Friday, October 19, 2007

A Rainy Day...and I loved it!

This morning it was raining and cold. It was supposed to snow at 1400 feet. I was not looking forward to going outside in order to walk to work. But it is such a mentality thing! I had enough clothes on to stay warm and I had my umbrella. By the time I got to work I was SO enjoying my walk and I could feel the roses in my cheeks. (In Japan, they say "apples in your cheeks") :) I am glad the rain stopped later though, cuz I had dry-cleaning to carry home after work!
But, back to my morning walk to work...It made me realize that before we went to Japan, there were times when I wouldn't be outside for days on end...except to walk to my car! How sad. I would look out the window and think it looked dreary or too cold, so I would avoid going out. Well, now I don't have a choice, and I am benefiting SO much! Colin and I were just talking about how little we have needed the car since we arrived in town a couple of months ago. We rented once in order to go out of town...and that was a luxury, not a necessity.
It was my birthday this past week and we had an offer from a friend to watch the kids so Colin and I could go out. We walked to Fogg 'N Suds and met some friends there. (They have a sweet birthday deal! :) ) Not having a car had no negative impression on my special day. In fact, the walk gave me some alone time with my hubby and a chance to chat! :)
Tomorrow night, we are attending a business awards dinner put on by the Chamber of Commerce here. It is a formal event. (My boss is one of the 3 top nominees for young entrepreneur of the year award! Way to go, Natalie!). We are car-pooling there because a friend offered a ride and depending on her "state" by the end of the night, we will share a taxi home. I think the event is about a 5 minute drive from our house. This is the first event that we can't really bike to due to attire. A taxi ride is still cheaper than a tank of gas by far. Well...depending on how far you go of course! ;)
I am a little nervous about the colder weather setting in. By that, I mean, below zero. So far, our clothing has been fine and we have enjoyed a long fall...compared to our experience in Calgary. The ears have been the most sensitive, but we have been finding bike-helmet friendly coverings. I guess the next thing to come are face masks.
Colin just finished putting lights on our bikes. Its getting darker earlier...

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Transit System

So, we are discovering slowly how to make the transit system work for us.
Right now we are living in a fairly central location, so we don't use the bus enough times in a month to warrant buying a monthly bus pass. We have bought a block of Adult and a block of Children's tickets so we have them on hand when needed...which is usually on the weekend when we want to go shopping but don't want to bike up the side of a mountain with 2 kids under 10.

However! We have also discovered that taking a taxi can sometimes be cheaper than the bus! I tell you no lies!

1 Adult ticket = $2.00
1 child's ticket =$1.50

So, to go to the mall, one way, it costs us $7.00 for the 4 of us.
A return trip, obviously, $14.
But we wanted to go to Wal Mart after the mall. It was raining, so we wanted to take the bus. The ride was down the hill about 2 minutes. $7.00. (Here is where the taxi would've been cheaper.)
Now, you may think that is outrageous...BUT! We don't have a $200-$800 car-payment per month, nor do we pay car insurance or gas or maintainance!!! I can handle $21 for transportation one weekend out of the month. ;)

On another note, we are thinking about getting a trail-a-bike for our daughter. It might make riding more enjoyable for her...and us. Plus the Canadian dollar makes buying from e bay very interesting.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Going Local

One very positive aspect of having no car is that one is forced to do most things locally. It means that local businesses are supported and helps the economy of your neighbourhood. (Not to mention the fact that relationships are developed and your local network increases!)

It is now over for the season, but I LOVED shopping at the farmer's market on the weekends in my town. It was held on Saturday mornings about 4 blocks away. The street was blocked off from traffic and local farmers and businesses set up booths for the morning. It ended when the church bells rang at noon. How cool is my town?!?! Can't wait till April!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving! all Canadians out there.)

The big family dinner has all been cleaned up, the dishwasher is running and the kiddies are tucked in bed. So, now I can steal a few moments to blog. (I had to beat my husband off the computer to snag this time! Sheesh! ;)

I did something this weekend I have never done before.

I hauled a 15lb turkey home on my bike. :D

It even fit in my saddlebag. Mind you, it was frosted over on the outside by the time I arrived home. And no, it didn't make me list to one side...cuz I filled the other saddle bag with the rest of my groceries. :)

The other thing I am finding useful is the recycling bins at my supermarket. I make good use of them as I shed un-needed packaging from my groceries in order to fit them all into my saddlebags! (eg, all cardboard-type boxes have got to go) And it is lots of fun to watch people watch me. They can't quite figure me out. lol

Oh, and I got my picture in the downtown paper! I was asked if the Canadian dollar being on par (or greater) than the American dollar would cause me to go to the States to do more shopping. My answer was, "No, because I don't have a car".
I guess being different got me a couple moments of local fame. :P ha ha.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Going Car-Free

Until three years ago, we were your average North American nuclear family: Man and wife with 2 kids, small house, new car, running the hamster wheel.
Then we made the "Decision".
We up and moved to Japan.
We had lots of time to reflect, evaluate and then plan for our future. It was a wonderful Sabbatical.
Now we are back in Canada trying to live out the "future" that we planned...

In a nutshell, while we were in Japan, we came to the conclusion that we had a great "enabler" in our lives. This "enabler" allowed us to get places very fast so we could do many things in a short amount of time. On first reading, that would come across as a good thing, right? We place high value on efficiency in our culture.
Except, we were always tired and run down. Though we were "active", we were gaining weight and feeling unhealthy. Our relationships with others were often shallow and we were lonely although we knew A LOT of people.
So, what would happen if we took the "enabler" out of our lives? Would we slow down? Would we live local and get to really know people around us? Would we get healthier?...Would it even be possible?

So here we are. Back in Canada, and no car. Only bikes and bus passes.

So far, so good. Except it is Thanksgiving weekend (remember, it is Canada. That means the first part of October) and getting rapidly colder. Can we really pull this off all winter with 2 kids in elementary school?

Let's find out.