December 2015. Every morning started the same. Jacket, scarf, hat, gloves and a book. Ready to go at 6:20 am. Lock apartment door, push elevator button and wait. Ride elevator down, usually alone as everyone else was still asleep. Say hi to Merna (she worked the front desk in the mornings) and walk out into the dark. Frigid wind blowing off lake Michigan; always a lovely way to wake up. First stop, Clark and Division subway.

The Red Line train station is underground, so at least it’s a bit warmer. The cars were usually empty at that hour of the morning; always easy to find a seat. Once in a while you get what I call a “piss” car. It’s basically very hot in there with a stench of piss. I don’t know how that happened, but I do know it required holding your breath as much as possible.

The Red Line exits underground. Three separate flights of stairs up to the Green Line entrance. Unfortunately this station was outdoors. A little bench with heat lamp helped, but it was still pretty cold. If I got lucky, the train would show up right as I entered the platform.

A short trip to the Clinton station and then about a 5 minute walk outside to the Ogilvie Metra station. Luckily it was heated in there. Since this was the beginning of the line, I always had the train to myself. The ride allowed me to get in some quality reading time, as long as I was in the quiet car.

For some reason this map won’t highlight the train route, but it’s the gray line near the lake. The 7:04 express train took about 45 minutes to Highland Park. My office is close to the train station, about a 5 minute walk. All in all, about 1.5 hours from my apartment to work. I actually enjoyed the commute during the warmer months, especially on the way home walking through the city. But after 2 years of this, it really began to take a toll on me. I added up the total hours commuting over the last two years — it’s a bit ridiculous.

522 work days x 3.5 hours per day, divided by 24 hours = 76 DAYS!!!

76 days of commuting!? It’s hard to believe. Thanks to Urban Vanning, I have been able to significantly shorten my commute, thus freeing up more time to do what I want. Not to mention saving thousands of dollars on gas and train tickets.

Behold, my first ever Urban Vanning YouTube channel video! Here is my commute now.