Tag: Greyhound

Falling in Love with America

Growing up in New York City, I was deeply indoctrinated with the view of the world that Saul Steinberg summed up in his famous 1976 New Yorker magazine cover. As far as I was concerned, if you headed west, there was 10th Ave. and there was New Jersey (which you avoided as much as possible) and then there was a whole bunch of nothing worth mentioning until you hit the Pacific Ocean.

When I was 19 years old, I tagged along with a friend on a cross-country drive to deliver a baby-blue Plymouth Duster to her brother in Los Angeles. On that trip, I saw my first cornfields. My first hay rolls. I saw Chicago. The Great Salt Lake. (Yuck.) Cows. The Rockies. For real? I thought this stuff was just rumor and legend. We drove from New York to San Francisco and then down the jagged coastline to Los Angeles, where I dipped my toes in the Pacific Ocean and fell madly in love with America.

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Emergency Rations: Lessons From a 16-Hour Amtrak Ride

Emergency Rations: Lessons From a 16-Hour Amtrak Ride Photo by salimfadhley via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by salimfadhley via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I have this theory about successful budget transit: that the key to surviving a cross-country Greyhound ride, or a bargain-basement flight with three changes (all in small regional airports without so much as a Starbucks, naturally) is to never, ever be caught without a snack. After all, the only thing worse than being forced to buy, and eat, that simultaneously-stale-and-soggy packaged tuna sandwich at the truck stop is not having the option of eating anything at all. Right?

I first started packing what I think of as my “emergency rations” on a trip to India several years ago. The granola bars I’d stuffed into every corner of my backpack were handy on long train rides—and after I (inevitably) got sick, they became invaluable, my sole source of nutrition until I could stand to contemplate curry again. That success led to more advanced efforts: I can still remember the looks I got from other passengers when I boarded a Halifax-Montreal overnight train with an enormous Tupperware full of cold stir fry under my arm. But my habit of packing lunch didn’t evolve into a full-blown theory until one fateful Amtrak ride, from New York to Montreal, around this time last year.

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Going Home

Barstow, California Photo by Michael Yessis.

The Greyhound bus takes 51 hours to get from Los Angeles to Winnipeg, just enough time for Stephen Hunt to rediscover a little human decency

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