I’ve now been in Traverse City for a little over a week, and today was my first adventure into the surrounding areas. I took the BATA bus up to Suttons Bay. While I’ve been on a variety of school busses and shuttle busses before, I can’t really say that I’ve ever taken “the bus” until now. I tried to take the bus once in Pittsburg, but when I couldn’t figure out the bus schedule I ended up hitchhiking instead. Because of my general lack of bus experience and previous bus riding failures I’ve decided that if I can ride the BATA bus, anyone can ride the BATA bus.
In the few conversations I had about the BATA bus prior to riding it, everyone spoke of the bus with so much glowing approval that I was half expecting the magic school bus. While my bus driver was unfortunately not Ms. Frizzle, I did have an educational adventure.
I learned that putting a bike on the racks in front of the bus is fairly simple and easy.
I learned that on the Village loops drivers don’t typically call out the stops, so riders need to be alert and know where they’re getting off.
I learned that riders should tell the bus driver where they’re going when they get on the bus, or pull the cord near the ceiling when the bus arrives at their stop. Otherwise the bus may not stop when they need to get off.
I learned that last lesson the hard way, by missing my stop completely. Because it was my first time riding the bus, I wasn’t exactly sure what my stop looked like. Therefore I was not prepared to pull the cord when the buss whizzed past my stop. When I realized we must have passed my stop, the bus was already half way to Peshawbestown. Fortunately for me the Casino in Peshawbestown was the last stop on this bus route. When we got there I asked the bus driver why we hadn’t stopped at the library, my intended destination, and he said busses don’t normally stop unless the drivers see someone waiting at the bus stop, or someone has told them to stop. My little detour was fine by me because it allowed me to get a glimpse of a few more miles of gorgeous coastline, but for other first time bus riders with more limited time and stricter schedules I could imagine a detour like mine would be quite disappointing.
When I finally made it to Suttons Bay I was delighted to find an adorable coastal town. It had rows of cute and colorful stores, one of which featured an abundance of sparkling lawn ornaments and animal-shaped clocks. I checked out the Inland Seas Education center and learned about some of the threats to the Great Lakes ecosystems. I was horrified to learn that these beautiful waters are plagued by the miniature sea monsters of the modern world, sea lampreys. Despite my new knowledge of the lampreys lurking in the deep, I was happy to end my exploration by sitting on the beach and admiring the shifting light reflecting off the water. After a lovely couple of hours in Suttons Bay I boarded the BATA bus and returned home, ready for my next adventure.
Alana Tartaro is a student at Haverford College spending her summer interning with the Groundwork Center. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.