I usually try to post about things I actually do but today I am writing about plans that are not yet firmed up, specifically transportation. I live in a very walkable place. I can use my feet to get to church, our community house, the hardware store, our little grocery/deli/sustainability library/food co-op, the compactor, out town’s safety complex, my daughter’s school and the post office. Just as important to me, I have several good friends who are well withing walking distance. Still, in a crisis, I would have to get around with more than my feet from time to time. If I wanted to do a big co-op pick-up Iwould certainly struggle trying to walk and carry a 50 pound sack of wheat. So what are my options if gas is suddenly $12.00 a gallon or I just can’t drive for some reason?
First, I must mention our vehicles. We own a pick-up truck and a mini-van. Both are paid for and in good shape. If we have to go down to one vehicle, it would be the truck that stayed. It is a standard shift, 4 wheel drive model. It can seat 4 but it is not comfortable for my daughter (she is as tall as I am and weighs the same). We are thinking about getting a different truck that would have a bigger cab and permit us to move down to just one vehicle. The criteria would be second hand, standard shift, low mileage and a brand with a good track record for longevity.
We all have bicycles but we need to make some changes. I have a terrific Schwinn that I got for my birthday a couple of years ago. It looks great but was a terrible choice for where we live. It is heavy, has a single speed, back pedal brakes and will kill you on a hill. It was a nostalgic buy for me. I am thinking of selling it to someone who lives on flat land and buying an electric assist bike with some good panniers. Our town is really hilly and the electric assist would really expand the distance I could comfortably bike. Bruce has a road bike. It is too light for him but just right for my daughter. I think we will replace her outgrown bike with Bruce’s and get him a sturdier road bike. Phoebe has a good bike too and rides a lot.
Never underestimate the value of a good wagon. We have a very sturdy metal wagon. If I had a a big co-op order, I could easily pull the wagon to the store and carry quite a lot home. We have even made pick-ups from the hardware store with it. It carries a couple of kids, school projects and big bunches of produce from the garden to the house. We also have a garden cart that can carry even larger loads.
We live in the snowy Northeast so we each have snowshoes and cross country skis. We really need to replace everybody’s skis this year. They are really old and I want to update to better quality while we still can. Our poor old boots are split and worn and show how much use they get. Phoebe may well get skis for her upcoming birthday. We don’t have good snowshoes for the Karen and that might be added to a Christmas list, especially if I can get a decent pair on Craig’s list. I often get my kids second-hand gifts for Christmas and have never gotten a complaint.
I am shocked at just how much driving I still do. I am trying to get to one town trip each week but it seems that something always comes up that requires an extra trip. The driving is a luxury that we can not afford either environmentally or economically. Perhaps the best transportation investment one can make is in a car pool group. We love living out in the country but organizing a car pool has been a challenge. We tried to organize a ride share several years ago but it was extraordinarily unsuccessful. I think we are so used to being independent and having that car available. Of all the changes peak oil will bring, that easy access to a car with a full tank of gas is going to be the hardest on us. We would rather be cold that without transportation.
Once we make the changes in modes of transport, there are some things we will need to stock. A bike repair kit is a necessity as are spare tires. Oil for chains and spare parts would be a good idea. If a young person is looking a for a career possibility, bike repair might be a good option. The days of buying those cheap bikes from Wally World and planning to replace one every year are over, at least around here. I expect to buy one good bike and keep it until I die. I hope others will as well. A repair (man, person, oh help me be politically correct here)will be able to make a decent living. I suppose I should be looking for bikes and skis in larger sizes for Phoebe as she is the only one still growing and no, I do not need the jokes about my waistline from any of my friends.
I just want to close with a word about my weekend. I went apple picking with a friend on Saturday. If this calls up images of a beautiful orchard with perfect fruit in those neat little paper bags, forget about it. We went gleaning apples from roadside trees and an abandoned orchard. The fruit is smaller and scabby not at all abundant this year as the cold, wet spring played hell on the blossoms. We asked permission fo the gentleman who owned the land the orchard was on if he minded if we harvested the fruit. He must have gotten quite a chuckle over these two ladies who will not see 50 again, climbing over an electric fence with a full bushel of apples between us, trying to outrun a herd of cows that wanted their fair share of fruit. We were slipping in cow flops and laughing so hard we could hardly breath. It was a wonderful day. I came home to a warm kitchen that smelled wonderful. I had put a pan of root veges on to roast before I left and the aroma of onions and garlic hit me befor I opened the door. There was loaf of good bread on the counter. My girls were doing schoolwork at the table and Bruce was printing out pictures to contribute to our 350.org project. I suppose if you were to count the hours I spent getting the apples picked, washed, chopped, steamed, strained and canned I made about $.50 cents an hour for my labor but I could have spent $100.00 0n an afternoon at an amusement park and not had as much fun. All things are relative.