Tag Archives: transportation

Morning commute

Great-grandmother on a bike.

Great-grandmother on a bike.

Things that aren’t out of the ordinary to see: guys in suits commuting to work. Recently, though, I saw a woman in business dress, maybe 10 years older than me, going somewhere (work, I am assuming) on a skateboard. Made me grin.

Today, I watched a guy speeding along on his skateboard. He whipped around the corner FAST but always staying in the bike lane. The woman who was going straight stopped to make sure she didn’t crowd him. He turned around and waved her on, but she wanted to wait until she had more room, so he gave her a thumbs up and continued on.

Also, this morning on my bus commute, I watched person after person (mostly young guys) give up their seats each time someone older or disabled got on.

It’s hard to be grumpy here – these small interactions, done with grace and manners, fill me with happiness and remind me to be a better person. I’ll take my lessons where I can.

Driving

Car

Car

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.

Brian's car with one night's snow in Madison, WI.

Brian's car with one night's snow in Madison, WI.