Rebels By Bus

Slow Travel With Low Carbon Footprint

Welcome to Rebels By Bus!

Be inspired by the on-the-bus adventures around the greater Puget Sound area–from simple one-bus trips to complex ones using several transit systems around the Olympic Peninsula.

Use the “search” tool (on top of the column on the right) to find your next trip.


Springtime on campus

university-of-washingtonLove those crisp-blue-sky-with-fluffy-clouds spring days in the Pacific Northwest.  April 2nd was one of those days!  Twelve adventurers headed to the University of Washington Campus  to visit the Burke Museum and Henry Art Gallery, both which were free on this first Thursday (April 2nd) of the month.

I handed out maps of the University of Washington campus, and suggested a “loop” route to take in the Burke Museum, as well as the famous “Quad” (where the cherry trees are located), the beautiful Suzzullo Library, and Henry Art Gallery.

When we first arrived on the “Ave” (University Way), we exited at 43rd, and drifted off to find a place for lunch.  The Ave has DOZENS of small, hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants.  A few of us selected Samir’s Mediterranean Grill, located at 1316 NE 43rd St., which is a storefront off University Way.  We all enjoyed our meal… most of us had the Gyros Plate, with very generous serving size, tasty, and reasonably priced.

cherry blossoms u of wAfter a satisfying lunch, it was time to explore the campus.  We had hoped that the cherry blossoms of the Quad would still be in bloom.  (The picture on the left is what they look like…)Alas, our early spring dashed our hopes… the trees had already leaved out.  However, the gorgeous, proud buildings in the Quad were worth looking at.  We studied one of the buildings (built in 1917) which featured many unique gargoyles perched high on the building.

Next stop was to visit the amazingly beautiful Suzzullo Library.  After entering the front door from the red brick plaza, we walked up the “grand staircase” (aptly named) past stories-high leaded glass windows.  Behind us was the HUGE reading home.  A picture is worth a thousand words… breathtaking!  suzzullo library

Every element of this room is a work of art… the stained glass, ceiling detail, hanging lamps, carved wooden bookcases.  Wow.  I decided to take in the ambiance and read there for an hour.  So calming….

After an hour, I was ready to re-emerge into the sunshine.  Several groups of what appeared to be potential students were gathered around a student guide.  It was fun to witness that energy and dreamy look of a college-bound youth.  Ah, those were the days!

We all met up again on the Ave to catch our bus home.  The bus stop (at 41st) was very crowded, and we didn’t all get on the first bus.  No worries, that route has a bus coming along every 10 minutes or so.  We came back together at the International District, next to the Amtrak Station.  From there we walked to the Sounder train, departing on the 4:32 train.  Unfortunately, the train had to stop for an extended time in Sumner… but, the good news is we weren’t driving and in a standstill on I-5.

All agreed the day on campus was a grand adventure!

Spring RBB trips

The spscclogo1Spring catalog for the South Puget Sound Community College continuing education program have been distributed.  Already two of the trips are full; one with a wait list!

To avoid disappointment, be sure to sign up soon for the remaining trips!

Register at:

Connect with Rebels by Bus via Facebook to communicate with other Rebels by Bus fans, or chat about trips you’ve taken or would like to take… rbb_100_sq (100x100)

Maui whale watching

maui busYes, I was in Maui earlier this month.  My Alaska family and I gathered in Maui to enjoy the sun and sand.  I couldn’t resist buying this postcard in Maui… AFTER I purchased the postcard my sister pointed out this refers to marijuana… all I saw was the BUS!  LOL :-0

Little 18-month old Norah, my grand niece, seemed to definitely enjoy the sand; a taste of Hawaii!

norah Hawaii 2015Now, about the public transit service in Maui.  Roberts of Hawaii is a big tour company that has a huge presence in the private tour business, but they also operate the public transit service as well as school bus service.

We were staying in the little town on Paia, about 15 minutes east of the airport and on the road to Hana.

