Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Adventure on a Greyhound Bus Part 4

I was pretty excited when we rolled into Emporia, Va. I had over heard that my new "friend" crowding me out was getting off at this stop. This would be my last stop before Raleigh which also made me happy. We pulled up to the "stop" (a bunch of cones in a parking lot of a truck stop). Everyone though this was a break so there was a bum rush towards the door to have a Cigarette break. The Bus driver pull the kibosh down on that and the throngs of the nicotine addicts were ready to riot.

It got me thinking: is there anything in my life that would cause me to get this upset if a mean old bus driver wouldn't let me do it? If the answer is yes to any of thing, I have to pause to see if this is a addiction or something that is a master over me. For these people, it was a cigarette. You should have seen the look on these people's faces. It was like we were clubbing sea kittens or something.

I think the whole bus experience helped remind me how cluttered life can be. The Bus help eliminate distractions of media and internet and showed me it was all going to be okay. The world will go on if I don't follow it for a day. I have a problem with info lusting. I am a thinker and learner. That drives me in most days. The bus help detox me. Because this is a self-imposed trip without luxury, it enabled to quiet down my soul and listen a lot. To people. To God. To my brain.

When I finally pulled into Raleigh a half hour late (thanks to construction), I was happy to see my wife, tired from the trip and willing to do it again. I found it a cheap way to travel and to crowd out some of the noise in my life. It forced me to quiet down and look at my urges and how I see the world. It was a unique experience that I hope I have prepared all of you for since I'm sure you don't know anyone who has ever rode the bus.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Adventure on a Greyhound Bus Part 3

Sorry it has taken me a little longer than I expected to conclude this series. The north side of D.C. is a very different place. As a man that grew up in the suburbs of a rust belt community, I have never seen anything like this. A lot of housing really close together that looked really small. I never knew D.C. was that big. I know I wouldn't want to live. Not because of the social structure but because I would not know where to go to get things done. There is no state Government. There is no (official) U.S. Government Representation.

This is probably why I was so shocked at the state of D.C. It reminded me a little of Guadalajara in look and feel (minus the Spanish signs). It seemed like an area that had no pride in itself. With the amount of people moving in and out of the community, I can understand why. When we constantly move, how can we love the area we live in? Maybe I'm naturally looking at this because I'm in the middle of moving and how I hate it so much.

But as we pulled into the bus station at around noon, I was hungry and had to go to the bathroom. BUT, I couldn't go do either. Not because there wasn't any facilities. Not because I didn't have time. I had forty minutes. I couldn't go because I had to stand in line in order to make sure I caught my transfer bus. Even though I had a ticket, everything was first come, first serve. If I did any of those things, I was not guaranteed a spot on the bus. As it was, the line was already reaching halfway around the station. If I left my spot, I would be in trouble. Not very convenient. When we loaded the bus, almost every seat was filled. So I could have did those things and got a seat but I could not have been sure.

Thus, I had to wait until Richmond, Va to obtain any of these "luxuries" I craved. I was surprised that Richmond had reasonable food prices though the wait was long. Also, while I was waiting, I think I saw a demon possessed woman. She was sitting in the food cafe, yelling at some other people saying something like "Jesus has a thumb up his butt." I couldn't help but look around and people didn't know how to respond. I didn't know how to respond. I was scared. A manager went over and tried to console her but she came back and continued to yell. I wish I knew what to do. I was at a loss. How did people see this? I don't know but it was an experience.

As we traveled on, I got to sit next to an interesting person who crowded me into a corner. He also kept answering to me whenever my wife called me. It was actually quite funny.

I guess this is long enough. One more post tomorrow for all you found this interesting.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Adventure on a Greyhound Bus Part 2

I arrived in Cleveland and my new friend had to catch a transfer so I was on my own again. For some reason, we had to sit in the Cleveland bus station for an hour (probably for driver switch and gas up). It was an interesting Bus station. Very Art Deco in feel. I looked at getting some food but there was no way I was going to pay 10 dollars for a cheeseburger from a shady cafe.

Lesson #2: The Greyhound has a captive audience and don't care about it. They will charge what they want. I should have brought food but I did not. Good thing I have strong stomach.

