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We helped with a bike move!

We had a great time on Tuesday helping with the Books with Pictures bike move! Or rather Bike/Walk Move for Books with Pictures, and there was a lot of carrying and hand truck wheeling the three busy blocks between buildings. Going into it I wasn’t sure how long the kids would last, but they made it three hours without complaint! Doughnuts at the outset and a lunch spread in the middle made that possible. I made 11 runs back and forth with one kid coming each time while the other helped with loading and walking loads. Neither were keen to carry things on their own bikes.

I may not have announced my new-to-me cargo trailer on the blog: I have a Haulin’ Colin heavy duty cargo trailer now! I’ve borrowed Haulin’ Colin trailers in the past and eventually got my own hitch to borrow my neighbor Velotron’s. With my move away from Seattle, and then his move away from Seattle, the trailer has become mine! It’s 5 feet by 2 feet and I’ve carried 500 pounds with it, but it can handle even more weight…I probably can’t, though!

More about Books with Pictures
I’ve known of Books with Pictures proprietor Katie Proctor since before I met her thanks to her blog, A Most Civilized Conveyance, on which she recounted biking to the birth center in labor! And showed photos of the amazing baby-seat-carrying boxes on her cargo bike. Katie is one of the two founders of Kidical Mass PDX (I’m currently Co-Director with Sara Davidson) and we’ve held our last two organizers meetings at Books with Pictures.

We pledged our help on the Books with Pictures Great Big Move! Kickstarter, which is now fully funded, but still worth checking out to see the fabulous prizes and updates.

KOIN channel 6 was out filming on Tuesday for a followup to their article last year: Inclusive comic book store has something for everyone. The new video should show up online soon and maybe I’ll remember to update with a link here.

More BwP events
The last event is going on RIGHT NOW through tomorrow: Build the Shop: Work Party, Jun 21 at 10 AM – Jun 22 at 6 PM, but keep an eye on the BwP Facebook events page and more might pop up.

More on bike moves
The Move By Bike page on SHIFT has a lot of great info and links for joining future bike moves.

BikePortland.org February 1st, 2013: Portland bike move breaks record, gets national attention.

Video! Streetfilms: Portland Bike Move! (from 2004).

And there’s a book! How to Move by Bike: Tales and Tips to Inspire by Steph Routh.

This is the empty direction in which I’m carrying two kids, one bike, and one dog, ha!

The trailer came in handy later in the day when the combo of doughnuts and milkshake left my little one too icky-feeling to ride home.

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Riding to the Oregon coast via the Trask Trail

I’ve already recapped last summer’s trip to the coast with Elle of Tiny Helmets Big Bikes over on BikePortland.org: “When moms escape: Tackling the unpaved Trask River Road route to the coast” (heh, I didn’t choose the fun title), but I never got around to uploading all my photos so now that that’s done, I’m re-recapping it, though more briefly.

I was on my Surly Straggler with 43mm-wide tires and Elle was on her Surly Troll with 2.4-inch-wide tires.

Maps:

Route details from Oregon Bikepacking:

While not technically easy, this the most straightforward, easiest dirt route to the coast from Portland. Starting from the end of the MAX line in Hillsboro, we route you through the least pavement possible to Mount Richmond and then on gravel up to the Barney Reservoir and along the North Fork of the Trask River directly into Tillamook.

Expect clear cuts, steep and loose gravel climbing, logging trucks, and plenty of pickups to keep you on your toes. And despite all that, it’s still a little gem of a route and one of our all-time favorites.

As predicted, enough time has passed that I’m willing to do this again, though in general I still don’t like the idea of taking a bike trip where I know I’ll have to hike-a-bike (walk my bike over terrain too hard or steep–or both!–for me to pedal). And now I know to:

  • Hit the road much earlier, say 6am instead of 10am
  • Bike downtown to catch the MAX rather than Gateway (takes the same 35 minutes and shaves 30 minutes off the trip!)
  • Spread my load over four panniers instead of just two
  • Vary my tire pressure–max for paved sections, low for gravel
  • Book a campsite at Trask River County Campground ahead of time
  • Filter water along the way rather than be stubborn/lazy and get thirsty

Coming back it’s tempting to do highway 6 again, especially if it’s a Monday. I’ve since heard details of how horrid that route can be, but I suspect early weekday trips tend to be much milder than weekend ones. Another option would be to take the Nestucca River Road route now that the detour of last summer is resolved.

