Category Archives: car-free

Groceries by Bicycle

Yes, we have been shopping for our groceries and carrying them home on our bicycles for nearly 10months now, but most of the time I send Brent, or we all go together and divide up the goodies. Sometimes we all go and that means there are groceries and children on the bike (or bike and trailer). Last night, it was just me and my Yuba.

Elliot and London rode along side because they wanted to pick out their sleepover feasting materials, but they carried nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Shown here are nine bags of various sizes, with 100+ pounds of sustenance. Nearly full freeloaders (Peanut Shell legs get in the way of precious bag space), three bags in crate, one bag in the Peanut Shell, one bag in the front seat, one bag wedge between the crate and rear seat. I have learned to load the heaviest items to the bottom and center of the bike. Do you mind if I say this again? I love my cargo-bike.

I traded out my jeans and socks for shorts and flip flops. Good for the heat, not great for pedaling. I just prefer a closed toe and a shoe that doesn’t slip off my foot, but I don’t own any that are also able to keep my feet cooler. The other trouble I had was with my shorts riding up. It’s not comfortable, or easy to keep adjusting your clothing as you ride. Advice? It could be the clothing, could be the seat, could be me.

This trip finished out my day with 15 miles. I took Family Ride’s advice and went slow the whole day through, even when it was flat and I had the energy to ride faster. It helped a lot to pace my day.

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 46.3 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 Carpool: 1.7 This week
134.6 2164.5 1176.6 3691.8 287.2 Since August 14, 2011


Wednesday I was looking forward to our little outing to get eggs by bicycle so much, I began getting the bike set up and the bag packed around noon. We left at 4:30.

Thursday I started at 10AM. It was so good to be out riding with the boys. I loaded the Yuba with three stuffed garbage bags full of fabric to donate to an Artist Trading Card workshop series on our way to the River and Rail 1 year anniversary celebration, before going to Chat n Chew. My Tour de PATH cohert, Stacy G. met me at my house about 4PM on her bicycle to join in the cycling fun. Two bikes, five people, warm sunshiny day.

All was well. We dropped off the bags, rolled into Heritage Station, the boys ordered cookies and bread and walked to CommonGround to pick up my  vegetable seed order. Oliver and I were on the patio with a reporter from the university snacking, talking and being merry. You get the picture right? We were having one of those child like days, full of joy.

In a quick moment, maybe quicker than quick, Oliver pulled an antique luggage trolley, that was upright, down onto himself. He would have been unscathed, except his fingers were under the steel leg. Without retelling the whole wild adventure, just a little more than you may wish to know, I want to thank all my heros.

Stacy G. for helping with the boys at the station and then surprising me with all my belonging at the ER and staying with us till the very end. She helped me think through my problem of not knowing my husband’s cell phone number and loaned me her phone for calls (till the battery died then we just used the ones on the wall in the ER). She took countless notes as medical information was being presented. She drove us, and our belongings home, despite my insistence it was a five minute walk, I am ever gratefully I didn’t need to. Stacy even attempted to put our Yuba on her bike rack today to get it home. It’s still at the station.

Kim for being the only recognizable face in a very large crowd of townspeople, who rushed to get rags and ice and make phone calls.

Susan who sat next to me and soothed Oliver at the station, pinned her red ribbon to his jacket and called me today to check up (we had never met before, but she tracked us down).

To Tyson for meeting the ambulance, helping in countless ways with making decisions I couldn’t and visiting in the ER with Oliver’s now prize Bucky (shown in the photo with him above).

Cathy and Rhonda, the EMTs, Lisa, Wonderwoman (it was the sticker on her badge), and Carolyn who were the first to help us in the ER.

My friend Rachel, who brought her three children (who gave Oliver their own toys as gifts) out to the hospital to pick up Avery and Elliot. To Melinda, our neighbor, who then hosted the boys after bedtime until we got home.

