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.


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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Theo’s Chocolate factory

This week’s Rebels trip had an unusual occurrence:  it rained!  I recall it’s rained only on three Rebels trips in the past 2 1/2 years; we have good weather karma.

All news reports promised total gridlock on the notorious I-5.  We were lucky… not only did we leave the driving to the professionals, the traffic was not too bad.  Each of our “legs” getting to the Fremont district of Seattle were on time!

pcc marketVisiting the “center of the universe” (as Fremont likes to be known), is always a treat.  Fun small shops, quirky public art, and lots of choices for restaurants.  We were ready for a hot lunch by the time we arrived in Fremont at noon.  Most of us headed to the wonderful PCC market – which has an overwhelmingly HUGE deli.  Anything you could imagine is there!  It took awhile to browse the selections.  There is a large outdoor covered area (with heaters) where we gathered to eat. (Darrell reported that the Red Door Café, down the street on 34th was very good).

After lunch, several of us walked a few blocks to visit the infamous troll that lives under the Aurora bridge.  On the way, we spotted the three Billy Goat Gruffs, and I recited a paraphrased version of that fairy tale (as it relates to the troll and the bridge!)   Next on the public art stroll was the seven ton statute of Vladimir Lenin.  Yes, only in Fremont!  We caught a glimpse of The Rocket, a 1953 Cold War remnant.  Poised to the side of The Rocket is the planet Saturn.

theos doorNext up:  what we’ve all been waiting for:  Theo’s Chocolate Factory Tour.  Theo’s was the first fair trade-organic chocolate maker in the world.  The one-hour tour is very informative and includes LOTS of sampling.  From the observation room, all steps in the process (from bean to bar) can be viewed.

The confection room is special.  This is where all of Theo’s NON-bar products are produced.  We sampled the seasonal special:  apple cider caramel.  The pear-balsamic was excellent also.  At the end of the tour, each one of us received a bonus:  a special commemorative full size bar!  We had time to shop in the retail store before heading back to catch our bus.

rainbowBus connections on the way home were excellent.  Traffic was slow in spots, but not at a standstill.  This double rainbow at the Highway 512 Park and Ride greeted us as we waited for our last bus to take us home to Olympia.



Seattle’s Queen Anne Hill

0121mtrainiercloudsThis ghostly view of THE mountain was taken from the Highway 512 Park and Ride, as we waited for our bus to take us to Seattle and Queen Anne Hill. Thirteen enthusiastic Rebels by Bus exited the bus in Seattle at 4th and Pike, directly across the street from the Westlake Mall.  We went directly to the top (3rd) floor on the Mall in order to catch the 1962 Seattle Worlds Fair remnant:  the monorail.  This short ride shows a great deal of new construction in the area.  We pass through a tunnel created by Paul Allen’s Experience Music Project, and glide into the Seattle Center.  Straight ahead is the Center House (aka The Food Circus from World’s Fair days).  We scattered to find something for lunch.  Many of us settled on The Skillet Diner, with their award-winning bacon jam on burger.  Yum.

Next stop was across 5th Avenue to the Gates Foundation Visitor Center.  The Gates family passion for community and global philanthropy is very evident in this excellent (free) exhibit.  Everyone seemed very impressed and inspired by this brief visit.

After visiting the center we caught Metro Bus 3 one-half block from the Gates Center.  We exited by bus at Boston and Queen Anne Avenue, in the heart of the Queen AnneTowne-sign-and-puppy-1024x682 shopping district.  After a brief orientation to the neighborhood, we scattered to explore the area.  This cute pup and ball (by Georgia Gerber, the same artist that made the bronze pig at the Pike Place Market) sits guard at the new Towne Center, located on Queen Anne Avenue.  The anchor store here is the new location for Trader Joes.

0141churchmosaicThe mosaic to the left depicts the Bethel Presbyterian Church of Queen Anne Hill, a long-standing integral part of the neighborhood.  There are seven beautiful mosaics in this courtyard, each depicting a well-loved Queen Anne landmark.

One of my favorite spots on the Avenue is the Queen Anne Book store, a small but well stocked independent book seller.  They sell the fun hand-drawn map depicting the 253 staircases of Queen Anne Hill.   La Reve’ French bakery is always busy, for good reason!