30 Days of Biking 2019

Hi April, bye April! Last month was another 30 Days of Biking, during which thousands of people (5721 this year!) pledged to bike every day in April and share their adventures online with the hashtag #30daysofbiking.

This year I biked 503 miles over the course of the month (per the Ride Report app conveniently and automatically tallying my rides) and while I didn’t blog each day like I did last year for 30 Days of Biking 2018, I mostly kept up on Twitter and Instagram.

It was a pretty rough month, with a kid down with a cold and then his first seasonal allergies (which I experienced for the first time last year so I can really commiserate) and some other stressors, but even so it was probably the first April during which there were no down days during which we didn’t need to bike somewhere and had to think up an excuse to ride. One of the fun things about 30 Days of Biking is the 11:59 p.m. driveway pajama ride to hit the quota.

My mileage was quite a bit down from normal given the fact that my sick kid was the one who goes to school 4.5 miles away (the other kid’s school is only one mile away) plus he was away for a week of Outdoor School. For comparison, March saw 734 miles and 30DoB 2018 saw 602.

Note: It’s not about the miles! I don’t normally tally my miles so it’s fun to add ’em up just in April. The real beauty in utility cycling is those who can do it all with less than 100 miles a month.

We mostly just did the regular stuff this month: school, taekwondo, grocery shopping, but there were a couple special highlights:

April 8th, while my 12-year old was away at Outdoor School, my 9-year old and I went multi-modal and took the light rail to Beaverton and biked to a trampoline place. Much of our trip was on the Fanno Creek Trail, but the roads on either side were huge and we had to stick to the sidewalk a lot. But we’ll be back, including the cheap and fresh sushi lunch spot in the strip mall next to the trampoline place.

April 13th was the Ladd’s 500! Like last year, I didn’t have the kids this day so I could stay all day. Last year I had trouble deciding which bike to bring so I decided to bring them all: cargo bike, single speed, folding bike, and longboard skateboard. And last year I was on Armando’s 10-person team and did a few rounds of 30-lap stints. This was a bit different and I brought only two bikes, planning to only ride one (my single speed) the whole time, but swap to my Straggler if I got tired. The Straggler came along to pull my cargo trailer full of pop-up tent, camp chairs, snacks, and single speed. This year was mostly different in that I was on a two-person team with Joe “Metal Cowboy” Kurmaskie so we each rode 50 miles in 25-lap increments. It was a lot harder than last year, but really fun! Last year I did a bunch of bonus laps that didn’t count towards my team toting two photographers and one podcaster around on my cargo bike. This year I carried relay organizer Barstow around in my cargo trailer once I was done. That was just as fun as all the racing! See a bunch of great photos by Eric Thornburg here.

April 21st was the “opening day” of Kidical Mass season with our annual Easter Ride. This ride is always huge and this year over 300 people came! The ride is pretty far from home so I had originally planned to take a regular bike and pedal two miles to light rail and then catch two trains to get there because it was a bit far for the kids. But in the end I went solo so I could bike the too-big-for-light-rail bike the whole way there. This felt like cheating since I didn’t need to deal with the train nor did I have to figure out how to carry the Kidical Mass PDX banner with my regular bike.

April 26th we made our school PTA movie night a “bike-in” movie night and went early to hand out prizes to anyone who biked, scooted, or walked over. It was really fun with 25 people biking over for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. We can’t wait to do this again–movie night and 30 Days of Biking.

Recent writing

Hi Family Ride readers! I don’t post here as often as I used to because I write a weekly family biking column over at BikePortland.org. Also find me over at Kidical Mass PDX. We’re currently enjoying our annual 30 Days of Biking and I’ll write a recap at or after the end of the month.

Lately on BikePortland.org I’ve written my first-ever product review of the Surly Big Easy (the new e-assist version of my own bike)–Review: Surly’s ‘Big Easy’ smooths out family biking and cargo-hauling.

