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Carfree nostalgia

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Old 08-12-17, 12:47 AM
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Carfree nostalgia

I would love to hear about nostalgia--a memory of a happy time, and missing that happiness now that it's gone--and how it related to being carfree and carlight. Maybe you can just the first pleasant thought that comes to mind. You can be as brief or as detailed as you want to be.

I especially hope to hear from some of the "lurkers" out there--that is, people who read the forum occasionally but rarely post on it. Don't be shy! Even if you think your story is boring, I will enjoy reading about your happy memories, and I'm sure a few other people will also. Obviously, your story must involve being carfree in some way, but I will leave that up to you all. To get us started I will post one of my nostalgic memories. It will be boring to most people, but I have no doubt that a couple people will enjoy it, and that's enough.
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Old 08-12-17, 01:02 AM
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To get us started, I feel nostalgic about a garage, of all things. I lived in an upstairs apartment in an old farmhouse. It was located just south of our downtown, but the lot was huge with 11 nice trees, and it was adjacent to a shaded city park. It really was a beautiful location.

The garage was built into the basement of the house, at the bottom of a long gravel driveway. I had a remote garage opener, and I would push it at the top of the drive, then coast down at a pretty fast clip. If I stood on the pedals, my head would brush against an overhanging tree branch in the middle of the drive. For some reason, I enjoyed doing that. The garage door would open just as I reached it, but sometimes I had to duck down a bit to get through. I also liked doing that.

My landlord, who lived on the first floor, had use of the right half of the two car garage. His half was jam packed with his Cadillac, his Harley, and lots of car related gear. He could barely get out of the Cadillac and He had to move a couple boxes to get the Harley out of its space. My half, the left half, was a totally different story. My one bike sat right in the middle of it and there was a plastic tote with bike gear in it next to the wall. That was it. The rest of the space was totally clear and swept clean.

It looked so strange, my bare half and the landlord's cluttered space. I was always afraid that he would kick me out of the garage, or at least push my bike over in the corner and use the space for his own things. But he said it was fine, that I was paying for half the garage and could us it or not use it as I saw fit. In fact, he rigged a pulley system so that I could hoist my bike up into the rafters, and the space was even emptier than before. He said that he appreciated the contrast in our lifestyles, and there were times he wished his own life were more like mine.

I really miss that house and my simple lifestyle. But most of all I miss my garage!
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Old 08-14-17, 03:22 AM
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Hi Roody,

Glad to share a bit of my story. I was car free for about two and a half years. It's something I hope to return to.

The move to car free was more a response to my circumstances rather than a definitive effort. I moved to Israel 7 years ago, selling nearly all my material possessions in the US including my car. I was working initially as a contractor with basically no benefits, just money in the bank. While I took care to get a local driver's license as the law requires within a year, I didn't buy a car. It was simply a matter of saving more money by living below my means. Even so, I didn't miss the car. I didn't even have a bike. I made use the public transportation system and never needed more.

I'm nostalgic about that period partly because of the thrill of moving to a different country. Most expats go through an initial "honeymoon" phase. For me LCF was part of it. I had grown up and lived in American suburbia up until then where LCF is much more difficult. I was suddenly living a vastly different lifestyle in more ways than one.

The LCF part of it ended when I landed a direct hire job where I still work. I was given a lease car as a benefit and simply took it. Less than a year later I became a father, and the commitments just kept piling on.

So I became dependant on the car. I'm trying to change that, but of course it's much more difficult now. I have always found driving to be a source of stress, and will always be motivated to reduce or even eliminate it.
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Old 08-14-17, 12:00 PM
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I was car free until I got a drivers license when I was 16 years old. After that I used my car more than my bike to get me where I want to go. These days I often use use my car to haul my bikes to ride somewhere else that isn't close to home.

Oh the days of being a kid without a car...such carefree living...
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Old 08-14-17, 01:12 PM
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One of my favorite car-light happy times is when I see my dog get absolutely STOKED when I pull out the trailer and get it ready to take her someplace. She knows that the trailer means she is going to a park or some green space where she will get to chase her ball.

Dogs enjoy the simple things unashamedly and her joy puts a huge smile on my face. Even though I take her on a couple mile walk at least twice a day, it pales in comparison to the excitement of seeing the trailer.
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Old 08-14-17, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
I was car free until I got a drivers license when I was 16 years old. After that I used my car more than my bike to get me where I want to go. These days I often use use my car to haul my bikes to ride somewhere else that isn't close to home.

