Consider this a “Thoughts from Places” blog

I’m currently in Washington DC after visiting New Jersey and Portland, Oregon. Understandably, transportation has been on my mind:

I’ve taken three airplanes (one of which was made in Brazil), a commuter train (NJ–> NYC), an amtrak , the subway (NYC), the metro (Washington), the MAX (light rail; Portland), street cars (Portland), and the bus. My grandparents drove us around suburban New Jersey, and for one day we rented a car (to go to Mount Hood). We’ve also walked a heck of a lot.

And we’re only half way through our trip.

While looking at the public transportation systems in DC and Portland, I can’t help but think about Hawaii’s transportation. TheBus is a really good system for me: I’ve only found one place I’ve wanted to go that I couldn’t by bus, namely Koko Head Botanical Garden (though it can take awhile–it’s 2.5 hours to Laie, for example). But our buses still need to sit in traffic, unlike, say, Portland’s light rail or the metro. We haven’t taken any cabs, we didn’t even need to rent a car to get from the airport in Portland to our hotel. We just took a 40 minute ride on public transportation.

I’m actually for rail, and it’s when I’m in cities like these that I remember why.

Moving on to airplanes.

Taking the amtrack from metropark in NJ to Union Station in DC took about three hours. There was free wifi on the train, and outlets to charge my computer. The seats were large, as were the bathrooms, and the aisles were wide. There was a lot of leg room, and I could get up and walk at any time. We arrived 15 minutes prior to our train’s arrival and did not have to deal with checking our bags or security. It was wonderful and pleasant which contrasts sharply with my experiences with airplanes.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to fly–I love watching people turn into ants and cities become specks of light. But the airlines really stuff you in like a can of sardines. I generally don’t mind, much, until I have to go to the bathroom (which I do about 5 times on a five our flight) and I need to climb over my parents (subsequently smacking my sleeping dad in the face–true story, I got a dirty look for that) to get to the lavatory. It the very interesting to take the train where service has yet to decline so far. It gives me a bit of a glimpse of what flying must have before the mid ’80’s. Did you know that, now, United doesn’t even provide blankets on red eye flights? We were flying from SEA-TAC to Newark, and I asked for a blanket and the flight attendant informed me that that was only for first class customers. She said she’d check if there were any extras, and brought me one later, but it’s just…

It’s sad to see such a decline.

What’s not in decline are diners. I went to a real live diner in NJ. That was cool.

Criteria for diners:

1) must be in NJ

2) must be owned by a Greek

3)Must have an extensive menu

4) Must have Greek Salad on the menu

A few final notes:

Reverse mortgages are rather interesting, as are liquor laws in NJ: you can’t buy any alcohol in a grocery store in NJ. You must go to a specifically designated liquor store.  NYC is really hot when it’s 99-105 degrees out.

By spockinthehood