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Posts Tagged ‘bus travel’

The Bus: The 11-Year-Old With With Three Hair Tools And Decapitation

In behavior, travel on July 12, 2010 at 7:17 pm
A Greyhound bus (bus type unknown, body number...

Image via Wikipedia

I hadn’t taken a long bus trip in ages. You all know why. The Greyhound bus can be really, really, really weird — not the vehicle, its occupants. (Maybe the Bolt buses between major Northeastern cities are cool and hip. Not Greyhound.)

I boarded the bus from Kamloops (interior of B.C.) back to Vancouver, a 5.5 hour jaunt, at 6:45 a.m. I had a jacket for a pillow, an Itouch with tunes, a coffee, a lunch, a book. I was all set.

Then the woman in the very back row coughed almost all the way. I was only four rows from the toilet, so there was a bit of that smell.

Two men sat behind me, one who kept repeating that he was 43. OK, then. His seatmate was 45 and decided to crack a joke about the unbelievable Grand Guignol that happened in 2008 aboard a Greyhound bus crossing Manitoba — when one man cut off the head of a total stranger aboard the vehicle.

(The joke he told: “Did you hear they rebranded Greyhound with a new logo? Where might you be headed?)

Yup. I was a little nervous, I admit.

My seatmate was the best, a lively little 11-year-old named Destiny from Prince George; her six-year-old sister, Eternity was two rows back with their Mom.

“So, are you going to Vancouver?” she asked. And….we were off. She was a hoot. She showed me the 67 (!) blond jokes on her IPhone, some of which we both shrieked at, told me her favorite food, and we loved the fact we were wearing identical clothing — a white cotton sleeveless top and black leggings. She had a yellow and pink manicure, with alternating colors per finger. (I did not.)

The morning was misty and gray as we began, the bus snaking along roads at the foot of hills so steep they had snow-capped peaks. “I’m scared. This is creepy,” she said.

“Just pretend it’s a Harry Potter movie,” I suggested. “Maybe we’ll see him whizzing through the valley.”

“Yeah, as if it’s green screen [she meant blue screen, but I was still impressed]. And his broom is mechanical.”

“How did you get to be so cynical at 11?” I asked. She shrugged.

We saw four rainbows, many trucks carrying logs or trees or wood products. She got hungry and I gave her one of my carrots. We snoozed, joked, and somehow ended up on the topic of hair care. She uses a curling iron, hairdryer, straightener. “I’m not wearing mousse today,” she admitted.

“I washed mine,” I said.

“You didn’t brush it?” she said, aghast.

“Nope.”

We finally made it to Vancouver.

“You were fun,” she said.

“So were you,” I said.

Skip Flying (Even Without Volcano Fears) And Really See The World

In travel on April 21, 2010 at 9:55 am
Train entering a Circum-Baikal tunnel west of ...

Image via Wikipedia

Loved this op-ed in The New York Times:

Airplanes are a means of ignoring the spaces in between your point of origin and your destination. By contrast, a surface journey allows you to look out on those spaces — at eye level and on a human scale, not peering down through breaks in the clouds from 35,000 feet above — from the observation car of a rolling train or the deck of a gently bobbing ship. Surface transport can be contemplative, picturesque and even enchanting in a way that air travel never will be.

My girlfriend and I recently set out to circumnavigate the globe without the aid of any aircraft. Along the way, we took the Trans-Siberian Railway across the wilds of Russia from Moscow to Vladivostok, and drove a car through the empty doomlands of the Australian outback. These journeys take less than half a day if you go by plane. Each lasts nearly a week when you stick to the ground. But taking to the air means simply boarding, enduring the flight and getting off at another airport. Going our way meant sharing bread and cheese with kindly Russians in a shared train cabin, and drinking beers with Australian jackaroos (we’d call them cowboys) at a lonely desert roadhouse. These are warm, vivid memories that will stay with us forever.

Think of the trans-Atlantic flights you may have taken. Do you remember anything about them? (Turbulence, bad in-flight movies and screaming children don’t count.) Because flying is an empty, soulless way to traverse the planet, the best flights are in fact the ones you forget immediately after hitting the tarmac.

Now, imagine floating across the Atlantic on a ship. Do you think you might enjoy those days of transit — the joys of a starry night in the middle of the ocean, or a round of drinks with new friends as you look out across the stern railing at the glimmering water — and hold them in your memories well after your vessel made landfall?

Fellow True Slant writer D.D. Cook wrote, back in January, about  his cross-country train trip.

I’m pretty evangelical about travel — my Mom and I share the fantasy of true wealth being a deep drawer filled with pre-chosen tickets to places we haven’t even thought of into which you’d dip your bored hand, then go! — and especially about non-airplane locomotion. I love trains. My Dad loves buses. I once dragged my horrified high-end sweetie onto a series of buses in Mexico (we all know how horrid much bus service is in the U.S.) and showed him the deluxe travel, complete with movies and clean comfortable seats, first-class carriers offer there.

(Although, and we have a the photo to prove it, we were less amused when each bus showed a video, sort of like pre-flight announcements on a plane, showed a bus rolling over and crashing and telling us what to do. Hmmm, pray?!)

I recall most of my non-flying moments vividly:

A 2.5 hours bobbing under a blazing sun traveling by boat from southern Thailand to Ko Phi Phi, tropical paradise.

Five fragrant days traveling across northern Corsica on a mo-ped — inhaling the smells of sun-warmed maquis — which I wrote about for The Wall Street Journal.

Gabi and me jumping into the back of a pickup truck in Jaji, Venezuela to attend a local dance, so high in the mountains we were literally shrouded by the occasional cloud.

Eight days in a truck with Pierre, the French trucker who spoke no English and let me share his cab from Perpignan to Istanbul, no showers along the way; cops confiscated my film in Bulgaria and thieves siphoned gas from the tank while we slept in the cab in (what was then still) Yugoslavia.

What has been your best non-airplane journey?

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