Friday, November 21, 2008

An Adventure in Public Transportation

Let me preface this post by filling you all in on my history of public transportation use. I have basically lived in three different locations in my twenty-four years: my parents' house in Dane, WI (in the country, just north of Madison), Oshkosh, WI (while I was going to school), and "inner city" Madison, WI. Now for those of you who aren't from Wisconsin and have no idea what these locations might be like as far as public transportation goes:

Dane - well, its out in the country among the cows and the corn, so take a guess at how many busses run out there?

Oshkosh - yea, there is a bus system, but the town was really small enough (70,000 people) to walk and bike around quite easily, and my life there was pretty centered around the University anyways

Madison - bigger city (around 210,000 people), but a pretty inadequate bus system (in my humble opinion), and again, easier to bike around. example? I work part time at a music store on the south side of Madison, and to take a bus home to the near east side after ending a shift at 8pm, would've meant not getting home until 9:30pm because of bus transfers and waiting, and thats ONLY if I were magically able to get out of work at 8pm sharp and catch the 8pm bus in front of the store. Since that would never work out, I'd have to wait for the 9pm bus and wouldn't get home until 10:30pm. 10:30 PM AFTER GETTING OUT OF WORK AT 8PM! Isn't that crazy?

But I digress, that was all just set-up to tell you about the Great Public Transportation Adventure I will embark on in a couple of weeks. I felt the need to explain all of that because the next part probably wont seem like much of anything to you well-versed, big city folks, but its not something I'm used to. I have, however, used the subway before in cities like New York, Montreal, and especially when I was in Rome for three weeks, so I'm not completely foreign to it.

At the beginning of December I'll be playing four nights of shows on the east coast, and I wanted to share my travel itinerary with you:

Monday, Dec. 1st - taking a Van Galder bus from Madison to downtown Chicago. The train taking me east doesn't leave until the next, but I'm coming down a day early to visit my Flame Shark buddies who recently moved there. After arriving by bus I'll be taking the El to get to their house.

Tuesday, Dec. 2nd - I'll be taking the El back to downtown Chicago and to the train station, where I will board a train to Pittsburgh. I will ride said train for a loooooong time, and sometime very early in the am will switch trains to one headed to Philadelphia

Wednesday, Dec. 3rd - I will arrive in Philadelphia in the afternoon, and (here's where I depart from public transit) my songwriter buddy Kyle Swartzwelder (from Wilmington, DE) will pick me up at the train station. We'll drive up to East Stroudsburg, PA where we're both playing at East Stroudsburg University that night.

Thursday, Dec. 4th - I'm headed to New York this night, and Kyle has to head to his own show elsewhere, so he'll drive me back to the Philadelphia train station where I'll catch a train from Philly to New York, arriving in the afternoon. I'll have some time to walk around Manhattan, and then will hop on the subway to take me to Avenue A, where I'm playing at the Sidewalk Cafe around 8pm. Then I have to hop two more subway lines to take me to Brooklyn, as I'm also playing a later gig at Goodbye Blue Monday. Also, I'll be meeting up with former Madisonion and member of the Kisser's Kari Bethke. Kari played on my second cd, and I've connived her into playing some sweet violin tunes with me at the Sidewalk.

Friday, Dec. 5th - I'll be taking the subway from wherever I ended up the night before back to Penn Station, and then taking a train from New York back to Philadelphia. Kyle will again pick me up at the station and we'll drive to Mount Holly, NJ, where we are playing at the Bridgetown Pub.

Saturday, Dec. 6th - no public transportation on this day, we'll drive to Newtown Square, PA (a suburb of Philly) and play at the Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse. This is the last gig of the mini-tour.

Sunday, Dec. 7th - Kyle will take me back to Philadelphia one last time so that I can catch a train back to Chicago (transferring in Pittsburgh, of course)

Monday, Dec. 8th - I'll arrive in the morning in Chicago, and catch a Van Galder bus back to Madison


So maybe you're reading this and saying to yourself, "what's the big deal?" Well, imagine that you've lived your whole life in a land of beer and cheese, completely devoid of subways and El's, then it might seem a little more overwhelming. I'm looking forward to it though, it will be great practice, as I will be moving to a bigger city in August, most likely Chicago, though I have been considering Philadelphia as well.

Yep, Madison, I will be sad to see you go, but we've got some months yet to continue our affair, and I'll probably be back some day. As long as the railways don't eat me alive in December, its on to the big city and NEW, everyday adventures in public transportation for me!

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