Category Archives: bus

Patience with Huntington

There are challenges in every city in America and beyond. Sometimes I get very short sighted and focus on my angst with Huntington, WV. The city has a failing infrastructure that is taking a lot of time to fund and repair. One of the unique features in this town are the aqua-ducts or via-ducts. They are roads that were cut to go under the rail road tracks that run on the level ground. When we get a heavy rain, like we did very early this morning, they fill with water so quickly cars can get trapped and the water can’t get drained away (The details are in the link above).

This morning Brent had intended to walk the children directly to school but London wanted to take the bus, so he obliged her. They left at 7:20AM for a bus that was schedule to arrive at 7:50 and didn’t arrive till 8:10. The via-ducts were full of water and the buses had to find other ways around. Brent called me from the school at 8:22 to report they just arrived, London forgot her lunch and our friends would be taking the children to school all next week. I know he was frustrated.

I am frustrated too. The bus was working out OK when it was only a couple minutes late (the very first day), but the inconsistencies and the forces of nature are too hard on the start of the children’s school day. We were not the only ones on that bus trying to get to school this week either. Every day I rode there was another mother and son going to Spring Hill Elementary. I don’t know what time their tardy bell rings, but if it was 8:00AM, they were late most days too. I wonder how many other Huntington families rely on the TTA for school transportation?

There was an opinion piece in our local Herald Dispatch newspaper this summer about how we can all help with the storm water issues. If you live here, I suggest taking some of Bill’s advice (we have). In the mean time, we are going to go forward with our car pooling plan to get the children to school.

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A Different School Commute

 

Miles Walked: 16.8 Biked: 25.3 Bused: 8.4 Drove: 3.6 This week
16.8 25.3 8.4 3.6 Since August 14, 2011

 

There must be something in my nature, or the way I was nurtured, but I don’t like to do the same things twice. Not in exactly the same way. Be it cooking, reading, or traveling, I enjoy a little twist, or the discovery of something new because I did something different. I feel that there are so many things to learn and experience that it’s worth trying as many as I can. This sense of adventure comes and goes, but it’s fully active now. I am feeling energized to make this car-free month one worth writing about.

 

If you haven’t had enough of our back and forth to school, read on my friends, read on. Otherwise, check out Let’s Go Ride a Bike, where our family and Huntington were mentioned in their Summer Games contest today.

 

How They Got There

Brent walked the children and his bike to the bus stop this morning and rode with them to school. This was his first bus ride in Huntington since 2007 or 08. He spent last night looking at videos on how to load his bike onto the bus bike rack. Very techno nerdy, but he felt more confident this morning. It never occurred to me that there would be videos, but there are many many of them, except of course, on our very own TTA site. Once the children were at school, about 8:06AM today, he rode to work down Norway which turned into 20th Street.

 

“Chaotic” sidewalk on Wiltshire.

 

Note: Wednesday is garbage pick up day.

 

Hard to find shade with this intense sun.

 

How We Got Home

The return from school to home, I walked Avery and Oliver up to school with the single stroller. It was lighter and more compact, but harder to manage over “chaotic” sidewalks. This also meant Avery had to walk the entire trip, which he did without complaining. I took the whole trip at his pace and we stopped often as the sun was intense today. We even wondered down that new asphalt patch we saw this week to see where this new section of the PATH might go. It was a dead end by the way. We got to school just after dismissal time, so the walk took about 50 minutes as this pace, versus the 40 when I push them up in the double stroller at my own.

 

We play the punch buggy game on all our walks. It was a top down kind of day, most certainly.

 

Someday I will walk through this arch. It’s so inviting to me.

 

The new section of the PATH.

 

Drats, dead end.

 

Avery insisted on taking a break here.

 

 

Avery’s not a great driving, but I love his efforts.

 

We spied the #2 as we were walking on Norway to get the children from school .

 

Avery wanted to jog along side the stroller while we were going up hill. Determination.

 

 

Snack time.

 

London is so very excited to be playing the clarinet in school band this year.

 

Waiting for the return bus. Note Oliver playing London’s head like a piano.

I took the single stroller because it folds tight and I decided to bus everyone home today. The #2 would come by school at 3:45ish which gave me time to chat with teachers and provide everyone with an after school snack while still at school. The children were thrilled with my surprise. They really love the bus. We paid our $3 and pretended it was the Night Bus from Harry Potter the whole 2.1 miles to our stop. It didn’t require a lot of imagination, that bus feels fast and stops just as quick.

 

 

More drink breaks and some hat tossing.

 

After our bus departure we had a nice shady .8 mile walk home. Stopping for water and hat tosses along the way. I left the house at 2:15 and we arrived home at 4:30. I am glad that I have plenty of time to spend. Grandma enjoyed the peace and quite at home. After we arrived it wasn’t quiet again till 9:30PM.

What the Future Holds

Tomorrow will be our fourth day of school commuting, and we are doing it differently again. I just can’t find the “right” way for us and I am having a good time working it out.

