I wrote notes about my trip, but was too tired to organize them into a decent post. So that’s why I’ve been back home for a week and a half and you’re just now hearing about the big trip. I have less then 2 months of this horrible swing-shift schedule left, and I can’t wait for my energy and motivation to return! Here’s part I of the series:
I had no experience with Greyhound buses. The only thing I really knew about them, is all of my high school sports teams wanted to charter one. Other, richer, teams got to charter a “real” bus and my small high school teams were very envious-we were stick on our big, yellow bus for even the longest trips. Even when we had to drive 8 hours to Las Vegas for the STATE track meet.
I had to get myself to Salt Lake City for an interview, which I thought was overkill. Most audiology programs don’t interview, and I feel they should have done Skype at most. It’s a lot to ask of poor college students to pay to go to Utah–in the middle of a semester. But I knew I should attend if invited, because if only unconsciously-it would go against me if they didn’t meet me in person.
I checked into the airlines, hoping the lower fuel prices would mean cheaper ticket prices. And of course that wasn’t the case. What would be a 10 hour drive, was going to be more then $400 for one person. And that isn’t feasible on my minimum wage when I’m saving for a move–and tuition.
Trains are few and far between, and surprisingly expensive as well. Driving through Montana or Idaho in the winter with my 1994 car was not super-stable either. I would be horrified if I had car trouble or got caught in terrible weather over a mountain pass. There was just no time to mess around with all the possible driving scenarios for an interview situation. So it looked like the Greyhound would be my cheapest option. $163 for a round trip. Which meant Cool could go too–and that’s a LOT better!
-We didn’t want to leave our cars anywhere in the vicinity of sketchy downtown. And I thought our bus was leaving at 11PM when my coworkers were in the busiest part of the work-day, and my Aunt would be asleep. It was only the day before we left that I realized it was 11AM. Twelve hours longer?! It was too short of notice by then, so we were going to cab it. But while I was checking prices I saw the Lyft app. Normal people (not licensed cabbies) drive in their (clean, less then decade old) cars with the punch of the app button. And it’s HALF the price! We tried it and it worked out fine–I recommend it.
-We got to the bus station around 9:30AM. It had an air of desperation and felt old, maybe dirty. It’s set up a little confusing and we started out standing by the train station til we realized it was closed all day and that wasn’t right. We wandered to the unmanned Greyhound counter next and since no one was there I grabbed some luggage ID tags and began filling them out. After 5 minutes, the gal came out from the back (what, was she on a smoke break?!) and did our paperwork.
-We went upstairs and sat on 2 of the 4 available chairs. People started to arrive, coughing and sneezing (openly, no covering the mouth here) as they did. Most were dressed in sweats, a few had pink or blue hair. Some were obnoxiously rowdy already.
-After an hour or so, our bus began to load. I sat down and was instantly uncomfortable–uh oh. Bus #1 had incessant, loud-talker. The guy who knows everything, has done everything and goes on and on and on. And on. There would be no napping. And I had to utilize my ipod (at too loud of a volume level) early on to drown him out.
-We were scheduled to transfer in Pasco. Why our route didn’t go straight down to Walla Walla, I don’t know. I used every bathroom we stopped at during this entire journey, not wanting to use the Greyhound’s small, and sure to be dirty bathroom. The people at this station were very diverse: Lots of hispanics, some Asians, blacks, Middle-Eastern–I had no idea southern WA would have diversity. And of course one erratic white man talking to himself, pacing, flailing his arms, and throwing his lunch pail against walls. . .
-Bus #2 was comfortable. The driver did not announce when we were loading and barely indicated which (of 4) buses was ours. He also hardly talked during the 1.5 hr journey to random Standfield, OR. . . It was a weird, brief trip and I’m not sure why they did it that way. This would become the strongest theme of the Greyhound-weird routes, random stops, taking forever longer then it should.
