Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Big wheels go on the bus

Day two riding the bus. I'm tired. I didn't want to get out of bed this morning. I'm sure it is due to the fact that since Friday when we moved in, I've been up and working 18 hours a day. There just doesn't seem time to sit and think much. Which makes the bus ride fairly relaxing.

First, I need to just state for the record that I really thought my first day of bus commuting yesterday was going to be my last. It was a glorious Alaska day - sunny and warm. I bolted out of the office just before 4 and headed to the bus stop in downtown, just cruising. I pushed it a bit when I realized that I could possibly hop on the 4:05 bus if I hauled my ass down the trail, but quickly realized that if I were to do that, I'd end up getting there just as the bus was getting ready to pull out and would likely upset my fellow riders by holding them up while I loaded the bike.

So I just cruised the rest of the way, still making the ride with time to spare. When it is beautiful out, it's not bad waiting for the bus to come. I mean, it's summer! What's not to love?

As I get ready to pull my bike onto the bus, the driver gets out of his seat and let's me know he's going to teach me how to load my bike and then I'm on my own from that point forward. He takes my bike, runs it up the aisle, bashing other passengers with my panniers, and man-handles it into the rear exit door space before tightly bungie-ing it to the door so it won't fall over. Getting it off at the end of the ride was a bit of a trick, as it just fits into the exit space and requires some maneuvering to disengage. With the bike there, my hands are free so I could, if I wanted, take my laptop with me and use the ride to work. But who really wants to do that? I do think that as winter comes along and the ride to and from the stop starts taking longer and I start teaching again that I will likely have no choice but to bring work with me rather than a book.

All was good until, just past Eagle River a driver ahead of us stopped short due to a clogging of the highway. The bus driver must not have been paying attention as well as he should have and had to slam on the brakes. The folks in the side-facing seats were thrown forward and into each other and the rest of us got a nice little wake up call. Fortunately we narrowly avoided rear-ending the car ahead of us, but I'm sure the driver was more than just a little freaked seeing a huge wall of steel and glass come to a stop just inches from his rear end.

And the people on the bus are always interesting - the couple, maybe married, maybe not, with the man sleeping hunched over with his head on the woman's lap; the older lady crocheting a blanket for someone special or maybe just passing the time the only way she knows how; the middle manager types thumb-typing the whole way on their Blackberries or iPhones; the construction workers with scuffed boots and weather beaten skin; the guy who looks homeless, but probably is a prospecting millionaire. There are multitudes of untold stories there.

The ride home last night convinced me that I need to simplify my riding kit. Normally I roll with two panniers - one for clothes and one for my lunch, coffee, a rain jacket, my tool kit, and anything else I think I might need for the ride. In the winter the ride kit grows to such a size that I strap on a Revelate Viscasha bag where I store tubes, a bit of grub, an extra puffy jacket, extra gloves and hat, a lighter, and other detritus. In summer that kit seems a bit extreme, but even more so now that I need to be aware of the limits of the bus and getting my loaded up ride into the bus without bashing other passengers and worked into the exit aisle.

Today, in an effort to simplify, I was able to get everything tucked into a single bag. I've also decided to leave some things at work instead of carrying them with me daily, such as my water bottle, underwear, and socks. I'm still trying to decide if I need to carry a rain jacket with me everyday or if I should just take it when it is raining or looks like rain. Last summer, when it seemed to rain all the time, it generally, according to my flawed memory, rained all day rather than starting out as a nice day and then raining later. If that's the case, I shouldn't need a rain jacket unless it is raining. But my memory is getting shorter and shorter with old age and the weather in Anchorage is often quite different than in the Valley. I guess I still have a bit more to learn about this whole multimodal life.

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