Thursday, October 23, 2008

Where did you get that fabulous license plate?

We've gotten several inquiries about where our wonderful plate on the xtracycle came from. I take full credit for the snarky catch phrase, and ordered a custom plate from:

The motorcycle plate fits the Xtracycle perfectly (we used cable ties).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Introducing our new xtracycle kid seat!

We've written before about our problems with the peapod seat for the xtracycle, that primarily stemmed from incompatibility with the our small bike frame frame (Angela is 5' 1"....what can you do?).

Then, a generous offer from Rob Hanson on the rootsradicals yahoo group solved all of our problems. Rob custom built us this snap deck kid seat and it is a beauty (the paint job is ours!). The seat is solid, and will clearly give us many years of use. H loves her new seat and couldn't wait to try it out. We are beyond thrilled to own the second such seat in existence.

Bike seat in early stages of painting.

And I tell you. This seat stops traffic. It's unveiling was at the annual Somerville Honk Fest parade from Davis Square to Harvard Square. The whole family in the parade!The seat, along with our bike's new custom license plate got lots of admiring looks and inquiries (Rob--we're passing on your cards!). We enjoyed riding along in the parade with the Cambridge Green Streets Initiative and the Katz-Christy Family, another Cambridge car-free family (the kind with big kids) who also happen to all be able to walk on stilts (?!?). We also found ourselves in a whole gang of xtracycles at some point. Very enjoyable. Biking in the parade -- note the stroller strapped on the Xtracycle.

Rob is open to being contacted about similar seats and you can reach him here. You can also take a look at Rob's own set up here.

[In addition to being proud owners of our lovely new seat, we also have almost a full quart each of blue, yellow and lime green super non-toxic exterior paint. If anyone local has need of it, let us know.]

Friday, October 10, 2008

Car-Free Grandma

Angela asked an interesting question the other day.

"When Grandma (Angela's mom) moved here from Florida 6 months ago, would it have been better for us (from a purely selfish perspective) if she had kept her car?"

Keep in mind, we're talking from a purely selfish perspective, i.e. pretend she completely funds the car/insurance, deals with the parking and maintenance, and we have access to a car for occasional outings or big shopping trips. Maybe we would "generously" put in for gas.

Even with this hypothetical most lazy and cheap possible version of a car, we came to the conclusion that we are happy she became car free when she moved here. At first blush, this seems silly, after all, wouldn't such a situation mean we could have the perks of car-ownership without the costs? Our trip to Drumlin Farm would have been much easier if we hadn't had to worry about train schedules, and we could easily get to more fun weekend outings if Grandma had a car. We need to get some lumber at Home Depot this weekend, and we wouldn't have to get a zipcar. But would Grandma have an apartment in the middle of Davis Square, a mere 15 minute walk from our house, if she had a car? Nope. Parking there is awful. She would more likely be out in Arlington, and we'd have to hop the 77 bus to see her...which would mean she'd either need to come to us more or we'd see her less often. We wouldn't be able to easily drop by each other's houses or make last minute dinner or babysitting plans as easily. Also, as our hypothetical use of Grandma's car increased, which it would inevitably, we'd start to feel guilty, and ultimately probably end up splitting the cost and hassles. I mean, we're not total jerks, and if we were using the car eventually we'd put in, so it wouldn't be so free anymore. And there would be that awful car tension, over finances, parking tickets, needed repairs, even if it was vicariously. So even selfishly, we're glad Grandma doesn't have a car.

Less selfishly, we're glad to have a car-free Grandma because we like Grandma to save money (she claims she spends much less in Boston than Florida, who would have thought it possible?), we like watching her feel joyfully smug about being extra-environmental (she works in land conservation, so this is a nice perk), and we get to talk pros and cons of the lifestyle with one of "our own." I suppose we also like that we get to take a little bit of credit for bringing someone into the car-free we get a toaster?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Train trip to Drumlin Farm

On Sunday, we made a train trip with Grandma (aka "Baba") to the Drumlin Farm Fall Festival just West of here in Lincoln, MA. Prior to going to the farm, H insisted that there would be "Horses and cows and sheep and turtles and crabs closing their eyes under the water." Perhaps she was unduly influenced by our trip to the aquarium in Woods our surprise there did indeed turn out to be turtles at the farm (as part of a wildlife show), but alas, no crabs.

The chickens were a big hit, as were the sheep and the hayride. We'll likely be making the trip to Lincoln again, as it is easier to get to by transit than either of the two small zoos in the Boston area: Franklin park (long walk or bus from the orange line, takes at least 1 1/2 hours to get there from Cambridge) or Stone Zoo (lovely and fairly close, but inaccessible by transit).
Drumlin Farm is about a 15 minute walk from Lincoln Station on the Fitchburg commuter rail line that runs through Porter Square (the ride from Porter was about 30 minutes). Walking directions are here. We found the walk pleasant, except for the last block where there was no sidewalk, and we needed to walk through a field of long wet grass...but I suppose the point was to get out into nature so us city-folks shouldn't complain too much...