Car-free snowboarding at Mt. Hood

Two years ago I wrote about snowboarding for the car-free family when I rented a Zipcar to hit the slopes in Seattle. I toyed with the idea of trying out the ski bus, but never made it happen…until now! However, it was just on my own as a first step in getting the whole family up to the slopes again. The “test run” was worthwhile and yielded a lot of information not available from simply reading the website. I’m not 100% decided I want to brave the bus with the kids in tow, but at least now I know exactly what I’d be getting into.

This was my first visit to Mount Hood Meadows ski resort and I took the Meadows Park & Ride “luxury motorcoach” (tour bus) from the Gateway Transit Center. Since it was just me going, I biked the six miles to the bus stop, but with the kids things will be a bit trickier. Our closest bus doesn’t operate early enough to get us there the suggested 15 minutes before the 6:50 a.m. departure time and six miles is a very big ride for them, especially before 6am! So as a family trip, we’d probably bike two miles to our closest MAX station and ride the train to Gateway. And I think we’d take our three bikes on the light rail with us so we could secure them in a locker at the Gateway Transit Center…which is what I meant to do with my bike, but since my planning started a whole year ago when I got my electronic bike locker card and I haven’t touched it since then, I discovered upon trying to open a locker that I had needed to activate it either online or via phone to get a first-time-user PIN code. Oops! But I had my U-lock with me so I locked my bike and it was still there when I returned 12 hours later. And I saved 60 cents ;) And now I know that there are indeed available lockers and it looks like an adult bike and two kid bikes will fit in one…though my cargo bike is definitely too big.

So my timing was this: I woke up at 5:00 a.m., left the house at 5:50 a.m., got to Gateway Transit Center at 6:25 a.m., got my bike walked over to the bike racks from the locker and myself to the bus stop a block away at 6:35 a.m. per the “arrive 15 minutes early” advice on the skihood website. Most of my fellow bus riders did not arrive that early, by the way. The bus then arrived at 6:56, six minutes behind schedule. We loaded up, big things under the bus (ski boots aren’t allowed to be worn on the bus, though snowboard boots are) and remember which bin you put your stuff in (Gateway was farthest back of three luggage bays) in order to put it in the same bin for the ride home. Then we simply signed in on a passed-around clipboard, which I thought was odd, but the bus driver eventually mentioned he usually has a “chaperone” (a Meadows ski instructor) who boards the bus at Gateway and checks everyone’s ticket receipts for him. We waited until 7:04, but said chaperone never showed so we motored off. The bus was not full on this holiday Monday, by the way. Sounds like the chaperone gets a free ride, but the rest of us had to purchase tickets online over 24 hours in advance.

Our friendly driver, Eric, gave us a snow report, road conditions, and warned us we’d need to stop to chain up just before arriving to Meadows, and that our ETA was 8:30 a.m. or a bit earlier.

Just after driving past an amazing view of Mt. Hood we pulled off the road to chain up. This was at 8:23 a.m. and it took seven minutes. Soon enough we reached the Meadows parking lot and drove all the way to the front, passing rows and rows of parked cars, occasionally honking at people to clear the way. It was 8:44 a.m. when we arrived.

The enormous Mt. Hood Meadows parking lot.

Ours was the only ski bus there, but Eric had us memorize #51 Blue Star bus in case he happened to have company at the end of the day. Eric scared us by sharing that once a kid (a teenager, I guess?) got on the wrong bus at the end of the day and his parents were alarmed when he didn’t deboard when and where they expected. I’d imagine they’re reunited by now, but we all memorized #51 Blue Star after hearing that. We were welcome to return at 3:30 p.m. and find the bus unlocked, but we weren’t required to return until 3:45 p.m. and the bus would leave at 4:00 p.m. with or without us. However, he would check with the first aid clinic at 3:45 p.m. before abandoning anyone. Sometimes people catch rides home from friends and let Eric or the front desk know ahead of time.

The mountain
I loved Meadows, inside and out! My first stop was the women’s restroom and I thought I took a wrong turn into a members-only lounge as there was a huge sitting area before reaching the regular restroom stuff. The lounge area contained lockers, coin-op warming stations for gloves, coin-op clothes dryers (50 cents)…I know because I gave my only two quarters to a woman who had gotten her gloves wet on the way up and had no coins (turns out my gloves had gotten sweaty from biking in them and I hadn’t noticed yet so next time I’ll wear different gloves for the bike ride and also bring more quarters.)

