Stop the Bus!
I'm finally at home back in the Ozark Mountains now after my trip to The Windy City via the Greyhound bus. It took me a few days to process my trip. The bus is reportedly the second most eco-friendly way to travel next to the train. I tried it out for that reason, as well as the fact that I was tired of being held hostage to the airlines, who gives poor service for the money they want to charge.
As for the bus, it was well, interesting to say the least. I don't mind long rides, in fact, I enjoy the opportunity to relax, read or work. However, riding on a crowded bus is almost worse than being on a full airplane. There are no pull down trays and should the person in front of you decide to lean all the way back, you have less than 6 inches between you and the headrest in front of you. In my 22 hours or so of riding, I had maybe 4 where I had the room to spread out and do some work. As well, neither of the bus stations I was in were equipped with Wi-Fi, and Springfield doesn't even have a place to recharge computers, phones and iPods. St. Louis did, but not nearly enough docks and it was the luck of the draw to be able to use one. Both of these terminals were relatively new and I don't understand their ignoring modern technology when constructing these terminals.
Riding the bus wasn't the worst experience, but it certainly wasn't the best travel experience I've ever had. As with all mass transit options here, we had to drive 2 hours to get to the nearest station. When we got to the Springfield bus terminal, the clerk was rude - something I hate about the airlines as well.
And then there was the well, should we say, questionable characters riding along with me. I'm not a snob, believe me, I'm as down to earth as they come. However, as a woman traveling alone, it was a little disconcerting to be seated next to a man who told me all about his arrest the weekend before for home invasion; the 8-12 just-released prisoners the state loaded on a few stops before Chicago, or the two women on the way home who were comparing their rap sheets and where they had done time. Their conversation was loud and laced with profanity. There was a small child in the seat in front of me and I can only imagine that her mother didn't say a word for the same reason most of us didn't - we were afraid of these people.
For my next trip, I did find other options, such as taking the bus part way and transferring in St. Louis at the airport to a plane (where I could get a very cheap fare to Chicago), or taking a charter out of Mountain Home. I do worry though, about America's options when wanting to travel eco-friendly. As one writer told me in Chicago, "You opted out of being held hostage by the airlines and instead, took a chance on becoming a real hostage by taking the bus."
Yes, and I'm not sure I want to take that chance again.