Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Experiment Results and Thoughts

Sande's Thoughts
Friday. I decided that since I, Sande, have to work 10-6 at Green Meadows and I have my step kids in town I would just take the bus to and from work. The nice thing about this was that Sammy, Skye, and our boxer Butch all walked me to the stop. We waited until the blue line came and got me and then I was off on the usuall route. Blue line to the Orange line to work. The ride was extremely smooth. I was able to read the novel I had only a few pages left and was anxious to finish.
I had another busy day at work and forgot the schedule so I called the Station to be sure of the pick up time and the connection that would get me home. I was able to finish my last client and pick up the orange line with one of my co-workers who also takes the bus. He and I were able to talk all the way to Wabash and then I was able to get the Blue line home. At our stop I was met by Skye, Sammy, and Butch. It was nice to have a walk home with some of the family on a nice day. I would have to rate the rides for the day a 5 out of 5.Saturday. I work and am unable to get the bus to work or home due to the times of the bus schedule so I had to find alternate transportation.
Sunday and Monday the buses did not run.
We are almost done with our month long experiment and it seems we have learned a lot.
I have learned that some people are negative about everything and want you to think that what your doing is always bad and there is nothing positive about it. We started this experiment to save money and gas. This would be beneficial to the enviroment and our pocketbooks. We were not planning on the papers writing articles, but we thought if it gets others interested in saving gas and the enviroment then it would be a good thing.
What do we want to happen out of this experiment?
I would like to see improvements in the Columbia Transit system so that people that have to depend on it can have a more reliable source of transportation. I would like to see the time of the schedule extended. If more people ride the routes then they would be more willing to extend it. I know these our wishes and that is just what they are.
I do think that all of our experiences on the bus have been positive. We have made friends with the drivers, employees and fellow riders. We know that if we need to take the bus that we can rely on it a majority of the time.

Thad's Thoughts
I also think the experiment was ahuge success. Being the tight wad that I am however, I tend to look more at the cost vs savings aspect of the experiment to evaluate its success. Over the course of the month we took the bus 21 out of the 31 days in the month. We found ways to do all our necessary running around including:
1) Going to the doctor
2) Going to the Grocery
3) Going to the Library
4) Going to the mall
5) Going downtown for shopping and hagning out
6) Going to the gym
7) Going to visit Grandma
8) Getting Grandma to our house
9) Going to the park to play
10) Getting Sande to work
If you look at this list closely, I think you'll see that we were able to get just about anywhere we wanted to go on the bus.
Now how about the costs?
The biggest cost is in the form of time. Getting anywhere on the bus takes time. Sometimes it takes about the same amount of time as it would take to drive, for example, getting to the mall or grocery store. Sometimes it takes MUCH MUCH longer, for example when Sande tries to take the bus home from work. There is also a time of day, about 10:30am and 5:30pm, when the bus system inexplicably takes one bus from every line out of service IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAMN ROUTE. Why they can't take the bus out of service at Wabash station is absolutley beyond me but as I've already stated, I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to bus scheduling.
Now how about the savings?
We saved exactly 25% of our gasoline expenses this month, when corrected for the increase in the price of gas from our reference month to this month. Basically gas was 25 cents higher on average this month per gallon than it was during our reference month of 3/15 to 4/15. When you figure in the 45 bucks in bus fare we spent plus the 13.50 we had to spend to get Sande home by taxi whe she got stranded at Wabash, the net savings was 17% over the reference month.
We could have dome things a little differently to get more net savings however:
1) We were ignorant of the changing bus schedules and this caused a couple of unnecessary pick-ups with the car.
2) We shouldn't have bought monthly passes. Thad's usage only required about 10 bucks worth of bus fare but I spent 20 on the monthly pass. For the occassional user, the ticket packs are the better deal because they don't expire.
3) We tried to have Sande take the bus during times when it really was not convenient just to see if it would work. It almost never did and once it cost us 13.50 in cab fare to get her home.
Had we followed these three simple rules, our net savings would likely have been much closer to 25% overall, which for us amounts to between 100 and 125 bucks, not bad.

Now for my personal two cents.
I'm not really one to mix words so I'll just lay it out there.
1) PROMOTE ESAM: This man should be the one training and supervising the drivers. His customer service level, safe and smooth drving techniques and overall attitude toward his passengers in exemplary.
2) GIVE BIG JOHN A MEDAL: He is really a hero in my book. I swear I thought that kid that ran in front of his bus was going to heaven that day. Big John managed to get his bus stopped in a distance I didn't think was physically possible. I can only hope that is Sammy ever happens to run out in front of a bus, that Big John is behind the wheel.
3) Reformat the schedule: The times when busses are taken out of service should be more easily identified so that novice riders can easily tell if a bus is coming or not.
4) RAISE REGULAR FARES BY 25 cents: Not half fares or student fares, just full fares. Let those of us who can pay a little more do so and use the money to fund line improvements such as increasing service to 10:30 on Monday through Wednesday.
5) Get a bus service intitiative on the ballot: Why not? We fund all kinds of unecessary crap in this town through ballot initiatives. Why not suggest a 1/4% sales tax initiative to properly fund a real mass transit initiative here in Columbia, something that is really desperately needed. I say sales tax because, as a home owner, I'm sick of all this stuff going on property taxes that ensure that most of the folks who use the bus will never have to pay to fund it's improvement.

What's Next????
We will continue to take the bus. Afterall, a 25% savings is quite abit of money for us and we enjoy the experience. We will also continue to keep up this blog. I think it is turning into a good forum for improvement in the bus system and I would like to see that continue. Whenever we take the bus, which I expect to be several times a week, we'll update the blog just like we've been doing.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Days 23 through 25

On Tuesday we didn't take the bus. Thad is STILL wrapped up in this unplanned shutdown at the nuclear plant and is now having to work 12 hours a day. Sande had a busy day as well but it did not involve the bus. Thad's two older kids, Skye and Noah, are out of school for the year and are here now for a long visit. They both live with their mom in St. Louis and are here every other weekend and on a two week rotation during the summer (typical split parenting arrangement).
Anyway, we picked the kids up Tuesday night after Thad got off from work and didn't get home until after 11pm. That may not sound late to some but to us, its REAL LATE.
On Wednesday, Thad's mom, Melinda was going to move to her new apartment in Oak Towers and so Sande and the kids went over to help out, on the bus.

