Category Archives: errands

To the ‘Burbs

Quite Parkhurst street in the ‘burbs.

In Huntington, WV you had very few route options for getting out of town regardless of the transportation mode. We wanted to take our bikes to Barboursville, but it was either narrow winding hilly roads, wide faster state highways or the interstate, so we drove. It made the city of Huntington amazing for cycling. You had an oasis of level streets and all your needs met within a small radius. After a while I started to feel landlocked. It didn’t help to stack up our experiences to those of Tiny Helmets or Family Ride, those mamas pull mileage, but I think it comes down to them having access to miles to pull. They had more places to go and further to get there. Welcome to Buffalo.

All the locals say, “everything is 20 minutes away.” They are of course referring to driving, and the series of looping highways and diagonal expressways that get you around and through the town quickly. Those same loops and cut throughs make cycling navigation more…. interesting. However there is easier access to the towns around Buffalo because of the terrain and the way each adjacent city has grown to the point you can’t tell Kenmore from Amherst from Buffalo. It’s posted on a sign occasionally.

For example, last week I set out to get a New York state drivers license. The nearest auto bureau was about 2 miles away into Amherst, one of the largest suburbs, and in the middle of a strip mall.  The route was all residential side streets and stop signs, then a cross walk over Niagara Falls Blvd and around the back side of the shopping plaza. It was so uneventful and pleasant. Oliver and I had budgeted extra time for complications and used to make some Target returns/purchases before our second appointment at Panera with the Buffalo Mommies group again.


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The Auto Bureau bike parking option.

The two complications I had with the auto bureau were parking and the important detail of them taking my only form of photo ID while I wait for them to mail me a new one. The ID I need to show with my debit card, to pick up my children from school, to cash checks. It’s important, and they took it. I had plans to escape to Canada this week and those border patrol folks take their job very seriously. No photo ID, no entry. As for parking, we tied up to the faux pillar by the front window.

Target had a few bicycle parking spaces up front, as I have found all Target’s tend to do. Panera was lacking in anywhere to lock, so we locked the bike to itself in front of a window we could see from our table.

Early morning view from University Station.

These suburbs weren’t too shabby by bike. They also work well by bus. A couple weeks ago I was taking London to her new school using the Metro system. We rode the bus to school together, then I headed back to the University Station, a large bus and train hub in our neighborhood. For the sake of the damp cold weather, and time, I waited a couple minutes then took a second bus north to the same shopping plaza described above to do some school supply shopping. The bus let me off at Trader Joe’s, where there was access to shoe stores, restaurants, book sellers, baby warehouses, and oh so much more. If you need more. Same bus picked me up and took me back to the station where my cargo bike was waiting for me, inside.

The new Trader Joe’s to open in October.


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I can’t say I have strong desires to go shopping (or the DMV) often, but when I do need something, it’s nice to know I can get there easily, safely, and conveniently by many modes of transportation.

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Sunny Sunshiny Day

20130103-141958.jpgDid you resolve something for 2013? I can’t handle the disappointment, so I don’t bother. I certainly have things I intend to do, but I just say to myself, “self, just do it.” And myself either does or it doesn’t and either way it’s ok. If I sit and think about it for much time at all, I typically talk myself out of whatever it was.

Well, today, after wrestling with the alarm clock post holiday break, I fell blissfully back to sleep on the couch. The children were tardy, as I predicted, but not for a lack of genuine effort. The clothes were laid out, the lunches packed, the waffle batter was made. There are only so many bodies I can put clothes on and force feed and scrub teeth. At some point, they have to get themselves out the door. After all this, Brent drove them to school, as planned, being as it was so cold, we were running so late, and just because like most mornings lately, our bike mojo is low. It’s ok. I am ok with it. You can be too.

20130103-142008.jpgThen with the sun shining in, I said to myself, “self, let’s go ride our bike.” So we did. Oliver and I bundled in layers for the mid 20s/low 30s day. We grabbed things to drop off at The Wild Ramp, Bottle & Wedge, Kidz Biz Consignment, and Rachel’s house. I had just fed the boy some ice cream, because, why not? Then I promised him a stop at Tropical Moon while we were out. Because, why not? We were going on a bike ride! Then, that’s just what we did. All that. The drop offs, the fro-yo, the riding.

It was wonderful. The sun was all sunny. The day was all bright.

