Tuesday, August 28, 2012


By Liz

Changes to come with King County Metro.  In the coming months the new and improved Rapid Ride will replace two busy bus lines in Seattle.  As you may recall I’ve touched on the packed bus issues.  I am excited that one of the two lines that begin in fall of 2012 is my very own bus line that I ride most of the time.  Not only do we get new fancy coaches, the metro promises the busses will come every 10 minutes during peak time and 15 minutes in off-peak hours. 

King County Metro Rapid Ride

The red and yellow will be a stand out change from the green busses that populate the Seattle streets.  These swanky transits will offer three doors for embarking and disembarking the bus.  In the past few months the stops construction to revamp the bus stops has been in full swing.  The newly constructed stations will have a pay before you board option and a signal to let the bus driver know someone is waiting at the stop.   This will be great for the winter months when the sun sets at 4:30 pm…   More fancy dancy technology that is on board will trigger red lights to  turn green sooner and green lights to stay green longer so the bus can keep on truckin’ along.  I’m very excited for this to start and hope that it’s not all just hype. 

In the meantime on the other side of the globe in Dresden, Germany the worlds longest bus has just been unvailed.  This monster makes our busses look like Fiats. The Autoram Extra Grand will be riding along at 98 feet long, that is just shy of a football field.  This mini train will hold 256 passengers.  With the aid of a computer the driver will be able to make those tough turns a bit easier.  This was a solution for the city that cost much less than a commuter rail would.  For my fellow Seattleites it seems as though we could use a few of these 5 axel machines around town too. 

Autoram Extra Grand

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ticket to Ride

By Jamie

When my husband was renewing his tabs on his motorcycle and truck he got these two little gems. 

What the heck does this have to do with the bus?  Well, for the next two years (beginning in June 2012) each household who renews tabs will be able to get 8 free tickets from King County Metro.  I was like, oh hell yeah!  I have an Orca card, so I don’t personally need them, but it sure is handy to have some “spares” so I can take a friend along, or better yet a husband.J  Obviously they are trying to give incentive to those who rarely ride, because they have the convenience of their car/truck/motorcycle.  I think that is great!  They expire between 60-90 days from when you receive them, which is not awesome since like most of my coupons I usually let things with short expiration dates expire.  BUT…you can also choose to have your 8 tickets donated to King County human services (wish that wasn’t so vague).  Donating your tickets may be critical in the coming months as the “Ride Free Zone” (which is roughly downtown Seattle) is coming to an end September 29, 2012.  That means that lots of low income/homeless folks are going to have to fork out $2.50 to ride the bus a short distance; people who live on the streets and need access to essential services such as the Urban Rest Stop or soup kitchens or health and mental health care or food banks.  I know, I know tough choices need to be made in today’s economic climate, but this one just makes me cringe. 

The one thing I’m not loving about this new incentive program is that you get one set of tickets per household, not per registered car.  But please, if you don’t like riding the bus, don’t think you’d do it in a 60-90 day window please consider taking a minute or two to fill out this little yellow sheet (they have a simple box where you can check to have them donated) and mail it to Metro.  That’s 8 people who may be able to make it to their housing appointment so they can get subsidized housing or to their pharmacy to get needed medication or to the Urban Rest Stop to take a shower and wash their clothes…more or less to do the things that you and I may take for granted.  That’s my one plea…if you can use them great, if not please don’t let this little yellow slip go to waste it could mean a lot to less fortunate King County residents.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tryin' to keep up a smile that hides the tears

By Liz

‘Riding Along… wearing the Face of false Bravado…’ This was a text that I received from my Dad this weekend as he was checking in to see how I was doing.   I knew from his kind understanding that my Mom had shared with him what happened to me earlier this week on a bus ride home.  

