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.


Lakefair parade fun for a couple lucky Rebels!

IT bus engineMichelle and her darling daughter were enthusiastic participants in this past week’s “The Wheels on the bus…” adventure.  During the tour, we saw the Intercity Transit mini-bus, which is used at community events, such as the Lakefair parade.  mini it bus

“The Wheels on the bus” participants were invited to join the Lakefair parade by riding in the full-size Intercity Transit bus.

Michelle jumped at the opportunity.  Look how they dressed up for this special (and remember-it-always) occasion… Tiara, boa, magic wand, party dress… AND they practiced their parade waves!   YEAH!  it mini bus

Olympia Food Coop features RBB!

Carol Sipe, an enthusiastic public transit advocate and fan of Rebels by Bus, has written a delightful article about her experiences with Rebels by Bus.  The article is featured in the 2015 summer edition of the Olympia Food Coop newsletter.  The article (and pictures) can be found on page 8.  Following is the text of the article.  Thanks, Carol! 

Years ago, when I lived on the East Coast, I traveled everywhere by public transportation, mainly by train or subway. It was easy. Most of the time it was safe, and a lot cheaper than owning a car in Manhattan. Later, when I moved to Maine, I had to give up public transit since there wasn’t public transportation outside of Portland. A car was a necessity. Whenever I traveled outside the state, I left the car at home and hopped a bus or train to destinations south. I loved every minute of the travel.

 When I moved to Olympia in 1991, I assumed I could get around as I had on the East Coast. Imagine my dismay when I discovered there wasn’t a great public transportation system out here. Once you were in Seattle you could move around, but it wasn’t easy. Getting from Olympia to Seattle was very difficult. My only option to go north of Olympia was to travel I-5 by car and I hated every minute of that drive.

 Then, a couple of years ago, while glancing through the Continuing Education brochure from South Sound Community College, I noticed classes called Rebels by Bus. There were several of them. The first class was an overview of the public transportation systems and how to navigate them. The listings that followed had destinations attached. At that time, most of those destinations were in Seattle such as the International District and Pike Place Market. These class offerings made me think that the public transportation system might have improved since 1991.

 When I retired, I could attend the weekday classes. Beginning with the introductory class, I was thrilled with what I learned. Not only has the public transit system vastly improved, you can get almost anywhere from Olympia to points North, anywhere in Seattle, around the Olympic Peninsula, across the Sound and inlets, and you can do it with ease. And, it is inexpensive! The multiple transit systems honor senior passes, and seniors travel at half price or less. Mason Transit, for instance, is free for everyone in Mason County. It takes time to figure out the connections, but with some planning and patience, it is easy to do.

 The Rebels by Bus classes are the creation of Mary Williams and her friend, Gail Johnson. Gail has moved on to Portland, so Mary now does the trips on her own. When Mary was working as a public administrator for various agencies in Olympia, she often had to attend meetings in Seattle. She also tired of driving on I-5 and the struggle with parking. When she realized she could get there by bus, almost to the front door of where she had to go, she changed her mode of travel. Over time, she realized that more people might like to know about this and she has become a public transportation activist. She calls her trips: “Slow travel with Low Carbon Footprint.”

 I’ve taken many trips with Mary since I first saw the class listings. All of them have been great fun and all start in Olympia. We’ve eaten at some incredible restaurants. We’ve traveled all over the Greater Puget Sound area (and beyond,) from Seattle to Bremerton, to the Quinault Lodge, Gig Harbor and Snohomish. We’ve traveled on the Monorail, Link light rail, the Metro system, Sound Transit and various other transit systems, the ferries and the Sounder Train. In Seattle, we’ve been to the Theo Chocolate factory in Fremont, Ballard locks, University District, Pike Place Market, and the Seattle Center, just to name a few. I never thought I’d like Tacoma, but I do now; we often pass through there, or visit sites I’ve never noticed before. We’ve walked for miles as we explored all the various possibilities at our destinations. My list is endless now and I don’t have enough room here to include them all.

