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.
By 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.
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!
You’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!
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!
This 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…
After 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…
Oh 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.
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!”
What 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 www.poetryonbuses.org
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?
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.
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!
Visiting 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.
Next 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.
Bus 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.
This 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 Anne 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.
The 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…
This 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!)
is 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!
In 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.
At 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.
It’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.