Small Local Grocer & Greyhound

 

Miles Walked: 14 Biked: 21.4 Bused: 6.3 Drove: 3.6 This week
14 21.4 6.3 3.6 Since August 14, 2011

Brent went out for ground beef and bacon on Monday night and I needed a few things this morning. Biking to Kroger 2.5 miles away is not a very convenient option for small trips. When running out for a couple items we have a few other choices from our house. We can stop at Clark’s BP gas station a couple of blocks away or Rite Aid several blocks further. There is a mom and pop shop (Ujamma’s?) in the neighborhood behind Cabell Huntington Hospital, I think it’s on Charleston Avenue, or a street south. Then there is Julian’s market on 12th Street and 11th Avenue.

 

For both of our recent trips we chose Julian’s. It’s 2.2 miles round trip, less than 1/2 the distance of Kroger and still on level streets. Their prices are a bit higher than Kroger, but nothing outrageous. I paid .69/lb for bananas and they were .59/lb at Kroger last week. 2lbs of popcorn kernels were $1.99 and everything they sell is homemade or name-brand.

Avery with eggs in the trailer

I did want to get bread today, but nothing whole wheat was under $2/loaf so I passed and will make my own later today with this recipe that just posted on another favorite blog site, 100 Days of Real Food. I also needed soy milk and it was near $3 for a liter, another pass today. The larger Kroger trip will be later this week. We make it stretch around here until we just can’t scrape together the basic nutrition requirements.

 

Helmets and groceries, Oliver and list. Julian’s used to be Mansour’s.

 

Front door parking for every one at Julian’s.  Yet, no bike rack.

 

 

Oliver, Avery and I took off at 10 till 9AM. We stopped for our eggs (4 dozen) first then to get a few provisions. Today’s purchases and weights:

 

4.12lbs bananas

2.97lbs sweet potatoes

2lbs butter (actually margarine b/c butter was $4.89/lb and the margarine was .89, I still feel guilty over the compromise, but my budget won this fight)

2liters (4lbs) of diet Coke

2lbs of popcorn

 

About 20lbs in total, plus Oliver and Avery, the tools and diaper bag and waters. I think we maxed out the trailer’s weight limit of 100lbs today. We were home by 10AM.

 

Time to Slow Down

Part of the slow journey today was my own physical condition. My throat has been very sore for a couple days and my legs ache. I can work through the muscle aches and pains, but then coming up the first of two hills home the pressure in my chest got to me. I have a history of my heart changing pace and rattling around in my chest like it’s trying to jump out, even though my breathing is steady. The Drs say it’s a change in pressure. Well, it started up at an intersection and didn’t let up till I got home. The intensity of the pounding was making me light headed, so I stopped the bike, drank a lot of water, tried all the breathing tricks I know to get it to stop. Because it wasn’t changing I decided to walk the bike home for the last couple blocks. When I reached down to unbuckle Avery in the trailer it quit. Just as quick as it started, it was over. I have been home taking it easy since.

 

HighSpeed

Did you catch a couple of things on this post? First there were miles listed in the “drove” section of the header. Then there was the diet Coke. We don’t drink diet Coke, but you may not have known that. My grandmother took the Greyhound down from Columbus last night to visit with us and friends for a couple of weeks. Her bus came in at 10:45PM and we didn’t dare let my 76 year old granny walk home or get on a bike. The local buses don’t run that late, so Brent turned over the engine on the van, aka HighSpeed, and puttered down to pick her up.

 

Grandma been taking the Greyhound bus down here since we moved in. She likes the independence of getting where she wants to go without overly burdening anyone to take her. She enjoys sitting back and taking in the characters she sees on the bus. Now that I think about it, she’s a car-lite woman. Her neighbor does her grocery shopping and she gets rides with family for doctor’s appointments and errands. Way to go Grandma!

More School Commuting Issues

Avery, ready to walk to school yesterday.
Kid power.

Yesterday I walked up to the school at pick up time, with the little boys in the stroller, gathered the big kids and walked home, but it was torture. My first mistake was not packing enough snacks for their hungry school drained bodies. Second mistake was walking home, down Norway with scuffing children. Third mistake, was walking six, almost seven, miles today, mostly over hills. Am I sounding like a wimp yet? Extremely unfit? A mother of four cranky children? A bit unrealistic and insensitive? Probably a bit of each.

 

Timeout for us all on Norway.

There were melt downs and complaints and very unsafe tugging of backpacks and kicking between children on narrow sidewalks with a lot of cars. No narrow misses, no one hurt, but very unnerving for me and probably for the drivers. The boys didn’t complain once, but London’s feet and legs really hurt. I suspect she needs to stretch  more and get better shoes. I made sure to stop many many times and I massaged her aches and pains when we returned.

Big kid power.

 

More rest time yesterday.

There must be a good way to do all this without our van. I am stubbornly unwilling to accept that covering a two mile distance is not reasonable without a vehicle. We could bus home, for another $3/day. We could ask someone to bring the children home, but then I would miss the interaction with the teachers and double checking they didn’t forget anything. Or we could try what we are going to do today.

