Last week Josh and I made a semi impromptu trip down to Nashville. We heard, a little last-minute, that he was to receive a Performance Award for How Sweet the Sound at SESAC’s annual award ceremony so we moved things around and made a trip!
I came down with a wicked stomach bug on Friday, we were due to hit the road Monday morning. I was trapped in bed Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Monday morning I somehow felt just well enough to commit to a 10 hour trip to Nashville. Mind you, I was far from comfortable, the combo of baby belly and flu was unpleasant to say the least, but I did the trip cheerfully. Then we hit the ice tundra from Narnia in southern Kentucky. Turns out they had been hit with an icy snow storm. Ice first, then snow. I recalled a visual of semi folded around a light pole along the side of the road mere miles behind us. I guess I should have seen that as an omen of bad road conditions because we were suddenly confined to one lane creeping along with a band of semis at 20 mph. Granted this “good” lane was more than speckled with black ice and rough snow mole holes but our car felt plenty secure at 40 mph. However, if we wanted to pass anyone we had to pull up onto a 3 inch thick shoulder of ice that was the other “lane.” Twenty miles per hour was painful in the “good” lane, but it turns out that even that speed was too much to hope to pass when traveling on a shelf of glare ice. After 10 miles and 45 minutes of this we decided to jump ship in hopes that the morning would behold clear highways. We pulled off for a Super 8. I entered the establishment with my bags in tow while Josh parked the car and requested a room. The woman simply replied that they were all filled up and so was the whole town of hotels and the next couple of towns down along the highway too. Our next hope was at least two exits further down the treacherous and obnoxiously slow-going road.
We took a stab at patiently braving the slow going road, hoping eventually the traffic would relent or the left lane would have received some treatment. I kept glancing at my GPS. I saw angry red dots lining our road for about 100 miles. With some of those dots behind us I realized those dots signified the start and end points of such road conditions. That also meant our road conditions weren’t expected to improve until we reached Tennessee, another 90 miles away. At this revelation we decided to take a stab at another hotel. This time we called first. The only place I could find was a Super 7. That’s right, a Super 7. I’ve never heard of it either. The lady said they had one room left. When we reached the town we saw our hotel prospect. It was definitely the place to stay to get mugged or murdered. Then we spotted a Super 8 across the street. I walked in, unloaded this time, and asked if they had vacancy. She replied she had one room so $90.09 later we had a crappy room for the night and we couldn’t have been happier about it! As she charged my card I asked about the roads. Turns out the storm happened not that day at all but the previous day. So then I was compelled to ask about the roads. She stated that Kentucky doesn’t employ state plows.
The next morning we woke early and hit the road again. The roads were in the same condition we left them in but at least we now had daylight on our side again.
We patiently traversed the roads, occasionally passing someone when we had a patch of less threatening left lane. We saw a sign “Welcome to Tennessee.” If you were to draw a line from the sign across the highway that is the spot when the roads suddenly were completely devoid of a trace of snow or ice.
Yesterday I had another Megabus travel experience. I think I have ridden with them a good handful of times now… but the past couple have made me wonder if I should continue this travel habit.
The benefit to riding the bus to visit my parents, or to travel in general, is that you have more flexibility. Instead of driving and hoping music or an audiobook will entertain me for 7 hours I get to read or play games on my iPad or write. The ride goes much quicker!
My bus yesterday was 30 minutes late. Then, when we got to UW Madison to pick up folks at that stop, I found myself playing navigator. The whole time the bus driver mumbled about the construction and other nothings about why it wasn’t her fault. After that pick up, I had to play navigator again to get us back to the freeway. This time she mumbled in circles about how she passed the exit the last time. And just when I thought my bus navigating days were over I found myself navigating us to the final destination in Minneapolis… yikes! This time the bus driver alternated between mumbling and yelling repeatedly about the ridiculousness of the directions that Megabus gave to her as heated discussions erupted behind us. People were now incredulous, they were all hollering because not only were we significantly late but she skipped the St. Paul stop.
Finally we parked and I made my speedy exit while chuckling at the hilarity of the whole bus ride. At least it makes for a good story right?
I spent the last couple of weeks as a travel bug. We went to Nashville for a week and then I went to my home town in Minnesota for several days. To end my travels I had to book a bus to get myself home. I have used the Mega Bus a handful of times and never encountered issues, not even with fellow passengers even though the clientele can be a little rough sometimes.
I arrived at my pick up spot in downtown Minneapolis just in time expecting to load in immediately, but I quickly spotted a stagnant, gimungo line pile waiting outside the bus. I thought the line was big but I figured I just hadn’t seen the full bus capacity waiting outside the bus before.
I got in line and a cop car pulled up. The bus driver started talking to the two cops in the vehicle. Then a couple people walked over and joined the conversation. Then a whole pile of people walked over and joined the conversation. Then another cop car with two more cops pulled in. Then there were frustrated arm gesters and hood slang popping around like popcorn. I heard bits, put my bits together, and deduced that the problem was an already overbooked bus trying to accommodate a group of people that had been left behing by an overbooked bus several hours previously.
One hour after our original departure time later, a hoard of cop cars rolled in. We had two other traditional cop cars, a cop holding tank sort of vehicle, and a cop golf cart looking thing and the eight or so cops that came in them on the premises. Admittedly, this struck a flutter on my nervous chord.
But no rumble or dispute broke out physically. Instead, about ten minutes later, one cop got on the mega phone and announced that there were 77 people waiting to get on a 47 passenger bus. He started calling ticket numbers and mine sounded at about the #10 mark.
I never thought I would see the day I got excited to come home to dreary, 61 degree Chicago. But last week I saw that day and relished it.
On Monday, May 27 my mom, Joshua, and I all loaded the car and set our sails for a week in Tennessee. Our trip served a few objectives: scout out the area in pursuit of the possibility of a move, a job opportunity meeting for me with Food for the Hungry, and, most importantly, the KLOVE Fan Awards festivities surrounding Citizen Way.
But Nashville was muggy. Every day we were there, outside was an 85 degree wet blanket. We kept asking the locals if the weather is always that consistency and they all replied that it was and that, in fact, it gets worse. At this, I definitely had an epiphany about Taylor Swift‘s awesome, big hair while I was there because the moment I stepped outside everyday I could have been her twin sister. She just seems to have mastered making the big blonde frizz look purposeful. The local Nashville folk also say the pay off is the mild winters, but I actually enjoy winters in Chicago. I mean, compared to Minnesota, Chicago winters are my haven. We still get snow but not as much and my eyelashes and nose hairs don’t freeze in a split second in the outdoors of January and February like they did while living in Minnesota. I’ve actually come to prefer the milder Chicago winters even to summer.
I dare say, I’d like to keep my Chicago weather, even with all the curve balls, over a constant wet, heat blanket. This body is built for the cold, but wet heat makes me grumpy.