My next stop on Queen Anne is to check out Kerry Park, which is located on Highland Drive,  located a few blocks downhill from Queen Anne and Galer.  Take a right off Queen Anne on Highland Drive, walk just a couple blocks… and there is Kerry Park.  The park is really just a widening of the sidewalk with several benches to admire the amazing vast view of Seattle, Mt. Rainier (which, unfortunately did not show today), and Elliott Bay.  Keep on walking down Highland Drive past huge, old mansions and lovely gardens to Marshall Park and the Betty Bowen gardens.  From here, Elliott Bay, Alki Point, and the Olympics are the key views.  The Olympics were barely visible; you had to know what you were looking for to identify the shadows as mountains.  Across Highland Drive from this viewpoint is a shaded garden which invites a meandering stroll.  A few perennials were still blooming in this well maintained oasis.

The group met back at Galer and Queen Anne to catch our bus, transferring at 4th and Lenora for our journey home.

Another fun filled day comes to a close…

Lake Quinault Lodge

side view of lodgeThis summer I led two groups to the lovely and serene Lake Quinault Lodge located on the Olympic Pennisula.  Abundant sunshine was present on both days.  The Lodge was build in 50-some days (!) in 1926.  In 1937  U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited the Lodge.  He was delighted by the area, and fought to create the Olympic National Park to preserve the unique rain forest beauty of the area. Speaking of rain, the picture below (Thanks, again, Vicki!)

quinault rain gaugeis of the rain gauge which records FEET of rain.  The all-time record is 15 FEET.

This is an easy two bus trip with Grays Harbor Transit. This bus trip originates at the Olympia Transit Center.  The bus passes through the little towns of Elma, McCleary, and Montesano on the way to Aberdeen.  In Aberdeen there is time for a short break before boarding the next bus which drops passengers across the street from the Lake Quinault Lodge.

The Roosevelt Dining Room at the Lodge (named after F.D.R) has huge windows facing the lawn and Lake.  (Part of the dining room is visible in the picture above).  Many of us ate at the Lodge Dining Room, but several ordered a take-out lunch from the Quinault Mercantile, located across the street from the Lodge.

Those who wanted to walk off some lunch calories took a stroll alongside the lake for about a mile.  It was a pleasant walk, where we witnessed the moss-draped trees, as well as spots of sun.  We stopped to enjoy a cool spot where a bridge crossed over a small creek.  On one of the return trips we were treated to a small squirrel nibbling his way through a fir cone.  He seemed very content to let us watch him… from less than five feet away!

Sitting in the Adirondack chairs on the sloping lawn was so peaceful.  Huge purple-blue hydrangeas were a perfect backdrop.  Ah… summer in the northwest! lake quinault lake


Alderbrook Inn and Lady Alderbrook cruise

IMG_1752In mid-August I led a group (from Senior Services for the South Sound) to the lovely  Alderbrook Inn destination resort on Hood Canal in Union.

This picture was taken on that day by Vicki.  Hood Canal is sandwiched between the large expanse of green lawn in the foreground and the Olympic Mountains in the background.

lady alderbrookAt the far right of the picture above is the Lady Alderbrook.  On the right is a close-up picture of her aft.  (Did I use the correct sea-worthy word?)   During July and August, the Alderbrook Inn offers a 90 minute cruise on Mondays and Wednesdays.  The narrator is a local historian whose great-grandparents homesteaded in the area in the 1880’s, before Washington became a state.  Local history, as well as information about the flora and fauna and the Hood Canal is shared. The picture below is a view from the Lady Alderbrook.

hood canal from boatIt’s an easy trip to get to Union.  The Mason Transit Authority runs a bus (Route 6) from Olympia to Shelton.  From downtown Shelton we transfer to a bus taking us directly to the Alderbrook Inn.  That leg of the trip (within Mason County) is FREE!  Amazing… and only one of two transit systems in the state that offers free rides within their county boundaries.  (The other transit system is Island Transit, serving Whidbey and Camano Islands).

It was actually hot on this day; sunscreen was in order.  But, we certainly didn’t complain!

As always, get the specific directions for this trip at the “trip directions” section of the blog.

Fun in the summer sun….Vashon Island

RBB logo2 copyIt’s been a busy RBB summer!  Since the last post, in early August, I’ve led FOUR trips of enthusiastic Rebels.  Each and every trip enjoyed our (unusually) gorgeous sunny summer.  The trips were with three different groups.  Two trips were with the South Puget Sound Community College, one with South Sound Senior Services, and one with the Boardwalk apartments (this was the first trip with this delightful group of eager travelers).

This post is about Vashon Island.  This has been a popular RBB trip for good reason.  Vashon is vashon art decovery laid back and easy to get to from Olympia.  Vicki took some great pictures of this trip.  This is a picture of the view from the Pt. Defiance ferry dock (where we waited for about 20 minutes anthonyswaiting for our ferry) looking west towards Anthony’s restaurant.




