I really miss having the option to take public transportation.
In the past I have lived in two cities with pretty amazing public transportations systems: Panama City and Toronto. Panama city’s public transportation is fairly inexpensive but it is also very chaotic. I grew up in that system so the chaos was actually fairly normal to me. The Toronto’s public transportation system is pricey and it has a high level of organization that I have not experience anywhere else I have travel to.
For many years, living in Toronto the TTC was my best friend. At that time I resided in Scarborough on the East side of the Greater Toronto Area but worked downtown so daily I would take the Cliffside (20) bus to Kennedy Station and get on the subway going West bound to Young and Bloor station where I would transfer to the South bound train towards Union Station. I would get off at the Dundas Square station.
Commuting to work in public transportation was very relaxing for me (I did not have to use it during the traditional rush hours). This was before smartphones even existed so I would bring something to read or I would listen to my CD player (ha!). If I missed a train, I could easily catch the next one in 5 or 10 minutes. The Cliffside bus would run every 15 or 20 minutes.
Although I have tons of experience with the TTC, I had never tried commuting into downtown Toronto using the GO Train, which is a regional commuter train serving the Greater Golden Horseshoe region of Ontario, Canada. I recently took a ride in the GO Train and it was amazing. It is a bit more costly than the TTC ride but if time and comfort are important to you then is is probably worth it.
I wonder why we cannot have the same transportation system in the United States. I lived in Tampa for 9 years and honestly the public transportation system sucked. A bus would run every hour. That makes no sense at all. I do not know if Knoxville has any public transportation system. There is a bus that runs from UTK to downtown but I am pretty sure that is all I have seen.
Having a car is a privilege. There are many people who cannot afford the cost of having a car (i.e., car insurance, car payment, repair and maintenance) or cannot drive because of many other reasons, it would be nice in the United States to have the option to use public transportation that runs regularly and that you can count on if needed. I read this article (The real reason American public transportation is such a disaster) and I think it is kind crazy to me that public transportation can be treated as a “political charge issue”.
Anyways, I do not want this to be a really long post but a reflection on some recent experiences and hopes for a better public transportation future.
I don’t know if most people that know me professionally know this, but I am the daughter of divorced parents. My parents divorced in my adulthood. I was actually just starting my doctoral program when they got divorce. To make things even more interesting, my parents live in different countries. It makes the logistics of “going to visit family” challenging. It also means that I may not see both my mom and dad in the same family trip.
But my divorce parents are really not like many others. Although they are divorce my parents: travel together, sometimes spend Christmas and New Years celebrations together, talk on the phone daily (sometimes multiple times a day), have visited me together, and are very comfortable been in each other’s presence (sometimes it is even hard to tell they are actually divorce). They have taught me so much about true love and care for another person regardless of relationship status. Of course, just like any relationship they also argue and sometimes need their own space.
Recently, I got to spend time with both of them. It was the first time in a long time that I spend time with my mom and the first time in a long time that we were all together. It meant the world to me. Both my mom and dad live in places with fairly strict COVID travel restrictions and thankfully now some of those restrictions have been lifted. Hopefully it stays that away and that way I will have more opportunities to visit them.
Recently, I went backcountry camping, which it is not to be confused with car camping (I just learned how there are two different names lol and now I guess I get to educate others). Camping culture is not something I grew up with at all. When I lived in Panama, people didn’t just go into the woods or the rainforest for no reason. However, now people in Panama are more into connecting with the tropical rainforest for weekend adventures such as hiking and camping. Personally, hiking and camping were experiences that I started to enjoy when I lived in Virginia. Some of my favorite hikes in Virginia were McAfees Knob, The Priest, and The Dragon’s Tooth trails. I also enjoyed camping and hiking at Crabtree Falls.
To be honest, the experience of backcountry camping is not something that I would attempt to do on my own. I like that I was going with mi familia because my partner has experience and knowledge on what is needed for the experience. He had also camped at this specific location a few weeks before friends. I definitely want do it again but there are a few things that I want to consider next time like bringing the camping hammock or being more creative with my food choices. I enjoyed been surrounded by nature and listening to water sounds. While I was out in the woods, I was thinking what it would be cool to see a bear but also it would be scary to see a bear. I was constantly trying to think of all safety procedures (how to scare a bear: yell like hell and act crazy — I can do that lol).
Here are a few photos from the backcountry camping outing, for some reason I was really into mushroom photography lol