But since I live in the spread-out metropolis of the Windy City, it's a little unusual for someone of my age not to have ever owned a car, especially since I don't live downtown or within walking distance of a train station. Still, public transportation works well for me (when it works), as I get to read the newspaper, or check e-mail (or come up with blog posting ideas), and since there's now a smartphone notification system for our bus and train routes, I'm much better at timing how long I have to wait. And in the meantime, my bike has its own parking spot in the garage, next to the snow blower and the grill and the firebowl and the garden paraphernalia and the outdoor Christmas decorations...and you get the picture.
Still, every so often, we need a car to run some errands, pick up things that can't be delivered (for a reasonable price) or borne on the bus without embarassment (because the only people who need to know the brand of toilet paper I use are me and the check-out person), make a pit stop at the hallowed Trader Joe's, or head some place in the evening that would make it challenging (and/or expensive) to get home by public transit or cab. So when the need arises, we head to our local Enterprise - as we did this weekend - and tool around town doing all the things that we don't normally have a chance to do without a car.
|This weekend's wheels: a red Chevy Cobalt. Not exactly my favorite car, but couldn't beat the rental price.|
Like visit some of our favorite haunts, including Hoanh Long. We discovered this Vietnamese hole-in-the-wall restaurant a few years when we lived in the neighborhood (sort of). We were walking back from a lazy Sunday afternoon in the Borders where we had been hogging a cafe table at Borders
Or do our best impression of surbanites by making a stop at Woodfield Mall. I hadn't been to Woodfield Mall in about ten years, and I can't say that I would miss it if we didn't go back for another ten years - the place is a mad house, and I cannot begin to imagine how crazy it must be at Christmas time. But the real reason we went to Woodfield was to try out Todai, a Japanese buffet. Chinese buffets are pretty common (especially in Toronto where I grew up, and where the competition is cutthroat), but it's rarer to find other Asian buffets, especially in the Chicago area, which doesn't have such a large Asian population. So when I read about Todai, I knew we had to make the trek to Schaumburg. Overall, Todai was not bad at all. A pretty good selection of sushi (including salmon and red tuna sashimi, the ubiquitous California roll, and a surprisingly good "Hawaiian" sushi of pineapple, avocado and grilled salmon), hot foods (including shrimp tempura, pork gyoza, and chicken teriyaki), and - by Asian buffet standards - some wonderful dessert squares (mango mousse cake, tiramisu and cheesecake). If I had one complaint, it was that the green tea ice cream seemed rather bland. And then I just about lost my lunch when I had to pay nearly $30 for 5 gallons of gas.
So after a weekend of running around town, shopping, attending a birthday party, a food smorgasbord, and the (relative) freedom that comes from having a car, I was happy to drive the rental back to its home, and relinquish the keys. And while I know we're going to need a car when we have a child, for the meanwhile, I'm happy to remain four wheels lighter.
Or at least until we run out of toilet paper.