Friday, December 16, 2011

Urban Ranger

The Idea of Urban Rangering

So, some bit ago, I was looking through the website of the guy who came up with the No-S diet1. (I would like to point out, for the record, that he has a number of great systems.)

Every time I came across the Urban Ranger site, I went "oooh".

The basic idea of the Urban Ranger is that you walk everywhere that's within walking distance, instead of driving. I've come across the site before, and loved the idea of it then, too, but frankly I like a lot of ideas without being actually inspired to do them, for reasons of practicality or sloth. This time, though, I found myself going back to the page over and over again, and each time there was that subtle underlying push from God, as if he's telling me "pay attention to this". So I started thinking about it a little. The author recommends walking, "Anywhere you need to go that you can walk to in (say) under an hour", and I discovered that Google Maps' walking estimator thinks that my usual errands - the grocery store, the bank, Kmart, and the library - are all within an hour's walk from my apartment. Heck, even the Learning Palace where I occasionally go to pick up homeschool materials clocked in under an hour.

The First Urban Rangering Excursions

Driving back from Seattle after Thanksgiving, a rock hit the van windshield and started a crack, which grew to be some 6 inches long by the time we got home. I called and got quotes, yada yada. When I called the place to schedule a new window to be put in, they informed me I needed to drop the van off for some 5 hours or more, for it to set. Since I'd been planning to take the kids with me, that was an issue. They definitely weren't going to behave in a waiting room for that long.

The thought persistently cropped into my mind that this would force me to do some Urban Rangering.

So I did it.

I borrowed a double stroller from a friend2, made sure the kids had winter jackets, packed snacks and drinks, and we headed off on our grand adventure.

And it was fun.

Here's a list of some of the interesting places we saw or visited:
  • a "bakery" that doesn't bake anything (they just sell regular store-type bread, Hostess products, and the like);
  • a pleasant little coffee shop that I never knew was there;
  • a craft store that we decided not to take the double stroller into, after seeing a sign proclaiming that all bags must be left at the front;
  • a library with a much expanded kid's section compared to the library we normally go to, and with a baby room open on Friday mornings;
  • a bagel place that we are definitely going back to; 
  • a city park that was two or three stories deeper into the ground than the surrounding streets; 
  • a skate park with a LOT of teenage boys hanging out;
  • a little shop that re-upholsters furniture (good to know!); and
  • a place that sells racing motorcycles. Not just regular motorcycles. Sports motorcycles.3

All in all, we walked a little over 3 miles, round trip.

The next day, we went Urban Rangering again.

This time I needed laundry money, and I finally admitted to myself that there wasn't going to be any better time to get it. We hit the bank, the library, and a corner market on the way home, for milk. It was pure awesome to walk out of the library with three kids reading while they walked.

2.4 miles this time, and the kids did an awesome job of it. Complaining was not an issue; for the most part, they seemed to be enjoying themselves. I was quite impressed.

Now I just need to invest in galoshes, rain coats, and a double stroller of my own, so we can make a habit of it.

1. Around the time I wrote about not indulging on Sundays.

2. Technically, I have a double stroller of my own. It's been cluttering up our front porch area for some time. But, well... I didn't want to put the kids in something that I couldn't be sure didn't have mold or mildew growing in the cloth. That thing is ready for the trash, I'm thinking.

3. At least, I think "sports" was the word they used. I can't remember for sure, and I'm not really confident on the racing part either, because I know nothing about motorcycles except the name Harley Davidson. But there was some word, and it probably began with 's', and it was clear it was not just ordinary motorcycles.


  1. Dude! I have been soooo doing this for some time and had no idea it had such a cool name. Urban Ranger it up!! Granted, I do not do this when it is under 28 degrees. Maybe I am a wimpy Urban Ranger. I don't care.

  2. We have a small library within walking distance and one day, when my kiddos were in desperate need of a distraction, we walked to the library to return a book. It was great! I'm kicking myself for not doing it sooner!