really expect to put any gas into it for a week or two yet.
When I was at college, for a while, I commuted one hour each way – so every day, I’d drive down Hwy 43 for two hours. I didn’t have a CD player at that point, but m sister bought a cassette deck – the kind that you could pull out and take with you given how lousy the neighborhood by Marquette could be. I listened to the entire, unabridged Lord of the Rings twice one semester. One winter night, I hit some black ice at 65 miles per hour and spun out, but managed to keep it on the road. For one terrifying minute, I was facing the oncoming traffic, and then, I was back on my way. I was so terrified, I pulled off on the next exit, and shook for about an hour before I could get back on the road. There was no indication at all that there was any ice on the road.
These days, I don’t think I am in my car two hours per *month* unless we have an out-of-state guest. I walk nearly everywhere. I get my groceries often on foot, and if I were slightly less lazy on Saturday mornings, I could take the bus to the farmers’ market and back. I am planning on biking to the Hollywood farmers’ market this summer, and then that’s one less weekly car trip.
It’s strange how that changes – when we first moved to Madison, I lived without a car for three years. It took me 45 minutes to walk to work. Often at 20 degrees. I used it to stay in shape, and when I got a job that required a car, I gained forty pounds or so relatively quickly.
I wouldn’t be without my car now – it’s paid off, it gets good gas mileage, and I can feel the ocean’s pull on me pretty frequently. I also like being able to drive to San Francisco, or Seattle, or Coeur d’Alene or wherever I feel like driving when I want to travel. However, I’m pretty pleased that I’m not so dependent on it, and that my first thought when I want to go somewhere isn’t to jump in the car but rather how long it will take me to walk there.
While I was looking for a picture to post with this, I came across a picture from the winter before we left Madison. This is Brian’s car, out of the back of the house, with one evening’s snow on it. I don’t miss that, even a little. You’d have to plan a good 15 extra minutes in the morning to shovel off your car and warm it up to be able to drive. Strange.