Sunday, April 14, 2013

BUS STORY # 336 (Train Story # 1: Do You Know The Way To Santa Fe)

Santa Fe Depot by busboy4
Santa Fe Depot, a photo by busboy4 on Flickr.

One way I can get my wife to ride the bus with me is to plan a trip to Santa Fe.

We drive to the Park & Ride, take the Rapid Ride to the train station, then take the Rail Runner to Santa Fe. No parking hassles and fees for either downtown.

By purchasing the tickets online, we get two discounts: a dollar off each for using the internet, and another dollar off because we are seniors.

Make that three discounts: the commute by ABQ RIDE is free when you show the driver your train ticket. In an especially nice touch, our driver looked at the tickets, then gave us excellent directions on where to get off (at the stop just after we go under the bridge, then walk left across the street, turn left and walk up the stairs and take the ramp up to the train platform).

There is a free shuttle waiting at the end of the ride to Santa Fe, although my wife and I use the ticket savings to tip the drivers. It’s not necessary, but it makes us feel good.

Something else I noted this trip: type “Rail Runner” into your search engine and you pull up the Rio Metro Regional Transit District website. Not only is the Rail Runner schedule there, but so are all the possible connections for each stop. Further, each connection has its schedules and routes listed. And, of course, you can purchase your ticket here. It’s a one-stop shop, and I think it is really well done.

So: using this site, we bought tickets for the 09:35 trip to Santa Fe, and planned on catching the Red Line at the Uptown Transit Center (where there is a Park & Ride) at 08:55.

Santa Fe’s free shuttles are lined up waiting based on the arrival of the Rail Runner. They make a circuit of the downtown area which includes the State Capitol, Canyon Road, the Cathedral, City Hall and the Convention Center, and, of course, the Plaza. And they run continuously every 15-to-20 minutes. At the end of our day, we caught the shuttle on the Plaza by the New Mexico Museum of Art.

Here’s a surprise: By using the shuttle, we ended up walking less than had we driven the car, parked at the municipal garage across from The Lensic, then walked to The Plaza -- and back again at the end of the day.

The train ride itself is still magical to us. Looking out those big windows on a gloriously beautiful late winter day, at a part of New Mexico we don’t see from nearby I-25, undistracted by traffic, “rockin’ to the gentle beat” of “the rhythm of the rails...” Land of enchantment.

We had two simple objectives, one of them being some house business and the other, lunch. Do we love eating in Santa Fe? Oh, yes we do!

This day, we had lunch at The Shed, on Palace Street north of the Cathedral. You can look at the menu and say “Mexican food.” Or you can do what my wife did: order, eat, and tell me with no reservations that this is the best Mexican food she’s eaten in this state.

After taking care of business, we made rounds of our long-time favorites in the Plaza area before catching the shuttle back to the station. We had enough time to hit the Albuquerque-based Flying Star location in the Railyard, a short walk from the train station, where we waited for the 5:04 express back to Albuquerque with coffee and hot chocolate and a slice of rhubarb pie. And we talked about the fortuitous “train stories” each of us had gathered on the platform that morning while we were waiting for the train.

I will be sharing both those stories with you, you fortunate reader you, over the next three installments of Bus Stories.


"City of New Orleans," sung by the "rockin' to the gentle beat" songwriter himself, Steve Goodman.


Anonymous Brenda said...

What a teaser! I'll be looking forward to the upcoming stories then.

7:57 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Thanks, Brenda. I wasn’t trying to be a tease - honest! Just wanted to keep the stories short enough to hold people’s attention. It was a lot of fun having my wife be so much a part of the stories, so maybe I’m just trying to prolong the fun.

7:21 PM  

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