Friday, July 16, 2010

Six Month Mileage Update (by TMOTH)

I have missed my half way update and was hoping to do some major catching up but to finish all the ideas I have jostling for position in my brain would probably make me more than just a little bit past deadline. So how about we just stick with a single topic for now?

We haven’t talked much about how the gasoline ration has affected our lifestyle and how we are doing with our goals. We don’t have long commutes and are centrally located so we get done what we need to within our established limits fairly easily. I began carpooling about a month before the project started - once the idea was in my head there was no reason to wait until rationing began. Initially, a co-worker who lives a little over a mile further from work than me picked me up and dropped me off on his way to and fro. This saved us about 42 miles a week and helped to fill up our reserves quickly. It also allowed for a few modest out of town trips without running out of fuel.

Then sometime around February this co-worker's car broke down and I started doing the driving. Since then we haven’t been saving the 42 miles but have actually been traveling an additional 15 miles each week to go get him in the morning and drop him off at the end of the day. I really am not bothered by the extra travel because in the grand scheme of things (ya know, reality), we are still keeping one vehicle off of the road so what does it really matter if our miles go up “on paper?"

Actually, for the past three weeks another friend/coworker nearby had a temporary schedule change and was on the same shift as myself and the above coworker and we actually did three cars worth of driving in one car. This past week the temporary car pool buddy drove. This turned out to be a great relief because…we are running short on miles!

The summer schedule of kids activities involves a lot more driving than just to school and back (which is only about 20 miles a week when we didn’t walk). The big hit to the mileage reserve has been swimming practice. This is the girls' first year on a summer swim team and they have practice four times a week. Tuesday and Thursday practices are actually pretty close - it’s the Monday and Wednesday morning practices at the Shawnee County North Aquatic Center that have been adding up. At 13 miles round trip, or 26 miles each week they account for over 10% of our weekly allotment of 193 miles.

Then there are the weekly swim meets, which alternate between home and away pools. The first two away meets were roughly 80 and 130 mile round-trips and required us to use a sizable portion of our mileage reserve. This past week the away meet was schedule in a town 176 miles round-trip from our house (thank you web-based map information). We checked our mileage reserve...enough but not by much. Then we checked the weather the afternoon of the meet - storms were expected an hour before the meet started with a lull just long enough to do some swimming and then followed by another wave of storms - that is IF the forecast was right on. I don’t know about where you live, but around here the storms don’t carry wristwatches.

So we had finally reached another point where the Rational Living project had affected our daily decision making. So far during the project year the meager mileage surplus has caused us to delay travel to visit Rational Mama’s family (a 300 mile round-trip), but we're determined to visit them at the end of July and therefore are relying on those surplus miles being available. As a result we decided not to go to the meet.

If not for the rationing project we would have joined many others on the team who went the distance only to find… the storms came like clockwork allowing just enough time for a dandy swim meet. Oh well.

Did we make the right choice? Maybe 176 miles round trip is too far for little swimmers at our level of competition anyway.

How far would you go? How much environmental impact is justified for simply daily activities?


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