I kept my small stuff with me in a backpack and left big stuff in the lounge, but next time I’ll spring for a locker.

After changing bits and pieces of my outfit to make my layers more snowboardy and less bikey and stowing all my extra stuff, I checked out the lesson area. The main purpose of this test run was to see if the bus delivered people early enough for morning youth lessons, which yes it did! I also wanted to see if the 9:15 a.m. check-in cut-off required rental gear being fitted beforehand, which it doesn’t so I could definitely stick the kids in a morning (10am-12pm) lesson, meet them for lunch, and then all board together a bit before catching the bus home.

View of Meadows from outside the lodge.

I haven’t hit the slopes much since having kids so dynamic lift ticket pricing was new to me. Adult lift tickets can be as low as $49 when purchased in advance on a weekday (or maybe even on the spot on a slow weekday), but my day-of holiday Monday lift ticket was $99 this day. They can go all the way up to $109.

Riding the Cascade Express ski lift at Meadows.

I got lucky with the snow: it was wonderfully sunny with some powder! The previous day was horrible and rainy according to someone I rode the lift with. I’m not a very adventurous snowboarder, and often do the same run over and over (I’m also not a very good snowboarder so practicing the same stuff a bunch of times is exciting enough) so I can’t speak to the whole mountain, but I really liked the Cascade Express quad lift (trail maps here) and rarely had to wait (granted people not snowboarding solo and racing through the singles lift line had a bit of a backup at times). The view from the top of Cascade Express (7305 feet) was magnificent and it connected to several blue runs and the terrain park. I personally don’t do terrain parks, but I like watching people in them from the lift and while boarding by. This one didn’t blare music this day, but that’s another nice bonus of being terrain park adjacent. After five warmup runs I Strava’ed most of the rest of my day so I could remember what I did.

The Cascade Express lift also put me close to slope-side dining at Mazot Eatery “Sky High Snacks, Have a beer and hot dog at 6000 feet!” so I only had to wait in the sort of long hot dog line rather than an incredibly long lodge line for more options. There were a couple stools inside Mazot, but the sun shone on the plentiful Adirondack chairs outside.

Clouds rolled in at one point, but it was a mostly bluebird day.

I finished up, exhausted, a while before my time to reboard the bus so I could rest, snack, and explore the lodge. The ski bus schedule seems perfect for an out-of-practice, out-of-shape blue-run snowboarder as well as for anyone wanting to take a morning (10-12) lesson. I would even work for an afternoon (1-3) lesson, though that leaves a bunch of morning time to kill.

Eric checked with first aid, finding no injured passengers, and with the front desk, finding a message from one passenger who caught a ride with someone else. He shared that passenger’s name with we remaining bus riders in case anyone knew him and had noticed his absence. And then we motored out at 4:06 pm. Traffic down the mountain was at a snail’s pace; it turns out this was the busiest day of the season. Everyone (except for Eric) slept until 6:30 p.m. when we neared town. We finally reached Gateway at 6:45 p.m. and I made it all the way home at 7:30 p.m.

Snowboard attached to backpack, boots on front rack, ready to bike home!

I think I’ll do it again next year, probably once without the kids again and once with! Feel free to leave me any tips in the comments.

Car-Free Los Angeles Visit with Kids (the second)

It’s easy to survive winter in the Pacific Northwest: just escape to somewhere warm and sunny for one week in November and one week in February…or so I was instructed by a wise, SAD-struggling friend upon moving here. It sounds like a lovely method, but one I’ve never been able to practice in 10 years. However, we do get to escape occasionally, such as for visiting relatives in California over winter break this year. I always look into sticking with our usual routine and bike for transportation when we’re out of town, but when that’s not easy to do I try to at least keep things car-free.

Taking light rail to the beach was a blast.

My father and brother both live in Los Angeles and I’ve long wanted to visit Los Angeles, the City of Autos (not an official LA nickname), without renting a car–ever since reading this New York Times piece seven years ago: Los Angeles, by Bike and on a Budget by then Frugal Traveler Seth Kugel. Prior to reading that article I didn’t think a car-free visit to Los Angeles was within the realm of possibility. I love getting all around Portland without a car, and realize this is one of the best American cities in which to do so. Yet I find it easy to fall into the trap of thinking cars are essential in other cities–especially if we’re there for just a short visit sans bikes and sans family biking friends to lead us around. But it turns out that’s not the case at all!

