(Mis)Adventures in Public Transportation

(Found at the bus stop, and I have sooooo many questions.)

During this season where we save money for a second car I’m using the public transportation to get to my classes. I had this idealistic and romantic ideation about it before attempting… I’ve had three days of misadventures.

Friday:
I left my house at 8:50 to walk half a mile to board the 9 am bus to head to the southern portion of the city for my 10:35 am class. This was seriously the shortest commute option allowing me to arrive early/on-time for class. I was so excited about the opportunity to sit quietly and read my book for the duration of my trip. Well… I didn’t get my hydration schedule correct and about 20 minutes into the trip desperately needed a restroom stop. Oops. This led to feeling overheated and I almost felt nauseous. Well darn. So I did a lot of looking out the window and praying. Switched to the train and then had a half mile walk to the club. Fast-forward to the last five minutes of class and the power went out… nbd I thought. Until… I arrived at the train platform and realized power was out for a huge portion of the city. This meant no trains. At all. Thankfully Twitter conversations with RTD employees kept us posted about the possibility of a shuttle rescue. And I made friends with a momma when I gave her a lara bar to share with her hungry kiddos. I waited on the train platform for 1.5 hours before Jeremy rescued me. We took a detour to Costco since it was convenient and we arrived home somewhere in the 3:30-4:00 range because of our stop. So actual total commute time… unknown. But I’m guessing it will be at least four hours total travel time.

Tuesday:
For today’s commute I decided to carry my external battery pack so I could listen to podcasts on the ride in case of motion sickness- brilliant. I left my house at 9:17 am and walked half a mile to the bus stop to catch a 9:30 bus and everything went smoothly until… I couldn’t figure out how to let the bus driver know which stop I needed! Ugh. Missed my stop and ended up with a mile walk to get to the gym instead. Oops. This commute was made especially possible because the best arrival option for my 11 am class was 10:25 if I had figured out my stop appropriately. Since I didn’t I had all the time I needed to walk the mile route and arrive on-time/early. But seriously going forward I will be arriving 35 minutes early because that’s the best commuting option. Finished class, and snacked on some jerky as I walked half a mile to the train stop to realize I’d just missed the earlier train and would now have a 20 minute wait for the next one right next to the highway with all the noise and blowing debris kicked up by the cars. Gross and loud. The transfer to a bus went smoothly and was uneventful all the way home… by 1:15pm. Three hours of commute time for a one hour class.

Wednesday:
I again chose podcasts as my form of entertainment and this was again a good idea. I left my house by 11:40 am to catch a 11:49 bus… it never showed (or maybe it arrived at this stop early so I was SOL in spite of being there more than five minutes early). I looked on the live update system and realized that the next arriving bus would make me late to the train and thus late to class so I ended up running .75 miles to get to the train and arrived with one minute to spare. Nothing like climbing onto an air conditioned train when you’re literally a hot mess from having run in 90 degree weather carrying your pilates mat and a water bottle. Transferred to the free mall ride and then arrived to class on time/early. Whew. For my ride home I had two bus options I could use based on which one arrived first- so convenient. The ride home was uneventful and I made it inside by 2:40 pm. Two hours of commute time for a one hour class.

Y’all. Y’ALL. This public transportation stuff is not for the faint of heart! It’s wildly inconvenient, horribly inconsistent, horribly run and utterly confusing. I am a well-educated, intelligent, savvy individual and I’m finding that it’s HARD to use public transportation.

All of my commutes have me on the bus/train etc during normal ‘lunch times’ so I’m going to be navigating easy to eat, transportable meals that I can eat quickly while waiting on my bus or train because I can’t eat or drink on the conveyance. Mildly inconvenient, but in and of itself a reasonable problem to solve. Added in to these other challenges and frankly… using public transportation is exhausting. My need for routine and schedule is showing.