Sande, Skye, Noah, and Sammy walked down to our regular stop at Rice and Osage and of course, as is his custom, Sammy fell down on the sidewalk and skinned his knee. Poor kid, those knees are NEVER GOING TO HEAL!!!
We did manage to make it to the bus on time so we didn't have to partake in our other ritual which is to miss the bus entirely and have to walk to the next stop and catch it on the way back.
Sande and the kids got on the Blue Line headed West at 8:25 and headed over to Oak Towers. There's no transfer necessary to get to Oak Towers so it's real easy to do.
Everyone worked real hard and got Grandma moved into her new place (well mostly, Thad will be going over there on Saturday morning to move the really heavy stuff). The new apartment is super nice and a lot bigger than her old studio apartment.
After the moving, Sande and the kids got back on the Blue Line and headed home. They were back home at around 11:30, in time for Sammy to get his nap on time and have some lunch.

Today, Thursday, Sande and the kids got back on the bus. This time we all headed out to downtown for the day. The first stop was the Columbia Library. We got on the Blue Line headed West and transferred to the Red Line west at Wabash and headed over to the Library.

It was super great to see Esam on the bus when we got on. We also got to see another favorite passenger, Charlie. He's a taxi driver for Reliable Taxi service here in town and uses the bus to run his errands during his off time. We seem to see him quite often and he and Sammy have become good friends. In fact, whenever we get on the bus, "Where's Charlie" is normally something that Sammy asks.

We got off the Red Line at the library and went inside to play for a while. Sammy, of course, started throwing a temper tantrum in the Library and we decided to bail out earlier than we had planned. Sande was able to get sammy calmed down while waiting for the bus so we decided to try to salvage the rest of the trip and head over downtown. We took the Red Line East to Wabash and headed out for some shopping.
We went over to Aardvark's first and then to Peace Nook. We really wanted to go to Cool Stuff but they weren't open. We then went down to Main Squeeze (our Favortite Restaurant) for lunch and then walked over to Ninth Street Books to let Sammy play with their trains. If you've got a 3 year old, trust me, Ninth Street Books is just about the best place downtown you can take them. The staff is super friendly and very patient. They have a HUGE Thomas the Train set to play with. It's really cool.
Noah even found a book he wanted to buy.
After the book store, we were all pretty much ready to head home so we walked back to Wabash and headed home on the Blue Line East.

Overall we would give the last two days rides a 5 out of 5 again. We really have been having fun with the bus.Tomorrow Sande is going to be taking the bus to work again. Maybe we'll head out to the mall tomorrow night.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Day 19-22

Day 19 through 22.
Unfortunately the bus is not always a worthy replacement for our vehicles. While Thad and I have tried the past few days to take the bus the schedules do not work with our schedules.

Friday morning I had to get some things back to work and could not carry all of the things on the bus so I had to drive. Friday evening Thad and I thought we would take the bus to the movies and realized that we could not since the buses would not run late enough to get us home. Even with their specail routes to the theater. Saturday I had to get to work and so the bus does not run early enough for an 8am start time. And of course the bus does not run on Sundays. An uneventfull week for the Simmons Bus Experiment.

We are still here and we are still trying to use the Columbia Transit System as much as possible.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Day 16, 17 and 18

Tuesday...... The main goal was once again for Sande to get to work at Green Meadows Hair Company. We did usuall exchange at Rice and Osage of Sammy. Melinda gets off the bus and I get on the bus. I get the Orange line to work and then that was that. The rides were smooth and on time. I had to have Melinda and Sammy come pick me up at work since the buses do not run late enough on those days.

Wed.......... There was no need for me to take the bus for errands. We have been working hard on potty training so staying home as much as possible is a must. I had to take the car to work since once again the buses do not run late enough.
Although Melinda had to go to a Doctors visit. She had to have Thad pick her up since her visit lasted past the time of the bus schedule.

Thursday..... Today.. Goal for today is to have Melinda take the bus to Osage and Rice. There I will pick her up and drive to work. There is a Twilight Cruise at the MU Arena and Green Meadows Hair Company and Spa is participating in it. So I will need transportation to that and home.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Day Fifteen

Today was another day where Sande need to see her chiropractor again. Sande recently has been having a little problem with her neck and shoulders due to her type of job. She will not continue these frequent trips forever. So naturaly Sammy could not go into the office with her so she had Melinda take the Blue East bus to Ash and Garth and walk the remainder of the distance to the Library. Sande and Sammy were running a little late and missed the bus at our regular stop at Rice and Osage. So we continued down to the stop at Rice and Ballanger. We took the Blue line to the Wabash station and transfered to the Red line to get to the Library so we could meet up with Melinda. Melinda and Sammy went to play at the Library and Sande went to her appointment with Dr. Hays.
After her adjustment she went to spend a few minutes at the Library with Melinda and Sammy. They then got the Red line to go to the Station at Wabash once again. There they said good bye to Melinda, she got the blue line home and Sande and Sammy went up the few blocks to the gym. A great workout and shower and they were off to the blue east line home. Sammy and Sande read on the way home. They made it through all the books they checked out at the library. With a little planning and organization we were able to get all our running done this morning and we were able to spend some valuable family time together while riding the bus. Todays rides would have to be a perfect 5 out of 5 since they were once again on time and the rides were all smooth.

Days Thirteen and Fourteen

The Callaway plant had an unexpected shutdown on Friday so that meant a lot of weekend work for Thad. Basically our weekend went something like this, Thad went to work on Friday from 7 - 3, came home went to sleep. Went back to work from 11pm to 7am on Saturday, came home went to sleep. Repeat the pattern pretty much for the whole weekend. Anyways, we didn't ride the bus at all on Saturday and of course it doesn't run on Sundays.
Someone placed an letter to the editor on Thursday that said some pretty mean things about us as a family. Of course, because this person is a COWARD, he/she didn't include their name. Let me just respond to the letter by saying, yep you're right, I am too cheap to buy all the gas I've been buying. 465.00/month is a lot and if you think there's something wrong with practicing a little conservation, well I can't help you change you're mind.
Now having said that, I do agree (as does just about everyone I've spoken too including folks at Columbia Transit) that Columbia is woefully underserved by our bus system and needs a fresh start. We can all have a hand in it but we're not going to get anywhere by negativity.
So, if the author of the letter happens to read this post, come out of the shadows and participate in the change in a positive way. Together we can make a difference.
Sande, Sammy, and Melinda will be back on the bus Monday to run errands.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Day Twelve

Another successful day for us riding the Columbia Transit.
Once again Melinda met Sande in the morning at our regular stop at Osage and Rice. Tagging with Sammy and then off to work with Sande. The blue line to Wabash was a smooth ride in.

