School is ending and camp season will begin soon; requiring new commuting strategies every three weeks for every different camp. We enrolled in camps that we can access by foot, bike, or the train.
I spent four days ruminating on my first logistical challenge: picking up Lenny from after-school, which is located at one of the summer camp locations — just south of us in the town of Garrison.
Days before my scheduled pick-up, I rehearsed the route, obsessed about the weather, triple-checked metro north train times, and worried about my lack of experience following hiking trail blazes (signs indicating which trail you are hiking). I feared breaking off the trail too soon and having to walk most of the way on busy route 9-D. I fretted that if I missed a turn on the trail I would walk many miles past my destination, forcing me to loop back; arriving late for pick-up.
None of this is a surprise to me. This is how I operate. I make my way in the world with a lot of planning and thinking ahead. I like to brainstorm all possible contingencies with both worry and excitement. Without a car this behavior is heightened due to the frequency of trying new things and taking small risks to make this endeavor a success.
In my imagination it would be a wild, untamed backwoods “hike” from the Garrison train station; in reality it was a delightful twenty minute walk on a well-maintained trail.
Despite inner voices of worry, I took the risk because I wanted it to work. In retrospect I am embarrassed to even call it a risk, it was so easy and tame. I am invested in making our car free (ha ha, if I type too quickly “car free” becomes “carefree”) life and enjoying the journey, literally.
A few days later, I attempted my first bike ride from Beacon to Garrison to pick up my kid from camp. I proudly rode my bike from my office two towns and 12 miles away to pick-up my son at his first camp of the summer. It was an hour ride on the bike. A 20-minute ride in a car. I felt euphoric (and tired) as I hummed down the winding road to the camp entrance in Garrison, NY (which is conveniently located adjacent to the metro north train station). I picked up Lenny ten minutes early so we could catch the hourly train back to our town—4 minutes on the train.
It was utterly satisfying: I got in a good workout, saved some money, did no damage to the environment, modeled grit and good physical health for my kid, and got home in time to bake a birthday cake before dinner.
As the week progressed, there’s been some cheating on the no-car deal. My husband has been hitching too many rides, in my opinion, to get Lenny to camp one town over. Taking the train is easy enough; the bike ride home a snap for my husband. Admittedly, it has been a grand convenience that our neighbors across the street enrolled their daughter in the same camp for this first three weeks of summer, but I think we’ve taken unnecessary advantage of their car-as-shuttle. I am feeling indebted to them, even though I am not the one hitching the rides. It is a family debt.