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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 08-23-05, 02:29 PM   #1
gwd
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Vacations Without a Car

Here are short descriptions of cheap car free vacations I've done over the years. They fall into two categories.

1) The state park circuit. I used to pack up the tent and some stuff on the back of my ten speed and travel for several days from state park to state park in a big loop, returning home on the last day. I did this in the summer so I would only go to parks with swimming holes. My trick was to keep the distances short enough that I could stop pretty early. Then, with the load off the bike I'd some times ride into the nearest town or explore a little bit or cool down in the swimming hole. The idea here is to get out of town and visit state parks not cover miles.

Another trick was that I'd go to bed early and leave early to get as much cycling done in the cooler morning. I remember leaving parks before the ranger opened the gates. There are fewer cars on the highways in the early morning too. In the hot afternoon you are hanging out at the next park not sweating on the highway.

A semi-car free version of this is popular in DC. A van service will pick you and your bike up VERY early and take you to Cumberland MD. From there you can bike down an historic canal towpath back to DC. The National park service maintains primitive campgrounds every 5 miles or so, or you can do the B&B thing. This would be a great week long trip for a family. There are many historic sites along the way. I did it in 4 days and didn't get to take as many side trips as I wanted to. Someone from out of town could Amtrak to DC do the DC tourist stuff for a few days and pedal the canal for an outdoorsy experience.


2) The Amtrak trek. I hate the boxes amtrak usually makes you pack your bike in only for the principle of the thing. There used to be a train on the east coast called the Vermonter that let you roll your bike on. This train goes to some very bikeable locations. I heard a rumour that they stopped this service- is it true? Anyway, Philly and DC are bikeable cities to visit. DC is a huge vacation destination. The boxes aren't really that bad, you can reassemble your bike in the train station. The Amtrak employees seem sympathetic. You need to bring your own tools.

My best Amtrak trek was when I took the Vermonter to St. Albans VT in the Lake champlain region. We biked across the border to Quebec and spent a week biking around Quebec. You could probably stay in the US and bike around Vermont if you are someone with border crossing issues. We met several families on bike trips on the Vermont side of the border. You could probably camp but we did the B&B thing. Most B&Bs where we stayed had sheds for bikes and were super welcoming. One had $5 discount for bikers. The idea is to use the train to get close, then bike the rest of the way to your vacation destination. There are variations on this theme of course.

Any other cheap car-free vacation ideas?
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Old 08-23-05, 03:07 PM   #2
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Any other cheap car-free vacation ideas?
Stay close to home?

There seems to be this phenomenon where the locals don't ever visit the nearby tourist spots. For example, when I was a teen I lived in Fairfax Virginia, and I've never been to any of the monuments in D.C. or the historic sites throughout Viriginia. My wife grew up in Rapid City -- she visited Devil's Tower in Wyoming (about 100 miles from Rapid) just this past weekend for the first time.

We live in Colorado now and there's a lifetime's worth of vacation opportunities within 150 miles of my home.
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Old 08-23-05, 03:20 PM   #3
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Stay close to home?

There seems to be this phenomenon where the locals don't ever visit the nearby tourist spots. For example, when I was a teen I lived in Fairfax Virginia, and I've never been to any of the monuments in D.C. or the historic sites throughout Viriginia. My wife grew up in Rapid City -- she visited Devil's Tower in Wyoming (about 100 miles from Rapid) just this past weekend for the first time.

We live in Colorado now and there's a lifetime's worth of vacation opportunities within 150 miles of my home.
Right. The state park circuit is a stay close to home option. Day tripping from home sounds like another good category. If you are car free you already know how to get around.
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Old 08-23-05, 03:40 PM   #4
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If you are car free you already know how to get around.
Absolutely. There's public transit to one of the snow ski areas, and for the more swanky resorts along I-70 there are privately operated "party buses." Some other fun activities are a little tougher without a car -- I've hitched rides, for example, when I want to climb a mountain somewhere, and the mountain tourist towns are not easily accessible without a car, especially if you have children.

