Monthly Archives: June 2017

3 days of Car-Free

Yesterday I only went to the grocery store, 3 blocks down the hill, on my bike, and walked to the park near us for a book discussion.  We stayed home most of the day.  Today, Jonathan was called into work, a rare happening, so he borrowed a friends car to get there, drove 40 miles and paid $9 to fill up her tank.

We are painfully aware that we are not adequately set up for our car-free lifestyle.  We have been constantly looking at the options for cargo bikes and e-bikes and trailers.  Checking what local shops have – Salt Lake City is local, right?  Scouring the internet for all the options.  We want to optimize for pleasure of use, as well as cost.  We know we need something that we can transport Camille, 8, and Jane ,3, in, and haul stuff like produce from our community garden home in.  Our 3 olders , 11, 13, and 17, should be able to ride their own bikes.  Jonathan will be super relieved when we find our perfect something.

Car Free Day 1

This morning two of my children had a hike with friends scheduled, and I was the responsible adult.  So we rode bikes to Mimi and Papa’s about 1.2 miles, elevation gain of 165 ft. and left the bikes, to walk another 2 blocks to the trail head, where we met up with our group, hiked for 2.5 hours and then returned home.  It was very pleasant, but my legs did get some good burn on the uphill.

I had a board meeting for our Commonwealth, 5 miles away at 1 pm, and was planning to bike it, but another friend going from my neighborhood offered a ride, and since it was hot and I had already exceeded my exercise requirements for the day I took her up on it.

This evening it was our turn to pick raspberries, again at Mimi and Papa’s but this time we were trying to get the whole family there, with bowls for picking and a way to bring them home.  We had two bikes with flat tires, and we got rid of our kids bike trailer a month ago, because it was in sad shape, we were cleaning out and knew we wanted one that fit our needs better, but have not yet made the jump to get it.  We had to switch some wheels between bikes, and we have a trail behind bike for Camille, age 8, but nothing yet for Estella Jane, and with wheel trades we were still short a regular sized bike anyway.  So we backpacked Estella there, while the rest rode bikes.  We had a lovely time getting lost in the raspberry patch and then returned home for a hearty nights rest.

Jonathan and I are very clear that to make this work we need to get a capable cargo bike soon, and we must get better tires, so flats are not such a problem.

Happy Birthday to Me and the Bicycle!

June 12th was my birthday, and the 200th birthday of the bike.  This was super exciting to me – here’s why.

Our two oldest daughters, Kate 17, and Cassidy,13, were in a rollover accident in our little black Echo in Sardine Canyon  a week and a half ago. It was midnight so Kate was tired, it was raining and the windshielld wiper was not clearing the window well.  She hit the rumble strip, over corrected and before she knew it was upside down.  The airbags went off sending out the odor of exposives and some smoke and the roof of the car sliding on asphalt was sparking so Kate thought the car was on fire.  She screamed at Cassidy to get out.  They managed to both get out through Cassidy’s door before the car came to a complete stop. Miraculously they walked away with very little injury.  The cars that first stopped had not seen them get out and were looking in the car for bodies, and a bit confused, when Kate walked up and said they were okay.  It was a miracle in which we are, thanking God, and giving credit to our angel daughter, Addy, as a super strong guardian angel who kept them from being killed.  Addy is between Kate and Cassidy in birth order, so it seems fitting she would be watching out for them.

A side effect of a car accident, is that you are down a car.  At first this seemed a problem that would need prompt attention and remedying.  We have three drivers in our household and our only other vehicle is a 15 passenger van that is most often used as a truck, for hauling loads of stuff with the seats out, or a school bus for homeschool group field trips.  However, after a couple of carless days, I realized, there could be many benefits to our being a one car family and perhaps this was actually one of God’s “What is Not Seen”  blessings.

First, we had already decided we needed to cocoon for the summer.  Limiting our families outside engagements, staying home more and just working on routines, habits and relationships (and some home and yard projects).  Only 1 car makes it easier to remember and keep that objective.

Second, planning is a skill that Jonathan and I have been painfully struggling with over the past year or so, and with only one car, we will be forced to plan ahead more, to make sure we have our transportation bases covered for the inevitable dr. appointments, grocery trips, etc.  

Third, Manufactured hardships and outpatient care for Kate – If we don’t have a car for her, she has to work for her own transportation.  She is a good girl, wants to be independent and is working hard to learn how to earn her own way in the world.  But we are all human and prone to take the path of least resistance.  Jonathan and I often say that in a world of prosperity such as ours, parents must manufacture hardships, such as creating a business just so the children have to work, or holding back on spending money on your children, so they don’t become spoiled.  We try, but it is sometimes a blessing to simply not have an easy resource so that our children have to struggle and grow to get what they want.

Fourth, The Bike.  Really this is a bunch of exciting blessings all wrapped up in one.  Health, socialization, money savings, fun, business focus.  When we moved to our half-size house, we also bought bikes for everyone, with the goal of riding bikes or walking most places.  Our house is now conveniently close to most of what we need and where we want go, so biking is really feasible.  We have done so-so at this goal, because of old habits of driving and its seeming the path of least resistence.  Now we are compelled to use our bikes more often, and thereby keep that goal, when there is less often a car available.  

Riding bikes is healthier that driving.  Exercise, sunshine, fresh air.  All are super antidepressants for me, and great for Jonathan’s blood sugar. It is slower travel providing more meditation time when you are on your own.

