Saturday, September 11, 2010

It is an odyssey only if it ends with return to the place it started...

It started last Wednesday at 10:00 am in Waukesha and reached the farthest point--ancestral home on the near west side of Cleveland--in just about nine hours. Tolls were about $38. Gas for the Pontiac-that's-actually-a-Toyota was about $33. Seventy-one bucks divided by 454 miles comes to just under sixteen cents/mile.

This cost is, of course, understated. I haven't included insurance, interest payments, license/registration fees and depreciation on the car. And the cost of all that frenetic widening and cyclical re-paving of the roadway ustimately figures into cost-per-mile.

Whatever the cost, it was pure pleasure to visit the family and introduce the new grandchild to lots of friends and relatives.

But here's the odyssey part. Most of our group of travelers were intent on Drang nach Osten, onward to  Dutchy country and the Jersey Shore to introduce the the little squirt to the anabaptist side of the family. I planned to return to the place from which we started. They were going farther;  I was heading back to Waukesha.

I got dropped off in downtown Cleveland, near the Jake, at the Megabus stop at midnight CDT. Gave my Bro. the bro-hug and hopped on a new double decker bus.  Found a seat and went promptly to sleep.

Woke up at 5:30, as we were approaching the Skyway in Chicago, caught the free Wi-Fi on the bus and checked my mail. Three hundred eighty miles. Had a 40 minute layover at Chicago Union Station. 

Boarded the next Megabus leg of the trip--to Milwaukee. Eighty minutes later I was at the Amtrak/Intermodal terminal on St. Paul Av. in Milwaukee.

Walked four blocks to 4th and Wisconsin and caught (fifteen minute wait at 8:20 am) the #10 Milwaukee County Transit System bus to Brookfield Square ($2.25).

Arrived at Brookfield Square about 9:00 am. The MCTS bus pulled up at the transfer point at just the moment the Waukesha Transit System bus also arrived (That's called articulated scheduling). I had a transfer that got me on the Waukesha bus for no extra dough for a thirty minute ride to Waukesha's downtown terminal.

Caught, immediately, the #9 Waukesha Transit Bus to my neighborhood, with a transfer and a quarter in the farebox.

Dropped off at the bus stop sixty paces from my front door at 10:15 AM.

Odyssey complete; (refer to the title of this post.).

o A little over ten hours--door to door.
o Five buses. Each of them spotless and comfortable.
o Fares ( Megabus pricing scheme: the earlier you buy a ticket, the cheaper it is; overnight travel cheaper than daytime)
  • Cleveland to Chicago--$15.00;
  • Chicago to Milwaukee--$16.00;
  • Milwaukee to Waukesha--$2.50
o Six hours of sleep on the trip.
o Three stimulating conversations with seat-mates.
o Wi-Fi for most of the trip,
o Total cost: $33.50.

The reason so many people hate and riducule and demand the end of mass transit is that they have no experience with it, NONE.

I'm lucky. I got used to having it when I was young. I still love its convenience, low-cost and conviviality.

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Of the biblical allotment of three score and ten I have lived only three of them more than a bicycle ride from one of the Great Lakes. I grew up ten blocks from Lake Erie in the (once Irish/Italian ghetto, now newly-hip) "Near West Side" of Cleveland. I can still cycle to the Milwaukee lakefront in an hour and a half; but, a round-trip has always been more than I would (noror ever did) attempt. -0- I'm a "...somewhat combative pacifist and fairly cooperative anarchist," after the example of Grace Paley (1922-2007). -0- I'm always cheerful when I pay my taxes (having refused--when necessary--to pay that portion of them dedicated to war). -0- And I always, always vote.