Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bus Depot Blues

As mentioned before, the Boy and I just returned from a college trip to Gettysburg, PA. On our return trip we spent most of the day sightseeing in the state capital in Harrisburg. Even after visiting the Civil War Museum (a cool place, check it out if you get go there), and after walking the 2 miles from the bus depot to the museum and back again, and finding a nice hole in the wall pizza place with delicious pizza at 1.80 a slice; we still wound up with about a 6 hour wait at the Greyhound Station before our bus left at 10pm.

Bus depots are an interesting place to sit and wait. This one was pretty simple: a ticket counter, decent plastic chairs, some vending machines. Upstairs there was an Amtrak station that had a news stand and coffee shop, we made several trips up there. There were also gumball machines and an outrageously annoying pick the toy up with a crane game--which inexplicably sprang to life every 5 minutes or so, played about 15 seconds of music before falling silent again. It was an old faithful of astoundingly irritating concessions. The Boy finally resorted to Pandora on his cell phone to shut it all out.

When we arrived at the station it was nearly empty and we were able to secure prime seating.  Prime seating in a bus depot is anything close to an electric outlet--thereby allowing equipment to be charged before boarding the bus.  Although Greyhound has been adding upgraded buses with electric outlets at every seat, free wireless, and more leg room one cannot count on getting such rides.
You can charge a lot of stuff in 6 hours.  The Boy had 3 batteries for his cell phone, due to an unhappy experience on another recent trip when he was left wide awake in the middle of the night with a dead cell phone.  All were completely charged before departure along with his IPOD and my cell phone. 

For some reason a lot of the people in the bus station look really depressed. I don't know if the cause of their depression relates to their reasons for travelling, or  the place they are travelling to, or simply because they are riding a bus. The kids and I always thought of getting on a bus as a big adventure, or at least the gateway to an adventure, though they haven't always been as keen on long bus layovers.  The Girl once had a major meltdown when a 6 hour layover was extended to an 8 hour layover due to a bus breakdown, alleviated only by the stuffed animal she had brought, and the friend we were travelling to see texting us a picture of the chocolate cake she had waiting for us on arrival.
Some folks get right down to it--they whip out their books or laptops and never look up till their bus is called.  Some dance back and forth between the counter and the seats, repeatedly inquiring about departure times and other details.  Others have lengthy phone conversations with either the person they just left or the one they are going to see, with loud details that no one else really wants to know. 
Some people suffer from the illusion that other travellers, particularly single ones, want to talk.  Indeed one advantage of travelling with younger children is they tend to scare off the random conversationalists.
The Boy and I sat and watched and made the best of it--back and forth between our electronic devices and discussion of our weekend occasionally plotting the demise of the Prize Time Machine; fantasizing about the effects of everything from crossbows to missile launchers upon it, until our bus was called and we were on our way home at last.

1 comment:

  1. I love Gettysburg but haven’t been to Harrisburg to any extent except for passing through the area. I’ll have to check out the Civil War Museum there one day.

    Bus and train depots are interesting places. I recently spent some time in an Amtrak depot coming back home from a trip out of town. Years ago when I lived in CA, I took the Greyhound quite often traveling from San Diego to LA. While waiting, I often begin by reading but end up doing a lot of people watching. You’re right, so many do look depressed.

    I had to laugh when I read your line about how some people are under the illusion that other travelers want to talk. Oh yes, I have had that happen many times, people always want to talk to me, maybe I just look friendly...lol! Some folks even pull out pictures of their children or even their pets, as if I would ever see them again! The loud cell phone users are annoying too. Speaking of annoying, the toy machine that kept magically turning itself on sounded very annoying and I’d plot its demise too!