Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. October 2014
The driver helped eleven of us onto the lovely, clean Panorama bus. We had tickets to attend the Washington Center of the Performing Arts. Chris and I selected seats in the back, buckled up and enjoyed the slow ride through the winding campus lanes as we drove to pick up other residents. Chris looked out the window at the lush spring foliage and exclaimed to the passengers, “I spy something green!” Laughter overflowed. When all seats were filled, the bus paused at the stop sign before leaving the campus. Chris asked, “Are we there yet?” Memories brought merriment again. Returning home, Chris eyed a famous fast-food service. “Oh, there’s a good place to drive up to the window and order 22 soft serves to go!” Bus rides are fun.
On another trip, rain greeted us at the door at the end of The Tempest at Olympia Little Playhouse. Our beautiful, white bus also greeted us at the exit. Other audience members scampered to parking lots to find their cars with umbrellas or play programs covering their heads. On the trip back to our Panorama home, conversations swarmed with comments about the performers’ acting. Bus rides are convenient and a time to visit with old friends, or to meet new ones.
We still find it hard to believe that Wes drives to our front door to chauffeur us to the grocery store. After ample time to shop, Wes loads our reusable bags of purchases onto the bus. He actually unloads our sacks at our homes. (But we’re still waiting for him to put our groceries away in the cabinets and refrigerators!) Our bus operates all week, with certain days to eye clinic, Walmart, Costco, concerts, plays, rides in the country, restaurants, malls, Sunday services, etc.
We talk about when we used our cars before Panorama: parking, finding our car after shopping, opening our trunks to load or unload bags of groceries while rains filled the trunk of our car, driving home and repeating the ritual in reverse. Bus rides can be a Wes Experience.
We’re allowed to take the bus to its destination, get off and go wherever we want and be back to get on the bus at the stated time of departure. For example, a trip destined to the Seattle Pops can be to meet with a friend or to shop. A trip to the grocery store can be a haircut or craft store close by. Bus jaunts are practical and convenient.
Also, the many city busses are clean, on-schedule, kneeling (lower) at the front for easier stepping on or off. A travel-tutor is available for free to ride with us until we learn our most used routes or will plan with us on the phone. We’ve done both and referred others to the service. City busses are among the top in the country.
In addition to busses, one of the most valuable services at Panorama is run by volunteers. Panorama provides and maintains two beautiful SUVs for independent living residents: Resident Transit to anywhere on our campus from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is free, and no tipping! With well-trained volunteer drivers and dispatchers, it’s operated most professionally. Although I love to walk, I use it many times when I carry my big bag of music and consignments for the Gift Shop. I’ve used it especially when it was raining hard and wanted to visit a friend, or to go to the clinic on campus. It’s door-to-door and always reliable and a good time to visit a few minutes with another resident volunteer.
Do we miss our car? If you mean, airing or replacing tires, oil, cleaning windows inside and out with the latest shame or selecting snacks from vending machines at the car wash, repair, or tune-up shops, selecting our preferred item to wave on our antenna to identify our car quicker, purchasing a shiny new car, renewing a driver license and license tag, vacuuming, waving to others in traffic jams, stressing while driving, writing checks for insurance…not really. We’ve found the health and social advantages of walking or biking the beautiful 18 miles available on our campus. Besides, we’d rather enjoy the bus rides and spend our time and money on other needs or amusements.