At Wabash Sande switched to the Orange line and was amazed at how many familiar faces she saw. The interesting thing is that Cowboy was driving in the morning and after a long, hard, and busy day at work Sande got back on to the Orange line with Cowboy and only two other passengers. Slow day for the Orange line.(I learned in the morning on the orange line that there is a law in Missouri that you can not barbeque with out beer. ha ha ;)) On the way back to Wabash the sense of community once again really stuck me. On south Hampton we picked up Esam and they talked all the way back to Wabash.
The same driver of the blue line in the morning was still the driver this evening. He was running pretty far behind. When he arrived to Wabash he had no passengers. We got on and were taken the regular route. Strange... I did not know why but he wasn't picking up any passengers. Melinda tried to get on to get a ride home but he refused and said he was done for the night and that she would have to wait for the next bus at 7? I didn't know that the blue line ended at that timeand neither did another couple that was waiting at Mckee and Orchard Lane. I thought that it ended only Mon - Wed. I guess we need to study the schedule a bit more. I thought that would work out perfect for Melinda and I to tag off like we do in the morning.

Well over all I would have to rate the Mornings's ride a perfect 5 out of 5. This evening I would have to rate it a 2.5 out of 5 due to the lack of communication about the ending of the route.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Day Eleven PM

This afternoon Thad and Sammy went out to the Scavenger Hunt for Bike Walk and Wheel Week. We almost didn't go because today has felt a lot more like October than May and we were a little concerned about how cold it might get. Sande bundled Sammy up and he and Thad headed out for the bus stop as soon as Thad got home. Sande drove the car to work today because Thad didn't get home in time for her to take the bus and get there before the start of her shift at Green Meadows Hair Company.
Luckily for us Sammy is getting to be a pretty tough kid because as soon as we got out to the bus stop, it started POURING!!!!! And of course Thad, being the proverbial space cadet that he is, FORGOT THE UMBRELLA. Anyway, as we were standing in the pouring rain, I started back towards home and told Sammy it was too wet to go downtown. Well Sammy wouldn't have any part of that and demanded that we stay the course and get on the bus (like I said, he's pretty tough).
We got on the Blue Line and the driver took one look at us and just shook his head. I don't blame him, we must of looked pretty sad. We got on the bus and had some really good conversation with a couple of men who recognized Sammy. He recognized them too and they had a good "talk" which mainly consisted of Sammy asking them "do you have a pee pee?" Sammy is getting to learn the difference between boys and girls now and he seems to have a need to know these things. I of course was MORTIFIED but the two men took it in stride. They both were older men and I'm pretty sure they had both been down this road with their own kids and grandkids. Anyway, the bus ride was pretty eventful to say the least. I wanted to crawl right under the seat and hide and was really grateful that the two older men were so understanding.
The Beastie Boys were also on the bus today. There was a group of about 4 young men and I swear when I first heard the "music" coming from the back of the bus I thought there must have been a hip hop CD playing. They were using their voices in such a way that it really sounded like instruments. I was REALLY IMPRESSED and thought that group of kids could stand beside any of the rap artists I here on the radio.
So we got downtown and headed out to Main Squeeze for some dinner before the Scavenger Hunt. Main Squeeze has quickly become mine and Sande's favorite place to eat. It's on 9th next to the Subway at ninth and cherry. Sammy really likes it too, they have plastic dinosaurs to play with and a really cool metal bar with letters all over it.

After Main Squeeze Sammy and I walked over to Grill One 5 for the Scanvenger Hunt. Grill One 5 is on sixth just south of Broadway. It's basically right next to Cycle Extreme which is a really cool bike shop with folks who really know their stuff.
It seems the city likes to have these types of public gatherings in bars for some reason. Luckily, this one was not all smoky like Flat Branch has been in years past after the midnight bike ride and we were able to enjoy the room they placed us in.

The Scavenger Hunt was run by PedNet and I thought they did a really good job. I got to meet Ian Thomas (a right good Brit if I do say so myself), Judy Knudson (a PedNet member and Marketing Manager for Columbia Transit) and several other PedNet members whose names I can't seem to remember right now (must be the NewCastles). Anyway, the folks from PedNet did a great job with the Scavenger Hunt and Grill One 5 seemed like a really cool place to hang out. The goal was basically to go around downtown and find clues that were in various places according to some map coordinates.

Sammy and I were our own team and we managed to find about a third of the clues. I don't know Mizzou's Campus very well and so chose not to go to any of those clues. That was a good thing because what we were able to get to took us the entire 2 hours we were allotted. As I said before, today seemed a lot more like October than May and by the time we got back to the bar, Sammy and I were pretty much chilled.
I had a real good time meeting a bunch of folks from PedNet and have decided to link to their website. Look for it on my links section and check them out. They seemed like a real cool group of folks and I really enjoyd the scavenger hunt. We ended up winning a gift certificate to "LULU'S Repose". Sande tells me it's some kind of girly shop dowtown that sells bath salts and stuff. We also got some free passes to the ARC. The scavenger hunt got over pretty late so Sande just came and picked me and Sammy up on her way home from work. We got home and put Sammy to bed. Poor kid was asleep before his head hit the pillow. I was pretty wore out myself.

Overall I am giving the ride another 4 out of 5We had a great time as a family downtown. The only down side was that because the bus only runs every hour and twenty minutes in the evening, we ended up having to get a ride a home or wait until 9:25pm for another bus. We were just too pooped out to wait. The rain was a nuisance but you can't exactly control that sort of thing.

