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CAR FREE AND CAREFREE.
Ann Kobsa lives 99% self-sustainably in her 'Garden of Eden' on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Not a drop of fossil fuel enters her life if she can help it; even her driveway isn't one -- it's a bikeway!
PAHOA, THE BIG ISLAND, HI
by Ann Kobsa
The beginning of the end was in 1983 when at age 22, at the urging of my mate, I got my first car; an old junker that I fixed up so it ran.
We were moving to Eugene so I could start graduate school in Biology. I entered a marriage to this man, who then grew our fleet of cars to five in as many years!
After the divorce and a move to San Francisco with just the old junker I started with, I realized that having a car was more of a burden than a blessing. For over a year I moved that old car every week to the other side of the street to make way for the street sweeper, then a few days later reversed the process. I biked or walked to work. So I sold the car, returned to Eugene, and have been pretty much car-free ever since.
I find not having a vehicle very liberating.
Now, on the Big Island of Hawaii, I leave my land only once or twice a week, usually to visit a friend, deliver produce, and pick up my mail. For riding the short distances around my unintentional community of fellow freaks I travel on cinder and mud roads, often in the rain.
For this I ride a 20-year old mountain bike that I keep maintained but not looking pretty. I ride to town, 60 miles round-trip, about once a month. For town trips, I use my Bike Friday Pocket Llama because my back is more comfortable in the upright position that my Llama allows, and the Llama has a cushioning seatpost.
I got my Friday two years ago after acquiring a part-time mate who lives most of the year in Alaska and Oregon, and have made a few visits to those places with the bike. Air travel goes against my values, however, so I am thinking about making some sailing contacts (bike on board) or just staying home.
Before I had the Friday I did bike tours around the Big Island and Maui, and I would like to take it on similar trips, possibly on some of the other islands.
I have a Travel Trailer that I converted into a flatbed using a sheet of plywood. This has been useful for bringing home full loads of enormous jackfruits and racks of bananas, fencing materials, many kinds of plants and a glider chair.
I have always been fascinated by what could be carried on a bike. In Eugene I hauled a full-size mattress with my bike and Green Gear trailer. I saw some incredible things being pedaled around in India, including multiple pieces of 60 foot-long rebar on a one-speed bike and a family of seven on a rickshaw.
I feel very free in my life, and it sometimes amazes me how well the pieces fit together. I do a lot of very physical labor, so no need to visit the exercise gym.
I have 12 acres of land, most of which is forest. I grow over 95% of my food, including about 50 kinds of tropical fruits, as well as coconuts, vegetables and spices, including vanilla. I keep free-range chickens for eggs, and I occasionally harvest a feral pig from the forest using snares. I trade vanilla within my community for goods and services, including macadamia nuts and carpentry work. I have an electric system, water heater, and oven, all powered by the sun.
I catch rainwater in a cistern, dry fruit in the sun, and use wood for cooking a large pot of food once or twice per week on an efficient yet simple stove that I built. I burn the wood of an invasive weed tree that I am trying to remove from my forest, and I propagate native trees to replace the invasive ones.
My fridge runs off the solar system and keeps me from getting food poisoning in between cooking fires. I have a microwave oven, a rare item for an off-the-grid homestead, and it allows me to easily reheat my leftovers. I’m starting to extract coconut oil for cooking, allowing me to eliminate one more item that I used to buy. The lard that I’ve rendered from the feral pigs has been useful for greasing tools and making soap.
There are a few other folks in my community who are also quite committed to local self-reliance; we share ideas, have work parties, and trade produce and other items with each other. All of these friends are very concerned about humans’ over-use of fossil fuels and are making conscious choices about how to best use them.
In addition to ditching the car, I avoid gas-powered tools such as the weed-whacker, generator, mower, and chain saw, common labor-saving items around most farms including those in my neighborhood. My favorite tool is a scythe, which I use to cut the vegetation around my fruit trees.
My main concern around fossil fuels is that we cannot put much more carbon into the atmosphere without catastrophically destabilizing our climate. We may have to learn to do without oil even before we run out ...
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
- a 'tikit' ride
- Bantam Friday
- Haul-a-Day Custom
- New World Tourist
- Pocket Companion
- Pocket Llama
- Pocket Rocket
- Pocket Rocket Pro
- Pocket Rocket Super Pro
- Tandem TwosDay
- u Family Tandem Traveler
- u Family Triple Traveler
- uPocket Companion old 2014
- u Pocket Crusoe
- u Pocket Crusoe Petite
- u Pocket Rocket Petite
- u Pocket Sport 2015 (fully adjustable.
- u Tandem Traveler XL
- u Triple Traveler XL Tour