Armed with one text on the matter, I stealthily researched my options. This book, 'The Great American Bus Ride' by Irma Kurtz, filled me with wonder - where might I find myself if I was unlucky enough to catch the wrong bus, sit next to the wrong kind of person or eat the wrong offering at a roadside stop? Dear Irma knew, and being young and impressionable, I simply had to find out if she was right. She was. In case I had you wondering to the contrary, I do like to test my parents.
Kurtz took the journey across America to revisit her past life, old friends and memories, turning up some interesting family revelations and meeting some very strange characters. She visited almost every state on the American mainland and if you take a look in the first pages of the book, you'll see her route is quite dizzying. I would love to give you some pictorial idea of it, but whilst I know how everything with the blog seems to function, DGR didn't leave instructions on how to use her scanner. And after an express move down from Scotland in March, my copy itself seems to have gone on tour!
It's very easy to write a book on bus travel if you think about it. Considering you're sat there for hours at a time, with very little to do, it's the perfect writing environment. Why not sit and scribble furiously? It puts people off sitting next to you (a trick Kurtz suggests, and it works) and means more sleeping space in the end. Win-win! Those big buses are approximately twice as wide as a National Express coach and probably at least four times as long (or that's how they feel), and the ride is incredibly smooth. No pen shakes there.
My own diaries became a constant source of comfort when faced with such gems as: downtown Chicago at midnight on a Friday for a one hour layover (cue wibbling and oft-harked back to phone call to parents), the delights of a group of extremely guttermouthed truck drivers, a mother on the run with her children, a child on the run from her mother, and a released prisoner on the run from no one, finally.
I am aware that not all of the USA is like this, and I'm sure the Americans amongst you will pipe up if you think I've misrepresented your land in any way. It just seemed to me that the most 'interesting' people were the ones I'd end up sat next to, or tried to avoid being sat next to. Everyone has a story on a Greyhound, no one just gets on one without an aim, including myself, and good old Irma.
I am a big fan of travel literature, and whilst I will try not to let it take over this week, I may refer to a few choice texts, and in turn, I'd also like to open up the discussion and ask you what your favourite travel books are. I'd love to hear if there's a particular book that made you stop and think 'Oooo, I'd love to go there.' The 'Oooo' is optional, by the way.
I trust all is well in the particular time zone within which you reside - if you're in a Greyhound right now, reading me on a laptop leeching wireless from somewhere, put the computer away (leave a nice comment first though). The only way you're going to get two seats tonight is if you scribble, with gusto!