The very first time Hums and I traveled together was a 100 hour bus trip across the country and back. We were almost engaged at the time. It was really important to me that my family meet him before anything official happened in our relationship.
And so it went something like this:
Two days on a bus to Illinois. Two days back. Neither of us had cars, and we for sure couldn’t afford two plane tickets. So between the two of us we split the cost of the bus tickets.
This story, is all about the bus ride.
Starting point: Rexburg, Idaho. We hitched a ride from a friend who owned a truck, to the bus station so we could catch our bus late that night. We were eager, to say the least. We had stocked up on lunch meat, cheese, bread, Sobe, dried papaya, and no water.
Enter: The bus. We had waited in the first station for about an hour (we had to be there early…I really have no idea why we had to be there so early, now that I think about it). We got stuck in the very back of the (mini) bus and we met a really nice Mexican man who didn’t speak English.
Pauler is one to start up conversations with anyone around him, especially if they speak Spanish.
He is really good at speaking Spanish. We found out this Mexican man was headed to a nearby city in search of work. If memory serves, I think he had left his family to find work there. But he was a really nice, happy guy. I even understood parts of their conversation because at that point Pauler was trying to teach me Spanish. He wished us good luck on our journey.
We finally arrived at the Salt Lake City bus depot approximately 4-6 hours later. By this time it was 4 a.m. and we were seriously regretting the decision to take a bus trip. But we still had 90 hours to go…
We did end up sleeping on the floor.
There was one small older man who asked us if we could watch his stuff while he went outside for a smoke. He wore a yellow hard hat and was probably like 5’6. I’m not sure why he trusted us. I felt all my senses on high alert pretty much the entire bus trip.
We said sure, and I was a nervous wreck the entire time. If Pauler and I weren’t traveling together, I would never have made it out of Salt Lake…
We were bound for Denver, CO after that and again we ended up in the very back of the grungy, nasty bus…this time right next to the toilet (imagine a port-a-potty)…for at least 12 hours.
As memory serves, I threw up the contents of my stomach and got a major kink in my back, from not being able to lie flat to sleep. I was miserable and greasy and I felt really small and insecure without any makeup on.
It was this trip that convinced me we could handle anything that came up against us in a marriage situation.
Throughout the entire trip there were a few people/couples that traveled almost as long and far in the same direction as us, and so we developed a kind of silent camaraderie. And the back half of the bus became the “ghetto.”
I heard there was a guy with his pregnant wife in the front who became upset because his wife needed to pee or something and the bathroom was occupied and “the King of the ghetto[Back of the Bus]” wouldn’t let him through. It was pretty funny. Mostly, I think, in part to how miserable we all were. It was all in good fun.
We made it to Denver, and passed right through. Denver is arguably the cleanest city in America.
Next stop was Omaha, NE. Was it the next day? Time seemed to stop. By now we were dying of thirst. Remember, we hadn’t brought any water with us. We learned a very important lesson that trip about water. The cheese in our little cooler was beginning to go mushy because the ice packs had melted forever ago. The meat we had probably should have been thrown away, but we didn’t have money for extra food, and it seemed okay enough. No one got food poisoning.
We had little else to do but to entertain ourselves with thoughts of a shower, laying flat on a bed, and seeing people we actually knew to keep from going insane. Most of the time we slept because that was less miserable than being awake.
Greyhound Bus Culture is infinitely different than Airplane Culture.
The next installment: a bath in a bus station restroom, a balancing act, and we are almost there.