Shane our nurse, who talked us through everything and responded to every need.

Dr. Charles and Dr. Garabekyan who sedated my son and sutured his wound. Then had to re-bandage it because the strong chap ripped it off after waking up. Dr. Charles then took my call today when Oliver wasn’t keeping anything down due to the pain medication.

Linda, who was so patient during registration when I couldn’t remember my son’s middle name or other minor details.

The security officer who held the IV bag while I walked Oliver out to the waiting room with the boys when Rachel arrived. He then let my friend Stacy back to our room, even though the ER was on lock down, and again allowed Tyson in to sit with us.

There are bound to be several people I have forgotten or didn’t know their name. It was incredibly important to me to know each of them as they were helping. They were heros. Being so strong and decisive, incredibly patient and understanding.

Many more people helped us today. The children I usually watch on Friday were carried for by their fathers. Mary took Elliot to school, brought him home and check on our prescriptions at the pharmacy. Rachel picked up Avery to play all day so Oliver could rest, she also brought me lunch and dropped off the prescriptions and made the first attempt to pick them up. Jenny dropped off two boxes of mac ‘n cheese, something Oliver wanted for dinner. Many others emailed or called to see what we needed. Ashley took refuge with Etta at our house during this evenings tornado warning and I was able to laugh, go through seeds and start a load of bloody-vomitous laundry (I know you didn’t need the visual, but it’s late and I am getting punchy).

Heroes. All of them. Yet, I approached my eldest two sons tonight and gave them a huge hug and told them they were the biggest heroes of them all. I can’t describe how strong Elliot was to watch his brother go through all that pain and suffering. He cried a lot and took care of Avery and me in the most compassionate way. He has a heavy and full heart and it aches for all of us. Upon getting home from the neighbor’s last night, he ran right to Oliver’s side and never left.

Oliver stands a chance at losing the top quarter of his finger, but they assure us it is likely to grow back. He is in a great deal of pain and protecting his hand, yet still a fairly chipper two year old.

My bike remains at the station. I don’t need it right now, so I will walk down to get it later, when Oliver doesn’t need me to hold him as often.

I feel like I need to defend my position of not having a vehicle or a cell phone with me yesterday, but given the scene, I wasn’t in any condition to drive and Oliver was in no condition to be in a car seat or a bike seat. As for not having a cell phone, well everyone else did, the issue was not having the phone numbers I needed, but we managed just fine with my memory. It took an extra call to get Brent’s number, but that was ok too.

My feeling of defense comes from those being the two most mainstream possessions we lack when we are out of our home. I recall the popular question of wondering what we would do in an emergency. We figured it out. A non life threatening emergency scenario, tested and found to be plausible.



Car-free Appliance Shopping

Our new machine, that I never left my house to purchase.

We have known for more than a year now that our washing machine was going to be finding a new home. One of the wash cycles quit spinning out the water, leaving a drenched pile in the bottom. For the past six months two other cycles would fail to spin properly some of the time and most recently, nearly all of the time. I consulted my inner circle of friends about the insanity of living without a washing machine. Yes, we do nearly 18 loads of laundry a week, yes, we cloth diaper, yes, there is a toddler, preschooler and two school age children in uniforms, yes, we use prolific amounts of messy art supplies and my children dig holes in the mud for fun, and yes, I cook three or more meals a day and we don’t use disposable napkins or paper towel. Why did we need a washing machine?

Fortunate for everyone, I saw through to their reasoning and my own, that was buried deep under layers of dread. Loathing of the actual shopping and purchasing of such a large item. Fear over dragging my children through the appliance center and trying to translate the jibberish language of HE, impeller vs. agitator, Energy Star ratings, auto load sensing, dispensers, rinse temperatures, rpms of spin cycles, steam vs. standard, cubic inches, delivery fees, and consumer ratings. Anguish over the expense. The uncertainty of purchasing something used from Craigslist or the Scratch & Dent place in Proctorville, OH. The whole process seemed daunting.

