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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bus, Baby, and Bike

 I wanted to go visit my new grandbaby today. Since the baby is out in East Brainerd I thought I would take the bus with my bike. I have learned from experience that if I have my panniers weighed down, it is almost impossible to pick the bike up to put on the rack. Since I was taking out frozen food packets for the family, I was pretty heavy. But I keep my  things in a back pack inside my pannier and I then can easily take it out of the pannier to lighten the load. Otherwise,I have been in the situation struggling to lift the bike up on the rack while the bus driver is patiently, then not so patiently gazing down at me. It is an uncomfortable thing at the very least.

   The bus was full and as though a party was gong on.. I don't know if it was the day, the route or just coincidence but it seemed everyone knew one another. As new people boarded on each stop, it it was like old home week. Everyone was talking to one another and soon I was caught up in the friendly banter.

It was a very mixed crowd-old and young, able and disabled, black and white, people who looked like they probably relied on the bus for their sole transportation and those who looked as thought they probably had other choices. I love a group with a large variety of different type folks.

I even had a touch of old home week myself. A young mother and her two little children boarded. When she sat down she looked at me and asked, in that tone that people use when they aren't sure if they are making a fool of themselves "Are you a Carboni?" I affirmed indeed I was and she said she had gone to high school with my niece, Karen. When she said that, I knew exactly what family she was from-she had the distinctive family traits of a very large Irish Catholic family that I grew up with. I established which of the family she was the child of and met her children (am I really old enough to know four generations of one family?) I told her about Matthew coming home from Iraq for the birth of his baby and I was on my way out to visit.

The whole bus was hearing this conversation and several people joined in on congratulations of the birth of my grandbaby. It was a wonderful ride. Bus riding is put down as a form of transportation from hell but do people really know what it is like? Chattanooga had a great bus system in terms of nice clean buses, friendly bus drivers and friendly people riders. If more people rode them and it was subsidized by the government as much as individual car driving is subsidized, more routes and additional bus frequency could turn this into a great AND convenient way of getting around. I am all for it!

It came time for me to get off.  AS another bike rider had put his bike on the rack infront of me, I asked him if he would assist ome in taking off my bike.  He very kindly did so.  I was just expecting him to take off his bike so I could get mine, but he instead just reached back behind and lifted the whole bike off. 

    From the bus stop it was only a seven minute ride to the home of my grandbaby. I had a most wonderful visit. Indulge me as I slip into grandmother mode-Baby Athens is the most beautiful baby EVER! He looks like his most beautiful mother and is everything a baby should be. My own baby were beautiful and wonderful of course, but I think as a new parent fraught with worry and lack of sleep, it is hard to sit back and truly take full notice. A grandparent has the BEST vantage point in seeing how wonderful a baby is. I basked in the view!

When the visit came to a close, I decided to ride my bike home. I didn't go back the way I came-down Lee highway and Brainerd rode Instead I completed the loop around the city and went down Bonnie Oaks so I could connect with the River walk. It was a crisp chilled fall day. One of those rare days that you just have to feel so grateful in being out to enjoy it.

   It took me about an hour and a half of riding to get home. It took exactly 37 minutes to take the bus/bike combination. The car probably would have been about a 20-25 minute drive. But if I had opted to save a little bit of time by driving I would have missed out on a couple of truly exceptional experiences.

Bus, baby, and bike. What a day! Can life get any better?

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