 

Going to find a bus stop this morning.

 

An Oliver on my back.

 

Wait time.

This morning, all six of us, biked and walked to the bus stop. Brent had a very early day on campus and decided to join us then head on into work. Since he wasn’t able to stay home with the little boys, I loaded Oliver into the backpack carrier and Avery walked with us. London and Elliot rode their bikes. Two walkers, three riders and one in a carrier. 4/5 of a mile, 20 minutes, $3. We actually left our house on time and had about 15 minutes to wait on the bus. Fifteen minutes means the bus didn’t arrive until 8AM, the same time the tardy bell rings at school.

 

The children arrived too late, but we were able to get their bikes to school without riding them up any hills. Loading the bikes onto the bus rack was a new experience. The driver had to get off the bus to show us how to pull the rack down and then lock our wheels to the rack. I am sure that annoyed all the other passengers and set us back even further. Yet, now we know. In consideration, I did not take photos. Avery, Oliver and I walked the two miles home.

 

Bikes made it to school.

 

Avery’s shoes were bothering him, so he waked most of the way home this morning in socks.

 

Avery insisted on running the length of Woodland to the mailbox where I said we could take a break, but then he didn’t want to.

Oliver, Avery and I will walk to school at pick up time today and then Elliot and London can ride their bikes home while I push the others. I did make it very clear to them all that we will have to go over the big hills to stay off Norway in exchange for riding. I really should have made them walk the hills yesterday, but Norway is the more direct way and at that point I had covered 4.8 miles and wanted to just get home. Additionally, the short biking we did this morning didn’t bother London’s legs and feet at all, so I am hoping our return this afternoon will be smoother.

 

On our walk home this morning, we noted a fresh patch of asphalt next to the cemetery. I read on the Create Huntington Facebook page yesterday, that this is the new portion of the PATH. According to the old map, PATH should provide us a way to get from Wiltshire to very near Our Lady of Fatima Parish School, with a safer route that follows Norway. Create Huntington said an updated map of the PATH should be available soon. Perhaps this will assist us in our school commutes?

 

New section of the PATH.

 

Good morning.

 

Miles Walked: 13.2 Biked: 9.3 Bused: 2.1 Drove: 0 This week
13.2 9.3 2.1 0 Since August 14, 2011

First Day of School

 

Miles Walked: 6.8 Biked: 2.1 Bused: 2.1 Drove: 0 This week
6.8 2.1 2.1 0 Since August 14, 2011

 

 
Matching bedhead. London and Elliot’s first days of 4th and 2nd grade, 2011-2012.

The children insisted on taking the public bus this morning. I was probably more anxious than our first ride because this time it meant they may be late for school and not just a little late. If we missed that bus, we would be over an hour late. I stayed up far too late last night to get some things worked out for our first day, then pressed snooze too many time, felt I really needed a shower and then didn’t get the children up till 6:45. The breakfast I planned to make the night before got put off till this morning (the butter wasn’t soft last night) and didn’t come out of the oven until 20 after 7. The children ended up with peanut butter sandwiches as we rushed out.

 

I hadn’t practiced this walk or scouted out this bus, but I did call the TTA a couple of weeks ago to confirm the route and drop off time. Look at their schedule and tell me if you can predict what time that bus is going to cross each street? The TTA told me to expect the bus to arrive at school at 8AM. The tardy bell rings at 8AM.

 

Washington Blvd and Hal Greer. Manned police vehicle on the right.

 

Meadows School families waiting to cross with the guard.

 

Tree lined streets the rest of the way to the bus.

 

Again, I didn’t have a clock, but I grabbed a slightly charged ipod that read 3:26AM when I walked out of the house. The crossing guard was at Hal Greer like she is every school morning and the police were on the opposite corner to assist in reminding traffic that you are still not permitted to turn right on red and pedestrians do use this intersection. We walked through residential streets and passed several families on their way to school. The excitement was energizing, but I was still nervous, it’s in my nature. When we arrived at our chosen cross street to meet the bus, 18 minutes had passed

 

The #2 arrived two minutes later. I thought this was both good and bad. Great that we hadn’t missed it, that it was probably on time, but I don’t like having only two minutes to spare. We could have spent those two minutes at the crosswalk, as sometimes the wait is long.

 

 

 

 

 

$3, 8 minutes and 2.1 miles later we arrived at school. I genuinely thought we were on time as there were still a lot of families trickling in, but alas it was three after 8 when the children walked through the door. Tardy on the first day. We will have to improve on this tomorrow, but I did get them to school, and it wasn’t all up hill for us, just the bus.

 

Blackberry jam bars.

 

I walked the two miles home with my camera and water bottle and enjoyed those jam bars I made this morning with some ice water when I got there. Brent took off for work on his bike and promised to get me some more cash for the bus the rest of the week. I can’t expect London to find 12 more dollars in change around the house, but she did well today.

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