By Kevin Williams
I was on my way to Arthur, Illinois to do a story about the Amish for Home & Away Magazine, the official magazine of AAA (I realize the irony here for those on my e-newsletter list who remember my AAA incident...if you are not on my e-newsletter list, scroll to the bottom of this post and sign up!). I was 19-years-old and was amazed and thrilled to have an assignment from such a marquee magazine. But I realized somewhere around Indianapolis that I had forgotten my suitcase. I was going to be gone for 3 - 4 days and I think my camera was packed away in my suitcase, I'd definitely need that. This was well before cell phones had made their widespread arrival. I still look back with amazement and just how resourceful I was at that age and, you know, I almost wonder if the internet neuters that sort of shoeleather resourcefulness? I'm sure if the same thing happened today I'd find a way to teleport the suitcase to me. Well, maybe not quite that easy, but still, it would be easier today. Back then I pulled into a truck stop and made a few pay phone calls and inquired at the truck stop freight desk about light freight delivery. Finally, one of the drivers told me Greyhound Bus has quick, cheap freight delivery. Within an hour or two, Greyhound was my parents house (where I still lived) picking up the suitcase and it was en route to meet me in Mattoon, Illinois where I was staying. I ended up beating the suitcase by only a couple of hours. Not bad.
Since the Amish generally don't own or drive automobiles they depend on mass transit for their long distance transportation options. Amtrak is a favorite because it's generally faster and more comfortable, but Amtrak doesn't have the reach that bus lines do. Greyhound buses visit many off the beaten path, small towns. While the Amish generally like to hire drivers to take them in private cars, sometimes you just need a quick, cheap way to get someplace and Greyhound offers that. Here's an article about a newly christened Greyhound bus stop in Sonora, Kentucky meant to cater to the Amish.
GREYHOUND: I've ridden Greyhound buses probably 6 or 7 times in my life. None of them great experiences. I had some nice seatmates on a couple. In large cities the bus stations always seem to be in seedier parts of the city. Here is a picture from Smithsonian Magazine of an Amish girl on a Greyhound bus.
TRAILWAYS: Is Trailways even still around? I think the used to be the main competitor of Greyhound, but seem to have faded.
MEGABUS: These buses look so festive and fun when you see them out on the interstate. One of these days maybe I'll find an excuse to ride one. Has anyone ridden a MegaBus? If so, what was it like?
MIAMI METRO: When I live in Oxford, Ohio there was (still is) a pretty nice bus system called "Miami Metro" which provides class to class connections for students, plus trips to some of the businesses in the surrounding towns. Man, when you're an 18, 19, or 20-year-old college kid enjoying things like a superb bus service, too often you just don't realize how good you have it. That's a special age. Anyway, I loved riding the bus in Oxford.
MIDDLETOWN CITY BUS: My city of 35,000 has a surprisingly robust city bus system. I used to ride it as a kid all the time before I got my drivers license. I'd take the bus downtown to to the YMCA
I have been on bus and train rides with Amish. Loved it. We played games on the bus trip its hem. And they handed out candy. Fun
That sounds fun!
Linda from KY
I think I've traveled on Greyhound once. I was 15 and traveled down to Lexington to visit my sister when she was a student at Transylvania University in Lexington. It was the first time my parents allowed me to travel anywhere by myself. I think what normally would have been a 90-minute drive in the car took about 3 hours by bus because of the stops we had to make along the way. It wasn't a bad experience, though.
I have made traveled from Cincinnati to Chicago twice on the Megabus when I was a consultant with The Pampered Chef. Chicago was where their National Conference was. I wasn't able to get some of those crazy low deals you sometimes hear about, but I know I paid under $50 for them. It was still cheaper than what it would've cost for gas driving to and from Chicago and for parking my car downtown for three or four days. Driving there was a lot of fun because there were a lot of crazy PC ladies on the bus. I kind of felt sorry for the ones who weren't part of our group. I really hope we didn't scare anyone. LOL
Linda - pretty neat stories, I would have enjoyed being on that Megabus if the Pampered Chef ladies had packed a bunch of snacks! Sounds like a wise move on your part, though, taking the bus to Chicago...it once cost me $23 to park downtown and that was for 30 minutes. So, yea, cars + downtown Chicago=crazy expensive!
When I was young, I used to take the Trailways bus back and forth from college in Ft. Wayne, IN to my parent's home almost every weekend. It was a good trip always. When I was much older (several years ago) I took a Greyhound bus to my son's town of San Luis Obispo, CA The trip down was just fine. The driver was a middle-aged man who drove responsibly. On the way home, however, the driver was young, it was raining, and he drove like a maniac. I was terrified. I felt like I should report him, but didn't. I haven't been on a bus since.
You are right, June, a good driver can make all the difference!