Category Archives: bus

Extra Curriculars with Children

Soccer and Fencing

Brent coaching Avery’s team at the YMCA.

It’s almost soccer season here. Every year we have had at least one child play at the Kennedy Center YMCA fields or Virginia Point in Kenova. Both fields are nearly 30 minutes away by car, in opposite directions. I haven’t found a downtown option for team soccer.

 

A quick look at the transit service website and I discovered a bus that goes to the YMCA, even on Saturday when games are most often played. They had an evening service that would cover practice times. In the past many of the YMCA teams have practiced at Ritter Park and you could sometimes request a team that would meet there during the week. I have heard about a bus that goes out to Dreamland Pool in Kenova that would get us close to Virginia Point, but I was unable to find information on the TTA site about such a route.

 

 

London practicing fencing at Ritter Park, spring 2011.

London has been participating with a fencing group. Sometime they meet at Ritter Park. Sometimes, when it is very hot or rainy, they meet at a dance studio on the more western side of downtown. We have managed most park practices and have missed many at the dance studio. We could have ridden to the indoor practices, even in the rain, but we have chosen not to go, first because of the extra distance and second because usually the rest of the children must go and I don’t care to corral them in a waiting room for 90minutes. London is still able to participate when she can, practice at home and on a few generous occasions, she has gotten a ride with another fencing family to the indoor studio.

 

Thus far in our car-lite/free journey, very few opportunities have been missed. That may change as school begins and the children pick up their extra curricular activities, such as scouts, sports, play dates, music, and community events. I will look at each opportunity individually and make decisions as they come, just as I would have done when we drove our van freely. What I have learned is that while some opportunities will be missed, if I do a little research and ask around, I think most events can be reached, it will just take more planning.

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Charleston Carpool

Brent had to be in Charleston this morning at 9:00am. I wanted him to take the $3 Intelligent-Transit service offered up by our fine TTA. The bus would have left from downtown at 6:45am and arrived at the Capitol Complex in Charleston at 8:00am. Sounded fine to me, but of course I wasn’t the one who was staying up till 2am to get extra work done and then having to get up at 530 to get ready and walk to the bus station, as we were unsure if the bus would have a bike rack (there isn’t one in the picture above). Then of course the bus didn’t leave to return to Huntington until the business work day was done and Brent would be through with meetings by lunch.

 

Several other colleagues from Marshall University were going to this meeting as well. Brent emailed someone about getting a ride and the problem was solved. It’s good to carpool.

Three Week Review

Brent left Huntington, WV for Elkins, WV on July 2, 2011. For 21 days and nights, I was the sole care taker of our four children. Admittedly, I was concerned about my level of patience for such a task. In addition, I was going to drive the van as little as possible. I have been trying to build my patience and independence in a healthy way. This was a challenge I needed. I also needed this time with my children.

From my journal entries, here is the tale of 21 days of flying solo:

Brent left today for Elkins, WV. He took the bike. The only adult working bike we had. His brother drove him over and came back. We didn’t need to go anywhere after Brent drove to the bank for cash and a grocery run and to check the mail at a friend’s house. What would have been a good bike ride was turned over to the van b/c of his departure time. 7-2-11

Another day at home. The children and I didn’t have anything to do but muck around the house. I can’t wait to hear about Brent’s bike adventures. 7-3-11

A fourth of July a world apart from last year. We ate homemade meals and played around till bed time. The children did a Pirates of the Caribbean flick the I loaded them in the van for a 10pm, 3mile, 30minute tour looking for pyrotechnics. Oliver fell fast asleep and we ended up at the Ohio river for a few minutes looking at homemade displays and then home for bed. 7-4-11

This was going to be our car day, but it was a little more than five miles of driving for a couple hours of errands. The children were just uncooperative. I did manage to drop off my bike downtown for a repair tuneup and they call when I got home. It was done, and for less than $50. That’s a good deal and good service. Perhaps we will retrieve it tomorrow and go for a test ride with the children. Fun times! 7-5-11

How fortunate are we? My dinner guests retrieved our bike for us. She even picked up milk for me at the store. We didn’t need to go anywhere! 7-6-11

I really enjoy not driving anywhere right now. Getting ready to bike takes a lot more planning, but I can see the rhythm of it getting easier. I hitched up the trailer to my new tuned up bike and loaded the little boys. London rode independently. We went downtown to the library. They had a bike rack right outside the doors, but there were very unsavory and questionable people (they were talking about stealing bikes, smoking in front of the children and some had obvious mental impairments) there as well. I also don’t know how to lock up my trailer, so I waited with it. Then we biked down to fencing at the church. Played a bit then biked home. The very slight grade can be felt going home. 7-7-11

Home day. The neighbor took three of the children to the movies. How wonderful! 7-8-11

Being without my husband has been the greatest excuse for not going anywhere, but my grocery supply is critical. I can make do without a lot, but I have done that since Wednesday, so we really need to go. We also had an opportunity to see Brent about an hour away, so we took it. I packed and planned yesterday and threw together a quick breakfast and set off early. We picked him at the Capitol and drove to the farmer’s market. Drove downtown for lunch then back the Capitol. Put fuel in the van. First time since the Ohio trip on about June 26. Drove to Barboursville to let the children play at a friend’s house while I got the vitals. Drove home. Stayed home, because we acquired two extra children. 7-9-11

