Sunday, April 15, 2012

Getting Around

Posted: March 19, 8:05 pm | (permalink) | (0 comments)

scooter at jekyll sm [photo: lacking a car when we travel by boat, we opted for a more playful form of transportation!]

One of the biggest adjustments we had to make when we started cruising was giving up our cars. Hard to imagine life in suburbia without a car, but it wouldn't exactly fit on the boat. It’s sometimes been a hassle, but there has been an unexpected financial benefit. I’ve read that the average cost of owning and driving a car in the US, including purchase, registration fees, insurance, fuel, and maintenance, is about $700 per month. Each month. Each car. Wow.

$700 a month can buy a fair number of taxi rides. We’ve learned to take the bus, and have gotten some insight into the life of people who can't afford that $700 per month and must rely on public transportation. It can be inconvenient, not getting exactly where you want, when you want. At the same time, we have met some interesting characters on the bus, that we’d never have met cocooned in the safety and isolation of a car, from the curly-haired guy with the parrot on his shoulder to the couple with the two-year-old so willful, and so energetic, that they had to keep her on a bright pink kid leash to keep her safe. When we really want to rent a car to explore the surrounding area, Enterprise has a fantastic deal for $10/day on weekends that we’ve taken advantage of numerous times.

But mostly, we’ve learned to walk, a lot. And that brings us to benefits number 2, 3, and 4. Good for the planet, good for my waistline, and, most of all, you get an interesting perspective on the city, perusing it at foot speed. Both Annapolis and St Augustine were laid out centuries before the invention of cars, and they’re scaled for pedestrians. Might as well explore them on foot, at an on-foot pace. The whole city changes, when you’re on foot. Instead of noticing things like parking spaces, traffic signs, you notice architecture, plantings, weather, even the texture of the pavement.

Some boats have space enough for bicycles. Generally, they use folding bicycles, made of marine-grade materials to be rust-resistant in the salt air of our everyday lives. At 33 feet, we don’t have even enough storage space to spare for that. Instead, we use folding scooters, driven by foot power, just like the one you probably had as a kid. Not only do they force us to go at a slow-enough pace to really notice our surroundings, but they are worth it just for the reactions we get from passers-by. It’s nice to help remind other adults that you’re still allowed to play even when you no longer write your age with a single digit!

scooter pavement sm [photo: The light-colored pavement I'm scootering on in the photo above isn't made of concrete; seen up close, it's lots of tiny seashells. Not to minimize the comfort and convenience of a car, but no way would I ever have noticed this interesting pavement, or gotten this up close and personal, had I been driving!]

scooter folded sm [photo: storage is everything. Here, the scooter collapsed and ready to pack away.]

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