My all-time favorite vehicle has been and will always be a VW Bus. We had a couple of them when I was growing up - none of them lasted very long, but I loved the boxy, funky shape of them, and the fact that the engine was all mechanical and very simple was also appealing to me. I even liked the very distinct sound the engine made as one accelerated.
As we spend this last day of the world as we know it thinking into the future, hopefully, we won't be dwelling on the best automobile transportation, but rather focusing our thoughts on some more simple ways to get around. I'm hoping I can still find a VW bus, because I think it would make a great storage area, and while my (current) town ordinances won't allow me to have a shed, I can have one unregistered, undrivable vehicle parked in my yard. In addition, because it's not a "structure" (like a storage shed), I could park it anywhere in my yard that I wish without worrying about variances, and right along the perimeter, painted in bright, paisley colors, would also make it a nice security feature. In short, in our lower energy future, I don't see cars as being completely obsolete.
But for transportation purposes, I'm pretty well convinced that we'll need to find options that don't include gasoline-powered travel. In fact, I don't even think we'll be able to afford those cute little plug-in cars. I mean, if I am generating all of my own electricity, my first priority is going to be the freezer.
The other day Deus Ex Machina and I were talking with our girls about some of our past experiences. Deus Ex Machina mentioned a couple of really long (100 km) Volksmarchs in which he participated - one in France and one in Belgium. We also talked about the Nijmegen march (which is a four-day trek across the Netherlands with teams completing 40 km per day). Our Battalion in Germany sent a team to Nijmegen every year, although (unfortunately) neither of us were able to participate.
One of the great past-times in Europe is the Volksmarch, and I can remember, as a kid living in Germany, my family participating in several of them. At the end, we were all awarded a medal. I was not more than five or six at the time, and my parents made me walk - six miles - for a medal. ?!?!
But it was so much fun!
Deus Ex Machina and I have taken my parents' example, and we make our girls walk long-distances, too. Only we're meaner. There's no medal at the end. We just make them walk for the sake of walking. We walk through the woods along a lovely path to the salt marsh.
Sometimes we find a geocache.
Sometimes we take a detour and go for ice cream at Beal's. It's three miles there, and three miles back - and it's no big deal even for my youngest daughter.
When I was in college, I didn't have a car. I walked everywhere I went - to class, to work, to the grocery store, and I was fit. When I was in the Army, living in Germany, I didn't have a car. I lived within shouting distance of my office, but I was four miles away from the PX and commissary. If I wanted to go shopping, I walked - four miles there and four miles back. Most weekends found me walking the eight mile round trip, and I was fit. Not only could I walk eight miles in less than two hours, but I could run two miles in less than sixteen minutes.
Walking doesn't take any special equipment (despite what the shoe manufacturers try to make us believe) or skill. Most of us learn to do it before we have control of our bodily functions, and most of us don't stop until we take our last breath.
The best solution to our transportation woes is to walk - often and far - and the best use of the last of our oil money would be for our leaders to develop an infrastructure that encouraged us to walk, rather than hopping in our cars. Instead of repairing and expanding roads, perhaps they could be encouraged to close roads, and close off extra lanes for the exclusive use of non-motorized transport, like bicycles and foot travel.
We lived without cars in this country for hundreds of years, and in this world for thousands, and it's only in the last seventy that we've come to (mistakenly) believe that we can't survive without them. Cars are convenient, not necessary. It's a matter of "need" versus "want." Besides, walking is good for the body, good for the mind and good for the soul - and no one argue that we don't need more of that sort of thing in our society.
And this is it ... the last day. We can't control what happens tomorrow, but by our actions today we can shape what it might be. We have time ... not much, but some ... to be making some changes so that no matter what happens we will live comfortably, and dare I predict, happily. We don't need much of what our modern lives, the media, our government, our neighbors, make us believe is necessary for the good life. Adequate (healthy and wholesome) food - much of which we can grow or forage -, protection from the elements, clean water, proper sanitation, and the care and support of others, but probably the most important thing we "need" is a sense that we can provide for ourselves without much outside intervention - even if we live in the suburbs ... maybe especially if we live in the suburbs.
You've had twenty-one days to get ready, and tomorrow, in the infamous words of Porky Pig, that's all folks.
The question is, if you knew twenty-one days from now some catastrophic event would result in the end of the world as we know it ... what would YOU do?
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