Greyhound Diary

I just got done re-reading this comedic gem of a book by comedian James Inman. His half-hour stand-up routine captured on this YouTube video are direct excerpts from the book and accurately captures what riding on these trips is like, albeit with a healthy amount of cynicism.

Everybody should take a trip on Greyhound or Amtrak at least once in their life, even if over a short distance. I took three cross-country trips on Greyhound between 1996 and 2000, and if I ever do it again – I’m writing a book about it.

What did I like about it? When you or I travel by air, which we do because we want to get from point A to point B as fast as we can for as cheaply as we can – we don’t see the country in between. That can’t be said going Greyhound or taking Amtrak – you see what the country is like in a fuller view, even if what’s there to be seen really maybe shouldn’t be seen.

I haven’t seen half the craziness Inman has seen either, as I’ve never really had that much trouble on my trips. My trip from Marietta, Georgia to Las Vegas got delayed three hours in Denver in the late spring when the weather wasn’t an issue – and that’s been about it. Oh, and an old man caused a disturbance by walking around the bus and babbling incoherently on a trip between Chattanooga and Nashville on Interstate 24 – and the driver had to shut him up, later reporting his unruly conduct.

Other than that, that’s been about it.

Glitter Gulch Memories


I’ve been reading the news out of Las Vegas that the Glitter Gulch is going to be closing up soon.

When I first visited Las Vegas in June of 1996, I stayed at the Plaza Hotel my first night there. Taking a shower after a two day spell on a Greyhound bus, I decided to look around this canopied complex called the Fremont Street Experience. Looking around, I saw the strip club right in the middle of all these casinos.

I remember thinking, “What a novel place to put a titty bar!”

Back then, I used to love going to strip clubs and nudie bars, basically because it was something to do. It was a good habit if you had money to spend I suppose, but if you didn’t have money to burn, it was a terrible habit. Plus, that that I loved all the shapes and sizes a woman could be. Some girls were short, some girls were tall, some girls are naturally chested, and some weren’t.

I don’t remember too much about how much I spent there, other than getting a dance from two girls simultaneously, which was a thing I was into back then. All I remember is that I thought I was being hustled, which wasn’t an unfamiliar story at the Fremont Street Experience at that time. A few of the establishments there were casinos with slot machines, and female attendance who would watch you play to make sure they got a cut of whatever coins came out of the machines. Now that was a hustle and a half, so I got the hell out of there, much to the chagrin of the Asian lady watching me.

Las Vegas is a city that doesn’t treat its history well. I’m not too shocked that the Glitter Gulch and some of the ripoff joints looking like casinos are now going to go away. It’s probably a good thing. It also taught me in a sense to appreciate women of all sizes and shapes, and that not all beauty shows.

Passing Through Dallas

In the spring of 2000, I was back on a Greyhound bus on my second (and most recent) sojourn to find a new life in Las Vegas. Still looking for that “morality car wash” Robert De Niro spoke of in Casino, didn’t find any of them out there.

I loved the trips by bus for some reason, even though I spent a couple of days elbow to elbow on a stacked bus without showers. Next time, if there is a next time, remind me to buy Handi Wipes or something.

It wasn’t all bad, though. On this second trip out west I saw Ashville, Knoxville, Jackson (Tennessee), Memphis, Little Rock, Dallas, El Paso, Phoneix and Laughlin, Nevada for the first time. On my return trip about a month later I saw Kingman, Arizona (a beauty of a town), Jackson (Mississippi), Birmingham, and Greenville/Spartanburg for the first time as well.

The trip out of Dallas was kind of spooky, as the route out west to get on the nearest Interstate went thru the very area made famous by President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. I looked around on the bus, saw the grassy knoll, and saw the “X” on Elm Street where the fatal shot tolled JFK’s life. Then for a moment, you’re in that very spot.

No one else on the bus noted it, or cared to.

As for me, it gave me a serious case of chills.

Going Greyhound

I mentioned a few months ago that in 1996 I made a cross-country trip on a Greyhound bus from Marietta, Georgia to Las Vegas.  Noting how June 1st fell on a Saturday that year and this, I found myself remembering that trip over the weekend.

Greyhound is not a glamorous way to travel the country, but if you don’t mess with people on the bus, people won’t mess with you.  It’s a simple, easy rule to live by as you venture across the USA.

The route followed I-75 and I-24 up to Chattanooga, Nashville, and St. Louis.  It then went west across I-70 through Kansas City, Denver, and central Utah before sweeping down I-15 through Las Vegas.  The toughest part about the trip was sleeping, as I stayed awake for the first 20 hours of the trip before I got some sleep on Saturday morning rolling through eastern Kansas.  I had a radio with several spare batteries so I could listen to various radio stations.  Talk radio, ball games and music in the daytime, and Art Bell at night got me through the boredom.  WSM in Nashville.  KMOX in St. Louis.  KOA in Denver.  720 KDWN in Las Vegas.

Denver was the most suspenseful time of the trip, if you could call it that, as the bus that took me from Denver to points west was a couple of hours late.  Slept like a baby through the mountains of Colorado.  Although I woke up at one point smack dab in the middle of the Eisenhower Tunnel and wondered how I got there.

Would I do it again?  Absolutely I would.  Did the trip twice more in 2000, but haven’t had the chance to do it since.  Doing that trip once more would make for some pretty good blog entries, no?