Before we formally attempted to go car-free, we were doing things to get ourselves ready. Mainly, we did additional things without using the car or just tried to take care of business that a car is just good for, like hauling heavy stuff around quickly.
Here are some examples.
Sunday, 05/25/08: All-Bike Bike the Drive
Ride all the way from Evanston to Chicago, meeting friends at Hutchinson Street, to 57th Street, back to Hutchinson Street for a party, and back home to Evanston. Car stays parked at home. We did it without being totally exhausted.
Monday, 06/02/08, 8:35 pm: Last-minute Car Errands
Rush to buy 40 lb dog food and TJ Maxx stop for son’s needed white caddy towel. Make it with some angst in the 25 minutes before the two stores closed. Dropping him off to handle the towel errand was not his idea and he was not thrilled. He decided to walk home instead of waiting for me to come back from buying dog food. OK, his choice, not mine but it does kind of make the same point: you can get around without a car and sometimes it actually takes less time. Hmmmm…but does he see it this way?
Thursday, 06/05/08: Wife Wins Women’s Winter Challenge…Again
Nancy sends me Turin announcement that for second year in a row, she has won the Winter Bike Challenge for miles from January to March 31:
Friday, 06/06/08: Car-free Tourism
Entertain out-of-town guests using public transit: Take Trish and Scott, in town for the Blues Festival, to Museum of Science and Industry using the Metra Electric 11:30 am train to 57th Street. Amazed at how close MSI is to the station, despite my having been there many times by car and even bike the week before on Bike the Drive. After seeing the Smart House exhibit—a folding bike sat unremarked in the corner of the garage but the Honda Hybrid was their featured transportation—an articulate young woman was our tour guide and the exhibit was very interesting.
We waited out storms by looking at other exhibits, including U-505 and having lunch. When we emerged to check the weather, not only were the sun shining, but the CTA #10 Museum Campus express bus was sitting there, so we got on. Ride was fine and the driver polite. When I asked him how far north he went, never having ridden this bus before, he told me to my pleasant surprise Chestnut Street, and at Wacker Drive he turned out to Michigan Avenue. This meant we could get off at Wacker and Michigan, a block from Trish and Scott’s room at the West Tower of the Hyatt Hotel.
They were impressed. So was I, actually.
We cleaned up a bit, got chairs and drinks, and walked to the Blues Fest. A fabulous evening performance that was highlighted for me by Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater’s “West Side Strut” performance from his CD of the same name. On a warm and windy evening, the stage rocked alive with a who’s who of Chicago Blues: Ronnie Baker Brooks, Lonnie Brooks, Jimmy Johnson, Otis Clay, and my favorite blues harpist, Billy Branch
I came home on the Metra North Line 11:35 pm train.
A wildly successful day. Without a car. And still having fun. Amazing.
Sunday, 06/08/08: The Lost Art of Packing a Wire Shopping Cart
I buy $150.00 worth of groceries at Dominick’s on Green Bay Road, about four blocks from my house and to which I routinely walk for groceries—one reason we bought the house we did. Groceries included many heavy items like milk, soda, and margarita mix for graduation party but also soft items like fresh fruit and romaine lettuce hearts (organic, BTW).
At checkout, I told the bagger, a younger-looking man I had never seen before, that I wanted paper bags in my cart, which I indicated. After he put the first bag in there, I paid attention to credit card transaction and cash back only to turn and see three bags in my Dominick’s shopping cart. I told him to pack my other cart because I was not driving and he showed a look of either being perplexed or dumbfounded. Because I had forgotten my son’s graduation card, I told him, “I’ve gotta go buy a card, just pack my cart and keep it here until I get back.”
After buying the card, I returned to find only three bags in my wire cart and remaining bags still in the grocery cart. The bagger had moved on to bagging another customer’s groceries. When I asked him why he didn’t finish it, he said, “It’ll just smash stuff.” I grumbled, “It can be done” and did it myself in front of everyone in the store. I sensed another bagger watching me. It all fit. Nothing got smashed on my 4-block walk home.
This was not true when we lived on Hutchinson Street in Chicago, where the Jewel store on Lincoln Avenue functioned as the pantry we didn’t have in our modest frame house. And for other neighbors, too, such as Paula, whom I would routinely run into around 11 pm getting groceries for the next day.
The car bias strikes again: suburban baggers don’t know how to pack for people who walk.
Still, I didn’t use a car. The manager will hear from me on this one.
The party went just fine. The guests arrived and left by car. We didn’t need one.