It took us a while to get here:

  • Three visits ago we rented a car, but stayed walking distance from one of our planned destinations, La Brea Tar Pits, and did some walking for the first time ever.
  • Two visits ago we rented a car and stayed in walkable Venice Beach, but still drove our rental car every day for various outside-of-Venice activities and family visits.
  • Last winter we had a true transit-based car-free Los Angeles visit and it was magical!

This year the kids’ legs are that much longer and I was that much more prepared to get around Los Angeles by transit and while I hardly feel like an expert, I hope our experience will help inspire others to try travel to LA and other cities with transit systems sans car, too. And note: I’ve visited Los Angeles several times, but I’ve never lived there so I don’t have a huge advantage over any other visitor.

Staying close to transit
Staying in the same neighborhood as relatives is convenient, but staying in a walkable neighborhood along the same transit line can be even better. I chose Old Pasadena because it’s along the LA Metro light rail Gold Line, four stops away from my brother in Highland Park. I prefer rail to bus since trains tend to run more frequently, always stop at all the clearly-marked stops, and are immune to car traffic. But finding walkable neighborhoods a simple bus ride away from a frequent destination is also a winner for a transit-based vacation.

The TAP machines give change in coins (fun!), but paying online is very easy.

Easy transit payments
Being able to easily pay for train and bus trips makes things a lot smoother than needing to pay for tickets each trip, like I did last visit. I still had our Transit Access Pass (TAP) cards from last year (though I could have ordered fresh with 10-15 business days to wait) and used the website to add stored values to our three cards. Nearly all transit agencies in Los Angeles County–plus Metro Bike Share–use TAP so it was just as easy as using transit at home (we take the bus or MAX about once a month in Portland and I purchase tickets ahead of time on my smartphone with the TriMet Tickets app).

Apps for riding
I use Google maps transit directions for trip planning, even when I’m using my phone while out and about as it’s what I’m most comfortable with, but for this trip it didn’t warn me of rail closures and bus stops closed for construction. I downloaded the Go Metro app halfway through the trip, but didn’t use it enough to get used to it and find it easier than my familiar, if fallible, Google maps system. I also have the Transit app on my smart phone per the suggestion of car-free-traveler-extraordinaire Jessica Roberts, but again, practice makes perfect and I never use it so I didn’t find it helpful for advance notice of transit changes. I’d love to hear any of your transit app tips and recommendations in the comments below.

Looking at a screen and looking at the view: two ways to pass the time on the train.

Our five-day trip was punctuated by missteps each day, but it was still awesome. Here’s a day-by-day recap:

Day 1: The day our flight was canceled (Friday, December 14)
Leaving Portland our bus-to-Green-Line-to-Red-Line voyage to PDX was smooth, but upon check-in we learned our flight had just canceled. The next LAX flight with available seats wasn’t for seven hours, but as luck would have it there was a flight to Burbank at our original flight time with room for three more passengers. It was just a lucky break that I asked at the ticket counter about Burbank–my brother texted me earlier in the day curious if we were flying to LAX or Burbank which tipped me off that Burbank must also be close to Highland Park/Old Pasadena. It turns out it’s even closer, but flights cost more than to LAX so we’ve never flown there. However, this meant I needed to figure out transit from Burbank on the fly. I’m used to having lots of times to poke around online at home and I like to make detailed lists before going anywhere. However, I was extremely glad not to add seven hours to our travel day so I embraced the adventure. Since we had arrived to the airport two hours early, I had time to find and read the Hollywood Burbank Airport Buses & Trains page and learn about the free shuttle to a Metrolink station. Using the shuttle and the Metrolink regional train to Union Station was quicker, cheaper, and more comfortable than our original plan of taking the FlyAway Bus from LAX to Union Station. From there we grabbed the Gold Line to my brother’s house for dinner, sticking to our original plan and timing.

Day 2: Gold Line track closure (Saturday, December 15)
Taking light rail trains everywhere is great…until there are disruptions. The Gold Line tracks were closed for three stops’ worth and the incredibly long courtesy bus bypass helped me appreciate just how effective rail is. There wasn’t much car traffic and taking surface streets provided a pleasant change of scenery, but it took forever to get downtown.

