April 12, 2013

In late 2011, I moved back downtown; in late 2012, I made a commitment to become carless for a minimum of six months…so I sold my car that was costing me waaaay too much money to keep in the garage for the occasional use…figuring, if I can make it without a car in winter, then the rest of the year will be a piece of cake.  So I committed to the pedestrian experience for six months minimum-no matter what.

For the most part, it’s been good.  The train works well to connect to the airport for the Mayo shuttle to Rochester – except for that very confusing station at the terminal itself.  I only needed to use Hour Car five times in three months – for a total cost that was less than ONE MONTH of car insurance.  And the bus-for the most part-is an enjoyable experience…..a trip out to Rocco’s in Edina traveling perfectly familiar roads unveiled a whole world of things I had never seen before-as I could look around instead of watching the road and the other cars…and surprisingly enough, despite the stops along the way, the bus does not take much longer than driving and parking – and in some instances, is quicker!

My twice-a-week trips to Physical Therapy on 28th and Chicago take a bit longer as I have to walk down to 8th street to catch the bus. I have learned that I if I want a seat, I need to board at 8th and LaSalle as no matter the time of day, those trips are packed full.  And what an experience that trip is…the passengers are definitely a cross-section of all cultures in our metro area-often I am the only white and always I am the minority…it reminds me twice a week of my passion to be a part of building our metro to become a world-class multi-cultural city by 2030! Plus, a bonus tip from a great driver clued me in that if I ask for a transfer, I have a 2.5 hour time period to take advantage of the transit system.  Translation:  for seventy-five cents, I can get to therapy AND back home again!

I’ve had to make a few adjustments, of course….walking almost a mile to the Lund’s on University for fresh produce when temperatures were below freezing did not work well…so I had to take advantage of the skyways even though I dislike them, and on cold weeks switch to the awful grocery selection in the Target downtown.  I needed a bit of help from a friend to get my Christmas trees and holiday décor back to the storage space in the North Loop. And one ISES meeting that required TWO bus transfers to reach seemed a little daunting, so I took a cab. 

So far, the biggest hurdle has been Visitor Experience meetings for the Central Riverfront.  Unfortunately, trying to accommodate allergies and no stairs requests means we meet at Dunn’s on University and 6th SE….a bit of a trek for me.  In March, scurrying across the Central Avenue bridge before it had been plowed, I fell.  I sported bruises from above the knee to mid-calf for three weeks, and still have a very tender kneecap.

So yesterday in view of yet another storm, I tried to be careful….I walked the block and a half through ice and slush to Hennepin Avenue; caught the bus  and was dropped at the door of Dunn’s –a total commute of approximately 15 minutes.  It actually took me longer to get to the bus stop than it did riding the bus.  Unfortunately, I was the only one to make the meeting! So when I finished my coffee, I decided I would walk back five blocks to Lund’s and pick up a few groceries. This was a mistake…it was five blocks of pure torture.  The snow-packed path on the sidewall was treacherous. In some places, worn down to pure ice but in most cases just packed down so well, it was very slippery.  So after a block or two of that tension, I chose to break a new trail in the fresh snow.

Silly me.  Although it did the trick to get me safely to the corner of University and Central, it was like a high stepping march-requiring leg muscles I do not normally stretch that much on my routine walks.   Then after I filled two grocery bags and because of their weight and only one arm to carry both, I wisely decided to hop a bus over the bridge instead of walk.  That was the first time I have taken a bus over that bridge…what a delight, when it dropped me right in front of the convenience store/liquor store on the corner of the Churchill grounds!  

I was pretty pleased with myself managing all that in the storm when all the drivers did not make it…that is until I woke up this morning.  Oh my.  I won’t be walking much today!  Those little used leg muscles are screaming at me.  A trip over to the library for more books may be all I can manage!

But in retrospect, the experience was worth it.  I learned two new bus routes and in an eureka moment, thought to myself…WHY am I settling for Target groceries when I really could take the # 6 bus to the Lund’s on 12th and Hennepin…get my groceries and return…with a transfer, it will only cost me 75 cents round trip!

Now the next big challenge comes in May.  I am off to Rochester not only for hand injections, but a big Kranz family wedding so will be gone 4-5 days.  How in the world do I manage a bigger suitcase, plus my packed Lenox china which I am giving to a niece, AND a wedding present – probably still with only one usable arm.  This may require the first regular rental car in this latest adventure!


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