Monday, June 23, 2008

Go Greyhound! ????

I recently traveled by Greyhound bus from Winston-Salem, North Carolina to Nashville, Tennessee to attend the 2008 reunion of Troop A, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, 101st Airborne Division.  I served in this U. S. Army company in Vietnam in 1966 and the unit remains activated to this day and has fought wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This was my first time to attend a reunion.

Due to gas prices and my desire to attend the reunion of people and experiences from the past, I dreamed up the idea to travel the 491 mile trip to Nashville by Greyhound and relive the experience of riding a bus.  The round trip fare was only $92.00 which compares to $200.00 for gasoline alone if I'd driven my car which gets almost 20 miles per gallon.  In addition, there would have been depreciation costs on my car plus $22.00 per day parking at the hotel.  This made the bus fare very attractive.

The disadvantage of the bus was the departure time on my return trip home. The departure time in Nashville was 12:45 AM on Sunday June 22.  Yeah, that's right, 45  minutes after midnight following the main dinner of the Alpha Troop Association meeting.  I checked out of my hotel room by noon on Saturday, attended reunion functions all day, attended dinner Saturday night until 11:00 PM, and then went to the bus station.  Since I'd checked out of my room, there was no place to relax for a nap during Saturday's unscheduled time. I changed clothes in the hotel men's room to get ready for dinner and again to prepare for the bus ride home following the elegant dinner.

When I decided on the bus travel schedule, I thought a late night departure would suggest few people on the bus and I could relax and sleep.  Wrong! When I arrived at the bus station, it was packed.  In addition three police cars were there and five officers were inside the terminal questioning four young travelers who apparently had been fighting.  Three females and one male were taken away to the police station.  After an hour and some confusion about which line of people was correct for the bus with destinations to Knoxville, Waynesville, Asheville, and Winston-Salem, we began loading the bus. When we loaded and departed the bus station, every seat was occupied plus three people lay prone in the aisle.  Those three would have had a 12 hour wait for the next bus if they weren't allowed to board this one.  

(Greyhound doesn't take reservations. Date and time of ticket purchase doesn't matter.  The first people in line at boarding are the first ones on the bus. However, re-boards are asked to go to the front of the line.)

From 1:00 to 5:00 AM the Greyhound sped through the dark night to Knoxville. My expectation of sleep vanished.  The woman next to me slept well as she sprawled out, snored, twitched, and invaded my space.  The aisle next to my feet was filled with a stretched-out 60 year old man whose body tilted side-to-side as the bus entered and exited curves along Interstate 40.
The row behind me was filled with the four young people who had been taken away by the police, then released.  They bragged among themselves how they responded to the questions by police and about possible charges they discussed with law enforcement at the station. Their destination was Winston-Salem.

Lesson learned:  Unless you're destitute or living on a very tight budget, choose to travel by personal auto, commercial airline, or train.  Another option is to stay home.

I now have bragging rights that I sacrificed.  I reduced traffic congestion on the highway by one car and prevented the consumption of one barrel of oil.  (50 gallons of gas would have been used if I had driven my car on the 1,000 mile round trip.)

I had a great time at the reunion.  I'll report about the reunion later.

Have a good week!


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