My trip home from Folsom was, shall we say, “eventful.”
Leaving the Folsom site shortly after 5 pm, traffic through downtown Sacramento was light, dropping off the rental car was easy, and TSA was quick and professional. I boarded the plane and settled in to read my new book, The Cosmic Landscape. Then, somehow, something changed…
The plane’s chimes wouldn’t work. They kept ringing while we pretended to ignore them. Rather than have us wait in the chime-challenged plane, Horizon Air “de-planed” us so we could wait in the terminal. Two hours later,1 we were back on the plane and headed for Portland.
Upon landing at PDX, now 11:30, I texted Ashley. Unfortunately, she was unable to pick me up as planned. The driveway was too steep and the snow too slick. “Not a problem,” thought I. I’ll just take light rail from the airport to Hillsboro.
So I bought an “all zones” ticket and boarded MAX. What luck! I was on a train that would take me all the way to Beaverton before having to transfer.
A frozen switch at the Rose Quarter delayed MAX for a few minutes until someone came to free it.
As we approached the Beaverton transit center, now nearly 1 am, the driver said the train was stopping at 170th. Not only that, this was the last train of the night. Anyone who wanted to continue to Hillsboro needed to get off now and transfer to the 57 bus.
Now I’m not an experienced TriMet rider, but I was able to find the 57 bus stop, check the schedule, and see the next bus was scheduled for 1:03 AM — less than five minutes away! Oops! I had forgotten it was snowing and the buses were using chains. The bus was going to be more than five minutes away.2
Finally, the bus arrived, and the driver said my all zones pass was good to go. We all3 boarded and headed west to Hillsboro. I found a TriMet map on the seat across the aisle and discovered the bus was headed right by the hospital where Suzi was working the night. Hallelujah!
After what seemed like hours, cruising along TV Highway at 20-25 mph with the vibrations from the chained tires lulling me to sleep, we arrived in Hillsboro. I asked the driver if the next stop was the closest to the hospital’s ER entrance. Having exposed my public transit cluelessness, two passengers were eager to help. No, it was the stop after the next stop that I wanted. They pointed out the windows into the falling snow, prompted me when to pull the cable, and wished me a pleasant morning. I think they would have held my hand and helped me down the stairs, had I asked. I thanked them all.
Crossing the street at the intersection4 and entering under the Emergency sign, I texted Suzi and sat down to wait. I was too tired to read.5
Suzi came around the corner, gave me a hug and the car keys. I again crossed the street to the parking garage and found the car.
Pulling out into the snow, I slickly discovered why the buses wore chains. I slipped and slided the whole way home and pulled into the driveway around 2:30.
I arrived home 9.5 hours after leaving Folsom.6
2At least it wasn’t the bus I saw pulling away as I crossed MAX’s tracks. That would have me waiting another hour in the falling snow for the next 57 bus.
3 It’s amazing how many people ride the bus at 1:30 in the morning.
4Though not waiting for the walk sign. There’s not a lot of traffic at 2 am.
5Besides, my new book is *not* the easiest read when tired. Photons, quarks, and W-bosons … oh my! ;-)
6In good weather with clear roads, I can drive from Folsom to Hillsboro in 9.5 hours.