 The one constant in all these travels, are the nice people I meet on the trips and on the bus. You hear stories about unruly bus riders, but I’ve only seen one incident, and the driver took care of it immediately. All of the transit systems are clean and neat. There are rules, of course, like not eating on the bus. You must give up your seat to an elderly person, a blind person, or someone in a wheelchair. And everyone does. No one asks them to, they just do it. I think that’s pretty amazing, and very kind. White hair is definitely a plus on the bus.

 This summer, Mary is expanding her Rebels by Bus trips to include family outings, and, possibly, Mystery Trips. I don’t have those listings at the time of this writing, but I am certain they will be fun. She also offers trips through the Senior Center, and you don’t have to be a senior to take them. An Olympic Loop trip is tentatively scheduled for early October. All trips fill up very fast, so it’s important to sign up as soon as you see them offered.

 You can find out more about Rebels by Bus by visiting Mary’s website at Her Facebook page is You can reach her directly by email at Check out the Senior Center Trips as well at SPSCC trips are listed under Corporate & Continuing Education/Travel and Excursions at If you don’t want to sign up for the trips, you can still learn how to travel by bus by studying the information Mary has listed on her sites.


Jubilee rocks!

Yesterday I shared the Rebels by Bus story with over 80 (yes, EIGHTY!) enthusiastic people at the Jubilee community in Lacey.  Wow!

Thank you, Jubilee, for your interest and support of Rebels by Bus!

Hope to see you on board soon!

The Wheels on the bus…

mini it busThis past week RBB partnered with Intercity Transit to offer “The Wheels on the Bus… an introduction to public transit”.  We were picked up by a hybrid electric bus at the designated transit center and taken to the Intercity Transit Center.  (No, this is NOT the bus we were picked up by… this is the “mini” IT bus which is used in community events.  Look for it at the Lakefair parade this weekend!)

We visited the dispatch center, the heart center of the operation.  Every bus is equipped with GPS, so their specific location is known to dispatch.  Security cameras are also scanned, which help assure safety for riders and drivers.

Jon led us on a tour through the maintenance facility… the inventory room, multiple bays with hydraulic lifts, rows of tire chains, the steam cleaner bay… and the bus wash!  it bus underneath

Look how clean the bottom of the bus is!  We all noticed that the entire (30 year old!) facility is very clean, light and bright.  It is obvious that IT employees take pride in their workplace.

IT bus engineOne of the many things we saw on this trip was an engine on a standard IT bus.  It’s huge!  And look at that wrench that is used on the buses!   Very impressive.

Last, but certainly not least, we hopped back on our bus again and went through the bus wash!  (Squeals of delight!)

What a great way to spend two hours… interesting, informative, and bus washFUN!

Thank you Erin (our IT hostess with them most-est), Jon (our tour guide), and Mel and Kevin (our bus drivers).  Thurston County residents are so lucky to have such a progressive and responsive public transit system!


The Wheels on the Bus… FREE summer event!

603 bus trimThis summer I’m collaborating with Thurston County’s wonderful Intercity Transit in offering “The Wheels on the Bus… an introduction to public transit”.

This two hour event will be offered twice in July; Thursday the 9th and Saturday the 11th.  Participants will be picked up in a hybrid bus at the specified location, and will be transported to the Intercity Transit maintenance center.  While at the center a mechanic will tell us about the bio-fuel used by the hybrid buses, as well as view a bus engine, and walk under a bus on a hydraulic lift.  The highlight of the visit will be getting back on our bus to go through the bus wash.  How cool is that?!

During the trip to and from the maintenance center you’ll hear about bus riding basics, as well as hear about Rebels by Bus adventure trips scheduled for the summer.  Three trips are planned with families in mind… Woodland Park Zoo, Wooden Boat Center in Seattle, and the SERA sprayground in Tacoma.

And the best news… “The Wheels on the Bus” is FREE!