The need for a washer was lingering on my mind. This weekend I decided to rid myself of the dread, stress and burden of thinking about the inevitable. I sat down with the computer and did some casual research and picked out a low cost, high rated machine that would get our clothes clean. I looked for the largest capacity drum that was Energy Star approved and put it in my online cart. The whole process took about thirty minutes of time and a nod from Brent that said, sounds fine. Lowes was offering free delivery and I was able to purchase a ScripNow! gift card with my PrestoPay account for nearly the exact amount of the machine, providing us and the children’s school with a bit of a kickback.

This shopping experience was the best. The children were all reading and I was in my pajamas. Lowes called me this morning to say they were on their way, less than 12 hours after I completed my purchased. I now have a new washing machine that will clean our clothes and I have moved my thoughts onto planning the four up-coming birthdays, our 10 year anniversary and winter holiday plans. You know, the fun stuff.

From Drizzle to Light Rain

We had a successful drizzly bike ride on Tuesday. Yesterday it was a steady rain and I decided to bike anyway. How else was I going to test the elements and prepare for year round car-free living?

The trailer is a great napping location as well as warm and dry. When we get our new bike (in two weeks?), I will be keeping and using the trailer for such occasions.

My perfectly grumpy Gus had a disappointing experience at the end of her school day which impacted her attitude the entire way home. She never once complained about the rain. She’s probably got the “Pacific Northwest Gene” that Brent and I have. We love the rain and the cloudy days, as long as we get some mix of occasional sun. Snow is also very much appreciated. Anything over 80 is dreaded.

Avery’s new helmet. The boys are have been in “no pictures” mood lately, hence the many covered faces.

Everyday we stop at the blue mailbox on the corner of Woodland and Washington. We feel it’s about 1/2 way home and after the tough uphill with stressful traffic on Norway, we are all ready for a snack. During those weeks of 80 to 100 degree days, this was the perfect place to stop in the shade and stretch in the grass. Turns out that on rainy days, those mature oaks are also nature’s umbrella. The sidewalk was dry, the grass was just damp.

Rain Lessons
In preparing for the rain, I was most concerned about my glasses. I don’t wear contacts and probably never will. I read a couple of forums online Monday and felt there were two basic options, Rain-X or a ball cap. I didn’t have Rain-X, and the forums all suggest testing it first, for compatibility with your lens type. I slipped a ball cap on under my helmet and found it did the trick nicely. I still got misted, but my glasses stayed clear enough to see well.

Another lesson of biking in the rain; fenders are important. The children’s backs were splashed with the muck of the sidewalks and roads. Brent reports of the unpleasant via-duct material (sewer, car and train muck?) that splashes up on him during his commute. My back tire was spitting mud on the trailer and consequently the children when I had the rain cover up. The new bike will have fenders, Brent’s looking into getting some for his soon.

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 33 Bused: 0 Drove: 16 This week
43.7 223.8 12.6 438.2 Since August 14, 2011

Feeding Six: The Shopping Experiences

Feeding six people is not cheap, nor is it quick and easy. Not for this family. Over the years our eating habits have been modified by education, taste preference, prep time available, interests, friends, and finances. We have been in a pretty frugal period, or a beans and rice stage for a couple of years. Regardless of how much we spend at the store, I still manage to spend between 30 and 40 hours a week planning, preparing, cooking, and cleaning up. Fortunately I like my kitchen, I love cooking and I enjoy eating. Planning is another love. Cleaning up, not so much. I try to clean when I am talking on the phone, but I don’t spend that much time on the phone, so the kitchen is never very tidy. As it is we run the dish washer twice a day and request the children clear their own places at the table, but you know, it is just not enough. Having a galley kitchen with an attached dinette (no dining room) also helps. Less to clean.

