Has I was in the Greyhound bus, passing by the familiar sites on my way from Sacramento to San Francisco, I wondered what exactly did I do to piss of God enough that I was sitting on the floor on a bus. For that matter, why was I chosen to ride this trip from hell. I mean, wasn’t it enough that the girl that I love broke up with me, or that the last couple of months have had me struggling to get the bills paid. And the trip up on Greyhound went so well, considering. **sigh** “It’s just my luck,” I muttered as I thought back to 48 hours ago to the start of this horrific trip from hell….
O. K. so maybe a little blame could go to me since I waited until the last minute to pack and stayed up late with Eric playing his new Dragonball Z game on his Playstation. Xmas with my family had been a great time, just hanging out and lounging around. We had gone out to The Olive Garden that night. Hmmm; there was that guy staring at me strangely. Did he have some kind of foresight into the trip I was going to have? I was too busy eating Italian sausages and chicken and trying to stop myself from downing another Sicilian Splash to worry too much. If only I had…
Anyway, the day started off bad enough. It was cold in Washington that day, but not too wet; just a little sprinkle. We arrived at the Greyhound station at 7 a.m. to find out that this station didn’t open to 8 a.m. My dad offered to stay, but I sent him and Eric on their way, since Eric had an interview at 9 a.m. I figured that I would just go to a restaurant or coffee shop and wait until the Greyhound station opened. I mean, this is Tacoma/Seattle, there are Starbucks or Tully’s on every block, right.
Wrong. According to the bus driver, the nearest restaurant was 5 blocks away and didn’t open until 8 a.m. I was disappointed, since the Greyhound station, the local bus hub, the Amtrak station and Tacoma stadium are all in the same area, I figured that there would be something open. But no worries. It was could, but I was wearing my new sweater that I got for Xmas and I had my MP3 player to listen to music, right.
Well, while I did have the MP3 player, I had forgotten to pack the recharger. NOOOO!!!! The recharger wasn’t as big of a problem, since the batteries could be charged with the AC adapter for the MP3 player. However, those batteries were the last pair of batteries that I had, since I lost my photo bag with the other two sets that I had back in October. And it was useless to get regular batteries. I learned that the hard way on my way up here. The MP3 player went through a set of regular batteries that I got in about an hour.
So freezing my ass for an hour before the Greyhound station opens; not good, but I figured that the worse had passed. And things started to pick up; the station opened at 8 a.m. and when I boarded my bus 30 minutes later, I was able to get a seat by myself so I had room to stretch and relax. I was feeling good, and had even changed my mind about the New Years party, and was going to ask the drive to drop me off in Vacaville and go to Barry/Gabi’s from there.
Most of the morning was spend driving through Washington. Unlike the express buses that I took up, this bus had several stops to make before reaching my 1 first transfer point of Portland. Spent most of the time rereading Helen Fielding Cause Celeb and sleeping. I eventually got into Portland around noon, and with an hour layover, I decided to tackle the Adams Family pinball game. This pinball game has special meaning for me, since it was the pinball game that Sam, John, and I played while I worked at SCC Bookstore. Sam taught me all there is to know about playing pinball on this game, and so I figured that I would just clean house and put a high score on the machine.
Well, apparently, I have forgotten all that Sam taught me, cause I spent $10 on some of the worse pinball playing that I have ever played. I didn’t even get a replay with all of the money that I pumped into the machine. Stopping myself from dumping $20 more dollars into the machine, I went and waited for my bus.
Got loaded up on the bus and sent on our way though Oregon, again making stops along the way. By this time the rain had picked up a bit, and was coming down steadily. I might have had a though about the I-5 pass at Ashland being closed, but I figured that they would tell us and put us up in a hotel for the night. Driving through Oregon was a very boring experience and once again I was sleeping.
We arrived at Medford around 8 p.m. and that’s where the story took a turn for the worse. Truck drivers were reporting that a 18 wheeler had over turned on the snow roads and that all roads were closed. However, according to the Oregon Highway patrol, there was no accident and the roads were cleared. So the driver got the O. K. to go and we headed towards Mt. Ashland.
