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Low budget travel for active seniors to San Diego in December

Updated on December 9, 2010

Riding a greyhound bus from Portland Oregon to San Diego California

My travel series of hubs titled Old and on the Road is the beginning of a journey to a warmer climate for the author. I imagine that there might be other seniors who are unattached or couples who want leave the winter cold and snow behind.

This first hub on the Old and on the Road series of Hubs will offer information and tips about long distance bus travel. I just took a 28 hour bus ride from Portland Oregon to San Diego California. There are many important considerations to make before you attempt a long distance bus ride. Bus travel is not for those who have high expectations of being pampered. Bus travel is very basic and you will be travelling with a host of different peoples who are not expecting anything more than a way to get where they need to go at the cheapest price. I rather enjoyed the company of a group of mostly down to earth working class people from all walks of life. Many are immigrants who speak other languages.

I come from San Francisco so I am well aquainted with multiple cultures and languages spoken. You would be surprised how easy it is to make a friend on a long bus ride. To me, I found it to be a most gratifying experience.

Bus scheduling and rest stops

On this specific bus journey there were a large number of five minute stops to get out and rest your legs. Those with poor blood circulation in the legs need to consider the hazards of sitting for long periods of time. (I will say this about the new Greyhound buses; the legroom and width of the seat are larger than on any airline in coach class and the bus has free wifi and electric plugs at most seats.) Simple leg extensions and moving the feet and even wiggling your toes can help keep the blood flowing but it is important to get up and stand and walk the aisle once or twice during each of these stops. Make sure to get your water bottle filled. Water fountains are available in most bus stations so you do not have to resort to expensive 2 dollar vending machine water.

Specifically on the Portland to San Diego run, I was disappointed by the lack of availability of decent food. Half hour rest stops were set up at 7 in the evening for dinner and again at almost nine thirty the next morning in Bakersfield. There was a good breakfast offered at a reasonable price in Bakersfield but none of the food was suitable for a healthy diet. It would be advisable to bring your own water bottle and some healthy snacks; fruit, baked chips, even a small cooler with sandwiches. but do not bring your kitchen. Room allowed for carry on baggage is a bit tight. You will end up carrying a lot of extra items in your lap for the journey.

Taking the scenic route through central California

I had no idea just how beautiful central California was until I made this trip. Unfortunately the bus did not stop like a tour bus to allow for picture taking and I found my inside the bus pictures unsuitable for publication so a physical description will have to suffice. Needless to say, the part of the journey at night was blank. but, as we arrived in Modesto by dawn, there was a stretch of mountains to the east as the sun arose and a blanket of fog lay on the ground and long stretches of farmland reached out to the foothills of the Southern Sierra Mountains.

The small towns were dotted with spanish mission style stucco buidlings and railroad crossings. The traffic was almost nonexistant at that hour. We put into Modesto at about 6am and on to Merced and then Fresno. I have heard stories about boring Fresno but I saw some nice scenery in that area down to Bakersfield, farm land and orchards. The mountains were ever present. Along side the foothills, grass covered mounds arose from each side of the road and cattle grazing along the way.

The big surprise for me was the approach from Bakersfield to Los Angeles. The mountains rose high above the road with undulating folds and stretched out for miles with a vista that was superb and breathtaking in its beauty. If you ever have the time or ability, Take a tour bus ride on this route that allows you to get out and take pictures. All the way through to the LA basin, the scenery of the San Gabriel Mountains is stunning . I had travelled to Los Angeles only one time before and I had no Idea how beautiful that city is as you approach it from the east. And, in the month of December, when you expect everything to be monotone grey and brown. Los Angeles is like an oasis of lush green tropical plants. Balmy breezes greet you as you step off the bus at the LA bus station.

Another treat awaits as you board the bus bound for San Diego, To tell you the truth, I was exhausted by that time and tired of sitting and anxious to get to my destination. I knew in two hours I would check into my hostel in San Diego. I could not stop looking out the window. It was mid afternoon and the bus route was right along the coast. The bus did follow a local route and made about five stops along the way, but as the bus approached San Diego by four pm, the sun was going down slowly in the west and the coastal scenery was magnificent. There were inlets of water and low mountains and rock formations. The pacific ocean shimmered under the afternoon sun far off to the west with long stretchs of rock and beach in the vista.

My next hub will report on the hostel I booked for my stay. I regret I had no pictures for this first hub on the Old and on the Road series unless you wanted the picture of the Greyhound bus. Once you have seen one bus you have seen them all..

After having been in San Diego for less than a week, I have more than made up for the lack of pictures on my bus journey. I will offer my first impressions of the city of San Diego . I will do it with pictures. The next hub will cover the subject of cheap hotel accomodations and by that I mean the hostels. I was pleasently surprised by what I found. but that will be covered in hub number two of the Old and on the Road budget travel series to be published once a week.

I hope you will follow me and my story as I managed to fall in love with a city at first sight. There will be a few surprises, so keep tabs on my profile and learn what it is like to visit San Diego for the first time.


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