AM of Day 11

You can never predict a three year olds attitude. I had every intention of getting my errands done by taking the bus. I went to the bus stop as usual with Sammy. Sammy was doing pretty well until we got to the stop. He changed from happy to fussy. I thought soon as we go on the bus he would be alright. Of Course he did not. By the time we got thru Indian Hills I knew that Sammy would not make it so I asked the Driver to let us off at Orchard and Ballanger. I really appreciated that drop off, because as soon as we got off the bus he exploded with a huge temper tantrum. Well that is a 3 yr old for you. I had to take the van to get two errands done and then we were home for an early nap.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Day Ten

WOW!!! Ten days already!!! Our experiment is 1/3 done and we have learned a lot about how to incorporate the bus into our lives and have met and talked to a whole bunch of new and interesting people.
Today Sande had another class for her work. This time in Columbia. Melinda took the bus from her place at Oak Towers to come spend the day with Sammy again and Sande met her at our regular stop at Rice and Osage. We've been trying to take more pictures of folks riding the bus but have had mixed results. Today, Sande asked two drivers and one passenger if they would mind having their picture on our blog. One driver said yes and the other two folks said no. Our goal is to try to introduce folks to some of the people on the bus so that they can see that the people riding the bus are just like them, regular folks out getting where they need to go.
So anyway, Sande took the Blue Line West from our stop to Wabash and then got on the Orange Line South to take it to her work at Green Meadows Hair Company. Problem was that the class was at the other location, ON THE NORTH SIDE OF TOWN!!!! Another problem is that the Columbia Transit system really hasn't figured out that the fastest growing area of the city is North Columbia and so doesn't have a single bus running north of Blue Ridge. All those folks who live north of 70 and west of 63 are basically out of luck when it comes to taking public transit. Hopefully we'll be able to get bus service at least up Rangeline North maybe to Smiley or something.
Anyway, Sande bummed a ride with one of her coworkers to the class and luckily got there before the class started.
After the class, Sande's friend Patty gave her a ride to Providence and Broadway and Sande walked over to Garth for her appointment with Dr. Hays the chiropractor. Dr. Hays is a pretty cool chiropractor. After her chiropractor appointment, Sande stepped over to the corner of Broadway and Garth and got on the Red Line East in front of the Library and headed off for work.
She connected with the Orange Line South at Wabash and got onto a bus driven by a man with many names.

The driver's name (we think) is John. At least that's what a couple of the other passengers on the bus called him. However, he introduced himself as Cowboy but said he also likes to be called Roscoe!!! Whatever his name, he seemd like a real good natured guy and as long as he doesn't want us to call him some type of dirty word, we'll be happy to give him whatever handle he wants. One thing I've noticed is that many of the drivers use nick names. I'm not real sure why but some of them are pretty entertaining. Only one of the drivers has refused to give us any kind of name, he actually wanted us to call him "Mr. Bus Driver" which I really didn't understand but....whatever.
So, I keep going off on tangents today... Sande got off at her work stop in front of Green Meadows and went into work. The bus doesn't run late enough for her to take it home so Thad picked her up at the end of the shift.
Thad and Sammy had planned on getting on the bus today as well but by the time Thad got home from work, it was raining so they decided to stay home.
Overall, we would give today's rides a 5 out of 5 again. The only down side was that fact that we discovered a whole area of town that is unserved by our transit system. However, the quality of the rides was real good, the busses were right on time and Sande had a real fun time talking with Roscoe J. Cowboy.
Hopefully the weather will be a little better tomorrow so Thad can take Sammy down for the Mayor's Scavenger Hunt. We don't have a team so if anyone out there need another person, please let me know.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Day Nine

The goal for today was just for Sande to get to work on the bus. Thad's mom Melinda took the bus from her place at Oak Towers to our regular stop at Osage and Rice where Sande met Melinda and exchanged Sammy. Melinda took Sammy home and Sande was off to work. With the papers in circulation, we have been noticed on the bus. So when Sande got on the bus no sooner did she get settled then she was recognized by a regular. One thing is for sure that in the morning the regulars really know one another. There really is a whole little comunity of people who ride the bus every day and know each other from their commutes. It's easy to make new friends. We see each other everyday on our commutes to either work, or to Hardees to meet some friends. It seems like a little club.

At Wabash Sande had to pick up her bag that she had left on the Orange line on Friday. Luckily it was full of lunch dishes and no one would have wanted it. It was so simple to get it back. She simply walked in and told the woman at the counter a breif description of the bag left on Friday and she had to sign for it and that was all. Then she still had plenty of time to board the orange line to get to work. No fuss at all. Thank you all for getting my bag back to me. Over all the rides today were pretty smooth and uneventful. So I would have to rate it a 5 out of a possible 5.
While at work, I was able to take advantage of the beautiful day and walk around to some of the businesses around my work to get some errands done. I walked from my job at Green Meadows Hair Company over to the Bank of America at Nifong and Providence. After taking care of my banking, I walked to Walmart and then back to Green Meadows. Then, during my lunch hour, me and my friend Patty got to check out the new Peel's on Providence. Peel's is a beauty supply store and I was able to get some much needed razor blades.
It was cool to be able to walk to my errands during my lunch hour. I got everything done I needed to and got some great exercise also. Sorry no pictures today.
Tommorrow will be a big day. Sande plans to take the bus to Green Meadows Hair Co. in the morning and then to the Chiropractor and back to work. Thad and Sammy will be back on the bus in the afternoon as well.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Day Eight

Today was a pretty light day as far as our bus travels go. Sande is in Saint Louis attending some continuing training with her job at Green Meadows Hair Company (they are required to take 4 classes/year) so I am a bachelor today.
Being the rebel that I am I decided to spend my afternoon alone going to.... you guessed it, the grocery store. It was a completely different experience for me to be on the bus without Sammy and/or Sande. I had a couple of real good conversations with other people on the bus.
The Tribune and Missourian both ran stories today on our experiment. We were blown away by the Multimedia piece Gerry did and we appreciated the work that both papers put into the project. I put a link to the article over in the Link side bar. Check them out.
Anyway, enough of that stuff. Back to my bus ride. I headed up to the our regular stop at Osage and Rice. As is my habit, I missed the bus. So I hurried down to the corner of Ballenger and Rice to catch the bus on its return trip from Indian Hills. The thing about today's rides were that they were really quiet. I guess it was because there weren't any children on the busses I was on, or maybe it was just because MY CHILD wasn't on the bus!!! Sammy has a way of livening things up when he's around!!!
Anyway, I got on the bus and took the time to look around. The Columbia busses are FULL of artwork. I guess that Columbia Transit must have some sort of agreement to display children's artwork. It's really cool!!! It's kind of like getting a peek at what must be on everyone else's refrigerators all across Columbia. I usually notice the artwork because I'm always getting these types of presents from Sammy and sticking them on our refridgerator at home. Two of the pictures today really stood out to me though.

