It is early morning June 8th, 2015. The weather is beautiful and the air was clear. Excitement and pure joy have set in along with the panic of making sure nothing was left behind. We are about to embark on a wild journey to attend CMA Fest 2015 in Nashville, TN. This is going to be an interesting 47 hour Greyhound Bus ride. Did we bring our iPad and charger, tablet, chargers, food, tickets....wait...TICKETS! That's right, Kristin has them and is meeting us there. Whew! This is going to be a great adventure.
There it is, this stunning piece of architecture that is the home of the Anaheim Bus station. I have driven by this place a million times, but never realized exactly what this beautiful structure was. As we walked inside it was almost as if we forget we were about to be riding the bus instead of boarding some expensive airline. The lobby of this place was immaculate. It was bright and open and completely quiet. Where is the terminal exactly? Oh...yes this is a bus, so it is outside! All four of us were filled with smiles as we knew we were about to be on our way! Hurry, let's take last minute selfies to document our trip for Social Media posting!!! Here we gooooooo!
My first thought after boarding this "Steel Horse" was that this must have been a well-kept secret. How is it possible? The seats on this bus are nice, they recline and seem to be more comfortable than some flights I have been on. It was at that moment of wonder that I discovered, well it isn't all that glamorous! There is an older man seated next to my daughter trying to give her partially wrapped, old candy. To be nice she smiled and accepted, only to throw it away once away from him as to not hurt his feelings. Then we arrive at our first stop. Oh the HORROR!
It became abundantly clear why no one ever shared the thrill of taking the Greyhound with me as soon as we made our first stop in Riverside, CA. I suppose I should be grateful that we boarded our bus in such a great station: however, I was completely pissed that I had been fooled. This is when everything changed. Kristin and I shared quite a few looks of disbelief at some of the stations we were forced to step inside of. It is a whole different world, and some of the employees, WOW! Let's just say that when they ask you to not make a peep while they are talking...that even means whisper! DON"T DO IT! They will call you out and ream you over the intercom for all to hear. This is a moment I will not soon forget. Oh and another thing, when they tell you to be on the bus at a certain time or they will leave without you, yeah...they absolutely mean it.
As you can probably imagine, we encountered many people. Some were nice, some were mentally unstable and some were just madder than hell at the entire world. First let me tell you about the "Greyhound Gang". We met a very nice group of individuals that were all in the same position as we were, forced to take the bus to get to their destination and completely sane. We were basically all together from Arizona to Nashville. The best part is we all looked out for one another. Brice entertained my two kids, Kristin and I gave Jordan advice, the guys sprung for food a few times, Dyelle shared many laughs with us and even gave the shirt she was wearing to another passenger that was begging for it. Most of us are actually still in contact thanks to Social Media. If it were not for these amazing passengers that we now call friends, this would have been an entirely worse experience.
Now let me tell you about the others. While sitting in one of the bus stations in Texas, all of the girls were being approached by this very sketchy guy asking us for our pepper spray as he feared he would be jumped outside. My first thought and response to him was , "No I will keep my pepper spray for myself to protect me and my children from others including those that know I no longer have it!". Crazy. Then 5 minutes later we are approached by a young man complaining that Texas was trying to keep him stranded in the bus station because they feared him for being gay. He claimed he was refused bus service to get to his destination after being dropped off in the middle of nowhere with several others. I looked at Kristin and then my two kids and Kristin quickly offered to take him outside for a smoke. Thanks for taking one for the team girl! Immediately following we were encountered by CRL (Crotch Rot Lady), yes it may sound mean and for that I am sorry. I just have no other words to describe what all of us had to endure the rest of our trip. The smell this woman was emitting permeated the entire bus and lingered. One of the gang had to pour perfume in his had to rub along all of the seat backs of the bus. It was awful. Of course we were all sitting in the back of the bus to make it easier for the kids and bathroom breaks, so when she had to use the bathroom we all suffered. It was at that point that Brice could no longer handle the smell she kept leaving in the bathroom from her frequent visits. He figured out that if you put perfume on a bandana and cover your nose prior to entering the bathroom, the experience would not be as bad. Thank You Brice for your brilliant idea. Trust me all of our noses were saved!
Sleeping on the bus also proved to be a bit of a challenge. While most everyone reclined their seats to a comfortable position, some of us were not as lucky. Like me for instance. My seat decided that I should lay in my neighbor's lap behind me. It was hysterical, but also shocked me as I flew backward. We all laughed and tried to make the most of it. There was an upside to having a seat that reclined perfectly flat, but it is pretty safe to say that the passenger behind me was a bit jealous! Hahaha....sorry Kristin! At least we got to take turns actually laying down. What were the chances that I found the ONE seat that was broken on a completely packed bus?
While making a stop in Abilene, TX. we were all told we had to hurry up and be back on the bus in 30 minutes or we would be left behind. Well there goes my plan for getting better food than what was available at the gas station. All of us were obedient and quickly made our return on board. After a while we were all wondering why we had not left yet. Wait. Where did our driver go? Turns out that his shift was over and well...he left. Our bus was running and passengers became aggravated. One passenger actually got behind the driver seat and started revving the engine claiming he knew how to drive. OH HELL NO! Momma Bear was not having that. I went inside of the station to alert the man behind the counter. His response to me "Can you please tell him to stop!" Hmmmmm...how about you do your job and tell him, and while you are at it....FIND US A NEW DRIVER! At this point everyone got off the bus. Some played Hacky Sac, some took a smoke break, but Jordan, Brice, Dyelle and I went shopping at Walmart! It was just too hot and my daughter and I needed flip flops. We had to run for fear of missing the new driver, but we did it! We also stopped at a beauty supply store so that I could get some foundation for my face while on camera. Thank you Brice for convincing me to let you get that for me. You were my life saver. I can't believe I forgot to bring it with me.
Finally, our new driver arrived and we were once again on our way! We had to make another stop and board a new bus, but all of us worked as a team to make sure we would get the back again. YAY! While riding down the road my feet were becoming increasingly hot and I began to smell something burning. Next thing I know...WE BROKE DOWN! So first we are trapped for an hour and a half with no driver, now, 15 minutes after we take off again we break down. This was turning out to be quite a lovely time. Instantly I saw a police vehicle at the gas pump. I walked up to the officer while holding my son and asked if he had a sticker to give him. Keeping a 3 year old happy during this trip was my main concern. The officer asked how long we would be there. I told him I was not sure as we broke down. He smiled and said "I will be right back". After playing parking lot games to keep my kids entertained, I noticed that the officer returned. He brought so many toys, books and activities with him to pass out to all of the kids. It was the sweetest thing ever. People began smiling and having fun. Some even started having picnics in the parking lot. It really was amazing to see so many strangers come together to make the most of a bad situation. Needless to say this was the most memorable road trip I have ever been on. The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful, but we all shared an emotional goodbye when we parted ways in Nashville. As you can imagine, Kristin and I decided to drive my truck back to California (that was a completely different adventure) instead of using our return bus tickets!!! Thankfully, I had the ability to do so. So take from this story what you will, but I am sticking to driving or flying, though I may consider the train if I can get a sleeper car!
See you all soon...Missy