Sunday, March 24, 2013

Transportation Troubles

The theme this week was transportation. As in, I need some. After a lazy Saturday morning last weekend - long after - I realized the car rental agency closed at noon. I would be car-less until Monday because I was careless (couldn’t resist).

So I stayed local on Saturday. Then I worked out a plan for getting to church on Sunday that involved taking Caltrain to the Santa Clara station and then a cab the rest of the way. Then I decided to take the VTA light rail to the office to get some work done, thinking I could take light rail to the Santa Clara station. Trouble started when I was leaving the building and I saw the train whiz by. After waiting for the next train, I arrived at the Santa Clara light rail station and realized it was nowhere near the Santa Clara Caltrain station. Or my church. That was a depressing right back home.

At least it’s easy enough to take VTA to work, which I did Monday through Thursday. I can check work email on the VTA or I can play a game on my iPad. Guess which I choose.

Friday I needed wheels again, so I walked a mile to the car rental agency. The compact options were a boring Nissan Versa, or a battle-bot, aka a Fiat 500. For a moment I was annoyed that the door frame blocked the view of the rear window that would show me my blind spot. Then I realized the car is so short it has no blind spot. More than once I’ve been tempted to park on the street with the nose to the curb rather than parallel parking.

It also has a few features I don’t get. One is a “sport” button, which I’m afraid to touch. The Fiat forums online suggest turning it on along with the ESC button, which I can’t find and am afraid would cause the car to reboot. It also is a manu-matic. You can move it from Drive to choose-your-own-gear-without-a-clutch. It actually helps with freeway driving. It’s like a stick shift with training wheels.

My highest priority this week is to settle on a car. I really want a manual Honda Civic with a sun-roof and less than 200K miles for under $6,000. Preferably royal blue. I found a good deal on a civic with 125K miles, but then carfax informed me that it once had 178K miles. Not sure what happened there. I really like a blue honda civic that’s 30 miles away in San Bruno, but I’m not sure they’re going to let me bring it down here so my mechanic can check it out. 

My main car shopping tools right now are my carfax monthly subscription and craigslist. When I downloaded the craigslist app I got way more hits. Turns out I was only searching for the title, not the whole listing. Rookie mistake.

A friend has been trying to convince me to get a zipcar account, rather than buying a car. I looked into it two months ago, but there were no zipcars in Mountain View. I checked again last night and there was a new Mountain View location. I could barely see the map on my phone, but I wandered around for half an hour and finally realized it was in the underground parking structure for a new apartment complex. It’s about a 20 min walk from my house - which is kinda far - and I think it would be more expensive than a car if I did it for more than a year. But it was neat to see it nearby. 

After all that, I relaxed tonight with a glass of wine on a patio near the downtown main street, watching folks drive their cars.

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