The feral goats have names (Stripe-and-Spot is an example), and they outnumber the resident humans (about 300). Want to test the battery and brakes on your electric-assist bike? The Missing Link, a stretch of road with a sustained grade of up to 20 per cent, will do nicely. And don’t forget to wave; it’s a rule of Island Etiquette on Saturna, the most easterly of British Columbia’s southern Gulf Islands. Continue reading
Winter weather lingers, but we can’t wait. We test our new bikes on a four-day trip to Mayne, the little Gulf Island that lies midway between Victoria and Vancouver. For its small size, Mayne Island has a lot of attractions: panoramic viewpoints, sea lions, a classic lighthouse, an immaculate Japanese garden, a bakery, and lightly-travelled lumpy country roads. It’s a right neighbourly place, too. Continue reading
A Mini Cooper Clubman, Ice Blue with black bonnet stripes: doesn’t this cute little station wagon make you smile? Why would we ever give it up? It is not an easy decision, but going car-free is our resolution for 2018.
What is motivating us to sell our car and go car-free?
Our Mini is lonely. “Your car needs more exercise,” says the Mini dealer, every time we take our car for its annual service. Most days our Mini sits, sad and stationary, in our building’s underground parking garage. It deserves an owner who will take it out on the road more than once or twice a month.
Dollars and sense. Even with little driving, car ownership costs us an estimated $3,500 per year, mostly in depreciation and insurance. With $3,500 we could buy a lot of bus tickets or car-share time – even the occasional taxi or rental car.
Saving the environment. Having fewer children is the most effective way people can cut their carbon emissions, according to a new study. That decision-window has passed for us (we have two children, born in the 1960s). Selling your car, avoiding long flights, and eating a vegetarian diet are the next best actions, says the study. Donate our Aeroplan points and give up meat? Maybe not. Sell our car in 2018? Now that’s a climate change goal we can achieve.
Physical activity. Staying active is one of our retirement goals. We aim to hike, bike, or paddle every single day. Check out our blog posts, and you will see how we are working towards that goal. Selling our car will nudge us keep up the good work.
What are the downsides of going car-free?
Convenience. We will need to plan ahead, and sometimes it will take longer to get places.
Identity. This is an issue for Doug especially. For men of our generation, cars are symbols of status, self-worth, and masculinity. Will Doug and other people think he’s a loser, or will they admire this car-free decision as quirky, bold, and green?
Going car-free is feasible when you live where we do, at Dockside Green in Victoria, BC. Our building is on a bus line and belongs to a car-share program. There’s a full-service grocery store across the street, and downtown Victoria is only a twenty-minute walk. The 55-kilometre Galloping Goose cycling trail runs past the front door. Canoes or kayaks can be rolled across the street and launched into the Gorge Waterway. Lucky us – we are surrounded by transportation options, and the weather is pleasant year-round.
Going car-free will not work for everyone, but we think it will work for us.
No wonder Quebec is nicknamed La Belle Province. Landscapes bursting with beauty, lively towns and villages, hospitality in heritage homes, a world-class 5,000-kilometre network of bikeways: Quebec is a province that welcomes visitors. We spend seven days cycling between Montreal and Ottawa on bike paths, including the 232-km abandoned railway Le P’tit Train du Nord. Beautiful? Oui!
Seventeen giant windmills stand before us at the North Cape, and suddenly we get it: this tiny province is a windy place! With gale-force headwinds, our six days of bicycle touring are not quite as easy as advertised, but we successfully pedal Prince Edward Island from tip to tip, buoyed by the camaraderie of our tour group and our two professional guides.
The Tourism Whistler web site lists forty-eight summer activities. From the list, our multi-generational group chooses seven sports – a heptathlon. We hike, bike, paddle, swim, climb, slide, and zip. Snow-capped peaks, creeks with views at every bend, wildflowers, wild animals, bucket list-worthy thrills: Whistler, a mountain resort two hours north of Vancouver, is truly a family-friendly, multi-sport mecca.
Joining us on this Whistler-week are our son Alec, his wife Angie, and their three children, Nathan (14), Scarlett (12), and Robin (11). Nick (18), our oldest grandchild, comes, too; the rest of his family are occupied elsewhere with work, summer school, or dragon boating.
The bears ignored us, but the raccoons did not. As senior-discount season drew to a close, we took our tent, hiking boots, and bikes to two nearby provincial parks: Stamp River and Montague Harbour Marine. After a week of discount camping, we splurged on a guided day-tour to Discovery Island, to celebrate our oldest granddaughter’s fifteenth birthday. Seal haul-outs we expected; the whale-sighting was a birthday surprise. Continue reading