It all started a last Sunday when I woke up and as I usually do right away, I checked my Facebook news feed like most of the social media consious do these days.   I was up a little earlier than usual because I was waiting for my friends to arrive at my house to depart on a day trip full of sun and tubing on the Wenatchee River in Levenworth, WA.   The first thing that registured on my feed that Sunday was sad news that Ronnie White had passed away from a heart attack earlier that morning. 

I had met Ronnie over 11 years ago, my first summer as a camp counselor at Camp Chatuga, in Mountain Rest, SC.  Ronnie was camp pillar with many years of serving as the Camp Chef.  Famously known by campers, counselors, and parents for his delicious fried chicken.  We also bonded over his love of the soap opera The Young and the Restless that I happened to grow up on because it was my Mom and Grandmama’s favorite too!    Ronnie was a hard worker with a  fun spirit.  I enjoyed the sessions and times I got to work with him in the kitchen.   I also enjoyed sitting on the porch rocking chairs and catching up in the summers that I visited after haning up my counselor hat.  

That Sunday on the river I found myself surrounded by friends and yet did not feel like sharing my sad news.   I knew they would be supportive, but I did not really want to think all that much about it.   I was surrounded by memories of camp and all the happy good times.  The settings along the Wenatchee River reminded me of tubing along the Chattooga River near camp.  I could tell that I was not letting myself get too deep into thought about the sad news.  Avoidance maybe?  Or denial, possibly?  The day was long and after the extra traffic on the road with weekend warriors returning to the city, I was worn out and feel a sleep shortly after my head hit the pillow.  Followed by an extra busy Monday, I had not had a chance to be alone with my thoughts. 

That busy escapism did not last as long as I may had hoped.  Having to wait a bit longer for the later bus to arrive, I found myself on a rare ride where there were plenty of seats at the back of the bus.   Sitting down next to a lady engrossed in her book, it only took about 2 minutes of chugging along Elliot Bay to have the weight of the sad news came crashing down on me.  As I sat there with my sunglasses on, my chin began to quiver as the loss truly hit me.  Trying my best not to openly cry, very aware that 15 strangers surrounded me.  I’m not sure if any of these strangers caught my moments of mourning a dear old friend. I hope to remember this moment for the next time I find myself a witness to someone’s reminiscence.

As for my Dad’s text, he was quoting a line from an Hall and Oats song Baby Come Back.  Now the song is about a loss in another way than of my dear friend Ronnie, but the line he quotes resonates with that feeling we all have when we lose someone dear to our hearts.  All day long, wearing a mask of false bravado Tryin' to keep up a smile that hides the tears But as the sun goes down, I get that empty feeling again How I wish to God that you were here.’

Ronnie, there will always be a place for you in my heart.  You are missed and may you rest in peace. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back of my neck gettin' dirty & gritty

By Jamie

Yeah I got that song in my head....Hot town summer in the city, back of my neck gettin' dirty & gritty". 

I feel like I've been a trooper with this whole bus thing.  I only give myself one drive in a week (but happily accept an occasion ride from my hubby or Liz) and I'm usually pretty good.  I have taken a positive attitude and really on a scale of 1-10 I give bus riding a 8, maybe 8.5.   It saves a ton of money, is good for the ol' mother earth (lord knows I find plenty of ways to increase my almighty "foot print") and isn't difficult (at first I wrote easy, but lets not go that far!).  But some days I'm over it!

Today was one of them.  What was the culprit?  Those who live in Seattle might be able to guess.  Heat.  Today it was 87 degrees.  I'm a heat weenie.  But like me there are a lot Seattleites that feel the same way.  We are the kings and queens of fleece, Gore-Tex and the all important skill of layering.  What happens when you reach you're final layer and you're still hot?   Not to mention I don't have a ton of those clothes that are "work appropriate", in fact I probably have 2 outfits I feel public appropriate.  

