Category Archives: driving

Commuting Confusion

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A little over a year ago, I wrote a blog post about my daily commute into the city.  I was so excited that I was able to do the commute without pain or difficulty. It is so liberating to be able to walk and stand without a problem.

Since I wrote this post, my commute into the city has changed, quite drastically.

Let’s start with this cool new train line called the Silver Line. The Silver Line is eventually going to make it’s way out to Dulles airport, which is not far from Sterling, Ashburn, and other far away lands in the exurbs of DC. But for now, the Silver Line only goes out to Reston. The addition of this train completely screwed up my morning commute.

I live and work on the Blue Line, which shares tracks with this new line for part of the trip. Now, the Blue Line trains already have a pretty raw deal. It shares tracks with the Yellow Line and the Orange Line in different areas. Where it shares tracks with the Yellow trains, you could see 3-5 Yellows before an over crowded Blue train shows up. The same is true where it shares tracks with the Orange Line trains.

Now that the Silver Line trains have been added, they reduced the Blue Line service. One now shows up every 12 minutes during rush hour, because that’s what the over crowded Blue Line trains need, less trains.

Fortunately, there is a bus that travels directly from in front of my apartment building and now drops me off 4 blocks from the office. To make up for the loss of train service, the genies at WMATA re-routed this bus. During the summer, I was walking 1.3 miles from where this bus dropped me off. Now, I only have to walk 4 blocks. It’s cheaper than the metro and closer to my office. What could possibly go wrong.

Let me tell you…

The bus drivers do not know the new route.

Today’s driver, missed her turn onto 18th Avenue from Constitution. She then did a u-turn on Constitution, which I didn’t even know was possible during rush hour, let alone on a bus. I was a little bit terrified. Then, she turned right onto Virginia Avenue and not 18th. This is generally not a problem because in 25 feet you can then just turn right onto 18th from Virginia. She didn’t do that. She continued on Virginia Avenue for a few blocks.

I don’t know where she went after that because I got off the bus. Perhaps she just gave up and drove back to Virginia to start again. I walked from 20th and C to 20th and M. That’s about a mile. It’s not a bad walk, and I do not mind doing it, but for the love of all that’s holy, can we please get some bus drivers that know how to drive in DC?

I really do not want to have to move just to get a better commute into the city. And I really do not want to drive! I only live six miles from the office. Surely, it does not have to be this difficult to get to work every day! Maybe I should just walk.

Skinny Girl Update – Vacation Post!

Ok, so the “writing every day for a month” project kind of fell flat. I may try to do that again as I have lots to say. Just wanted to post a quick update, though.

So, what have I been doing? Mostly, working. I did go on vacation last week. I took a quick trip to Pittsburgh to see my mom. My baby sis came to town as well. Last week was the one year anniversary of my step-dad’s death. I wanted to be there with my mom to support her. And it was great to see my sister as well. She lives in Minnesota. She and her husband are moving out west to California in the fall, so it might be a while before I see her again. I WILL be going to to visit her and all that sunshine once she moves and gets settled. Get the guest room ready sis!

Also, because I am on the planning committee for my high school reunion, I had to meet with the other committee members to discuss the reunion, tour the restaurant where we are having the reunion, and then we had a quick high school get-together at a different restaurant where we met for drinks. It was funny meeting up with everyone again. Some people have changed a lot, others not so much. Thank goodness we had old yearbooks on hand for reference! Tons of fun, but very busy.

I then went to Rehoboth beach in Delaware to visit with my college friends. OMG, it was so much fun! I bought a bathing suit a few weeks ago and I have been swimming. This is the first bathing suit I have owned in about 15 years. Granted, I don’t think I looked good in a bathing suit, but honestly, I did not care. My biggest concerns were not drowning in the ocean and not getting horribly sunburned. Other than that, I did not give one rat’s butt what I looked like. I had fun.

I have to say, my friends totally rock. We had a blast at the beach. Two of my college friends have kids. There were three children at the beach. For some reason, these kids totally love me. Could be I bribe them with ice cream and let them commandeer my electronics for the week, but the jury is still out on that.

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My friend Marianne and her hubby have a son. We’ll call him T. He’s the one who, when I bought a Smart Car, called it a clown car. The conversation went something like this:

Mommy: (Pointing at picture I uploaded to Facebook) “Look at Colleen’s new car, T!”

T: “Colleen bought a clown car? hahahahaha!”

Colleen: “Your son is a little Smartie-Pants!”

Liz & Steve have two little girls we’ll call E & S.

