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Willow’s Big Bus Ride pt 2

While staying in Marshall (helping a friend’s parents paint their house), I received a letter (you remember those things, stamps, envelopes, handwritten messages etc.) from ET in San Jose telling me that he had an idea for making money, and that I should come and visit. Hmmm, a chance to generate an income and a free place to stay…what to do? what to do?  Hey I’ve got it, I’ll go visit! So I bid a fond farewell to Mel’s parents and headed West.

By now I had been travelling for about 14 months and the finances were getting a bit slim so, rather than fly across, I decided to take the bus. This was quite enlightening in a number of ways, for a start it taught me the difference between those who could afford to fly and those who couldn’t. (That thing on Ellis Island should be rewritten to say "bring me your huddled, unwashed masses and we’ll put them on a Greyhound bus so that we don’t have to look at them").

Coming from Australia, it was the signs of poverty that really got my attention. Funny, there is abject poverty in much of the sub-continent (that’s India, Pakistan and South East Asia), but because nearly everyone is poor, it doesn’t stand out so much. To see it in an affluent country is really something else again. Anyway, enough of the soapbox (the contents of which I doubt many of my fellow passengers had ever seen).

The bus left from Miami and at this stage I was full of excitement at the prospect of seeing America’s heartland from, what I initially thought, a nice comfy seat. And best of all, I had no-one sitting next to me. I can’t remember exactly how long the trip takes, but I know I’ve driven from New York to Los Angeles and that took from Saturday afternoon to Tuesday mid-day with MDW and I taking turns at driving ande only stopping for gas and food. I do remember that the bus also stopped for food, and that it seemed to stay longer than we did when we drove, at one point we waited 5 hours while they fixed something. Plus I broke the journey in Arizona (but that’s for another episode).

Another interesting thing I discovered was that it was the same bus all the way, in fact one of the drivers explained that Greyhound actually made the buses, and that they drove them for 2 million miles and then retired them, mind boggling stuff eh?

Just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Oh shit, wait a minute, this is as much as I normally write in one post, so I guess you’ll have to come back later. If you feel ripped off, or if you are still wondering who ET is, you can click the link for a bonus post.


28 Responses

  1. That’s something I’ve never done….a commercial bus trip. I’ve gone many, many places on school buses though. Thankfully, no school bus trips from Florida to California!!

  2. oh. sorry about the bus system.

  3. Pamela – There’s nothing wrong with the bus system, it works brilliantly (and amazingly economically too), it just some of the patrons could do with just a little improvement. What is a shame, is that a once world leading rail system has been decimated by vested interests.

  4. You were brave taking a bus all that way!

  5. Hi WT, you are stretching this bus trip out as far as you travelled.
    BTW some people do use that “Gimp” line when talking of dear old Gympie, but not the nice ones!!!!

  6. have you ever noticed that the bus stations are always in a bad part of town? they know their customer base. but that alone makes it tough for others to steel themselves to take the bus.

    i used to love taking greyhound when i was a teenager. walking out of the depot to the rows of buses, and they all had their destinations blinking across their front window: DENVER. KANSAS CITY. NEW YORK CITY. SEATTLE. even though i was usually just going from duluth to minneapolis, it was heady and i’d always be tempted to just climb on the wrong one and see where i ended up.

    alice adams has a great short story called “bus people” that you might like.

  7. Sometimes, I can’t keep up. To read and understand this, I find that Part One should be read first, and something about Florida should be read before Part One. This all sounds quite interesting so I will be back to read the whole story. Hopefully, you will not have 12 more posts by that time.

  8. I took the bus once al the way across Texas which doesn’t sound big but Texas is actually larger than Canada so yeah, it was kind of a big deal.

    PS. I might be wrong about the Canada thing.

  9. Hmmm….you’re a tease…or too lazy to finish the story in one sitting…or brilliant to keep us coming back…or a combination of all three.

    Yep, that’s about it…

  10. What an adventure! I never got brave enough to do something like that (and a train from Michigan to Chicago doesn’t count.)

  11. I love riding the bus! I’ve ridden from Tx to MT to CA back to Tx to Miss to Tn to MI to New Orleans to Texas…lol.. about 10 trips all in all.

    I enjoyed meeting interesting people.. although sometimes it was simply wonderful to not drive, to read… veg…. I bring my pillow, small blanket , a bag of books and a crochet project.. and a cooler with ice water and food. 🙂

    And the coolest thing? You can jump off anywhere on the line and get back on later ( a day a week ) and continue on your journey. Fabulous for an Explorer!

  12. Sometimes those “huddled, unwashed masses” can be sitting on airplanes, too.
    Jenny, Jenny, Jenny…Texas IS big and I guess if you ride across that state, it probably does seem bigger than Canada.
    Many of our ‘drug busts’ happen at or near to the bus station.
    Is this story called a tickler…?

  13. huh… how you met your best friend … priceless. seriously attitude adjuster? ROLF

    the bus.. gotta love the bus. been there done that got the t-shirt

    it said


    tee he:)

  14. I bet you would be entertaining around a campfire. Provided you keep your clothes ON.

    Did I really miss MDW??? Say it aint so!

  15. Jenny, Texas is larger than Canada. Hell, 3/4 of the women’s hair in Texas is bigger than Canada.

  16. Can’t wait to read more….

    and oh yes, I’ve taken Greyhound (from Oregon to St. Louis Missouri)….Not a pleasant trip by any means – particularly because we took it North, which extended our trip by about 10 hours than if we’d taken the Utah route. All I can say is I made a habit of washing my face and brushing my teeth at every single rest stop – it was the only thing that kept me sane.

  17. Buses make me nauseous. Blargh.

  18. I’ve never taken a bus before except as a chaperone on school field trips and I quickly caught on to how un-fun these were and started sending my husband. I’d rather be driving my own whip.

  19. Attitude Adjuster? Now I have to write another pamphlet to hand out to Mom’s of Boys! Sheesh!

    Greyhound. Just heinous.


  20. yeah, I’m feeling ripped off!! i’ll just look at cute pictures of your pets.

  21. I couldn’t do that because I just don’t do vomit comets! (Which is what it would be if I was on it).

  22. Um, okay – I’ll be back tomorrow for the next installment.

    *mutters you didn’t even visit me on FM*

    *mutters – yes the boys on the right are adorable and I will dogsit for you anytime*

  23. Dear willowtree. Gee cross country on a bus – that’s pretty full on. Did you have a video screen in the bus to while away the hours?

  24. LMM – Are you kidding me? This was 1978, the VCR was only launched in 1976, most houses didn’t even have videos, let alone buses. Although come to think of it, the long distance buses in Thailand had them at the time.

  25. Dear willowtree. Just got your messages on my blog. Was going to give you a riling about where the hell you’ve been 😦 but that’s fine, blame it on bloglines :o)

  26. I love travel stories! I also love the Greyhound system in North America. I once caught Greyhounds non-stop from Mexico City to Calgary in Canada. It took 67 hours and at the end of it I never wanted to see another bus again, but hey, I saw a lot of country and it got me home. Felt the same way about poverty in the States, but then, I’ve seen plenty on our own streets. Looking forward to further episodes…

  27. I’ve only taken short Greyhound trips and that was enough for me. Ugh. And I clicked on the link to see how you met your best friend. LOL attitude adjuster LOL

  28. Daddy D – Maybe I should number them? Hey wait a minute, I already have! Ok then I’ll put in links, that’s worked in the past.

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