Considering a sailing adventure to Mexico? Just look at how engrossed that guy is in the book! Grab a copy of the Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico, and you too can find yourself sitting on a Mexican dock with an oversized (but very attractive) hat.

Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico

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Entries in mass transit (2)

Friday
Feb202015

12 hours to think in JFK airport

This morning I got out of bed at 5:00am NYC time in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, or 2:00am San Diego time. Oddly I couldn't find my departure terminal listed on Delta's online checkin. But no bother, I grabbed a cab and left the island, headed for the airport.

Whoops, it turns out that my return flight is for March 20 (next month), not February 20, which would be today. As the suicidal cab driver violated innumerable safety laws, I had a half an hour sans a functioning seat belt to consider the situation. Even better, after discussing the situation with a friendly Delta call center employee in India, and paying an additional $300, I only have to wait here at JFK for about 12 more hours. 

Fact: I make about 20 flights a year.

I checked, and that's about my average. I'm not one of the serious road-warrior travelers who spends most of their time away from home, but for a non road-warrior I'm gone a decent amount.  I've flown in little single engine prop planes, a sleeper from LAX to LHR, and more middle seats than I want to remember. I took a couple of sleeper train cars across the US, my bed right up against the window as I watched Main Street go by. 

Fact: I screw up about one flight a year, or 5% of the time.

What often happens is that things move. A meeting that was scheduled for one day shifts to another, then shifts again, and you have multiple trips you're juggling. Trying to line up with other people, trying to think about how to not be screwed when living out of a bag for a few days in a different town: these are the monkeys in the wrench. 

I imagine a lot of frequent travelers screw up, but they probably don't admit it. At least that's what I'll tell myself. I'm not a terribly stupid or irresponsible person, so my megalomaniac view of the world tells me, "Don't worry Eric, you're fine buddy." I smile and say, "Thanks, Eric, that's really considerate of you. By the way, you look terrific today."

Fact: I've been working really hard lately

Sitting in my uncomfortable airport terminal seat, and last night staring at my laptop, it occurred to me that although going sailing on Rebel Heart was a pretty decent accomplishment (minus the part at the end there), the current bar is a bit higher: do it all over again. Except better.  Starting with less money, bigger bills, and more baggage (literal and figurative).

And so with that I must end this post and go back to work. My shitty twelve hours at JFK is 12 hours more that I get to dig and scrape towards where I want to go. I will have plenty of time to screw off later, spending a week at anchor in some tropical locale with a decent long board break. Work like a pack mule now so I can exist like a three toed sloth later. 

 

Sunday
Oct212012

san diego's car2go option

If you've driven around San Diego city proper, you've probably seen the little blue and white Smart Cars buzzing about and sitting curbside. I got turned onto the service by some very trend-aware coworkers and a few months (and a few snafus) later, I feel I'm in a good spot to comment on the service a bit.

Signing up.

You sign up for about $30 online and get a card in the mail. They'll check your driver's license and make sure you can legally drive.

Finding a car.

There are apps to put on your phone, you can call the 1-800 number on the card in your hand, or you can use the website. Alternatively, if you're in downtown in the middle of the day you can just walk around until you find one. Whatever you do, know you'll probably be walking a bit to get to a car. You'll luck out occasionally and have one fifty feet away, but more often than not you'll be walking a half a mile or so. Before you freak out, ask yourself: couldn't you use the walk anyway?

Getting going.

Standing in front of your wheels, take the little blue card, swipe it against a sensor on the windshield, and the car opens after a few seconds. Hop in, type in your four digit code, and follow some onscreen prompts on a little control on the dash. Maybe twenty seconds before you're rolling.

Car2Go service area, click to enlargeStopping (this is the cool part).

You can drive wherever you like in the "service area", pop the key back in the dash, swipe the windshield sensor, and walk away. Metered spot? No problem. When you stop your rental the car will be available again for the next person.

Cost.

Currently it's $0.35 a minute, plus the yearly fee. To put some context around there it's anywhere from $5-$8 to get from Point Loma to downtown (or vice versa). Get stuck at a bunch of red lights or a train crossing and the bill goes up. It's not as cheap as the bus (~$2.50), but it's much cheaper than a cab (~$23.00). 

Tips & Tricks

Parking tickets.

Yes, you can get a parking ticket. Although you can park in any "standard" metered spot without paying the meter, if there is street sweeping that night (or the next night and no one moves the car), you're on the hook for a parking ticket. Considering that downtown has constant street sweeping, it's something to consider. Generally the cars are rotating in and out so it's not really a problem (ie: if you drop a car off on a Thursday morning it will be gone before Thursday afternoon), but it happened to me.

Screwed up cars.

There's nothing worse than approaching a car and getting ready only to find its dash screen saying "Out of Service". If you use one of the apps or the website, you won't run across these. But just walking around, especially in a busy stretch of time (such as downtown around 4pm-6pm) get ready for pretty much every vehicle you see to be out of service.

Check the interior.

Might just be me, but I hopped in a car and only after I put in my code did I notice there was no key. Took me about fifteen minutes on the phone to zero out my reservation. Just look around and make sure the key is there, nothing looks terribly screwed up, etc.

The phone number is helpful.

I'm a digital guy and like to do everything online so for me to say that a customer service phone number is helpful really says something. I've never had them be less than great. It's really valuable when you're standing there on a street corner and don't want to futz with your phone for a couple of minutes bringing up the app. Just find some cross streets, call them, they'll direct you to the next vehicle and reserve it for you. Easy.

Stop-over vs ending rental.

When you stop the car, you have the option of keeping the key with you which continues the billing cycle but also gives you protection of knowing the vehicle will be there when you get back. If you're stopping into the grocery store for five minutes on the way home, it's probably worth the two dollars to not walk up to the parking spot your car used to be in. 

Alternatively, you can just end the rental and cross your fingers that it will be there when you get back. If you're going to be somewhere for a while and you don't mind potentially footing it a bit back to another ride, end the rental. It's your choice, just think about it in advance so it plays out the way you want it to.

Summary: thumbs up.

There are some people who can really benefit from the Car2Go service. Folks who live and work in the operating area can effectively use it to get back and forth to work cheaper than owning a separate car. Folks who are traveling to San Diego and spending most of their time in the operating area might be able to forgo a rental car. Sailors who are in the Point Loma or Embarcadero area can easily get around town for supplies and provisions. 

Living in San Diego it's pretty hard to not have a car, but for a lot of households the Car2Go option might mean the difference between one car or two, or two cars or three. For the $30 fee, it's really hard to justify not giving it a shot.