Saturday, September 17, 2011

On the Road Again, Literally

This is the first blog post I've written while in motion. Fortunately I am not the one driving.

At the moment I am on I-55, about 2 hours south of Chicago aboard a Mega Bus heading for St. Louis. Supposedly we will be stopping in Normal, but I'm not sure how far short of it I am.

Actually, as deduced first by checking Google Maps and then by looking out the window, we have entered Normal. It doesn't feel any different and looks perfectly, well, you know, except that we just passed a Kroger and a Hardee's, which are abnormal for Chicagoans.

We already had a potty stop, so I am not disembarking here, in some seemingly random parking lot.

Recently, my mom and a friend took a Mega Bus to Ann Arbor--which is how I learned of the cheap alternative to Greyhound and well, driving--and although she spoke quite favorably of the cost and the comfort, she reported that the drop point was a parking lot in the middle of nowhere (or at least seemingly so to a non-local). Seems to also be the case in Normal.

After passing through the campus of Illinois State University, which had all of five students walking around on a beautiful Saturday, the Mega Bus--too much, the Mega Bus, too much, the Mega Bus, oops sorry, got it confused with the Magic Bus--is leaving Normal.

But the grapevine going 'round the upper deck--inside--is that we will be stoppin again in 20 minutes. That'll be three in an hour, seems a bit excessive.

I have resumed listening to the Clash--Clampdown has followed Death or Glory on random mode--and it seems the poker game going on behind me has broken up in favor of sleep. But as the game followed an inspired discussion on the legalization of marijuana--sounded like a one sided debate--it's not shocking that some Zzzz are in order.

Although road trips are far from uncommon for me, this is the first time I have ever taken a bus as a mode of leisure transportation in America. And I've never taken a domestic Amtrak-type train either.

I've taken buses and trains in Europe, Israel and elsewhere, but other than a Greyhound I took back & forth from college in DeKalb in the mid-'80s, and a bus down to Daytona Beach during freshman Spring Break, this is the first domestic coach I've been on. (Speaking of NIU, in walking in downtown Chicago to catch the bus near Union Station, I saw a bunch of Huskie fans heading to the big game at Soldier Field vs. Wisconsin. Might've considered going if I hadn't left town.)

And we've stopped again. At the Dixie Truck Stop. I remember this place.

Back on the bus. I resisted buying a Route 66 shot glass, since I already have a few but in defiance of my diet--I've lost 8 lbs. in 3 weeks--I succumbed to a Stuckey's pecan log, but just a mini one, not the footlong.

A lady who just moved to a seat near me is now chomping on Garrett's popcorn--good smell bad sound--so I put my headphones back on, swapping out the Clash for St. Louis most famous musician, Mr. Chuck Berry.

Maybelline why can't you be true?

Which brings me to why I'm on this Mega Bus and heading to St. Louis. Or at least the impetus. I'm off to fight Foo. Against the 'Arch' rivals.

In English that means I'm going to a Foo Fighters concert at the Scottrade Center in downtown St. Louis. And will be staying the night at a hotel right by the Gateway Arch.

I have loved the Foo Fighters since the first time I heard them back in 1995 and have seen them several times. Led by Dave Grohl, they are one of the best live bands I've ever seen. Touring in support of their fine new album, Wasting Light--on the mobile Blogger app, I can't put in a link to the review I
wrote, but if you care you can search for it--their only Chicago area show was headlining Lollapalooza. I'm too old and fat--but working on the latter--to stand in a field all day, but still love a great rock show. St. Louis was the Foos closest tour stop, at least on a weekend, so I bought tickets months ago.

At the time I did, I presumed I would drive to St. Lou, but having learned of Mega Bus from my mom, it seemed like a good option.

From their website--again imagine a hyperlink--it seems Mega Bus originated in the UK, which often has more sensible ideas than the US. Trip fares--there are numerous routes from Chicago, mostly in the Midwest--are priced based on demand.

I bought my tickets awhile ago and the outbound trip cost just $10; checking the other day it jumped but just to $25. The bus is far from empty but well short of full. My return leg tomorrow afternoon cost $31.

$41 to & from St. Louis, or about 2/3 a
tank of gas on a trip that would take at least two. Of course, not driving limited my lodging options; the Motel 6 in Collinsville was out of the question.

But I found a good AAA rate at the Drury Inn at the Arch and unless it pours in the morning, I'll go up the Gateway Arch--implied hyperlink to my most recent post--and I've learned how to take public transit to the St. Louis Art Museum.

The bus ride--now in its final third--has been perfectly nice and if I were driving I couldn't have written this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bon Voyage Seth!