One of the things that threw me when I moved to California is that one must drive everywhere. Okay, that’s not true everywhere in California, but most of the Bay Area is oriented around cars, with little mass transit and large gaps between places one wants to go. My regular routine takes me anywhere within a 10-mile distance of my house every single day. While I could bike that, I don’t really want to bike everywhere (nor do I have the time to). All this is quite different from living in Madison, WI, where I lived right downtown, and could walk almost everywhere I wanted to go. I still drove some places, but a 10-mile drive there would take me to the edge of town.
Even once I bought my house, I still didn’t have many places I walked to. It’s about a 30-minute walk to downtown from my house, which is a bit far for most of the things I go downtown for. Maybe I’ve just been inculcated with the California driving mentality, but I don’t want to spend that much time just travelling around. (I like biking, but not that much!)
Recently, though, I’ve realizing that I actually have several places that I now walk to regularly, because they’re just a few blocks from my house:
- My friend Chris hosts our Monday night Magic games and lives at the other end of the block from me.
- Another fellow hosts a regular low-stakes poker game and lives even closer to me than Chris does.
- We have a 7-11 in one direction and a Starbucks and a decent “fast food” Chinese restaurant in the other direction. There’s hope that the discount supermarket will open in the latter location soon, too.
- A great burrito place is three blocks from my house.
- And my polling place – which I visited this morning for the California special election – is about 5 blocks away.
I could probably walk even more than I do, but I was thinking this morning while going to vote that it’s nice to have these places to walk to from time to time. Makes me feel more like I really live in the area, rather than that I live in one place, get in my car, and magically end up in some other place.