After buying a house last winter, one of my first projects was getting chickens. Having grown up on a farm with chickens and fresh eggs, I always wanted to get my own flock. Having backyard chickens and producing your own eggs is great. I get a real sense of satisfaction when I eat something delicious right out of my own backyard, be it eggs or fresh veggies from the garden. The best thing about the chickens is that the eggs keep coming all winter, unlike the garden which is long dead and under snow. Not having to buy eggs, and selling a few extra dozen on the side, is a valuable step toward financial independence as well.
In addition to being small, cheap, fuel efficient, and utilitarian, my 1996 Corolla can carry Five, yes five, bikes. Five is also the number of seatbelts that it possesses. Winter in 7000ft Flagstaff is snowy, which is great for skiing, but not so good for mountain biking. This inevitably leads to the seasonal pilgrimages south to the lower elevations and higher temps. And what better way to do so then to load up the small car Adventuremobile with a few bikes and friends and hit the road in style.
Sedona AZ has some of the best mountain biking in the country and is about a 45min drive down the hill from Flagstaff. As much as I dislike driving, and think that driving to bike is a particularly ridiculous, the desire to get on my mountain bike and ride those delicious Sedona red dirt trails is irresistible. Still driving the better part of an hour and a half round trip is pretty wasteful in both dollars and pollution, even at 30+ MPG.
Unlike most vehicles seen at mountain bike trailheads, the Corolla is not a 4×4, nor is it lifted or have any clearance at all to speak of. It stands out in size and stature due to the seeming overabundance of 4×4 trucks, SUVs, and Jeeps. There is obviously some perceived correlation between having a knobby tired full suspension mountain bike, capable to riding over most things, and thinking that one’s vehicle should have similar attributes.
On the contrary, there is no real reason for this to be the case. The vast majority of driving to get to most trailheads is paved, and if the last bit of the road is to ruff for a little Corolla then you simply unpack the bikes and ride from there. I can’t count the times I’ve parked next to the guy with the big lifted V8 truck who has driven alone to meet his other buddies, who also drove there big trucks, all to park at a paved trailhead. I don’t mean be overly judgmental but we live in a world with finite resources, climate change is happening as we speak and I think it’s time we started acting like these things matter; because they do. Cycling is human powered transportation, it’s supposed to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
After requesting a chunk of time off from work over winter break, I decided to stay at home. So far it’s been a great vacation, I’ve been skiing, biking, going to yoga, cross fit, working on long overdue projects, dinner with friends, oh and starting this blog. There is a certain joy to be found in hanging out at home during the snowy months. The routine of splitting wood, stoking the fire, feeding the chickens and collecting eggs, shoveling snow, and getting ten plus hours of sleep a night is somewhat addictive. Not to mention the mad frugality and sustainability points for not driving, heating with my own firewood, and eating eggs from our chickens every morning for breakfast. Throw in a few backcountry powder ski days, evening soaks in the hot tub, and you have a fine Staycation indeed. Perhaps this could be looked at as a glimpse of early retirement. One might be concerned about running out of things to do. On the contrary, the list of potential projects, plans, and possibilities for enrichment is ever-growing in the back of my mind. I’m in no way ready to go back to work.
That said Chase and I are going on a 4-day bike trip to Southern Arizona at the end of my time off. It is good to get out of town, from time to time. After years of dirtbag climbing trips, we are both well versed in spending long periods of time living in our vehicles on next to no money. These days we have moved on to mountain biking trips. Which are similar, but given the shorter duration and advent of full-time work in both our lives there are more hot showers and meals eaten out on our trips these days.
Prior to the fancy new nursing career, I owned a free hot tub. Now two years later I have a comparatively expensive Soft Tub that I love and paid real money for. But the free hot tub came from the Craigslist Free section, which I used to, and still do, visit frequently. There are all kinds of cool things on the Free Craigslist. I’d seen free hot tubs on there before but this one looked batter than most and I was ready to give it a shot. I called the number and spoke with a gentleman who didn’t know that his hot tub had been listed for free on Craigslist, because his wife had listed it and put his number on the add! Turned out that the tub in question had been sitting in their yard, out of order, for a while and if I wanted it I could come and get it. Continue reading “The Free Hot Tub, DIY Style”
35 MPG on the highway, that’s the estimated fuel usage for a 1996 Toyota Corolla. I bought one of these for 1550$ on Craigslist about two years ago and it has been nothing but good to me since then. At that price with 124,000 miles, it was a great Craigslist score, not quite as good as the free hot tub, though. Sure it had a busted grill, dented hood, broken door handles, and the upholstery had a “vintage” look with a unique mix of sun damage, stains, and dog fur stuck to it. But the engine was perfect and there was a well-kept stack of maintenance receipts from a local mechanic. So far the only maintenance I’ve done is change the front brake pads, which really did only take about 10 minutes and cost a mere 20$.
How to change Corolla brake pads in 10 minutes, narrated by an adorable little Japanese man.