There's plenty to do in Denver that's all easily accessible by bus and light rail. I haven't tried it yet, but there's now regular bus service between Denver and Colorado Springs so I could visit the tourist stuff in Co Springs if I ever run out of things to do around Boulder and Denver.
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Old 08-23-05, 03:48 PM   #5
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Pot, junk food and DVD's, oh yeah, and microbrew!!
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Old 08-23-05, 04:11 PM   #6
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Last week my son & I enjoyed a little two-day bike mini-tour to a historic town over in the next county. We used quiet back roads. It was an enjoyable outing. I felt it was a nice experience for us to share.
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Old 08-23-05, 04:16 PM   #7
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its often possible to take ones bike on busses or trains (not sure about greyhound--amtrack only certain routes), and bike to a local spot of interest from there. I once took a train from philly to the pine barrens in NJ. Rode my bike with a big ol' backpack for a few miles to a ranger station where I locked my bike and went backpacking for a long weekend. It's not as straightforward to get there, but thats the pleasure of it.
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Old 08-23-05, 04:22 PM   #8
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Hi,
when I design my trips the key is always the same. I need a town
where I can have a nice day without a bike. In New England this includes Burlington, Middlebury, Camden, Bar Harbor, North Conway
and maybe Portland. I say maybe Portland because I live here.

I then design a multiday bike ride around it. We parked in Burlington a couple years ago, took the ferry to NY, and rode around the lower half of Lake Champlain. Had a day off in Middlebury, lovely place. Last week we left Portland, rode to Cornish, then Moultonboro and then North Conway. Day off in North Conway and then back home after that.

One possible trip would be to go to Burlington, ride across Vt to the Kancamangus Highway, and then down NH to a spot where you could hop on the Downeaster. I have neve taken it, so I don't know anything about it.

There are so many trips, just not enough time or money to do them all.
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Old 08-23-05, 08:31 PM   #9
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I love to travel by train, but only if it's reasonably close (within about 500 miles). Some amtrak trains around here have a bike rack in the baggage area, so you don't have to box it . I agree boxing is a pain for longer trips, but whaddayoudo?
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Old 08-23-05, 09:03 PM   #10
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I'd like to take a train to PEI, then ride around the island. That would be sweet...
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Old 08-24-05, 04:38 PM   #11
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Every four weeks I visit my dad, who happens to live in a beautiful resort town (Traverse City, MI) about 200 miles from my home. I go by Greyhound bus.The bus trip takes about 5 hours, compared to 4 hours by car. I have a bike in my dad's garage, so I go on plenty of rides in that wonderful area. This is also the only time I drive. I take his car and run errands that he is no longer able to do.
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Old 08-24-05, 05:49 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richardmasoner
Absolutely. There's public transit to one of the snow ski areas, and for the more swanky resorts along I-70 there are privately operated "party buses." Some other fun activities are a little tougher without a car -- I've hitched rides, for example, when I want to climb a mountain somewhere, and the mountain tourist towns are not easily accessible without a car, especially if you have children.

There's plenty to do in Denver that's all easily accessible by bus and light rail. I haven't tried it yet, but there's now regular bus service between Denver and Colorado Springs so I could visit the tourist stuff in Co Springs if I ever run out of things to do around Boulder and Denver.
don't forget the ski train to winter park! my goal is to do more overseas travels, so i can easily take a bus to the airport, and hopefully wind up in europe - where trains and bikes are a plenty.

i'm in colorado too- been here 10 years and still doing new things, ski areas are easy to get around, my mom takes the summit county bus system all over when we stay at copper
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Old 08-24-05, 06:09 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Roody
Every four weeks I visit my dad, who happens to live in a beautiful resort town (Traverse City, MI) about 200 miles from my home. I go by Greyhound bus.The bus trip takes about 5 hours, compared to 4 hours by car. I have a bike in my dad's garage, so I go on plenty of rides in that wonderful area. This is also the only time I drive. I take his car and run errands that he is no longer able to do.

Sounds nice, I'm about 5 hours south of Traverse...maybe less.
How long are your rides?
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Old 08-24-05, 08:06 PM   #14
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I had another wild thought. I have not done this for years, but small neighborhood bars around there sponsor bus trips to Pro sporting events in Detroit and Chicago. They charter a bus and provide kegs of beer, food, and event tickets for one flat price. ometimes radio stations do the same thing for concerts.

FX--my rides around Traverse so far are only 20 - 25 miles. I just got a bike there 2 months ago, so I have not yet explored a lot. I used to lookforward to those trips as my only time away from the bike, a chance to give the quads and calves a little rest. I guess that was not meant to be, so my sister gave me the bike.
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Old 08-26-05, 05:01 PM   #15
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Junk food and DVD's, oh yeah, and microbrew!!
Dude! Indeed!

I say the best car-free vacation is finding a cheap flight to London, Paris or Madrid. I flew to London for $700 round trip earlier this year. You just have to go when no one else is. Public transit in those cities are top notch and can take you EVERYWHERE. Plus, it's so cool to hear "Mind the gap".
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