What I was getting at was the groceries. Since we have taken to getting our vitals by bicycle we have been very mindful of the weight of the items we put into the cart. We also try to stick to one cart. One cart full seems to equal one trailer in both space and weight limit (100lbs or so). Growing up in a family of six, my parents would get two carts, shop every two weeks and take the whole family. If it wasn’t on the list, it didn’t go in the cart, but we never bought one of anything. We needed green beans, we got a flat or two of cans. Stock piling. I have tried this in the past with my own family, but then we feel this compulsion to eat it all. Sticking to the list is about the only habit I have kept.

Simple Shopping
When we set out to do our car-free August I speculated I would drive to do my grocery shopping when the month was over. I am very surprised to report that we are going to continue ferrying our groceries by bicycle. It may mean more trips initially and slightly more planning for weather and time. It may mean only going out for groceries and not looping in extra errands. It doesn’t mean we have to give up our family shopping, as we have shown a few times this past month (here and here). It also doesn’t mean we can’t get frozen goods on 90 degree days or our seven loaves of bread. We have transported glass, produce, eggs, many gallons of milk, and ice cream without any incidences. The children gripe because the store we now shop, because it’s closer to home and closer to the bike path, doesn’t carry as many toys. This little Kroger on the western side of town just doesn’t have the variety I have come accustom to, and like. Yet, this makes things simple. Less choice is often a great thing. I needed quinoa last week and they didn’t have it, but they had bulgar wheat. I made the tabbouleh the traditional way because the choice was made for me through a reduction in options. Simply.

Now about those two trips. Brent, Oliver and I went to the store on Friday morning. Brent wanted to go with us. We just love biking together that much. Other than the company I kept for him, I was only useful to putting things in the cart and bags. Brent did all the work of hauling it home. Yet, this is good time for us. Away from our screens and our roof and away from the distraction of house responsibilities.

Friday’s Trip
Things of note on our Friday trip were the cabs we saw coming and going to pick up passengers and groceries. First Friday of the month? Perhaps. We also got home and realized our “quick trip to get a few things” was still a 100lb load.

Yellow Cab in Huntington.

We really did go in for a light trip….but since was hauling, I added some heavier things.

Full load, front and back. The pool noodles were $1 each and Brent is a spoiler.

I lost my co-pilot on the last mile. Nap time.

Today’s Trip
I didn’t get anything I needed to cook for my meal swap when we went on Friday, knowing I would need to come back. London and I set out today, she on my bike and me on Brent’s. We made it a quick trip, two hours there and back, and it was a lighter load, roughly 60lbs. This was technically our third grocery trip in 8 days as we went last Sunday as well. 260lbs of food in 8 days. Yet, I feel we are stocked up and can survive the stormy weather in our forecast this week.

London towed the trailer to the store, with her stuffed animal raccoon, “Raccoonie” in the cat carrier.

I think this is the first original “punch buggy” London has spotted. She was pretty excited about her find.

Hard to see, but London said she loved her new short do because she can spike it up when she is sweaty. Think I ought to ask Kroger for bike parking? We have yet to go and not see at least two other bikes. Yet, I fear they might stick us in the lot with the cars, and I like my door side spot.

This is our light load. It all fit on the belt. I forgot it was Sunday and no beer sales till after 1pm…just meant an even lighter load!

This may seem dull, but finding the water fountain to fill up is very important.

Busy Sunday at the park. Our small space on either end of the path that is not chained is now blocked by cars. We had to ride over the curb and around the rack on the right (no real issue, just an irritant).. I know that being close to the action is important but there were plenty of empty spaces in the lot.
I like those temperatures, don’t you? How about those rain drops? Hmmm.

 You can read about most of our grocery shopping by bicycle adventures by clicking the Grocery tag in the right margin. It’s actually kind of fun to just sort the posts by tag. Rather, fun for me.

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 5 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 This week
43.7 195.8 12.6 422.2 Since August 14, 2011
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