If you notice one of the busses is multicolored and driving under a bright sunny sky while the one right next to it is painted gray and driving under a stormy sky. The fact that these two pictures were right next to each other made me think that riding the bus is kind of that way. Sometimes the rides are really good, like today. Sometimes the rides are not so good, like Friday night for Sande. But the other thing I noticed about the two pictures was that both were really cool pictures and equally beautifull in their own way. The bus is like that too...
Enough philosophy.
The Blue Line took me to Wabash where I got immediately on the Red Line headed west to go to Gerbes. I've since found out that I could have gone to Clovers' new store at Eastgate, but I didn't know that at the time. My plan was to head over to the farmer's market behind the ARC, get everything I could there, and then head over to Gerbes to finish up. Apparently I got my information wrong because the Farmer's Market wasn't there. So I went to Gerbes.
I've really got to learn how to shop when I'm on the bus because I bought too much stuff again. I can't help it when I go to Gerbes. Their prices on Organic produce is really the best in town, I think and I ended up probably getting more than I needed (yes, Sande left me a list before she left today, but I've kind of got a problem following directions sometimes, I think every wife out there is probably married to a guy like me when it comes to doing what we're told).
I got done with my shopping and had a five minute wait befor ethe bus got there. I was surprised to see two more guys with arms full of grocery bags standing at the stop. I was even more surprised when I got to Wabash and noticed a whole bunch of folks (all men) carrying bags of groceries home on the bus!!!
On the way home from Wabash, I had a good conversation with a man I've talked to a couple of times before. I don't know his name but he's a good conversationalist and we talked all the way home. He said he had seen the article in the Trib and we talked about that and the price of gas. It was good conversation and defintiely not one I would have been able to have had I been in my car...alone.
I got off at my regular stop and walked home. I was surprised at how quickly it went. I had bought two bags of frozen berries and was able to get home before they got thawed out.
Overall I would give this ride a 4.5 out of a possible 5 I enjoyed the fact that I was able to go from bus to bus, not wait a long time for the return bus and get right home. I also really appreciated the conversation I was able to have and the relaxed environment of the bus. I know for a fact that I wouldn't have saved any time at all by taking my car because I essentially had no wait times today. As I said about the mall on Saturday, between the promptness of the bus, the fact that I don't have to worry about parking, and the cost savings of leaving my car in the garage, I don't see why anyone would want not take the bus to the grocery store. For those folks who are concerned enough about buying fresh food to go to the store regularly and often, I think the bus beats driving hands down!!!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Day Six

Today was another WIERD day for the Simmons family, but one that ended up going a lot smoother.
When Sande and I were discussing whether or not to allow ourselves to be interviewed by the media, we made the decision that, in a spirit of fairness, we would either have to say yes to everyone who asked or no to everyone. So, today was the Missourian's turn to follow us around. As I said yesterday, we are fairly overwhelmed and frankly more than a little confused about the interest in our little experiment.
Nonetheless we had a good time with Shawn Spezio (I'm CERTAIN I've screwed up his last name for sure) from the Missourian. Shawn is a BIG muscular guy and my 13 year old daughter, Skye, and her friend, Patricia, thought he was pretty cool. I have to say, I thought Shawn was pretty cool myself, a very down to earth young man who did a great job making us feel comfortable during the day he spent with us.

Shawn came over a little bit before we had to head out and did the basic reporter stuff of asking questions. We then headed down to our regular stop at Rice and Osage. We were late getting to the stop and as we were heading up Osage, watched the bus pass by our stop. One of the great things about Columbia Transit is that every corner can be a stop. So we headed up the block to the corner of Rice and Ballenger and caught the bus on it's return trip from Indian Hills. We got on the bus and Bud was our driver. We've ridden the bus with Bud several times now and I really like the way he runs his bus. Sammy was feeling a little energetic because he had just gotten up from his nap and was excited because his sister was riding with him. He stood up on the his seat and Bud noticed he was standing. He reminded me in a VERY kind manner to please have Sammy sit down and I did so. I appreciated the fact that Bud is so concerned about the safety of his littlest passengers. A quick stop when sammy was standing could very well have caused him to tumble onto the hard floor of the bus and Bud took the time to notice the unsafe condition and correct it before something bad could happen. Thanks Bud.
We got to Wabash and transferred to the Orange Line South to meet up with Sande who was due to get off work. She was running a little late and, much to our chagrin, the Orange Line was RUNNING ON TIME! I couldn't believe it. We got off the bus in front of Sande's job at Green Meadows Hair Company. Sande was just geting off so we headed right across the street to the Beanery for some lunch. We all sat around a big table at the Beanery and had a great time talking to Shawn and generally joking around spending time as a family. It was really fun.

After lunch we got back on the Orange Line South and headed back to Wabash where we connected with the Green Line West to Columbia Mall. At this point Shawn said goodbye and headed off to do whatever it is that reporters do and we headed to the Mall. This was the first time I had ridden the Green Line and I was really surprised at how quickly it got us to the Mall. From Wabash to the Mall was something like 12 minutes. I'm pretty sure I couldn't have driven there in much less time. We spent the evening at the mall. Anyone with a 13 year old daughter knows that they have a natural innate ability to spend endless hours and money at the mall and my daughter is no exception.
After the mall, we headed back towards home on the Blue Line East. You have a couple of choices at the Mall of lines you can take. Both the Green Line and the Blue Line go to the mall which means that at any time of day, you can get a bus about avery half hour which makes it REALLY CONVENIENT. When you factor in the frequency the bus runs, the cost of driving, and the hassle of trying to find a place to park, I really can't see why anyone would drive to the mall.

Anyway we got on the bus and headed home. One of the people who have commented on this site suggested we try to take the bus in the evening. Tonight we did so. We got on the Blue Line at 7:45 headed home and the commenter was right on when he said the bus takes on a different flavor after hours. The bus was filled with families headed out on the town, young kids headed home from the mall, and a few "old timers" catching up with friends. There was a lot of conversation and it was a very casual friendly bus ride home. On the leg between Wabash and our place, I noticed a young kid sitting in the back of the bus with his friend laying down some pretty good rhymes.

