Friday, April 4, 2008

On the Road Again

Driving is something I've done since I was 12 years old. I learned how to drive in a wheat field, as did most kids who grew up on farms in Saskatchewan. Driving a car is a right of passage on the prairies. You then get your own car, and you drive that car everywhere. Having said that, you wouldn't imagine how excited I was to come to a big city and not have to worry about driving a car.

There are drawbacks to not having a car in this city. For one, Auckland is a city that is very spread out. Despite the city having smaller houses (by Canadian/Saskatoon standards), the houses closer together, and built on hills to maximize land usage, it is a city that is VERY spread out. I wanted to take a dance class... the class is in Botany Downs. I live in Newton. To get to this class it would cost me $6.60 and 90 minutes on the bus... one way. There is no way I'm spending more on transportation than I would to take this hour long dance class. Fortunately, the rest of everything we need is within walking distance. When I say walking distance, that means within 3km. If it's farther than 3km, we will walk one way, and take the bus home.

Travis and I like to go camping. Not having a car makes it a lot more difficult to pack up and head to the beach on a whim, pitch the tent, and have a weekend away from the city for cheap. If we had to, we could rent some gear, hop on a bus, arrive at a bus stop in the middle of a town and try to figure out how to get to the nearest camp site, and it's probably not close to the beach at all. It's fall now anyway, so we probably won't be going camping until spring. However, fall here so far is MUCH nicer than a Saskatchewan fall...

Upside to not having a car... we don't have to pay for gas, buying the car (duh), insurance, parking, parking, parking, gas, and worrying about hitting pedestrians.

We did go for a drive the other day. Both Travis and I were really apprehensive about driving on the opposite side of the road for the first time. Fortunately, Emma's car is an automatic, so that made it a lot easier to learn. Both of us had issues with remembering that the signal lights are on the right side of the steering wheel, and the windshield wipers are on the left. I always wanted to grab the gear shifter with my right hand... I'm a dominant left-handed driver - I prefer to use the steering wheel with my left hand so I can keep my right hand on the gear shifter. Instead I kept my arm out the window. Travis was my "left side man" - he made sure that I didn't get too close to traffic, curbs, etc on my left side. I did pretty well, but only in comparison to him. I had to yell a few times "TOO CLOSE! TOO CLOSE!" He was also a bit more tense than me, and he had a harder time with the signal lights. Those windows were getting wiped a lot.

We made it to our destination and back unscathed, so I figure it was a successful trip. We needed to load up on things that were too difficult to carry back on the bus - like shelves, coffee tables, terra cotta plant pots, plants, groceries, table legs... and we made sure to go FAR to make the trip seem worth while. It wasn't that far. It was only 9km from our house. I think we're giving the car back tomorrow. Neither of us really have the desire to take Emma's car out joyriding now that it's the weekend. Too much traffic, and not enough patience to deal with Auckland drivers, which I will discuss at a later date.

... Coming Soon to a Blog Near You ...

Pedestrianism in Auckland - Taking your life in your hands

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