Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Left My Heart In San Francisco... In More Ways Than One

Having waited for an hour longer than I should have, the shadiest bus I had ever seen pulled up in front of the San Francisco Cal Train station. I had helped my girlfriend, Ana, move back up to school that weekend and I did not want to get on that bus at all. I couldn't decide what the main reason for that truly was at this point. Either it was because by doing so, I would have to leave the arms of the most astounding, incredibly beautiful girl I have ever known, or because it may very well signify my impending doom on this trip. I'm pretty sure it was a little of both.

As the view of the city started to fade more and more in the reflection of my sunglasses, I turned my attention to the details of this wonderful vehicle I was now in. Slowly I came to the realization that this bus had no window shades to speak of, which is not a big deal as long as a little A/C was- Oh good. None of that either. Sleeping seemed like a good idea to pass the time, so I tried that for a while. Just as I started to slip into sleep, I was promptly awoken by everyone yelling in panic as the bus skidded to a sudden stop on the highway. A blowout ahead had caused following vehicles to swerve into the other lane and continue on their separate journeys. This happened again later when a big rig began switching to our lane about mid-bus.

Keep in mind that due to lack of A/C, the alternative air supply is now the two emergency exit panels open on the roof
. This was a great idea why?
a) Because the entirety of available air is just so hot due to the climate in central California.
b) Because throughout central California, there are cow farms turning the hot air into hot, stinking air.
c) Because bugs have a tendency to fly into open windows, especially in farmlands throughout central California.
d) All of the above.
If you answered 'a', 'c' or even 'b', you're close but wrong. Answer: 'd', as in disaster.

Many hours pass by of this, and the bus exits the freeway and pulls into a truck stop in the middle of nowhere. the bus operator comes on the line in a foreign accent: "Thank you for riding California Shuttle Bus, this is your stop."
Haha... no it isn't.
He cuts in again, "We have to switch buses, I apologize for the inconvenience, but the other bus will take you the rest of the way to LA."
Ah! Well at least the other bus will have working air conditioning and-
"I am sorry", he says, "but the other bus has the same A/C problem as this one."
After loading up on Arizona Green Tea, I take my spot in the new bus as the drivers finish switching the luggage to the corresponding buses of the passengers. Soon, we depart from the stop in Lost Tales (that's what the area was called- no joke) and head toward the Grapevine. Time passed quickly at that point, I think mostly because I was so focused on watching the TV directly above my head. Not because anything interesting was on, nay, but because it was shaking violently with every pothole and small bump in the road. Once to the Grapevine, the violent shaking stopped and was simply replaced with an unbearable lack of speed.
The bus traveled up the side of the road at a steady 4 mph. Murmurs started and frustration took hold of many passengers already sick of the trip. It felt like mutiny was afoot, to be honest. An old lady actually started cursing behind me and questioning whether we'd all make it or not. The bus made it, and after a while longer pulled into LA. When we arrived at our last stop, it was soon discovered that during the luggage switch made earlier, the drivers had mixed up the bags and half of the passenger's belongings were on their way back to San Francisco. As bad as I felt for them, I luckily had only a backpack on me so I wasn't affected. As good of a trip as that was, I climbed into my friend Luke's car and was more than ready to go home.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We have to start somewhere

All too often for many people, their "somewhere" doesn't seem like an ideal place to be. Now this could very well apply to current physical location as well as general circumstances in life. I am not speaking of it as a bad thing per se, but more of something that can be changed and improved. Because something is not ideally what you would want or somewhere is not ideally where you would like to be does not mean you should be discouraged in the least! Just make the changes you need to make to be where you want to be. Knowledge is great, it really is, but it is completely and utterly useless unless we put it to use. We can know where we need to go, want to go, what we need to do to get there, but if we do not do any of those things, how can we expect things to change? Knowledge is not power, action on knowledge is power. I have been learning this more and more lately, and feel I am moving inexorably towards my goals the more I put this into practice.

As far as physical location is concerned, and as happy as I am to be where I am, irresistible inclinations to think about leaving still arise. Just getting up, packing a few things (sometimes the urges are so strong I do not even feel a need for that) and purchasing an open ended ticket to anywhere I want at the nearest airport. I propose that this is no bad thing. I happen to be quite passionate about traveling and the very thought of it is something that really motivates me. To me, this is a symbol of going after what I want and ending up where I want to be.

Through writing on this page, I have the intentions of assisting myself to stay accountable and interested in my travel goals along with keeping others informed on what I learn as I go. This includes my recollection of the trips I will be taking, both locally and to increasingly distant locations, thoughts I have along the way regarding the future and present, and updates on my travel plans I have been working on for a while now.

So sit back, relax, turn on a little “Postcards From Italy” by Beirut and know that this time is yours to do what you want with it.