Thank you, Intercity Transit :-0

The following is a flyer providing specific information about “The Wheels on the Bus” and  this summer’s trips.

Rebels 2015 Summer Flyer family

Edmonds by the Sea

edmonds center IIOne more time… Rebels brought great weather with them to the town of Edmonds.  There are four “legs” to this trip, so we started out a bit earlier than usual in order to have plenty of time to explore our destination.

From Seattle we caught a bus that took us to the Freeway edmondsstation at Mountlake Terrace.  It is a strange sensation to get off the bus in the middle of the I-5 freeway.  The pedestrian overpass took us to the transit parking garage, then around the corner to catch our fourth and final bus to our destination.

chanterelle edmondsWe arrived in Edmonds just before noon.  After orienting everyone to the town (all had a map of the business district), we scattered for lunch. Chanterelles is one of the restaurants on Main Street. Most of us ate at Demetris Woodstone Taverna, on Main.  The menu is varied… flatbread pizza, salads, paninis, tapas, and local seafood.  The waiter encouraged us to share plates.  Everyone was very satisfied with their meal and service.

After lunch there was plenty of time to wander the streets and shops of the compact business district, which is about 3 square blocks.  Rick Steves travel store, located on 4th Avenue at Bell Street, was on some of our lists.  This is a good place to purchase books about European travel, as well as travel equipment and supplies.  Staff is very knowledgeable about travelling in Europe and provides great advice.  The downtown core was vibrant, but not crowded.  The ambiance was friendly and relaxed.  edmonds ferryThe Edmonds ferry dock is at the end of Main Street (within sight from the Demetris restaurant) which offers access to Puget Sound and a view of the Olympic Mountains.  Relaxing in the sun was a great way to enjoy the scenery and each other’s company.

The return trip home included riding the Sounder train, always a hit with Rebels.  Thanks to all you Rebels for another grand adventure!  Hope to see you on board again soon!


Proctor District, Tacoma

metropolitan marketRebels by Bus clearly advocates using public transit for fun, cheap, and green day trip adventures.  I think another purpose has emerged… finding and trying new places to eat.  Rebels regulars are definitely foodies!

The bus stop where we exited the bus was right in front of the amazing and wonderful Metropolitan Market (at 24th and Proctor).  Entering the store through a lovely and colorful display of flowers, one enters into a cheese and deli wonderland.  We all walked in circles with our mouths open….around the huge salad bar, hot dish lines, soup station (I think there were are least 8, if not 10 choices!) .  I could go on, but you get the idea?

After lunch, there was time to explore the business district, which is a compact two blocks.  Lots of fun…examples include Blue (upper end Goodwill store), Compass Rose (yes, same owners as the Olympia store, but bigger!), and Chirp and Company, (a garden accent and wild bird supply store.)

The day started out overcast and chilly, but by early afternoon blue sky and sun prevailed.  We ended up missing the original bus we had planned on for our return trip… thank goodness for the laid-back nature of Rebels.  We just sat enjoying the sun and each other’s company.   foss waterway

On our return trip to Tacoma we exited the bus by the Museum of Glass on Dock Street.  From there we climbed the stairs circling the Museum “hot shop” stack.  About half way up the stairs, you can see the Foss waterway.  We continued up to the pedestrian overpass (over Highway 705) that has a marvelous display of glass.  glass wallThe roof of the overpass is stuffed with Chihuly-type glass pieces.  I’ve heard this display referred to as “Chihuly’s attic”, since it’s overhead.  It’s hard not to run into people as you’re gazing at this wonderful exhibit.

The walkway ends up at Pacific Avenue, next for the State History Museum.  We had about 30 minutes to explore the nearby area before our bus arrived.  The weather was perfect for an iced coffee!



