Category Archives: walking

Celebrate Bicycling

May 1 three children and I rode downtown to celebrate the end of 30 Days of Biking and the beginning of National Bike Month along with the National Bike Challenge. Brent met us there from work. London was riding with the neighbors who were going to feed the ducks and have a family dinner.

I am usually excited to see bikes locked up at the racks, but it’s not often I the owner. When I spotted this family across the way I had to say hi. I was a bit surprised none of the four had helmets, but understand the illusion the trailer can give to safety.

Once Brent was done threading a lock through our three bikes, we walked around the back of Pullman Square to Harris Riverfront Park. The city has been doing a lot of street improvements and we noticed the curb cuts and new cross walk lights immediately. We have previously had some issues at this intersection with automobile drivers on cell phones when trying to get to the park, and appreciate the safety update.

We found London down at the dock, with the neighbor and two of his daughters, feeding the ducks. We stole her and her bike away from her friend and headed back up to Pullman Square for our dinner and promised rewards.

While there are many great locally owned places to eat downtown, we settled on Unos Pizzeria. It was probably one of the worst cases of over-eating I have committed in quite some time. I wasn’t able to enjoy either the Tropical Moon destination Brent took Elliot and Oliver to, or the Cold Stone Creamery stop I treated Avery with on the way to the Pottery Place for London’s reward. Stuffed.

Spotting our neighbor's bike and another commuter bike as we went to the Pottery Place.

Since we were downtown directly after school, and not on a Sunday, Avery and I left London to her painting and walked over to Mug & Pia. I had been trying to get into this store for months (maybe even years). I have a hankering for some everyday stationary and heard they had a good selection. They did, but I was more excited to see Etta’s dad’s stuffed creature collection being sold here. He is probably my favorite local artist, and not because he allows my son to have play dates with his daughter.

Brent made it back to the Pottery Place and I left him with everyone but Oliver and then walked back across the street to Soma. One of the troubles I have had with staying downtown for my retail purchases has been undergarments. If you need bras and underware, you can go to the Family Dollar or you go to Barboursville for a Walmart, Target, Kmart, or the mall. It’s not only location that is troublesome, it’s size. I am nearly breastless. Those four babies have left me with the option of ordering very expensive custom sizes online or finding a decent store that can give me a lot of assistance negotiating what is available. Soma did just that. I am grateful they decided to open a business downtown. It had been three and half years since I purchased bras, and I only bought two at the time, they were spent.

Enough with the boob talk, on to the rest of our outting.

With the painting of pottery done, the eating of ice cream over and the purchasing of new delicates (this could read, with our wallets lighter), we headed for the bikes. The sky was giving us a “time is up” dance, with darkening clouds and a setting sun.

At the last block I let Elliot ride on ahead home, and Avery wanted off the deck to race him on foot. Oliver felt he should be allowed as well and slid his shoulder straps off. I used the old “car won’t start if your belts are not buckled” trick my grandma used on us when we were little. The bike stopped until he was tucked in tight again. With Avery off the bike, I was able to provide Oliver with the race he needed be entertained that last block. What a difference 50lbs can make.

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Planning a Trip with Four Transportation Options


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My husband Brent thinks I am never happy. He’s probably right. I have a soul that yearns to travel and children who would rather stay home. I am hindered by time, money and my own desire to do things with a husband who has a job to tend. So I fill my wanderlust vicariously and creating fictional trips I hope to take, but then soon realize all those reality factors haven’t magically slipped away in my dreams.

In a recent planning scenario I was looking for somewhere to go, with my entire family, for our 10 year anniversary that passed in mid April. I wanted it to be a two night excursion, given our first night away from home is usually wrought with sleeplessness and cranky children. There was the school/work factor, so we needed to keep it to a weekend getaway.

I came up with the possibility of going to Charlottesville, VA. 300 miles from our house. Here’s how it might look:

Drive the van round trip ($140):

  • 11 hours in the car
  • 2 tanks of gas at about $140

Ride the train round trip ($500*):

  • 15 hours, if it’s running on time
  •  $500 for six tickets

Hypothetically someone buys our van before we go and we rent a van ($440):

  • 11 hours in the car
  • $300 for a rental van
  • $140 for gas

Greyhound bus for comparison ($500+):

  • 23 hours on a bus
  • $500 for five tickets (the most I could buy at one time and thus not getting that extra discount on ticket six)

Thus, I theorize gas is not yet expensive enough to use mass transit, when you have a car in your drive way that’s paid for, and six people to transport. Should the car go, it’s still less expensive to rent a vehicle and it would take less time.

Not all travels are determined by money and time. The quality of the journey has weight, as does the means by which we will explore our destination (driving around, walking about, cycling all over?).

Drive

  • Could drive, walk or bring our bikes

Train Ride

  • Would walk or find public transit

Rental Van

  • Could drive or walk, no hitch for the bikes

Bus Trip

  • Walk about or find public transit.

Still appears that driving our own vehicles gives us the best variety of options once we arrive in Charlottesville. Yet, the journey over and back would be more exciting and restful for us all, we should hope, if we were to take the train. What would you do, hypothetically of course?