Each of my travel days requires using different combinations of train and bus to get where I’m going. I’m in the process of getting a crash course of 3-5 bus routes and 2-4 train routes to successfully get to and from where I need to go and arriving on time (but not insanely early when it can be avoided). I’ve learned that a variety of stops and transfers are also necessary to my commute. There’s this constant alertness required rather than a peaceful zone-out. My need for control is showing.

Also, people are gross. There was trash left at every stop in spite of multiple trash receptacles. Multiple pieces of trash left on conveyances… And then there’s the unwashed bodies, smokers, legal and illegal substance aromas and exhaust smells. My introversion is showing.

My privilege is showing.

I was hoping to be able to convey these things in a humorous way, but I’m finding it’s striking all these empathy cords in me for people who only have this option for transportation. There were people stranded on Friday that were seriously stranded until the train started again or a shuttle was provided. And RTD was giving NO ETAs on either option.

I knew that at any moment I could call a Lyft/Uber etc and get home. But I really wasn’t in a hurry and knew that if Jeremy needed to rescue me we could turn it into a moderately convenient run to the grocery store. He’d have to drive 20+ minutes out of his way to get to me, but we could redeem the trip. There were people there that didn’t have this option.

And today, again, if necessary I could have requested a Lyft/Uber to get downtown, but dang it. I really want this system to work. I want the peaceful commute where I read or listen to a podcast while someone else transports me. I’m just finding there’s a bit more angst in my heart over how this is going than originally anticipated. And I’m finding that it’s a much harder system for people to rely on than originally anticipated.

How do people who rely on public transportation systems out of necessity full time survive? Maybe no one else is using as many combinations of buses and trains? Or maybe it’s only Denver’s system that is this bad?

Basically my newest part-time hobby is commuting to my pilates classes. And a season of growth that I wasn’t expecting. Please Lord Jesus can we have a second car soon?

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You make me brave 

I would probably be one of the first to avoid adding the descriptor of creative to myself. In fact I typically applaud myself for ‘borrowing creativity from others’. I enjoy giving credit where it is due, but this is more of a self-deprecating statement than an authorship issue.

I’ve spent a good portion of the last two years working out creative muscles I’ve long neglected.

Today I listened to an episode on The Happy Hour with a creativity ninja. She encouraged trying new things. And encouraged everyone to acknowledge their creative nature. I mean hello, daughter of the Creator of the world. Scary realization to press into there.

So I’m flexing some atrophied creative muscles over here and practicing lettering. And doing something that scares me and makes my heart race just a little. 

Happy Anniversary

Today is our fifth wedding anniversary. Five years ago today we gathered in a garden to commit our lives to each other before God and witnesses. Our rose garden was gorgeous. All of the flowers were blooming, it was truly magical, as if God himself acted as our gardener.

Before our ceremony, Jeremy and I visited the garden a few times to make sure it was beautiful. I remember someone asking if we would be decorating our ‘venue.’ As we were getting married in a garden, I answered, “no, there would be no need”.

Then every year on our anniversary, while we lived in Lynchburg, we would head down to the rose garden to re-visit our ceremony location. Every year I remember wondering if I imagined how beautiful the garden looked on our wedding day, because every year after the blooms were so few.

I’m so grateful for the gift of a beautiful garden for our wedding day.

I’ve been reminded today about activities in gardens in Scripture.

The first love story: Adam and Eve- they met and were married in a garden, the Garden of Eden

The greatest love story: Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and his journey to the cross began at the garden.

In Revelation there will be a new garden and there will be the river of the water of life and the tree of life in this garden. I love how God gives us images that we can connect to in part, even if we only have the shadow or a faint echo of the image until He fully reveals his plan. I have no idea how beautiful this new garden will look. I know that the previous images of gardens and beauty will pale in comparison.

I’m so grateful our story has a strong connection to a beautiful garden and I am greatly anticipating the day where I’ll attend the marriage feast of the Lamb and enjoy the beautiful garden when He makes all things new.