Socialization is benefited in multiple ways.  Emotionally, it gets smiles from our 3 younger children.  They all think of biking as play time.  The slower travel allows for longer conversations with family members when you travel together.  One of our favorite benefits we have noticed when we bike or walk places is that you talk to more of your neighbors.  It is a more friendly, social means of travel – you don’t ever recieve road rage, but rather friendly waves, smiles, and “How are you?”s.  I like it.

Riding bikes was part of our plan for achieving Financial Independence earlier.  We knew we would be adopting changes slowly over a course of a few years, and that optimizing our transportation towards this goal was going to be a fairly big change to make.  We have been scared to make the change, but June is the ideal time to start a habit of biking. As Jonathan started researching what kind of car he would purchase to replace our Echo.  He started exploring electric cars and then electric bikes.  He came to some very fast conclusions that an electric bike could get him comfortably to work on the days he doesn’t carpool, and would take the mileage cost from $0.35 down to less than $0.0085.  And that is ignoring the hidden cost advantage of increased health.  Yes it will take him longer, but he already is spending an hour a day exercising and can cut that out on bike days, so that becomes a tossup.  Also, there is the weather to consider – we live in Utah – and yes we totally admire the toughness of frontiersmen and pioneers and want to increase our stoicism, but we know we have been living in a world where one never has to experience temperatures outside of 10 degrees above or below 70.  He is planning to invest in some excellent outdoor winter and rain sportswear.  Still the cost doesn’t rise above $0.02/mile.  For our family, that is a savings of $4,825 per year.  That going straight into retirement savings each year takes a year off our reaching that goal.

This journey down the rabbit hole of bike optimization put Jonathan into the flow.  This is what he loves and does incredibly well: Identify requirements, do copious amounts of research into the field, then do calculations to find the optimal solution.  He has be working for several months to hone in on a tangible, viable business idea that fit his skills and passions.  This “accident” of losing our car, took him much closer, and has him hopping with ideas and drive.  

Lastly, Really, truly biking is more fun, and less stressful than driving.  It is recreation built into your functionality.  It feels good.  Tonight I rode 7 miles to look at a property with a friend.  It was exhilarating.  If there had been a car in the driveway I would have driven.  Instead I enjoyed a beautiful evening, said hello to several people along the way, and got a great workout.  I love it!

So all in all, losing our car has propelled us further down the road we wanted to go at a faster pace.  God’s ways are not our ways, but they are always for our good.

 

Car Free Challenge

June 21, 2017

We are going to do something most people will think is crazy.  But we already have a reputation for doing an odd mix of things – homeschool, permaculture, Crossfit, health-nuts – no sugar- really, we bought a house ½ the size of our last one so we could put twice the money in the bank, growing strange foods in our front yard, Mormon.  Our next crazy move?  

Car Free.  

Oooh, I’m excited just typing it.  Yes we do have 7 people in our family, 3 drivers, and live in area where everything is super spread out.  Jonathan’s commute is 17 miles, our weekly homeschool group meets 13 miles away.  Bike routes are few and scarcely used around here, and the public transportation at this north end of our suburbian metropolis is sparse, so there will be some serious work to make this happen.  But we feel called to it.  And all of our children are on board.

Why this crazy idea?

A couple weeks ago our oldest daughter totaled our small commuter car.  It was a miraculous experience in which she and our second daughter’s lives were preserved beyond physical explanation.  It left us with 1 car and 3 drivers.  But we felt impressed to take the challenge of being a one car family.  

So, last night we were driving home from my sister’s house, in our one and only vehicle and hit a deer.  Nobody was hurt in the least, however, the radiator was destroyed and we were unable to drive it home.  A very kind man, named Matt, and his daughter Gracie, towed us to a parking lot where we could leave it then gave us a ride home.  All Jonathan and I could do was laugh.  There were no tears.  No frustration, or anger, or worry even.  We just looked at each other and said, what are we supposed to be learning from this?  One car was exciting, but no cars?  Yep!

We have been getting into biking more, and being inspired by such bloggers as Mr. Money Mustache  and CarFree with Kids, we have diligently been working on decreasing our living expenses, getting out of the rat race and developing a lifestyle and family culture of health and happiness.  We bought a small house close to most of the places we go – easy for walking or biking to groceries, lessons, library, Crossfit, Mimi and Papa’s, church …  There are only a handful of places further away – Grandma and Grandpa’s house – this will be our trickiest one, and work and our homeschool commonwealth.  The latter two have easy public transportation when all else fails.

After losing the first car, we decided to replace it with an electric bike for Jonathan to commute to work on.  He normally carpools with a friend, but sometimes that doesn’t work out, so we needed a back-up plan.  He got on KSL, found an incredible deal on a bike for $50, that just happened to have all his requirements – he hasn’t found a deal close to it since, and he has looked every day.  Then he ordered the battery and motor directly from the manufacturer in China.  The motor came yesterday,  and we are just waiting on the battery.  

We feel like this was a nudge from God to meet some of our goals a little more quickly.  We have been trying to cocoon and slow down for the summer and doing a terrible job at it thus far.  We keep finding ourselves in the car, driving to this or that.  There is nothing like no car to help you ask if you really need to go, or might be better off just staying home and enjoying each other.

We also, have had a goal for the past couple years for Jonathan to leave his job at Hill, and go out on a business of his own that is more mission focused and has more room for him to learn and grow – so he can love it more, and feel more capable of making a difference for good in the world.  We want to work together as husband and wife, and have a family culture of entrepreneurship.  

No cars – just bikes and buses.  We are committing to one month.  We are setting our goal for a year.    We’ll keep you posted.