EXPLORING – on the road again

Willie Nelson has crossed mind a surprisingly frequent number of times over the last week. Maybe it’s because while I was in Nashville I heard some good old country tunes and saw numerous images of the man, maybe it’s because my room in the Nashville hostel was the Willie Nelson room, or maybe it’s simply because I recently found myself on the road again

On the road again –

Just can’t wait to get on the road again.

The life I love is making music with my friends

And I can’t wait to get on the road again.

On the road again

Goin’ places that I’ve never been.

Seein’ things that I may never see again

And I can’t wait to get on the road again.

On the road again –

Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway

We’re the best of friends.

Insisting that the world keep turning our way

And our way

is on the road again.

Just can’t wait to get on the road again.

The life I love is makin’ music with my friends

And I can’t wait to get on the road again.

I have been traveling these last two months via Greyhound Bus. I’ve traversed wide sections of the North American continent, including half the length of Canada and all the way to the southern edge of America. I’ve seen some big cities and some tiny little towns; been in the midst of enormous mountains and surrounded by prairie for miles in every direction. I’ve seen lakes, rivers, ponds, and creeks; and animals of every shape, size and color. Each place I visited brought new insights and experiences, and each person I met brought new friendship and happiness.

Halfway Station? Sounds a little too close to halfway house for comfort…

Back in July, I bought a 60 day Greyhound Discovery Pass. It was good for unlimited travel in Canada and the United States. No reservations necessary, you would simply hop on and hop off when and where you pleased. The pass cost $560 and I think I’ve definately gotten my moneys worth.  Here is a breakdown of my various trips, using Greyhounds standard fare.

Everett WA (USA) to Vancouver BC (Canada):

          Cost $35.00, Duration 3H 25M, Distance 118 miles

Vancouver BC (Canada) to William’s Lake BC (Canada):

          Cost $103.00, Duration 8H 40M, Distance 325 miles

William’s Lake BC (Canada) to Hinton AB (Canada):

          Cost $132.00, Duration 10H 5M, Distance 390 miles

Hinton AB (Canada) to Estevan SK (Canada):

          Cost $230.00, Duration 18H 25M, Distance 792 miles

Minot ND (USA) t0 Chicago IL(USA):

          Cost $173.00, Duration 22H 0M, Distance 928 miles

Chicago IL (USA) to Nashville TN (USA):

          Cost $104.00, Duration 10H 40M, Distance 472 miles

Jackson TN (USA) to New Orleans LA (USA):

          Cost $123.00, Duration 15H 15M, Distance 745 miles

Wow – that’s 3,770 miles and 88H 30M of travel time through Canada and the States with Greyhound. That’s also a grand total of $900 in trips, meaning I saved $340 with the bus pass. Whoo hoo! How awesome is that? I heard Greyhound is discontinuing the Discovery Pass program this month. It seems that they just aren’t making any money on it – hmm I wonder why…

I used the pass up until the very last possible moment and a little after. My last trip, the one which brought me to New Orleans, left Nashville at 4:45pm on Thursday and arrived Friday morning at 5:30am even though my pass officially expired at midnight. I am so happy that was the last trip. It will be a long while before I venture onto a long distance bus journey again.

Most people I meet cannot believe I chose to travel by bus. They have this horrible mental image of long distance busses and for good reason. It is not the most luxurious mode of transportation, and being one of the cheapest ways to get from here to there, it attracts the customer who can not or will not pay more. Yes, there have been some crazies and some drunks, but mostly it is just normal people getting where they need to go by the only means available to them.

You see a different side of the country when you travel by bus. It is a little dirtier, a little more seedy, and a whole lot more interesting. If you’ve got the guts to do it, I highly recommend it. You will appreciate the comforts of your own car and the convenience of a flight, all the more. Most of my trips were overnight. It saved me paying for a place to stay for one night and made the seemingly endless hours of travel feel just a little bit shorter. While I’m sure I missed a lot of scenery driving at night, I still was able to see plenty in the early hours of morning and the late light of the evening.

When recounting this trip I feel a bit like that good old Johnny Cash song “I’ve been everywhere”.

I’ve been to

Vancouver, William’s Lake,

Grand Cache – for pity’s sake,

Alameda, Chicago,

Nashville – what a thrill,

Sugar Tree, Jackson,

New Orleans – look at these!

I’ve been everywhere, man.

Okay, so maybe I haven’t been everywhere, but this has been quite a trip.