 

 

*When I did my research we had two weeks till our fairytale departure so the prices reflect short notice. With more time to plan the prices did drop to $360 for Amtrack for six tickets (2adult, 4 children).

Stormy Walk and Grocery Ride

Thursday was looking scary. Thunderstorms, brewing skies, reports of morning hail. Brent headed into work during a lighter spell and the boys (baby L., Oliver, Avery, and Elliot home with a tummy ache) and I alternated between tidying up for a showing and playing games to pass the time.

The rain had stopped for a moment in the afternoon. When it was time for us to leave the house I put the baby in the front pack, Oliver in the single stroller and the other two walked with us around the corner to Baskin Robbins.  We average two visits a year, and considering it’s a block and half, this requires a lot of will power fueled by a tight budget.

Sitting inside the shop enjoy our four cones ($13!) the skies grew dark once again and then broke open. The owner offered us a ride home in his truck. Sweet offer really, but we came prepared with rain coats and an extra blanket for the baby. I have yet to buy an umbrella, and how would I hold it and push the stroller? Umbrella hats back in fashion yet?

We made it home with rain drops on our clothes, but nothing soaked through, as we waited for the storm to let up just a bit before heading off. Avery was humored that no one was struck by lightening.

By the time Brent returned from work the rain had moved on and the air was still warm. We packed up the family that remained with us (London was at a sleepover and Elliot had been picked up by friends) and rolled off for the grocery. The photo above was taken from PATH, showing the Four Pole Creek as a result of the heavy rains.

Brent's been trying to film for Liz Canning!

Oliver fell asleep (no nap prior). We found enough food to get us through a couple of days, picked up Elliot, and all rolled on home.

How are your gas prices? My mom called to see if she was the only with gas at $3.80/gal. Yep, it's high here too, but I don't mind :)

Brent loaded his panniers too. The autumn floral bag was a thermal tote gift from baby L.’s mom. It’s turning out to be the perfect size for our Freeloaders. It was full of milk, ice cream, cheese, and bacon. The Grape Nuts were $2.19 a box, and they happened to be Brent’s favorite, so I treated him. Turns out everyone in the house, except me, likes Grape Nuts, so they won’t last long. This was an enjoyable light trip. Avery was on the deck, Oliver in the iBert, no milk crates today.

Adopt Your Block

Be a litter-gitter and adopt your block. There are countless reasons to pick up your neighbors lawns, the curb sides and all the space between. Huntington has made this a decently easy and clean experience, and if you have children, it’s fun.

With baby L. in the front pack, the boys and I did our walk around the triangle, filling up two sacks in the process. It became a game of I-spy with my little eye, and we were all tickled to be making a difference.

If you are in Huntington and want to get a piece of the action, start taking care of your block. Grab wrappers, bottles, and cigarettes when walking to school or work or crossing the parking lot. Keep the space around your trash cans tidy. Check your alleyway and driveway and sidewalks.

Want one of these cool grabbers? Visit the Adopt YOUR Block site, and call Mr. Cobb 304-523-7902,  he has bright safety vests too.

We don’t feel the need to go out all of the time. This was our second trip. It does make a fun 30 minute activity, with immediate results. We do the chit-chat thing with the neighbors and get a little sunshine, fresh air and exercise. Something we all could use a little more of.

Huntington [or insert your town] needs your help, will you adopt your block?

Same Destination,Three Ways

This town isn’t very large, making it a great one for walking and biking. Our common destinations are the grocery (5 miles roundtrip most directly), the school (4m r/t), Marshall University (3m r/t), downtown (5m r/t). The interesting thing about all of these are the routes you take depending on the mode of transportation. It would be rather convenient to be able to walk the same path we bike, or bike the same path we drive, but we can’t/don’t/won’t.

As an example, because it was brought to mind today, our travels to downtown. When we drive to Heritage Station, we would typical use this route (2 miles one way):


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It’s quick and direct. It’s not ideal for bikes because of the heavier volume of faster auto traffic and not a great one to walk because the sidewalks are not buffered from the street.

If we were on bikes, we choose this one (2.25 miles one way):


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We are able to avoid the traffic areas mostly and some tricky blind intersections for turning onto more favorable and direct streets. The road condition isn’t great, but we have learned to work with it by going slow and knowing where there are bumps.

When I went to walk to retrieve my bike today, I began following my bike route, and soon realized it wasn’t fit for walking, so we went this way (2.25 miles one way):


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This walking route was still not the best way to go. We came across a lot of missing, broken or narrow sidewalk. Most of the intersections are being replaced with ramps, but not all. I knew it would be as such, so I had Oliver in the backpack, not a stroller. There were roads without sidewalks I had forgotten about, but didn’t care to turn around to find one that had them. Little legs can only tolerate so much walking. Fortunately we were able to walk through lawns and on the street without too much incident with the cars, as there were few.

See the album of our walk/bike adventure HERE.

Should we be talking about complete streets? Oh we should? Good, because WV is getting on board with the program.  It’s never too late, we just all know it’s going to be slow.

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