Ok so I have been walking and taking the bus in LA for 5 whole months. I take the Metro Transit City bus all the way to the end of the line and then transfer to the Blue bus to get to Venice and sometimes take that to the end of the line to get to the Santa Monica Pier (2 hours, people)! I take that same Metro Transit City bus up and down the PCH to Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and the other way all the way out to Long Beach to hit up the Aquarium. We take other buses to the farmer’s market and it’s all very sweet and environmental and wonderful – until it isn’t.
Last week, I was trying to meet up with a mommy group in my area at a neat outdoor mall with a fountain for the kids to play in (not renegade style, that’s what the fountain is for), it was a really quick trip too. Just ten minutes on my beloved Metro Transit City bus and then another 15 minutes or so on a connecting bus. Dude! We waited an hour for that connecting bus. Eventually, we gave up walked a few minutes up the street to a cute park we found the first week we got here and called it a day.
A couple of days ago, we were headed out to a park that isn’t directly accessible by transit. We knew we were going to have to walk a bit from the bus stop. No biggie. I’m from Toronto! We walk everywhere! So, away we went – except we got off at 8th Place in Hermosa instead of 8th Street in Redondo. It was about a 40 minute walk. Wee One #1 just gave me ‘the face’ and we went to Pinkberry for some pomegranate frozen yogurt and turned around and went home. If I was driving and accidentally turned up 8th Place instead of 8th Street, I could just turn around and keep going.
Times like these are the only times I really wish I was a driver. Honestly, it’s not a money thing, I could get a car if I really wanted one and it’s not a fear thing, I could drive if I really wanted to, but I just can’t justify owning two cars with all these buses and everything I need within walking distance. Plus since my husband drives everyday (he is madly in love with his car) he picks up random heavy things I can’t drag home in the wagon and since he loooooves driving, we do a fair bit of road tripping. So my not driving doesn’t really rob us of any of those driving perks.
Something important came up in conversation with the kids when we were talking about the frustrations over the bus system here, the kids noted that we have an incredibly good time together when we’re adventuring around the city on the bus in ways we couldn’t do if we were driving. We go to a lot of places where parking is a total nightmare and we don’t have to worry about it, we play a lot of eye spy at bus stops while we wait for the bus, we play games on my phone at the back of the bus and best of all? We just chat. Endlessly. About nothing. My 12 year old and I will go on and on and on about nothing and everything and my 6 year old makes up games and stories and then my three year old wants in on it too and she gets really animated and I love it.
So, the kids and I sat down and made some ‘booting around LA on foot / the bus rules’ and I thought it would be fun to share what happens when we are faced with frustration. Giving up or giving in is not an option. Especially when Wee One #2 says, while waiting for the bus that began that insane trek on Wednesday ‘where does all the smoke from the cars go, Mommy?’ Into the air we all breathe, sweetheart.
So, here are the general rules agreed upon by the two oldest Wee Ones and myself:
1) 1 mile is the furthest they are willing to walk and / or sit in the wagon (which totally works because Whole Foods, the grocery store and our fave thrift store are all under a mile away)
2) With the exception of a once a month trip out to Santa Monica, no bus transfers to avoid the trip abruptly starting to suck mid-journey
Which led to some related rules for our schedules:
1) We will meet up with our local homeschooling group once a week IF the park they are going to fits the above guidelines, otherwise, we’ll go to our local beach.
2) We will meet up with the local mommy / small kid group once a week IF they’re nearby, otherwise we’ll go out for ice cream
*we made an exception for our favorite park because it’s 1.4 miles away but they agreed the slushees on the way back from the 7-11 are worth the extra 0.4m