That's sort of the point, really. My actual car is a Ford Expedition. It's ten years old, long since paid off, and the annual registration fees, not to mention the liability-only insurance, are both satisfyingly low. Back when we bought the Expedition, it was a logical choice. We had just had our last baby and we needed a vehicle that could carry a hulking teenager, a toddler seat, a baby seat, two adults, two large dogs, a double stroller, a diaper bag, and all the assorted paraphernalia that goes with having multi-age kids. And waaaaaay back then, gas was well under $2 per gallon, so even the miserable mpg of 12 (twelve!) wasn't much of a deterrent.
The hulking teenager is now almost 23, with his own car and apartment. The toddler is starting middle school and the baby plays tackle football. We don't use car seats or strollers anymore, and with the kids in school all day, there's not much call for a vehicle that seats eight. And with gas at $4.50 a gallon here, we have to take out a home equity loan every time we want to fill the tank. Most of the time, the behemoth is parked in the garage, and my husband and I share a 14 year old Maxima that, despite its crows' feet and age spots, runs beautifully and gets better than twice the gas mileage of the Expedition (and offers the added benefits of no car payment, low registration fees, and liability-only insurance).
But there is the little matter of one car and two people with different schedules and responsibilities. Although it may be hard to imagine for those of you who live in the land of public transportation, there are no buses, streetcars, or subways here. Nada. A car is not just a convenience; it is a necessity. Oh, I suppose I could ride my bike to the grocery store and the library and the bank...if it weren't for the fact that I am lazy and hate riding up hills--and we live in an area with names like "Carmel Mountain" and "Black Mountain" and "Penasquitos Canyon" that are not just for show. And we could probably walk to school and the bus stop, but if I'm honest with myself, that's an extra half hour four times a day that I probably wouldn't make time for, especially before 7:00 am.
And so I am now the tickled-pink owner of the--yes, I'm going to say it--adorable little scooter above! (I considered the powder pink one, just for the novelty value, but deferred to my boys' dignity and went with the red--complete with an extra helmet for a passenger to wear to school.) There are a couple of details to take care of. I was surprised to learn that one needs a motorcycle license to ride a scooter in California. A license I don't technically, um, have. And apparently, my auto liability insurance will not cover me on a scooter (Who knew? I can't see doing more damage on a 250-pound scooter than in a 3000 pound car, but what do I know?) I also have to make space in the garage to park it, which could pose a greater risk to my physical well-being than riding the thing, considering the state of the garage.
But at 70+ miles to the gallon, I have high hopes that I'll be able to make the adjustment to riding instead of driving, at least for most trips. It seems I'm not the only one; motorcycle driving test appointments at the DMV are backed up by four months.