I really would like to get rid of my car.
While I like my dear old 2001 Subaru Outback, this particular car has given me nothing but trouble since I bought it. I’m still about $8000 in the hole on it, and have at least $1000 in repairs to do to it. Add in insurance and registration, and there’s a lot of money down the hole. I’ve been trying to come up with ways to completely ditch the car and still be able to get around. But here’s my dilemma.
I love road trips. I love the freedom of being able to just go wherever I want, whenever I want. I like being able to join my friends at bowling on the other side of town on Wednesday nights; the ability to drive myself to work; the idea of just taking a leisurely Sunday drive. But these positive attributes of car ownership are slowly becoming less important to me as I realize that I’m having difficulty owning and maintaining this vehicle.
When I moved to Portland, I realized that I could spend a lot of time on my bike. Most everything I need is within walking or biking distance. Right now, my job is about 17 miles away. That’s a doable distance, though wintertime may prove otherwise. Even after a day of standing on my feet, riding home on my bike, even at night, may prove a blessing. But I’m not sure.
Learning to love the bike.
Recently, I started to read a blog called The Path Less Pedaled. Russ and Laura sold off or otherwise disposed of all their belongings and are bike touring along the west coast of the U.S. Russ is a photographer, and Laura is a jewelry maker, and they both carry the tools of their trades with them on their bikes. Their lifestyle change feels like something I could learn from. I’m not sure I’d drop all my stuff and ride around on my bike for months at a time, but I have to admit, something about that idea really appeals to me. In fact, getting rid of my car completely seems like a great idea right now. I could invest all that money in new, better bikes, gear, and alternate modes of transportation. I’d have to figure out how to get to the further reaches of my travels, but rental car plans (like Zipcar) and car pooling are not out of the question.
The next step is finding a career that I can do in a relatively small area, or one that can be done online. Being mobile will be key. Portland Maine is a small enough town that I can live here well. Winters will present a problem as well. Riding anywhere here in the winter, where the average yearly snowfall is about 66 inches, is a daunting task. But I think these are both problems that can be solved with some research, some hard work, and some perseverance.