Posted by: yannaungoak | July 1, 2009

The Greyhound Ride

So, this post has been overdue for about two weeks now.

It all started with a stupid decision. I didn’t think about booking tickets to get back from Chicago to Burlington until about two days before I was supposed to come back. First, I checked the airlines first and a one way flight to Vermont was more than $200. So, I settled for the last resort in American public transport: good old Greyhound. Now, I’ve taken Greyhound on “10” (read 15) hour trips from Vermont to New York city and stuff, but this time its going to be halfway across the country. Even the officially scheduled time for the trip was going to be something like 40 hours long, as you can see below:

06/18/09  11:45am  GLI-1632 *   Depart CHICAGO, IL
06/18/09  09:05pm  GLI-1632 *   Arrive  CLEVELAND, OH
06/18/09  10:15pm  GLI-0204 *   Depart CLEVELAND, OH
06/19/09  09:10am  GLI-0204 *   Arrive  ALBANY, NY
06/19/09  09:40am  BZ-0410 *    Depart ALBANY, NY
06/19/09  11:40am  BZ-0410 *    Arrive  SPRINGFIELD, MA
06/19/09  05:30pm  GLI-0128 *   Depart SPRINGFIELD, MA
06/19/09  08:35pm  GLI-0128 *   Arrive  WHITE RIVER JCT, VT
06/20/09  02:40am  GLI-9127 *   Depart WHITE RIVER JCT, VT
06/20/09  04:10am  GLI-9127 *   Arrive  BURLINGTON, VT

So, you can only imagine what the actual schedule turned out to be. But, alas, it wasn’t all doom and gloom, I had some nice experiences, and as my writing this blog post proves, I survived the trip just fine.

I won’t bore you with details but there’s a few things I wanted to note.

First, I actually talked to some random people instead of my usual routine of headphone+sleep+staring out the window for the entire trip. I had some nice conversations with a young photographer visiting her friend in Albany, and an old lady who was visiting her grandkids in Springfield. She graduated from college way back in 1945!  And she had like 12 grandchildren or something. It was like talking to my own grandmother, with war stories and everything.

It’s actually quite interesting just looking at the people traveling on the bus, the customers cut through quite a swath of society, and also how the composition of people changed as we slowly went one city at a time from the Midwest to New England. The passengers definitely got whiter and seemed to climb from the lower to the higher reaches of the middle class. And here’s a picture of Albany. You can definitely see how as you travel East, towns actually get some character, as opposed to Midwestern rust belt wastelands.

Albany, Ny

Albany, NY

Second, Greyhound has done SOMETHING right since the last time I rode with them. Some of their buses now have free wifi! And they also have power outlets! Definitely made me a happy camper from Cleveland to Albany. It made all the late buses, multiple stopovers, crappy expensive food at the terminals and cramped seats somewhat bearable.

Third, and this is the highlight of the entire Greyhound experience, I actually got to take a detour to Boston, for about four hours. It gave me enough time to walk around Chinatown and have this wonderful XXL sized bowl of Pho at this place called Pho Hoa, it was amazing. Well, Pho is always amazing, all the time, and a huge bowl of it after being starved and tired and cramped for 30 hours is like heaven in a sweet broth.

Finally, another surprise was that I actually made it Burlington at the actual scheduled time. It’s amazing, like the buses were late at every single one of the connecting stations (sometimes by several hours), and yet, somehow, I still magically arrived at my final destination on time. I was happy.

So, the next time I have the urge to torture myself, I might actually do something like this again, but I probably could wait about three years to gear up for it.


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