Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Laundry day

Today -- with a trip looming in the future and no need to be on campus -- I went to go do laundry. It's one of the problems with the Saginaw Forest caretaker position: no laundry facilities.  Still, there's one not too far away, and it is usually just a couple hours of investment in time, and a few dollars in cash (this time it was $4).

So, distributing my dirty clothes among my four panniers, I loaded them (front and back) onto my bike and headed off to the laundry, about 2 miles away. I decided to cycle up the main drive, and encountered a UM-OSEH vehicle coming down the road. Inquiring as to what was happening (the large, red letters spelling HAZMAT on the side had me a little worried), and the driver told me that he was out at the forest to check on the progress of the plant growth along the path that was constructed during October. (Short news: the grass hasn't grown in very much, due to the cold, the angle of sunlight incidence, and the dearth of rain, but I hope that it will grow in relatively quickly in this late Indian Summer.) Anywho, I took the foot path through Dolph Park, since I didn't want to be cycling along Jackson Road with all my panniers; I cannot really react quickly/safely.

3.5 panniers of laundry = 1 machineI got to the laundry, and unloaded all of my washing (about 3.5 panniers-full) into a single triple-load laundry machine, and (ready to count out $3 in quarters) was surprised to find the machine turning on after putting in only $1.75. It is kind of funny to think that the entirety of what I can carry with my panniers will fit totally into a single washing machine; an indication of the spatial capacity of what I can carry on my bike.

After the wash was done, I put everything into a massive centrifuge-dryer (50 cents). This step is crucial, and I don't know why more people don't do it. Although a lot of water is removed during the final spin cycle of the washing machine, the clothes still have a lot of water in them, and (considering the very high specific heat of water) there is no reason to pay extra to heat up all that water to evaporation via a dryer. After a 5 minute high-speed spin, the clothes are just slightly damp, and I sort out the shirts (to hang-dry at home), putting the rest in one of the massive dryers (75 cents) for 21 minutes. (A larger drier means that more air flow around articles of clothing can take place, thus decreasing the drying time... and the smaller dryers cost the same.)

As the smallclothes and trousers were drying, I folded up the barely damp shirts into two of the panniers (taking up much less space than when I brought them), and when I was done with that, emptied out the dryer; folded, matched, and put away the smallclothes; and loaded up my bike for the return trip. Only 1.25 hours at the laundromat and I was ready to go home, this time taking Highlake to cut through to Burr Oak to get to Liberty Road.

Piled up with recycling
Once I got home, I realized that here was a lot of recycling that had been piling up inside and on the porch, so I decided to haul it up to the road. Of course, not owning a car was the main reason why so much of it accumulated at the house. However, today, I decided to pile up as much as I could on my bike, lashing down the recycling bin and filling my front and back panniers, and clattered and clanked up to the main gate, at a steady cycle of 4 mph.

Not all of my bottles have been returned -- I'll be bringing more to Kroger to get back the bottle deposit -- but there's a smaller amount of containers and paper in the house and porch.

After that was done, I came back inside, unpacking my newly-washed clothes, and hanging them up to dry overnight.


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