We then loaded the same bus for our next leg to Pittsburgh. I don't remember much of that drive because I tried to sleep. The bus was pretty thin so I could spread out. That didn't last long because we then stopped at the Pittsburgh station (which was by far the nicest one of the trip). But again, we had to stop and wait for another hour. Sigh. I just wished they would travel. Lesson #3: Sleep on a bus is awfully hard to come by.

Once I got back on the bus, I tried to sleep until we reach the end of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. As a aside, I'm glad most of my trip was on a Turnpike because that minimized the stops made. Maybe that was why the one hour stops were made too to give the driver a break. I don't know but it was a very confusing part of my travel. Eventually, we stopped at a non greyhound stop on the Penn Turnpike where they had a Starbucks and a Cinnabon. If I was going to pay high prices on anything, it was going to be on something good. I was expecting to get something of a breakfast meal but that didn't happen. I did stock up on some Sun Chips, peanuts and beef jerky at the Shell station there so I could hope to avoid paying the high prices of food in the Greyhound stations.

As we continued on, we stopped at the Hagerstown, MD stop. This was on of the worst stops of the trip since the Greyhound station was a basically a shed with a McDonald's across the parking lot that I didn't have time to go to. Oh the tease! The Frederick station looked nice though I didn't get off.

By this time, I notice a trend among the people that traveled on Greyhound. They are predominantly lower income and mostly nonwhite single people using the bus. I did see a few families try traveling but I can see why more do not do it. I couldn't tell for what reasons people were traveling but it was a different class of people then what I'm use to. I'd try to make conversation but many of them quickly poo pooed the conversation.

One of the benefits of the trip was it got me out of my comfort zone. I would recommend any one who feels superior to any one else, take a trip on a Greyhound. It would expand your view of the world. Most of the time, Greyhound stations are in downtown portion of towns. Often times, you drive into areas you wouldn't go through normally. The trip from Silver Springs, MD to D.C. was especially enlightening. I got to see a side of D.C. that I would never see on a tour bus. Very eye opening.

But more on my D.C. exchange tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Adventure on a Greyhound Bus Part 1

Sorry about the lack of post for all 3 of you who care but I wanted to write about my adventure on a greyhound bus. Why was I traveling on a greyhound bus you ask? Aren't there plane, trains and automobiles? Well, last weekend I drove my 91 Buick Regal north to our new home, Payne, OH along with some stuff. I was going to leave my car there so needed some way back. Since planes were expensive and trains did not run very well from Toledo to Raleigh, so I decided to try my hand at riding the bus. Mind you, I have never ridden in a Greyhound before. I have rode charter buses for band trips and group trips so I'm a aware of how buses travel. I have also traveled on intercity buses in Mexico (which were REALLY nice). But never the two together here in the US.

I decided the price was right ($65) and I am always up for new adventures so why not go for it. At the very least it would give me plenty to talk about for a while. Here is the details of my trip and my thoughts on using Greyhound as a manner of travel here in the United States.

My bus was suppose to leave at 10:20p Sunday night from Toledo. I didn't know I needed a confirmation number so I had to call my wife. The lady there was busy watching a DVD and waiting for her lunch break so she didn't seem to willing to help. There were a few people sitting there watching FOX news (of all things) while waiting for the bus to arrive. Since the bus is first come first serve, a ticket doesn't really mean much. If the bus show up and there are no seats, you are out of luck. Usually people try have two seats so they can spread out. So I didn't willing want to ask for someone to move over. I was hoping to find an empty seat.

The bus arrived pretty full. I found a seat by itself and sat down. There was a late comer that sat down next to me (since I sat in the window seat and not the aisle seat as was the trick everyone else was using). So the guy sat with me. This is guy was a conductor on Amtrak. Really interesting guy. Very nice. I won't go into everything but this guy was nice enough to give me some tips in traveling on the Bus. Without it, I would have been totally confused.

The first thing I noticed that it is a very insider focused industry. Things were not communicated clearly and you had to learn things on the fly. People aren't willing to help very much. (though I thought the bus driver were really nice). As time rolled on, I started to become sucked into the insider culture and didn't really want to help people. Kind of sad on my part.

More to come tomorrow.