Thanks to FB, I got wind of a meeting of hands and hearts at the community garden down the street. It approached 100 degrees today and I was determined not to go, but confirmation that the children were welcome to help strengthened my resolve and we loaded up the bikes and took off. Elliot still needs a lot of practice with biking. He had a hard time slowing down before Hal Greer and went about a foot into the road before stopping by throwing his feet out. He was more hurt in the area of confidence. Yet, he got back up, practiced in the parking lot across the way and rode the rest of the way there. We put in about an hour, nibbled our sandwiches and biked home for baths and bed. 7-10-11

Meal swap was meeting this morning at the park. London had already been picked up by her ride to art camp so the boys and I loaded the trailer. It was extra heavy b/c of the glass containers of food. I was concerned the brakes were going to fail coming down our drive way. Again, we made it. We played at the park, took a couple laps on bikes and headed home. It was hard work hauling that extra weight. I wanted to give up, but didn’t. After we cooled down we needed to mail a cable to Brent. If he didn’t need it over-nighted and had he not forgotten it, we could have mailed it from home. We drove to the PO. Elliot’s just not ready for the distance. While we were out, we stopped at Jeff’s and picked up a helmet for Oliver and a new flag for the trailer. I love local business, but my wallet cringes. 7-11-11

Today was our car day. First I had to take care of myself. I had fallen ill to a grave fever and sore throat. After my husband called in the cavalries, I walked to the hospital walk-in Dr’s office and did my thing, then walked to the pharmacy and then home. We meddled around the house then a friend picked up a couple boys, Oliver and I napped. London was at camp. Then I set out to do my car things. Trendy tots, CSA, recycle, eggs, pick up boys, deliver diaper goods, home. We enjoyed a light dinner, a lot of A/C then headed out again for tennis. We did a stop at Baskin Robbins for some delicious treats then came home. Our neighbor needed a ride back from the dealership where he was getting car repairs so we did a west end drive. Finally home and ready to crash to get well. 7-12-11

Another wonderful day at home. We had a birth to three therapist over and not another thing on the calendar. I spent some time resting and cleaning up the chaos from being ill. 7-13-11

A second birth to three appointment in our home this morning. More cleaning and food prepping and no driving or biking anywhere. There was one last nap to work in. 7-14-11

We have our second anniversary Critical Mass ride tomorrow and I am not sure how Elliot is going to do. I thought it best to take him out for a test ride. London was still getting rides to and from art camp and today I had Joni bring her home so Amara could visit. Because London just got the new cruiser we had enough bikes and helmets to ride the friend home. This was perfect. We didn’t need to get in the van and we could test Elliot’s distance riding. I took five children out on the bike. Three independently riding and two in the trailer. The weather was mid 70s and partly sunny. Most perfect for us. Elliot rode the whole thing without complaining. We covered about seven miles in 90 minutes. We returned the friend and left the extra bike with the understanding we would pick it up on Tuesday when we were out in the van. Then we headed down the street to pick up an extra helmet from the Amsbary’s for Etta. To add a little more distance and so Elliot could see the route, we rode down to the Memorial arch and back home. It was a great success. 7-15-11

It’s Critical Mass day and I was so nervous and scared and excited. Ashley and Etta agreed to come with us and I was going to hook up the extra trailer to her bike. It turned out not to fit b/c of a kickstand issue and we used the toddler seat instead. We left the house with five minutes till ride time. Luckily we were not the only slow pokes and they hadn’t left yet. Two adults, five children, four bikes. The best of times. We were gone for two hours and covered over 8 miles in all. Elliot was a champ. Everyone made the whole ride easily, except me. I couldn’t get up the last ten feet of the 10th Street aqua-duct. Otherwise, we were glorious in our finish. 7-16-11

Saturday has fallen upon us once again. We drove to tennis, still haven’t ironed out where to get on that #8 bus. Took London’s cruiser in for a tune up, chain tightening and some oil. We vowed to pick it up on Tuesday when we knew we were out in the car again. While we were there we picked up a lime green flag for the trailer, chain oil, and grips for Elliot’s bike handles. I called back to the shop latter to see if they could get a front toddler seat for Oliver. We will discuss this on Tuesday. I think I have narrowed it down to an iBert or Yepp Mini. We also had a Harry Potter party in the afternoon to attend followed presumably by biking and fencing in the park. We biked and scootered to all of it b/c London’s bikes were out of commission. Then home again. I forgot, Charlie also biked home with us. Three days of evening biking! 7-17-11

A lazy Sunday? Hmm. Home all day till a more than needed grocery trip this evening. I am going to drive to lessen the burden on Melinda who is taking in all four of the rascals for me for about 90min. I haven’t checked on how to lock up my bike yet either. Maybe that will be my mission tonight, to scope out the scene? 7-18-11

I didn’t scope out the scene. I ended up at the Kroger I am unlikely to bike to. I also took note that a weeks worth of groceries will fit in the trailer, but not with the children in there. That will need to be a solo trip, or two trailers. Or panniers? Now that would fun.

