Space truckin’ on the Megabus

Posted: April 27, 2012 in Musings, Travel
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After driving 2 days and over 1700 miles, I look forward to sitting on the Megabus for the 6 ½ hour ride from Chicago to Cleveland, even though it means I have to be up early to get to the Metra station for the express train into the city.  A man asks if I need help getting my big suitcase onto the train and I’m thankful for the help, since the crush of people could be a problem.  The train is completely full, so I hang back when we arrive, letting the crowd go by before heading for the restroom (try getting a suitcase and carry-on suitcase into a stall!!), then up the escalator to the street.

As I wait, I see a city bus go by.  On the side is a huge picture of Montana, complete with mountains, pristine lake and requisite moose, advertising Yellowstone and Montana, a bizarre sight in the urban canyons of downtown Chicago!  I immediately long for Wyoming and the Big Horns, ready to exchange the excitements of the city for the quiet calm of the mountains.

Instead of the usual mob waiting to board the bus, a Megabus employee calls out, “Toledo and Cleveland, line up here.”  We obey and the bus pulls up, about 20 minutes early.  Nice.  I begin talking to the woman in front of me and we agree on a division of labor:  she take the suitcases to the back to be stowed, while I hold her place and promise to save the other top deck front set of seats if we load before she returns.  In a show of intelligence, ticket check doesn’t begin until everyone’s ready and no one even tries to take anyone else’s place before they return.

Downtown Chicago

It takes us about 8 minutes to go around the several blocks to bring us into the correct position to get on the interstate.  I wonder, as I did last night, if my I-Pass will register when we go through the lane, charging me the toll even though I’m on the bus.  We’d planned to wrap the transponder alien-style with foil but forgot.  However, it’s buried in my carry-on and I’m up so high I should be safe.  The sun beats in, making me wish I had my dark glasses, packed in my suitcase, and I shed my jacket and outer sweater.

Chicago River

This bus appears to be new, complete with small TV screen which breaks into an airplane-like introduction to Megabus, safety features, how to use the wi-fi and so forth.  I especially appreciate the announcement to please keep conversations, phone calls and music at a low level so as not to annoy others.  The seats look brand-new and there are curtains in the back window.

Empty for lunch break

I settle in to converse with my new acquaintance, Brenda, a nurse for over 30 years who’s heading in a new direction soon, taking a twelve-month culinary course in baking and pastry with an eye to catering with one of her daughters, also taking the class but with a different emphasis.  A good reminder to be ready to try new things, no matter your age.  Just remember though, if you decide to try the Megabus, you have to buy your ticket online; you can’t get one on the bus itself.

Trucks, trucks, everywhere

Looking at the thick stands of trees with underbrush that are interspersed between fields, I marvel again, as I often do, at the pioneers who had to travel first on paths made by Indians or paths they themselves made, then make wider roads for wagons, who had to wrest land for farming from these trees and bushes and, in many cases, rocks, and who were so willing (at least the men) to pull up their metaphoric roots to go west.  They left most of their meager possessions either before they left or, often, along the way, and were probably relieved to reach the fertile prairies, although maybe longing for some of those trees to provide shade.  Many of them continued and  what must they have felt when reaching something like the Badlands and then, the Rockies?!  Amazing people!

Gas prices, since leaving northern Illinois, have dropped to $3.99 along the interstate in Indiana but at my favorite stop, exit 71 in Ohio, the price is $3.58.  Even the Mobil stations at the two eastern-most plazas in Indiana are “only” $4.19, in line with Illinois.  I’ve seen prices at these two stations as much as $.60 more per gallon than exit 71 and even $.40 or so more than at any other plazas.  Travelers, beware!

I love peering down from my eyrie at things I couldn’t see if lower—the four donkeys, two tan, two dark brown, tucked away in a field, a meandering river full to the brim with water. (Spell Check doesn’t know the word “eyrie.”  Why not?)  I spot several hawks, one diving to the ground to eat, one gliding on air currents.  It’s also easier to take pictures!!  I wonder why driving (or, in this case, riding) always makes me feel slightly greasy, even though I’m eating well, drinking plenty of fluids and doing nothing much.  I spot a Euro USA truck, distributor for Mackenzie Creamery’s chèvre that I’ll be selling Saturday morning at the farmers market.  I finish my book and bring out the Kindle, still eschewing the laptop.

Takin’ it easy

Then we’re in Cleveland and I’m waiting for my friend to arrive.  I get home, drive to the post office to get a week’s worth of mail, have something to eat.  I’m home one flight and two days with my parents,  one car road trip and three days with my husband,  and one Megabus trip later.  Lovely.  Time for a Guinness and a NHL playoff game.  Ahhhhhhh.

This used to be a picture of LeBron. Wonder why it isn’t now??!!

Renaissance Hotel and Tower City

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