Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wild Ride Stage 1

Last week I set out on a bus trip from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Norfolk, Virginia. The plan was to leave Sioux Falls at 2:30 on Wednesday afternoon and arrive in Norfolk at approximately 9am Friday morning, then rest and get a good night sleep before getting in the car to drive back to Sioux Falls with my daughter and two grandchildren.

If you have never ridden the bus lines that cross our lovely country let me warn you, never count on the plans. Having ridden Jefferson Lines and Greyhound previously I was not too surprised when I was told the 2:30 bus had been cancelled and I would have to wait to take the 6:40pm bus.  My sister had been kind enough to take a few minutes out of her busy schedule to drop me at the bus station at noon, so now my two hour wait turned into a six hour wait.

Sure I could call her and beg her to pick me up and then return me later that evening but rather than disrupt her day further I decided to find ways to enjoy the wait. Opting to take a little walk I found a nice restaurant where I sat in the cool and enjoyed a delicious lunch, after which I returned to the station relaxed on the front lawn taking photos of what ever caught my eye.
The station was crowded with about 45 passengers waiting for the 6:40 bus. Some travelers were transferring from other buses that had also had mishaps and delays. Others like myself had arrived for the earlier bus and were still waiting. There was a palpable sense of relief when we were finally allowed to load the bus, although there was still some grumbling. Soon it was evident that the trip was not going to smooth out once we set off with the new route itinerary.
Just a few hours into the 50 hour trip we approached the Sioux City, Iowa area and were met by major flooding, eventually the highway was closed and we were sent on a detour that put us an hour behind schedule. Although, this trip could easily be referred to as equaling Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disneyland (which by the way I detest), personally I had a very enjoyable time. I met some very kind and interesting individuals.

Among the interesting people I met was a 72yr old woman born in the Dominican Republic who had lived many years in New York.  Her accent was very strong and I am not sure how to spell her name. I did not get a photo of her as I was so engrossed listening to her stories of traveling the US and abroad I forgot to ask to take her photo. She told us of her current adventure traveling by Greyhound to visit the capitols in each of the continental states. She only had a few left Washington DC being next on her list.

Here are a few of the others that I was pleased to share this adventure with:

This is Stacy she actually lives only a few blocks from my home and started her trip when I started mine. She was on the way to visit her father in the south who will be having surgery soon. Stacy was on the bus with us until Saint Louis, Mo.
This gentleman is Rocko, his journey had begun the day before in eastern South Dakota where the bus he was on had experienced repeated mechanical problems resulting in a number of delays and bus changes. Rocko was headed up state New York to visit his son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.
This very kind man was traveling home to Pennsylvania after having spent time visiting in eastern South Dakota.
Virginia a sweet but rather spunky 72yr old woman was on her way home to Norfolk, VA.
Young woman on her way to Connecticut.
And of course Yours truly. This little group of travelers shared stories, helped each other and generally looked out for one another throughout the trip.
 We pulled into the Kansas City terminal just after 4am and did not leave out again till just after 8am.
Much to everyone's dismay our 8am departure wound up being delayed almost an hour. This young girl who was traveling with her bother and parents finally gave out and fell asleep on her family's bags.

Running behind the driver attempted to make up time by limiting all stops to ten minutes. She was not very successful in getting some of the travelers to co-operate and actually held the bus for a few that consistently turned ten minute stops into twenty minute stops, as a result we wound up getting even further behind on the way to Saint Louis Missouri.

From Saint Louis, Mo to Columbus Ohio our driver was a gentleman named Michael. Although some of the passengers did not appreciate his sense of humor and candidness I thoroughly enjoyed riding with him. With Micheal's no nonsense approach to his responsibilities we not only caught up the hour we were behind but actually arrived in Columbus at 10pm, an hour before the scheduled arrival time. Each time we stopped to pick up more passengers Micheal would go through the rules in such a way I could not help but laugh. His speech always began with "Hello, my name is Michael I will be your driver from here to '. . .' . Not Hey You, Not Mister, Not Sir, but Michael please address me as such." I may in the future write an entire post dedicated to this rather unique bus driver.

The streets outside the terminal were dark and deserted and those of us who had been on the bus since leaving Sioux Falls all tried to persuade the 72yr old New York woman to continue on to her original destination of Washington DC, as she intended to walk alone to a nearby hotel a few blocks from the terminal. The long time New Yorker and seasoned traveler just laughed and said she would continue on tomorrow after getting a good nights sleep and went on her way.

We arrived in Pittsburgh shortly after 4am and although we had a short half hour lay-over I was able to get a few nice night photographs from outside the front entrance. This was the end of my journey with all but one of the nice travelers I had met, the rest would be taking different buses after an hour lay-over and head to their planned destinations. We said our good byes on the front steps of the terminal.
In my haste to wish my traveling companions well, get a few photos and get back to the terminal gate before my bus left, I managed to yank the entrance door open on my foot taking a nice little chunk out of the inside of my little toe and breaking the toe. A very kind woman at the terminal snack bar gave me some first aid supplies and I was able to bandage the toe and make it on my next bus.
The remainder of the trip our buses made excellent time and Virginia and I arrived in Washington DC a full hour early giving us an hour and a half before the bus to Norfolk departed. At first I had not realized we were so early and after grabbing a bite to eat I looked at the clock and saw I still had almost an hour before the bus would leave. I decided to call my dear niece Erica who lives in DC and works just a few blocks from the main bus terminal.
Luckily Erica had not yet gone to lunch and was able to slip away from work and meet me at the station. When she got to the terminal she insisted we go for a short walk. I had forgotten how athletic she was and the short walk turned into a power walk to Union Station. As she said you can't be in DC and not see at least one site. I was given a very fast tour of Union Station followed by a kiss goodbye and the extraction of a promise that next time I let her know before hand so she can meet my bus at the station and spend more time together, she pointed me in the direction of the bus station and we parted. Looking at the time I realized I was going to have to continue the power walk if I was to make it back in time to get on the bus for Norfolk. Although I was winded and sore I made it back just in time to board the bus to Norfolk.

Arriving in Norfolk an hour late the first half of my wild ride had finally come to an end. My daughter and grandchildren picked me up to return to their home to rest the night before starting the second half my wild ride.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

Wow,Anita, you tell a great story. Sounds like quite an adventure. I like your spirit and I like your photos.