There we were, two of the most anxious females I know, going to a strange city by Greyhound. Whatever gave me the idea that this was a GOOD idea? Well mainly it was because Carly and I were going to spend some good quality time together.
My son was driving us to the bus depot and I was feeling pretty calm until we were almost there. Then my mind started racing with questions. What do we do? Where do we go? We started off doing what we thought was the right thing. We went to the counter at the depot and told the guy (who turned out to be our driver) that we were going to Edmonton and what do we do? He looked at our tickets and, very kindly, told us we would be departing at Gate 1 at 6:45. We found seats nearby and waited impatiently. It got later and later and Carly was coming up with more and more dire scenarios (What if we don’t sit together? Why did I have to read about Tim McLean? What if people smell bad?) then finally we saw the bus arrive and security being set up. We were about 5th in line and finally got to the security table when we noticed we were the only ones without any tags on our luggage.
Now, remember, we did go to the counter and no one said anything about tags. We had to go back to the nice man and tell him we needed them. There was a lineup there too and only 2 people on duty. One staff member was being held up by a guy who was trying to say his 3 bags were all carry-on’s and the bag that weighs 100 lbs. is free. That was not true and vigorous arguments ensued. We finally got to the nice man and he apologized for his mistake and even let me take my heavy carry-on with me. By this time there was no line at security.
Security checked my bags and waved the wand over me. Then Carly. Good, nothing was pierced on her that I don’t know about.
The thing about the motor coach I noticed the most was the smells that made their way to me throughout the trip to Edmonton. The first half hour I smelled vomit. The guy across the aisle kept belching really loud and they were quite stinky too. As were his farts. Then I thought everyone was drinking on the bus because someone would walk by me and I would smell alcohol. Turns out it was the hand sanitizer from the bathroom. Good for them for being so clean. At least I knew they washed their hands after they did their business.
The smell that started half way there and never really went away came from a cup of coffee that a woman behind me spilled which proceeded to go downhill where Carly’s backpack was directly in its path. Carly was already so stressed out at this point she went over the edge for a bit. She cried over her Vans backpack and her new toiletries bag inside, now reeking of and dripping with coffee. The lady felt so bad and mopped up everything with toilet paper. Then there wasn’t any TP for the bathroom. Finally the driver found some. Whew.
My legs and feet swelled up so much it was ridiculous. I have a history of blood clots and made sure I walked around whenever we had a stop. My feet hurt so much throughout the trip. The swelling never really went away.
When we got there, after 18 hours on the bus and with barely any sleep, we still went shopping. I could barely walk and would send Carly into a store while I would find a bench to sit on and rest. I had to buy a sweater because it wasn’t summer in Edmonton. Fall weather had hit and I was in shorts and tank tops. I was miserly with money and was so glad to find a pretty good one for only $10. Carly must have spent over $300 the first day. Her money not mine.
I slept so good that night and was out like a light before 9 pm. I loved the pillows. Our hotel was nicer than I expected. I used booking.com and found a pretty good deal. I give it 3-4 stars.
We hit so many stores. There were so many people, especially on Saturday. It was almost impossible to get through some of the aisles as they were clogged with crazy shoppers.
Friday was my birthday and another day of shopping was planned. I got some great deals just telling people it was my birthday. My new fella had given me a card with strict instructions not to open it until my birthday and I actually obeyed. It was one of the first things I did when I woke up. Open it I mean. Lo and behold it had money in it! With more strict orders (he seems to be a little bossy) to spend it frivolously on myself. So I bought Body Shop stuff, which I never buy because it’s too expensive. Because it was my birthday I got free hand lotion thrown in.
Carly spoiled me rotten on my birthday. She paid for all the meals and cabs and bought me a beautiful forever scarf which was handy on the way home in the air-conditioned bus. She paid for more than half the food on the trip and half the cab fares. Almost every time I looked at her she had her bank card out. She was so patient with me and my sore feet, as long as she knew where I was. Thank goodness for texting and cell phones.
