7 Hours on a Bus
In the early 1970’s I took a Trailways bus from South Florida to a college town in North Carolina. I swore that I would never in my entire life take another bus ride again. Why? Between the people talking to invisible entities and the people who wouldn’t stop talking while I was trying to sleep on the most uncomfortable seats this side of a 1990’s Coach Class international flight, it was mentally exhausting. Then there were the bus stations where you were forced to eat bad food and pay twice the airline prices for it. Most people brought their food with them. And the smell! Essence of stale alcohol, old sandwiches, smegma and people who thought bathing once a year was plenty. Add to that the drivers who thought they were trying to win first place in a demolition derby and you get the picture.
There was only one thing in God’s creation that could make me get on a Greyhound (or Trailways if they were still in business) bus a mere 35 years later. I had a brand new granddaughter. It was the bus or walking and I can tell you for a fact that walking was out of the question.
The buses I took between 2007 until around 2010 were just as I had expected, except that they stopped at a fast food restaurant instead of forcing you to eat at the bus station. Somewhere along the way in just the past few years, Greyhound came into the 21st century:
- The seats are better and have more leg room
- There’s electricity to plug in your computer or charge your smart phone.
- The terminals have free Wi-Fi
- The drivers are excellent and you feel as if you’re in a limo and not on a bus.
- And you don’t have to pay extra for luggage just because you want to have a few toiletries and more than one set of clothing to wear when you get to your destination.
No TSA line. Not one single altercation, threat or bomb. On top of that, the woman I sat next to (as I listened to downloaded talk radio on my MP3 player) read a book or used her Ipad instead of trying to chat with me. As we approached Atlanta, we spent 20 minutes talking about politics in her home country of Russia and how she became a lecturer in a US university. It was fascinating to compare US politics to Russia, the changes in both countries, and an inside view of what it was like to live through the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Can you imagine? We weren’t talking about the latest fluff on TV. We were discussing history! Politics! Concepts! On a Greyhound bus!
I forgot to mention the cost of the trip from Central Florida to Atlanta. $28 one way. You read that right. Like the airlines, the further ahead you buy the ticket the cheaper it is. There’s also a frequent rider club. The only 2 negative things I can say are
- i the fast food place we stop for food now serves nothing but fried food I can’t eat. However, it has a small b us station in back so it works for both the fast food place and greyhound. As long as I pack my own lunch, it’s not a problem.
- Remember to take a bottle of water with you. If you forget (like I did), it costs $2.25 from a vending machine.
My son and his family will be driving me back home and spending a few days on the beach and exploring Florida museums. So I have to say it–no matter how good the bus or plane, it’s nicer to travel with family. You can choose the toilet you use and pick the poison you eat.
Does it mean I’m going to take another 20 hour bus ride stopping through every little town from North Carolina to wherever? Not on your life. Unless, of course, I have another grandchild born in the middle of the country. That would do it. I would, however, make sure that I brought along a cooler, my computer, and a nice fluffy pillow.
I took a greyhound up to New England to see my kids and grands back in 2010. Having made a similar trip in 1999, I figured I was well trained in the art of bus travel. Wrong. Two days on a bus at my age was just exhausting…though I would still rather ride than fly.
Where I live, it’s 2 hours from the airport. Then it’s an hour through the TSA and the wait for the plane ride. It’s 1.5 hours in the air (including circling the airport and take off) and the airport is 1/2 hour further from my son’s home than the bus station. I would save about 2 hours time if I took the plane but the cost is over $400. It’s exhausting either way and know what you mean by age being a factor in how well we can take the trip. -)