90-minutes in a car with friends.

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Rides from friends can turn simple carpool trips into multi-stop adventures, much like a ride to the airport. You get what you pay for.

One of the pitfalls of hitching rides is that your driving friends may have some errands to run on the way to or from your destination. It’s like booking a seat on the airport shuttle and being forced to ride in the van for at least an hour longer to get to the airport while you pick up six more people at locations along the way.

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Last week’s birthday party carpool trip included a grocery stop at a local food market that I really like, but it’s well outside of bicycling range. I know I was pretty condescending about the entire concept of running errands in my last post, but if the side trips work in my favor, I am willing to admit I might be a hypocrite. Before the market, we stopped at another distant but beloved destination: AC Moore. Art supply shopping is a temptation that is hard for me to resist.

I figured since we were driving around anyway (and this is the slippery slope of errand running isn’t it?) that we should pick-up dinner at the best dumpling joint in the Hudson Valley.

In the end, I spent at least ninety minutes in my neighbor’s car. It was weird. It reminded my of the surreal experience I had of trekking for several days in Thailand without a mirror. When you see your reflection again upon returning to civilization, it’s disorienting. I had not been a passenger in a car since soccer season ended in October. Sitting at stop lights waiting, just waiting. I tried to be zen about it, but I was restless. I did not like the feeling of time passing uselessly.

The saving grace of the trip; the thing that made it fun and ultimately not a waste of my time, was that I had company. My kid had a best friend in the backseat. I had a pleasant, chatty companion in the front, chauffeuring me along Route 9 in rush hour traffic. When I go shopping again, beyond pedal distance from my house, I am definitely doing it “play date” style.

Nothing beats co-shopping with a neighbor while your kids occupy themselves pretending to be spies in a grocery store. Even if you have a car, I highly recommend it.

 

My first winter without wheels. The FAQs edition.

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Walking back from one of many grocery trips. Giant backpack courtesy of the Philipstown Soccer Club.

How’s it going without the car? Great. I love it.

You love it, even though it’s winter? Yes. Rainstorms are a definite buzzkill for the zero car lifestyle, but winter is working out just fine.
Are you still cycling everywhere?  I ride my bike if it’s above freezing and the roads are not icy.
When you can’t ride your bike, how do you get around?  We walk.
Aren’t you cold? I am not. I wear clothes. Lots of them.
What if you slip on the ice? Mom, is that you?
Do you walk to the grocery store?  Yes. I have a huge backpack.
Can you really get everything you need into one backpack?  Not always. Last week my husband joined me for extra backpack stowage. It was like a date. We had a very nice time.
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My bounty from one of my grocery expeditions. A full backpack’s worth.
What about other stuff you need?  What else do I need?
Um, what about when you need to run errands? I don’t really have any errands besides grocery shopping. Sometimes (often) I go to the liquor store, but that pretty much falls into the “grocery shopping” category. Honestly, I’ve never really understood the whole errands thing. What are you folks actually doing out there in your cars?
Didn’t your kid have a birthday recently? How did you throw a party without a car or running errands?  I asked for help from friends with a car. They swung by our house right on their way to the party and picked up the cupcakes and food and brought them to the party place. It worked out great. My family rode our bikes. I also planned my trips a few days ahead and started bringing things over in my backpack the week before.
Are you ever uncomfortable asking for help? Yes.
But you do it anyway? I am getting the feeling that people like to help. Or they feel sorry for us.
Does not having the car limit you? Of course. When I go somewhere on foot or on my bike, I am forced to be thoughtful about what I carry with me. I can’t carry everything, so I have to consider what is essential.

 

When I am grocery shopping, I buy only what we need. There is no room for non-essentials. The upside is that we save a lot of money and eat healthier. The downside is that I don’t buy cantaloupe very often.
Milk is heavy, too. True. We get that delivered to a neighbor’s front porch by a local dairy: hudsonmilk.com  Several families on our block, even those with cars, get their milk delivered. It’s good stuff.
Why don’t you get all your groceries delivered?  I wish! We don’t have Fresh Direct or any substantial grocery delivery service in our town. The neighboring city of Beacon does, but not us.
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What’s the best thing about not having a car in the winter?  Since we don’t have a driveway, our village parking rules dictate that we would have to move the car off the street before every snowfall. No car. No street parking issues. I also never have to warm up the car. I don’t have to scrape the windows. I don’t have to shovel snow to liberate stuck tires. I don’t have to slide around on icy roads praying for my anti-lock brakes to kick-in. Winter has never been so easy.