The Green Goddess: Living Car-Free

In September of 2008, I sold my car and opted to live without one. It’s good for the planet. It’s good for my wallet. And, it’s good for me, because I walk and bike more than I otherwise would.

So since 2008, I’ve depended upon public transport, private enterprise and the kindness of strangers and friends (you know who you are!) to get my rollerbag to myriad destinations.

The rollerbag tag. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

When I’ve been in large cities–like Chicago, or New York, it’s been easy, even preferable, to be car-free; no parking expense, and there’s ample public transportation. Yet in the Midwest, it has required a higher level of commitment. And, it has been anything but goddess-like.

I recently took a trip from La Crosse, Wisconsin, to St. Cloud, Minnesota to visit my sister, normally a 3.5 hour road trip. Keep in mind, there is only one Amtrak train per day (arriving conveniently at 12:40 a.m., often sold out), and one bus line that offers a trip a day. So here’s what it took to get there:

Nothin’ says glam like hanging with the shuttle at the Days Inn. Photo by Charish Badzinski. 

9:30 a.m. Bum a ride from a friend to the Go Rochester Direct shuttle pick-up site. Winter storm brewing, up to six inches of snow expected along the highway.

9:55 a.m. Board airport shuttle from La Crosse to Winona to Rochester. Endure white-out conditions outdoors, white-knuckle conditions indoors. Three people total: the driver, me, and a chatty woman who insists upon telling me the name of her step daughter who’s in witness protection–while we are in side-by-side bathroom stalls.

White out conditions. The Go driver was great, though–safe and friendly! Photo by Charish Badzinski. 

10:30 a.m. Switch shuttles in Rochester to another Go vehicle. Eleven adults wedge into an 11-person van.

Cozy. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

Seats are smaller than coach class on a discount airline. WiFi is offered, but there is not enough room between my lap and the seat ahead of me to open my laptop. But, it’s nice to have someone else drive. Woman next to me opens her lunch, the world’s stinkiest hard-boiled egg, and eats it. Man in front of me talks loudly on his cell phone about his medical conditions for much of the trip. Direct quote: “They say it’s idiopathic. And you know what that means.”

1:10 p.m. Arrive at Minneapolis airport. Snow has stopped. Shuttle driver offers to take me to the Mall Of America, saving me one train ride. Score!

1:30-3 p.m. Lunch at Crave, MOA

Bento box at Crave, Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

3:10 p.m. Hiawatha Line light rail to Target Field, Minneapolis.

4:30 p.m. Northstar Commuter Rail from Target Field to Big Lake. It’s “Fabulous Friday,” which means my conductor is wearing a cowboy hat and doing standup comedy. It’s truly awesome.

The rollerbag aboard the Northstar Commuter Rail. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

5:15 p.m. Arrive in Big Lake. Almost there!

Big Lake station, the end of the line for this train. Photo by Charish Badzinski. 

Bum a ride from a friend just off work, saving me from taking the Northstar Link bus line. Necessary pause at two local taverns and accompanying meat raffles.

Another proud meat raffle winner. Judging from the black eye, he may have had to fight someone for this meat.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.

9:00 p.m. p.m. Arrival, at last! I carry 20 lbs. of raw hamburger proudly through the door of my sister’s house.

Travel weary, but #winning! Photo by meat raffle announcer.

10:00 p.m. Google “idiopathic

It may not always be glamorous, but living car-free is always an adventure!

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Charish Badzinski is an explorer, foodie and award-winning travel and food writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, providing strategic communications, media relations and writing support to individuals and organizations. 

Find Charish on Twitter: @charishb
Creative Commons License
Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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