In American culture the car has a very special place. Turning 16 is the first big milestone birthday solely because you can get your drivers license. Despite what you see on TV the odds of your parents giving you a car of your own is almost nil. You will get the privilege of driving the 'grocery getter' and dropping your younger siblings off at soccer practice. The only time in my life that I had a brand new car was my senior year of college. It was a cute candy apple red....Chevy Cavalier. After I graduated it went to my sister for her last two years of school and I moved on to a...wait for it...Oldsmobile Cutlass. Two years later I got my Blazer. It's been a great 9 years, my Chevy and I. In 9 years while I have become even more fun, fabulous and well-traveled, my car has just become well-traveled. But I have no car payment. I want to enjoy that feeling as long as possible.
This being said I've become a fan of the reduced car lifestyle. For the past four years I've been commuting via light rail. I can drive just a few miles, park and hop the train. My job subsidizes my pass. It's a pre-tax benefit. It's saved thousands of miles on my faithful car and lots of money on gas (hello $3.65/gallon). I can read, Facebook, blog, listen in on other people's conversations or plot world domination. Now that the weather is nice I can even go car free by walking to the bus that takes me to the train.
I still like the freedom of my car. I don't really want to carry 20lbs of dog food anywhere. But more and more I see the value of the urban lifestyle where things are accessible by foot, bike or RTD. Denver puts a high value on this. My attitude is shifting. It's good for my health to walk or cycle. It's good for my budget to take public transportation.
And for the road trip? Part of the American experience? I will rent. Me, my sun hat of confidence and a 2010 Caddy. See you on the road!