Back from New England and into the Austin groove.

TRANSIT 1: The strangest thing happened yesterday. Our beat-up 2002 Chevy Malibu went to its maker, or at least to someone who could use its aging parts. We were saving up for a Prius — we live the Austin cliché! — but fell some $20,000 short on the day of crisis. So we dashed in the opposite direction and purchased a lightly used 2000 Lincoln Town Car that belonged to a 93-year-old Travis Heights resident. Never in a trillion years did I imagine Kip and I toolikng around in this land yacht, but it’s temporary, and we’ll rent something more sustainable for road trips. At least, for the first time in five years, the air conditioner works. I suspect we’ll use it even less than the 93-year-old did. Best $5,000 car deal we could swing. Update: After posting this note on FaceBook, more than 170 people liked the choice, while more than 40 friends commented, including Mary Herr Tally: "Consider it as recycling. Two tons of recycling."

TRANSIT 2: How Cap Metro saved me $48 dollars yesterday. Kip bought the car. I had errands, including a much-anticipated interview with Richard Moya, the first Hispanic Travis County Commissioner. Kip suggested that I rent a car for the day. Even our favorite Enterprise spot on South Lamar Boulevard — a mile walk away — offered nothing for less than $50. So I looked on Cap Metro’s Travel Planner, which allows you to calculate the best bus routes for multiple trips. Not quite as intuitive as Google Maps, it still produced instant results. After a trip to Bird’s Barber Shop to lose my vacation locks, I walked across South Congress Avenue to catch the No. 1. I asked the driver for a transfer and he helpfully explained that a full day pass cost only $2. All my errands for just $2? Bingo! Why didn’t I know this before? And oh, the interview at Quickie Pickie on East 11th went swell. Commissioner Moya not only helped out with a story on Hispanic culture in Austin, he agreed to a full mega-profile this fall. Score again!

TRANSIT 3: Boston doesn’t need a Great Streets program. It is a Great Streets program. Along with well-established mass transit, Boston, our bookend stay on either side of two weeks at a Maine cabin, is a walker’s paradise. The cobbled or brick streets are not always kind on the soles, but sidewalks are generous and consistent. They "pinch" the larger intersections and expand on major thoroughfares to allow for cafes and other street life. We walked to three museums, a bookstore and numerous eateries from our base in the South End. We are learning new parts of town, too, such as the West End, Fort Point and South Boston Seaport. Fantastic meals at Sportello, Cinquecento and the Gallows. Also, people watching in Boston is as rewarding as in Austin. Love that town!

HUMOR: Paying as we go. From Dale Roe’s jesting columin in the Statesman: "The 50th-ish celebration of Austin’s (somewhat) annual holiday Trail of Lights event (remember a few years back when we skipped those two years in a row?) at Zilker Park is only 122 days and change away. To honor the anniversary, the Austin City Council will look at a resolution from Mayor Lee Leffingwell on Thursday that proposes a $3 fee for Trail of Lights visitors 13 years and older attending the event on weekends. In 2013, the event drew an estimated 425,000 visitors, more than ACL Fest, Formula One and South by Southwest, according to the website supportthetrail.org. Assuming a lot of those people came on Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights, the mayor’s proposal could bring in some decent dollars to cover the cost of the event. But why stop there? If the city is looking for cash, there have got to be other ways to raise it in addition to charging for an event that’s always been free (if you don’t count the $15 charge for a close-in parking space, that is)." http://shar.es/LF8Gv