Oh the days of being a kid without a car...such carefree living...
Yeah those were the days when Mom and Dad had all the responsibilities, including transportation for everyone in the family to somewhere else that wasn't close to home. Growing up can be a beetch, eh?
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Old 08-14-17, 07:21 PM
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I always remember carrying golf clubs back and forth to the course. I usually kept a locker, but had to clear it out a couple times a year for tournaments when the pros used all the lockers. It's one of those things that was a PITA at the time, but in retrospect is viewed more fondly. I don't know if I could do it with a modern stand bag as the bulk and movement of the legs would greatly complicate the task.
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Old 08-14-17, 11:06 PM
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Carfree Laundry. Warning: tl;dr

For a few years, I lived in a rad apartment in Denver. It was the entire third floor of an old Victorian, complete with slanted ceilings and a claw foot tub. It was really easy to get anywhere I wanted to go on foot, by bike, or on a bus. The only downside? No on-site laundry.

When I lived alone, I did my laundry in the bathtub and then dried it on the clothesline in the shared yard or hung it around the apartment. At some point, my downstairs neighbor, who also didn't drive, told me about the "secret laundromat" less than a block away through the alley. I started using it once in a while for towels and sheets.

The secret laundromat was basically just this large room in an unmarked building with boarded up windows. The large room had a bunch of coin-operated washers and dryers, half of which worked. There were no employees, no posted hours, a water-damaged picture of a boat hanging on the wall, and ashtrays with obvious signs of recent use despite a smoking ban that had been in place for years. It seemed like a front for something. But it was laundry, and it was cheap and convenient.

After my boyfriend and his daughter moved in, we had to start doing real adult laundry. Not long after that, the secret laundromat "closed" (we checked a few times, but the door was always locked.) The next closest one was about five blocks away (though it was legit - it had employees, a change machine, and several TVs that consistently played Spanish soap operas.) I tried to convince my boyfriend that we should just use one of the shopping carts that seemed to collect in our alley, but he thought that was too trashy even for us. So, laundry involved loading up duffel bags and walking over.

One day in the winter, we went to go do laundry. I put on a pair of old wool dress pants, so that all my washable pants and jeans could be laundered. I also had on an old, bulky wool coat that in no way matched anything else...because it was cold. I was standing outside with my duffel bag of laundry for a minute, probably waiting for my boyfriend to finish his cigarette, when a scruffy looking dude came up to me. I thought he was going to ask me for change. Nope, he asked if I needed any.

I don't miss being young and poor, and having laundry at home is a nice touch. But being young, poor, and car free definitely gave us some good stories.
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Old 08-16-17, 01:30 AM
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Decades ago, when my son was a young boy, my wife liked to walk him downtown in a radioflyer wagon. On the way home, the wagon would often have a few things added in, like a bag of groceries or some flowers that they had collected. One day, one of my wife's co-workers' husband happened to notice my wife and son walking home. He thought he was seeing his first homeless person and really felt bad for this mother and child until he realized who it was. Everyone had a good chuckle.
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Old 08-16-17, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by jon c. View Post
I always remember carrying golf clubs back and forth to the course. I usually kept a locker, but had to clear it out a couple times a year for tournaments when the pros used all the lockers. It's one of those things that was a PITA at the time, but in retrospect is viewed more fondly. I don't know if I could do it with a modern stand bag as the bulk and movement of the legs would greatly complicate the task.
When my brother and I got Japanese "10 speed" bikes around 1969, we towed golf clubs to a nearby course a few times.
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Old 08-17-17, 05:47 PM
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When I was 6 years old everybody in my family including my parents and my grandparents were car-free. I used to spend a lot of time in my grandparents home. One day I was playing on a neighbourhood street next to my grandparents apartment. I ran across the street without looking if anybody was coming and I was hit hard by a fast riding cyclist on a road bike, lucky I didn't get killed.
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Old 08-19-17, 12:51 AM
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This is really about being carlight, not carfree. When I was little, our family had only one car. Dad drove it to work every morning, leaving the rest of the family without a car. My mom would take my sister and me on incredible walks all over the town. Sometimes we walked to a store or on errands, but often we walked in different neighborhoods or to a woods or park, just for fun. We loved these walks! I remember that one time my sister and I found a garter snake and put it in our candy bag. We asked our mom if she wanted a candy and she freaked out when she reached in the bag.

