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Monday, September 14, 2009

We don't need no steenking car!

Now I realize that's it's early in our time without a car and I may
end up eating my words one of these days. But if I do, I'm not going
to tell you about it. Anyway, right now we are really enjoying not
owning a car. It really hit home last weekend. Cody was visiting and
decided that she really, REALLY needed new tires. So, we dropped her
little Toyota pickup off at Les Schwab while we took a walk to check
out a couple of 2nd hand stores. The familiar smell of rubber at Les
Schwab reminded me that I don't have to spend money there anymore.
And I must have spent millions of dollars there over the last 35 years
or so. Since we usually owned at least 3 vehicles at a time, there
were a lot of tires to buy. Living two and a half miles up a tire-
eating gravel road just compounded the problem. Then we had to have
two sets of mounted tires for each vehicle, one for snow and ice and
one for all the rest of the year. I'm absolutely NOT going to miss
the smell of Les Schwab Tire Stores. The smell of rubber is the smell
of burning money.

Then there's insurance. I absolutely hate the whole concept of
insurance anyway so you can imagine how I felt about being forced by
law to have to purchase this ridiculously over-priced product year
after year. A product that I got almost nothing out of. In fact, the
few times that I had a claim that the insurance paid, I could have
paid it myself easily with the money I could have had saved up if I
didn't have to buy insurance. And had plenty left over to buy tires.

I never really begrudged the price of gas. Matter of fact,
considering the damage to the environment that burning fossil fuels
causes, I always felt like gas didn't cost enough. But I don't mind
not having to buy it either.

Lulu and I love to go on long walks. When we first came to Newport a
couple years ago, we remarked that someday we'd have to walk over the
bridge just to do it. Little did we know that walking over the
bridge a half a dozen times a week would become de riguer. We both
have little backpacks to make bringing the groceries and other
purchases home a bit easier. We've walked from the marina to WalMart
and back. This is roughly the entire length of Newport proper. True,
the city extends south of the marina but it's pretty much all
industrial down there. And it extends north of WalMart but about the
only thing up there of note is the movie theater. On one of our "full-
length" walks we took a detour on the way back through the Nye Beach
neighborhood so we could stop for a cold one at the Sandbar Sports
Bar. They have free peanuts, too (throw the shells on the floor). If
you're on a long walk you can justify this kind of rest stop. If we
were driving, I suspect we just wouldn't do it.

If the walk is just too long for the load we need to carry, or the
weather sucks or we just don't feel like walking, Newport has a
shuttle bus that runs every day of the year except Thanksgiving and
Christmas. It picks us up right at the marina office and goes
everywhere we could possibly need to go including the industrial south
end and the movie theater north end. And, since were are paying
guests of the marina, we ride for free. How cool is that? The only
fly in the ointment is that the trip north and the return trip south
are hard to coordinate. You either have a very short time to shop or
a very long one. Consequently, we seldom ride both directions, opting
to walk one way or the other.

Lots of the folks here at the marina have offered us rides and we have
occasionally taken them up on it. But generally we prefer to walk.
And of course we now have the beater bike should we choose to use it.
I think not having a car has generated more disbelief among our fellow
E-dockers than the fact that we live full-time on a 28' boat. They
just can't imagine being "stuck" here without a car. I guess it's
just in how you look at it and what you like to do. We don't feel
stuck and we're loving not having to spend money on a car or put up
with the idiot drivers out there. Saw a lady yesterday while I was
waiting for the bus. She's driving down Highway 101 through the heart
of Newport on a sunny Sunday READING A BOOK!!!. And I though cell
phones were a hazard. As long as one of these idiots doesn't run us
over in the crosswalk, our exposure to them is pretty minimal.

I will admit that there are a couple times when a car would be nice.
One is when we run low on beer and Rite-Aid has 30-packs on sale for
$13.99. Those babies are heavy and I'm not sure they'd be welcome on
the shuttle. The other time is when a propane tank needs refilling.
I bought lightweight composite propane tanks but they're still fairly
heavy to schlep around and I'm sure they wouldn't be welcome on the
shuttle. So, for those times, we look forward to visits from the kids
or friends who don't mind taking us to the store. Or we can ask our
dockmates for a ride. Or we can buy beer (not as cheaply of course)
from the store here at the marina. And we do have a spare propane
tank so we can wait quite awhile before we have to get it filled.
And, if worse came to worse, I can throw the propane bottle on the
back of the bike and pedal down to the RV store in the industrial
south and get it filled.

So, do we miss having a car? Not yet.


Anonymous said...

My wife and I have seen many "people" reading while driving. While in rush hour traffic in Houston, Texas (population in the county 5+ million)doing 70-80+mph on a 5 lane freeway! Rear end accidents happen all the time there. Much safer on the boat in the ocean in my view. Ken

Bethany said...

I just spent about $800 on new tires and I'm desperately overdue for a tune-up (hit 100k miles a while ago). You almost made me want to go sell my car! (well, except two carseats don't fit well on the back of a bike)

Anonymous said...

Uncle Steve, we've been without for just over a year now and love it! I'm glad you've got the shuttle though. I helps to have a little bus service now and then. Rachel

Mark said...

I'm with ya! I don't miss driving (and all the costs) one bit!

LittleCunningPlan.com said...

I would love to not have to worry/pay for all the cars. Our family has 4. 4! One for each of us, because the public transportation here is pathetic. I look forward to the days when I can get rid of the cars. Good riddance. But I'll probably miss the freedom of being able to go wherever, whenever, until I get used to it.