Well, it appeared that the truckers were right, because when we got to the base of the Mountain, traffic was stopped. We had the choice of turning around or waiting an hour for the accident to be cleared. The driver decided to wait it out. An hour pass and apparently, the accident was cleared, because cars started driving up to the pass. So we started up and were on our way when we hit the snow.
It was literally one minute no snow and the next, a couple of inches. So we are driving up, chugging along and passing several trucks on the side of the road. Then all of the sudden, we start to loose traction and slow to a stop. The driver tried to pull off to the side of the road, but ended up in this awkward angle blocking up half of the road.
So there we were stuck on the side of this mountain in a snow storm. I might have been concerned, except I was giddy over the fact that there was real snow on the ground. Real snow; that’s something that I haven’t seen in ages. After an hour of the driver trying to get the chains on the bus, he let people out for a smoke break and I leaped out of the bus to play in the snow. It was wonderful, making snowballs and throwing them around. Running around in circles catching snow flakes in my mouth. I even made a snow angel too, which brought on the cheers for the other passengers in the bus. However I made it over the tracks of a highway patrol SUV that passed by, so it looked like the angel got ran over or something. God, I wished I hadn’t forgotten my batteries so I could take some pictures. The snow was so much fun.
That fun changed six hours later has we were about a mile from our first position. The reason that a lot of vehicles were suck was because when they open the roads up, they forgot to send up a plow and salt crew to clean the roads. Somebody wasn’t thinking. Another problem was with the bus and it’s snow chains. Apparently, the only way to put chains on a Greyhound bus requires you to drive forward, which is hard when you are on an icy slope. Eventually, the driver gave up and we were able to get a tow to the nearest exit so that we could turn around and go back to Medford.
I was disappointed, but was ready to just sleep in a real bed. I was sure that I would have to share a room with someone, but didn’t mind since we had a good mixed of people (i.e. no one looked too dirty or crazy). However, I was fully surprised when we were dropped off at the county fairgrounds. We were told that this is where we were going to wait out the storm until they cleared the roads. We were given a blanket and told that there was coffee if we wanted some, but there were no more sleeping cots because of the other 200 people that beat us to the shelter. Just for the record this was at 4:30 – 5 a.m. in the morning. I have had 1 bottle of water, one bottle of juice, and some pretzels the entire day at this point.
Has pissed off about us being stuck, I was not in the situation that Marshall, Dana, and Sara were in. These three Washington State students were on their way to the Rose Bowl and had to be in Pasadena by 4pm on New Years Eve to pick up their tickets. They were desperate to get to So. California and in 2 hours, they made the decision to rent a car and drive themselves down.
Has I looked around to the mess of people waking up, I should have joined them. We are talking about lowest common denominator here. I was stuck at a table between this Hasidic Jew looking puppeteer and this obnoxious kid who kept on farting. **sigh** I was almost tempted, but I was worried that we would get ourselves stuck in the mountain in just a car. Also, none of us had had any sleep, and that is no condition to drive in icy hills. So I stayed and at 9 a.m. watched them take off for the rental car place. If I had only known what was coming up next.
So a Greyhound rep comes and tells us that the buses should be arriving at 9am for people on their way to Portland and at 10-10:30 for us going south to California. So the Portland people get on their bus and a line starts to form inside for the California people. 30 min. later, this line is somehow outside and I am 7th in line freezing my ass off in order to make sure that I get on the bus. 10:30am comes and there is still no busses. Now the crowds get ugly, and one fucker decided to cut in line. Next thing I know there are 50 people in front of me and I’m trying to hold back the other 150 behind me. At this point, I am sick and tired of this shit and just want to get home, so I start to call rental car places trying to get a car home. But I get a quote from National for $300. Even splitting this with 3 other guys, that’s still $75 and I hesitate. Another guy, who claims he was a promoter for the guys who run PlanetNewYear, get’s a $100 quote to Sac. I almost go in with these guys, but “mysteriously’, none of these fools have money or credit cards, and want me to foot the whole bill. So I hesitate and luckily, a bus appears and I decide to take my chance on the bus.
