Friday, August 21, 2009

Greyhound Buses

There's a fair bit of reminiscing going on here about people's travels on Greyhound Buses in the US.

In 1990 I bought a book of tickets allowing unlimited travel across the US on Greyhound Buses. What an experience!

The stations were an experience on their own - never mind the actual travelling. I used to enjoy looking at the buses boarding - I still remember the smell of a newly cleaned Greyhound. The buses were destined to go to places I knew from movies and songs - Albequerque, Tuscon, Arizona, Dallas, and the one that sent a little flurry of shivers through me: New York City. I nearly boarded it there and then. However, I resisted and left it for the next trip in 1991. In addition to the bus tickets we had a book of 3 or 4 open flight tickets to use for when the bus travel got to be too much.

I remember being on the bus between Memphis and New Orleans - following the Mississippi - and seeing the terrible conditions that the black poor were living in - miles and miles of delapidated shacks. It looked somehting out of Mississippi's burning. Those same communities are the ones decimated after the recent floods in New Orleans.

I'm pretty sure we flew into New Orleans and greyhounded out towards Memphis. At Memphis I loved the local accent - noticed how much more friendly people were - and we had bacon and syrup in a cafe attached to the Greyhound Station before wandering out to find somewhere to stay.

Another trip was from Dallas to San Antonio, and then from SA out towards the Mexican Border - we were boarded by Border Police and searched - they though it was really funny that two British guys were on board, for some unknown reason. One Mexican tried to leg it and was dragged off.

I'm a bit hazy about the details of the trip at this point. I remember spending most of the night in Albequerque Greyhound Station - playing pacman - it was incredibly cold and we were out on the main drag somewhere a long way out of downtown. There was an Indian guy in the station waiting too.

We saw quite a few Hamish on buses and I'd say quite a few dodgy looking characters, and also a lot of young people - teenagers, students, etc, but I don;t remember having any trouble with anyone. People left each other alone. Sometimes you'd get talking to someone in the station though.

When we boarded the bus to the Grand Canyon at Flagstaff it was deep snow and blizzard conditions. I thought it's be cancelled, but it wasn't, and we made it on schedule. Two days later another bus picked us up and took us to California, through the desert and over the mountains into San Diego. SD was a slightly scary place - I didn't like carrying my wallet around there - ironic really as I actually had it nicked from me in San Francisco a few days later.

My second trip to theUSA was in September 1991. I took a long Greyhound trip from NYC, to Chicago, then headed south to Nashville, and finally East through the cumberland Gap to Washington DC, and back up to NYC.

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