Here’s our official New Year’s update video, looking back on 2011. Although we expected to be heading out to Peace Corps in July, we found out in late spring that our placement changed and we were put on hold until the news of our new assignment arrived in August. Despite this “set-back,” we went ahead with our plans to resign from our full-time positions, travel the country, and visit family and friends. We never dreamed of all the places that our waiting period would take us; and even though the Peace Corps journey is postponed until March 2012, our adventures have already begun!
I can’t believe I’m in the last week of the Zipcar challenge already! Looking back, I see several contributing factors to my ability to go car-free. One: location, location, location! Living just 1.3 miles from work with no hills in the way makes it easy to bike or walk. Two: summer season! Doing this in the summer helps because the weather is not an obstacle and I’m not quite as busy, so I can take my time getting from one place to another. Three: incentives! Having something to work toward and the extra benefits that Zipcar has provided makes the challenge worthwhile. In summation, as with many challenges in life, the way to set yourself up for success is to: remove obstacles and add benefits.
I always thought that rain and snow would be the biggest weather deterrent from biking or walking to work- never did I expect to encounter 107 degree weather in Portland. Sheesh! Biking at least is a little more breezy and less effort than walking so I’ve been surviving.
In other news: I used a zipcar for the first time! Made the reservation online, got dropped off at the local Prius, swiped my card, drove downtown, hung out with a friend, got back in, stopped for free gas, parked it back where I found it, and went home. Altogether, it was a positive experience, and I was pleasantly surprised that the gas station attendant was already familiar with the zipcar gas cards!
I wasn’t able to blog by Friday this week because we’ve been traveling “out of range.” I have been riding in cars quite a bit, though each time has been in a shared vehicle, so I haven’t been cheating! Last weekend, Jedd and I traveled with our housemates to Vancouver, BC by car. We thought about taking Amtrak, but paying for four train tickets would cost a lot more than the gas to carpool. I also had to pick up a student from the airport who was returning from our East Africa Immersion pilot trip, however, I used a vehicle from the Moreau Center for Service and Leadership at U.P. (which is kinda like Zipcar for University volunteers). Finally, I also got to take a long weekend to travel with my husband to Crater Lake and camp at Black Canyon. Other than that, I’ve been enjoying walking and biking to work during the week! As long as the weather holds up, I think I’ll be fine.
So Michelle and I are up in Vancouver BC on a quick road trip (to escape the Portland heat if you can believe that) and we have loved the way the city has developed itself into a fun, artsy, and outgoing community. We started with bike riding around Stanley Park and marveled at all the people taking advantage of the multiple playing fields, beaches, rollerbladers, picnics, and the spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, bridges, and Vancouver skyline. The park sits on a point and has miles of fun things to do and see (rose garden, horse carriage rides, playgrounds, outdoor pools, and hidden ponds).
We then went to Granville Island, a re-developed area of Vancouver that is like Pike’s Market, but better (sorry Seattle). The public market has amazing food vendors and merchants (cheese, produce, chocolates, seafood, fresh pasta). Also on the island are cool shops and boutiques, restaurants, art galleries, a special kid’s section of shops, playgrounds, and a wrap around walkway. Again, we were fascinated by all the people there, the beautiful surroundings and the well designed walkways used by the residents of the area.
Finally, we stopped by “Night Market” in Richmond (an area close to Vancouver). This was an amazing event with hundred of merchants selling artistic and random goods, a main stage for performers, and tons of food vendors with lots of interesting food. Richmond is very culturally diverse and so the things you see and experience at Night Market will be fun and memorable. We knew we were in another country, but for a moment, it was hard to remember which country we were in. We were also shocked that it starts around 8pm and ends at 3am!!!! If you visit Vancouver between June and August, you have to visit this event. We really love cities like this, cities that feel as if a lot of planning was involved to make it fun and sustainable. It got us thinking, a lot of you have traveled around, what other cities are awesome that you think are planned out really well for residents and visitors and provide a unique experience that truly reflects the cultural identity of the city? Please give us a few suggestions of places we should go on our next trip. Thanks everyone!
I am not one to accept a challenge if I’m not sure I can accomplish it. Not too long ago, I received an e-mail from Zipcar, issuing a challenge to go car-free for a month. I threw my name in the bucket and soon enough, I had been selected as one of 30 Portlanders to participate! We can walk, bike, bus, carpool, or zipcar but no going solo in the cruiser. Our car keys are locked up for the month, so to speak.
If you know where I work and where I lived all last year, you’d know that it took me a mere 8 minutes to wander over to the office by foot. Driving to work would have actually increased my commute time, having to first get the car from the parking garage and then maneuver around construction while stopping periodically for pedestrians. So I always walked. I got some exercise, saved money on gas, avoided stressful traffic, and kept my carbon footprint to a minimum. I could even eat lunch every day from the comfort of my own kitchen. It was unbeatable. I knew I was spoiled, and the dream commute couldn’t last forever.
Eventually it was time to move out (due to Jedd’s job transition). We were blessed to have two different couples open their homes to us over the summer while we figured out what’s next on the horizon. Though still fairly close, our new locale(s) were no longer that convenient 8-minute walk away from my office. I wanted to keep my commute car-free. And Zipcar served me the incentive on a silver platter!
I’m sure the experience will have its challenges as well as its rewards. I’ll be posting weekly about my unconventional “diet,” so I invite you to follow along as I go!