Down on the west coast, I get this feeling...
My journal entries from my trip on the greyhound out to the westcoast (note to self: never do that again)
Preface: I get these whimsical ideas in my head that I have no idea where they come from. When I decided to move to the westcoast, I decided I would take the greyhound to do so. In my head, I thought it would be like the 1950's. Well dressed businessmen and fancy ladies, etc. all with the same passion to travel. Okay, well let me tell you. THAT IS NOT WHAT THE GREYHOUND IS ANYMORE. When I arrived at the bus station I was hesitant to get on the bus. It was obviously a place to go where people had no where to go, but to be honest, I am not one to shy away from questionable company and travel. So despite my initial skepticism, mixed with all the other glaring obvious reasons people would take the greyhound. (you can figure this part out on your own) I decided to push onwards.
My friend Nikki gave me her spare cell phone since mine was going to be not working and I gave her some of my things and said “take this stuff I can't fit it.” I nervously waved goodbye to my dear friend from the window as the bus full of misfits left the Midwest.
Why do people get stuck? Chain gas stations and fast food fill the plains of the midwest. Everyone on the bus looks tired and broken. I feel for them. How can I help? I have nothing to offer and it makes me think of going back to school briefly. The Midwest skies are full of fat gray clouds. They guy behind me rambles on and on about having too many DWI's.
Vibrant, flat forever vibrant grass, caterpillar yellow bulldozers, John Deere green tractors, endless fields of Semi's litter the highways.
Crops. Barns. Space, So much space. Wide open space.
Muddy farm trucks. Beige minivans. White sedans. Gold dome Catholic Churches. Abundant pristine police cars. Perfectly striped mowed lawns. Endless discount motels.
The bus brought everyone together from vast backgrounds and cities on a trip halfway across the United States. Instead of complete strangers, we became a bit of acquaintances.
The young man with raven hair and native shadows under his eyes told me about his father dying and about how you can predict the weather by reading the bubbles in your coffee. We watched each other's stuff and rambled along with the endless highway. I felt some relief to have met a somewhat safe travel buddy. He had never ever left his home town, a tiny town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He was fascinated by everything he saw including the conveyor belt at the grocery store. He had an energy about him that was inquisitive & sincere. He was brave and didn't know it. He was naive to the big wide world but he would carry with him the energy of his roots and would be forever transformed. He had perfect white teeth and Sienna skin, a wolf tooth from his grandfather around his neck.
MONTANA AND NORTH DAKOTA
Didn't get to see much of Minneapolis and Wyoming because the bus rolled haphazardly along the highway in the dark. I was getting sleepy, that heavy weighty sleep, that only a bus can bring on. I got off the bus every chance I could, washed my face, stretched, but it wasn't enough stopping and everyone was growing crazy with restlessness and eating nothing but pounds of candy and chips, that were in every single gas station from Missouri to Montana.
The bus was repeatedly late so no one got off for more that five minutes which is hardly enough. No time to visit or see the scenery, like I thought we would have. The people in the towns had a broken look in their eyes and had either Native tattoos or scraggly cheap ones. They didn't smile, or say hi. They were also buying hoards of junk food at every gas station. They stared at everyone that go off the bus as if we were a traveling circus but considering I hadn't showered for days, I'm sure we were most interesting to look at.
I remember buying chips and salsa st a grocery store and we finally got a fifteen minute break at an odd caboose coffee train place in the middle of the Montana desert. We switched busses as some point, staying in the station for hours on end, in some strange small town where I walked around and around and finally settled on watching some lumberjack man at the bus terminal in a red flannel shirt. He was reading one of those annoying popular Tom Robbins books with their monontous covers and lackluster font that every hipster from there to New York were reading and I thought to myself “It would be better if he were reading Hemingway.”
Four days, lack of major sleep on the greyhound. Was this the Jack Kerouacish travel life I had envisioned? I guess sort of. I wasn't on drugs but traveling with people who more than likely had a recent past with them.
I watched a man get his face beat in by another man. Both about forty years old. It was 1am and everyone was asleep on the bus except for me and maybe a few others. We were so close to Seattle. This guy got up and went across the seats a few rows back, and started punching this guy in the face for no apparent reason other than possible PTSD or a mental issue. Everyone screamed and finally he abruptly stopped and just sat back down like nothing happened after like ten blows. It was like watching prisoners go at it. The bus driver locked her plexi glass door cage and in a nervously firm voice yelled “to sit the fuck down and we were pulling over and she was going to call the police.” The poor guys face looked as if he just lost a UFC cage fight. Everyone just stared at each other. I assessed that the man who got punched was sitting where I almost sat. I questioned whether to offer him first aid, but then remembered the crazy man was still sitting back in his seat. Most people got their luggage and left the bus, due to the traumatic event. I tried to wake the native kid to tell him what was happening, but he was sleeping so deep, I couldn’t shake him awake. I grabbed my backpack and saw the crazy guy was anxiously hiding in his seat. I was scared to walk past past him but I couldn’t stay on the bus to find out what else he was capable of. I walked around the dark, extremely seedy bus station and decided this was definitely not a place to get off at 3am. I mustered up all my inner city strength and walked back on the bus as the driver said we are still pressing on with the remaining passengers. The police finally came on and arrested the assailant and the beat up guy said he didn't want to press charges. Then the border patrol came on and started asking the remaining passengers where they were born. They took people off the bus without proper identification or who couldn’t reply in English. They made them grab their luggage and leave with them.
There was only a few of us left. It was all so strange and everyone couldn't quite figure out what was happening. I made it to Seattle in an extremely delirious haze at 7am and said goodbye to my travel companion over a bland cup of black vending machine coffee as we headed our separate ways from the bus terminal.