Bussed Out In Babylon - Part 1
It Could Have Been Worse
After visiting family and friends for the better part of a month, the time to leave quickly approached. During the course of my stay in Tulsa, Oklahoma, several things happened that would cause me to rethink how I travelled and what I wanted out of life.
Dealing with family illness and the chaos that comes with it, has never been my strong suit. I try to keep the "brave" face on at all times and just be a good listener, but between the quality family time, launching a new independent wrestling promotion and handling my client load, I did what I always do - stay busy and keep focused. Little did I know that I would be taking my first cross country trip in 20 years on a Greyhound Bus.
Welcome To Tulsa
The Build Up And Blow Off
After helping run two pro wrestling events and getting all of the information on the illness, the quality time had passed and it was time to return to my new home in Pasadena, California. I got a ride from a friend and had a rude awakening from the Southwest Airlines clerk. The cheapest ticket back to Los Angeles was now over $600. This was more than double what I had been paying for the last six months and I was immediately in a foul mood.
Federally mandated furloughs for air traffic controllers was the justification and national excuse for the ticket spikes. Much like gasoline prices, it is simply a money grab on the American public. Yet another form of taxation without representation, where the corporations get super rich and the average Joe (no pun) gets the shaft. This was no exception and I decided to fight back a bit.
My alternative forms of travel were not as appealing, but much cheaper. I could ride a Greyhound Bus, take an even slower Amtrak Train or rent a car. After deliberating an hour, I decided to have my friend take me to the Greyhound terminal and see when the next bus was leaving for Los Angeles.
My Chariot Awaits
PHASE 1 - TUL > OKC
Summer Of 1991 was the last time I had ridden on a chartered bus. Back then, I was marching for Black Gold Drum & Bugle Corps, sleeping on gym floors and performing to hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people in 100+ degree heat. Often times, our bus would break down or not have adequate air conditioning, which made Gulf Coast touring even more miserable.
Moving forward 20 years, would my experience on Greyhound be any different? There are so many stereotypes and classist hangups about people who ride busses. I didn't want to fall into that trap, so my goal was to sleep a lot and keep an open mind.
The first leg of our trek was from Tulsa to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Southwest Airlines might have handed me some lemons, but I was determined to make some tasty lemonade. The bus seemed nice and new. I was later told it was refurbished, but it had plugins at each seat and a "new car" smell to boot. I got on the bus late and didn't get a "choice" seat, so I was a few rows ahead of the back of the bus.
Storm Clouds Brewing
PHASE 2 - OKC > AMA
The ride from Tulsa to Oklahoma City lasted about 90 minutes. Other than the fact that the toilet had not been emptied and the smell of urine and feces permeated, everything was fine. The bright side to the situation was that I would be transferring to a new bus and hopefully a chance at a better seat.
As we pulled into Oklahoma City, the storm clouds were rolling in and a light rain had begun to pepper the town. Our layover at the Greyhound Bus terminal in Oklahoma City was supposed to be for 60 minutes, but ended up being 120 minutes because the connecting bus was delayed on its arrival.
One thing I learned quickly is that the bus "itinerary" is merely the suggested time. I knew within 15 minutes of riding on the first bus, that I wasn't going to arrive in Los Angeles at the time I had been given. I was lucky if I would even make it on the day in question.
Driver 8, Take A Break
After the extended layover, our bus to Albuquerque arrived and I was able to board fairly early in the process. I picked my seat and got situated and the bus rolled on to the next stop - Amarillo. As the bus began to move, I realized two things that made me a bit cranky : I had a broken seat that only stayed in the reclined position, which was causing pain in my back and my window was leaking.
I'm trying to keep a positive mental state, but I'm not having a good start to this trip. Between the first bus smelling like barnyard ass, the delays in the transfer, a leaky window and a broken seat, my mood wasn't getting any better. I decided that because I was cranky, I should probably try to get some sleep.
The bus driver informed us that we would have a short 15 minute break in Elk City. My bus strategy was to not eat much and drink very little on the trip. The only time to take restroom breaks would be at the terminals or extended breaks, along the route. There was no way I was going to be "that guy" and have to use the bus toilet. I know it's no big deal, but if I have a problem with the bus stinking, I don't want to be a hypocrite and add to the mix.
Broken Chairs And Leaking Windows
Elk City, Here We Come!
After a few hours, the bus driver pulled our chariot into a small convenience truck stop in Elk City, Oklahoma. As you can tell by my picture below, the official automobile of Elk City is a truck. Some were basic pickups, others were heavy duty hauling and some were even CEMENT TRUCKS.
I opted to continue napping, while the rest of the bus emptied for their smoke break. It seems that I am the only passenger on this Greyhound Bus that is a non-smoker. This is both humorous and sad, as a lot of the people on the bus seem to be struggling to make ends meet and knowing what the cost of a pack of cigarettes runs, they would rather enjoy a smoke, than eat or drink water.
After 35 minutes in Truckville, we were back on the bus and on the road to Amarillo. As the rest of the bus were cracking jokes, talking about their stints in prison or how they got fired from their last job, I continued to play the "... and Atlas shrugged" role. More napping, rain-soaked windows and rest were in my future.
Hutch's Convenience Store
Things You Need On A Bus Trip
No matter what mode of transportation you select, you are going to need a neck pillow of some kind. I will never travel without one of these, in the future. My neck is still sore from the trip because I didn't use one of these.
Greyhound Bus Trip From Tulsa To Elk City
The start of my trip through a modern-era Babylon began here in Tulsa, OK
This is the stopping point during the 2nd leg of the trip to Amarillo. Every truck on the planet was here to get gasoline.
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Bussed Out In Babylon - The Trilogy
- Bussed Out In Babylon - Part 1
More than anything, this 3-part trilogy of articles was a great stress reliever and a good way for me to get out what I wanted to say. The beginning of my journey takes place in Tulsa, Oklahoma and ends in Elk City, Oklahoma
- Bussed Out In Babylon - Part 2
The second part of my story begins in Elk City, Oklahoma and ends in Glendale, Arizona.
- Bussed Out In Babylon - Part 3
This part of my journey begins in Glendale, Arizona and ends in Pasadena, California.