If you haven’t visited the Tour Dates section of the blog in awhile (top right corner), I highly recommend taking a gander at it today. Between Millennial-searching and Millennial-interviewing, I’ve been spending the past two weeks comparing bus fares and seriously beefing up my CouchSurfing profile in anticipation of this summer’s interview tour. And now I can announce that the itinerary is about 80% complete!
A serious amount of stress and second-guessing went into planning this route. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of charting your own cross continental bus journey but would like to: here’s a little taste of what aspirin-inducing obstacles await you.
Timing – I’ve arrived at the conclusion that the people tasked with creating the schedules for Greyhound and most of the major carriers in America are either clinically insane or insidiously cruel. Why else would a one-way trip from Omaha to Denver necessitate hauling your baggage along a dusty interstate and praying that the 1 AM bus – the only bus heading to your destination – has seats left? Evidently, it’s not enough that many pickup locations resemble the kind of place where mafia goons tend to dispose of freshly whacked stoolies. You actually have to get there as much as an hour early to hedge your bet of getting on the bus! Never mind that you’ve bought a ticket that theoretically reserves a seat in your name. Overbooking is an unfortunate trend that has permeated much of the bus industry. Only a few carriers (Megabus is one of them) guarantee safe passage with every ticket.
Fares – Many people still write off bussing as the cheapest way to travel in America. I’d be curious to know how many of these people have actually stepped onboard a Greyhound or Carnival coach in the past two decades. Some featherweight fares are still fluttering around out there, but unless you like to book your travel arrangements six months or more in advance, traveling on wheels is going to result in clammy palms and cue ball eyes when your next bank statement comes in the mail. Even worse, the pricing doesn’t seem to follow any pattern of logic! During my planning, I found that traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco – an eight-hour journey – would weigh in at $1. But a considerably shorter hop, skip, and jump from Seattle to Portland would cost nearly $50! Keep in mind that for both trips, we’re talking Calvinist levels of coach comfort: the only class lower would be steerage. In the end, I determined that the most economic option would be to buy nonrefundable tickets and cover the entire trip with travel insurance from a third party.
The Unthinkable – I suppose this could be said for any kind of travel, but even today, buses tend to attract the weirdest happenings. The other day, while driving through Somerville, I almost upchucked my last meal while listening to a story on WBUR about a recent bus trip gone amok. About fifteen minutes after leaving Atlantic City, a coach made an unexpected stop when live cockroaches began exploding from the air vents. I swear to god, I’m not making this up. I want you to picture thousands of long-legged roaches; falling from the ceiling, passengers brushing them off their coats, hair, handbags, you name it. I was amazed that most of the riders were coherent enough to retell the story once the news trucks began showing up – I can tell you right now that if I had been on that bus, I’d be writing this from an observation room at McLean Hospital. In short, there’s really no telling what wonders or horrors could transpire on any journey. It’s just one of those things that you don’t allow yourself to imagine vividly. (Although I’m sure my parents are imagining it all too vividly after reading this post.) How else could we summon the courage to leave the house each day?
I’ll be posting again when the trip schedule is 100% nailed down this April. And while I’m at it, I’ll also point out that I’m still actively seeking Millennials in two geographic locations of the country: the Deep South (Florida, Georgia, etc) and the Midwest (Chicago, Indiana, Wisconsin, etc). I’ll have to make a decision by May, but if you know somebody who’s living life to the fullest and might be a great fit for Drive All Night, there’s still time to drop me a line about them.
Check back tomorrow morning for this week’s Millennial story: a Boston-based husband and wife duo!