52 Hours on a Greyhound
January 2 – January 11,
The most obvious question to ask upon
reading the title of this trip is, "Why on Earth would anyone choose to
spend 52 consecutive hours on a Greyhound bus, especially in an era of
cheap gas and discount plane fares?" Or, perhaps more
realistically for our readership, "What is you guys, a buncha
idiots?" Both valid questions, undoubtedly.
The two of us, like any red-blooded Americans, had long felt a yearning
to visit all 50 states at some not-so-distant point in our lives.
Rob grew up a military brat, and, as such, was fortunate to have seen
about 30 states during his youth. Matt spent his whole childhood
in Virginia, but got to visit other parts of the US during some family
vacations and a Boy Scout trip to New Mexico. Still, that left
quite a bit of the country unseen by both of us. With an eye
toward winter break of our final year at the University of Virginia, we
sought to remedy this situation with a trip out west.
The obvious means of accomplishing this goal, particularly in an era
when gas was hovering just above $1.00/gal, was to drive.
However, lacking a car, we found this option insufficient to meet our
needs. Flying, long a popular choice for cross-country travel,
would not allow us to check off the numerous states between
airports. Thoughts turned in the direction of public ground
transportation, but Amtrak was too expensive and didn't provide
convenient routes through certain required states on our lists.
The only remaining option was Greyhound, with stations conveniently
located in Charlottesville, VA and Phoenix, AZ. Comfort and
customer service aren't high on Greyhound's list of priorities, but
these were luxuries we couldn't afford on such an important
mission. Besides, we knew what the bus might lack in cheerful
ambiance and sanitary restrooms would be more than made up for by
quasi-human traveling companions and total lack of REM sleep.
Overall, the trip from Charlottesville to Phoenix totaled around 2300
miles, and amounted to 52 miserable hours aboard a Greyhound.
But, we got there, and more importantly, crossed several states off our
respective lists along the way. Once in Phoenix, we picked up a
rental car and began the more enjoyable portion of the trip - 2353
miles in 70 hours through five national parks, four states, and two
countries. The highlights of our little jaunt included gawking at
the unbelievable expanse of the Grand Canyon and the drop-dead gorgeous
scenery in southern Utah, trekking to the lowest elevation in the
western hemisphere (282 feet below sea level) in Death Valley, enjoying
the 75 mph speed limits and the lax enforcement thereof in our little
Daewoo Lanos, and getting stopped by Mexican police on a back street in
Tijuana and searched for drugs in the middle of the night.
After returning the rental car in Phoenix, it was time to get on the
damn bus again. We headed first to Denver, and then to Oklahoma
City, where we spent a total of about 30 hours in the company of
friends, enjoying such extravagant accommodations as home-cooked food
and warm showers. After our stay in Oklahoma City, we hit the
road for the final time, heading back to Charlottesville in our
friend's car. What may have seemed like a depressingly long haul
under any other circumstances was, in comparison to the prospects of
boarding another Greyhound, a pure delight for us: a 20-hour drive back
to Virginia, interrupted only by a late night stop at the Gateway Arch
in St. Louis.
In total – seventeen states, two countries, and 7600 miles in nine days and six hours.
Detailed trip log and photos coming soon