He said his name was Darius and he was very entertaining!!! I asked his name and took his picture then gave him a card with our site address on it. His friend took the opportunity to poke fun at him which he took in stride. we got off at our stop and walked home.
Overall I am giving our rides today a 4.5 out of a possible 5. We really had a good time riding the bus and they were on time all day for us. Additionally, it was great to see how the culture of the bus changed over the course of the day and to see so many folks out enjoying their commutes by spending time with their families instead of slaving behind the wheel of a car.
Tomorrow is Sunday. The bus doesn't run on Sunday.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Day Five

Today was really a WIERD day for the Simmons Family. Our blog has been getting a lot of attention and today we had a couple of folks from the Tribune ride along with us. Getting press is not something Sande or I had planned on when this thing started and it has frankly taken us by surprise.
We met up with Annie Nelson and Gerry McCarthy (I think that's the right spelling, sorry Gerry if I screwed up your name) at our place and walked down to the bus stop. Sande was heading out to her job at Green Meadows Hair Company and Thad and Sammy were running errands. Sande has to go to a continuing education class on Monday so Thad and Sammy went to the Library today to get some new books. We got on the Blue Line West at our usual stop at Rice and Osage and headed downtown. THE BUS WAS PACKED!!!! I've never seen a Columbia bus as full as that one (in all the week or so we've been riding :) ). Although the bus was packed, we still had a place to sit and took the time to read Sammy his Rocket Book one more time before we had to turn it back to the library.
At Wabash we said goodbye to Sande who got on the Orange Line headed south to go to work and Sammy and I got on the Red Line West to the library. We laid over at the library and talked with the Tribune reporters while Sammy played. I don't know what exactly I expected from the reporters but Annie and Gerry were terrific. The interview was really low key and not stressful at all. Annie did a great job and Gerry was EXTREMELY patient with our curious three year old who wanted to basically figure out how to beak his very expensive camera!!!

After the Library, we said goodbye to Annie and headed to Hy-Vee with Gerry. Gerry wanted to get some more "background noise" for his story. I'm not sure what "background noise" means but it basically involved Gerry walking around with headphones on and holding a very expensive lookng microphone.
We got to Hy-Vee and said goodbye to Gerry who was going back to work and was going to meet up with us again once we got back to Wabash. Sammy and I had lunch at Shakespeares and then headed over to Hy-Vee to get some groceries. Sammy got to ride Henry the Hy-Vee horse after the shopping, which is always a highlight for him.

Sammy and I got on the Red Line East at Hy-Vee and headed back to Wabash. We had a 40 minute lay over at Wabash waiting for the Blue Line East to get there and took the time to hang out in the station and buy the other bus pass I didn't get yesterday. While we were there Sammy needed a diaper change. You know there is nowhere in the Wabash Station to change a diaper. I ended up having to change him on the floor in the bathroom which was basically filthy. I know the Columbia Transit runs on a tight budget but I think they could probably afford to at least keep the one public restroom they have clean. I actually asked a Transit employee if there was a changing station in the terminal and she smiled and said hopefully there will be one in the new renovation. I hope so. Trying to change your kids diaper in the Wabash station borders on the disgusting.
We met up with my mom on the Blue Line East and headed back home. The rides were pretty uneventfull overall and especially so in light of what happened when Sande tried to use the bus this evening. Overall I would give our morning rides a 3.5 out of a possible 5. The points taken off were basically for the unsanitary and disgusting condition of the bathrooms and the fact that we had to wait forty minutes between the Red Line and Blue Line on the way home.

This evening Sande got off work and was going to take the bus home. According to the schedule, she should have been able to get off work at 6:00 and be on the bus right in front of the salon at 6:15. This was going to be perfect timing. Well, things didn't work out that way at all!!! The bus was running 20 minutes late, which is something we have come to expect from the Orange Line. Sande actually called the HotLine number Lee Radke had given us. The recording told her all busses were running on time. At 6:35 the bus arrived...with a broken front door. The bus ended up having to be swapped out mid route near Providence and Stadium. This transfer of busses was surprisingly smooth as the replacement bus was waiting and ready to go. Sande forgot her lunch bag on the bus however. Hopefully we'll get it back tomorrow. Because the Orange Line was so late, Sande missed her connection to the Blue Line East to go home. Something else we learned about Wabash Station today is that if you are riding the bus in the evening, you are basically on your own. That means no shelter. All the Para-Transit busses were busy and Sande was looking at having to spend the next hour or so, in the cold with no shelter. To make matters worse, Thad had gone to Saint Louis to pick up his two other kids for their weekend visit and so Sande was stuck. Not wanting to have to wait for an hour in the cold, and frustrated in general at the complete inability of the Orange Line to run on time (see our other blog entries for more on our problems with the Orange Line), Sande took a taxi home.
The trip home from work for Sande was very frustrating. Overall we are giving this trip a -13.30 points out of a possible 5. This was the cost of Sande's cab ride home. We are not giving up on trying to ride home from work on the Orange Line, hopefully it will get better.
Our trips so far on the Transit system have been OVERWHELMINGLY POSITIVE so I don't want to give the impression that we are being negative toward the bus system or it's employees. Machines break down, people get sick, you can't help that. I feel really sorry for the people who tried to help Sande tonight and just couldn't. They were really trying to help, but unfortunately there wasn't a plan B. Tomorrow is a new day.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Day Four