First, the wait.  Lucky for me there is a shade tree that I can take refuge in for the 10 or less minutes I wait for the bus.  It’s nice, but I don’t get a chance to cool down…I just don’t get much hotter.  I can only imagine what that 10 minutes will feel like on the upcoming day which is forecasted to be 95 (and thank goodness I’ll be on a little vaca, so imagine is all I’ll have to do with this heat wave).  Then it’s on to the bus.  Only 30% of KC Metro Buses are air conditioned, but apparently since 2000 all new orders for buses include a/c.  I’ve noticed that the coaches on my route are generally older (not old), so generally no a/c…I know, I know, it’s only a real problem maybe 10 days out of the year.  I take my seat at the front of the bus and try to read and ignore the sun blazing through the window.  And on hot days I’m a skirt/dress wearer. So all you ladies know what that means.  Yup, them backs of my thighs get nice and sweaty pressed up against the plastic seat (which, btw, there is a song by Southern Culture on the Skids called, what else “Plastic Seat Sweat” and it pretty much nails it!).  Which means that I get the oh so pleasant RRRRRRIIIIIIIPPPPPP as I try to gracefully stand up and my skin wants to stay with the plastic. 
How good does this look.  And for the record my adorable bulldog is afraid of ice, so this is not her:)

 Hot bus rides wipe me out.  I will drive on any 90+ days, I’ll even park in the lot that cost $1 more a day because I know my car will be in the shade after about 12pm.  Whether you love this hot weather or hate it…stay cool!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tick Tock...

By Liz

Time, that fickle friend, some days and weeks time is totally on my side.  These past few weeks I wonder what unspeakable thing I did to Father Time to make him so perturbed with me.  On a good day I have plenty of time to accomplish my tasks, make the bus to work on time and be an all around productive member of society.  In the past week or so I seem to be off a beat so to speak.  Is this just a time slip? Let’s hope so. 

In the past week or so, my mornings never really seemed to click and time would just pass by before I could accomplish all my tasks.  I kept missing bus after bus and was cutting it way to close to make it to work in a not quite on time state.  I was in this constant Jessie Spano fritz “There’s Never Enough Time” moments where I would almost start breaking down into singing “I’m so Excited, I’m so, I’m so….” Bawling into Zach Morris’s arms because I had popped one to many caffeine pills.  Oh Save by the Bell, you are a long time companion to this kid.  Anyhoo, don’t worry I did not pop caffeine pills, Starbucks did it’s job this week keeping me caffeinated.  

Time is not on my side the therefore, I have a few choice words for Father Time this week.  FT, first off, what’s up with the long soup catcher?   I actually imagine Father Time on the top of a skyscraper in a large metropolis.  One that has a big clock tower.  You can see it right.  There are cool gargoyles with long beards like Father Time.   Inside his timeshare loft he has floor to ceiling clocks everywhere.  Grandfather clocks, Cuckoo clocks, hourglasses, pendulums, carriage clocks, you name it he’s got it.  This room reminds me of Captain Hook's nemesis the Tick Tock of the clock in Never Never Land. 

Does FT play with us and his timekeeping devices just like a kid with legos?   Us mere humans walk around with translucent clocks above our heads that only FT can see.  We’re just going through our days and depending on how sadistic or sardonic FT wants to be, he’ll toy with us.   Look at Liz, she’s in a hurry… Let’s see how she handles it when I tweak her clock and speed up her time today.  Muhahahaha….. This is so much fun.  What do we have here?  Yes, a room full of people waiting at the local DMV.  Now I’ll slow their clocks down to make time pass in the slowest way possible.  Muhahahaha.

FT you need to work on your laugh, it’s not nearly maniacal enough.  Well, this week it feels as though FT is a villain out of a fairy tale.  Realistically, FT is probably an sweet old man that just putz through years in a never ending loop. 

Anyhoo, to sum up my issues with time and the bus here is a run down.  In the past week I’ve watched 4 busses that I had intended to be on fly by as I was waiting to cross the street to get to the stop.  I misunderstood a bus route and ended up waiting and getting on at the wrong spot which meant waiting around for 30 minutes for the next one to make it’s way to the stop I should have been at all along.   There seemed to be about 932 other issues that I cannot remember well and frankly don’t want to bore you too much!

