I didn't plan on having a bus adventure today, but I dropped my car off to be inspected and my usual mode of travel between C'ville Imports and my house is the Trolley. The Charlottesville free trolley was meant to be used by tourists as shuttle between downtown and UVA. It's a bus pimped out to look old fashioned and it is completely ridiculous; an urban Disneyland ride full of homeless people. I am always embarrassed to be seen on it. And the seats are super uncomfortable.
Once we passed the hospital, the character of the trolley changed. A group of Burmese refuges, along with a Japanese tourist got on the bus at 9th St. He had the baseball cap, windbreaker and alert posture of the tourist, although I didn't see a camera. At the Greyhound station, a man with a large rolling suitcase got on. There were many empty seats but he squeezed in next to the tourist and proceeded to soundlessly sing, bang imaginary drums, dance with his upper body and otherwise behave in a way to scare the pants off our little Japanese tourist. The tourist got off at the downtown mall, the singing/dancing man got off at the Haven homeless shelter.
From the transit center I had planned to walk home, but the number 8 bus was just pulling up so I impulsively hopped on. Here is a picture of the transit center I keep mentioning. Behind it is the Belmont Bridge, and Belmont beyond.
I knew that the number 8 bus goes to K-Mart, which it does, rather more efficiently than the number 5 gets to Wal-mart. First it heads down Preston Ave/Barracks Rd. I drive down Preston all the time, but it was nice to see it from a bus. There are some elegant houses along Barracks Rd, although the trees make me think "jungle." There's also a very expensive neighborhood between Barracks Rd/Dairy Rd/Rugby Rd. My kids and I once got lost there on a dark December night, looking for Christmas lights. It turns out the people of that neighborhood do not indulge in Christmas lights. Or street lights.
We pulled into Barracks Rd. Shopping Center--which is served by three bus routes, the 7, 5, and 8--and then headed up Emmet St and into the Kroger Shopping center and then across Hydraulic into the K-Mart shopping center, which is soon going to see a lot of action when the new Whole Foods opens in early June. That area is already very congested. I am dreading what it will be like with WF in business.
From K-Mart, the bus turned into the Seminole Square shopping center and then headed back toward town, first turning into the Best Buy shopping center. My goodness! What a lot of shopping centers Charlottesville has! Since there was almost no one on the bus, we got ahead of schedule and had to wait for a few minutes at a stop on Angus Rd, next to Best Buy. I realized that this stop is directly in front of Ultimate Bliss, C'ville's adult shop. Charlottesvillians need never worry about not having a car to go buy sex toys because the number 8 bus is there for you.
We headed down Preston, back downtown. At the stop in front of the Haven, I noticed the suitcase guy, holding court among a group of other homeless men. I walked home from the transit center. The entire circuit of the number 8 had been just under an hour. The bus had been mostly empty, did not vibrate my brain into a coma, and it was a beautiful, chilly spring day on which to observe more of Charlottesville.