This is a long post, if you are so inclined, grab your favorite drink and enjoy.
Okay, I just had to write about my trip via that grey dog. I've taken the bus a lot. My first excursions were when I was very young and every year my granny would take me and my cousin out west to visit relatives in Arizona and California. It was great, she knew all the landmarks, and she made the best fried chicken that we ate along the way.
It was funny back then 'cause we would get so dark being outside playing that granny would scrub us to death. My aunt would tell her that it wasn't dirt but a tan. I guess we didn't get as dark in Michigan during the summer. Any hoo, those are fond memories where I saw lizards, road runners, sat on a huge tortoise, and wild west shows in Tuscon.
As I got older, I took the bus to and from university on the weekend to go home to raid the fridge and do laundry. Then I took a bus ride to New Brunswick, Canada for an art workshop.
But this time, oh my.....
The first leg wasn't too bad. The first driver was funny and let us know when we got close to our next stop. And it wasn't even his regular route. He took a head count, and asked us to remember who we sat next to so we wouldn't leave them behind after a rest stop. He said to make sure that we got all of our belongings when we got off to change buses because he would be at the flea market on Sat and any kids left behind would be returned. Then we got to Columbus, OH and it all changed. The new driver wasn't that nice and never told us where we were until he pulled in and basically told us to hit the road. Okay, maybe not that harsh.
It was depressing hitting the steel belt. Decaying buildings but in the town of Finlay, some of those old brick buildings were being revitalized, turned into new businesses and lofts. One old building looked way cool with the worn and dirty brick, very small windows and huge round ceiling lights (it was night). I envisioned artist working inside, loving, battling their life and creative demons. That place has been filed away in my head.
From there to Marion, where a young man boarded who seemed to have been pickled in his cologne. I was trying not to hurl my last meal and couldn't breathe. Finally the driver got back on the bus and turned on the AC. Next stop Toledo and Detroit. Landmarks were familiar again but certain areas looked like demilitarized zones. My poor city. Detroit use to be beautiful and in some places it still is but the blight is incredible. I almost cried. It looks worse than after the riots in the 60s.
Arrived at the terminal an hour late and waited almost another hour for my ride. My mom missed the exit to the station and got all turned around because of construction. You know how that is. So the way up was pretty much a straight shot. The way back was something totally different.
16 bloody hours
We hit so many little towns and hamlets that if you didn't live there, you wouldn't know they existed. Towns where there was just a hound dog sign. There were three extra stops in OH along with those mentioned above. We even got over to Kentucky. Then a gazillion stops in West Virginia and Virginia. I love VA. The early morning fog on the mountains looked like the remnants of dragon fire. Truly amazing. Filed that one too.
Then there were the people. We started off at night. For 20 minutes two guys were talking, one very loudly and he had a raspy voice that just echoed throughout the cabin of the bus. The loud guy was a vet of WW2 and the beginning of his tales were interesting. Then he got into his three marriages (2 ending in death and one divorce), and several deaths by train. It was interesting that he knew so many people who had met their fate that way. Good thing we didn't cross any train tracks. They finally piped down when a guy a seat over and behind me started talking, humming, singing and swearing to himself and doing a rendition of hambone. OMG! He forgot his meds. This took place between 11:45 on the pm and 12:50 on the am. My eyes were about to pop out of my head.
There was the internet dating gone horribly wrong. A lady was on her way to meet her beau. She was from Ontario, Canada and she was boasting how he was 56 and she was 46 and he had a blue Cadillac. I was halfway listening and wondering why she was taking the bus to see this nut if he had a Cadillac? When the bus came to her stop, she got off, and the 3 ladies she was telling her tale to jumped up to see the Cadillac that wasn't there. There was a blue vehicle. A late 80s model compact station wagon that was about 3 shades of blue and some rust. There was a woman and a young man in the back seat. We couldn't see her face (Canada girl) but the guy had obviously seen a pic of her and was very happy to see her. Now if he was 56, I'm 18. He was more like 72. They had been emailing and talking to each other for 2 years. Do you see something wrong with this picture? They (the ladies on the bus) started laughing. I was screaming in my mind for Canada Girl to run or get back on the bus. She could change her ticket at the next stop for 15 bucks. All I could think about was Deliverance and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I do hope she told someone back home where she was going to be in WV.
We all had our laugh but at the end, wished her well and a quick exit. I mean, all the stories about internet dating and she never saw a pic of this guy. Smack my head. There were others who were nuts and without medication. A guy said that when he got to his destination, he was ready to brush his one tooth. One lady got on the bus and asked me if it was the right one to Winston-Salem. I said yes. She asked me three more times in a row and I was about ready to smack her. When we got off for a break, she asked me twice if the bus I was standing next to was ours. I should've said no. Come to find out that she was on her way to see her brother who just happened to be locked up. She had been locked up before too, in the same city.
I did see a group of Amish and I didn't have my sketch book because they made a wonderful scene. There was a skateboard dude who gave a toddler his cell phone when she woke up and started crying because grandma was taking a cigarette break. He was cool.
That ride was a haul. I felt like one of those cartoon maps with the feet. They start off, go straight, loop around, go down, go backwards, and then zig zag. If we had gone in a straight line we would've made it to California. Or at least Las Vegas where I could've played the slots and seen Wayne Newton.
I don't know if I'll ever take another bus ride. But you can't beat the characters you come across.
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