The connections to the major towns in Maui are excellent.  I caught Bus 35 (Haiku Islander) just before 11 am at the Kuau Mart, which was a block from the house we rented.  That bus took me to the Kaahumanu Shopping Center in Kahului, arriving just before 11:30.  The next bus (Route 20) left just a few minutes after 11:30.  That bus stops at the Maalaea Harbor, which is one of the locations for whale watch and fishing boats.  The bus drives alongside the ocean for most of the rest of this leg.  A great place to catch views of whales spy hopping and/or venting.  And, as you well know, when you’re NOT driving and up high in a bus, you can see a lot more than riding in a car!  The bus arrived in Lahania, behind the Wharf Cinema building and a block from Front Street and the Banyan Tree, at 12:30.

I enjoyed a cheeseburger at “Cheeseburgers in Paradise”, and strolled Front Street to browse the many art galleries and little shops.  The HUGE banyan tree (really multiple trees), taking up a whole block next to the boat harbor and the infamous Pioneer Inn, is a good place for sit and enjoy the shade for a bit.

Returning home was just as easy and with the same great connections.

A day pass is only $4.00.  The buses were clean and air conditioned.  I estimate that about 1/3 of the passengers were tourists.  I heard a couple talking about taking a whale watch tour (they got off the bus at the Maalaea harbor).

I could have continued my trip beyond Lahania to Kaanapali and the Whaler’s Village.  I’m sorry I didn’t take the time to do so… NEXT time!

Seattle Culinary Arts Academy

This past week’s RBB adventure was to the oldest culinary arts school west of the Mississippi:  Seattle Central College Culinary Arts Academy.  We were treated to a private dining area and wonderful food.  Everyone raved about their choice…AND everything was so beautiful!

Sara, SPSCC videographer, came along on the trip to film this adventure.

Thanks, Sara!

Seeking December sunshine

balboa-park-photo3By mid-December I’m usually craving reliable sunshine.  The sunny cold days that the Puget Sound region experiences in December are lovely, BUT one cannot count on seeing such days.  For reliable sunshine, one must head south.

I did just that… headed to sunny San Diego for a quick getaway in mid-December.  To avoid the crowds (and expensive lodging), I stayed about 25 miles north of San Diego in Carlsbad.

The San Diego area has a well-developed public transit system.  Of course there’s the usual bus system, but also their famous red trolley line.  Ironically, the RED trolley is painted red, but the three different lines are named by color (orange, blue, and green).  The trolley is similar to the South Lake Union street car in Seattle.  There is also the COASTER train, which is a commuter train like the Sound Transit Sounder train.

Of course I used the transit system!  From Carlsbad I caught the COASTER train heading to San Diego (Santa Fe Station).  A round trip ticket for age 60 and older is $4.50  What a deal.  There are several stops along the way, and in many stretches the track is next to the Pacific Ocean to view hundreds of surfers.  The trip takes just under one hour.

The Santa Fe Station COASTER track is right beside the Amtrak Station.  As soon as I exited the COASTER, I walked around the fence to get to the waiting trolley’s orange line.  This trip cost $1.25.  I exited the trolley at the City College Stop.

I walked on the same side of the street to the bus stop for Route 7, which travels to Balboa Park.  This trip costs $1.10.  I got off the bus next to the pedestrian overpass and the rose and cactus gardens.  Balboa_Park_Botanical_Building_3

There is so much to see and do in Balboa Park.  I took full advantage of my Tacoma Art Museum reciprocal membership which provides FREE admission to several of the nineteen Park museums.  (Yes, there are 19 museums at the Park!)  One of my favorite museum exhibits was a wonderful collection featuring the children’s book author (and philosopher!), Dr. Suess.  The exhibit was very interactive, colorful, and fun.  The “Gaugin to Warhol” exhibit at the Museum of Art was another favorite.  There was a huge range of artists and their work, which the exhibit’s name implies.  Very impressive.  I really enjoyed browsing through the artist studios in the Spanish Village Arts Center.  Artists are at work in many of the studios and have product to sell.