My last stop was in Nashville, Tennessee – the country music capital of the world. I didn’t have much time there, but the time I spent was very enjoyable. I wandered from bar to bar, listening to some great bands. When I liked one I stayed and when I was tired of them I moved on down the row to the next. There is enormous talent in this fair city, and I hope to make it back one day and stay a little bit longer.

As I write this post, I am sitting in a park along the banks of the Mississippi River in New Orleans. I am here for a week to help rebuild houses for some deserving folks who are still in need after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. I did this same trip last year and had an amazing time, so I am here again. One Brick is the organizing group and we are volunteering with St. Bernard Project. Work starts Monday – more on that to come.

It is early in the morning and I’ve been on the bus all night long. I have all of my luggage with me and I’m sure I look like a bleary eyed, drunken, vagrant. It is quite calm and peaceful at this hour. The noises of the river come and go – barges honking, ships blowing their whistles, the clanging of the ferry bell.  An old man plays his trumpet, while a young mother plays with her son. I can hear snippets of conversations of the drunk and disorderly (this is New Orleans after all). The slightest of breezes keeps the mugginess at bay as the clouds just drift on by. I am tired. I could fall asleep right here if it weren’t for the group of stupefied men that keeps loitering about.

I enjoy these moments. A little break in the day to reflect on what I’ve done and contemplate what I am going to do. Life is full of unknowns. We can plan to our hearts content, but it could all change in an instant. I am so happy to be where I am right now, and can’t wait to see what this week brings!

Just a little side note: Trumpet man just started playing the Sesame Street theme song and followed it with a rousing rendition of Greensleeves. I love this city!


Thanks for reading!

– Rene

15 responses to “EXPLORING – on the road again

  1. Rene: thanks for your blog. I am so enjoying it. Just wish Vancouver Island had been on your agenda, but I’m happy that we did get you here a couple of years ago. Any plans for India?
    Keep on blogging. Just wish I had done what you are doing. Keep safe and keep having fun.

    • Thanks Maureen. Next time, I promise to come by the island. Yes, I am headed to India again in November. Grandma has got me going twice this year. Should be cooler in the fall, which will be nice. Take care. – Rene

  2. Love this post and your rendition of “I’ve been everywhere”. Wish I could have done Nashville with you. Maybe some day we can travel there and New Orleans together.

  3. great post! It’s fun to hear about your travels and adventures. I’ve taken many a long bus trip myself, but the Amtrak is much more fun. Hope you get a chance to ride the train, if you haven’t already. Keep up the great work!

    • Thanks so much. I do enjoy the train much more than the bus, but it is so much more expensive. Amtrak needs some competition to get the rates down – it’s to pricey for us non-working folk. – Rene

      • I know what you mean. It was not until I was 39 that I got to take the train on my own. My parents took us on trains when I was very young. My mom had a chain of 6 kids on a rope in Germany! You might think about putting a donation button on your blog? (paypal) People do contribute when they find a wonderful cause!

  4. Nice story Rene, I think somehow you will enjoy your next week. What a grand adventure you are having.
    Love Dad

  5. Hi Rene,

    Love your blogs, and like many who read them would love to be doing the same. Your insights although personal are universal and that’s what makes for great blogging… now I’ve read them I can actually comment! Look forward to hearing how the week finished on the St Bernards Project. Did you gut the house on the Friday. Great to meet you and the others last week. Look forward to reading more of your adventures.

    Fred x

    • Thanks so much Fred! I really enjoyed meeting the two of you and spending the day working along side of you. Yes, we did end up gutting the house on Friday. In fact, I just finished the post on it. Take care! – Rene

  6. Hi Rene

    It sounds like you’re having a great time. If you could survive our place and all our plagues you can survive anywhere. I’m happy to see Alameda made the cut in your song. I always show Ella your pictures in the blog and she recognizes you immediately and asks where you are. I hope you can make it back to Saskatchewan someday.

    Have Fun

    • Thanks Warren! I hope I can make it back to Saskatchewan someday too. I had such a wonderful time with you and Jamie and Ella, despite all of the plagues 😉 I’m so happy to hear that Ella recognizes me. I can almost hear her little voice saying, “Where’s that guy? What’s that guy dooting?” Love it. Thanks again for being such wonderful hosts. I hope you and yours are very well. – Rene

  7. Pingback: LEARNING – a year of blogging | Repurposed Redhead·

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