Thursday, July 29, 2010

on Greyhound

I will probably not ride the Greyhound for a cross-country trip again.

It was affordable. It got us from point A to point B. I slept through more night hours than I feared I might. The drivers were mostly not scary. We met fascinating fellow passengers: Europeans on holiday, mothers and children traveling to see family, a few recently released from institutions (easily identified by their "Patient Belongings" plastic bags), a few newly out of the military, a New Yorker named Jerry.

There was only one fight, on the way out, and the police came right away when the bus driver let them know which mile marker. We were always running behind schedule, but they also always held the buses for the next leg of the journey, so we didn't spend any nights stranded in iffy stations. Some of the buses had more leg room than others.

We saw some beautiful sights. Southern Montana and Wyoming were especially lovely. Denver appeared to have some great green spaces in it. Nebraska was long and boring, but there is a certain prettiness to the endless fields. And it turns out that Omaha Steaks really come from Omaha--we saw the shipping facility from the road.

I have never been so happy to see the Chicago skyline as I was at 4:30 in the morning on Tuesday. It was a beautiful sight. It was home.

If you do decide to ride Greyhound for a long trip, here are my pieces of advice. Please listen up, so I at least feel like J and I took one for the team:

- buy your ticket at least 21 days in advance and get it for basically half price, but don't plan to exchange it; it's a lot easier to endure the inevitable craziness if you can tell yourself, "But it was so cheap."
- bring a blanket/small pillow
- pack a refillable water bottle and refill it at each stop (it keeps you hydrated and gets you up and moving)
- also pack plenty of fruit--it travels well, and it saves you from depending on questionable fast food and gas station junk. We lived on fruit and trail mix.
- wear shoes you can remove and replace easily
- bring baby wipes
- don't get into any trouble with anybody. They'll kick you off in an instant.
- expect to be late / uncomfortable / laughing

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