I enjoyed my day at the Park so much that I decided to go back for another day!  The second day I visited more museums, including the Timken Museum of Art, Model Railroad Museum, and the Mingei International Museum.  I also wandered through the serene Japanese Garden, which is next to the Spreckels Organ Pavillon.  Ten well-cared for gardens are scattered throughout the Park.

When I took the Bus route 7 back to town, I decided to stay on the bus until the end of the route, at Broadway and 1st.  I walked several blocks down Broadway, towards the Bay to get to the Broadway Pier.  From there, I caught the passenger ferry to Coronado.  The afternoon sun was warm, the sky blue… so a ferry ride (in December!) was much appreciated.  The ferry ride reminded me of the West Seattle Water taxi; about the same length of time and with great views of the City skyline.

This trip was fun… and so much easier and less expensive because of public transit!





Seattle Central Library and Adult Story hour!

seattle library bldgYou’ve probably heard about, or even been inside, the amazing Seattle Central Library located on 4th Avenue at Spring Street.  But did you know they have a free adult story hour on the first and third Mondays of the month at noon?

A full contingency of Rebels took advantage of this free and fun event.  Taking the bus to Seattle we exited on 4th at Seneca, one block north of the Library.  Some of us bought a lunch along the way, while others of us had packed a lunch to eat during the story hour.

The librarian which read a Ray Bradbury sci-fi thriller was excellent.  He had all of us glued to the edge of our seats.  What a fun way to spend an hour!  seattle section

After the story, we were met by long-time library docent, Hollis Williams.  His knowledge and passion about this amazing building and library system was evident in our private tour.  He told us about the architectural as well as functional design of the library.  We visited many sections, including the Seattle collection, the cheerful children’s section, 10th floor viewing area, reading rooms, meetings room floor (which is painted BRIGHT red), and the delightful gift shop.

After our tour, we headed north on 4th Avenue enjoying the sights and sounds of bustling downtown.  We caught our bus for our return trip on 2nd Avenue, between Pine and Stewart Avenues.

Another grand adventure!

Tacoma’s Wright Park

karpeles museum tacomaThis easy two-bus trip took us to the Stadium district in Tacoma.  Our first stop was to the Karpeles Manuscript Musuem.  In the 1960’s Mr. Karpeles (a real estate developer from San Diego) started purchasing historic manuscripts and artifacts in order to preserve history for future generations.  There are several of his free museums throughout the country, including Tacoma!

The Museum sits on the edge of Wright Park, across the street from the Conservatory.  The current exhibit was about John Quincy Adams, the country’s sixth President.  Did you know that both he and his father (John; the 2nd President) did NOT attend their successor’s innaguration?  That has never happened before or after…

wright park conservatoryAfter viewing the documents, we walked across the street to the lovely Conservatory.  This Victorian era greenhouse is operated by Tacoma Metro Parks.  The tropical humid smell welcomed us as we entered.  The seasonal display featured amazing chrysanthemums, in many styles and colors.

From there the group went in different directions to find lunch.  A few of us ate at the Art House Cafe, for a creative and very good meal.  From there, we headed to Kings Books, a huge used bookstore on St. Helens Avenue.

During this trek we broke a new Rebels by Bus record:  a pouring rain and wind storm soaked us to the skin!  Yuck.

We had all agreed to check in with each other at the bus stop at 1:00 pm.  We were so soggy that we decided it was time to head home…. and thankful that we weren’t doing the driving through the huge puddles and freeway spray.