Monday was interesting. I was baby sitting Etta again for most of the day and this time all the children were here. We didn’t have anywhere to go, so we called it another home day. 7-18-11

Tuesday is car day. I blogged about all 15 stops we made and about our first bus ride. I think this journal is going to go live. 7-19-11

Woke up to get the eggs by bike. Quick and easy and fun. 7-20-11

Haven’t gone anywhere all week. Everyone has come to us or taken the children were they need to go. London had fencing on Wednesday evening and she got a ride with a friend. Avery had a play date today and was picked up and dropped off because I had three extra girls here. We will be doing another van trip tomorrow and I am trying to plan everything to maximize my mileage to make it all work. 7-22-11

In summary, we drove more than I thought we would, but less than most. I also over came some personal hurdles and gave the children plenty of new experiences.

First Bus Ride

Here is it, our very first bus ride in Huntington. Tennis was to begin at 5:30pm. I checked out the bus routes and schedules and found one that picked up two blocks from home and got us to tennis by 5:40. I asked a lot of questions to the TTA worker yesterday when I called for details. I thought I was ready for this journey, but I was beyond nervous, and it was just a little bus ride.  The anxiety stemmed from having to walk four children to a very busy intersection and wait unknowingly for a bus that may or may not stop at a place that was unmarked but allegedly a stop.

 

The Journey

We left the house at 5:00. We were stopped by two different neighbors who were being very friendly but didn’t know we had a bus to catch. We escaped them politely and made it to our pick up location at 5:18. Now I worried even more, had the bus already come by? I waited five minutes. I kept having to ask the children to step back from the curb. These cars were not accustom to little guys walking out in front of them and they were not slowing down to find out if they wouldn’t.

 

Another minute went by and a car pulls into the parking lot behind us. The driver rolled down her window and I thought she was going to the drive-thru at Baskin Robbins, which is what the parking lot was for, but she was calling my attention. This very nice lady wanted to make sure we were alright. She saw me and four children and thought we might have car troubles and need some help. I was extremely touched by her concern. Not another person out there gave us any thought (from what I could tell) and I was so concerned over taking this trip. I thanked her many times and explained in short that we were waiting for a bus that may or may not come, but the children were looking forward to a new experience.

We finally spotted the bus, can you?

 

 

London, Elliot and Avery took the wheel seat.

Our  bus did arrive at 5:30pm. I warned the driver we were new to this procedure and to let me know if I was doing anything wrong. He confirmed the fare amount. I fed the machine in the front and told him where we were getting off. He showed the children the cord to pull at the top of the window to let him know when we wanted to stop. The entire way down the road he talk to them about the wild life we might see. He asked them questions about ground hogs and owls and yellow birds. They all loved their first ride.

Our #8 bus coming to pick us up for our return home.

The return bus picked us up at 6:40, just as the schedule said it would. The children fed the dollars into the machine this time. They took the same seats and resumed their conversation with the driver. He asked them to look up the type of birds they were seeing and even slowed down the bus so they could see the fawns. Have you ever had a driver slow the bus down to 30mph in a 55, just so you can see the deer?

Good to know.

 

Our wonderfully helpful and entertaining driver.

The return ride took a slightly different route, one that was closer to home and saved us the gentle walk up the hill. The children had a marvelous time and hope we can do it more often. After I got over the unknown obstacles and general anxiety I began to frown about the fare. It was a $6 trip for five people to travel 6 miles. Not a great deal when we had two cars sitting in the drive way, but a wonderfully cheap form of entertainment, a safe and well air conditioned experience, easy and convenient (at least this route), and it was nice to leave the driving to someone else for a while. Thanks TTA!

Every Corner a Bus Stop

My fear of new experiences without adult company is a compelling case for never wanting to leave my house. It takes a lot of thinking, talking about, researching, and eventually practicing something before I can commit to doing it. Such is the case with our local public busing. I have been thinking about this bus for five years. I have checked out the routes and fee schedules online. I have even followed a bus or two on routes I have wanted to take. My husband has ridden the bus. I recently met a family with one car and one parent who doesn’t drive and they occasionally ride the bus. Still, I am incredibly concerned about the things that could go wrong.

 

How I Assuaged My Fears

I called the TTA today. I knew which bus I needed but I had no idea where to get on and how. I asked the gentleman a number of questions about the time the bus should arrive, how do I pay, are you sure it’s only going to cost me $3, how do I tell the driver where I would like to get off, where do I purchase a pass and why would I need one? I wrote down everything he said. I was most concerned about the getting on the bus part because we must make it to tennis and I didn’t want to be left on the side of the road looking foolish, which is how I am already starting to feel.

 

The gentleman told me they consider every corner the bus passes as a bus stop and they can’t afford to put a sign at every corner. Armed with my notes, my research, my own doubts, we will be riding the bus tomorrow at 5:20pm. This will mean dinner at 4pm, packing up by 4:45 and heading out by 5:05. I will be thinking about this anticipated ride hence forth.

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