Friday, October 24, 2014

Car browsing

This weekend I have a friend's Chevy Aveo on loan. She and her husband are openly scornful of it, but there are lots of them for sale on Craigslist, so I'm glad to borrow it and see what I think for myself. So far I don't know why they don't like it - the radio speakers are kinda crappy, and the engine is a little sluggish, but visibility is good and it's got a billion times more features than my car had!

In a way, I was proud of the minimalism of my car - no clock, no power windows, no power or remote locks, no a/c (okay, that was a bummer). It got great mileage and I could fit my bike in the trunk (when I put the back seat down and popped off the bike's front wheel), and I never worried about it being stolen!

I did always swear that my next car would be a 4-door, so I'm trying to limit myself to those as I browse the internet. I also don't want to have a car payment, and I don't want to spend every cent I have, so I'd like to buy something for under $8,000. BUT I also don't want a ton of miles on my next car. It's unlikely I'll get everything I want (low price, few miles, good quality car, four doors, air conditioning, recent model year) so I have to figure out what's most important and go from there!

At the same time I keep thinking about buying a winter/commuter bike. I visited a bike shop and tried out a couple, but they didn't seem like what I wanted. I think I want a hybrid with disc brakes and a rack... probably I should hit a bike shop this weekend and see what I can buy used.

I'd really rather have some serious couch time, so I may well make it into November without having added to my garage at all!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Seeing the light

Last week I worked remotely from my brother's house in Hawaii. It was so great to spend time with him and my sister-in-law (which is such a funny concept! but she's great so it never feels weird), and it was good to work from there instead of burning vacation time on a place I'd already visited. Plus, that way they could work too, and then we either went out to dinner or cooked at home. Very low-key and nice visit.

Their rental house is high up on a hill with mountains behind them and the ocean in the distance - amazing view! Since I worked 5am-2pm every day (so I could stay on the same time zone as my colleagues), I watched daylight arrive and took pictures when I could.

Best contrast: early in the week picture:

vs later in the week when a hurricane was in the area: 

And most striking:

Now all that rain has followed me home to Oregon. Thank goodness for friends willing to give me a ride or I might not ever get out of the house again. I have a feeling this car-less thing isn't going to outlast the winter!

Fortunately yesterday was nice (and I knew the rain was coming) so I did a bike-errand to the library and grocery store. My backpack weighed over 25 pounds when I was done getting everything (you better believe I weighed it) - that should count as an extra workout!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Car2Go: first thoughts

I've finally used my Car2Go membership - twice! First thoughts: man those cars are TINY. And: I wouldn't want to own one of them, as the transmission is pretty rough when shifting. And: the minutes add up pretty quickly! And: it sure is fun to drive and sing along to the radio.

The way it works is pretty slick - you consult an app to see where the closest car is to your location:
You can even choose your car and reserve it for the next 30 minutes, so it doesn't vanish before you get there. Then you walk up and lay your membership card against a reader in the front window - it must be an rfid chip. The reader indicates it's gotten the information it needs, and you wait while it checks your account. You know you're good when the car unlocks for you!

Then you interact with a touch screen to confirm the car is clean and undamaged; then you remove the key from its slot and insert it in the ignition, and you're ready to go! When you're done with the car you have to wait for some data to upload, confirm you didn't damage the car while you had it, and then exit the car and let the reader in the front window read your card again to conclude the transaction.

It takes a little time for each of the steps, but is reasonably slick and intuitive. Yesterday I used a car to drive a mile to a friend's house - mostly I just wanted to finally try this thing. Today I used a car during my lunch break to drive about 3 miles away from home, and then I ran home (exercise!). That little jaunt cost me $4.51, because traffic was a little slow, so I don't know that I'll make a habit of it. But it was nice to have a different route home than the usual places I've been running, so I like it as a concept.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Finally! wheels!

I finally got my Car2Go membership card in the mail. The mailer was very cute:

(cat not included, of course)

I haven't gotten to use it yet, though. Yesterday the closest car was almost a mile away, and today during lunch I used my bike to run an errand to my local bike shop - I'm starting to test-drive bikes for winter weather. After I tried a couple, I realized..I don't really know what I'm looking for. I've been on the same bike for a decade, it was built for me, and I love it. Riding other bikes felt weird, and not very comfortable - my knees were in the wrong place over the pedals, I couldn't reach the handlebars the same way, I felt crowded in the handlebar-to-seat area... I've been offered the chance to borrow a couple of rainy-weather bikes, and perhaps I should do that before I go any further down this shopping path.

Tonight I'm going to walk a couple miles to go to a brewer's dinner with friends, and though there may be a car I can take home, I sincerely doubt I'll feel I should be driving!

Maybe tomorrow.

Saturday I have an early flight, so maybe then.

It'll happen!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Carless continues

I had a friend in town last weekend, so borrowed another friend's car for the weekend. I reallllly appreciated having wheels at my beck and call!

I'm still waiting for my Car2Go card to show up. I'm frustrated that it's been over a week since they said I'd have my card in "a couple of days" - I'm headed to the airport this afternoon and had a carefully crafted Car2Go/transit route worked out, and now I'm reduced to asking for a ride.

What's funny is when I had a car I would likely have asked for a ride too! But now it's coming from a place of neediness, and I really hate that feeling. 

I keep looking at cars on Craigslist, and I've found a few I would definitely consider, but I'm not ready to cough up the money yet. Plus, I'm out of town a lot this month so it feels silly to hurry up and buy something, just to leave it in my garage!

I think this experiment will start to feel more real in November, if I last that long...

In other news, I've resumed running but not regularly enough that I'm in the groove. I went for a run last Saturday, and Tuesday. I walked 6 miles on Sunday and 3 yesterday, so it's not like I'm not using my legs, but it's very different. And, as mentioned I'm headed to the airport and expect to walk a lot but NOT run over the next few days. So, we'll see how next week shapes up!