Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Trains, Planes and Automobiles

Or in this case, aerial trams, buses and MAX trains.

When I started this post it somehow eluded me that none of these pictures were actually taken ON a tram, bus or max train, but only while we were waiting for them. We took a tram ride in the evening, so though I actually took pictures from the tram, they came out a bit dark and fuzzy.

I recommend taking a child on the tram, but maybe not right at dinner-time. Ada liked the ride the first time, but wailed and screamed was then less than thrilled when we boarded for a second ride. Oops. Nothing that some soothing from Ellen and a couple of mini-cupcakes couldn't fix, apparently.

I didn't take pictures on the bus or max rides. I'd like to say it was just because Ada was sitting on my lap, but really it was mainly because I didn't want to look like a tourist. Yep, I'm that vain. I am a born and bred city-dweller who was embarrassed to appear new to public transit. Dumb, but somewhere in me is my 14 year old bus-riding self, wanting credit for navigating the city alone, both proud and sheepish to be without a more elegant form of transport.

Ada does not have any such concerns with looking cool on public transit. And while we are on the subject of cool, would anyone disagree that trains are way cooler than buses? When I have lived in places with both, I've always preferred the train, even when it means I have to walk a couple of extra blocks. But back to Ada. When Ada and I are in the car, she bus-spots. Having spied one, she calls out "bus! on! on!," leaving me to explain that since we are already in the car, maybe we'll save the bus for another time.

Given how exciting it is to see a bus, you can imagine what a treat it is for Ada to actually on board one? What could be better? First there is the waiting at the bus stop, though thankfully not for too long. Portland has lots of bus lines that run every 15 minutes, so even though I always manage to walk up to our stop just after a bus has pulled away, the wait has not yet outlasted Ada's patience. Much.

Once on the bus, Ada settles into my lap to check out the scene. She is drawn to the homeless men and the folks boarding the bus outside the methadone clinic down the road. So far that has been fine, as the other riders tend to be engaged in their conversations about where to get a decent coat or why they got fired from their last job, or at least friendly and kind to my inquisitive girl. On the trip downtown, Ada is pretty quiet, until we near the bridge. Then the whole bus gets an earful of Bridge! Bridge!, which in Ada-speak sounds more like her accusing me of being a puppy's mother.

After a few loops around downtown (or even over a bridge or two) on the max train, I sense it is time to head home. This is usually the point at which it starts raining, hard.

On the ride home, Ada's comfort level has increased greatly. She's usually a bit tired, but that just elevates her mood, as she jumps and yells in a gleeful pre-crash frenzy. She wants to pull the cord that signals someone wants to get off. She wants to wander the aisle. She wants to break free of her mama and cozy up to other passengers. Maybe she suspects they've got snacks.


  1. l love it! we have taken Alena on the MAX but not the Tram, that is next. I hope to have as eventful of a trip as you had.

  2. What a great adventure! Trains are way cooler than a bus. Boats are the best, though.

    LA Toddler loves the LA subway, but she's convinced their all buses.

  3. I'm fairly positive that my kid would be sitting with someone else on the train instead of me!

    I'd love to take Madeline somewhere with an elevated train system - I think she'd think that was incredibly cool!

  4. mine loves public transport too. she misses the london underground (tube) since we moved to the sticks. she loves buses, especially the part where she can dash off while i'm getting the ticket from the driver to find some old lady and say "are you somebody's grandma?" before plonking herself down next to her new found friend for the duration of the journey. these days if i attempt to board a bus alone I'm invariably asked where my little girl is by a bunch of expectant grandmas.

  5. You mean snack, right? She suspects they've got snack.

    What would it be like if Ada went on a bus, over a bridge, then in a tunnel?

  6. Just one thing about that tram that I didn't realize until it was too late: Riding down that last descent with an upper respiratory infection is PAINFUL! Just a thought. They should have a warning on the door about that. Especially since there might actually be people receiving medical care riding the thing.

    That said, my eldest LOVES riding public transportation. I hope the younger one will too, as he's only been on a couple of bus rides so far. Can't wait til summer for it to be a bit easier to maneuver...

  7. (un)relaxeddad2/26/2007 8:09 AM

    Planes are the most...interesting...with toddlers, I think. Though dudelet finds it easiest to start up random conversations with dangerous looking strangers on trains ("Why do you have a big beard? Daddy, look at the [huge, tattooed, multiple face piercings, mirror-shaded, oil-encrusted denims] man with the big beard. Is he a pirate?")