One of the highlights of going to Vashon via public transit is that we have the pleasure of riding with Larry, the wonderful driver for Metro Route 118 on Vashon Island.  The bus was waiting for us as we departed the ferry from Pt. Defiance.  He greeted ubikeintrees, and insisted on taking a group photo.  He also stopped along the side of Vashon Highway so we could take a short walk to see the famous “bike in the tree”.  He led the way, and again took pictures to document the sight.

The town of Vashon is quaint; a throw back to an earlier era.  Most of us ate at the Hardware Restaurant, which is the oldest continuously operated commercial property.  The food is very good, and reasonably priced.  Several of us  admired the great independent bookstore.  There are several fun shops to browse.

We caught the bus mid afternoon, and has a leisurely trip back to the ferry and two bus legs back home.

Another satisfying trip.  Thanks, Rebels!



Ballard… hip Seattle neighborhood

ballardtugBallard used to be known as a quiet, Nordic fishing-centric section of Seattle.  It has emerged into THE hip neighborhood.  Market Street is bustling, but Ballard Avenue still has the small village feel to it.  Narrow storefronts, with time-worn hardwood floors and deep display windows are predominant in this three block stretch off Market Street.  Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate factory is worth a stop… to smell the smoky chocolate, if nothing else!  I picked up a small jar of smoked chocolate chips to give as a gift.  They’ll make interesting chocolate chip cookies!

One of the highlights of this trip (other than enjoying the company of another stellar group of Rebels!) is the Hiram Crittenden Locks and Carl English Gardens.  This colorful little tug was going through the locks during our visit.  (Thanks, Vicki, for sharing the picture!)  Lots of boat traffic on this lovely summer day.  The locks transition boats to and from different water levels, from Shilshole Bay of Puget Sound to Lake Union.  It’s an interesting process to witness!

The Carl English gardens are a lush oasis… deep green lawns, with huge trees and lots of benches to sit and ponder.  The periennial gardens were just past their peak, but still lovely.

Rebels ate at several different places on this trip.  Po Dog was a big hit.  A few of us ate at the Portage Bay Café, which serves brunch at this location.  There was a fresh berry bar to add to your pancakes.  Yum!

Our return trip included the ever-popular and relaxing Sounder train.  Skimming along the tracks, you don’t even SEE I-5!


Coupeville and Pt. Townsend overnight trip…

Wow… we did it!  And survived to tell about it!  Thank you, again, Vicki for the great pictures!

Yes, it took EIGHT “legs” on our first day on the road.  The Rebel travelers left Olympia on the 7:35 am bus to Lakewood.  Our other seven segments of the trip included Lakewood to Seattle, Seattle to Everett, Everett to Mukiteo.

1319boarding KittitasFrom there we hopped on the ferry to Clinton, then bussed to Coupeville to spend two sun-filled hours in one of the oldest towns in the State.   The snow covered mountain in the background is Mt. Baker.From Coupeville we caught the bus to take us to the ferry, which took us to Pt. Townsend.1328coupevillemtbaker

We then headed two blocks from the ferry dock in Pt. Townsend to our hotel:  The Palace Hotel, which is wonderfully renovated Victorian hotel, built in 1889.1357hotelapproach

Many of us decided to eat at Fins, a restaurant across the street from the hotel which had an outdoor deck.  The weather was perfect for that… blue sky and temperature in the mid 70’s.  Ahhhh…. the great northwest was at it’s best!


After dinner, we scattered… a few of us strolled down Water Street, which is the main street in town.  We looked in windows of galleries, boutiques, the Maritime Center and other store fronts.

We were all on our own the next morning, agreeing to meet up again at 1:30 at the closest bus stop.  The trip home was quick and simple compared to our trek northbound.  We made a quick stop in Brinnon, then Shelton, and then home… all in 3 1/2 hours!  The views of Hood Canal from the bus are exceptional!

One noteworthy fact:  The bus and ferry fare for his entire 220-some mile trip was $10.50 for Regional Reduced Fare Permit holders.  The adult fares totaled $23.60.

As always, the specific trip directions are posted under Pages and  “trip directions”.


More photos!

DSCN7793 (300x225) DSCN7844 (300x225) Here are more of Rick’s photos from the Madison Park trip.  These are of the Japanese Garden, which is a block from the Lake Washington Blvd/Madison Street intersection.

There is a charge to enter this oasis ($6 for adults; $4 over age 65).  Public guided tours are available on some days.


For a special experience, attend a Chado tea demonstration in the beautiful tea house. There is a minimal fee to participate in this cerermony, but you can view the demonstration at no charge.

The Gardens have variable hours, depending on the season and weather.  For current information, check their website, which is attached to the Seattle Parks listings:

DSCN7845 (300x225)