Several years ago, I made the mistake of going to visit a girl I met on the internet. Just before New Year's Eve
, I left Portland, Oregon
on the Greyhound
to Houston, Texas
, crossing through Colorado and Utah.
When you are broke, as I was, Greyhound is the way. You have no money for anyone to steal, and there are bound to be adventures along the way. This was no exception.
First off, the driver, overworked and underpaid
, got lost leaving the city. Then skidded on ice through the night, several times either almost sideswiping other cars or just leaving the road for a bit. The old rickety bus jerked and rattled towards Denver
. Somewhere in the middle of the Blue Mountains, we were at a pit stop. I had a nice long piss in the restroom and saw the driver leave the room as I washed my hands. walking out, the bus was pulling out. With my bag. Fortunately, hitching proved itself, and an old couple heading to the next town's hospital got me to the station before my bus pulled in. Passengers (we'd all become very nice and cosy
by then) had kept my bag safe from the not so reliable passengers.
In Denver, half of us continued on, with a rested driver in a brand new computerised bus. This was style, this was comfort. We swigged alcohol, shared jail and drug stories, sang Merle Haggard
songs, and enjoyed the smooth ride. Until we broke down in the middle of the night, across the road from a QuikStop
. The computer had fried and we had four hours to freeze our asses off as the heating was down too. The sky was crisp and clear, stars piled deep above, our breath the only clouds.
Clutching a fistful of pepperoni
stix and Three Musketeers
, I stumbled in the night from the shop, smoking a cigarette away from my new friends before I gave them all away. And on the other side of the bus, dominating a playground, a large green brontosaurus
stood, back dusted with snow.
"Fuck me," said a guy who was afraid of flying since his large collection of buckknives would set off metal detectors, "look at the size of that thing
"Where the hell are we?" I asked. No line of conversations with Interstate bus riders can be missing a swear word.
"In fucking Dinosaur
, man. You got one of them shitty French cigarettes
And I remembered. I'd been here before, past here. Two miles down the road, when i was six, travelling with the family. We went to the National Monument, and just happened to be there when the new Visitor Center had opened. My older brother and I were the first ones inside, our pictures taken for the papers beside a large wall of bones which was actually part of the hillside.
The rest of the trip, psycho
girl in Houston, inane Goth
Club in Texas for NYE instead of revelry in New Orleans, the long slog to LA, where I was almost shot, all of it was worth it for this moment, under a star-filled sky, in front of this cold concrete beast.