-At the Oregon stop we got to a Pilot center with built-in McDonalds and lots of parking for semi-trucks. It looked like our driver pulled into the McDonald’s drive through. And all he said, was this was this bus’ last stop and all of us going to Denver had to get off. Everyone was confused. Where were we? Where was the bus stop? Would another bus be arriving? I wasn’t going to Denver–would MY bus be arriving? How long until the next (hopefully correct) bus take to get here? I noticed as we got off, that everyone else had the same shell-shocked, nervous demeanor that I did. This somehow calmed me, because I figured at least we were all in the same
boat bus. And people were trying to ask driver #2 clarifications as he unloaded our checked luggage. He seemed impatient and just kept saying this was the last stop for this bus. . . Had our driver quit his job in the middle of his shift?? I did not know.
-I hate McDonalds–but luckily we had packed snacks and Gatorade. We used the bathroom, then found a tiny platform with a semi-hidden Greyhound sign along the side (as opposed to in front or beside) the wood. We sat atop and watched a gal scream at her male companion for awhile. Hopefully they would not be coming on our next bus. Then a bus came and unloaded. It was ours? Driver #3 was belligerently crabby. We started to load the bus, but he ordered us to line up and he took all of our tickets at once, while screaming at the smokers. Six people lit up–and this made me very unhappy–stupid Oregon. Once he took our tickets, we again tried to load the bus. Cranky driver yelled to stay in line while he loaded the luggage. Finally, after 40(?) minutes, we loaded without getting shouted at. I took the first available double seat, because I didn’t know how many available seats there would be. This bus was already full of tired, greasy-looking people. And it smelled of old grease from fast food. They talked loudly throughout the trip, and Cool became obsessed with her cell phone. I could not sleep at all. The driver gave a litany of rules in an angry voice and we drove another hour and a half before stopping for an hour dinner break. The tall dude (screaming recipient of earlier) kept coming to the front of the bus where his angry gal was. She would glare horribly, and even went to the back of the bus once to stay away from him. We stopped for a 20 minute bathroom break and some other dude from the back told the driver someone had a knife. I knew instantly it was the erratic tall guy. And that guy kept coming up to the front to see her–I knew he’d eventually stab her or do something crazy. And the driver eventually yelled at them to stay seated and quit coming back and forth. Not 5 minutes later tall guy came up, lingered in the isle, went back, then came up to sit in a front seat. He had not listened at ALL. After that break we stopped for another hour at the Boise Greyhound station. Erratic tall guy got kicked off the bus, because apparently his knife had already been taken once previously. There was a lot of drama with the meth–heads (once we got a better look closer up we saw the facial sores and telltale thinness) getting kicked off the bus. She was “up” crying without tears, wailing to the ticket guy, and lolling on the floor. He was in a dazed state sort of wandering aimlessly. It took an hour for them to finish their calls and their drama and leave the station. And I guess our bus was waiting on them, because our 20 minute break turned into more like 80 minutes.
-We finally got back on the bus after midnight (13 hours into the trip), but people still had screens flashing, and were talking. I finally slept lightly out of sheer exhaustion, but had a problem. Suddenly, my stomach was really hurting. And it had quieted on the bus except for some snoring. I woke up because I farted! This NEVER happened to me! Once in kindergarten I accidentally farted in school and was mortified. I tried to deny it, but Bryce Fuller called me out–which everyone knew anyway. To this day I’m embarrassed about it. Anyway, the leather seats amplified the sound. I tried to remain perfectly still so I didn’t tip off anyone paying attention that it was me. I was so embarrassed! But let’s be real, in this crowd, on this bus–farting wasn’t the worst thing going on. So I was embarrassed, but not as much as real life. I was also so, so tired. I hadn’t slept the whole day (16 hours) til then. I drifted back off, but the same gas occurred twice more. I audibly farted 3 times in my sleep! I have no idea if anyone heard or if they knew it was me. Some things are better never to know–I’ll tell myself they were sleeping and missed it. But even so, I couldn’t go to sleep at all for fear of more gas.
-We arrived in Salt Lake City at 6AM. 18 hours of travel and sleeplessness.
I’ll tell you about the trip and the return trips in another post since this one has gotten quite long.