Angel’s Flight for when transit is the destination, not only the mode of transportation.

We met my family (dad, brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew who all also took transit over) to explore very walkable Little Tokyo. After we tired out the young relatives we walked a short distance to meet up with car-free friends from San Francisco conveniently visiting LA at the same time. They were staying downtown and were able to get most places with short bus rides. Naturally, we had to ride a cable car together for a dose of SF in LA–the Angel’s Flight Railway funicular can be paid for (and is half the price) with TAP cards.

That, the Last Bookstore, and ice cream in black cones (rock on!) kept us out late enough that the Gold Line tracks were back open by the time we TAPped our way back to Old Pasadena, thank goodness.

I saw several people with their own e-scooters.

Day 3: The last-mile problem (Sunday, December 16)
Walking a few blocks to the light rail station, playgrounds, and lunch spots is a breeze, but when the destination is a mile away things get tricky. My kids can walk a mile, but we’re not big walkers since we usually have our bikes for going that distance. My niece’s Nutcracker performance was held in Pasadena, a bit more than a mile from our hotel, so we took a Pasadena Transit bus (which takes TAP, of course) to attend. For those 16 and older bike- and e-scooter share are perfect solutions for these sorts of trips, but Pasadena booted bike share after one year and e-scooter share isn’t there, either. I saw a lot of people biking around Pasadena, mostly on the sidewalk. I also saw several people all around LA with their own electric scooters.

Lots of Angelenos get around by transit plus bikes.

Day 3: Getting around with a pulled back muscle (Monday, December 17)
Carrying all our daytime stuff (snacks, water bottles, emergency Madlibs) in my messenger bag and sleeping on a hotel sofa bed left my back aching by the morning of day three. I recruited the kids to do all the carrying between their two backpacks so I fared well for our day of travel. Going forward I’ll stop being the only packhorse in the family as a preventative measure. Also, the kids (9 and 11) are able to carry more, walk more, and go longer between eating than I had given them credit for.

7th Street/Metro Center

This day’s main excursion was a big one, to La Brea Tar Pits to meet our San Francisco friends. We took the Gold Line to the Purple Line to a bus while they took a bus. Our Purple Line train was stinky and their bus was stinky so we were both happy to be out in the [slightly-asphalt-scented] fresh air.

A few construction spots on Wilshire Blvd had made it difficult to find our bus stop upon exiting the Purple Line on the way over as well as getting back on the bus upon leaving. Another reason for me to familiarize myself with a real-time transit app before our next trip, though missing a bus while orienting ourselves wasn’t the end of the world.

Three different bike shares in Santa Monica!

Lovely walking paths at Union Station.

Day 4: Unable to TAP for bikes (Tuesday, December 18)
Beach day! The Expo Line is pretty new, very fast, and a great way to get to Santa Monica. We took the Gold Line to the Red Line to the Expo Line for a day of beach, boardwalk, and aquarium. To break up the travel a bit, we had lunch at Union Station. It’s a gorgeous station (or stations, plural, as you’ve probably seen it play a number of different train stations on the big and small screen) so it’s nice to break up travel by stopping at the Crepe Cafe in the Grand Waiting Room at the west end, watching the fish in the aquarium in the east lobby, or exploring the paths outside.

Protected bike lanes to the beach.

I’ve been to Santa Monica several times, though it’s been a while–our most recent visit included joining a Kidical Mass ride with Santa Monica Spoke five years ago (to which we traveled by rental car and borrowed a bike). Things have changed! We stepped off the train to see three (three!) different kinds of bike share bikes, several brands of e-scooter shares, and a protected bike lane connecting the train station to the beach. I was so excited I tried my TAP card on a Metro Bike, but it didn’t take (turns out I should have registered for bike share online ahead of time). I had entertained the idea of putting us all on bikes, then downgraded to an idea of two bikes and one e-scooter, then one bike/one e-scooter/one jogger, but in the end we walked the three short blocks to the Santa Monica Pier.

Sweltering at the bus stop.

