Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Road To Illinois

I'm back. Did you miss me? What to you mean was I gone? Geez. Wise guy. (Grumble, grumble, mumble,mumble @#$%&* people) To borrow from Carnak the Magnificent "May the fleas of a thousand camels nest in your shorts."
Just for that, sit down and let me bore you. I had my first Greyhound ride. Let's just say it was an experience I am in no hurry to repeat. The first leg was fine. We left Dalton, Georgia on time at 2:25 A.M. EST and arrived in Nashville at 4:10 CST. Any time I go to Illinois I don't bother changing my watch. There was over an hour layover at Nashville. I thought about getting something to eat there, but since there was scheduled an hour layover in St. Louis I decided to get something there. Off in the distance there was this strange sound, bwah-ha-ha, but I ignored it. The bus was scheduled to depart Nashville at 5:30, but that is when we started loading. Shortly after 6:00 we got under way, heading for Clarksville, Tennessee. We lost a few there, gained a few, and then next stop was Paducah, Kentucky. Once again, lose a few, add a few, on to a truck stop at Paducah for a 15 minute layover. My second great decision of the day was not getting off the bus to stretch my legs. I truly am a genius I tell you. That bwah-ha-ha sound was louder this time, but I still ignored it. Cue Willie Nels
on and we are on the road again to Vienna, Illinois. The highlight of the scenery on that part of the trip was snow, snow, and look over there, more snow. Have I ever mentioned I hate snow?

At Vienna we gain three very interesting passengers. They had on matching clothes, brand new white sweatshirts, gray sweatpants, and were carrying their belongings in a cardboard box. Accompanying them were two deputies. I wasn't the least bit nervous. I figured they had just been released and wouldn't be in any hurry to go back. A short trip to Marion, Illinois where our new passengers purchased their tickets. I had assumed they would have been given those tickets when they arrived, but obviously not. Willie started singing again and we were off to Carbondale, Illinois, home of the Southern Illinois University Salukies. What the heck is a Saluki? That is what the picture at the top is. Nice looking dog, huh? Before Willie could start singing again, I was getting concerned. We were off schedule and I was beginning to wonder if we would arrive in St Louis in time to catch the bus to Springfield, Illinois. I politely asked the driver if we were late would they be holding the bus for us. He promptly bit my head off, spit it back out and informed me they wouldn't wait, he had no way of notifying them, and I could catch the next bus to Springfield. Fortunately I am always armed with the handyman's secret weapon, duct tape, and reattached my head. Okay, what wise guy out there said I was smarter with my head off?
Now I know how Rodney Dangerfield felt.

Willie got to sing and off we went. There was a sense of deja vu. Once again we went through Nashville, but this time it was Nashville, Illinois, population 3202. By this time the snow was disappearing which made me very happy. About 1:15 I see the St Louis arch, a fascinating monument. A couple minutes later we cross the Mississippi River and are in St Louis and arrive at the bus station at 1:30, which was the scheduled departure time for the Springfield bus. Captain Friend
ly, AKA the bus driver, informs us the buses would be held until we boarded. Naturally there was a bus in front of us unloading so we got to spend an extra five minutes with the good Captain. Be still, my heart.

Remember that wise decision not to eat? My stomach began calling me names. That excellent decision not to get off the bus at Paducah?, My knees made it a duet with my stomach. Now I couldn't ignore that bwah-ha-ha in the background. I spent about one minute in the St Louis terminal. It was a straight line to the bus, but of course we couldn't go that way. You had to go in one door, out the other and stand in line. Finally I was on the proper bus and Willie sang his final chorus. By the time the bus pulled out of the station it was 2:15. Our driver was the polar opposite of Captain Friendly. He apologized for being late, informs us they are calling ahead and any other transfer buses would be held until they got there. Gee, Captain Friendly had informed me that couldn't be done. Oh well, I am not worried about any other buses. The first stop for this bus was Springfield and I would be departing. The bus pulled into the Springfield station at 3:50, 45 minutes late. After fifteen and a half hours, my journey was over. Tomorrow, Adventures in Illinois, Part One.

My baseball card for today is a subset from 2007 Topps called Distinguished Service. I have 6 of the cards right now. I hope to get more. There are at least 30. Quoting from the back of the card, "The Wisconsin born Bong ranks among the most prominent aviators in U.S. military history. He earned the nickname 'Ace-of-Aces' during an astonishingly distinguished four-year tour in the Army Air Forces. Between 1941 and '45, he brought down 40 Japanese aircraft in the South Pacific, the most in USAAF history. Bong, who received the Medal Of Honor in 1944, earned seven Distinguished Flying Crosses."

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