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Mini vacation

Stumptown
The only real downside of non-car-ownership (for me) is that one's orbit contracts significantly: every now and then an urge to get out of the city strikes, and it's not easy to satisfy.

So when my good pal [personal profile] roseambr invited me to go with her to Montana at the end of September, I said yes, yes, and yes-indeedy. She's taking a four-day art glass course in the small and apparently picturesque town of Hamilton, and I'm going to go along and treat it as a writing retreat.

Since our lodging is seven miles outside of the town itself, and since I've actually let my driver's license lapse (whoops) and so can't use [personal profile] roseambr's car during the day, I'm going to rent a Brompton to take along. Hamilton being a ski-resort-y kind of place with at least one bike shop of its own, I'm hoping that a gray haired lady on a folding bike won't raise too many eyebrows.

Hamilton is a nine-hour drive from Portland, and from what I hear, late September is an excellent time to visit: pre-snow, post-summer-heat. I'm more of a Left Coaster than an American West-er, so the farthest I've ever been into the interior is western Idaho; Montana is a vast, Big Sky mystery to me.

Should be fun.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
executrix
Aug. 21st, 2014 05:46 pm (UTC)
Can't you get the license renewed by just paying an extra fee? Even if they make you take the test again, you still know how to drive.
emeraldsedai
Aug. 21st, 2014 06:37 pm (UTC)
There's a non-trivial logistical problem involved in borrowing a car to take the test with. Legally, the car's owner has to drive me to the DMV, then wait around while I go through the process. It probably also wouldn't hurt me to practice a time or two before trying to pass the test--I haven't driven now in over a year.

But yes, I can renew my license, and I probably will.
executrix
Aug. 21st, 2014 07:44 pm (UTC)
Want a Job? Get Some Experience
I've never learned how to drive, hence no driving test--I thought they would supply the test vehicle! Because I can easily imagine someone having a driver's license but no car. Can you get someone to get a ZipCar you'll pay for and drive you over? (Presumably on the way back you'll be a once-again-licensed driver.)
emeraldsedai
Aug. 21st, 2014 09:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Want a Job? Get Some Experience
As a backup plan, that would probably work. I don't know anybody with a Zipcar membership (because it's really only worthwhile if you have no actual car expenses of your own--and they won't renew my membership unless/until my I have a valid license again). But I've got a couple of sisters with cars, so I imagine we can figure something out.
executrix
Aug. 21st, 2014 10:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Want a Job? Get Some Experience
You're quite right that a lot very frightening people are allowed behind the wheel, but it's weird how "driver's license" is a proxy for "reputable member of the middle class"--I mean, why should you need a driver's license to cash a check or get on an airplane unless you're going to fly it? (And even then, I'd hope they'd demand specific aviation expertise.)
emeraldsedai
Aug. 22nd, 2014 02:25 am (UTC)
Re: Want a Job? Get Some Experience
The way the automobile has become utterly fundamental to American life is nowhere better illustrated than what you describe.

I've read a lot of hopeful (from the alternative transportation wonk-o-sphere's perspective) declarations of the US having reached "peak car" in 2008, some of the studies even correcting as much as possible for the recession. The deniers deny, the car lovers get all threatened and ranty, but there does seem to be some validity to the data. We'll see. Personally, I'm walking biking proof of peak car and peak population growth, and I don't need a trend to validate my choices, but it's sure easier living in a place where both choices are fairly commonly made.
emeraldsedai
Aug. 21st, 2014 09:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Want a Job? Get Some Experience
Also, I suspect that the whole licensing system assumes that first-time licensees are teenagers, and will use a parent's car to take the test. I think in most states, you don't have to take a driving test again after that.

Which is arguably a prime contributor to our nation's absymal traffic-safety record. Seriously, the more of a traffic and transportation wonk I've become, the more terrified I am of driving a car again.
cattraine
Aug. 21st, 2014 08:56 pm (UTC)
Watch out for
the speed traps in that area, they specifically prey on out of state cars and ticket you on the spot, then tell you you can pay the fee right there ($200.00 usually) or go to court.
emeraldsedai
Aug. 21st, 2014 09:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Watch out for
Good to know. My friend, who will be doing all the car-driving, is a regular visitor to Montana--both sides of the state--so I'll leave the risk to her. As for biking around Hamilton, it looks like there are back roads so I won't have to ride on the highway.
prime_meridian
Aug. 22nd, 2014 12:35 am (UTC)
Ah, the Bitterroot Valley where yours truly grew up. You'll have to pass through the itty bitty burg of Victor on your way to Hamilton. Wave as you pass by. :)

And Montana is wonderful in late September. Have a lovely time.

Edited at 2014-08-22 12:36 am (UTC)
prime_meridian
Aug. 22nd, 2014 12:43 am (UTC)
Oh and if you bike out to Daly Mansion, take lots of photos. :) I'm not sure how close you can still get, but Tammany Castle isn't far from there and is a beautiful building. :)
emeraldsedai
Aug. 22nd, 2014 02:20 am (UTC)
That looks interesting! From the map, it looks like it would make a good bike jaunt from where we're going to be staying. Fun! Thanks for the tip.
emeraldsedai
Aug. 22nd, 2014 02:17 am (UTC)
Yes, the Bitterroot Mountains--such a great name. I'd forgotten that you're a Montana girl. I'll watch for your wee burg. :D
decemberleaf
Aug. 23rd, 2014 11:40 am (UTC)
"I'm hoping that a gray haired lady on a folding bike won't raise too many eyebrows." What a great addition to local color! :) You may get other people doing it too.
emeraldsedai
Aug. 24th, 2014 11:21 pm (UTC)
I suspect that my tendency to think of people living in that vast, different country of the American West as "other" is showing here. To be honest, a gray haired lady riding a folding bike would be a wee bit strange even here in Portland.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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