The Long Way Home

I've been on a bit of a carless kick recently. I'm essentially experimenting with what life would be like for me without a personal car. I consider it a goal to aspire to for environmental, consumeristic, financial, and simplicity reasons. But for now, I am just investigating.

This weekend, I undertook the ambitious goal of going from Anacortes to Seattle on all public transportation. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem as I have done the same thing on weekdays a number of times. (If you ever need to figure out a carfree way to go from Anacortes to Seattle, talk to me. I know them all.) But since the commuter buses I used to rely on for my north to south jaunt don't run on the weekends, I was forced to seek out a new route. And a new route I found, although it is not what you would call convenient. For those fellow public transportation geeks out there, here's what I did:
Island Transit 411W March Point to Mt. Vernon (free)
Island Transit 411C Mt. Vernon to Stanwood (free)
Community Transit 240 Stanwood to Smokey Point ($1.25)
Community Transit 201 Smokey Point to Lynnwood Park and Ride(free with transfer)
Sound Transit 511 Lynnwood Park and Ride to Seattle ($1.00 with CT transfer)

Total travel time was about 4 hours, plus 20 minute or so to bike out to the March Point park and ride. Total cost was $2.25. I'm glad I did it to prove it is possible, but my final conclusion is that it might be worth the extra $10.00 to take the greyound therefore saving 2.5 hours. Either way, I'm counting it a success for my experiments in carlessness!
Monday January 29 2007File under: transportation

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The Joys of Owning an Old Car

I own an old car. I'm proud of that fact. Marilyn has 309,811 miles on her and I would love to see her go further. But along with the pride of owning an old car comes the, well, let's call it adventure.

Let me share with you the adventure Marilyn has taken me on the past week or so. Firstly, I had to reawaken her from her 4 month slumber, which took some doing: two trips to the gas station on bike to bring back some fresh fuel, reinflating a flat time, and 3 jump starts. (Oh and the rear passenger door has now decided it doesn't want to open, so I am down to just the one functioning door.) Anyhoo, I get her up and running and take her out to stretch her legs. While approaching a friend's house, I down shift in preparation for the big hill. This, for some reason, triggers the radio, which normally just fades on and off from time to time, to kick into seach mode. Hmm...

In anticipation of the car not starting, I park headed down a hill. (Any old-car owner knows this trick.) While climbing across the front seat to get out of the car, my foot must have knocked the gear level out of park, because I suddenly find myself rolling (at a steadily increasing rate) down the hill towards a garden with my body half out of the passenger door. I quickly dive back across the seat and slam my hand on the break pedal. I guess that proves the e-brake doesn't work.

All it took was rocking my way out of the mud and just one more jump start to get us both home in one piece. I foresee some quality time under the hood in my future.
Monday January 8 2007File under: transportation

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The big book of SE Asian Transportation


If I ever wrote a book about automotive transportation in southeast Asia, I think I might call it Following the Horn. I thought up this title as my bus was barrelling through morning Phnom Phen traffic with the horn blaring about 80% of the time. I've spent a lot of time listening to how the driviers (whether bus, taxi, or moto) use their horn. They use it to say "move!", "I'm right behind you", "It's safe to pass me", "It's not safe to pass me", "You're going too slow", "Thank you", and just about anything else. Different drivers use it to different degrees, but enivitably, you feel like you are truly being led through traffic by your vehicle's horn.

The more I think about it, the more fun it would be to write a book like this. You could have a chapter named Hello Moto about the prevalence of motos, esp. moto taxis and their overaggressive drivers. Now that's what I call carpooling would be a chapter containing images of some of the most overloaded cars, trucks, and motorbikes that you have ever seen. The pictures for the chapter called The 100cc Family Car would be great, yet somewhat disturbing to mothers of young children. Necessary Daredevil would recount how transportation in SE Asia is often an at-your-own-risk type affair. Even crossing the street is a stunt worthy of Superdave.

Maybe it would have to be mostly a picture book. Which means this post shouldn't be a pictureless post. But it is, because I ain't no Ansel Adams. (Heck, I ain't even a Josh Root.)
Thursday November 30 2006File under: travel, transportation

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A few pounds lighter and healthier than ever

Working on a car makes me feel like a man, even if I whine, complain, and require two trips to the auto parts store to change a lousy alternator belt. But even so, I feel like a man. And not only did I change the alternator belt, but I also found these extra parts strewn about the engine that the car didn't need. I say this because I removed them, couldn't find where they go, so left them out and the car works fine!

So Ms. Marilyn is feeling better than ever, I hope, and is ready to carry me on my ridiculous commute. I couldn't ask for a better car (although having a drivers side door that opened would be nice)
Sunday August 20 2006File under: transportation

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