(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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On Traveling part 2: 2-3 days before travel

Now that we’re on the other side of our 18 months of travel adventures, here are more of my thoughts and top tips.

2-3 days before travel:

I like to:

1) evaluate my food in the fridge and try to get creative with my meals so when it’s time to empty out the fridge I’m wasting as little as possible.

Throwing away food is probably the hardest part about a nomadic/traveling lifestyle. I learned that eggs  (scrambled), and bacon freeze- tear a section of freezer paper and lay out the slices so they don’t touch, roll/flip the freezer paper so each pieces is by itself and tuck into a gallon zip top bag. So if I knew a trip was impending I’d buy bacon for our breakfasts instead of sausage.

Another side note: effective meal planning really helps ensure my fridge had ‘just enough’ when I was ready to depart. The rhythm of having an almost empty fridge at the end of every week was super wonderful. (Cook Smarts for the win, again!

2) evaluate my laundry situation and make sure anything that needs extra drying time is washed and ready

There’s nothing like finding out while I’m packing that an item I really need is in the dirty bin.

3) check on my toiletries and refill items that are low.

Also these face cloths are magical. They start out dry which means I’m packing less fluids! And they are way too big so I cut them in quarters! Cost savings and less waste!


4)identify my snack needs on the airplane, in airports and the first day or two in a new location. We’ve had a wide range of arrival times which means it may be longer before I can get to a grocery store in our destination city. Buying or prepping snacks is always a preferred way for me to travel. (And it’s less expensive than airline/airport foods.)

I found I really enjoyed traveling with tea bags. I know many places have tea, but comfort wins over convince on this issue. Also, on a similar note, I like to travel with oatmeal. The packets are nice, but I prefer the bowl packages because I can usually track down a spoon and hot water easily. I’m pretty sure I tried every brand of oatmeal that was dairy free and they’re all good.

What do you like to do 2-3 days out from travels?

 

DC Trip Day 3

Shopping at Tyson’s Corner Center

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Trying on running skirts.

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A trip to the National Zoo

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lioness’

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The lion.

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Total steps for the day: 6 miles

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DC Trip: NGA Sculptures

I’m so delighted and amazed by the work of artists. I can’t even begin to fathom how one starts with a piece of rock or slab of stone and chips and chisels away at it until a form emerges. And to create a form that appears to move is even more breathtaking.

I love the imagery in this piece by Rogers, her face, how she listens, the movement of her dress, her walking stick. There’s so much motion and intensity to her stance. The marble looks so soft and smooth. I really wanted to touch it.

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This next piece has such power, raw intensity, and aggression to it. I’m awed by the power of the big cats. The strength in their muscles, but also the speed of the antelope. The times I’ve read about both animals I’m amazed at how God designed the cycle of their lives to coincide and coexist beautifully. The taking of life gives life to the consumer.

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The God of the universe holds me in His hands. I can’t imagine how big God’s hands are, but I love the beauty conveyed in this sculpture of God’s hands being larger than my frame and holding me.

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This next piece is a favorite of both Jeremy and myself.

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There are many more sculptures that we enjoyed that aren’t pictured, but honestly, these images do not even convey the majesty that is seeing these pieces for yourself.

If you haven’t been to NGA before we highly recommend going!

DC Trip: Food

On Friday evening we met up with a couple from Lynchburg to enjoy dinner at Sweetwater Tavern. Jeremy ordered an incredible salmon dish with potatoes and genuine “potato chips”.

20130915-075311.jpgNicole’s dish was half a roasted chicken with incredible spices and potatoes. Delicious.

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On Saturday and Sunday morning we had breakfast at the hotel (lame but economical) and coffee at a local coffee shop called Java Shack. I think one of my favorite features of traveling is local cuisine. The Java shack was a fun experience.

We spent the day in the city exploring The National Gallery of Art, an LA Galaxy vs DC United soccer game and Crate and Barrel. Interspersed throughout the day we stopped for foods!

For lunch on Saturday we found a Spanish Tapas restaurant called: La Tasca. As per our habit we chose three dishes that sounded both decadent and delicious. We were not disappointed!

20130915-075515.jpg Three tapas dishes:

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A brief snapshot of a portion of the menu: Codornices Rellenas was one of the dishes we chose!
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As we planned our trip to DC our 3 “musts” included eating dinner at Lebanese Taverna so this was our destination Saturday evening. By the time we arrived at our destination, my phone was almost dead and our feet were pretty numb from our excessive amounts of walking. I ‘might’ have almost fallen asleep at the table.

I chose the Chef’s sampler of a variety of Lebanese dishes and Jeremy chose a lamb dish that was phenomenal. The bread dip was thyme and sesame seed. We do love a delectable bread dip!

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The ambiance and decor was incredibly peaceful and we had probably the best service we’ve ever had in a restaurant. IMG 0350

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DC Trip Day 2

On our way to find coffee.

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One of our favorite stores: Crate & Barrel. His chair:

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Her chairs option 1

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Option 2

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Travels= shopping. We love Banana Republic. They have sweaters for cold travelers.

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A beautiful flower in the middle of a concrete jungle.

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NGA:

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My absolute favorite piece. The story of God’s protection and grace.

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Lunch at La Tasca (see post) and dinner at Lebanese Taverna for that matter.

Futbol game with LA Galaxy and DC United. 2-2!

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Lots and lots of time on the metro platforms and on the metro!

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We’re convinced we walked a total of 10 miles, my phone turned off a few times so even though it says 8.4 miles we’re claiming 10.

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DC trip day 1

Our bags are packed and ready to travel…

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Our departures were delayed a bit so we determined that officially our travels began at Givens with a delicious lunch. I ran 10 miles Friday morning and so my lunch was consumed quickly and with exuberance!

20130914-090655.jpgWe ate dinner at Sweetwater Tavern with friends from Lynchburg. My friend and I run together so we rarely see each other dressed up!

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I’ve been using the app “Moves” and I kept it on for our travels. I love the summary bubbles it gives along with the timeline.

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At the end of the day we were so excited to contemplate our travels on the morrow!