Posted by Heliocentrism on June 30, 2010
June 19-21, 2010
Our final hour in Flint was spent waiting for a Greyhound bus. Mark and I had a lot more luggage than everyone else. We had 2 suitcases, 2 backpacks, a duffel bag, and a computer bag stuffed with 2 computers. We had to rearrange the contents of those bags a couple of times to avoid paying overweight charges.
I was very excited to take the Greyhound across my country, since I had never been on one before. Overall, it wasn’t too bad. But I think that Greyhound is better for short trips with very little luggage. For long trips, there’s just too many transfers.
Greyhound: the inside scoop
On most Greyhound buses, there are good seats and bad seats. The best seats, the ones with the most legroom, are towards the front. They are the ones across the aisle from the emergency escape windows or handicapped seats. They are about row 5 on the driver’s side.
These seats are so spacious that Mark and I were able to put our bags under our seats and stretch our legs out. Our bags couldn’t fit in the overhead space or under any of the seats at the back of the bus. The seats are not assigned so if they are available, take them!
The closer you are to the back of the bus, the less leg room you will have. Plus, you don’t want to sit near the bathroom. Every time someone needs to do their thing, they will bump your leg or arm, going there and going back to their seat. Then, sometimes they will forget to close the bathroom door when they’re done. Get in line first and fight for the front seats!
You can pay $5 extra and get priority seating. This means that you will get to board first even if you are last in line and therefore will have first choice of the seats. But it’s not really worth it most of the time. If you are getting on a bus that started somewhere else most of the seats will be taken already and you would have paid $5 to be the first to choose from whatever is left.
There is a bathroom on every bus, but you don’t have to use them. All 5 buses that we were on stopped about once every 2 hours at either Greyhound bus station or at truck stops. Sometimes, the stop was for only 10 minutes, giving you just enough time to use the bathroom. Other times, we stopped for 20 minutes, with enough time for a meal. I don’t know if the driver did a head count before continuing on the journey, but I think no one was ever left behind.
The ride itself was unadventurous. All the drivers we saw drove as if he or she enjoyed their time in this world and wanted to stay in it. No crazy Thai-styled swerving. You can sleep on the bus with no worries of a car accident.
The other passengers, on the other hand, were a cause for concern. Most of them seemed like normal people, but there were a few colorful characters that made the trip memorable. I guess maybe I had been riding with some strange people when I was on buses in Asia too, but since I didn’t speak the language I couldn’t eavesdrop very well.
There was Mr. I-need-a-cigarette who talked way too loudly. Apparently there were no cigarettes to be bought at any of the stops between Detroit and Nashville. Every time we re-boarded the bus we all had to listen to his 15 minute rant about the lack of cigarettes for sale. “I’m gown complain at the next stop if there ain’t no cig-O-rents! I’m gown complain!”
Then, there was Mr. Laptop. He was so worried about his laptop that at every stop when he plugged in his computer at the charging station he had to announce to the world that if anyone touched or stole his computer he would hurt, kill, and maim them. “I’m not from a big city like this one, but if any o’ y’all touch my computer…” Then he would walk outside to smoke leaving his precious laptop unattended.
Not once did I see this computer in any type of case. He carried it under his arm like a Frenchman carrying a baguette. I think he just wanted to let everyone know that he was civilized enough to own a computer even if he wasn’t from a big city.
By the way, Mr. Laptop was from Tampa. Well, I saw a guy with a cowboy hat and a southern accent yelling about how he wasn’t from a big city like this one. Since we were in Savannah, Georgia at the time I had to ask. Where could this guy possibly be from to think that Savannah, Georgia was a big city? He said he was from Tampa and I figured that he was either lying or he just didn’t understand my question.
The scariest one was Mr. and Mrs. Domestic-Violence. Mark and I were in front of them in line in Atlanta. She was trying to dump him, but failing miserably.
From what I heard, because privacy was not what they really wanted, he had beaten her on a number of occasions and she wanted him to get out of her life. She had kids and she thought that they shouldn’t see someone beating up on their mother.
I was really rooting for her. But then I thought, if I was going to break up with a guy I wouldn’t take a trip with him. I would be taking that trip to get away from him. I hope she does leave that guy someday, even if it is just for her kids. No one should be with someone who beats them. No one.
How to get there:
You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.
I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.
- Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
- Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)
- Crash Course:
- CGP Grey:
- Mental Floss:
- American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot
- Area 51
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X
- Dandelion Wine
- Girl in Translation
- The Hemingses of Monticello
- The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
- The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America
- Notes from a Big Country
- One Summer: America, 1927
- Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails with America’s Hoboes
- Stealing Buddha’s Dinner
- That’s Not In My American History Book
- A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
- The Water Is Wide
- Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland
- It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.
Sometimes taking the bus is cheaper than flying, sometimes. Before you buy bus tickets, check out orbitz, other discount airfare sites, or discount airlines.
- You get a huge discount if you buy your tickets 21 days ahead of time. You will need to either go pick up your tickets from the bus station or have them mailed to a US/Canadian address.
- This is great for short journeys that last under 4 hours. It is very hard to sleep on the bus. This is because when the bus stops, the driver makes announcements to wake everyone up so that no one sleeps past their stop.
- At many stops everyone has to get off, wait 5-10 minutes, then get back on again.