End of Suburbia : The One Car Challenge

Going forward:

Many of my posts are going to cover our current adventure: tackling life with an active family of 4 in American suburbia with ONLY ONE CAR.  Can it be done?  I would argue that increasingly, it has to be done, but we’ll see how it goes.  We’re lucky that we live a short distance (about a mile) from both my kids’ schools.  For us, the challenge will be the catalog of after school activities and running the household on 2 wheels instead of four or by working out a rota to share the four wheels with my husband.

How we came to be here:

It’s been on my mind to try to get our family down to one car, but just as a tickle in the back of it.  And then mother nature intervened.  Last week, New England was experiencing what we refer to as a Nor’easter (no the rabbit didn’t come).  We live just west of a major river system, which after several days of sustained torrential rain, decided to reclaim its many areas of flood plain.  In navigating one of these roads by car (when a kayak might have been a better option) I discovered that when the wave of a large puddle is washed  just the wrong way because of oncoming traffic, it can sneak into your air intake and move along to your valves and total your engine (if you happen to drive a relatively elderly car to begin with, so engine rebuild or replacement isn’t economically viable).

So here I am trying to make lemonade and turning it into a project.  Totaled car – well let’s just see if we can take the money from the insurance company and run.  Reasonably generous settlement check, refund on excise tax, refund on insurance, turn in the plates; tune up the bike, update the lights and brakes, tighten up the racks, haul out the old trailer from when the kids were young (for any hauling I need to do when it’s my husband’s turn to have the car).

The first week was great:

Mother nature may have been against me in the first place (ie the flooding that killed my car) but a week of beautiful spring weather following the event started things off well.  Even if we’d still had the car, it probably would have sat in the garage because after 6 moths of winter, and 4 days of horrible rain, it felt wonderful to be out and about on foot and bike in any case.  I did venture to the supermarket and have worked out a pretty good system with the bike trailer.  It’s not a great ride, but luckily enough, the one state highway I have to travel on for about half a mile to get there does actually have a sidewalk and I’m not too proud to use it (too many big SUVs with talking/texting drivers for my comfort).

But I have to say that on days like today where I keep looking for the ark out my window, my enthusiasm wanes.  In general, rain doesn’t really phase me – we have the full complement of rain hats, coats, boots and pants to keep us going.  But it’s also cold and windy and the day starts early.   However, today it’s all worked out well.  Although we are fully prepared to brave the torrential downpour in the morning, my husband juggles his schedule so he can drop my middle schooler on the way and another friend calls and offers my daughter a ride to elementary school.  On phoning a friend who lives nearby to find out what school bus services our road (we don’t have a bus pass but you can buy one for $2 for a single journey home, I just don’t know what number to put on the pass), she offers to pick my daughter up.  So today, everything falls into place and I am left happy to be housebound on an otherwise pretty miserable day.  I would go crazy feeling this way for more than a single day, but occasionally, enforced grounding is a welcome excuse to catch up on some reading and research.


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