This came full circle for me just the other day. I was walking alone on our River Trail when I encountered a woman pushing a stroller. She was singing a beautiful African folk song as she pushed her two little girls in the stroller. Then I heard her talking with them about the beautiful day, and how exciting it was that school will be starting soon. After a while, I sat on a bench and she let the kids out to run and play in the sun, wearing their little purple dresses. We started talking and I told her some of my memories of walking with my mother when I was little. I told her that her little girls would remember this day, or one like it, for the rest of their lives, even after she is gone. She asked how old I am and I told her 62. "And you still think of it after all these years?" Yes, I told her, even though my mother has been dead for 15 years, I will never forget those walks we took. And I still walk to this day, something I learned from her.
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Old 08-19-17, 05:57 PM
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Nostalgia is more past youth than stuff or use of stuff. I can't do 50 milers on a whim now.
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Old 08-19-17, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post

This came full circle for me just the other day. I was walking alone on our River Trail when I encountered a woman pushing a stroller. She was singing a beautiful African folk song as she pushed her two little girls in the stroller. Then I heard her talking with them about the beautiful day, and how exciting it was that school will be starting soon. After a while, I sat on a bench and she let the kids out to run and play in the sun, wearing their little purple dresses. We started talking and I told her some of my memories of walking with my mother when I was little. I told her that her little girls would remember this day, or one like it, for the rest of their lives, even after she is gone. She asked how old I am and I told her 62. "And you still think of it after all these years?" Yes, I told her, even though my mother has been dead for 15 years, I will never forget those walks we took. And I still walk to this day, something I learned from her.
Totally off-topic take and probably too political, but this is what I love about this country. To me, it's so awesome to hear my grand-daughters' mother sing them a song in Japanese, or listen to my son's friends banter in Arabic. People still come here from all over the world adding color and beauty to our lives, lucky us.
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Old 08-20-17, 12:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Zedoo View Post
Nostalgia is more past youth than stuff or use of stuff. I can't do 50 milers on a whim now.
But you can remember every mile of past 50 rides, and feel just as happy...although probably tinged with a little sorrow that those days are either gone or fleeing fast.

BTW, I didn't mean to make this a thread for old fogies. Nostalgia is also for the young. Yesterday I heard my 18 year old grandson reminiscing with his friends about their high school glory days--even though they only graduated two months ago!

Of course, a lot of my nostalgia revolves around that kid. He would visit me for the weekend (or longer) and we would have all kinds of carfree adventures by bus, walking and later bicycles, starting when he had to hold my hand and continuing until he could navigate independently without getting too lost.

He absolutely had to stop and pet every dog, sit on every park bench, and talk to every hobo. One thing I learned from him was to stop and just take it all in from time to time.

Anyhow, I hope to hear from some of the younger ones also about LCF nostalgia!
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Old 08-21-17, 12:46 AM
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I cannot really think nostalgically about being car free. The days before I was old enough to drive were enjoyable, my old Nishiki 10 speed took me to distant places, and on my first century ride. But my early teen years were troubled, as is often the case. Cycling was one of the main thing which helped soothe those troubles.

Becoming old enough to drive was a pivotal moment in my life. Having a car greatly extended my personal horizons. Drives along PCH, from San Diego to the Redwoods, from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe. Route 66 from Santa Monica to Amarillo. The forests, deserts, cities, and sea, all within a day's drive, with no physical exertion required. I met girls, having a car made dates convenient, and gave my date and I a place to make out. I had a '72 K5 Blazer, with lots of room in the back, and I could remove the top. It was fun to lay in the back with a girl, looking at the stars, and listening the the radio in the background (The Church, "Under the Milky Way Tonight...").

But times are different, and I no longer live in sunny Southern California. Now I live in a busy Asian city, and have little time to spend time outside it. I am completely car free, and borrow a car only on occasion. I ride 20 or 30km every morning for fitness, and use another bike during the day to take my daughter to-and-from school. I will probably be nostalgic about my current lifestyle some day in the future.
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Old 08-21-17, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Sangetsu View Post
But times are different, and I no longer live in sunny Southern California. Now I live in a busy Asian city, and have little time to spend time outside it. I am completely car free, and borrow a car only on occasion. I ride 20 or 30km every morning for fitness, and use another bike during the day to take my daughter to-and-from school. I will probably be nostalgic about my current lifestyle some day in the future.
And so will your daughter, I expect.
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Old 08-21-17, 08:43 AM
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Like Sangetsu, I don't really have nostalgic memories of growing up, specifically linked to being car-free or car-light. I did walk or take the bus or bike to a lot of places as a kid, which was the norm, but we also drove regularily to the cottage or to skiing or on other trips and errands, and when my Mom went back to work, both parents had cars, so it wasn't a car-free or light lifestyle. When I was single I had a car, but when I got married I sold it* and we kept my wife's car, and I commuted to work by subway, so my "car-light" life more or less started then, in my late 20s.