Sea-Tac Airport and Columbia City

welcome signOver the years, many Rebels have asked about using public transit to get to Sea-Tac airport.  This trip featured that very journey.  Sound Transit route 574 picked us up from the Highway 512 Park and Ride transit center, and dropped us off on the far south end of baggage claim level of the airport.  After exiting the bus we trekked to the farthest north end of the terminal, to the last escalator down to the pedestrian overpass (#6) that connects to the parking garage.  From there, we kept to the left (north), following signs to the Light Link Train.

art at link stationOur first stop on the train was Columbia City, a Seattle neighborhood in the Rainier Valley.  In the early 1900’s Columbia City was a city apart from Seattle, but was later annexed to Seattle.  This area is the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in Seattle, and has undergone (and is still undergoing) major revitalization.  Small ethnic restaurants abound.  The lovingly-maintained Carnegie Library is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. A brief history of the area, accompanied by pictures, provided a nice welcome at the train platform.  Lovely abstract art is embedded in the concrete wall surrounded by greenery.

gardensThe Columbia City historic district is 3 blocks from the train.  Walking through the residential neighborhood was rewarded by views of beautiful gardens.

As we entered the business section of town on Rainier Avenue South, we split into smaller groups to browse restaurant options.  Several ate at the Thai restaurant, and other ate at a small Ethiopian café.

After lunch there was time to browse the street, checking out the library, Green Eileen, and other shops.  Columbia Park is a wonderful addition to the neighborhood, tucked behind the Library, bordered by Edmonds Street.  Park benches looked especially welcoming on this sunny day.

link trainWe met back at the train platform, catching the next northbound train to the International District station.  From there, we crossed 4th Avenue to the Sounder train.  Our ride home was pleasant, complete with full-on views of THE mountain.  Rebels continues to experience great weather karma!

Thanks, Vicki, for sharing your photos of this trip!


Fran’s Chocolate in Georgetown, Seattle

union stationThe Rebels were lucky once more… the sun was shining on us with blue sky as a backdrop.  Travel is so much more fun when the weather cooperates!

To the left is the breathtaking renovated Union Station in Seattle.  It’s no longer used as a train station (the current Amtrak train station, the King Street station, is across 4th Avenue from here).  This building is the headquarters for Sound Transit and clean restrooms :-0  So, yes we stopped here before boarding the bus to Georgetown.

georgetown signGeorgetown is Seattle’s oldest neighborhood, established in 1852.  Georgetown existed as an independent city from 1904 to 1910, when it was annexed by Seattle.  In recent years this area (south of the SODO/Stadium district) has been revitalized and has become a hot-bed for artists and new restaurants.

The highlight of this trip was to visit the Fran’s Chocolate, which recently relocated to Georgetown.  The factory is the original Rainier Brewery, built in 1892.  (This was the brewery until the early 1900’s, when it moved just north of the Spokane Street viaduct).

frans chocolate workersThe factory has a huge tasting room and gift shop as you enter the building.  You are greeted at the door by their trademark chocolate covered salted caramel.  Yum.  There are plate glass window facing the production area, which is operational until about 1:00 pm.  The day we were there three women were dipping macadamia nut candies into a swirling vat of chocolate.

A new feature of the factory is a tour of the facility, which includes tasting.  The tour costs $10.00.

After viewing the chocolate making, we scattered to find lunch.  La Fonda Catrina, georgetownMany were very happy with their meal at La Fonda Catrina, which is directly across the street from Fran’s.  Here’s a sampling of what was for lunch!  Brooke said they had the best mole’ EVER!

A few of us ate at the Square Knot, and had an excellent BLT salad.  Others ate at the Hitchcock Deli, of Bainbridge Island fame.

After lunch we explored the neighborhood… finding lots of treasures spots.  A favorite was the “District” an antique/consignment shop which also held a regular auction.  Fun and unusual reasonably priced items.  The Georgetown Trailer Park Mall was fun to look at, even though it is only open on weekends in the spring.  Vintage trailers are used as storefronts.  Fun idea!

We were ready to head home about 2:30, so we caught the bus which took us back to the International District bus tunnel.  From there we walked to the Sounder Station to catch our train.

Another satisfying adventure!

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!