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Life is all about perspective. What you see depends on where you stand. My perspective recently changed and then changed again. After months of looking for work, I finally found a job in El Cajon, 85 miles from my home in South Orange County. That is a long way to commute every day, but I, like millions of others, am happy to have work at all, and will have to get used to the travel. After the first month of spending 3 hours daily fighting my way through traffic on the Interstate 5, it dawned on me that I could commute this same distance by train. Since there is no Amtrak going down the coast early in the morning, I still need to drive the pleasant ½ hour of open road through the largely uninhabited Marine Corp. base to Oceanside, to catch the Coaster at 6:18 AM.
Starting at Oceanside, The Coaster flies down the coast through some of the most beautiful scenery in Southern California, and is a trip worth taking, whether you have to commute or not. The train is quiet and comfortable, and usually has plenty of seats. There is a whole variety of people on the train, ranging from middle aged business men in suits, to students with their bicycles and backpacks going to UCSD or SDSU, to couples visiting from Holland or wherever. Most of them have a pleasant disposition because they don’t have to fight traffic.
I get off at historic Old Town and transfer to the trolley waiting on the next track to El Cajon. The trolley leaves the San Diego Bay and crisscrosses The San Diego River past golf courses and shopping malls, past the original California mission and, of course, past Qualcomm Stadium, the home of the San Diego Chargers. When I get to my stop, I walk over to the bike locker, get out my bike, and peddle the mile or so to work.
I used to get to work exhausted from the boring 1 ½ hour drive that I would struggle to stay awake for. Now, by the time I get to work, I have had a relaxing cup of coffee while writing my daily report from the day before. I have had time to do my daily devotions and I and have had my daily exercise on my bicycle. Perhaps, I have even had time to contemplate solving the world’s problems or to squeeze in a nap. All this comes at the cost per month of half of what I would have spent every week on gas. On top of all that, I suppose I have done my share of helping the environment, even though the train still uses diesel fuel and the trolley still uses electricity. Here I am at 66 and still working, but because I have changed my perspective, it has changed the way I see and enjoy life, and that is for the better.




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