So, now I’ll go home and hopefully reset my clock.  I will not confirm or deny that vodka may be part of this clock resetting, but I will say chances are high.   Tomorrow is a brand new day an FT will be on my side eventually.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Crazy Bus

By Liz

No, not a bus full of crazies, but an actual Crazy Bus...  In many of my posts I refer to some of my bus rides as a amusement park ride or adventure.  With our friend the internet I decided to take a look and see if there were any actuall amusement rides or close to it for this weeks post.  You’re in luck.  At Adventure City in Anaheim, California there is a ride called Crazy Bus. (pictured below).


Digging deeper I found that the company that makes Crazy Bus (Zamperla) has made over 200 of these for small parks and carnivals around the world.  Take a look at this double decker version. 

The same company makes this special theme one too. 

Maybe if I close my eyes next time I'm on the bus I can imagine being on one of these rides.  Has anyone ever riden one of these?   Next time I'm at a amusement park or carnival I will have to keep my eye out for the Crazy Bus. 


Friday, August 3, 2012

Greyhound (and not the yummy drink type)

By Jamie

In honor of me making my last installment on my 10 year student loan I thought I’d go back to my college days, the days I attended University of Oregon.  Namely, my freshman year when I was the typical college student who lived in the dorm and managed with out a car.  I don’t remember living with out a car to be that horrible…seemed like I got around fine.  That’s maybe the only perk to living on campus, cause it sure wasn’t the spacious rooms or the awesome showers. 

To travel back to Seattle from Eugene the only reasonable mode of transportation was to ride the good ol’ Greyhound.  I hated travelling that way, but I was so home sick I braved the 6 hour ride.  On these rides I met some very interesting people that I’ll never forget.   Like this one girl, I’d say she was 21 to my 18.  The leg from Eugene to Portland was packed, so we sat side by side sharing stories.  I was in awe of her “of age”-ness.  A real adult talking to ME!  Wow.  We got to the Portland station which is MUCH nicer than either the Eugene station or the Seattle station (which really isn’t saying much).  She offered to step outside and share a joint with me.  Hell yeah!  At that age I loved smoking pot with random strangers.  It was fun, I felt like a rebel.  I love how the evening lights of Portland really started to shimmer.  We hung some more and then oh my god, I started feeling so sick.  Like I was gonna puke.  I must have went completely white…my new friend looked at me with concern.  Oh crap!  I didn’t want to pass out (which I’ve always been prone to do), I did not want to draw any attention to me.  I’m sure this gal thought “Great…look what happens when I smoke w/a light weight”.  And let it be known, I was not…I was living in Eugene after all. But she dropped me like a hot potato, more like a sick potato.   Luckily on the Portland to Seattle leg I got my own seat to stretch out.  At the end of the journay, though, it was me avoiding my gal pal.  I remembered her telling me she was sleeping in the bus station…and I didn’t want her on my couch.

My other favorite memory is short.  I can’t remember what leg, what trip…I had to be heading southbound.  At some point I got a seatmate.  He was, oh I would guess in this early 50’s.  Happy to chat to acute young girl, I’m sure.  He was headed to L.A.  He was going to be staying with his friend who is a pimp.  Hmmmm…But what I remember more than anything is him telling me “I only get horny when I’m stoned”.  And I was hoping and praying he wasn’t or didn’t want to invite me at our next stop (yeah, so maybe I smoked with strangers, but not creepy strangers…my parents would be proud!). 

Who doesn’t have a Greyhound story?  I hear the buses are nicer,  and sometimes it’s the only option people have to travel.  I’m grateful that my parents let me take my car to college the next year and I never had to ride it again.  Guess Greyhound riding is a rite of passage for college students!