Already it is Day 4. Thank goodness for a relatively calm day here. Sande decided to spend the morning at the gym. The bus station is very close and it works out great with the time schedule. Sande boarded the bus at 8:25, Bud was driving. We took the blue line to Wabash and got there at 8:45. The daycare at the gym opens at 9 so we had a few minutes to walk leisurely to the Gym. Sande had enough time to get in a quick workout and then catch the 10:45 blue line home. Imagine the suprise when we had Esam drive us home again. The ease of the bus makes me think about how more people should take the bus and the independance that one has with their cars is really not lost. I have been able to leave the Van parked for a majority of the week so far. The time that we have spent on the bus we have talked to other individuals or we have been able to read, to ourselves or to Sammy. By the way Sammy's book selection on the bus for the day was Rocket Power. A very interesting book on, you guessed it, Rockets. The trip was a 4.5 out of 5.
In the afternoon, Thad got home from his job and, since it looked like we needed a few things from the store, decided to run out to Gerbes. We also need another bus pass so he was going to stop by the Wabash station and pick another one up. You know, every now and then, the universe has a way of teaching you a lesson in patience and this turned out to be one of those days. Sammy was being his typical 3 year old self and decided that today would be a day when it would be good to test his boundaries with his dad.
We picked up the Blue Line West at our stop at Rice and Osage and went to Wabash to buy the pass. I had tried to find the office hours on the transit map and online but no luck. That's where patience kicked in. I got there at 4:45 and the office was closed. Turns out the office is only open until 4:30 during the week and so I was too late. I had also missed my connection to Gerbes trying to figure this out. So, Trying to make the best of a less than great situation, Sammy and I walked down to the new Keyotea tea room on Broadway for a snack. It was the first time I had been in there. It really is a beautiful place, and the people were very friendly and helpful. They really need to work on their cookie recipe however!!!
So in the tea room, Sammy decided to start testing his boundaries and by the time we got back to Wabash to get the Red Line West to Gerbes, I had pretty much lost any ability to control where he was going or what he was doing. He was trying to run out into the bus parking lot (a potentially VERY DANGEROUS place for a 3 year old), into the driver's break room (not very peaceful place if a 3 year old decided to invade your break space) and generally everywhere he thought he could get.
Needless to say, I was concerned about our errand to the grocery and so decided to just go back home. I told Sammy we could go to the grocery tomorrow. He wasn't happy but sometimes that's the way it goes. We got back on the Blue Line East and went home.
Overall I would give this ride a 2 out of a possible 5 just because I got absolutely nothing accomplished. I would also suggest that Columbia Transit put their Wabash station office hours on the next printing of their transit map so people do not make unecessary trips there. Sorry no picture today. Another of my patience lessons was figuring out our camera battery had pooped out on us. I'll get that changed out and should have more pictures tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Day Three

Wow what a day!!!! As a family we rode the bus all day long!!! We were busy!!!
The day started with Sande and Sammy taking the Blue Line West from our stop at Rice and Osage. On the walk from our place to the bus stop, Sammy, who was SUPER EXCITED about getting to ride the "Big Blue Bus" again, got to running too hard and took a header right onto the sidewalk. Of course he was wearing short pants and skinned his knees up pretty good.

Poor kid, his knees were sore!!! We got on the bus and who do we see behind the driver seat but Esam. He remembered Sammy from yesterday and asked Sande if she needed a bandaid. He looked around in his first aid kit and couldn't find one so radioed to the Wabash station and another driver met them at the bus with two bandaids for Sammy's knees.


In fact we saw several more instances of random kindness today. It was really encouraging. I'll get to all of them as the story goes on.

So, Sande and Sammy met up with Thad's mom at her place out at Oak Towers. They all then took the trip out to Columbia Mall and dropped off Sammy and Grandma to play. The weather was really wet this morning and so we didn't want to take a chance on playing outside. Anyway, Grandma and Sammy got off and Sande continued back to Oak Tower where she got off and walked to her Chiroprator's office at Garth and Broadway. Sande actually got there a little early and the doctor and his staff were still at lunch so Sande went across the street to the Library and hung out for the few minutes it took for the office to open up.
Sande was much relieved after her appointment with Dr. Hayes and then got on the Red Line East at the Library. She connected to the Orange Line going South at Wabash Station and went to work. The Orange line for some reason always seems to be running late. I'm not sure why but I have a feeling it has something to do with the route. It's all along some pretty conjested streets and it is super long!!! Anyway, Sande managed to get to her work on time.

At about the same time that Sande was getting off her bus at Green Meadows Hair Company, Thad was getting on the bus at our stop at Rice and Osage. Thad had come home from his job and parked the car then headed out to the Mall to meet up with Grandma and Sammy. My trip on the BLue Line West between our stop and Wabash was where I encountered my second random act of kindness. An older woman was getting on the bus and for some reason looked as if she might not have the fare. One of the passengers sitting close to the front of the bus, who obviously did not know her, jumped right up and offered to pay her fare!!! He had the change in hand and was getting up to hand it to the lady whe she let him know that she did indeed have the fare. I thought that was very nice of him to do that for a complete stranger.
One of the things we are all learning as we go through this experiment is that there exists a real sense of community on the bus. People are genuinely kind to each other regardless of their appearance, race, or whatever. I was really appreciating the man willing to give his money to someone who looked like they might be in need.
The trip between Wabash and the mall was a little slower than it should have been. That was no fault of the bus. A resident was having a huge construction dumpster delivered to their place on Garth and the truck was having a hard time getting up this guy's drive. He kept slipping and it seemed we sat there and waited for a long time. Our driver, as usual, was terrific and very patient. In the end we got to the mall about 5 minutes late which was no big deal at all.
At the mall I met up with Grandma and Sammy. Sammy had been playing HARD for about three hours!! If you know anything at all about three year olds, you'l know that three hours of hard playing is about exactly the amount of time it takes to COMPLETELY wear them out!!!

Poor kid was dead on his feet!!!! However, after a quick stop for ice cream on the way out of the mall, we was temporarily recharged. We all got on the Blue Line East at Columbia Mall. Sammy knew that Dad would have a couple of stories in his bag so he asked for one. I read him a story about Rocket ships and than what has become my favorite story of the year. It's called "The Lizard Man of Crabtree County". I won't spoil the book but trust me. Next time you're at the library check it out, it's terrific!! By the time I was finishing up with the second story, we had arrived at Oak Towers and said goodbye to Grandma. By the time we got to Wabash we had finished the Lizard Man book and Sammy was having a real hard time staying awake.
At Wabash, I encountered my third Random act of kindness. One of the Supervisors for the Bus company, came out to watch the bus while the driver (I think her name is Jennifer but I'm not sure) took a short break. He cam one the bus and said hi to everyone and took the time to stop and ask me how we were getting along and if we were having any troubles. He then proceeded to take the time to speak to SEVERAL othe passengers, laughing with them and generally spreading good cheer. I thought it was very kind of him to take time out of his busy day to make sure we were all having a good time on our trip. The driver came back on board and gave me my fourth random act of kindness. It seems that she had been the one earlier in the day to give Sammy his bandaids and she had kept an extra one in her pocket in case she saw him again. Sammy had lost one of his bandaids and whe she noticed she took the time to hand him a new one. The was really nice of her.
From Wabash we headed East to our home stop. Sammy went to sleep on my lap and I took the break from him to have some conversation with the riders around me. This is when I encountered my fifth random act of kindness. A woman I was speaking to made a point to tell me how she had observed me with Sammy and took the time to compliment me. She gave me some very encouraging comments that really made me feel good and welcome.
Overall I am giving today's rides a 5 out of a possible 5. The kindness shown to me, my family, and others around me gave me renewed faith in the ability of a community to not only get along but to thrive
The bus dropped us off at our stop and I put Sammy on my shoulder and carried him home. Poor kid was flat pooped out.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Day Two