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20130103-142030.jpgYes, there was the overlooking of extra socks and shoes for the toddler who is learning about bladder control. Especially when he’s sleeping. Totally nailed the idea of using a toilet on our 275mile drive this week, but couldn’t handle a 40minute nap on the bike. However, we were able to test out the new rain pants, and they do stay dry, just not in the way the manufacture intended. He was also a champ about not wearing mittens. He used his pockets. Smart thinking tike. There were keys and toys in the pockets.

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So now we are home for a short spell, passing time with some coconut curry for me and a little Netflix and raisins for him. Then we are going to drive up to retrieve the other three children. My legs are spent. Seven slow miles and I feel like I ran a marathon, not that I have any idea what running a marathon feels like, but my legs are jello.

Now, if I could only make up places to go every day. Oh, and people to go places with. That’s always a delight too. Sunshine and friends. Perfect bike weather.

Our Summer Excursion: Days 33-51 Elkins, WV

This is Our 2012 Summer Excursion series recapping our experiences from June 3-August 3 by time and location. Please let me know if you would like more details about anything and I will do my best to work them in or reply personally. Follow the TAG to get the full story. Maybe I will get through the whole trip before 2013 (it’s NYE, so maybe not)!


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D33: July 4 should have been full of fireworks and bbqs and flags and maybe even parades, if you have some sort of traditional holiday flair you follow. While I am not into tradition, it was great to have been invited to a block party on our first day in a new town that had all of the above. As our history would have it, we lived in Buckhannon, WV (west of Elkins) for two years, and I worked in Elkins for part of that time. We met some great people and fell in love with this mountain community before moving to Huntington six and half years ago. One of those great people, Beth King, handles the community arts center, where I worked. She invited us to the block party! Hurray for Beth! As time would pass, many of those faces would cross our path again at the bookstore, bike shop, tennis camp, grocery, and on the street. A small town intimacy; warm and welcoming.

D34-49: The four children and I filled our days as best we could while Brent worked 12-14 hour days. We dined together as a family every night in the Davis & Elkins cafeteria and enjoyed breakfast at the Graceland Mansion every morning. Lunch was a toss up. Some days we had lunch together, and some not. Having the opportunity to be on campus with him for those weeks was invaluable to the children and for our relationship. I may not have been able to get any time away from the children, but knowing I might get 30minutes of shared parenting a few times a day gave my mommy voice a rest, and let me close my eyes just a bit to the hyper-vigilance we kept while living in a hotel. Last year we stayed in Huntington while he worked the Governor’s School for the Arts. It wasn’t impossible for me, I enjoy temporary challenges such as these, but it wasn’t ideal.

To make this entry less cumbersome, you can browse the photo gallery below, complete with captions, of our Elkins stay. It covers what we ate since we didn’t have a kitchen, how we kept our sanity living in one room, with two beds, the local bike culture, where we spent our money on extra-curriculars for the children, our geocaching finds, the views, the people, the fluff.

Spoiler: In terms of bicycling, Elkins was the best! We never drove in town, we didn’t need to, everything was very, very close to where we were staying. We walked most places and biked when we needed/wanted to save time/have more fun. I never saw another child on bikes outside of the bike parade and the park. I rarely saw other riders in general. Not sure why. Maybe they are more of a walking community? It was ideal for us. I was so spoiled, that thinking about going home to a 2.5mile ride to grocery was daunting.

I drove to Beverly twice, 10miles south of town for London’s Girl Scout camp, and utilized a carpool for her other trips to camp. Otherwise, the van just sat in the parking lot until the day we left. It even attracted ants. Ever have a vehicle with a pest problem?

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D50-51: The day before the summer program ended we were presented with a room charge for some of the damages the children inflicted on the hotel. It’s an unsettling story involving play dough in the carpet and a five year old who wet the unprotected mattress, (I don’t want to get into details but feel welcome to ask me about it anytime. Great reason to invite us over, stop by, or meet up, eh?).

So on day 50, Saturday July 21, the program ended. We had the car packed up and we drove off to Buckhannon for dinner and a drive around our old stomping grounds. We booked a hotel in Charleston, WV, an hour from home, so we could swim and jump on the beds and decompress before tossing our house sitter out one more time before our full Summer Excursion would end.