*PS: my wife wasn't initially keen on us having just one car back then, as she thought we would be competing for it, but that didn't happen.

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Old 11-22-17, 11:43 AM
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In 1954-58 my father (who owned a car) still used horses on my maternal grandparents farm. Still remember riding on horseback and in the wagon with Dad (while he smoked his "rollies")...
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Old 11-23-17, 01:31 AM
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Originally Posted by tmac100 View Post
In 1954-58 my father (who owned a car) still used horses on my maternal grandparents farm. Still remember riding on horseback and in the wagon with Dad (while he smoked his "rollies")...
I remember Mackinac Island, Michigan--one of the only truly carfree places in N. America. Everything was horses, passengers and freight. My great uncle had a farm on the mainland where he wintered some of the horses. They were brought to and from the island on the big passenger ferries that brought tourists in the summer. My uncle drove a big freight wagon drawn by those big draft horses in the summertime.

(BTW, I put this in the past tense, but Mackinac Island is carfree to this day. It's a great place to visit!
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Old 11-23-17, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
I would love to hear about nostalgia--a memory of a happy time, and missing that happiness now that it's gone--and how it related to being carfree and carlight. Maybe you can just the first pleasant thought that comes to mind. You can be as brief or as detailed as you want to be.
I remember during college getting a part time job at a trucking company located in the middle of a swamp about 12 miles away from school. It would take two buses and a mile walk down a road that had no sidewalks and was pitch black to arrive at work!! I was crazy back then to even take this job since I didn't own a car and I'd leave at 11:00 at night! Let me tell you it was an adventure! I would eventually start bike commuting to work but back then I didn't use lights or even a helmet. I didn't even have a patch kit but it didn't matter because I wouldn't be able to fix a flat anyway!! LOL.

Fortunately, they relocated me closer where I would only have to take one bus. However, the new office was down a huge mountain that I had to climb up and out of each night! That was an adventure also! I don't miss working for that company anymore so much as I miss being young.
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Old 11-26-17, 04:55 PM
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Thanks for the trigger to head down memory lane

For me a bicycle was freedom, I got my first one when I was around 6 or 7, it was a "curb special" as in Dad picked it up of a curb somewhere and rebuilt it for me. I learned to ride by rolling down the hill beside the house in Jonesboro, Arkansas. There were 4 kids in our family and me being the oldest meant I seemed to always be in trouble. At least on the bicycle it wasn't where it could be seen.

We ended up in NC in the mid 70's, I had a bigger bicycle with baskets on it, couple of buddies and I convinced our parents to let us ride to someone's uncle's farm on the outskirts of town and camp out. We did it several times over that one summer. Kept riding right on through high school, some college and several years beyond that.

Even after I got married and we had a car in the family I still rode. Used to PO my now ex by being able to beat her to work when riding the bicycle. We would leave the apartment at the same time, I could cut through the complex while she had to drive around on the one way roads, she would pass me at the stop light where we turned into the hospital. Then she had to park and walk in, I could ride right up to the door and be inside with a cup of coffee in hand before she got in the door.

Still ride when I get the chance, no longer car free by any stretch of the imagination, but miss those days.

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Old 01-05-18, 01:26 PM
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I appreciate hearing these stories. : )
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Old 01-12-18, 08:22 PM
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I remember being able to drive to my grandma's house. She's gone, and I'm not sure that I want to drive on the 80 mph Interstate now but I can't ride my bike either. All my kin, living and dead are out of town by 40-1600 miles.
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Old 01-15-18, 10:03 PM
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I canīt be nostalgic about it because I am living car free right now mainly due to being poor. When circumstances improves, I would love to own a car. The weather where I live in is -8 C, strong wind, with lots of hills and I crashed twice just this month mainly because I canīt afford studded tires. At some point, I donīt think I can take this beating anymore.
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