Today was a light day as far as the bus goes. Sande was going to take the bus to work. Thad's mom normally watches Sammy on Tuesday. She took the Blue Line East from her place at Oak Towers to our bus stop at the corner of Rice and Osage. Sande met her there with Sammy. Sammy went back home with Grandma and Sande was off to work.
One thing that we have noticed in the short time we have been riding the bus is that those folks who really depend on the bus as their sole source of transportation can sometimes have a pretty hard time getting where they need to go. Sometimes the bus service does something to make their position even more difficult.
Today was one of those days for one man on the Blue Line West at the corner of Rice and Ballenger. The bus slowed down like it was going to stop and then, for some unknown reason, sped up and simply passed by him. The bus then stopped for another man who was not even at a regular stop!!! I'm not sure why this happened but we felt really bad for the guy who got passed. The pass by essesntially made his trip 40 mintues longer than it needed to be.
Sande got to Wabash and then transferred to the Orange Line going south. It was the first time Sande has ever had the whole bus to herself. It was VERY INTERESTINGto meet and talk to the driver Esam.

Esam was Sande's driver for the Orange Line South between Wabash and her job at Green Meadows Hair Company. He is from Dallas, Texas. Esam is married with 5 young children. We drove by his church and he was joking about how the younger kids in his church help to bring so much joy to the older people. He told Sande that people here seemed much more friendly than folks in Dallas. He said he really likes his job and that he really likes it here in Columbia. Esam was a VERY INTERESTING person and Sande really had a good time talking to him.
Overall Sande rated the trip at a 4 out of 5. However, she gives the first bus driver on her Blue Line West trip a negative 10 for completely blowing off the person standing at an approved bus stop. I'm sure his day did not go well at all and he may have even been late for work. I know everyone spaces out from time to time but we think the bus drivers should definitely stop at approved regular stops.
One of the things that is not so good about the bus system here in Columbia is that it doesn't run late enough on Monday through Wednesday. The bus basically stops running at 6:25pm. This is not late enough for Sande to take the bus home so she ended up having to have Thad's mom pick her up to get home.
Who knows, maybe if more people start using the bus, the city would find a reason to extend the hours on Monday through Wednesday. I would think that for the price of one parking garage we could run a lot of busses but that's about as political as I want to get here.
Tomorrow Sande is going to her Chiropractor and then to work on the bus. Sammy, Thad, and Grandma are going to be taking the bus out to Columbia Mall to let Sammy play in the afternoon. We'll see how it goes. Stay tuned!!!!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Day One....

Today was the first "official" day of our experiment in public transit. Sande planned her regular Monday Library trip and also a special trip to Clover's on Forum to pick up a few things for the pantry. The day was not looking good, weatherwise this morning. We arrived at the bus stop and it started POURING!!!! We huddled under an umbrella for the minute it took the bus to get there and then we were off to the Library.

I have to say that getting to the Library on the bus is super easy. We take the Blue line west to Wabash and then the Red Line West from Wbash to the Library. The bus drops you off right there, no problem.
In discussing the day's plan with our friendly bus driver we discovered that you can't get to Clover's on the bus. We were already not looking forward to the red to brown to purple line transfers it would take to get within walking distance of the store and when the driver informed us that the Purple Line only runs on weekends we were kind of glad in a way. The good thing about Columbia is that there is more than one store to get your good natural food. So we decided to go to Hy-Vee instead. Hy-Vee is on the Red Line so that was also super easy to get to. Basically we just got on the West Bound Red Line at the Library and it took us right there. Hassle Free!!!
The only down side was that we had an hour and twenty minutes before the next bus came!!! So Sammy made friends just as he always does and then he took the time to smell each and every flower in the Hy-Vee garden center. He kept saying,"I give you flower Mommy, I smell flower..." It was pretty cute.
We were able to get everything we needed at Hy-Vee and then we were back on the bus.

We took the Red Line East to Wabash and then found out we had another 40 minutes to wait for the next Blue Line heading home. All in all, we left home at 8:20 and got home at 12:20. It took four hours to go to the Library and to Hy-Vee. In the middle we had a total of 2 hours to wait for busses. That may seem like a long time but we had fun. Overall I would give this trip a 3.5 out of a possible 5. The downsides coming from the wait times and the fact that I really wanted to go to Clovers and had to go to Hy-Vee instead. The good news is that Clovers is building a new store at Eastgate and the bus goes right there so in the future it wont be a problem.
In the afternoon, Thad got home from his work day out at the Callaway Plant and after just a little bit we discovered we were out of diapers. Sammy is almost potty trained but not quite so being out of diapers is kind of an emergency. Instead of jumping in the car, we decided to head out to the bus stop. We took the Blue Line East to Wabash and then connected to the Red Line East to get to WalMart for diapers.
At Wabash we met Thad's mom who was taking the bus home to her place at Oak Tower's. She had been to the doctor and was excited to see us. The Blue Line was running late so we didn't get a chance to visit for very long but it was good to see her.

While on the bus, we like to read to Sammy. We've been taking a couple of books in the bag with us and he likes the story time. It helps keep him calm on the bus ride and passes the time.

While we were over there we decided to stop by the Ink Factory to replace and recycle our ink cartridges for the printer. What do you know, it started raining again!!! Not as bad this time so no big deal. We got the stuff we needed and headed back home.

On the way home we got a good scare when a little kid decided to ride his big wheel out into the street. the bus driver "Big John" was terrific. He got that bus stopped real quick and made sure the boy was off the road before he went on. I mean it was scary. I just knew that kid was going to get hit but thanks to the quick reaction of our driver, no one got hurt. After that we started talking to the driver. He was real nice and told us about some of the training the drivers go through.
Overall we took two hours to get to Wal-Mart and the Ink Factory and then home. I'm pretty sure we would have been gone that long anyway because a trip to WalMart just always seems to take a long time for us. So overall I would score this trip at 4.5 out of a possible 5. With 5000 extra point given to Big John for not squashing that kid!!!
Tomorrow, Sande takes the bus to work.