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A week without a Car: Day 2

Two hours and 30 minutes!!!! That’s my wickedly long commute this morning that had me traveling by BART and foot.

Mother Nature provided me with some stunning eye candy, from the rich peach color of fallen leaves that littered my path to the lovely but fearsome clouds blanketing Mt. Diablo. But in the long run, this turned out to a crazy-long commute. I’ve fallen way behind at work, and feel like my day is nearly gone.

Randy Myers unpacks after Wednesday morning's commute

To do this route right, I should have left my home no later than 6:30 a.m. Today, I left at 7:30, and entered the office at 10. I don’t smell the best right now.

It was an invigorating walk to the Berkeley BART station (about a mile). I hopped off at the Walnut Creek station and then briskly walked more than 3 miles to the CCT office. Our big-box-looking building is tucked off the evil Ygnacio Valley Road.

My quick-witted friend Sue dubs the terminally clogged Ygnacio Valley stretch Satan Valley Road. If you’ve been on it during commute hours, you’ll agree that’s one fine nickname.

Why it took me forever was my own fault. I mistimed my BART train by about 30 seconds and then had to wait for the next Pittsburg/Bay Point train for about 16 minutes. It’s all about timing, I’m finding out.

I also strayed from the route I came up with last night. I planned to walk all the way up Satan, er, Ygnacio Valley Road to the Shadelands office, but the nasty exhaust fumes made me feel as if I was chain-smoking a pack of Marlboros.

So I detoured to the more pleasing Iron Horse Trail, but that was a boneheaded move. Later I cut through Heather Farm Park. It was a beautiful route.
I eventually hooked up again with Ygnacio Valley Road (it’s really hard to entirely avoid it). I tried to drown out the ugly traffic noise with the assistance of an iPod and Mary J. Blige. Mary J. always makes life better.

Randy Myers unpacks after Wednesday morning's commuteOne of the most challenging aspects of going without a car is lugging my change of clothes and work gear to and from the office. Today, I took a backpack weighed down with a pair of jeans, T-shirt, underwear, lunch, notebook, video camera, rain jacket, notepads, pens, keys, shoes, cell phone, etc. etc. etc. I need to leave a smaller footprint tomorrow in my pack.

In case I need to look more presentable, I keep a button-down shirt hanging in my work space. Haven’t used it yet, and hope I never have to.

I have a little pharmacy going in my top drawer, including Advil for when my cursed sciatica flares up and a bath gel in case I need to dash off to the showers. My podmate — religion writer Rebecca Rosen-Lum — must be appreciative that I keep a spare stick of Tom’s of Maine in my top drawer. It’s been getting quite the workout.

While waiting for the train at Rockridge I ran once again into my new commute pal Robert Kurosawa. He’s been riding his bike to work for a long time, and loves it. I also met a teenager who says he prefers taking public transportation than hitching a ride to his school in Orinda. Cool kid, and he was even doing his homework.

And gratefully, the weather took pity on me today. Let’s hope that doesn’t change tonight on my trek home.

Posted on Wednesday, December 13th, 2006
Under: Randy Myers | 1 Comment »

A week without a car: The first night

I learned some invaluable — and humbling lessons — while commuting to and from CCT central today.

No. 1: I’m not 21 anymore. No. 2: I’m not 41 anymore.

But beside my overwhelming desire to take a Rip Van Winkle-sized power nap after tossing back a few hot toddies, I’m feeling good. Darn good.

The bike ride to BART tonight was awesome: no rain, just a light mist dusting the air.
My evening journey certainly confirmed what I already suspected: I’m no fan of wide-bodied cars when I’m cycling. One monster — intent on being the Christine of Suburbans — got a little too cozy with me on my ride home. Down, boy! Down!

I also found out that I need to heed my bike-and-BART pal’s advice from this morning: Fenders – a marvelous invention that captures the nasty gunk (see blog entry below for the gory details) bike tires kick up – are a must, not an accessory. Thank you, kind Obi-Wan cycler from Oakland.

My commute home took roughly about an hour and a half. Not bad, but it would have been better if I hadn’t taken one wrong turn on the bike. (Note to self: Bring an extra pair of shoes so you won’t have soggy feet all day and get distracted.)

I’m gonna sign off the night because I’m in hankering for a burger. Keep on telling me about your own commute adventures. If you have any hints or tips, do let me know. I could use the help.

And to that nice person I met who was traveling on BART from Pleasant Hill to S.F., thanks for saying you’ll pray for clear skies Wednesday. Just in case, I’m going to pack my umbrella since I’m not just ditching the car, but the bike, on Day No. 2. Stay tuned.

Posted on Tuesday, December 12th, 2006
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Rainy days and Tuesdays

Posted on Tuesday, December 12th, 2006
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A week without a car: Day One

The pounding rain woke me up at 3:30 in the morning. What had I gotten my fool self into???? My first day without the gas guzzler looked like it would be a real doozy.

Monday night I stayed up late to catch the weather on TV: Showers, the weatherman promised; rain overnight, then tapering off to showers in the a.m. Back to meterology school for you, pal.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, December 12th, 2006
Under: Randy Myers | 3 Comments »

A week without a car

For nearly 15 years, I’ve gotten to the Walnut Creek office by hopping into a car.

That all changes tomorrow (Dec. 12). I’m ditching my wheels Tuesday through Saturday and commuting to work by bike, by foot, by bus or a shuffle mix of the three.

I know. I know. The weather is expected to be nasty and mean. But this boy was born and bred in the country – sort of. I also know there are much braver East Bay souls going car-less on a daily basis. Of course, these folks probably do it without the whining. Expect some whining from this camp.

I assume the East Bay “car-less” do it out of necessity (can’t afford a car/can’t drive/car is in the shop) or like being fit and/or helping the planet out. There are other noble and not-so noble reasons, and I hope you’ll e-mail yours at

Good old-fashioned guilt nudged me into action. That feeling surfaced when I was talking to some “car-less” friends about what they thought of Al Gore’s “An Incovenient Truth.” After the conversation, I felt like I was one enormous Hoover vacuum sucking up every natural resource around me. I realized then that I could show Mother Nature a little love by ditching the car for, at the very least, a week. Seemed painless at the time, and the editors bought into the idea.

But as it draws closer, this cold turkey approach is making me a little nervous. How will I get to my interviews? How am I going to lug around the groceries? And then what about that holiday party?. How am I going to get from the W.C. to Point Richmond? Dunno yet.

Driving into work today, I realize I’m gonna miss a lot about my car, from cranking up the volume of my CD player to levels that the rear view window shakes like it’s in a 6.5er to that powerful car heater that makes me toasty warm.

Beginning tomorrow, all that will be gone, gone gone. So stay tuned as I post daily about my misadventures navigating the potholes of modern life – sans the hot wheels.

Posted on Monday, December 11th, 2006
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