Blackened Fish Tacos

Blackened Fish Tacos

I added a little sugar to the crust to ensure that it gets blackened and caramelized. The sweetness also balances nicely with the spices.

Serves 4

4 white fish fillets (such as halibut or tilapia), about 5 ounces each
Salt and ground black pepper
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil

Season both sides of fish fillets with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine sugar, paprika, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Mix well to combine spices. Rub spices all over fish fillets.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish and cook 2-3 minutes per side, until fork-tender and blackened. Pull fish apart into 2-inch pieces and serve in tacos with desired fillings.

Read more at: http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/2011/11/22/robins-healthy-take-taco-tuesday/?oc=linkback

Chipotle-Lime Chicken Taco Salad, Week 4

This is definitely my current favorite Cook Smarts meal. I love the flavor, simplicity and time it takes to make this dish! Basically, you mix the marinade/sauce- use half of it on the chicken as a marinade and half you add some sour cream and use it as a dressing! The biggest chunk of time on this meal is waiting 30 minutes (up to overnight) on the marinade!

Avocados, fresh tomatoes, tortilla chips, our favorite bibb lettuce- yes please!

Marinate the chicken in a spicy chipotle pepper, adobo and lime sauce- yes please!

They are really as good as they look- now that’s a plate of nachos!

One of us added cheese!

I tried to get the perfect combination of chip, chicken, tomato half, lettuce and avocado in every bite!

Tofu and mushroom lettuce wraps and pineapple coconut smoothie-Week 4 of Cook Smarts

This was really delicious! Apparently I was a bit scattered in making sure I had all of the ingredients out before I took my before shot, so you get two photos of the “before”. (That’s what I get for multi-tasking in the kitchen again!)

This beautiful line up along with the peanut butter became my peanut sauce. I love knowing exactly what is going into my sauces! I can adjust the heat, the salt, the acidity, the sweetness, everything myself and that is a power I do not take lightly!

Oh, crunchy peanut butter and peanuts, sure, why not!?  

I really appreciate being able to use more of the bag of frozen peas and carrots on this dish! Have I mentioned how much I appreciate the reduction in waste while using Cook Smarts! Even something as simple as a $1.00 frozen bag of vegetables being incorporated into multiple meals in the week!

Our thoughts and impressions:

~the pineapple and coconut smoothie was delicious, but we’re not big smoothie drinkers so, take it or leave it.
~we would prefer a creamy peanut butter and foregoing the peanuts
~I needed to squeeze more water out of the tofu so it crisped properly in the pan
~Mung bean threads or a wide egg noodle would be a marvelous addition to this dish.
~We’d definitely make this again with the aforementioned changes.

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Shepherds Pie-Cook Smarts Week 4

I’m wildly excited to be using Cook Smarts still. 4 weeks of fantastic experiences in the kitchen. Spoilers: Neither of us loved this dish in the “please repeat” category, but both of us were delighted to eat it. One of the most intimidating parts of the meal planning process for me is hoping we both enjoy the meal. I put a lot of emotional investment into my choices that ultimately I set myself up for disappointments. Cook Smarts has taken this emotional component out of the equation. We both agreed that as often as possible I will cook from their menu. If there’s a dish that both of us are really, genuinely uninterested in, I might skip, but unless this happens I will be cooking from the menu.

We discovered that while the flavors of this dish were really well done, and everything was cooked properly, neither of us are interested in eating it again. However, I thought this would make a fantastic meal-to-share with anyone who enjoys “meat and potato” type meals or particularly loves shepherd’s pie. Also, this dish would freeze really well. If you make meals for families and want a gluten-free, non-dairy dish that’s hearty and comforting, this might be your meal. (To make it dairy free I subbed non-dairy sour cream and just skipped the butter).

Shepherd’s Pie seasoning mix: so yum!

Freshly chopped onions, yummy tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce.  

The before photo!

That’s a lot of food in that side profile! 

Apparently I misread the directions because I was supposed to have chopped green onion pieces left to sprinkle over the top, oh well!