What I gave up by going green

My Regional train pulls into the tiny Mystic station.

Yay! The lengthy process of posting all of my photos and video is finally over. I've created a Flickr collection with all of the sets.

As my trip wound down, I started thinking about what I had given up by going green and not using any planes or cars. Planes is easy — I don't feel like I gave up anything by taking the train, unless you count grief and aggravation.

Cars, however, is a bit of a different story. In Boston, I definitely didn't miss out on anything by not having a car. In fact, as is generally the case in big cities, it was more convenient to take the subway and walk to my destinations than having to worry about driving and parking in a strange place. I think you see more by walking, as well.

In my day trips to Salem and Portland, I also don't feel like I gave up much. Taking a cab into and out of town in Portland would have saved me some time, but that's about it. If I were making Portland more than a day trip, though (or wanted to go to the LL Bean outlet), a car would have been helpful. And a drive up to lovely Bar Harbor would have been quite nice — and perhaps allowed me to track down that shack with the mind-blowing lobster rolls. There might be bus or boat transportation options to Bar Harbor, though — I didn't really look into it.

It was probably in Mystic that I gave up the most by not having a car. There's enough to do within walking distance of the train station for a few days, but to spend any more time there — perhaps go to the beach, visit the submarine and other museums, or go to the local wineries — I would have needed a car. Even Abbott's Lobster in the Rough — which I walked to because I really, really wanted to go there — should have been a cab ride or perhaps, if possible, reached by water taxi. There are rental car companies in the Mystic area, including Enterprise, so I'm assuming you can arrange to be picked up at the train station and at least be green about getting to the town.

I do, however, feel like there are some things I gained by doing this all by public transit. There is, of course, that feeling of doing right by the environment. But there's also a sense of accomplishment in figuring out other cities' public transportation systems, even though both Boston's and Portland's were fairly easy. And there's a lack of stress in knowing that someone else is always responsible for getting you to your destination.

I grew up in the Akron area, and in suburban Ohio fashion, thought that if you wanted to get anywhere, the car was it. I never would have thought about traveling for a week and being able to see and do all of the things I did on this trip without using cars or planes.

And indeed, this is the sort of trip you can only make on the busy Northeast rail corridor. So here's hoping we see the national rail network expand quickly — I loved traveling this way.

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