You know, at some point or another I'm going to take a Greyhound bus ride across the United States again. I did that ten years ago, from California across to Washington D.C and back. Let me tell you if ever you want stories that is one way you're assured of accumulating them.
Right now I'm on the highway from San Antonio to Houston in Texas, though I'm not on a bus, I'm in a car with my friend Erin, her sister Amy and their Mom. I'm spending the Christmas and New year holidays with them (in Houston).
The reason why I mention the Greyhound buses is because as we drive along I-10 I just saw a Greyhound bus going in the other direction and it reminded me of when I took the bus on what turned out to be an Epic trip.
Back then I was 21 and for some reason wasn't so into capturing events on film or in a words. I often think that I should write about all the little tales and adventures from that trip. I wish I'd had a digital camera back then too. I can still see the pictures in my mind, though maybe, on reflection, that is the best place for them. Sometimes a picture simply can't capture the moment.
One such moment would have been on the highway in Arizona from California. The sun was setting like fire on the horizon. The sky was a shade of red you simply would not believe was even possible, and if you saw it in a photograph you would think it was the result of some over-indulged artistic license.
I looked out of the bus window to my left at a seemingly endless forest of Cactus broken up by the occasional run down roadside strip joint, bar or gas station. I was listening to U2's "Rattle and Hum" on my walkman, each track engraving itself into my memory, sealing the mood of the moment, and creating the soundtrack to this part of my life. I was twenty-one years old and at the beginning of an adventure in a place a long way from home, a place I had dreamed of visiting since I was a small boy. I was living the dream and loving every minute of it.
I think it was somewhere along that highway, before I got to the Cactus forests of Arizona, that I saw a massive sign for an exit to 'Red Cloud Road.' I remember thinking it was an enormous sign for what looked to be a very small road. It stretched far into the distance seemingly without a turn or even a curve and left me wondering where it might lead.
If I had been at the wheel of a car I would have gotten off the highway at that exit and taken that mysteriously enticing road. Curiosity would not have allowed me to pass up an opportunity like that. And as the bus continued along the highway under the blood-red and fire-colored sky, my mind created tales of what might have been along Red Cloud Road.
As we drove into the night, and while the other passengers slept, I was still transfixed by the little I could see out of the window. Cars passed us and I would peer in through the windows at the people inside them. I remember a little girl in the back of a car waving at the bus as the car she was in passed by as if in slow motion. I waved back at her but she didn't see me. She was more likely waving at her reflection as her window had now become a mirror in the darkness of the night. As the car continued passed, on their way to who knows where I felt just a little disappointed that my wave had gone unseen.
That experience marked the end of my first day on the bus and inexplicably made me feel very disconnected from things around me. It was the end of the first day of what turned out to be a truly amazing journey full of the kind of stories I wanted to discover. Stories I would come to recount many times in the years that followed.
Maybe I will do the whole Greyhound thing again, I'm always up for an adventure. Like I said if you're looking for stories you're sure to find them when you ride the Greyhound bus for any significant distance.