Thursday, November 29, 2007

Maiden Voyage or Why People Drive Minivans

I think I mentioned before that while Josie is too young to go on the bike seat or in the bike trailer that I was going to start walking more so Rob ordered stroller wheels for our Chariot bike trailer (something we haven't used much because of the Xtracycle and the fact that the kids prefer not to be in the trailer and like riding on the Xtracycle instead). The idea was that as the weather gets colder the kids could stay warm, but we still wouldn't have to use the car as much. Since the bus isn't the most efficient way to get around town time-wise, I didn't think I'd loose much walking and I'd get some much needed exercise. When visiting Chicago and New York City we walk for miles and miles and don't think much of it, how bad could it be walking around my little college town?

The wheels arrived right before we set off for North Carolina so I was eager to try them out when we arrived back in Illinois. At first I waited for Rob to put the wheels on since he is great at all things mechanical and then I realized it really couldn't be easier. I popped them on and I was ready to go.

The kids were super excited and couldn't wait. Josie was tucked in the mei tai baby carrier under my Suse's Kindercoat snug as a little baby snuggled next to her mama (of course nursing the majority of the way there and home). I had several packages to mail at the post office and Parker wanted to walk for a while so I buckled Dema in and put the packages next to him (they took up more room than he did). We set off.

First stop, post office which would sort of be in the general direction of our next stop, my friend Christie's house to see the latest amazing remodeling she has done (most of it herself!) to her house. I called to tell her we were on our way and it should be about an hour since I had to stop at the post office first.

Parker walked the 1.5 miles to the post office instead of riding in the Chariot (since at this point there was no room for him and he wanted to walk anyway) which meant that 1.5 miles took us as hour....yes, that is right, an hour...well give or take 10 or 15 minutes since I looked at the time after I mailed my packages and there was a line and I had to fill out a customs form, yadda, yadda, yadda. I called my friend and said it would be another 45 minutes probably (I was thinking she was maybe 2 miles from where we were and I was still working on estimating walking time while carrying a 14 lb baby and pushing a large bike trailer with 90 or so lbs. of children and diaper bag in it).

We arrived at my friends house fine (later than estimated) and it was a great walk, but after we stayed for a little while it was already dark and Rob wanted to go to the gym together after work. I decided that was not going to happen for me since I had no idea how long it would be to get home. But, we were all getting hungry and the spelt pretzels I put in the pocket of the Chariot was not going to cut it. I left thinking I could book it home and maybe even stop and pick up something for dinner on the way. Then I remember I didn't have the key to the bike lock and it was dark and the Chariot does not fit easily into buildings so I scratched that idea. Thank goodness because I probably would have spent the night at the restaurant. Rob sweetly agreed to pick up burritos on his way home from work.

By the time I made it home (I figured out the mileage on the computer map site and it was 9 miles round trip, not the 6 miles I was thinking), I realized this should not have been our maiden voyage and I had bitten off more than I should have on that particular day. I feel like I could have become a sort of a Midwestern reality show version of Into the Wild..."Out of shape housewife takes her life and the lives of her 3 children into her own hands braving the elements without food and very little water. Her motivation? Environmental footprint guilt and health (ironic in the end)."

The mistakes I made:

1. I didn't eat more than a couple bites of food before embarking on our journey. I fed the kids oatmeal, but I had a customer coming over and other work things to do so I may have eaten a bite or two that they left in their bowls, I don't think I even did that. My customer was here for a while so by that time she left the kids were hungry again and I fed them quick sandwiches (I didn't feel like a sandwich, but I ate a bite or two of Parker's 3rd sandwich).
2. I didn't factor in the nursing most of the way with all of our water needs. I may have gotten dehydrated. I only took an 18 oz. Klean Kanteen with me (I usually take a 40 oz.) and all of that went to the pretzel eating kids on the way from the post office to my friends house.
3. I love my Suse's Kinder babywearing coat, but I was a little overdressed underneath so I was sweating quite a bit with my little heater next to me. I had to keep the coat zipped up most of the time because of the wind.
4. I under-estimated the mileage and over-estimated my lazy haven't gotten off my butt since the baby was born body. I mean I walked only nine miles and it took me almost 3 1/2 hours!! Pitiful! Of course, I was carrying 14 extra pounds on my front attached to my breast most of the time and pushing a large trailer with children in it...I know I mentioned this before and yes I am making up excuses.

I was fine when I got home, but I was a little sore and hungry. Thanks to Rob for picking up supper on the way home from work on his bike.

Things I thought about:

1. I think about this often, but I am always struck with how much detail we miss out on when we drive our cars or even to a lesser degree ride our bikes. To get into life we must walk (check out the book Planetwalker by John of my all time favorite books autobiographies and a reason I am embarrassed that I even complain in jest about a nine mile stroll).
2. Why aren't there beat cops anymore? I am guessing there aren't because I never see them. In my neighborhood and other older neighborhoods around our town, the postpeople (mailmen, except ours is a women so I'm not sure what the right word is right now) walk. They do have their truck, but they park it a walk a couple blocks and come up to our door so I know them and they know me. Our police or peace officers (I think this might be the new term) should get out of their cars and walk the neighborhoods again. Yes, I walked past the police station on my way home.
3. I was lonely walking with three other people. I couldn't talk to the boys because with the wind and the plastic covering keeping the sprinkles off (I didn't mention it started to rain) of them. This is why I've always disliked is hard to communicate with the people in the stroller. I didn't want to talk to Josie because if she was awake she was happily nursing and I didn't want to distract her with the reality outside of her little pouch like life inside my coat.
4. I thought walking would be probably the least efficient way of getting around town (with 3 children in tow at least), but possibly the safest. Not true, not true. I was hit (pun intended) more than ever with the fact that we live in a car world. On my way home, since it was dark, I decided to take the most direct and well lit sidewalks which also coincide with the busiest streets. I did not matter that I waited for the crosswalk sign or that I was pushing a huge yellow reflective object in front of me, more than once a car had to break shocked that someone was actually walking in the crosswalk...the nerve! I would have been better off on campus since there are more peds there and safety in numbers, but I was big with the Chariot and didn't want to get in the way and that would have been a short part of the adventure anyway.

I now understand the lure of the minivan.

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