Our plans to bike and camp the Greenbriar Trail system with friends never came together. Brent was concerned about work at Marshall and an exhibit he was invited to participate with at the Clay Center. We headed home before our beach trip. I was glad we weren’t out on the trail, post derecho, in the rain, as forecasted, but I wasn’t happy to be going home. My heart is with my family and friends (new and old), following a map around the country side, city scape, coast lines, and mountain towns. Such a gypsy.

Conclusions
That’s Elkins in a blog-post nutshell. Wasn’t it dreamy? Next up, our spat at home and our last week on the road, in Charlotte, NC and Myrtle Beach, SC.

Note: I tried to include as much photography as I could, but I left out a great deal! I don’t know where it went. Maybe on the phone? Anyway. It was fun, fabulous and we hope to have more of the same again. More small spaces, more outside adventures, more new people, more crazy.

Yuba Bread Basket

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The Bread Basket, fresh from the shipping box. More on that custom liner later (it’s amazing, right?!). I don’t think this basket could do all I ask of it, without that liner.

When Oliver went into the doctor for a diagnosis of hand foot and mouth disease a month or so ago, we got his weight. 32 pounds. The iBert front mount seat limit is 38lbs. We were getting close to that magic number. I’d also noticed his feet were laying on top of the iBert leg bottoms. He was just not fitting as best he could.

I absolutely love having my little boy at my chest. We have the best time. He sleeps on my signaling arm, I can wipe his nose and tuck him in. We hoot and holler at the same sights. It’s special. And it might be, that until you have ridden with your children in front of you, it doesn’t have the same sentiment.

Even when they get older, many family riders report they just like having their children in front the best. My yearning for a box bike with electric assist aside, we put the Peanut Shell back on my cargo bike and ordered a Bread Basket to make up for the cargo space lost by the child seat legs.

The Bread Basket has been very handy. We installed it on Friday morning. The arms of the basket didn’t line up well with the holes in the frame, but with muscle and might, we managed to get it together. Then we put it to good uses all weekend, as well as Monday for meal swap, yesterday for groceries and library books, and today for some wayward fall leaves.

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Inaugural ride to soccer practice Friday night, in a light drizzle/mild rain.

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Brent took two boys to a pumpkin carving event at the AD Lewis center on Sunday. Less cargo under little legs by putting the squash in the basket. Brent mounted my light on the bottom of the basket. It functions well there, but I can’t reach it while riding.
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Large Thirty One insulated market tote was a perfect fit. 12 pieces of glassware full of this week’s meals.
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Two pockets sewn into the liner, perfect for cell phones, keys, garage door opener, and the miscellaneous. One cup holder, that is better suited for a travel mug with handle to slip over the basket side, but keeps my water upright well enough, and with in reach.
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Bringing groceries home via PATH yesterday. Also tossed in our jackets.
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Must have been shopping while hungry. Overloaded the bike (see the bag wrapped on my saddle?). I was also traveling with two guests from warmshowers.org, who kindly took a few extra bags for me as well.
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Library book cart. New Sprocket Podcast sticker as a souvenir of our time with Brock! You should have a listen, and not just to us, his entire show line up is worthy of your laundry folding/lunch packing/tube repairing/weed pulling time.

Towing Bikes with Bikes

One of the challenges of having your children ride independently (for recreation or transport) is the growth. This time last year Elliot (now 8yo) was on a 16in. By fall he took on London’s 20in, because she moved up to my old 26in mtb when the Yuba arrived. I see a lot of children riding bicycles that are too small for them, but bikes are not inexpensive.  Neither are good shoes, if they walk, run and play. Nor medical bills if they are inactive and succumb to diseases linked with lifestyle choices.

Today we picked up a 24in bike with 18speeds from a friend who had an extra in her garage. We are forever grateful for the kindness of friends. We are going to let Elliot tool around on it after school and see if it’s a good fit. We set out for the bike with the intention of towing it and then picking up some groceries. The heat (83F and sunny) was getting to me. It was heading closer to nap time. Brent had taken time out of his work day just to keep me company. We headed home without groceries.

“That worked better than I thought it would. I am impressed.” ~Brent Patterson

Brent has never seen me tow a bike. He was a skeptic, now he’s a believer. As I finished strapping the bike in I looked up to see a Subaru with the hatch up and two lawn mowers inside. I immediately thought, I could haul that! It’s a symptom of having a cargo bike. You think you can do anything.

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 36.3 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 Carpool: 1.7 This week
134.6 2154.5 1176.6 3691.8 287.2 Since August 14, 2011
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