When I arrived at Rehoboth at 1am on Monday after a 7+ hour drive from Pittsburgh, T & E were still up. They cheered my arrival loudly. Everyone in Rehoboth knew when my little Smartie pulled into the driveway. I came into the house to them screaming “MISS COL-LEEN! MISS COL-LEEN!” at the top of their lungs. Apparently, they asked when I was arriving every hour on the hour, which explains the flurry of email and text messages I received during the drive. (No I did not read or text while driving. When I stopped for gas or coffee, I checked my messages and replied.)

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They collapsed in hysterical laughter when I unpacked my car. I brought everything. Extra towels, beach blankets, clothes, food, my personal laptop, my work laptop, all kinds of stuff. My mom even donated a bag of towels to the beach effort. They could not believe I fit all of that in my car. On my third trip into the house, Liz was singing circus music and T was saying, “Your car really IS a clown car!”

Of course, I told him I was a master at Tetris, which his ten-year old mind did not understand at all.

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Going to the beach and into the ocean was interesting. I hadn’t been in years. I was a little hesitant about going into the water. One, it was so cold. I hate being in cold water. It took me two tries to get in far enough to jump the waves with the kids. Their chorus of “MISS COL-LEEN!” As I slowly made my way into the water, helped.

I was out there for quite a while with the kids and various other adults. Then it happened. I got swept back towards the shallows by a big wave. The boogie board didn’t help. The wave knocked me on my butt pretty hard and I couldn’t get up.

It was like a scene from a sit-com or something. “I’m OK.” I announced as I tried to stand up. Then the boogie board was pulled back out and dragged me back down as another wave crashed in knocking me over again as the boogie board slammed back into my head. The cycle then repeated itself:

“I’m OK!” Crash! Thunk! “I’m OK!” Crash! Thunk! “I’m OK!” Crash! Thunk!

Finally, I just sat down holding onto the boogie board and let the waves wash over me. The kids were cracking up. It was pretty hilarious. I let go of the boogie board and one of the kids grabbed it. My friend Marianne, who is over 6 feet tall, came over and helped me stand up.

Other than that, the week was great. Lots and lots of walking. I tried to get in about 4 miles a day. I’m pretty sure I succeeded. Lots of shopping. Lots of beach-time. Lots of good food and fun with my friends. Many trips to the ice cream stands with the kids. Then fireworks on the beach.

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Now I’m back to work and back to real life. Not nearly has fun, but necessary if I’m going to fund another trip to the beach!

Driving In Virginia

So, what feels like a million years ago, was really only about 14 years ago.  I used to live on the Maryland side of the DC Metro area.  I lived in Bethesda and attended the University of Maryland.  I could get anywhere in Maryland, no problem.

Virginia on the other hand was a huge maze.  My brother lived in VA and I did sometimes have to go there.  Then one of my friends moved to Virginia.  One day, I was with my brother and his future wife.  They were driving me to said friend’s house to pick up something. We got lost because I did not know where we were going.  This was long before Google maps, etc.  We had a small argument in the car which ended with me saying something like, “Don’t blame me.  I did not design the roads in Virginia!”

Well, shortly after that incident, I moved to Phoenix.  Unbeknownst to me, for years my brother and his wife used this phrase behind my back.  Any time they got lost, they would say, “OMG we’re lost! Quick call Colleen…oh wait, she didn’t design the roads in Virginia!”

This apparently went on for years.  When I moved back to this area and made Virginia my home, they never told me about this.  When my sister moved to Virginia, they told her.  She cracked up and waited until I was in their presence and told me about it.  We all had a good laugh.

Now that I live in Virginia, I have found my way around pretty well.  I still get lost as I have absolutely no sense of direction most of the time, but I’m doing better.  And yes, my family still teases me about not designing the roads in Virginia.

Well, now I know I will not be the only driver in Virginia lost most of the time.  My step-niece just got her learner’s permit and was out driving with my sister today.  I’m writing this post in part to warn everybody, be on the lookout

I went to visit my sister and my niece asked me if I had a stick-shift or automatic transmission.  I told her automatic and she looked relieved.  Of course, my sister has a stick-shift and my step-niece must have stalled it out about 20 times.  I was reminded of the time that my youngest sister purchased a Mazda Miata with a manual transmission when she did not even know how to drive a stick.  We must have sat through 4 cycles at a red light one time.  Hilarious.

It occurred to me that my niece is probably going to ask me to let her drive with me.  She did not ask me this time, but I suspect that she will in the future.

Get your helmets everyone!