A cup of tea sure sounded good…

Seattle holiday lights and Figgy Pudding Caroling contest

figgy pudding buttonOh what fun it is to ride… on a BUS! 
A wonderful group of Rebels traveled to Seattle for the 28th annual Figgy Pudding Caroling contest.  This annual event is a true crowd pleaser and successful fundraiser for the Pike Market Senior Center and Food Bank. 
We arrived in Seattle just after noon, so we were ready for lunch at the Westlake Mall Food Court.  From there, a few of us remained in town, while the rest of the group took the monorail to the Seattle Center Winterfest.  The Armory had a wonderful HUGE model train display, set in the early 1900s.  Beautifully done!  The Fischer Plaza ice skating rink was enjoyed by many.
Other activities of the afternoon included visiting the Sheraton Hotel’s Gingerbread Village (Amazing and intricate designs); strolling through Nordstrom, Pacific Place, and Macys to see the holiday lights and displays; and simply gathering the spirit of the holidays.  Macy’s Santa was definitely the BEST Santa.  His beard was real, and his suit was made of boiled wool.  Classy guy!
Next, it was time to wait for the Figgy Pudding kick-off.  A few of the the group “reserved” seats for us right on the corner in front of the Starbucks; it was a perfect place to watch the goings on.  macys star
As Rebel Vicki says: “The weatherman graced us with a perfect rain free evening.  I must admit that I never really imagined I would EVER be located after dark, right across the street from the (Macys) Christmas star!  Wonderful memories added to the album in my mind!”


Poetry on Buses

Rapid-Ride-TSP-bus-simple_easy_to_useRESIZEWhat a great idea!  Poetry, written by bus riders, shared via bus placards.  The following is a description of this King County (Seattle) project, from the blog

Poetry on Buses, one of King County’s most beloved public art programs, is back!

Every day, thousands of people ride the bus—to commute to work, visit family, go to school, travel to special events, and return home. The bus is a unique public space—rich with stories, character and poignant vignettes. It’s a space where, for a short while, all of us are going in the same direction.

What began in 1992 as a presentation of poetry from the local community on placards found right above the bus seats continues today. New this year: poems (and workshops) in five languages, an online poetry portal, and a focus on RapidRide.

The poems …are written by the person across the aisle, that kid in the back and the professional poet alike. A partnership between 4Culture and Metro Transit, Poetry on Buses is a celebration of local voices.

Wouldn’t it be great to do this project in Thurston County via Intercity Transit? 


BusChick likes us! :-0

Rebelling by bus

As I think I might have mentioned, we need a revolution in how we get around in this country, and we need it yesterday. Instead of doing something about it, our elected officials, including those who claim to understand the urgency, are doubling down on car infrastructure, ensuring that our children and grandchildren will continue to face limited, dangerous, unhealthy, and toxic transportation choices far into the future.

While we hold our collective breath waiting for the people in power to do the right thing (and also, because the air is polluted!), we ordinary, everyday folks have the ability and obligation to—ahem!—drive change. Allow me to introduce you to some folks in Thurston County who are doing just that.

Actually, come to think of it, you have probably already heard about Mary Williams and Gail Johnson, aka Rebels by Bus, two retired South Sound residents who been challenging car culture for years. I’m embarrassed to admit I just learned about them last spring. Of, course, it is also possible that I did hear about them back in 2010; parenting has destroyed my memory.

But I digress.

Here’s what my new favorite bus riders have to say about why they ride.

Global warming, world-wide financial downfall, volatile stock market, all-time high gas prices, increasing unemployment… enough to make anyone cringe and want to hibernate until things get better.

Read on… you don’t need to hibernate. Maybe you should just SLOW down?


Traveling on the bus is also a bit of a rebellion-as if by getting out of our cars, we are declaring our independence from oil and the culture that says we must rush, rush, rush around. The bus rides themselves are also a wonderful way to get a different perspective about life and the benefits of going more slowly. It is also a gentle reminder that people are helpful and friendly no matter where you go.

For some, traveling by bus is the way they get back and forth to work; they can get a lot of reading or knitting done. For others like us, traveling by bus is recreation and adventure. Like any adventure, there is the joy of figuring things out and making all the right connections. There is also a sense of resiliency when things do not go quite as planned and you have to come up with Plan B. It is a great opportunity to practice letting go of those things you cannot control.

Even in these tumultuous times, there are grand and wonderful adventures that await. Our posts are not meant to be a tour guide of the greater Puget Sound area but we do hope to provide ideas and stories that inspire you to get on that bus. Once you realize how easily you can travel to so many places without spending a lot of money, it will open up a whole new realm of fun!

I realize not everyone has the privilege to slow the pace of life, but I so appreciate these rebels, who are using their bus adventures to question the culture we have created and to develop a deeper connection to their community.

Yes, please.

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