Day 6: Stuck in traffic (Wednesday, December 19)
On our last day in LA as we met up with my dad and took the Gold Line to Highland Park and then the DASH bus to a park near my brother’s house that was a bit too far (and too up and over a hill) to walk. My father warned me the DASH bus doesn’t stick to much of a schedule and we had quite the wait stuck out in the relentless sun. There’s another thing I prefer about light rail over bus–there’s usually shade at the station. Heading back the other direction provided us some shade (but also a longer-than-expected wait) so that was a bit better.

Waiting for the FlyAway Bus with a gazillion other travelers.

I thought I had learned from our last visit to give extra time (a lot more than the suggestion to arrive 10 minutes before the scheduled departure time) for the FlyAway Bus, but we arrived only 20 minutes early for the 5:00 p.m. bus which would get us to LAX just 10 minutes shy of two hours before our flight. The previous (4:30 p.m.) bus was stuck in traffic and hadn’t even arrived yet, but it was sold out. In the end our bus left 25 minutes late and took 75 minutes (estimated travel time is 35 minutes) to get to the airport. We still had plenty of time, but next time I’ll really know better. Or maybe next time I’ll consider my dad’s helpful back-up-plan suggestion to take the Red Line to the Blue Line to the Green Line to a free shuttle to LAX. He cautioned the Blue Line is extremely slow to begin with, plus you have to travel a third of the way to Long Beach to do this. It’s nice to have access to a local with insider (and opinionated) knowledge of transit. He also coached me about sitting at the fronts or backs of various trains for easy transfers and station exits.

Speaking of traffic, this marked the day after the Boring Tunnel debut, right in Los Angeles! I spent the long FlyAway Bus trip reading all the articles about it. These are my favorites:

But better than all that was a tweet from Metro:

Tired on transit is better than frustrated in a car in my book.

It was a bit of a shame that our trip had no bicycling whatsoever, but walking and transit-taking are the next best thing.

What about you, have you traveled solo or with kids and taken transit? Are you currently planning winter or spring break travel and will you be able to skip using a car for some or all of it?

Happy Seventh Birthday, Big Dummy!

It’s that time again! My Big Dummy turned seven today so here’s a quick recap of what I can remember about our adventures over the past year…

The kids mostly ride their own bikes, but I still take my Surly Big Dummy longtail cargo bike just about all the time. Every so often I get to carry a kid and his bike, though fortunately never both kids at the same time. Here’s my 11-year old from Friday who got a little too wet, cold, and tired on the way home from middle school:

I’ve also delved into towing a little bit. On the way to the pumpkin farm this October I towed each kid on his bike one at a time:

and one time I towed my nine-year old around on his longboard:

And I’m using the bike for work for the first time ever! I used it to fetch and charge e-scooters during the pilot project. I hope they’ll come back and I can do more.

It’s always exciting when my bike gets conveyed far afield and the trip to the Columbia River Gorge on the Cordilleran Tours van was something else!

I also found some cool, big stuff on the side of the road (#groundscore!) like these two bookcases:

And in more normal carrying, toting my single-speed bike, folding bike, and skateboard to the Ladd’s 500 and then riding a lot of my laps (many of which were with photographers or podcaster on the back) with my Big Dummy was a wonderful usage of the bike.

I always like to do a “day in the life” recap of the Big Dummy’s birthday so here’s our day:

Today started out a little slow because my nine-year old woke up with a little cough so I didn’t do the usual two-mile round trip ride to escort him to school at 8:00 a.m. At 8:30 a.m. I loaded up Pixie into the basket and biked eight miles round trip to escort my 11-year old to school.

Lindsey Bikes! is visiting so we set out to meet up with Kath of Portlandize for fabric store, visit to Clever Cycles, lunch at Lardo, pet food store (where I bought a 10-pound bag of dog food, yay cargo to carry!), Books with Pictures, retrieved my 11-year old from school, and surprise flat tire on Lindsey’s bike and short walk to A Better Cycle to get it fixed.

Then I traded friends for Pixie and headed north to record an episode of the Sprocket Podcast–my sixth time, Pixie’s first time. That’ll post to their site in a few days. Obvs, I spoke about the bike’s birthday a bunch.

All told it was a 36-mile day, but it’s not about the miles, it’s about the smiles and there were countless ones of those!

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