So today I was going to provide a pithy list of my favorite commuting gear and explain why I can't live without these items, how they make the commute a bit better, and all that non-sense.
However, things change. Instead, today I want to talk about transportation planning and schedules.
See, Alaska's lack of any kind of transportation planning makes it such that any minor disturbance in the traffic flowing out of Anchorage causes near gridlock.
Anchorage is likely quite unique in that there are only two roads that enter/exit the city. One from the north and one from the south. The southerly road won't get you too terribly far. The northern route can. So, two roads. Yet, the traffic on those roads during the drive time is quite heavy. Heavy to the point that even on a good day it is bumper to bumper and can become stop and go quite quickly.
So, let's think of someone who has high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, and plaque buildup. The artery has only a set volume which it can handle even in the best of conditions and most of the time it handles the volume with little incident. However, constrict that artery even a little bit due to plaque build up or increase the pressure a bit and the whole works comes crashing to a dead stop. Yup, that's the exit route from Anchorage. An overweight, middle-aged man who's been eating fried foods his whole life.
So, when something happens on the road during drive time, it stops everything up even though there are three lanes of traffic. Such was the case last night. I hopped the 4:30 bus and as we made it to the highway, past the last traffic light of Anchorage, the standard and customary hauling of ass never occurred. Instead the bus stopped. And started. And stopped again. I was engrossed in a book, so didn't pay too much attention. Until we came to a complete standstill and I looked up to see that we were awash in a sea of stopped cars and not even to the Muldoon exit yet. Damn.
The thing is, I didn't have anything pressing going on at home. Didn't have to be anywhere. Had a good book and plenty of juice in my iPod. But after getting out the door at 5:20 AM, I just wanted to be done for the day, wanted to turn off. Wanted to see my wife and kids. Basically, I didn't want to continue to sit and sweat on a bus full of strangers. It was a glorious day out, but in the bus... well, if you've ever been on a bus when it's hot out, you know.
Eventually I make it home, 12 and a half hours later, or so, I'm home. A long day indeed.
But the commuting adventures don't end there. This morning I head out the door about 5:26 AM and start making my way to the bus stop, figuring that I'll get there after the bus has already arrived and I'll be able to just get my seat and load up the bike and all will be well with the world.
When I come down the hill and see the bus stop I don't see the big pink bus. "This is odd" I think to myself. It was 5:43. The bus is always there before I am. I'm not sure what time he normally gets there, but definitely before 5:43.
I pull up at the stop, pull my bag off the bike, and wait. I look at my watch at 5:50 and the bus isn't there. The bus is supposed to pull out at 5:55. Something's up. 5:55 comes and goes and no bus. Eventually the 6:00 AM bus arrives. No one at the bus company knows where the driver of the 5:55 bus is. He just didn't show up today.
The 6:00 AM bus is packed. As I was second in line, I was able to get a seat, but the last gentleman on board had to stand for the ride as every seat was taken.
And here's a question - Why is it that certain people who ride public conveyance of any sort, feel that they have to commander as much room around themselves as possible? The dude sitting next to me this AM sat the entire ride with his legs spread just as widely as he could, pushing me into the wheel well to the point where I couldn't move without bumping into him. Dude - give a guy a break. I don't have any hard and fast personal space issues, but I like to be able to at least shift my weight a bit without rubbing legs with some guy I've never met before.
And now for something completely unrelated - have a ball.