I noticed a lot of things that makes Edmonton different from Winnipeg, besides the mall. The noise is unbelievable and overwhelming. We had to shout to each other most of the time at the mall. Everybody goes really fast there too. Cars and people. Some of the fashions I saw I haven’t seen here, at least not yet. AND I didn’t see one butt crack when people were sitting down. In Winnipeg you can count on seeing several in any food court, on the bus or even just walking around. I didn’t see one and that made me happy.
Leaving Edmonton was very different then leaving Winnipeg. For one thing there was absolutely no security check done. This caused a whole new round of anxiety for Carly as now anyone could have a knife or a gun and cut off our heads. No one did but even so the trip home was a nightmare. For 20 hours we listened to a baby either screaming with misery or laughter, depending on her mood. At least I had to listen, Carly had her iPod so she plugged into her music world and drowned it all out. The baby rarely stopped and it was horrible. When she did stop another would start. There were 8 children on that bus under the age of 5. One mom had 4. Another mom had 2 and one of hers was the devil child who kept screaming.
This mom who had 4 children with her was amazing. We were about to leave Edmonton when a man came running onto the bus looking for seats he said. There weren’t that many, it was pretty full. The driver announced that a family of 5 was coming on board at the last-minute and to be patient. No problem. Out the doorway I could see this tiny woman, maybe about 25 years old and 4 kids, ranging in age from 8 to 18 months, all holding something; pillows, blankets, books, bags of food. They climbed on then the driver made ANOTHER announcement that these people had reserved seats so a lot of people had to shuffle around. The dad then ran off the bus, yelling “love you kids!” and he was a blur going back into the depot. The little family was in the back and we didn’t hear a peep out of them.
We had a layover in Saskatchewan and these kids totally entertained me. They danced and sang and giggled and climbed and ran and hid. All the while, their mother was calm, laughing along with them, getting them to settle down for only minutes at a time and not worrying too much when they started up again. She spoke to them patiently and kindly and I could tell she does this all the time by the way the kids treated each other; the same. She met my eyes and laughed telling me they only had 3 hours of sleep so they were really goofy. I told her, “My dad used to say, It’s better than crying”. She laughed more. I could hear a little hysteria in it though. She was so great. She would crouch on the floor with them, rocking the youngest against her chest while talking softly to the others and feeding them apples and grapes. How she could hold that position for so long boggled my mind.
(Carly hates my people watching. She thinks I’m nosy. What the heck else would I write about if I didn’t watch other people and what makes them do what they do?)
Meanwhile the other screaming kid was still screaming with the mom begging her not to cry. The dad did nothing; he just looked mad. I know the child was tired and they were on a long trip but it was really hard to take by hour 15 of the 20 hour trip. By the time we got home, I wanted to kiss the ground.
We had a delay before we left Alberta. A young woman was hanging out with some of the younger guys on the bus, taking smoke breaks with them, etc. These young men always smelled like pot (SECURITY!). Anyway, we made a quick stop in a small town and I walked by her where she was commenting to some of the other women (who also smoked) with some concern about how she was swelling up. I wanted to show her my own feet but didn’t dare scare her. We all got back on the bus and started off again when she left her seat and went to talk to the driver. He turned around and took her to the hospital. According to the guys she hung with, she had taken opiates and then one of the guys gave her something else which didn’t react well with her. We had to leave her there in the middle of nowhere, hopefully in good care.
I totally had a good time although in pain. Tylenol Arthritis was my best friend. I’m pretty proud of myself but not totally surprised I could do it. I had to be a good mom to Carly, who was anxious a lot of the time and keep her calm from her day-mares. Never mind the hundreds of people or the guy who wanted to give me a makeover and wouldn’t give up, even when he saw me later and practically chased me. I handled it. I did good. It’s taking me a few days to recover from the overload and the swelling but I’m just about there.
I’m still not sure about social situations though. This was very impersonal as I didn’t have to interact with many people. Just doing this trip and knowing, even if I am anxious about it, I can breathe through it and continue on. I don’t know what the future holds but it sure looks good from here. Going into big crowds like that was amazing and overwhelming at the same time. We kept it simple; using cabs to get to the mall and back. We didn’t do any sightseeing at all. The fear of getting lost is still too strong.
Would I do it again? Not on a bus. No way on a bus. I would fly for sure.
My world just got bigger.