Monday, March 28, 2016

The Country Mouse Takes the Train

Brrr...snowy days of travel.

Growing up in rural Virginia, and raising my own children in rural Utah, in no way prepared me for getting around in a big city. The four months I lived in Chicago as a newborn did not help me, even though my mom and dad used the El (elevated train) and cabs and the metra system. 

Planes, Trains and Automobiles was one of my favorite comedies featuring John Candy and Steve Martin. Thank goodness my journeys between Chicago and Salt Lake City don't involve riding in the back of a moving van with a polka band and Del Griffith, but my travels are anything but boring, and I'm learning so much. 

As for the many modes of transportation, I think I've got most of them covered when I travel the 1,400 miles between our houses. My brother had always driven me to and from the airport, but a change in careers was going to make that very inconvenient, so I bravely offered to learn how to use the Utah Transit Authority system. Eric and Cristina assured me it was so easy, and they offered to help me figure it out. 

When I flew to Utah a few weeks ago, I checked the Weather Channel.  Sunny and near 70 degrees. A typical day leading up to the vernal equinox. I donned my capris and sandals and wore a lightweight, long-sleeved top to the O'Hare airport. 

A typical day of travel between Chicago and Salt Lake City takes me about 12 hours. Chuck drops me off for my 10:25 AM flight before he had to arrive at work. The flight is less than three hours from O'Hare to Salt Lake City. My brother kindly drops my car off at the Trax station near his house so I don't have to walk 8 blocks to his house, and then I drive the two hours and forty-five minutes to our house in Joseph. The journey involves one plane, two light rail trains. and two automobiles. 

When it was time to head back to Chicago. I once again checked the Weather Channel. Uh-oh. The chance of snow was about 90%. And the temps were going to be in the low 30s. I wasn't going to bother with wearing mascara or doing my hair if I was going to land looking like a drowned rat with raccoon eyes anyway. I sent Chuck a text of warning. 

In keeping my Illinois and Utah closets balanced, I generally wear back to Illinois whatever I wore on the flight to Utah. It was going to be a cold, wet day for capris and sandals, but I'm pretty tough. (As long as you allow for tough folk to whine periodically via texts and phone calls about their experiences, I get to stay in the tough folk category.) 

In a panic, I texted my brother to see if I could leave my car at the depot and have them pick it up after work. He is so good to me; I needn't have worried. They would take care of my car, and I wouldn't have to trudge almost a mile in the snow wearing my strappy sandals. (Okay, strappy sandals sounded so much cooler than what I actually wear. They're honestly clunky Birkenstocks. Orange ones. They're totally me.)

Luckily I only had to wait about two minutes once I purchased my Trax ticket. I rode the red line for forty minutes or so into downtown Salt Lake, and then I only had to wait about 10 minutes to switch to the green line that would deposit me at the SLC International airport. 

Just listen to me, tossing in phrases like "red line" and "green line" like I'm so urban; so metropolitan. About a month ago, I was shaking in my Birkenstocks about having to use the public transportation system. 

Just because the first time I rode the Front Runner train with Bridger, and we missed our connection into Salt Lake didn't mean I would always be confused by the transit system. Just because in rural Utah we stick to cars and four-wheelers to get where we're going doesn't mean I'll never figure out public transportation. Just because the only time I have had to worry about a traffic jam in rural Monroe is when the Nielsons are moving their sheep off the mountain, and the whole flock takes up both sides of Main Street, doesn't mean I can't manage getting through a big city's rush hour. And just because I am so naive and trust everyone, but am afraid of making eye contact with city people doesn't mean I have to act afraid. This city mouse has had so much to learn, and slowly but surely, I'm getting the hang of things. 

When I saw the Chicago skyline out my airplane window, I felt so accomplished. I began texting Chuck immediately, so as soon as the plane touched down and we were allowed to use our cell phones, he would know I had made it back home to him. This country mouse had missed her city mouse so very much. It was good to be back!
Taken a few days after I got back to Chicagoland, ready for Easter Sunday!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for stopping by Randomocity. Like most writers, I enjoy interacting with the wonderful people who read what I have to say, so please, if you would like to leave a "blogment," I would love to hear from you!