So there are limited seats on this bus and they load up the elderly and infirm first, and them my group, the group that was stuck on the mountain are suppose to be loaded. Except, no one bothers to verify who was on that bus, and the next thing, there are 200+ people that were stranded on the mountain that night. I am lived and trying to tell the Greyhound rep to check tickets. He doesn’t, the dumb ass. But I get on, mainly cause the drive saw me helping this lady and her granddaughter out. Most of passengers that were on my bus got on, although there was this Chinese guy that I don’t remember who snuck aboard and sat in front of me. So with that whole drama done, I am ready to get to CA. It is 12pm by this time and we are on our way.
The skies are partly cleared and the roads are cleared has we go up the pass. Things def. looked different in the daytime compared to the night with the snow coming down. We find out that if the tow truck would have driven us another mile, we would have reached the summit and it would have been down hill. Granted, I’m not sure how smart it would have been going down an icy mountain, but at least we would have been in CA. The driver realized that there are a bunch of disgruntled passengers and is just flying. I’m talking 70-80’s on a greyhound bus going down the winding roads. There were a couple of time that we just missed passing by truck; like 6-12 inches.
So we zoom into Redding at 3 p.m., which must have been a speed record (for a Greyhound bus anyway) and I was able to get my first real meal at a Leatherby’s Ice Cream Shop; just a hamburger, fries, and a Jamoca Almond Fudge shake. OMG, it tasted SO GOOD. I woofed the whole meal down and would have gone and got another one if I had the time. But at 3:30p.m. we were off to Sacramento.
Unfortunately, we had a drive who, besides having really bad english, drove at or below the speed limit. I had also forgotten how flat the drive is from Redding to Sacramento. And it didn’t help that the idiot Chinese guy kept on trying to lean his seat back, thereby hitting me in the knees. At this point I am already at the point of insanity and am just trying to find my happy place inside my mind to hide until this trip is over. Bus driver pisses me off even more when we stop for a break. He says that he is stopping only for 7 minutes. Not 10min, 7 minutes; therefore there is no time to get food. What he forgot to tell us is that 7 minutes in his world is actually 15 min in real world time.
So at 7 p.m. we limp into Sacramento and there I am tested again. Sacramento Greyhound station is the official Greyhound station for Hell. It is just a mass of chaos and confusion. There are 8 gates and I was told that my bus to San Francisco was leaving at 5 of them. I stay in one line and I am pushed into a bus only to find out that the driver miscounted there are no seats left. At this point, I just want to get home and I wouldn’t have cared if they put me with the luggage or stuck me in the bathroom (which is an experience that I never, ever want to experience again), so I tell the driver that I will sit on the floor and to just get us to San Francisco.
At 10 p.m. I leave the Transbay terminal and take a taxi home, only stopping at a 7-11 so that I can pick up a 6-pack. And at 10:30, I am safety at home, ending my 2 day greyhound trip from hell. I can honestly say, without a shadow of a doubt, that this was the worse trip ever. And I do mean ever. I don’t even think that I can top it even if I wanted too. And there is so much missing from this. The smells, the sights. The fucking guy who knew everything and wouldn’t shut up from Medford to Sacramento. The immigrants (legal and illegal) who couldn’t speak english and didn’t know what was going on and just getting in the way all the time. The Tibetan priest in his robes and all. The multitude of babies and kids crying…actually most of the babies weren’t that bad. There were only one or two that really cried.
I wish that there was some redeeming quality that I got out of this trip. I mean, I really wanted to like Greyhound. At $100 round trip, it’s cheaper than plane or train. And it would have been hell if I would have drove my car up; I would never have made it up the icy mountains. However, the fact that it seems like Greyhound has it’s thumbs up it’s asses and nobody knows what’s going on is what will keep me away. I understand that they can’t control weather conditions, but they but be able to get people back on their buses in an orderly fashion once the passes are cleared. And there should be somebody who knows what’s going on at their stations.
I honestly thought that I could escape into 2003 without any incident. How wrong I was.
A 40-something rediscovering life in California