Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cliff Notes of A Short 23 Hour Bus Ride

    **"I've been there--done that--puked on the t-shirt."**---  My brother explaining his true cross country bus trips in years past. 
                                  **"Dam Western summers."**---Vegas Dude
                         **"What month is it again?"---Me   As I entered Montana to snow!

   I say a short bus ride, because most of the people around me told tales of two and three day voyages, filled with half day layovers and coffee for breakfast as they watched police try to wrestle bags of crack from angry homeless people.  Angry because they were losing there crack.  No longer homeless--at least for a night or two.   I so far have not been brave enough for a true cross country trip.   Not sure I ever will be.   Here are some thoughts from my long enough trip from Bellingham, Washington to Sheridan, Wyoming.   Google Earth MAY be able to help you locate Sheridan.   Most people recall Wyoming, when I tell them it's the square state just below Montana.  Everyone knows Montana.  Wyoming really is square shaped on the map, and square as in overly boring in real life!

    Most of this was written as I was ridding the bus.  I am trying to fill in the sentences and thought lines.  I have just been slacking in getting it in blog form.  

    A cheap, not really recommended way to travel America is the bus.  You never hear of life threatening problems with Greyhound.  They don't plummet from the sky when the driver falls asleep, and last I checked they were not the first mode of travel for the patron sporting a towel on there head, and a shoe bomb.   I very recently went on a 23 hour journey that cost less than one might spend in gas cash crossing town during the pre-rush hour.  That time period around 2:30 PM were workers plan to leave work early to beat rush hour traffic.  Causing much less of a bottleneck at every ones real quitting time. 
    I don't believe anyone can come away from a window seat ride without some awesome stories to bore your friends with and a true belief in God.  Just look at that view!  Unless your entire trip was at night.  Than your excused to believe in whatever higher being you desire. 

   My run started in B-Ham,  a place I overly love.  In case you have not gotten the memo.  But also a place I keep finding myself leaving.  It is very close to the Canadian border, Aye!  And as we waited for the bus driver to pee, the boarder patrol rolled out of there SUV's and harassed a few Mexicans getting ready to board the bus.  They left the Canadians alone, because there money is worth more here?   Asking the Mexicans to produce ID, birth cert, and other things our president might not be able to show.  Than asking us "American Americans" if we were citizens and moving on.   Nothing thrilling, beyond seeing boarder agents working.  I do have to note that this bus station is onna the nicest/safest I have seen so far in my travels.   The bay makes a great backdrop while you wait for probably late bus.  A great coffee shop is located inside the large, roomy, homeless free lobby.
    First real stop was Seattle.   Not much to say about the town that I haven't in past blogs.  The town looks remarkably beautiful entering at night time.  Scuzzy bus station, but it has a bad ass pinball machine and power strips available to plug in cell phones and such.  Left the great city just before midnight. 

   After leaving the big city glow behind I saw much darkness and eventually as much of the insides of my eyelids as bus travel allows.   At five AM we hit Tacoma, and everyone gets to exit the bus for routine maintenance.  I can't believe how many people sit during the 45ish minute wait.  I plug in my cell phone, and roam around the large station to avoid more sitting.   This is a two level bus station and most of the corners are usually filled with sleeping homeless this time of night.  An oriental restaurant always sports a great Christmas tree, whatever time of year I have visited---classic!

   Blast across the handle of Idaho--No you the ho!  *I believe is there state motto, it's on the new quarters.  Which some how requires two bus stops.  Just before entering the dreaded HUGE state of Montana, you lose an hour of time. Very confusing if you are asleep during the time change.  My cell phone "knows" to set itself.  And is just another example of how it is smarter than me!  When you could still drive across the Hoover Dam, it was great fun to watch your cell phone change time about the halfway point across the dam.  OK, I am easily entertained.  And if you watch closely, you can see the rivers flow the opposite direction.  I do not know how people fly 16 hrs or more.  Just the one hour time difference is still effecting my, almost a week later.  Possibly it was that after this long trip, I went back to work the very next day.  I was very surprised and disappointed at the huge volume of snow in the pass before St Regis.  Can we all say summer flooding?   Actually as soon as the bus hit Montana, the snow started to fall from the sky.  And I had to pause to recall what month it really was.  Also all that sitting made me really ponder my move.   Not that I had to many choices at the moment. 
   We entered the state about 9 AM and I did not hit Billings till just after 6 PM.   Thus why I hate the size of the state.   It is faster, but not more enjoyable to drive the distance.  Few things are seen while you drive beyond wildlife, tumbleweed, and Wal Mart trucks.  And the sweet lull of the road can easily make you very drowsy. 

He wants a kiss!

   St Regis is a really kool stop in the day time.   The drivers switch and you usually have 45 minutes or more to kill.  The stop offers a huge restaurant/bar/casino/gift shop/store/etc.  Most of this is closed if your trip takes you here in the middle of the night.  There is also a set of huge tanks full of native fish you can view.  I must pause here to say that the bus driver tells you so many times that you can not drink on the bus, that you really really want to drink long before the ride is over.  Especially when every stop has a bar and or casino.  If the driver can tell you are tipsy, he has the right to throw you off the bus in the middle of BFE!   Before I knew I would be working the very next day, I had talked about smuggling booze in a two litter pop bottle.  My buddy suggested a 1/5 of whisky per litter of pop!   Sure it would have made the trip quicker, but he doesn't have a carer as a bar tender in his future.  Unless it's my personal bar tender!

    Butte--  Still snow flurries.  Very kool town nestled in the mountains.  At least to visit.  Nice bus stop with cheap but good food.   Bozeman is next.  A college town.  I almost moved here, once upon a time, until I visited again in the winter--no deal!  I do not believe I have ever been here  and not seen snow.   Held true on this day---33 outside, four inches of snow on the ground, and it was falling in near blizzard conditions.  Just down the road in Livingston- completely dry ground.  The population here looks to be around 5.   An old storage tool shed looking building sports the Greyhound sign.  They do have a nice but small coffee/snack shop-with a potty!  And a drive up window--for the snacks, not the toilet, please note.   The "station" is not always open though.   Today's population---two buses!

    We soonish found ourselves in Billings.   And I started to get a little excited.  Near were I grew up and all the country side looked very familiar.  Another bus switch and delay here.  Another not so nice bus station.   Last time I was there the cops showed up three times while I waited for my bus.  The bus down was super nice though!   Wish I would have had it the rest of the trip.   Sheridan's bus stop  *this week, it changes a lot, is a gas station at the edge of town.  It was super chilly, at least compared to what I have been used to and I was glad I decided to bring my actual winter coat.  I never really wore more than a hoody while in Washington. 

    I have learned to try to make your carry on luggage take over the seat beside you.  That way you can stretch out.   I could not do this until well into Montana unfortunately.   Having someone that close to you seems to find you waking up in the wee hours of the night, with someone sleeping on top of  you.    DO NOT sit at the back of the bus!   The seats are bigger, but that is were the bathroom is.   And the fumes are usually toxic long before your trip is over.  The one time I started at the back of the bus, the bathroom door did not close all the way, and the blueish water was streaming down the bus.   The bus stops about every two hours, so I do not even use the bus restroom.  Even if my pee-pee dance gets very advanced.  

     An old couple on the bus was loving the entire trip.  Apparently they take the bus all the time.  So, I guess there are worse things than this travel---like dying maybe?   All in all it was a way better trip than I had expected.   I had plenty of time to read and think up new blog ideas.  The loneliness never kicked in full force this trip.   And the views were awesome.   Although I believe my butt went numb within the first hour.  Booze would defiantly make the trip seem faster.   


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